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Tiki_Man

SD2 Nov 23rd 2019 Review

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Part 1, here goes (some pics attached also)

 

SeaDream 2 Review – Week of Nov 23rd 2019.

The following is an attempt at a review of the Nov 23rd 2019 voyage on SeaDream 2. I am going to do this in several parts, as my fingers start to ache (or my attention wanes).  Quick background on us, Mark and Mary from Atlanta in our 50’s and our 6th voyage on SeaDream.  This trip was to celebrate my 59th birthday and also for us to relax after hosting the wedding of our only daughter 3 weeks prior.

We flew down from Atlanta direct into St. Martin on Friday the 22nd.  Stayed one night at the Sonesta Ocean Point at Maho Bay.   Typically I like to fly in the same day as the embarkation but in an abundance of caution Mary talked me into going a day early and wow was it worth it.  The Hotel is fully recovered from Irma and was fantastic.  There are actually 2 adjacent hotels, the Maho and the Ocean Point (adults only).  Lots of kids at the Maho but very quiet and relaxing at Ocean Point.  It is an all-inclusive so we ate all our meals at this beautiful restaurant on a cliff overlooking the bay and watching the planes fly in and out.  Room was very large and clean.  We will definitely use Ocean Point again if we are in St. Martin.

Saturday the 23rd, late checkout so after lunch we take an easy cab ride over to Marigot.  I had no idea where the ship might be but the driver knew exactly and was very helpful.  There is a commercial pier area on the far north side of the harbor, away from the sailboat circle jetty, and that is where SD2 was positioned.  We arrived to find a lovely tent set up on the pier to wait for the “welcome aboard” at 2 pm.  The facility was comfortable and easy.  SD2 was the only vessel in the port (there is nothing else around so don’t expect to be able to pick up any last minute items you forgot.)

We had barely walked into the facility and we heard the distinctive laugh of Anna the Activities Director announcing it was time to come aboard.  Big hugs to her and then at the top of the gangway to Gareth the Club Director (we did not hug Captain Steinar, just a warm handshake haha).  Sat down for a quick glass of champagne (which became the theme of the voyage) and then we were asked to check in.  That is when we were also told it would only be 31 passengers total onboard – WOOHOO!!.  Bags were already at our room (308) and we are unpacked and ready to relax by 2:45 with champagne in hand and headed to Top of the Yacht.  We met the bartenders (Chief Bartender Gareth whom we knew and Byron from South Africa).  Safety drill at 5:30 was easy as we all fit in one Muster Station area.  Gareth led a nice welcome talk in the salon and then dinner.  It was very odd to see the dining look so empty yet every passenger seated.  Back up to TOY where more introductions were made and more bubbly enjoyed.

Sunday the 24th in Anguilla.  This was my birthday and I really wanted to attend Mass at St. Gerard’s Catholic Church.  It is a beautiful church that we have driven past several times and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity.  Unfortunately we overslept a bit and then had to hustle to make the first tender to catch a taxi to make 9 am Mass (that did not get started until about 9:15 – island time), so we had no breakfast and maybe a touch of the bubbles flu from the night before.  No good deed, right – 1 hour and 45 minute mass.  Luckily our taxi driver was right there to pick us back up so we head back to the ship and of course just miss the tender.  Now standing in the sun, on a small pier and SD has not even set up the welcome station and have not nothing to eat or drink – great birthday so far (but very holy at least).  Finally back at the ship at 11:45 however lunch does not start until 12:30.  Fortunately Byron starts pouring the champagne (see a trend yet) and breaks open the Pringles and snacks.  Jamie the Hotel Manager walks up the stairs and asks how our day is going to which I give a quick recap and he immediately says PLEASE come down and start lunch as if it was somehow SD’s fault which it was not.   Best Service at sea.  My favorite lunch of the voyage is always the first lunch with Mussels.  Someone must have told Tomaz I enjoy Mussels because it seemed like a bushel basket of steaming Mussels was delivered to the table (our favorite spot in the back port corner).  Of course it is time to change from bubbles to white wine and all seems good with the world again and I am starting to think that turning 59 is not that bad after all.

