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This is my first post on CC, and I'm seeking advise on the upcoming cruise. As many of you seem to feel the same way, I find cruising to be the most important investment I make during the year, the one that gives me the best satisfaction, and greatest time with my family. This is why when I cruise, I do spend a lot of time pouring over the different options prior to making a decision on the voyage that I feel best suits me. To me, my annual vacation is a big deal and I want to make the right choice, so excuse me if I go into a lot of detail- this isn't just ''a holiday'' for me, but rather the one part of the year I look forward to most.
Previously, I've cruised on a lot of the mass market lines like Holland and RCI, prior to settling down with Seabourn. I absolutely adore Seabourn, however it must be noted that I have not sailed on any of their original triplets- only the Odyssey and Sojourn, around the Med as well as in Northern Europe.
The above ships are absolutely a delight- both my cruises on them were flawless. One of the things I dislike though, is that when I can travel (peak seasons) they only offer 7 night voyages on the big sisters. I did a back to back once and didn't like the lack of 'flow' on the voyage, if you understand what I mean (especially as the Seabourn big girls have entreatment, which is repeated, etc..).
As such, this year I've been looking at longer cruises- either a 12 night cruise on Crystal Serenity, a 10 night cruise on Seabourn Legend or a 7 night voyage on SaeDream II.
While it may seem strange that I included SD in that equation, I felt that SD's ships can be experienced well in 7 nights, and that a week's cruise on an SD ship won't feel rushed as it is on, say, the Odyssey, which was really built with longer cruises in mind. If you just relax in your cabin and watch a movie, you won't feel that you're missing so much going on outside, which is the way I felt aboard Seabourn's week-long cruises.
The Crystal voyage is longer, quite port-intensive but does have three sea days, many overnights and a company that has a great reputation. Nonetheless, I've been to some of the places on the itinerary before, and as I love smaller ships am afraid that the service as such will be compromised.
The Seabourn cruise, well, I stay on the safe side, something I know and love, try a smaller Seabourn ship and go to quite interesting ports a long the way.
SeaDream- always on my bucket list, if I don't do it this year I will the next, or the one after, the whole concept seems alluring, I like the ships, have seen them along side many a port. Love the water sports marina, and the concept of jet-skiing around the ship, sleeping under the stars, it really does get to me. Only thing slightly stopping me is the length- 7 days.
Prices for the cruises are (prior to addition of tax bar Seabourn which has it included).
12 Nights Crystal- $5,410 per person
10 Nights Seabourn- $4,699 per person
7 Nights SeaDream- $4,699 per person
As I want the best advise you can give me I'll be very candid in saying that one of the things I like about Crystal is that many of their slightly longer itineraries are within my budget. At the end of the day we all have one, and the price I can pay comfortably for a cruise is about the $5,500 per person range. Anything above $6,000 per person isn't that comfortable, with $8000 + being a splurge, something I'm only willing to do once every few years for truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not just an annual vacation. The reason my budgeting is such is that I usually have a long three week post and pre cruise tour of the region, which I must calculate into the final cost. I see that whenever SeaDream does a longer cruise, their prices are well above my budget- but for the crossings and 7 nighters, I do have a range of voyages to pick from.
Would you advise me to do SD, stick with SB or go for the longer Crystal cruise? My concern with Crystal is again, service will suffer and that the ship will be too big.
It seems to me that your three choices are very different. The only thing SeaDream has in common with Crystal and the big Seabourn sister ships is that it's considered luxury.
I have yet to sail Crystal or Seabourn, but it's been my understanding that both Crystal and Seabourn are more traditional than SeaDream is. If you've sailed only on the big sisters on Seabourn, you will not have had the experience of being on a much smaller ship. Also, I have heard that these lines tend to cater more to older folks. That's definitely not to say that older people can't enjoy SeaDream. There was a gentleman in his 80s traveling alone on my last SeaDream cruise and he appeared to have a great time. But it's my understanding that the overall age demographic is a bit younger on SeaDream.
I love SeaDream for many reasons. One of the main reasons why I enjoy SeaDream so much is that service is casual and friendly, yet competent. The crew members are amazing. Almost everybody seems happy to be of service. The food is excellent; the drinks flow freely; and the massages in the spa are amazing.
However, SeaDream's fares are expensive when compared to Seabourn or Crystal and the staterooms are well appointed, but small and dated. If you're hoping to hole up in your cabin, you may find out that it feels claustrophobic. The windows in SeaDream's staterooms don't open and there are no balconies. If you have issues with seasickness, you will definitely want to plan for that.
That being said, on both of my SeaDream cruises, I found a lot of friendly people to hang out with. I never felt like I had to dress up. The outside spaces were so nice I didn't want to hang out in my cabin. By the end of both of my cruises, I was marveling at the great time I had and felt just fine about pre-booking another cruise.
