August 3, 2015 by adannunzio
In 1492 … Colón sailed the ocean blue
–by MALCOLM ANDREWS
SeaDream II sails into Cartagena harbor.
You would be hard-pressed to find a port in Spain that doesn’t boast a giant statue of Cristóbal Colón.
We can see the look of bewilderment that has already crept across your face. Cristóbal Colón? Who is he and why would he be so revered by the Spanish. The answer is simple. He is the famous explorer we know by his Italian name of Christopher Columbus. Remember the ditty from our schooldays? “In 1492 … Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”
In the first week of August we celebrated the anniversary of his setting sail on the first of his four voyages to ‘discover’ America. And, as happens each year, all those Spanish ports along the Atlantic and the Mediterranean use the day as excuse to party on long into the night, whether or not he had anything to do with the town or city in question.
Colón was a Genoese sailor of Spanish-Jewish extraction and is credited with driving a hard bargain to finance his adventures. For eight years he had been trying to persuade his patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, to come to his aid. He wanted a knighthood, the hereditary ranks of Grand Admiral and Viceroy, and 10 per cent of all income raised by the admiralty. It was a tidy sum as Spain had one of the greatest navies in the world and would regularly plunder foreign ports and ships of other nations.
At first Colón received a curt: “No!” But then the monarchs relented and he sailed off from the Atlantic port of Palos de la Frontera on August 3, 1492. He was actually looking for a new route to India – but central America got in his way and he found even greater riches that had envisaged.
Statue of the explorer, Colón
The city of Cartagena on Spain’s south coast had little to do with Colón. Nevertheless it boasts two prominent statues of the explorer, one in the old town, the other on the foreshores of the Mediterranean. The latter is an impressive sculpture with his right arm outstretched as if pointing to the Americas.
Although he never lived in Cartagena, the locals tell us he is important to the city because it is one of the most famous ports in the whole of Europe and home to the Spanish Navy since the 16th century. Today it is a Mecca for cruise vessels that ply the Mediterranean and SeaDream I and II regularly stop off for the passengers to soak up the unique ambience. And the SeaDreamers pose for ‘selfies’ with the wharf-side statue as a giant backdrop.
Preparing for the May Day salute in Cartagena
The good folk of Cartagena are also known for their love of festivals, and not only those with links to the explorer. When the two SeaDream mega-yachts docked on the same day in May, the locals were in the process of commemorating May Day, the international public holiday devoted to workers.“It is a pity you cannot stay on,” we were told. “The Festival of the May Flowers begins in a few days time.” No one is quite sure what the festival celebrates. But priests, brothers and nuns from various religious orders make crosses out of a variety of flowers and decorate the streets, especially in the old town. Women put on their traditional flouncy Spanish dresses. The men don the high-waisted trousers. Guitars and flamenco dancing are the order of the day (and night). And vast amounts of Spanish food, sangria and sherry are consumed. Even without the partying, Cartagena is an interesting place to visit.
Cartagena’s ancient Roman theatre
A ‘must-see’ for SeaDreamers is the Roman theatre, one of the biggest in all of Europe. The theatre was built between 5 and 1 BC, at the behest of Emperor Augustus Caesar and dedicated to his grandson Gaius and Lucius. In the 3rd century AD a moorish market or Kasbah was built over much of the theatre and some 10 centuries later a cathedral was constructed adjacent to the site using material purloined from the ancient theatre. The cathedral was destroyed in 1939 during the Spanish Civil War and the ruins have since remained virtually untouched. It wasn’t until 1988 when much of the site was being excavated for a new regional arts and crafts centre that the original theatre was discovered. The area was turned into a giant archeological dig. Restoration was finished in 2003 and a new museum has since been completed. Colón or Columbus … whatever you call him … would have been pleased!
MALCOLM ANDREWS is an Australian author and travel writer who has been a SeaDream devotee for the past decade.