The Captain pulls up anchor around 3 pm and we head to St Barths.  Beautiful smooth transit around Anguilla with perfect weather.  We enjoy time around the pool and keep chatting with the same 3 couples (uh oh, I can see a pattern starting).  Dinner is outside and Jamie seats us at the back upper port corner table of 2 which is my favorite outdoor dining spot.  Dinner is wonderful and SURPRISE there is a birthday cake which we both though was our dessert, but oh no, they brought our regular dessert also – Yikes.

“I will digress for a quick moment back to our daughter’s wedding 3 weeks prior.  The father daughter first dance was to “The Way You Look Tonight”.  I made it through the dance, my toast and actually the entire wedding and did not let myself cry.  During our dinner on SeaDream, Romy the guitar player was strolling by and I heard a faint song and sure enough it was “The Way You Look Tonight” – well guess what, the tears starting rolling down my face.  Not a full slobber runny nose but still it was a special memory.  I did ask Jamie later that night how he knew (of course he did not) but he just winked and said well certainly we want to make the night special for you”

So now it was back to the TOY for cocktails and then “Name that Tune” in the Piano Bar.  Of course you have to choose teams and by now the collaborative of misfits otherwise known as “oh, that group” was ready to rumble.  We were a group of 8 pitted against a family of 4 (husband, wife and 2 adult girls) and well it turned into a Battle Royale’.  Somehow we ended up with a score of 16 out of 15 (don’t ask, but yes we might have fudged our numbers) and you would have though we won the World Cup so celebrations had to continue late into the evening.   Let’s just say I don’t need to turn 59 again.

Monday is St. Barth’s day.  We have been many times so we enjoyed a late breakfast while Gareth took a large (relatively haha) group for a walk up to the fort and over the Shell Beach.  Mary and I did do some shopping but the one store she wanted to shop for Christmas presents (Longchamps??) was closed (lucky me).  I did however end up with a new pair of swim trunks from St. Barth’s (fancy, fancy)

That afternoon was water sports and swimming off the back.  I want to mention something serious at the point.  Passengers should REALLY understand that swimming off the back of ship in the middle of a harbor with current is NOT like swimming at a beach or in a pool.  Mary and I dove in and swam out to the floating Trampoline and several other folks followed but no one really expected the type of current that we experienced.  Without getting into too much detail, one gentleman jumped in without any type of flotation device and quickly was beyond the rope bouys and was in trouble.  I swam out to him, pulled him back to the ropes and helped him back to the ship.  Thankfully Mary swam to the platform, grabbed a life vest and met me half way to put under him.  He was extremely grateful and  he did not swim off the back the rest of the voyage.  It is more about understanding our surroundings and any danger before just diving in to an unknown. Ok, off my serious soapbox and now back to the fun.

Part 2 Nevis and St. Kitts coming up.

SD2 11.jpg

SD2 4.jpg

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Beautiful photos. Great review. Looking forward to next installment.

 

31 passengers - did they do a dinner around the pool? We did for the first time on a voyage of 67 passengers. It's fabulous, but they can't do it with a larger crowd.

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Part 2

St Barth’s night is Dancing under the Stars at the TOY.   This is also the Captain Welcome party around the pool before dinner.  Very nice and Captain does a fine introduction of his senior staff and then off to dinner.  Well “the group” has now officially formed.  We are a solid group of 8 (4 couples all about the same age and some backgrounds and same enjoyment of libations).  Dinner goes late and we head to the TOY for Dancing with DJ Anna.  Quite the party and working the poor bartenders into a full sweat.  After more bubbles and maybe a Bourbon I have the bright idea that I will lead this motley crew on our own excursion the next day in Nevis (since the ship excursion was cancelled due to min number).  This will be a Rum Tour of Nevis (sure, that’s a really good idea Mark).

The next morning, Frudy at the front desk is my hero.  She has arranged for a qualified Taxi Driver and large van for us to use and gives me a map (circles a couple of favorites) and says “good luck, have fun”.  I am now full of trepidation since the other are relying on me (maybe I overstated my knowledge of Nevis the night before after that last Bourbon???) so the pressure is on.  First everyone shows up (darn it, I was hoping they would over sleep) and we are off to Charlestown.  Mary and I have been to Nevis a couple of times but always just to Chrissy Beach, so no real experience.  We do have a neighbor back home that has a house on Nevis and prior to the trip we asked for suggestions so I had a little bit of inside baseball info.

