Sea Dreaming


There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will. Sometimes, it seems as if these ends are little more than a tedious diversion from the business of living one’s life as one would want to; the everyday grind of work, commute, family business and general toiling. Little wonder what Hamlet asked ‘Who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life?’ It seems as if sometimes the most magical of escapes is called for, to remove oneself from the toilery and stress of existence. And this, thankfully, is more than capably provided by SeaDream Yacht Club, which offers an experience so pleasurable and relaxing that as you return to reality, you begin to wonder if your entire week or so’s holiday ever really happened, or if it was simply the most pleasurable of fantasies.

We flew to Istanbul with Pegasus, which has established itself as one of the busiest and most cost-effective of the recent low-budget airlines to have emerged in the past few years to serve this destination. The Not-So-Ancient Mariner (or the NSAM, for short) was near-giddy with impatience throughout our journey to the dock, as was I. Having had the privilege of dipping a toe (as it were) onto SeaDream I for a familiarisation trip earlier in the year when it was briefly moored in London, I thought I had an idea of what to expect. Which I did, in a manner of speaking, but then if an adventure can spectacularly match and than exceed expectations, then SeaDream most certainly over-fulfilled its remit, and then some.

The motto that the ship sails under is ‘It’s not yachting, it’s cruising.’ This might sound a slightly odd distinction at first – after all, isn’t yachting designed for a couple of dozen people, rather than the 100-plus who can be accommodated on board a SeaDream? – but the difference soon becomes clear. While many of even the best cruise ships retain an anonymity and facelessness that can render the experience of travelling on them rather cold, the SeaDream difference is that it’s very easy to get to know one’s favoured members of staff straight away. It will come as little surprise to many readers that NSAM and I soon became fast friends with two of the charming bartenders, Zoltan and Severin, who could simultaneously mix a truly legendary gin and tonic while discoursing knowledgeably about anything from the political state in Bulgaria to what it’s like to travel the world in this sort of class. All the staff who we encountered – not least our charming waiter Ponce (the ‘e’ should be stressed, so that there is no danger of insult) – behaved more like laid-back hosts on a private holiday than salaried employees of a faceless corporation. And with a staff/guest ratio of nearly one to one, the highest at sea, it wasn’t as if we didn’t see them frequently, either.


Our route took us round many of the highspots of the Mediterranean, including Mykonos, Samos, Paros and Lesbos, some of which we visited for little more than a whistle-stop tour (I, forever unable to tan, took refuge under factor 50 suncream and was accordingly mocked for it), and others of which we spent rather longer at. Nonetheless, it was always something of a joy to return to SeaDream II, where we began to feel deeply at home in every part of the ship. Whether it was the amber pine and on-tap drinks of the wonderful Top of the Yacht bar, the quiet and well-stocked library, the well-equipped gym (I’d be lying if I said that we paused from our sybaritic pleasures to use it, but there we are) or just the seemingly endless number of spots that one could lounge under the sun in, there seemed to me to be very little that wasn’t offered on board.

And this, thankfully, included some of the best food that I’d eaten this year. So many cruise ships offer little more than buffet slop, and even the more upmarket ones would be the first to admit that the sheer mechanics of feeding thousands of people often defeats noble intentions of keeping the cuisine truly top-notch. No such problems here. Under the watchful eye of executive chef Tomasz, the meals took on a subtly distinctive form; top-notch favourites such as pancakes and Eggs Benedicts in the morning, light lunchtime dishes such as croquet monsieur and moules, and then the big guns in the evening, where every night had a slightly different theme, whether it was a special seven-course tasting menu or a Greek-themed delight. Paired with some very drinkable house wines (and with a more extensive list available at extra cost), it all made for a splendid repast throughout the day, especially when the weather made it possible to dine outside as the sun set. We didn’t over-indulge on the ‘small bites’ menu available 24 hours a day, offering treats including club sandwiches and brownies, but, as with everything else, it’s there if you want it.


What else to praise? The all-inclusive policy makes for a relaxed and enjoyable feeling – no worrying about whether that third glass of wine is going to add up to some outlandish charge on the bill – and the small size of the boat makes it much easier to make new friends, such as the charming American couple we met who ended up giving us a bottle of their own whisky, straight from their Scottish estate. (Your fellow passengers are undeniably well-heeled.) The staterooms are sumptuously appointed and very comfortable, and if the absence of individual balconies strikes you as a drawback, then you’re failing to understand the point of spending as much time as you possibly can outside, soaking up the sun’s rays.

At the end of one of the most relaxing and enjoyable weeks that we can remember, the NSAM looked at me and sighed. ‘I don’t want to go home’, she said, softly. I looked at her, and smiled. ‘We are home.’ I can’t wait until another opportunity comes along to experience life on the seven seas – with the excellence of the SeaDream difference.

Details of 2015 and 2016’s SeaDream Yacht Club voyages can be found at The best-value flights on Pegasus are bookable on the website, and Stansted Airport is best reached via the Stansted Express, where return tickets on the Stansted Express start at £33.20. For more information, visit the website.