I am under the impression that SeaDream is less formal than most of the other luxury lines. I don't know that it's that comparable... except maybe with Seabourn's triplets, which you say you haven't tried yet. Understand also that SeaDream's ships are older. That's not really an issue for me, since SeaDream takes excellent care of them. But they won't have all the bells and whistles ships in other lines have. Whether or not that will be an issue for you is up to you, of course.
I'm sure others will weigh in shortly.
Our first cruise- Vision of the Seas- June 4, 2009 Baltics
Last edited by knotheadusc; February 26th, 2012 at 10:55 AM.
We are happy on Seabourn, Silversea, or Seadream. We find that there are more similarities than differences between these products, and sometimes a little bit of change makes for a good thing. Seadream is a much more casual enviornment. You will often find as many as half of the passengers sunbathing by the pool in the afternoon. In the Med you can expect that less than half of the passengers on Seadream will be American. We prefer to travel light, so the casual dress code of Seadream helps us enjoy our vacation. Seabourn Med cruises are pretty laid back as well; you won't find many men wearing tuxedos on "formal optional" nights in the Med.
I personally would not go on Crystal because they lack true open seating dining. They do offer "perfect choice" dining in addition to early and late traditional seating, which enables you to make a reservation prior to departure for a dining time every night -- but you cannot walk into the restaurant when you are ready as you can on Seadream or Seabourn or Sliversea. Also, Crystal will not guarantee your dining choice at the time you make the booking (it is a request, not a commitment). I also prefer a smaller, more intimate ship. The Crystal ships are too big to go to many of the small ports that Seabourn and Seadream call on.
The last comments re: Crystal are exactly how I feel. Having sailed extensively on the smaller Seabourn ships (as well as Odysey and Sojourn) I have to say that the smaller triplets have a personality all their own. The service is truly personal and you feel really really cared for. The friendliness of the passengers is a plus and their "hosted tables" is a positive.. You can decline if you wish. If length of cruise and price is an issue Seabourn wins P.S. I also love SeaDream and am not among the younger set.
We have almost booked a Seabourn cruise several times due to ports and cost, but can not bring ourselves to leave SD. I just don't think the public spaces on the smaller Seabourn ships are open enough - the pool area in particular is very unappealing and any night of more than "business casual or resort casual" is one night too many. Yes, cabins on SD are small, and having had a nice sized balcony on Regent, I miss that. However, we spend very little time in our cabin (except when the office calls) - I have never watched a DVD on SD and only discovered the I pod docking station on the last day of the last voyage. I agree that a 7 day is too short but in the Caribbean, its ok, because I can spend so much time on the yacht anyway. If you are a person who likes a lot of scheduled on board activities - SD is NOT for you. No on board announcements about art shows, special sales, special activities, etc.
We keep going back due to personalized service, ability to get to ports larger ships don't go, personalized service, cuisine, and did I mention the service . . . If we are doing warm weather ports - its only SD for us.
There is another poster on this board Mimito4 who may chime in about Crystal - and can offer you an reasoned opinion on that line.
Frequent Traveler puts it well with the warm weather SD is for us. The ONLY way to do the Caribbean. It is important to view the weather potential when booking as SD is very small when it is cold/rainy and all the passengers are confined to the Main Salon or the Library. It is the outdoor spaces that make SD so wonderful in warm weather locales (that and the Service of course). Seabourn would be our pick for Europe as the much more available indoor venues came in mighty handy on the Spirit. Would not do the SB ships in the Caribbean as FT said, the pool/sundeck areas are pitiful compared to the wonderful pool/bali beds on SD. Both are good products but IMHO, for different uses. Tough choices we have.
We did the Seabourn Sojourn through the Panama Canal last winter and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a beautiful ship that is laid out quite differently from what we are used to with ships that size, such as the Silversea ships. The staterooms are spacious and comfortable. The service was flawless. The only thing that many find undesirable is the formal nights, although there are alternative dining venues. The entertainers were quite good and very friendly (we dined with them one night). SeaDream is a lot of what Seabourn isn't. Entertainment is the piano bar and the guitarist outside the dining room. The staterooms are small, especially the bathroom. If you are prepared to give up those luxuries, the reward is outstanding cuisine, the best service in the industry and a great mix of passengers.
We haven't done the Med, but last year we did 14 days from Amsterdam to Lisbon. This was not a cruise for using the Marina due to the ports and the weather. Depending upon your itinerary and timing in the Med, you might find that to be the case there, too.
I would say that your choice should consider the itinerary and the costs as the primary factors. The others here have given you good information about what to expect. I do have to disagree with knotheadusc about Seabourn catering to an older crowd. On our trip it also had their parents.