First stop was a Rum Store (what can go wrong with that).  Tiny little shop a few blocks inland and we walk in and young lady running the store looks up at “the group” like a deer in headlights.  Luckily, the owner (also Mark) happens to be dropping something off at the store and walks in 2 minutes behind us.  He is fantastic.  Gives the whole history, pours tastings, then pour extra tastings and is truly an ambassador of Nevis.  I ask how much for the tasting and he states “if you buy a couple of my bottles of Rum (Clifton Estates) then that will suffice.  Needless to say we were already going to do that so everyone buys more Rum (think Jack Sparrow on the deserted island).  Now we are off to “Banana’s” (Frudy’s pick).  Up and up and up we drive and then finally come to this fabulous facility, almost like a Botanical Garden but it serves Drinks (WOOHOO).  Parts of the group is starting to think, maybe we should slow down but luckily a couple of us charge forward with the SD Banner and are determined to experience Rum in Nevis.  Since it is only about 11:30 we have the place to ourselves and enjoy the really beautiful complex.  The pump is now primed, for some of us at least – so it is off to Sunshines.  For those that have not been, think a blend of Foxy’s and Soggy with the world famous Killer Bee cocktails.  I ask our driver if he will wait or if he wants to go pick up another fare and he laughs and says “I think I will wait, if you have 1 or 2 of those drinks it won’t take long before I take you back to ship”.  He is right.  The girls get pictures with Sunshine himself (or at least someone pretending to be Sunshine that just likes hugging women and taking pictures with them).  We pour ourselves in the van, head back to the pier and decide that maybe actually eating food would be a good idea – so adios to the Rum of Nevis and back to the safety of the ship.  After lunch I decided to check my eyelids for holes (found none, but slept for a couple hours) by the pool.

Dinner is again outdoors (the weather was perfect all week).  The group (or at least some) have a second wind in their sails and tonight is Trivia Night – dun, dun, dun – you can almost hear the theme song of Rocky 2 in the background as the Hatfields and McCoys will battle again.  However, “the group” is now fully ensconced at the TOY and no one wants to ruin our perfect record (undefeated at 1 and 0) so the decision is made to pass on Trivia and as it turns out, the family of 4 has also come to the same conclusion so no Trivia is played and poor Anna is all by herself at the Piano Bar.  (When only 31 pax, that is also a downside).  However the fun does continue as the TOY turns into a self DJ’d dance party – or at least that is what I was told.  Mary and I ghosted early and decided that if I want to make it to 60 I can’t go this hard every night.

The next morning we wake up a couple of miles away at South Friars Bay in St. Kitts.  The only thing there is the Carambola Beach Club.  Some folks did go zip lining and another tour went sightseeing.  Mary and I just rented a couple of chairs at the beach and recharged (no rum on this island, or at least that is what I told myself).  Very relaxing day and back on board for a late wine lunch (gotta get back on that horse).  More time for interesting conversations around the pool.  By this time I have spoken with every other passenger on board, not a feat I will likely be able to accomplish with a full manifest.  Lovely people and some unique stories that again make SeaDream special.

St. Kitts dinner is again outdoors and we have been invited to dine with Gareth.  It is also the return passenger gala prior to dinner.  Mary and I have only been on 6 voyages and somehow we come in 3rd most days (oh yeah, that 31 thing again I guess haha).  We also are joined at dinner with the couple whom Mary and I had to pull the husband out of the water on St. Barth’s.  I was a little apprehensive of how that would go but he was gracious and very thankful.  All was good.  It was also fun to catch up with Gareth.  He was Club Director on our very first SD and he even remembered some of the details of that voyage (ask him about the sand volleyball game in Mayreau and the Bees).  Very low key evening for Mark and Mary and we turned in early.  I heard the TOY was still going late into the night.  Mary and I have been replaced with another more fun British Couple and we are both happy to but on the bench.

