You really are charged for caviar?????

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SeaDream Yacht Club

Read SeaDream Yacht Club Cruise Reviews written by cruisers just like you.

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San Francisco, CA
49 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
I read that caviar is $26 per order on Seadream. I also read that certain alcohols were considered "premium" and that there was an extra charge for this. Although Grey Goose is a nice vodka, I would hardly call it a "premium" vodka worthy of an upcharge on an allegedly upsacle, open bar ship. Seabourn and Silverseas certainly do not follow suit with such antics. These policies cheapen the experience. Seadream should charge more in the cruise fare and at least meet the standards of the other luxury lines. Oh, and don't even mention that Radisson charges for caviar. They are not in the same league of Silverseas and Seabourn so they are not open bar, much larger ships, etc. I would expect them to charge for it. My first Seadream cruise is coming up in Nov. I am concerned now that I should change to a truly upscale experience where I am not nickled and dimed for basic amenities.
191 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
I can tell you it did not feel like they were nickel and diming us, it was more here is the line and it is clearly marked, have a blast on your side and we did, the vodka thing was pretty silly but as i mentioned, absolute, stoli, kettle one were all available

we did not want for anything and we are pretty demanding, the caviar was a dissapointment but the cheese plates we ordered were awesome, the 3 pm burger and fries by the pool, the cheesecake at 10 am....

this was a luxurious experience and i know we will return, I would not cancel your nov trip over the caviar, too many other things were great on this boat

one of teh problems with reviews is the tend to highlight the challenges and fail to really represent how good something can be

our trip was great and all four of us are dying to get back on, that is what it is all about.

the reason i am trying to write such a detailed review is to help manage expectations and allow all of us to have a great time on board
1,679 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
On our voyage on SeaDream 1 in the USVI & BI in March (the infamous Easter Cruise) -- Caviar was served almost every night at the 7:00 p.m. reception and offered occasionally as an appetizer on the dinner menu.

We also had different types of champagne on board and the crew would usually hustle to find you a new/different bottle if you didn't like what they were pouring. The same with the red & white wines - but if you didn't ask, you got the pour of the day.

My husband was disappointed by the upcharge for the single malt scotch he requested and the waiter filling in for the usual bartender didn't know that another single malt was available at no charge.

Sea Dream has an 8 page list of alcoholic beverages, which details those included in the rate (most) and those requiring an upcharge (only a few). Additional charges apply for example to Hennesey XO, Remy-Martins, Chivas Regal, Rozes Ports, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie (and all but one single-malt scotch required an additional charge), and Grey Goose.

The detailed review is great -- so far very consistent with our prior voyages.

James is indeed great and ranks a 10- especially with the events he had to deal with on our cruise (a wife throwing a drink on her husband in the casino - missing and drenching innocent passengers, etc). Does anyone knonw if he is still planning on leaving Sea Dream when his current contract expires - when we were on board in March, his baby was not yet born (his wife Maria was at home) but he was planning on not renewing his contract.
S.W Florida
1,028 Posts
Joined Jul 2004

Seadream charges for caviar and Grey Goose. I was considering giving them a try in the future but that sounds like a hassle with the upcharges.
Even though the casual attire would have an appeal every once and a while.
Guess I will stick with Seabourn.
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San Francisco, CA
49 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
That is exactly my point. I don't want to be hasseled by even having to sign one charge slip for what are basic amenities in the luxury cruise market. Having been on multiple cruises with Silverseas and Seabourn, I get the feeling that Seadream will be a one time "sampling". I'm sure it will be an excellent experience overall, but those upcharges are absurd and quite incongruous with how Seadream markets itself as as well as the feed back from others on this board as to what a quality, "luxury" line Seadream is. I guess I'll have a drawer full of charge slips by the end of the week.
1,296 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
Sea Dream's web site states, "Guests who crave Caviar will find it available at all times." Does this not imply it's included in the all-inclusive fare? Under "Open Bar Policy", the web site states, "There is a complimentary open bar policy in public rooms and in public space on deck." No exclusions are mentioned.

Sea Dream also adds a daily "service charge" of $34 per person per day on Caribbean itineraries and $39 per person per day on Mediterranean itineraries on top of their published rates. As their main competitors (SB and SS) do not do this, it appears that SD has mastered the art of nickel and diming a high-end product.

