May 11th... the day Bill and I had been looking forward to for many months had finally arrived. We had arranged for a private taxi, courtesy of RomeCabs. I booked RomeCabs on the advice of several Cruise Critic regulars, most notably Jim Avery. I am not at all sorry I booked with RomeCabs, though it would have been cheaper to take the train. Our driver, Marco, took outstanding care of us and picked us up a little bit early with a small, clean, Mercedes van. As he drove us out of Rome, he pointed out some of the sites and made a point of reminding us that RomeCabs was ranked #1 on TripAdvisor. I told him I knew about that and, in fact, booked his company due to RomeCabs' many fans on Cruise Critic. Bill later told me that Marco had encouraged us to write a review and Bill was happy to tell him that I always review things. I'm pleased to note that I will be writing a very positive review of RomeCabs.
We arrived at the Civitavecchia pier at the stroke of 2:00pm, which anyone who has ever sailed with SeaDream Yacht Club is the magical hour at which guests can board. Marco pulled up right next to the tent where we dropped our bags. After very briefly stopping to arrange for our bags to be delivered, we were waved aboard one of our favorite vessels. It's truly a breeze to board SeaDream. There's no standing in line to speak of.
We climbed the gangway and were greeted by Captain Bjarne Smorawski and his crew, which included new club director Nat Green, and several Thai spa ladies passing out chilled washcloths and glasses of bubbly. We made our way into the salon, where a very nice spread of finger foods was laid out for us. George the pianist and the guitar player, whose name I never managed to catch, were playing tunes on the baby grand piano on the stage.
A couple of passengers immediately recognized me from Cruise Critic, which kind of made me feel like a celebrity. It's nice to know I still look like my photo. We were quickly issued ID cards and shown to our stateroom, which was room 212. On our two previous voyages, we stayed on the third deck. The only difference between deck 2 and decks 3 and 4 is that deck two has portholes instead of a picture window. Other than that, I didn't notice a difference and can honestly say I wouldn't pay extra for a room on a higher deck.
First view of SeaDream I
Half bottle of chilled champagne...
Traditional shot of Bill in his life vest. I do this every time we cruise.
Bill and I immediately met a couple who had recognized me from Cruise Critic and we chatted for awhile as people were checking in. I always enjoy looking around on the first day, checking out the people with whom we will be spending the next week. As usual, the folks cruising on SeaDream mostly fit a certain well-to-do segment of society. Bill and I are far from wealthy; he is an Army officer and I make a pittance from my writing. But we save and plan so we can be fancy for a week out of every year or so. And on each of the three cruises we've taken on SeaDream, we have met some very nice people. This cruise was no exception.
Of course, some of the very nicest people on SeaDream are staff members. Bill and I were glad to see some of our favorites were still onboard, smiling and welcoming as always. The one exception was Felix, a German waiter from Hamburg who was on our first two cruises. His dry wit and consummate professionalism had won us over. Alas, Felix went to work for the passengers on Seabourn Legend. I had heard from a couple of sources that he hoped to come back to SeaDream someday. Now that Legend has been sold to Windstar Cruise Line, who knows what the future holds for Felix? Hopefully, we'll see him again. I know I wasn't the only one who missed him.
But anyway, though Felix was not onboard, many other favorite staff members were. I could list them all here, but in reality, everyone we ran into was excellent this time. I can't complain about anyone, though we interacted with some staff members more than others.
After an excellent dinner, Bill and I headed for the piano bar, which is really my favorite place to be when the sun goes down on SeaDream I. I did lots of singing with George, the pianist, and enjoyed way too much prosecco poured by chief bartender, Manuel. The prosecco gave me a slight hangover, which I dutifully reported on the Internet. I was glad to see the price of Internet had gone down significantly since our last voyage. It went from $35 a day to $99 for the week. It's still a lot of money, but $99 beats the hell out of $35 a day.
When it was time for bed, there was a lovely rose waiting for us. Our stewardess, Antonette, put it in a vase for us to enjoy all week. Having taken a Bonine earlier to ward off my customary seasickness, I was feeling fine after a nice, hot shower in the three headed shower stall. I slept well my first night as we headed for our first port of call on the Island of Capri.