Next up is Virgin Gorda and Jost van Dyke for Part 3.

16 minutes ago, Zimmy said:

Beautiful photos. Great review. Looking forward to next installment.

 

31 passengers - did they do a dinner around the pool? We did for the first time on a voyage of 67 passengers. It's fabulous, but they can't do it with a larger crowd.

Zimmy, we were always up top for outside.  They did put almost all of us around the TOY one night, but nothing by the pool.  I think it was more of a kitchen thing.

 

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Great reporting, Mark.  Surprised you were able to remember everything (or anything, for that matter).  I guess this is why Chris said she did not think SD was for non-drinkers.

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1 hour ago, TrapperZimmy said:

Great reporting, Mark.  Surprised you were able to remember everything (or anything, for that matter).  I guess this is why Chris said she did not think SD was for non-drinkers.

Trap, your timing is spot on - thanks to my editor (the lovely Mrs Tiki) she reminded me that I missed an entire dinner - the Champagne Experience.  I am doing the update along with the concluding portion and should post soon.  (they only give you limited internet time here at the local Betty Ford clinic)

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1 hour ago, TrapperZimmy said:

Great reporting, Mark.  Surprised you were able to remember everything (or anything, for that matter).  I guess this is why Chris said she did not think SD was for non-drinkers.

 

🙂 It's fun to read this! Don and I did what we always do, which is float between all the groups and say hello. Just call me Switzerland. 🇨🇭

 

I did miss the incident with the older man swimming off the back, although another passenger told me about it. Good on you, Tiki, for being there when you were! That sounded rather scary. 

 

We did show up for trivia night, having slept through the entire music "Battle Royale" the night before, and no one was there. Oh well. I apparently channeled all my competitiveness into Jenga at Foxy's! 😂Gareth took a photo of me with my "game face" on. My family won't let me live this one down for a while! 

 

Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 1.03.05 PM.png

Edited by Cruise Critic Chris

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Finally Part 3 (and the conclusion)

 

Well we all knew this would happen, happy fingers typing away and I messed up the Review.  The outdoor dinner with Gareth was actually the Nevis night, not St Kitts.  For the St Kitts dinner it was the Champagne Extravaganza dinner with 7 courses prepared by Chef.  But first a little back story.  The voyage was originally promoted as a Wine Tasting experience.  Mary and I wanted the Nov 23rd week anyway and hey, if SD wants to make it a Wine Special voyage, well throw me in that briar patch.  Turns out it basically was a promotion by the Armand de Brignac representative.  Very unique champagne with list prices in the $900 to $1500 per bottle range.  Lovely young man that was extremely knowledgeable about champagne did a free tasting on Tuesday afternoon and then the Dinner on Wednesday evening.  Frank the sommelier set up the Captain’s Table in the middle of the Dining Room for “the group” (maybe the thought is to keep us surrounded and we will behave).  As it turns out, by this evening almost all of us were running out of steam.  The meal was superb and the champagne was nice but honestly I can’t tell a big difference in champagne’s.  There was a surcharge for the Champagne with dinner but it was more about the experience (check that one off the list).  When dinner was over Mary and I did decide to turn in early so now I am back current on the end of Part 2 of the terribly long saga.

Thursday is Virgin Gorda day.  The ship clears BVI customs at Spanish Town Virgin Gorda early on Thursday and guess who is anchored right next door – SeaDream 1.  Not enough time for SD to offer tender service back and forth so we did not get a chance to say hello to the SD1 staff.  Both ships excursions are to the Baths.  The only difference being that SD1 was going to wait in Spanish Town harbor for their passengers but SD2 went around the island to North Sound in front of Leverick’s Bay, which meant our passengers would have to ride in the open air trucks up and over Gorda Peak.   Mary and I have been through the Baths several times so no big interest for us to join, especially if there was going to be an hour ride at the end.  I did get up in time to wave to the folks as they tendered over and then sat down to enjoy some coffee.  At this point there are only 10 passengers on the SD2 as we pull up anchor and sail around to the top end, really a private yacht now.  After breakfast Mary enjoys the Spa, I workout in the gym (ok, just walk on the treadmill, but still….) and I also have a long and thoughtful conversation with Gareth.  We solve most of the world’s problem and then debate over which bay is which in North Sound.  The only way to solve this dilemma is to of course – go to the Bridge and check the maps.  For someone that loves this sort of thing I was like a kid in a candy store.  The only way to make it better would have been if the First Officer had said “pull up the anchor and take her for a spin”.

