SeaDream and 9/11
How a Seadream survived September 11
By Frank Linn
NORWEGIAN entrepreneur and cruise industry heavyweight, Atle Brynestad was certain he was on a winner when he bought two small luxury cruise ships that Carnival Corporation no longer needed, and announced that he was going to refurbish them for super-luxury “Yachting, Not Cruising.”
The critics had a field day. This was the 21st century and shipping lines were looking to mega-liners that counted their passengers by the thousands, not a mere 110 with an expensive almost one crew member for every guest.
And which was why, they said, the little Sea Goddess 1 and Sea Goddess 2 had been sold by Carnival – a company which had forgotten more about cruising than most others ever learned.
Yet when Mr Brynestad launched his company, it was brought almost to its knees after just one week sailing the Mediterranean. Not because he’d gone smaller rather than larger, but because he’d chosen as his launch date September 1 2001 – ten days before the horrors of September 11.
The travel industry world-wide crashed to a halt overnight. Holidaymakers cancelled vacations by their hundreds of thousands; hotels and resorts became ghost towns.
But Atle Brynestad had faith in his concept, and past experience to back him up. Because it was he who had founded the highly successful Seabourn Cruise Line which had once owned the Sea Goddesses 1 and 2 and which had been merged into the Cunard company (later acquired by Carnival Corp) in the 1990s.
This had left Atle itching for new cruise opportunities. So when he learned Carnival were selling the Sea Goddesses he snapped them up, re-naming them SeaDream I and SeaDream II.
Millions of dollars were spent on refurbishments, adding an outdoor Topside Restaurant under shade cloths, a Top of the Yacht open-air bar, a luxury spa and fitness area, a 30-course golf simulator…
Stateroom bathrooms were re-modelled in marble with shower massage units, new artworks installed throughout, furnishings replaced.
But after just one sailing came September 11.
Undaunted, Brynestad continued with his advertised itineraries, no matter how few guests were aboard.
Remarkably many began clamouring for repeat sailings as a means of escaping the continuing political and economic turmoils at home.
Atle continued with his mantra of only-the-best with 95 crew, 5-star dining, wines with meals, no-charge bars, nightly cocktail gatherings, a host of power and sail watersports facilities, movies on deck on select nights….
Hand-picked crew pampered without being fawning, remembered every guest’s name within a day of sailing – and to this day still offer a spray of mineral water on the back and arms when delivering drinks poolside, and to clean your sun-glasses at the same time.
The company picked up the highest industry awards hand over fist.
And remarkably one of its great success stories is Australia. Since opening representation here in 2003 Australian guest numbers have risen from under one-percent, to almost ten percent of onboard guests in 2011.
SeaDream I and II sail the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Turkey’s Turquoise Coast from April to October, and on the Amazon and in the Caribbean during the remainder of the year; see travel agents or visit www.seadream.com
SEADREAMIN’ – both yachts are identical carrying a maximum 112-guests
served by 95-crew.
GOING small: SeaDream I dwarfed by Oasis of the Seas in the Caribbean.
OUTDOOR Top of the Yacht Bar for drinking-in the views
ALL staterooms are “outside” with views5-STAR dining on deck is one SeaDream’s appeals