I agree that a thorough review (which CarlyleCat should receive an A+) may highlight challenges (criticisms) that are not intended to overshadow an excellent overall experience. However, the review brought to light Sea Dream's deceptive advertising. Hopefully their marketing/sales department will take corrective action so as not to deceive less-informed prospective passengers.
148 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Originally posted by johnnycruise
Sea Dream also adds a daily "service charge" of $34 per person per day on Caribbean itineraries and $39 per person per day on Mediterranean itineraries on top of their published rates. .
Do you have a web reference for this or is it only in the catalog? I do know that they have a $25/day optional "cancellation insurance" charge which is added to your booking charge unless you have them take it off.
27 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
i am disappointed to learn that this charge is being levied
i am also wondering about the $34 pp/ per day charge mentioned for caribbean cruises- that is an additional $400 + dollars on an all inclusive trip

why is it not surprising that the better something sounds, the more disappointing it becomes?
Orlando, Florida, USA
1,187 Posts
Joined May 2000
I believe that what he is referring to are the government, port, document issuance, handling and service fees that are charged in addition to the cruise fare. All other cruise lines charge these fees also. Some include them in the fare and others add them to the fare.
1,296 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
Originally posted by ctbjr1309
I believe that what he is referring to are the government, port, document issuance, handling and service fees that are charged in addition to the cruise fare. All other cruise lines charge these fees also. Some include them in the fare and others add them to the fare.
Seabourn and Silverseas include the charges in their published fares. Sea Dream takes the fine print route and adds them on top of their fares in order to "publish" a lower base fare. You can view them on their web site, $273 ($39 per day) extra per person for Med cruises and $238 ($34 per day) extra per person for Caribbean cruises (increasing to $252 for 2006 departures). This is irregardless of the ports or number of ports visited. Class action lawsuits put an end to exorbitant "port charges" for the large cruise lines several years ago; to my knowledge, no other cruise line charges such high "fees" for a standard seven-day cruise. My T/A said they do it in lieu of tipping (i.e. service fees), but if they market themselves as all-inclusive (excluding items previously discussed) why would that not be included in the base fare rather than as a non-optional extra? It must be a coincidence that their 10/26/2005 four-day Caribbean cruise has fees of $136 per person (still $34 per day).
52 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
James will be going home on July 9th to be with Maria. Their baby is due the first week of August, but, she may be coming early. As much as James loves his job, hopefully he will be able to find a position at home so he doesn't have to leave them again.
San Francisco, CA
49 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
You are correct about the daily fixed fees. Seadream unbundles them in order to decieve customers with initial lower fares. This is a cheap bait and switch scam. Their marketing materials are decpetive about this, the caviar, the open bar, etc. Charge me an extra $500 per person for the week in my cruise fare up front and I am fine. Deceive me and I am pissed off! Seadream has not earned the right to call itself a "luxury" cruise with this type of nonsense. This leads me to the issue of shore excursions. Do they charge a HIGH price for these in order to continue with the nickel and dime scheme? Do they dock in remote places, constructively forcing passengers to buy excursions in order to do anything on shore??? It sure would have been nice to know my allegedly "all-inclusive" fare was really 25% higher than what Seadream advertised!
148 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Originally posted by jhcrossfield
This leads me to the issue of shore excursions. Do they charge a HIGH price for these in order to continue with the nickel and dime scheme? Do they dock in remote places, constructively forcing passengers to buy excursions in order to do anything on shore???
We cannot support your viewpoint on this one.

Shore excursions are always a high profit item for ships. In our experience, two couples in a taxi can usually replicate or improve on any excursion at a much lower price. So we tend to avoid shore excursions in "safe" location such as the Caribbean or Europe.

Note also that all shore excursions are not equal...there is a "quality" issue ...comfortable (air conditioned) bus; capable (English speaking where relevant) guides; etc. And, since everything is concessioned out, the ship may have little control over or even knowledge of the quality of those excursions until the feedback forms arrive.

However, to answer your first question, we did not find SD's Caribbean shore excursion prices out of line compared to other ships (they are all too expensive).

Regarding docking, at least in the Caribbean, SD mostly anchors and uses tenders and the tenders go right to the middle of town along with other ships (such as Windstar). You can also be sure that whatever port that you arrive at almost anywhere in the world, the taxi drivers know you are coming and will be waiting for you!!

While waiting for tenders can be annoying (either leaving or coming back), it is probably more comfortable that standing in line with the hugh ships either to get off on the dock or to reboard, especially when 6 excursion busses arrive together.
670 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
SB does not include "service fees" in the price. Their web site clearly states that the cruise fare does not include government fees and taxes, which can range from $7.35 to 351.20. I believe every cruise line segregates government fees and taxes from the cruise fare. So Ctbjr1309 is right and there is no conspiracy on SD's part.

Many of the luxury lines also have liquor/wine that is an extra fee, should you not wish to partake of what is being offered. On SD, there were a very few scotches that cost extra -- but it was only $5. There was at least one single malt available at no cost. They weren't charging for caviar on my Nov 04 cruise, but, based on a couple of other posts, that appears to have changed.

