I loved this vacation! I have cruised a number of times. The Sea Breeze was far from the fanciest ship I have sailed on. It was however, one of my favorites!
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I selected this ship for a number of reasons; price, itinerary, and size of ship.
Price: The price for this ship was unbelievably CHEAP! I was pleasantly surprised with the accommodations and service for the price. The cost per person (based on double occupancy) was $380.00 for the cruise plus $111.00 port charges, putting the total at just under $500.00 per person for a seven night trip (air fare not included). Of course, all the food you can possibly eat is included in that paltry sum. I found myself asking more than once how the cruise line can make any money at $380 per person as I feel certain that I ate $380.00 worth of food. I know the answer is in the shore excursions and beverages, but still I consider it a bargain. There is no hotel that I know of (in an exotic locale) that offers the same value, options and service.
Itinerary: The Sea Breeze was sailing an itinerary which was more unusual than the standard Caribbean routes. This itinerary was scheduled to be Roatan, British Honduras (a small island of the Honduran coast), Belieze, Cozumel, Mexico, and Key West, Florida. I had not been to the first three ports so I found that interesting. About two weeks prior to sailing I received a notice informing me that Key West had been deleted from the itinerary. Related port charges were refunded and I was given a 25% off certificate good on any future Premier cruise. I enjoy days at sea, and had been to Key West previously so I was not terribly disappointed. I enjoyed each of these ports. They were vastly different from one another and I will cover them separately in individual opinions.
The Ship: The Sea Breeze is a small ship by today's standards, with passenger occupancy of 840 and a crew of 400. This is a steam ship built in Italy and was the original Big Red Boat. I love this size ship! True, you give up some amenities on a ship this size. There is no ice skating rink, no climbing wall, and only one movie theatre. That is all fine with me, I wasn't traveling with children and I didn't personally plan on skating or climbing. If you are traveling with children you might want to consider a larger ship with more variety in the amenities and an extensive children's program. The Sea Breeze does offer a children's program which I cannot comment on as I did not use it.
The Sea Breeze has five lounges/bars each hosting a different style of music and a Karoke bar. There is a showroom, movie theatre, a casino, a beauty salon (offering a full range of services) a gift shop, a small gym, a library/game room, a pool, three hot tubs, and a disco. So there is literally something for everyone.
This ship is about 50 years old (I'm sorry I can't remember the exact date) and so I knew that some things like skating rinks would not be available. The interior furnishings are not new but are in good repair, attractive, clean and comfortable.
My cabin was a "standard outside cabin" and it was a standard outside cabin. It was not huge, nor was it cramped. There were two large windows. The location of my cabin was about mid-level of the passenger decks in the aft section of the ship (this was a convenient location for things I wanted to do) it was also near the end of a hallway so there was not a lot of traffic outside the door. I found it to be a very comfortable cabin. The bathroom was larger than some other ships I have sailed and the shower worked very well. There was a nice, large storage shelf under the sink area which I considered a plus. This cabin could accommodate 3 passengers (which would make it cramped unless a very small person) (there was one upper bunk which we did not use). I spent very little time in my cabin. I changed there, bathed, took the daily late afternoon nap, and then to slept. For me it was more than adequate. However, if you are someone who requires a lot of "space" you might want to inquire about a suite. All ship accommodations (including the newer, larger ships) are smaller than a hotel room.
A ship this size seems to have a more personal aire to me. By the end of the week I knew many of my fellow passengers by name and a fair number of the service staff. I enjoy that! You may have 30% to 50% less lounges/bars but you also have 30% to 50% less total passengers. The ship offers a wide range of activities, everything from Bingo to arts and crafts and pretty much everything in between. There are pool games during the days at sea and live music, as well as other passenger participation activities such as trivia contests and yes, of course, the expected shuffle board is available. A ship this size generally has a mixed age passenger compliment which I also find appealing. In my opinion there is something for most interests or you can choose to do nothing at all. That is truly the beauty. One afternoon I selected a quiet, solitary, shady spot (after a day in the sun) on one of the side decks where I could enjoy my book with only the occasional jogger passing by. While at the same time if was looking for or trying to meet someone in a particular location is was never hard to find them and took only minutes.
Food is served 24 hours a day. Breakfast begins at 6:30 and the midnight buffet usually wraps up around 1:30, and there is room service (limited menu) 24 hours a day. Most dining (with exception of the dinner meal) has multiple options with at least one option being "al fresco". I would not consider the food fabulous, but I would consider it very, very good. The selections were extensive, the preparation and presentation were beautiful and each dish was always prepared as requested (rare, no sauce, extra sauce, etc.)
I cannot say enough about the SERVICE! The service on this ship was absolutely first rate! From the most casual encounter with a crew member to ask for directions to more interactive service each and every crew member I met was more than accommodating. By the end of the week we were fast friends with our dinner table mates, our waiter (with whom I had the pleasure of dancing one evening during dinner), our bus boy (who performed magic tricks nightly), the wine steward, and even the fellow who collected the luncheon plates on the deck by the pool. We became particularly partial to a waiter who worked the pool area during the day and the piano bar at night, we were actually treated to family photos of his last trip home before the week was over.
Each and every crew member/service staff went above and beyond the call of duty and truly seemed interested that my vacation be a pleasant one! I celebrated my birthday just before sailing. I had received a bottle of champagne which I decided to bring with me. I had originally planned on enjoying it in my cabin one evening but decided to share it with the other passengers at my dinner table. I asked the wine steward if this could be done and if so, if he would be able to chill it for us. He graciously agreed and apologized that there would be small fee. On the evening he served the champagne he whispered that there would be no fee, kept our bottle chilled and our glasses full. It is small, personal touches like this that make a ship this size special.
I would sail this ship or this line again in a second. Exemplary service, great food, a multitude of daily options, extensive and quality shore excursion options, interesting ports of call, and, in my opinion a tremendous value.
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