Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams

Virgin
Islands

Seadreaming - Epicurean Delights and Casual Perfection

The anticipation of the unknown is my key motivator in traveling to places around the world. I have been fortunate enough to experience some 147 cities in 49 countries, went millions of miles, but amazingly have only covered about 20% of the globe. What lured me to this SeaDream mega yacht was only 112 guests and her crew of 98 - with their emphasis on extraordinary French-inspired gastronomy. Our itinerary had us visiting Virgin Gorda, Nevis, St. Kits, Anguilla, St. Barts (The Caribbean's French Rivera). Lunch at Resort Le Toiny with toes in the sand, sipping on a cold Chardonnay and nibbling on Truffle french fries smothered in Foie Gras and Parmesan cheese - 'Ooh la la'!). And Jost Van Dyke (the SeaDream decadent Caviar and Champagne Beach BBQ at White Bay and the obligatory 'Painkiller' at the Soggy Dollar Bar). You sail by night and explore by day. I knew we were going to be surrounded by azure blue water, ideal for unwinding the mind and dining in food heaven, the perfect palate teaser. Several years ago, we discovered going 'unplugged' down at our favorite Villa Rolandi on Isla Mujeres. It's now our way to go on vacation - no cell, computer, TV or newspapers, just your partner, a good book, and pampered service. It raises one's level of consciousness to what we call 'where nothingness begins.'

Resort Pre-Sailing
We arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico a day before and stayed at the majestic Condado Vanderbilt. This is where the old world meets modern luxury. They don't build hotels like this anymore. Back in 1919 is when she opened her doors to European nobility and Hollywood stars. Captained for the past ten years by veteran hotelier, General Manager Ben Tutt, who explained their recovery post-Maria. She has now completed her $260M renovation and is back to her revered beauty celebrating over 100 years as San Juan's grand dame. His gracious hospitality is being the consummate host, always at your service. Legendary Executive Chef, Juan Jose Cuevas, whose reputation precedes him, continues to knock out some truly amazing, inspired cuisines at "1919", possibly San Juan's best restaurant.

Lifestyle and Cuisine
For as many Five Star venues around the world, I've been privileged to enjoy; this onboard experience exceeded my expectations. Executive Chef Ali's attitude of catering to your every culinary wish is never-ending in his creative offerings of what he describes as 'Confluence Cuisine.' Just some examples; Veal Wellington, Sole Meunière, perfectly steamed Mussels with Garlic Toast, a fork-tender Osso Buco, Artichoke-Sundried Tomato Salad, Trout Almondine, fresh Lobster Salad, Tuna Tartare and of course, a Grand Marnier Soufflé - why not? Cocktails and tasty Hors-d'œuvres pre-dinner, another treat. Your choice of dining in the main salon or al fresco outside, either venue offers all you would expect and more. Paired with excellent wines provided by our French Sommelier Eric, coupled with outstanding service. The crew remembering your name from day one is truly impressive. Oh and pool boys coming around with cool water misting and sunglass cleaning was an extra nice touch.

All food, wine, spirits, gratuities, and the toys (kayaks, sailboats, and wave runners, even mountain bikes for land-based tours by the Captain and/or crew) are all included. Our Stateroom 406 with our own monogrammed Pj's, Bvlgari bath amenities, and nightly pillow gifts made up for it being a tad small. Not unlike perhaps being on a wealthy friend's boat. SDYC was truly sublime!

Yachting Not Cruising
There is a difference. CEO and Chairman, Atle Brynestad was the original brainchild behind small boutique luxury yachts. It's why we have given up the big body cruise lines in favor of smaller intimate ships, like Windstar, we've logged 49 days on their motorized yachts and sail ships. For the same sort of budget as a Presidential Suite on a ship carrying 5,000 passengers or more, you can be on ones with fewer than 350 people, versus being herded around with the masses. What you get onboard a SeaDream vessel, is a feeling of discreet sophistication, mixing with a guest list of diverse people, from around the world. United in one common goal to relax, explore leisurely at the same time wanting for nothing. Readers of Conde Nast Traveler ranked SeaDream Yacht Club as one of the 'Top 100 Travel Experiences Worldwide'. SeaDream was the only cruise company included in the listing. The other 99 winners were all hotels and resorts.

The flight out of St. Thomas didn't depart till late afternoon, so we decided to enjoy the day poolside at The Ritz Carlton Club. Our host Kurt Ginter couldn't have been more welcoming. Note: After extensive renovations, the Ritz Carlton Resort is now back open.

As someone recently reminded me, none of us are promised a tomorrow - you only live once. Sail with the SeaDream Yacht Club and indulge your Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams - why not?

Seven glorious days and nights later - Special commendations must go to Captain Lund for his personal and gracious hospitality. Christophe, Executive Hotel Director of both SDYC I and II, for his knowledge and high regard for perfection. Robin the ship's Maître d'hôtel, Assistant Maître d'hôtel Mikee, Concierges Brenda and Rose, Lee Ann our Cabin Stewardess. Then our ever attentive restaurant crew; Doramas, Jose, Jonathan, Stephen, Dusan and mixologists Bartenders, Fransisco, Aurel and Leslie, always greeting you by name with a genuine smile. And last but not least, the Maestro, the incomparable Chef Ali from Cape Town South Africa, who dazzled all of us with his exciting cuisine confluence BRAVO! As the Greek philosopher, Epicurus believed, living an existence full of simplicity was the way to achieve all the pleasures and comforts in life. It lives today among the ships of SeaDream Yacht Club.

References

Charles Woollett

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