July 21, 2015 by adannunzio
SEADREAM YACHT CLUB
AWARDS, HONORS AND ACCOLADES
Since its founding late in 2001, SeaDream Yacht Club, with its elegant twin mega yacht cruisers SeaDream I and SeaDream II, has received numerous awards, honors and accolades from authoritative travel publications, industry organizations and unsolicited guest comments. These welcome expressions of SeaDream’s excellence have not only conveyed the messages of “World’s Best” and “Best of Class,” but have validated the unique nature of the SeaDream voyage; one which is intimate and casually elegant, reflecting SeaDream’s mantra “It’s yachting, not cruising.”
Below are honors that exemplify SeaDream Yacht Club’s excellence:
Islands: “Best Summer Cruises”
USA TODAY: “Top Cruise Ship Crews”
ForbesLife: SeaDream Yacht Club named “Best Small Luxury Cruise Ship of 2015”
Berlitz Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships: SeaDream Yacht Club was named one of the five “Best Lines for Foodies”
Berlitz Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships: SeaDream I & II achieved Five Star ratings in the ‘Boutique Ships’ category (50 – 250 passengers).
Condé Nast Traveler Gold List: SeaDream named top Ocean cruise.
Newsweek’s Best of the Best Places to Visit in 2014: SeaDream I is recognized as “Cruise of the Year” by travel writer Andrew Harper.
Berlitz Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships: SeaDream I & II scored in the top three ratings in the ‘Boutique Ships’ category (50 – 250 passengers).
Bon Voyage Awards: SeaDream Yacht Club was named “Best for Couples”
Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards: SeaDream earns the highest score for cuisine in the small ships category and also places as one of six “Best in the World” small ship lines.
Travel + Leisure: SeaDream earns recognition as one of the best all inclusive cruises by expert cruise writer Fran Golden.
Condé Nast Traveler Spa Poll: SeaDream earns a place on the list of the “Top 25 Cruise Ship Spas.” Of the 25 spas named, SeaDream came in #1 for Spa Staff and #2 for Treatments. Readers who participated in the poll visited a total of 46,352 hotel, resort and cruise ship spas.
Fox News: The major news media outlet ranks SeaDream as one of the “Top 10 Cruise Lines.”
Chicago Tribune: Chicago’s daily newspaper features SeaDream as one of the “Ten Best Luxury Cruise Ships Afloat.”
Cruise Critic: SeaDream named 2013 top luxury line.
Cruise International Awards: SeaDream recognized as “Best Specialist Cruise Line.”
Cruise Report Editor’s Choice Awards: SeaDream named “Best Small Ship Luxury Cruise.”
Berlitz Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships: SeaDream I & II achieved the top two ratings in the ‘Boutique Ships’ category (50 – 250 passengers).
The Telegraph: SeaDream’s October 2013 Adriatic voyage named one of the six best short luxury cruises.
Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards: SeaDream Yacht Club landed a spot on the list of the “Top 25 Cruise Lines,” placed among few others in the “Top Small Ship Lines” category.
Condé Nast Traveler Annual Readers’ Survey: SeaDream is named one of “Top 270 Spas in North America, the Caribbean, Hawaii and at Sea.” The survey includes the “Top 25 Cruise Ship Spas” with SeaDream scoring 91.4 for both treatments and staff.
Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards: SeaDream placed on the short list of “World’s Best Service” for Cruises (Small-Ship). Only three ships were awarded in each of the three size categories. SeaDream scored in the top percentile, at 94.82.
National Geographic “Ten Best of Everything”: The ultimate guide for travelers, this third edition of the colorful 480 page book named SeaDream Yacht Club as one of the “10 Best Cruises.”
Berlitz Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships: SeaDream I & SeaDream II achieved the top two ratings in the ‘Boutique Ships’ category (50 – 200 passengers). The SeaDream mega-yachts’ rating – out of a possible 2,000 points – were 1,788 points for SeaDream II and 1,786 points for SeaDream I.
Condé Nast Traveller UK Readers’ Travel Awards: SeaDream I & SeaDream II named the “World’s Best Small Ships”. SeaDream’s total score of 88.94 was higher than every other cruise line of any size.
Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards: SeaDream I is ranked number one for service in the Small Ship category.
Frommer’s Guide to Cruises and Ports of Call 2011: SeaDream earns number one spot in “Notable Ships” category.
Berlitz Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships: SeaDream Yacht Club earns the title of “Simply the Best” in the “small or boutique” ship category.
Kreuzfahrt Guide (Germany): SeaDream Yacht Club’s twin mega-yacht cruisers, SeaDream I & II, were awarded “Number One for Service” for the second year in a row by the authoritative German guidebook. The award was presented at ITB (International Tourism Bourse) Berlin, one of the world’s leading and largest travel industry trade shows.
Berlitz Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships: SeaDream was described by this authoritative guidebook as “Ultimately Exclusive Boutique Vessels.” Both mega-yachts ranked as two of the top three passenger vessels in the world, earning Five Stars and topping 10 contenders in the boutique ships (50 to 200 passengers) category.
Porthole Magazine 2010: SeaDream Yacht Club was named “Best Passenger Yacht Experience” in the Editor-in-Chief Awards of Porthole Magazine, a sophisticated, international consumer cruise publication.
There have been many such commendations for SeaDream since its founding in 2001. These have come publications and organizations such as Travel + Leisure Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler Magazine, The Zagat Survey 2009, Cruise Critic 2009, Prow’s Edge Cruise Magazine, VERYBEST.COM, Celebrated Living magazine, Cruise Magazine UK, Virtuoso Ltd., Kapital Magazine Germany, Seven Seas Society, Cruise Report.Com, Carlson Marketing Group, Hideaways International, Travel Agent Magazine and Travel Weekly.
July 14, 2015 by adannunzio
SEADREAM YACHTING A VAST ARC OF MEDITERRANEAN’S EAST, NORTH AND WEST
SeaDream Yacht Club sails a 9-day voyage this October 23, tracking a vast arc of the Mediterranean coast from Rome’s port of Civitavecchia in the east, the Italian Riviera’s Portofino in the country’s north, Monte Carlo and St Tropez in the Mediterranean’s north-west – with an overnight in St Tropez – then Barcelona and Valencia in the west, and finally Malaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
The fare for the 9-days starts from US$4399 per person, double occupancy including ocean-view accommodation, wines with lunch and dinner, open bars with premium brands, gratuities, a golf simulator, use of power and sail water-sports where locally permitted, mountain bikes for shore explorations and more.
The sailing is also one of SeaDream’s popular Wine Voyages that include a number of exclusive activities led by wine experts and winemakers including complimentary onboard Wine Tastings. There are also optional visits to wineries in premium wine regions, and an optional Winemaker Dinner, which are all at an additional cost.
Full details from travel agents or visit www.seadream.com; total ports of call are Porto Ercole and Portofino (Italy,) Monte Carlo (Monaco,) St Tropez (France, overnight,) Sanary-sur-Mer (France,) Barcelona. Valencia and Malaga (Spain,) with a very dreamy full day and night at sea before arriving into Malaga.
SeaDream in Monte Carlo
St. Tropez, France
July 8, 2015 by adannunzio
Congratulations to SeaDream I Casino Manager, Loredana Ionica
Named SDI Employee of the Month for June 2015
Center: Loredana Ionica
Please join us in recognizing and congratulating Loredana Ionica, selected as June 2015 Employee of the Month for SeaDream I . There are many characteristics that identify excellent employees. SeaDream Yacht Club appreciates her dedication, caring, commitment and integrity.
May 18, 2015 by adannunzio
Bense Primary School, Dominica
SeaDream supports raising the literacy levels of Caribbean children
During the relaxing transatlantic crossings, we do aim to get a little exercise in. Guests get together with crew and walk laps around Deck 6. 16 laps equals 1 mile. Nothing like a brisk walk and the fresh ocean air to get your blood pumping. It’s one way to burn off the heavenly chocolate croissants from breakfast. To make the walk a bit more meaningful, SeaDream selects a charity to walk for. Guests and crew are encouraged to donate money per each mile walked, and SeaDream matches their donation.
