Luxury cruise operator SeaDream Yacht Club is marking its 10th anniversary this fall.
The two-ship line has been celebrating with onboard parties and “decadent dessert extravaganzas,” said Erling Frydenberg, SeaDream’s vice president of hotel operations.
The launch of SeaDream came at a challenging time, recalled President Bob Lepisto. The company’s framework was announced in August 2001: a two-ship luxury line run by former Cunard President and CEO Larry Pimentel (now president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises).
The next month, the events of 9/11 altered the travel industry landscape.
“We started out right after the Sept. 11 attack,” Lepisto said. “Travel came to a halt, but our team’s energy and dedication wouldn’t be deterred.”
He added, “We are all very proud of our accomplishment and grateful to our guests, devoted employees and travel agent partners who collectively drive our success.”
Norwegian entrepreneur Atle Brynestad, the company’s owner and chairman, founded the line. He also was the founder of Seabourn Cruise Line in 1987 and was its chairman for 10 years and CEO during its initial years. He sold Seabourn to Carnival Corp. in 1992.
Seven years later, Carnival transferred two Cunard ships, the Sea Goddess I and Sea Goddess II, into the Seabourn fleet and renamed them Seabourn Goddess I and Seabourn Goddess II.
Brynestad purchased the twin vessels from Carnival in 2001, renamed them the SeaDream I and SeaDream II and put them through extensive drydocks.
“The product will not be a cruise line product but an extraordinary, ultra-luxury, mega-yachting experience not currently available,” Brynestad said in August 2001.
SeaDream promoted a casual, yacht-like atmosphere on its cruises: Guests could leave their tuxedos and ball gowns at home. Offerings included open-seating dining, an open bar and outdoor relaxation on sunbeds big enough for two.
In February 2002, at an introduction in Miami to the SeaDream II, Pimentel said that 9/11 “forced us into a new way of creative thinking. We are entrepreneurs, and this was our chance to think like entrepreneurs.”
Lepisto, who was a regional vice president with Cunard until 2001 and was with SeaDream at its start, said he attributes the line’s success to understanding and responding to guests’ needs.
“We have been able to exceed their expectations,” he said. “Our success, to a great extent, has been driven by word-of-mouth marketing by highly satisfied guests sharing their yachting experience with friends, relatives and their travel agents.
“I very much look forward to the next 10 years.”