It’s not unusual to find a chocolate on your pillow in a high-class hotel. But for a more elite treat, try a pair of pyjamas with your name embroidered on them.
That’s the turn-down gift on a SeaDream Yacht Club voyage and if you choose to go on deck for a morning coffee still wearing them, the crew won’t bat an eyelid. You may be up on deck already if you’ve eschewed your R20 000-a-night suite to sleep under the stars on one of the Balinese double beds.
Guests are encouraged to treat the boat as their own, says SeaDream Sales Director Thomas Harrison. But he arches an eyebrow if you call this “cruising”. “It’s yachting, not cruising,” he insists.
SeaDream’s two 56-berth boats don’t look like the small, sporty vessels you associate with yachts, but when they’re moored next to monolithic modern liners, they certainly look sleek and petite.
Their big attractions are the ability to dock in smaller ports and the comparative friendliness and interaction that’s possible in a smaller space, with just 112 guests pampered by 95 crew members.
Yachting is a rich man’s game, from R52 000 for six days per person, plus flights to the Caribbean or Mediterranean where the vessels are moored. Yet Harrison aims to increase the number of South African clients. He may achieve that with special events like wine cruises, where top viticulturists host wine-tastings and food and wine pairings. That’s another difference between yachting and cruising: Taittinger and truffles are several notches above the traditional booze cruise.
George Argyropoulos, MD of Cruises International, sells about 10 000 cruises a year to South Africans and wants to increase that 10-fold. SeaDream appeals to people who aspire to own their own yachts but are too practical (or cash-strapped) to do so, he believes.
“The two happiest days are the day you buy your yacht – and the day you sell it. The rest is just a hassle,” he says. “These voyages give you the element of your own private yacht without the problems of ownership.” Plus about 100 instant friends, of course.
by Lesley Stones