The most recent crossings, sailing from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, guests and crew walked for the charity; “Hands Across the Sea”. Since SeaDream sails the Caribbean every winter, it’s great to give back to the islands we visit. In total, SeaDream donated US$1,300 from the spring crossings plus $1,246 from the fall 2014 crossings, to “Hands Across the Sea”. We thank everyone who participated.
About the charity:
Hands Across the Sea is dedicated to raising the literacy levels of Eastern Caribbean children
We work in six English-speaking island nations of the Eastern Caribbean: Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. The enthusiasm for reading in the region is very high, but the budget for literacy-building resources is very low.
Many children are growing up without access to new, relevant books and a lending library. Every year, we send thousands of great new books—over 143,000 since we started in 2007—that have been requested by educators via our Hands Wish Lists. We help schools (from pre-school to high school), reading programs, and community libraries—that’s 230 projects to date—create or rejuvenate lending libraries. And we work hands-on with our projects year after year—we’re with them for as long as they need our help. http://www.handsacrossthesea.net/index.htm
Gros Islet Infant School, St Lucia
Judys Pre-School, St Vincent and the Grenadines
May 13, 2015 by adannunzio
FIVE OVERNIGHT STAYS IN PORTS ON SEADREAM’S TEN DAYS ROME TO VENICE
SeaDream in Kotor, Montenegro
If 2016 is to be your Special Year, and the Mediterranean your dream of where it’s to be, let SeaDream Yacht Club make it all the more so with a 10-day sailing aboard SeaDream II from Rome to Venice – uniquely with (5) overnight stays in ports in Italy, Montenegro and Croatia.
SeaDream features an elegantly casual lifestyle. Although it is 5-star, there’s no call for jackets, ties or formal wear.
Departing Civitavecchia (Rome’s port) on July 23, 2016 for a day in fabled Capri, SeaDream II will then have an overnight stay in the medieval Italian city of Amalfi, then on to Taormina on Sicily (with stunning views of the active Mt. Etna volcano) followed by a whole day and night at sea for relaxing.
The voyage continues with a day and an overnight in the walled town of Kotor in Montenegro, an afternoon and overnight in Croatia’s Dubrovnik that’s considered one of the “ten best Medieval walled cities in the world,” little Korcula Island that’s long been a SeaDream guests’ favorite in the Adriatic, Hvar in Croatia for an overnight at this island of vineyards, olive groves and orchards, and a morning to explore Chioggia at the entrance to Venice.
Overnights in ports provide the opportunity to experience these interesting places by night and is something SeaDream guests particularly enjoy.
The 10-day sailing ends with SeaDream navigating her way through Venice’s famed St Mark’s Square and Grand Canal, one of the few passenger vessels small enough to be able to do so. Guests will love their final overnight in Venice aboard SeaDream II in the centre of this 5th century city of 118 islands.
SeaDream II voyage 21631
Fares currently begin from US$6,499+, double occupancy including 10-nights’ ocean-view accommodation, wines with lunch and dinner, open bars with premium brands, gratuities, use of power and sail water-sports where locally permitted, mountain bikes for shore explorations, a golf simulator, and more.
Details from travel agents or visit www.seadream.com
April 16, 2015 by adannunzio
AUSSIES TAKING TO SEADREAMING LIKE NEVER BEFORE
AUSTRALIANS have taken with such a passion to the concept of “elegantly casual” small-ship luxury holidaying, that it’s put Australians amongst the forefront of guest growth aboard the world’s highest-rated boutique operator, SeaDream Yacht Club.
And so much so that company President, Bob Lepisto says Australia is now one of the leading markets globally in guest growth aboard its SeaDream I and SeaDream II in the Mediterranean during the Northern Summer, with over 10% of guests sailing that region now coming from Australia… and with sales in Australia for 2015 already up an amazing 13% on the same four months of last year.
