When Monica Varri, principal of Lake Forest Travel, suggested my wife and I take a long overdue getaway aboard the SeaDream yacht, we jumped at the opportunity. Kim and I were married in St. Tropez aboard SeaDream I, so cruising along the Italian and French Mediterranean once again seemed the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary this year.
In early September, Kim and I flew in a day ahead to begin our holiday before meeting our boat at the dock in Monte Carlo. We stayed at the grand Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, next to the famous and historic casino, and dined on fabulous French and Mediterranean cuisine at the (the Michelin-starred) Château Eza. The restaurant is literally built into the cliffs overlooking the impossibly blue waters of the Cote d’Azur. As a movie addict, I was excited to experience the same views that Cary Grant did as he and Grace Kelly drove along the cliffs in Hitchcock’s 1955 thriller To Catch a Thief.
Luxury Service & Amenities
The Captain and lead staff greeted us as “Mr. & Mrs. Conatser” as we boarded and immediately attended to our needs, making sure we had some celebratory champagne. With only 50 cabins (all with ocean views), a maximum guest capacity of about 100, and just enough crew to serve you 24/7, SeaDream and her staff deliver luxury accommodations and service that is truly five-star. The all-suite staterooms are appointed with Belgian bed linens and down pillows, marble bathrooms with plush Turkish cotton bathrobes, and Bvlgari bath amenities.
SeaDream’s activities director is there to take care of your every wish, from booking special land excursions, arranging guided tours, and even planning custom events. Ours was an anniversary celebration, so when we arrived in St. Tropez on our second evening, they arranged for flowers and an amazing dinner on a private deck overlooking the lit-up city and docked yachts. They even remembered the cake they made years ago at our wedding, which they replicated and presented at the end of our dinner.
Whenever we dined in the elegant Main Dining Salon or out on deck at the Topside Restaurant, the food was five-star gourmet cuisine with impeccable service. The sommelier recommended perfect wines to complement our meals from their impressive wine cellar, which is stocked with thousands of bottles.
If you like entertainment, SeaDream offers cocktail hours with music every night, outdoor movies, themed parties, and a casino. Or, if you want a quiet night in, you can check out a film or book from their large library. If you must check email, the library also offers computers, or you can request a private laptop for your room.
The SeaDream Spa and Fitness Center boasts highly skilled massage therapists from Thailand and a personal trainer on staff offering tai chi, yoga, and aerobics classes. Guests can also swim in the saltwater pool, borrow a bike to take ashore, or venture over to the water-sports marina extended from the stern that is the base for jet skiing, kayaking, water skiing, or sailing.
To Tour . . . or To Relax
One of the ideal aspects about the SeaDream cruise is that you can be as active, or as lazy, as you want. Kim and I wanted to spend a good amount of time together relaxing, while venturing out on select excursions and day trips that most interested us. Once we experienced the Balinese Dream Beds on the upper deck, it was tempting to spend every moment up there talking, reading, and enjoying the day views of the port cities from the sea or checking out all the beautiful yachts sailing by.
Kim and I enjoy collecting art, so our land excursions usually involved going off on our own to browse the spectacular art galleries and museums, especially those in Portofino and St. Tropez. If you go, don’t miss the Musée de l’Annonciade, housed in a 16th-century chapel where the legacy of the artists who loved St. Tropez, such as Matisse, Derain, and Raoul Dufy, are preserved.
Visiting the home of the Cannes Film Festival, of course, was a highlight as well. The main street along the seaside felt like Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, while just a block over there were local artisan boutiques and one of the largest, most amazing outdoor markets I’ve ever seen. Kim loved the Parfumerie Fragonard, a perfume-making company established in 1926, located about 20 minutes from Cannes.
We especially enjoyed stopping at the little bistros or cafés when we went ashore. We’d sit and absorb the culture while having an amazing lunch or drinking too much coffee or eating gelato (finding more flavors than we’d ever imagined.)
For the Discriminating Traveler
This was a once-in-a-lifetime dream trip that my wife and I were fortunate to experience twice. On both trips, we instantly made friends who invited us to visit their homes all over the world. Many of them have been traveling with SeaDream for more than 20 years, which speaks volumes about the caliber of this yacht cruise company.
SeaDream is perfect not only for people with a certain level of expectation of refinement and service, but also for anyone who is passionate about the experience of an intimate cruise. While larger cruise ships sit far off away from shore, SeaDream parks up close, making it easy to get on land with water taxis at your beck and call. But you’ll want to come back at night, because there’s nothing like the view from the water, seeing an entire city lit up at night from that vantage point, and the way the moon casts its light across the sea.
SeaDream Yacht Cruises offers mostly seven night sailings on two identical vessels, SeaDream I and II, to the Caribbean, the Greek Islands, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and the Amazon River.
For more information, call Monica Varri at Lake Forest Travel at 847-234-4940, or visit seadreamyachtcruises.com.