After the grueling weeks following Hurricane Sandy,a Caribbean cruise aboard the SeaDream II is my idea of paradise on earth.
An easy flight from Newark to San Juan and a short taxi ride took my daughter and me to Pier One in the old part of the city. And there she was: the handsome yacht-like vessel that would be our home for a blissful week.
Capt. Torbjorn Lund gave us a warm welcome and a smiling crew member handed us our first glass of champagne (we soon learned that the champagne would flow freely here).
As our bags had already been taken to our suite, we relaxed in the ship’s main lounge, snacking on hors d’oeuvres and pastries and sipping the champagne while we waited for our check-in. To make the time pass even more quickly, two spa estheticians passed among us, offering back and neck massages. Check-in was accomplished quickly and easily at a concierge desk and we were soon resting comfortably in our stylish yacht suite. A request for down pillows was quickly fulfilled, so it was with difficulty that we accomplished the mandatory lifeboat drill.
Sail-aways are always magical and this one, with fewer than100 passengers onboard, was especially grand because it felt like a private party. Actually, it was partly a private party, as a group of about 30 friends were taking this cruise to celebrate a 40th birthday.
As we left the old city, we could see two ships, one from Carnival, the other from Royal Caribbean; we were all sure that our ship — excuse me, yacht — was having the best time of all.
We soon passed San Felipe del Morro Castle, where the lighthouse shone a beam to guide us, as it has guided ships since 1876. Although there were still cocktails to be consumed and a festive dinner ahead, we crashed, having been up since 3 a.m. for our morning flight. So in pajamas and robes (in the cabin, along with slippers), we tried out room service, which is available 24/7.
Dining on soup, salads and sandwiches, we watched a DVD (“La Vie en Rose”) we’d borrowed from the concierge’s extensive collection. Because a movie is no fun without popcorn, room service also supplied us with two movie-theater-style boxes of the stuff. This was yachting at its best for two tired and weary travelers.
Tomorrow we’d be docked in Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI, ready to take advantage of all the activities and perks the SeaDream II has to offer. Early in the morning, there would be yoga and Tai Chi, as well as the opportunity for a complimentary steam or sauna treat (with lavender aromatherapy) at the Thai-style spa. And that was before the St. John activities and excursions would begin.
With all that to look forward to, our dreams were sure to be sweet.
December 3, 2012
Photos by Lillian Africano