ABOARD THE SEADREAM II – The only major island in the British Virgin Islands that Chet and I have never been to is Anegada. It is a bit difficult to reach when you are sailing on your own charter boat, as we did several years in the past.
So we were looking forward to getting there yesterday morning. However, as we arrived at our anchorage, the oceans swells were so high that Capt. Terje Willassen decided, as he later explained it, “to get out of here.” Tendering passengers to and from the island would have been quite difficult if not outright dangerous.
So he immediately adopted a new plan and at 8:30 a.m. announced that we were instead heading to Soper’s Hole on the west end of Tortola and then moving over to Norman Island for a couple of hours, eventually ending up at Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke so passengers could make an after-dinner visit to the famed Foxy’s Bar and Grill. And after 1 a.m., the ship moved yet again, to White Bay where we would be spending today.
The fact that the ship is so nimble and can go almost anywhere is one of the reasons passengers are so loyal and return time after time. They like the small size of the ship – 112 guests, 95 crew – and that it offers so many different anchorage options. At last evening’s Club Members Party, Capt. Willassen stated the No. 1 reason passengers return is the friendly and familial atmosphere onboard between passengers and crew. He noted that over 45 percent of passengers sailing this week were repeaters, with one couple sailing over 600 days on board.
It is an interesting statistic because it is certainly not the wonderful ship that brings them back time and again. Not to be too critical of an obviously successful product, one must note that this ship is tired and showing its age. After all, it is the former Sea Goddess II (sister ship of Sea Goddess I), built in 1985, did stints with Cunard and Seabourn and was acquired around 2000 by a former Cunard executive who turned the two ships into the boutique cruise line it is today.
A 30-year old ship is bound to have its limitations. The most noticeable to me are the lack of balconies (no fresh air in staterooms) and the tiny bathrooms. There are nice-sized sitting rooms but these are situated away from the large windows and are decorated in dreary colors. Thus, I did not find the cabin an inviting place to spend time. I imagine most passengers feel the same because everyone is up on deck and all seem quite content to be there. I think most find the cabins to be pretty irrelevant to the experience.
SeaDream’s motto is “It’s yachting, not cruising” and that’s what you get. Also, it is really all-inclusive, much like having your own yacht, so all drinks are included as well as all of the water sports, including jetskis, and gratuities.
Soper’s Hole was fun for a short shopping fix, and then the ship’s marina was brought out at Norman Island for swimming, paddle boarders and sailors so I got in another afternoon swim.
Today we are at Jost Van Dyke and everyone is heading to the beach, the highlight of which is the “Caviar Splash” – more on that tomorrow — and a beach barbeque lunch.
The cruise is already winding down but nobody is giving up on the fun.
And we still haven’t been to Anegada!
December 11, 2014
Photos by Chet Janssens