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CRUISE VIEWS

Skip the glitz on a sailing with SeaDream Yacht Club

January 05, 2003|Harry Basch | Special to The Times

A SeaDream Yacht Club cruise is a different kind of trip. You won't find Las Vegas-style nightclub shows, scheduled dining room seating or formal nights. The shop is small, the casino consists of two blackjack tables and six slot machines, and the main entertainment, beyond the piano bar, is conversation with your fellow guests.

The 110-passenger SeaDream I and SeaDream II are the former Sea Goddess I and II, once owned by Cunard but sold last year to a group of Norwegian investors. Their recent extensive remodeling has raised the ante in luxury cruising.

The changes to the ships are more than just cosmetic. The major difference is in the outdoor grill area. The dining area has been enlarged and is now covered. A new bar, the Top of the Yacht, has been installed one deck up.

Because smoking is not allowed in the public rooms or cabins, smokers often go to the open Top of the Yacht bar. Nonsmokers cluster around the piano bar, while a few passengers wander into the casino or head to their cabin with a CD or a DVD.

The library contains more than 1,000 recently published books. A new and expanded forward sun deck has been augmented by double-bed-sized loungers. To further relax and pamper you, a new SeaDream Asian Spa and Wellness Center provides sauna, massages, body scrubs and wraps, hydrotherapy, thalassotherapy or combinations. A 50-minute massage begins at $110; for $500, you get three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon that include a foot bath, body scrub, body wrap and massage, and a facial.

At 195 square feet, cabins are compact but well laid out, with a sitting area and a sleeping area that can be curtained off. An entertainment center has a flat-screen TV and CD and DVD players for movies available from the front desk. Internet connection in the cabin costs $35 for 24 hours. (The library has two computers on which you can log on for $5 for the first 10 minutes and $3 for each additional 10 minutes.) A desk area, chair and sofa complete the furnishings. A safe and hair dryer are available in each cabin.

Closet space is adequate. The bathroom tub has been replaced by a large marble shower with three water jets. A mini refrigerator contains soft drinks, and a liquor cabinet is stocked with two bottles of your choice of wine or spirits along with bottled water.

Laundry and dry cleaning are available for about what you would pay for one-day service at a luxury hotel.

Most passengers arrive at the dining room between 7:30 and 9 p.m. Depending on the weather, some dinners are held in the Topside Restaurant, where balmy breezes accent the casual, relaxed meal. The beach barbecue -- the special event of the week -- offers the usual hot dogs, hamburgers and fried chicken but also features caviar and champagne.

Aquatic sports are a big part of the daytime activities in the Caribbean. A marina platform lowers into the water, and such toys as Jet Skis, Zodiacs, kayaks and a banana boat give the passengers plenty to do besides swimming in the pool or basking in the Jacuzzi.

Itineraries for SeaDream I and II through the end of March are seven-day round-trip sailings from St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands calling at St. Kitts, St. Barts, Anguilla, Tortola, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke.

Brochure rates begin at $4,900 for a seven-day cruise. Prices include wine at lunch and dinner, open bar, gratuities and use of water toys, DVDs and CDs.

For information and brochures, see your travel agent, call SeaDream at (800) 707-4911 or visit www.seadreamyachtclub.com.

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Harry Basch travels as a guest of the cruise lines. Cruise Views appears twice a month.

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