Nice little ship, nice little cruise: Premier's Sea Breeze

by Karen Segboer

My goodness, where to begin? This was only a two day cruise (July 10-12, 1998), a "tease", so to speak, taken with members of the Long Island Chapter of the SSHSA plus the World Ship Society, P.O.N.Y. chapter, but I wish it had been longer.

Actually, I have very little to whine about.

A weekend cruise to nowhere on the Sea Breeze turned out to be akin to walking through a happy, little neighborhood filled with older, well-cared for houses. The residents are proud, hard-working, and they aim to please. They may not have the most flashy, up-to-date, state-of-the-art things, but what they have is clean, neat and is cared for with pride

The former Frederico C, sailed confidently out of New York harbor late on a Friday afternoon after some boiler problems the week before. This ship is small, 21,000 grt, 605 feet in length and 79 feet at the beam. The draft is 29 feet, which puts it there with the ocean liners rather than the cruise ships as far as stability in the water is concerned. The Sea Breeze does have stabilizers, however.

The ship was last refurbished in 1995, but it's interiors look like it might have been 1975, instead. Of all the nice things about this ship, it's interiors remain one of the chief negatives. Not only are the public rooms not terribly pleasing to the eye, but they are not comfortable nor are they wearing well. There is a large casino area (very much used by the passengers on this trip) an outside pool aft and a small gymnasium. There are four elevators, but getting around is really not a problem on the Sea Breeze, since the ship is small and cozy. You do not have to walk (the equivalent of) three city blocks to get from your cabin to a specific destination onboard. The feeling is that you are on a sea vessel and NOT a floating town.

Our small outside cabin was on La Boheme deck, which is one that goes all the way around the ship. The lifeboats are also located here. The large portholes are higher up than eye level and so this doesn't really become a problem where privacy is concerned. Because it is one of the main exterior "thoroughfares" as it were, for joggers, walkers and just plain folks taking a look at the sea, it can get busy. I noticed this when looking at the deck plans for this ship before we left, so this was no surprise.

Let me again explain that the Sea Breeze is now 41 years old, and has the nocturnal cabin creaks and gurgles of an older vessel. Our cabin measured about 14 x 8 feet. We had a full-sized bed, very adequate storage (closet AND drawer space), and a bath with shower, no tub. The cabins in this area were once staff quarters, but were converted into passenger accommodations. Hans and I thought it might prove to be too small, but found it cozy in the end. On the ride home from our trip, Hans asked me if I would do a transatlantic crossing on this ship. I said yes, I would.

I was told by more than a few people that the food on this ship was good. It was. And plentiful. Every course was tasty, and the variety was there, as well. If, by some chance, you ordered something that was not quite up to your taste buds, all that had to be done was to say so and your waiter was there with a menu in hand, complete with suggestions as to what might make you happier. One evening, someone at our table enjoyed his steak so much, our waiter was about to run off and get him yet another!

Special Mystery Guest for the two days onboard was Cadet Ben Lyons, looking VERY Southern California, I might add (going into my "Louella Parsons" portion of this review now), with his new beard and longer hair. I almost didn't recognize him! Our group was able to get on the bridge Saturday for a look-around, and several were able to be on the bridge as we left New York harbor with Captain Chilas, a man who was warm and forthcoming with stories and rememberences from his years at sea on ships. He related that he had had a long history with Chandris.

There was not one staff person who was surly, petulant or unknowledgeable about his job. Every task was performed with a crisp, knowing dignity and with no hesitancy, which always makes one feel more sure in a strange place such as an unfamiliar ship

My one complaint is that this cruise to nowhere went "nowhere", as I was hoping for at least a ship moving at all times, albeit slowly, as a few cruises that I have taken of this type have done in the past.

ObCruiseReportPost Script: Michael Ortiz, whoever and wherever you are, if you ever buy a computer and get on the Internet and if you are ever on a ship that I'm on again and you don't pay your bill AGAIN and you make a whole shipload of people sit around and wait for over an hour for you to do the right thing so they can disembark AGAIN, I will personally hunt you down and post your name (and maybe even your address) in my NEXT cruise review <smile>

So, there.

(To the cruise lines: If you haven't already done this, please make sure the credit arrangements are clear and acceptable for ALL passengers, and make sure the rest of the folks who are NOT credit- impaired aren't penalized by the deadbeats who are.)