Friday, July 24, 2015

SEA DREAM - OUR DREAM

Today we feature a SeaDream Yacht Club voyage by our guest bloggers and loyal Select travellers, the Rautalinko family. They review their vessel and its facilities, and describe the highlights...

Athens to Venice with SeaDream I



The family reports...

Once again the Rautalinko family (Cleo, Esa, Kalle (12) and Kasper (12)) have completed a fantastic holiday organized by Select Collection! We have grown to be quite some fans of the SeaDream Yacht Club, having previously cruised on the SeaDream II twice, and now was the time to test the SeaDream I on a cruise from Athens to Venice (July 11th-19th).

Athens

We arrived to Athens the previous day. A direct flight from Helsinki to Athens was available by Aegean Air with a reasonable price and we have to say that they did a good job, even providing a warm onboard lunch that begins to be a rarity these days… So well done Aegean! We stayed the night in the Hotel Grande Bretagne, just beside the Syntagma Square. A very nice upscale hotel, though some observations:

- the 7th floor restaurant is very nice and dining is practically al fresco. Table reservations are needed, at least during the tourist season. Good food, reasonable value for money.
- on the 8th floor is a pool and a bar but they are pretty modest. Does the job but not an experience to remember..
- the lobby bar is nice and worth recommending
- we had interconnecting rooms (145 and 147). Otherwise ok, but they are located next to the hotel´s cigar lounge and the cigar stench was disturbingly strong especially during the night time when the lounge was open. So when making reservations, those rooms are worth avoiding.

The vessel

We boarded SeaDream I on the 11th and as always, everything was effectively and nicely organized. The SeaDream II was boarding at the same time, but no hassle, everything went smoothly. It was nice to see some previously familiar crew members onboard, ones that had changed from SeaDream II to I. Also some familiar fellow passengers we had met on previous cruises were onboard. In fact the staff said that on our particular cruise the share of repeaters was 40% which is pretty respectable.

It is clear that both ships share exactly the same familiar ways of working, time tables and procedures. So not only are the ships identical but so is the experience. Somehow, however, we found the SeaDream II to have a bit more relaxed atmosphere than SD I. It is very hard to put ones finger on the reasons but that was also something a few other guests pointed out having an experience from both vessels.

The food was absolutely great as before and the menus kept changing daily, also taking into account local specialities and seasons. Also the beverage side was well taken care of as well as service-mindedness. One small example of the service attitude. As we were in Greece, I thought it would be nice to have a glass of Metaxa and it turned out to be that none was available. But their comment was “Sorry Sir, we don´t have any. But tomorrow we will.” And so they did for the rest of the cruise, in all bars.

Some comments on the places visited:

En route


The dramatic canal

Antiquity dreams on


Hydra, Greece:
- nice little town, not too much to see but to take a stroll. For many of the guests this seemed to be a “day off” as many had travelled from quite far away.

Itea, Greece:
- a pretty modern small town. The absolute must in Itea is to pay a visit to Delphi. It is roughly a 30 min bus drive from Itea to the amazing ruins of Delphi. If you are a history buff, you don´t want to miss this one!

Gaios, Paxoi, Greece:
- a sleepy little town, perfect for winding down, having a cup of coffee and an ouzo…

Kotor, Montenegro:
- an absolute gem! Fantastic scenery and a dramatic entrance to the port through a fjord-like route. An incredibly well preserved medieval town and possibilities to climb up the mountain to a monastery and/or to do quality shopping. Nice caf├ęs and restaurants, too.

Dubrovnik, Croatia:
- Dubrovnik is pretty well known by now, but still definitely worth a visit. Entering Dubrovnik from the sea certainly is an experience and the beauty of the town is heightened to another dimension!

Medieval alleyways

Korcula, Croatia:
- the birth place of Marco Polo, as they say. Might be true as during those days Korcula was part of the Venetian empire. Definitely worth a visit, nice shore-side restaurants and bars, a lot of medieval well-preserved buildings and some shopping possibilities as well. Beautiful scenes around the harbors!

Medival Korcula 


Hvar, Croatia:
- the St Tropez of Croatia...! Very lively upscale place, a lot of buzz during the evening and night times. A place to be in Croatia for young adults.

Buzzy lively Hvar in a quiet moment


Venice, Italy:
- we didn´t visit the city but took a ride directly to the airport instead. What a chaotic airport it is…   ;0)


The main highlights

Of all the ports visited, the top ones definitely were Itea (because of Delphi), Kotor and Korcula, suiting our lifestyle the best. But as always, all places visited were well planned by SeaDream and they all were enjoyable in their own way.

As a bonus we had the chance to meet the owner of SeaDream, Mr Atle Brynestad, who took the same cruise with his family. His commitment to SeaDream and its level of quality seems to be strong and it further enhanced our trust on SD. So we booked another cruise for next October from Barcelona to Lisbon which is already under preparation in the capable hands of Select Collection…

The Rautalinko family grade (4-10) to the vacation: 9,5

Cleo with Kalle & Kasper

Until the next time!


Esa, Cleo, Kalle & Kasper

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