The two SeaDream mega yachts each have just 56 staterooms for a maximum 112 guests served by 95 crew. Mr. Lepisto, who is soon visiting Australia, says one of the great attractions for Australians is SeaDream’s philosophy of “elegantly casual” that while 5-star, does not require suits, jackets, ties or ball-gowns at any time aboard.
“Since we began selling into the Australian market place 12 years ago, we’ve carried Australians in the Mediterranean, the Baltic and Northern Europe, the Caribbean, two great seasons on the Amazon and one in South-east Asia – and including five exclusive-use charters by corporates and individuals, as well as thirty-five major groups of 40 or more, and a third of whom have re-booked in subsequent years.
“Equally we’ve had individuals sail multiple times including one Sydney couple for a total to date of 157 days, another 142 days, and quite a number of guests for over 100 days. We’ve also had Australian adult families book up to 10 staterooms at a time, and couples who have enjoyed a special time renewing wedding vows aboard.
Mr. Lepisto said SeaDream’s growth in the Australian market had been driven by loyal travel agents as well as word-of-mouth by enthusiastic Club Members (past guests) to friends and relatives. “SeaDream likes having Australians onboard and they certainly seem to like us ….and I think they will also be especially interested in our upcoming new wine voyages” he said.
As well, Mr. Lepisto added, a wide diversity of small ports in the Mediterranean and Caribbean were particularly enticing to many guests because larger cruise ships simply cannot get into them. “Many have told us it’s these ports and the boutique and intimate nature of SeaDream that gets them aboard time and again.”
Also of definite appeal to Australians is SeaDream’s pricing that includes premium bar drinks and wines, a golf simulator with 30 international courses, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, mountain bikes for shore use, power and sail water-sports where permitted and crew gratuities.
Full details from travel agents or www.seadream.com
(TRADE PRESS: Full details Julie Denovan, Director Business Development Australia (02) 9958 4444, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.seadream.com)
April 13, 2015 by adannunzio
Captain Bjarne Smorawski
SeaDream I earned a perfect 100 score in surprise U.S. Public Health inspection
According to the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream I earned a 100 mark in the late March surprise U.S. Public Health inspections.
The VSP inspections are required for all passenger ships that call at a U.S. port. The inspections are unannounced and are carried out twice a year for every cruise ship. The score, on a scale from 1 to 100, is assigned on the basis of a 44-item checklist involving hygiene and sanitation of food (from storage to preparation), overall galley cleanliness, water, shipboard personnel and the ship as a whole.
SeaDream I Captain, Bjarne Smorawski said “We are all very proud of the perfect ‘100’, thanks to the excellent crew onboard.”
April 6, 2015 by adannunzio
Congratulations to SeaDream II 2014 Employee of the Year,
Roderick is the yacht’s Provision Master, in charge of ordering all supplies. He is awarded and recognized for his excellent performance throughout 2014!
April 2, 2015 by adannunzio
ANZAC Cove at Gallipoli in Turkey
Australian author and travel writer Malcolm Andrews makes a pilgrimage to Gallipoli
THE BIRTH OF THE ANZACS 100 YEARS AGO
THE TEMPERATURE is hovering around 37 degrees Centigrade (over the century mark in the Fahrenheit scale). But despite the heat you shiver. The spirit of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) has affected you – just as it does the hundreds of thousands of folk from ‘Down Under’ who visit Gallipoli in Turkey each and every year.
The shivers and goosebumps are just part of the effect as you walk quietly past the neat white headstones in the small Ari Burnu war cemetery on a promontory between Anzac Cove and North Beach. Several highlight the story of the ill-fated World War I campaign that saw thousands of Australians and New Zealanders perish. The headstones regularly include inscriptions to the effect ‘Went away as a boy, died as a man’. Kids just 17 and 18, thrown by out-of-touch generals onto the narrow beaches as little more than cannon fodder.
We are in a tour group off the boutique cruise vessel SeaDream I. Most of those in the mini-bus that ferries us from battle site to battle site are Australians. But, strangely there are others, too.
