This morning, when SeaDream I docked in Ibiza, seven of us joined the captain for a 25-kilometer ride on mountain bikes. Despite having done more than 200 cruises, bicycling with the captain was something I’d never done.
Only a day into the journey and already SeaDream is differentiating itself from perhaps its closest competitor — a cruise. Indeed, docking in the city center of Eivissa this morning on a vessel too small to be called a cruise ship and having bicycles set up and ready to pedal felt very much like the experience that SeaDream emphasizes: This is yachting, not cruising.
It is an important distinction, because cruisers will need to get their minds wrapped around the fact that while traveling on SeaDream feels familiar — like a cruise — the yachting experience offers something quite different from other sea-going passenger vessels. I’ll talk more about yachting in future posts as our voyage progresses, but for now, let’s get back to the bikes.
The requirements for this morning’s bike ride were clearly spelled out in the daily program placed on our stateroom beds each evening: Guests must be experienced bikers and in good shape. That did it for me. Too many times I’ve done tours that I had hoped were a little more active than they professed to be. If this complimentary activity was going to deliver what I thought it would, I’d end the morning a happy man.
After maneuvering through the city center and pedaling along flat stretches of highway, our pelaton of riders charged the captain’s rear wheel as he set a vigorous pace against a healthy headwind. By the pace being established, it was clear that no one wanted to be accused of being inexperienced or of unworthy shape.
We headed south toward the salt flats at Salinas en route to a beach called Cavallet. A crewmember brought up the rear, just in case there were stragglers (there weren’t). The ride felt well-organized and safe, and at the same time, exhilirating. The bikes were well-maintained and in good working order. No breakdowns or flats along the way. Helmets and water were provided (along with liability releases that required, no kidding, initialing in 10 different places.)
When we reached our destination, we stopped for 20 minutes to admire the beach. Proud of our progress, the captain joked, “I’d like to buy you all lunch when we’re back on board.” The wind was at our backs for the return ride.
We momentarily lost our orientation in the maze of streets in the city center. “Included city tour,” someone joked, “at no extra charge.” We parked our bikes and headed up the gangway to make good on the captain’s promise, lunch back at the yacht, ah-hem, our yacht.