Not the destination but the journey
Story and photos by Barbara Barton Sloane
For Traveling Tales
“Our truest life is when we are in our dreams, awake,” –Henry David Thoreau
I was awake yet was, most definitely, in a dream – the “SeaDream” Yacht to be precise. Cruising along the Amalfi Coast of Italy, heading toward ports I’d only fantasized about, it was a pinch-myself moment. Yes, this was true life. Let the dreaming begin!
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the SeaDream Yacht Club, whose motto is “It’s yachting, not cruising.” That it is. It’s a family owned company, conceived by Norwegian entrepreneur Atle Brynestad with a maximum of 112 guests on board and catered to by an award-winning crew of 95, insuring that you will be “Splendidly Spoiled” and receive the most incomparable service at sea, bar none. In fact, Conde Nast Traveler magazine recently ranked SeaDream number one in the category of small ships with a higher score than any other cruise ship regardless of category.
Cruising is my favorite mode of travel, and in that I’m not alone; even the esteemed Sir Francis Drake said “It isn’t that life ashore is distasteful, but life at sea is better.” Think about it: cruising lets you share a front porch with a billionaire, your view the very same beautiful sea, blue sky and if you’re lucky, cavorting porpoises and the occasional leaping whale. The boarding process always puts happy, fluttering butterflies inside me, and being greeted before mounting the gangplank by a handsome crew member proffering a celebratory glass of champagne set exactly the right tone. It just got better from there when, upon boarding, we stepped into an already-in-progress festive cocktail party hosted by the Captain.
Every stateroom has a large window with an ocean view and the color scheme echoes that scene with navy, white and beige. My bathroom was taupe-colored marble, and my bed was dressed in white Belgian linen. There was champagne cooling in a silver bucket, a comfy sofa and a large flat screen TV. Heaven.
On board, the SeaDream offers a host of amenities and fun activities. Yoga is offered daily, there’s a well-equipped fitness center, and a Thai-themed spa, the only one of its kind at sea. From the moment you rise, your dining is going to be a fine gourmet experience. I looked forward each morning to dining al fresco on the pretty upper deck, and evenings, as I entered the dining room, I was asked if I wished to be alone or if I felt a bit sociable. I usually chose the latter and had the opportunity to meet my attractive and appealing neighbors. After dinner, we typically sauntered up to the Top of the Yacht Bar where we were serenaded with our favorites by a piano or guitar. When in port, one can choose from a choice of custom-designed land adventures. If one stays on board, this vessel offers experiences unique to cruising: the yacht is able to lower a water sports platform which allows guests to enjoy swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing and jet skiing!
Another distinctive feature of this yacht is their luxurious on-deck Balinese Dream Beds. Each afternoon, this is where I could be found. I’d raise the bed for an unobstructed view and simply relax, watching the world go by, a favorite libation close at hand. At night, one has the option of sleeping under the stars on one of these beds made up with a fluffy down comforter and pillows. “Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars….” Voila: your own private star-studded playground, an oasis of perfect tranquility and an experience like nothing before.
In true yachting fashion, our SeaDream cruise took us to delighful, intimate yachting harbors where sometimes large cruise ships cannot go. We visited Positano, with its Flavio Gioia Square and the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption housing a Byzantine black Madonna with Child. Another port was the mythical island of Sardinia. In Corsica, its rugged mountains and lakes of glass offered breathtaking photo opps. From Amalfi’s harbor, a car took us up narrow, twisting and winding, white-knuckle roads to Ravello, one of the most famous spots on the Amalfi Coast and home in the past to Greta Garbo, Gore Vidal and D.H. Lawrence. Romantic Sorrento offered a high-point lookout where we could spy the ruins of Pompeii. Finally, one day we heard a crew member shout: “Here comes Capri!” Now I ask you, can there ever be a happier, more thrill-producing call?
John Steinbeck once said “The Amalfi Coast bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” One can say the very same of the SeaDream Yacht. Aboard, the experience is not quite real but once you’ve debarked, its siren call of style, quality and casual perfection beckons you back – again and again.
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Photos Courtesy The SeaDream Yacht Club
1. On Board the SeaDream