The American couple who had studied the life and times of Winston Churchill and wanted to see first hand the site of his greatest folly – a campaign that cost him his job as First Lord of the Admiralty in the British cabinet. Then there was a SeaDream officer, who had been taught about the bravery of the ANZACs at school in Norway. I wonder how many Australian schools would teach anything about Norway, let alone the deeds of the country’s soldiers in a failed campaign.
A 17 year old ANZAC died too young
The first Australian pilgrimages to Gallipoli came in the 1920s a decade after the Gallipoli campaign that was launched pre-dawn on April 25, 1915. Parents of the dead and former soldiers who had experienced the hell of the eight months there went to pay their respects to the fallen heroes.
One of the latter was Australian Prime Minister Stanley Bruce, who as Captain Bruce had fought at Gallipoli. An old T-model Ford helped ferry him around in 1924. But there was none of the bureaucratic camp followers that trail behind modern Prime Ministers when they visit ANZAC Cove.
Our mini-bus, with a Turkish guide, takes us from one historic site to another. At Lone Pine we see the memorial wall where the names of more than 4900 Australian and New Zealand servicemen whose bodies were never found or identified are inscribed. The cemetery at Lone Pine lies on top of 60 metres of ‘no man’s land’ where the ANZACs fought a bloody battle for five days, during which time 2273 ANZACs and more than 4000 Turks were killed. The lone pine on the battle field eventually died, but seeds had been taken back to Australia from which commemorative trees were grown. And a seed from one those trees went back to Gallipoli for the impressive pine that stands in the grounds of the cemetery today. Seven Australians won the Victoria Cross at Lone Pine – including five on the one day, August 9.
Lone Pine Cemetery pays tribute to the fallen
As we move around the area, names that are familiar to us are mentioned by our guide. Quinn’s Post. The Nek. Hill 60. Courtney’s Post (scene of the battle in which Lance-Corporal Albert Jacka became the first of nine Australians to win the Victoria Cross during the ill-fated campaign). We look with amazement at the remains of trenches – at times just 10 metres apart – where enemy soldiers exchanged not only conversation but also cigarettes and food (thrown from one trench to the other during lulls in the shooting). It is hard to visualise these enemies becoming ‘friends’ for just a moment or two. At the Gallipoli museum, the shivers return when we see the skull of a soldier, with a bullet embedded between his eyes. Next to the skull is a muddied, mutilated boot, with the shattered remains of the bones of an ankle and foot still inside. And we wonder why, a century later, politicians are still sending young men off to war. Our tour shows the conflict from the perspective of both sides.
Opposing troops in trenches sometimes only a few metres apart
At Conkbayiri (Chunuk Bair), scene of one of the great battles, we gaze at the giant statue of the Turkish commander Mustafa Kemal (later to become Ataturk or ‘Father of Turks’, the first president of the Turkish republic) and read on the plaque about his lucky escape. On August 10 he was shot in the chest but survived because a pocket watch took the full force of the bullet. It is significant that the New Zealand Memorial at Gallipoli is only metres from the huge bronze statue – no more than the distance between many of the trenches during the fighting of 1915.
SeaDream Yacht Club has created a half-dozen-plus unique opportunities this year to combine a sailing aboard the world’s most-highly-rated boutique passenger vessels, SeaDream I or SeaDream II with a pilgrimage to Gallipoli for the 100th Anniversary Year of ANZAC. The voyages – ranging from seven to 12 nights in duration –all start or end in Istanbul. Five are to or from Athens, and one of 12-days to Venice.
All sailings will have a day at Kepez in Turkey for an optional 4.5hr tour to the Gelibou (Gallipoli) National Park led by expert guides brought in from Istanbul by SeaDream Yacht Club, and will include the 1915 ANZAC landing site in Anzac Cove, Ari Burnu and Johnston’s Jolly Cemeteries, Lone Pine Memorial, Chunuk Bair’s ANZAC and Turkish trenches, and the Kabatepe Military Museum.
For full itineraries and sailing dates for these seven unique ANZAC 100th Anniversary Year sailings, see travel agents or visit www.seadream.com.