SeaDream I – a yacht, not a cruise ship

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SeaDream I on the Thames with the Shard in the background

Cruisers tend to fall into two tribes – those that love the big, fun-filled ships and those who prefer a much quieter, personal and luxurious voyage.

SeaDream is definitely one for the second category. ‘It’s yachting, not cruising,’ you’re informed as you walk on board. It doesn’t take long to see why. It’s like someone took a cruise ship and shrank it. The pool, gym and casino are all tiny.

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Big stakes, small table: The casino

But there is no shortage of bars – you can drink on every of the five passenger decks. From the dining room on deck 2, you ascend to the pool and saloon bars on 3, piano bar on 4 and Topside Restaurant on 5, rewarding yourself with a final snifter having reached the Top Of The Yacht bar on deck 6.

Here’s where you’ll also find SeaDream’s signature luxury – open-air beds. Tempting even on a sunny day in London, I’m assured they’re irresistible under an evening Mediterranean or Caribbean sun. You can even enjoy movies in the moonshine.

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Fine dining: The main restaurant

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Al fresco: The open-air restaurant

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Snug: The Salon Bar

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Dive in: The Pool Bar

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Raising the bar: The Top Of The Yacht

And there’s not too much of a fight for them, either, as there are only 112 guests on board, matched by almost as many crew.

SeaDream I and its sister ship – you guessed it, SeaDream II – are small enough to sneak into the less crowded ports and harbours and often moor overnight. Like Seabourn – which SeaDream Yacht Club’s owner, Norwegian entrepreneur Atle Brynestad, founded – the ships have marinas that open at the back, allowing guests to snorkel, swim, kayak or waterski. And tucked away on deck 4 are the gym and spa.

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Small pool: You won’t get exhausted doing a length in this

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Mini workout: The gym

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And so, two beds: A double awaits for couples who want to sleep al fresco

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Sheets to the wind: Despite the threatening dark clouds in the background, this bed was tempting even in the London sunshine

It’s no wonder lovers of small cruise ships rave about SeaDream and seasoned travel writers shower it with accolades. Unless you pally up with a Russian oligarch, it’s the nearest most of us could get to experience life on a private yacht, with a high standard of personal service and attention to detail – especially if you can afford one of the suites.

After dry-docking in Germany, SeaDream I will sail its first round trip from Dover in the summer – a 14-night voyage to the Baltic capitals, with early booking fares starting from £5,302 a person. Let’s hope it will be warm enough to sleep under the stars.

Shipmonk has been shortlisted as best blog in the 2015 Cruise International awards. To vote, please click here (last category)

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