SeaDream II: It’s yachting, not cruising!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By P. Waruni Yachting is a great experience unlike any other, which can capture you in an everlasting holiday mood. It is a way of relaxing and enjoying the sun and the sea, being able to visit remote beaches and enjoy clear waters. Much-awaited by travel enthusiasts in the region who are looking for a unique yachting experience and enchanting journey layered with exotic comfort, the yacht SeaDream II arrived last week in Colombo Port as part of her Asian voyage ‘Passage to Far East.’ This was her maiden call to Sri Lanka. Helanka Vacation is the GSA partner for Sea Dream in Sri Lanka. The yacht set sail to Singapore from Colombo, moving on to the Far East, covering 18 unique voyages around the region. Founded in 2001, SeaDream Yacht club is the yachting venture by Norwegian entrepreneur Atle Brynestad, under which SeaDream I and SeaDream II operate. These twin ultra-luxury mega yachts operate five to 20 night sailings in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Amazon River. Colombo visit The Daily FT was among the few hosted onboard when SeaDream II docked at the Colombo Port on Friday. Yacht’s Master Captain Terje Willassen addressing the locals on tour of the yacht noted that a maximum of 112 passengers can be entertained onboard; and that the yacht has a winning crew of 95 from 23 regions, ensuring passengers’ individual needs are given the greatest attention. “SeaDream II is not only ideal for discerning travellers seeking an unstructured and casual holiday experience, but also for groups and full yacht charters for meetings, incentives and individual private family gatherings.” The yacht SeaDream II includes ocean view staterooms, all gourmet meals, gratuities, wine with lunch and dinner, open bar with select premium brands, water sports equipment from the yacht’s marina, mountain bikes, golf simulator, fitness centre, iPods loaded with a wide variety of music and laptops for use while onboard. Dream cuisine Onboard the yacht, guests can enjoy ‘Cuisine a La Minute’ with the freshest of ingredients often selected by the chef locally. The yacht has been complimented on their food as ‘best cruise food to be found on ultra-luxury boutique cruise liners’ by cruise magazines all over the world. Our guide during the yacht tour noted that fine wine is the perfect complement to the artfully prepared cuisine. The wine cellar is stocked with a wide selection of old and world wines for guest’s enjoyment. From the Early Riser’s Coffee to dining outside on deck, or in the elegantly appointed Dining Salon, SeaDream’s cuisine and impeccable service is certain to make dining abroad the yacht unforgettable. Water Sports Marina What would yachting be without the proper toys? The yacht has a retractable Water Sports Marina, providing a variety of exciting water activities. One can enjoy a swim or take pleasure in SeaDream’s complimentary water sports equipment. A host of water sports including laser sailboats, glass bottom kayaks, banana boats, snorkelling, catamarans and Personal Water Crafts (PWC) are available for guests. Destination exploration While enjoying water-based sports and activities, guests can also opt to enjoy the destinations at which the yacht docks. Offering both onboard and ashore activities, guests are welcomed to take complimentary mountain bike trips for exploration or join the officers and crew on casual walks or hikes on the destinations, along exotic and isolated beaches. One can even accompany the chef to exciting food markets and sample local specialties. “These are great ways to truly experience unique and breathtaking views, find unspoiled surroundings and get to know our crew and the sites,” our guide said. The yacht also designs excursions for the guests so that they may experience the destinations to their fullest. He noted that SeaDream always looks to hire the best guides and seek out a variety of options to suit the sportsmen, the history buffs, the gourmands and the thrill seekers. Night time activities As day turns to night, pre-dinner cocktails call for mingling with friends and partners. Guests are offered a host of options on how best to spend their evenings with multiple course dinners accompanied by live performances and leisurely dinners served under the stars on deck or in the Dining Salon laid out for their picking. For night time entertainment, the yacht is also equipped with a casino, a fully stocked pub/bar area, a big screen movie theatre, and library facilities for those who would like a cosy night in bed with a book. One can even sleep under the stars on Balinese dream beds on deck. Spa and fitness For those who would like luxurious relaxing, the yacht’s spa is the ideal location. Thai certified, the yacht’s spa is a member of the Thai Spa Association and the only one of its kind at sea. With eight therapists to work their magic, the spa hosts some of the highest quality products containing naturally-derived ingredients. The beauty salon at the spa provides a complete menu of hair treatments and nail services. The Fitness Centre features state-of-the-art equipment, from treadmills, elliptical machines, recumbent bikes and free weights, all with flat screen TVs and DVD players. In addition to these, SeaDream II offers complimentary daily Tai Chi and yoga session. These sessions are held either outside