Lazy late lunch, then quick tender to shore to “borrow” the internet at Pussers and then back for some water toys and swimming that afternoon.  SD2 has a brand new JetSki that is a lot of fun.  Also the current in North Sound was non-existent so swimming was enjoyable.  Sailing out of North Sound as the sun was setting was beautiful.  I spoke with Jamie and asked him if we could do a table just for Mary and I the last 2 nights (sort of a tradition for us).  Dinner is around TOY and we have a lovely table at the top of the stairs.

The ship has now dropped anchor in White Bay of Jost and the Captain puts out a tender that will run until 1 pm to Foxy’s over in Great Harbor.  Uh oh, I can see trouble with a capital T (actually one of the group is a huge University of Tennessee fan and wore a hat with a large T).  It takes a bit for the tender to find the correct small pier but we invade Foxy’s full force.  It was already packed with the boats and Cats in the harbor so we fit right in.  There was dancing and very competitive Jenga games and at some point around midnight we were afraid the Tender would turn into a pumpkin (it is orange afterall) so we head back to the ship.

Friday is Splash day in White Bay of Jost Van Dyke and the weather could not have been more perfect.  No wind so the bay was like a lake.  Wet landings were simple and of course there was champagne for all.  At noon all passengers are gathered in the water around the caviar and Tomaz and Jamie begin the celebration.  Gareth was able to take a selfie picture with every passenger in one single photo (said that had never been done before).  Also Tomaz stated that this was the first time weather allowed them to have the paddle board in the water for the caviar.  Lunch was amazing as always, then we meandered down the beach to Soggy to say hello to friends back home on the Webcam (wish you were here, haha).  Finally closed out the day as the last bottle of champagne was emptied (that was Jamie’s excuse to get us back on the ship).

Dinner was very low key that evening.  Both of us had already packed that morning so a rather calm and sedate evening, even for “the group”.   Exchange of cards with emails and promises to stay in touch (and of course Mary and I book the March 14th voyage on SD2 so we will be back soon).

San Juan disembarkation.  For some reason San Juan is requiring all passengers to go through customs and be off the ships as soon as possible which meant 8:15 am.  SeaDream is not a fan of this new situation but nothing they can do about it.  We had an early breakfast and are walking off the ship about 8:20 am.  Customs is not onboard as usual, you go down the gangway, past the luggage, up the escalator to the back of terminal to the Customs Officers and then back down the escalator to the luggage and out the front to Old San Juan.  Not hard but also not exactly the way SeaDream would like for the passengers to experience disembarkation.  Simple $24 cab ride to the airport (once there don’t forget to put your luggage through the screeners BEFORE you try to check in at the counters).  Smooth flight home and after 8 loads of laundry on Sunday we were all back to normal.

If anyone made it all the way to the end of this War and Peace novel, I hope you enjoyed.  I am happy to help answer any questions if I can remember.  Mary and I continue to love the SeaDream experience and encourage others to try for themselves.

Cheers

Mark (Tiki)

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SDII Splash 2017.jpg

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Tiki

That is the best review I’ve ever read. Thanks so much for taking the time to do it.🍸😎

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So hoping to make a winter 2021 voyage, thanks for the photos-they really give a great perspective on the experience. I read a bunch of different subs on this forum but you all are the ones I want to meet. 

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17 hours ago, Jim Avery said:

Tiki

That is the best review I’ve ever read. Thanks so much for taking the time to do it.🍸😎

Jim, thank you for the kind words.  I thought the write up was rather "ho-hum" compared to days past but it was fun to share the voyage experience 😉

Cheers

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Wonderful review...thank you!  We board SDI for our first SeaDream voyage on the 21st and absolutely cannot wait; your review made it that much harder 😉  

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