We never felt nickel-and-dimed -- and found the shore excursions to be priced in line with what we have paid on other lines (this is not to say that any of them are necessarily reasonable -- but you pay for convenience and the assurance that the ship won't leave without you :-).

There seems to be some SD-bashing on the part of a few -- which is unfortunate, because it presents a false picture. The main issue appears to be the children -- and I agree I don't want to spend my hard-earned vacation with a bunch of ill-behaved rug rats. But I don't think you will see SS or SB turning away kids, either -- an earlier poster may be correct in thinking the lack of formal dress on SD encourages kids in a way that SS and SB would not.

BTW, are there ever any art auctions on these other ships? Just curious!
San Francisco, CA
49 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
I've never seen an art auction held on SS or SB. There was one on the single Crystal cruise I was on.

I still believe strongly that if Seadream is seeking to attract sophistocated travelers by offering a "luxury," "all-inclusive" product, then they need to treat us like adults and not exclude/hide basic elements of an "all-inclusive" product as defined by the standard set by their closest competition (SB and SS) from the advertised fare. If I were interested in an "a la carte" vacation and being surrounded those who are also of that slant, then I would not be shopping for an "all-inclusive, luxury" cruise in the first place; I'd go mianstream. I am after the experience, not saving a few dollars.
148 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Originally posted by vandrefalk
BTW, are there ever any art auctions on these other ships? Just curious! Vandrefalk
No "art" auctions. No gold-by-the-inch. No "special" $10.00 martinis. No "suggested" $50 bottle of wine at dinner. No Bingo. No constant hawking for the ship's excursions to try to make you feel like you cannot possibly survive on shore on your own. No charge for bottled water in your room. A very low key casino. No "voluntary" tip added to your bill. No lines. No crowds. No regimentation.

Many ships seem to price low with the expectation of raising the average reveue per passenger with multiple a la carte extras.

Since the ships (Seadream/Seabourn) mostly forego these profit centers, they need to make it up with higher front end charges.

That being said, I suspect many (but never all) of the cruisers on these ships are not extremely price sensitive. Without shore excursions and spa services, it is hard to envision a couple spending more than $1,000 per week on extras (moderate bottle of wine at dinner; 6 drinks/day each; some soft drinks; $10.50/day each tips.)

Clearly, you can visit the same ports, have better entertainment, larger public areas, a "midnight buffet" and more "glitz" on many ships at a fare much lower per couple than charged by SeaDream/Seabourn, even after deducting the $1,000 that the inclusions are worth. So people are paying more than they need to on SeaDream/Seabourn for the same basic trip that others offer for much less, even with full value on "all inclusive" because the the intangibles offered (or NOT offered).

Take away those intangibles (by adding groups, kids and extended families) and Seadream, which is not a bargain and not meant to be, becomes much less attractive.
141 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
We just returned from our 2nd cruise on SeaDream II. No one provided us any information that there was now a charge for caviar, until we boarded the ship. People who had traveled on Sea Dream before were complaining. And most (who love caviar) agreed to up the price of the cruise, instead of the charge. From what I understand, they are not serving even the same quality of caviar.
OK, with all that said, Christophe, the crew, the service, and the food were very good. The itinerary was wonderful, save one port, Vlore, Albania. Many people complained about this port, and the captain announced that all excursions purchased would be refunded. then he brought out some caviar. I will be surprised if they go back there. We stopped in the middle of the Ionian Sea and jet skiied all day. Then leaving Sicily, the captain decided to take a tour around Capri, and slowly sailed by Stromboli for a few fabulous moments of volcanic activity. It is this type of "laid back" sailing that appeals to me so much. Pula, Croatia and Kotar, Montengro, were great. I'd book a walking tour if possilbe (not one from the ship) of Pula - it was fantastic. We needed to spend the night in Amalfi, so I hope they change this part of the itinerary.
I'd be interested to know if Seabourn has changed their policy about free caviar, and if it is the same quality as before.
San Francisco, CA
49 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
I believe the caviar on SB is sevruga. I do not think they charge for it now. If they did, it would be the sign of a sad decline in thier product. I say raise the crusie fare and keep it a class experience!
Along the Hudson River in NY
3,403 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Welcome back cburger100 ...

Unbelievable that they did not share the info on the charge for caviar Talk about poor guest relations. As a matter of fact DH and I were talking with friends who we were out to dinner with last night about how much we enjoyed the caviar and no hassle of signing chits while we were on SD.

Did you have the champagne and caviar splash? I am wondering if they are going to do away with that altogether.

I will tell you that along with some of the other changes may sadly push us over to one of the other "luxury" lines.