on deck or on the shore side on the beach to help reduce stress and rejuvenate mind and body. The yacht also has a golf simulator, featuring 30 different courses, allowing guests to play a round of golf while at sea. Accommodation on board SeaDream II features four types of suites. These are the Owner’s Suite, Admiral Suite, Commodore Suite and Yacht Club Stateroom. The Owner’s Suite features a dramatic 447 sq.ft./41.53 sqm space which includes an appointed separate master bedroom suite with a queen size bed and bathroom with message shower, separate soaking tub and views of the sea. A spacious and sophisticated living and dining area with a half guest bath is also part of the accommodation, ideal to host private cocktail parties or intimate dinners. The Admiral Suite is known to be casually elegant and comfortable, featuring a separate living and dining area, master bedroom and one and half baths in a 375 sq.ft./34.8 sqm area. The separate and private en-suite master bedroom features a queen sized bed and master bath. Providing a bedroom and bath, well-appointed open living area with a sofa and coordinated chair and cocktail table, a built in dresser and a writing desk, the Yacht Club Stateroom provides ample room to relax, refresh and prepare for the next yachting adventure. An individual entertainment centre is featured in the living area. Combine two Yacht Club Staterooms and you have a Commodore Suite. These comfortably appointed staterooms provide a choice of two twin beds or a queen size bed, two full baths, a seating area with a sofa, coordinated chair and cocktail table, a specious closet and built in dresser and writing desk. There are eight Commodores Suites and they average 390 spacious sq. ft./36.23 sqm. Individual entertainment centres are featured in each living area. The SeaDream mantra is quite simple: “It’s yachting not cruising – Enjoy the difference”. Expressions of excellence such as ‘Best in the World’ and ‘Best of Class’ have validated the very unique and extremely high onboard delivery, which makes for an exquisite, elegantly casual and truly leisurely seagoing experience. Commenting on the significance of the call by the SeaDream Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama said: “Sri Lanka is blessed with Sea, Sand and Sun and is rich in cultural and natural heritage; essential prerequisites to promote tourism as a development strategy. The Mahinda Chinthana Vision is to drive tourism to new heights by doubling the hotel room capacity to 50,000 by year 2016 with $ 3 billion FDI. The Sri Lanka Tourism Strategy for the period 2011 to 2016, launched in November 2011, aims to welcome 2.5 million arrivals by 2016 which will increase tourism earnings by over five times to $ 2.75 billion a year. The SLPA is fully poised to shoulder the development of this sector. The SLPA has already taken the initiative to contribute to this endeavor of the government. It will develop the Port of Galle to be the most sought after cruise destination in Sri Lanka”. Increase in cruise vessel arrivals Expressing his views on the occasion, SLPA Managing Director Capt. Nihal Keppetipola said: “We have recently seen an increase in the cruise vessels arriving in the Port of Colombo, which was a very rare occurrence before 2009. I am also happy that tourist arrivals are increasing. This trend betokens a new era for the tourism industry in Sri Lanka which is on the threshold of an economic renaissance with huge maritime-related infrastructure development projects in the port sector. “To give you some available statistics which I gleaned, Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals surged 26.1% in August 2013 from a year earlier to 100,224 and total arrivals up to August were up 14.3% to 711,446. The booming economy of the country resulting from the dawn of peace has created a conducive climate for a boost in the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. In this context, whilst working in tandem with the tourism sector, Sri Lankan ports have vitally important roles to play. Therefore, it is important that our ports and coastal destinations are carefully managed and smartly promoted for the sustainable growth of this important market segment. “This apart, in order for Sri Lanka to fully capitalise on this growing tourism sector, it is extremely necessary to examine the current trends and future directions of the worldwide cruise industry. “After all, Sea Dream’s tag line “Its Yachting Not Cruising, Enjoy the Difference” is impressive and eye-catching. It reflects their desire to offer the traveller a unique but different voyage experience.  Their overwhelming desire to be the ‘numero uno’ by distinguishing themselves in the yachting business, offering a luxurious, personalised and unforgettable experience to the passenger is quite enticing,” he further added. Helanka Vacations Managing Director Rohitha Mendis, the GSA for Sea Dream II yacht in Sri Lanka, and of Prudential Shipping, port agent for Sea Dream yachts said that the arrival of Sea Dream II to the region was an opportunity for unique holiday experiences, for the elite Sri Lankan traveler. “We are very happy to be associated with Sea Dream II’s maiden call to Sri Lanka adding Colombo to another luxury cruise operator’s itinerary and are encouraged by the response we have received so far during its maiden call to Colombo,” Mendis noted. Pix by Lasantha Kumara