This is usually our cue to describe one of our favourite winter escapes - a week in the Caribbean on SeaDream. These little ships, with just over 100 passengers, come into their own as a true super-yacht when the weather is fine, and as we describe the joys of dining al fresco, swimming off the back of the ship, setting forth to snorkel with the turtles or taking bikes to explore some tiny Caribbean island, our friends begin to feel all their preconceptions fall away.
So who might enjoy travelling on SeaDream? Let's start with ourselves - fifty-something, kids left home (hooray), enjoy good food and wine, quite sociable, very interested in travel, take a lot of cruises. Does this make us the typical SeaDream customer? Sort of - probably if you lose the 'take a lot of cruises' and replace with 'take a lot of holidays' that would work…
But with such fantastic cruising options available, why would you choose an elderly ship with tiny accommodation and no balconies? Well first of all, the cabins are not that tiny - for a yacht. At 195 square feet, beautifully designed with lots of storage space and a neat little bathroom, you have more than enough space. No balcony - well no, obviously, as the whole ship is your balcony. When you admire the mega-yachts in Monte Carlo, or bobbing in the bay in St Barths, do they have balconies?
Of course it's not your yacht - but actually the 'please yourself' style is quite unlike a cruise experience. Cup of tea at cocktail hour? No problem. Dinner on deck when most people have chosen the stylish airconditioned restaurant? Of course. Sleep under the stars? What a lovely idea, we'll make up a bed for you.
The idea is really that the exceptional is the norm on board SeaDream, so the whole focus of the staff is to make your experience exactly as you want it. The attitude is driven by the eccentric owner, Atle Brynstad, whose ever-present influence ensures a very distinctive staff attitude, which has been described as 'the difference between being pampered and being cared for'.