Best For People Who Want
The "best of the best" at any price; spacious suites with butlers serving in cabin meals, personalized service.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
A wealth of entertainment options; large fitness or casino facilities; an assortment of sports or children's activities.
The luxury segment of the cruise industry comes in a variety of tastes and sizes; and no one offers greater panache than Silversea. Silver Cloud and Silver Wind, as the smaller and older vessels of the fleet, are full of the sort of luxury and spaciousness the Fortune 500 types who are their passengers demand, but a bit short of the variety and flair accomplished by the slightly larger, newer vessels. Still, it's no surprise that passengers often enjoy their cruises so much that they decide to stay aboard for the next one!
From the moment you board the ship, you're made to feel like a member of a very rich, old European family, pampered to within an inch of your life by extremely warm and gracious European staves.
Though it is a mere 16,800 tons, Silver Wind is still big enough to feel like a ship. Indeed, the layout is similar to many larger vessels, with a sumptuous lobby, a mere three and a half accommodations decks, Lido buffet, observation lounge and pool deck. It is just that there are fewer of everything; staterooms, gift shops, slot machines, bars. But that doesn't stop her from acting like a big ship. For example, there are production shows larger ships would be proud to call their own in a two-deck-high grand theater.
Still, Silver Wind actually impress most with the small touches, the Cristofle flatware and Limoges china in the restaurant, the champagne and caviar delivered to your suite almost the same moment as when you first arrive.
Silversea's itineraries are among the most attractive on offer from any cruise line, and they do a particularly good job of giving you just the right proportions of time ashore and time at sea. Your fellow passengers are apt to represent a broader range of countries than on other cruises.
Several new programs intended to emphasize the line's Italian lineage debuted in 2005. Silversea's in-suite bath amenities are now furnished by the Italian fragrance house Acqua di Parma. Paintings by noted Italian artists are proudly featured throughout. Italian luxury brand Loro Piana opened shops offering accessories, gifts and made-to-measure products aboard each ship.
But not all is from the land of Leonardo, Galileo, and Verdi; the first Viking Cooking School at sea, held in the ships' new Viking culinary theatres, offers cooking classes led by the unmistakably Gallic alliance of Relais & Chateaux.
Elegant but very welcoming, with lovely Italian mosaics, hand-painted frescos, and paintings, paintings, paintings. The rich maple paneling in hallways is attractively accented by brass wall sconces.
Its floor-to-ceiling windows, cozy banquettes, and verdant foliage combine to make the Panorama Lounge the ships' most popular gathering spot. You'll find yourself spending much time in it, as, besides serving as a piano bar at night, it's also where guest performers strut their stuff before dinner, and where lectures are delivered. They even serve high tea. Next door is the small but well-stocked library, internet cafe and a complimentary video area. The plainspokenly named The Bar has the atmosphere of a small nightclub, but with more comfortable seating. The casino's blackjack tables are very popular.
Elegant new furniture, linens and attractive artwork in all suites are recent additions to Silver Wind, but the addition you're apt to applaud most heartily is the intimate new dining room, La Saletta, reminiscent of the newer Silver Shadow's and Silver Whisper's Le Champagne. There's also a new Internet center, and expanded spa facilities, including a Tranquility Room. The Fitness Center has been moved up to the Observation Deck, meaning that you can now savor panoramic views of the ocean while using, rather than losing, it.
Where once there were Bulgari outlets, there are now little LJ boutiques featuring a variety of upscale merchandise. The ship's boutique, which offers pretty much the same stuff you'd find on 80 percent of the cruise ships at sea, disappoint.
You can't fault the culinary staff for stodginess. Besides traditional steamed lobster, for instance, you're apt to be offered lobster medallions breaded in chick pea flour and served with chorizo sausage chutney. While the ships' cuisine is almost always delectable, though, it is only sometimes beyond earthly imagination. Four entrees are offered each evening in the main dining room, and the chef will happily concoct another dish for anyone uninspired by all four of them. Pasta and fish are reliably delicious, as are sauces and starches. The one downside of open seating is that what starts out perfect in the kitchen on a crowded night may not always arrive at the table the same way.
Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style in the La Terrazza Cafeacute;. On the newer ships the Lidos have kitchens built in next door, but on these smaller older vessels, once again, the trip from the kitchen becomes a factor. So, ask the staff there to cook pasta to order for you, and then fill up on the handmade ice cream with toppings.
Starched white linens, romantic lighting and Christofle flatware adorn tables for four, six, eight and ten in The Restaurant, a huge, gorgeous room with windows overlooking the sea. The service here is sublime, as it is too in The Terrace Cafe, popular for casual breakfast and luncheon buffets, and open to the aft deck, but with not quite enough tables for prospective al fresco diners. At night, the cafe becomes the alternative Italian restaurant La Terrazza, requiring reservations.
If it's haute cuisine you're after, definitely head for the intimate La Saletta, a new Relais & Chateaux wine-themed restaurant with cuisine conceived to complement wine, rather than the more usual other way around. Inspired by Joachim Koerper's Michelin two-star Girasol, in Moraira, Spain, the restaurant offers seasonal menus with which it hopes to establish itself as the most memorable gourmet experience at sea. It's open for dinner only and reservations are recommended, as seating is extremely limited. Prepare to be charged a small fee for the premium wines that will be the stars of your meal.
Tired after a frenzied day ashore? Call room service and dine en suite, with your meal delivered course by course.
The almost entirely European staff is as personable as it is efficient. They'll know your names -- and preferences - almost before you've gotten to your cabin. Officers and crew seem genuinely to enjoy getting to know their passengers. Because so many Silversea voyagers stay aboard for cruise after cruise, there's a rare atmosphere of conviviality.
It must be noted that a when a ship that varies its itinerary almost on a per-cruise basis, it is not reasonable to expect the consistency and contingency planning for shore excursions you will find on a ship that has been repeating the same ports for years. Silversea has a glittering reputation for its shore excursions, but glitches can occur, and those on offer are sometimes subject to cancellation due to a lack of passenger interest.
Included in your fare, though additional services provided by a butler or concierge may deserve extra consideration at your discretion.
Small ship entertainment is normally fairly lackluster, but Silversea is clearly intent on bucking that trend with lavish Las Vegas-style production shows. At some ports, local musicians are invited aboard to perform before dinner. The ship's' comedian/magicians can only be described as laff-riots.
Sea days feature such extremely low-key traditional activities as napkin-folding, golf putting, and shuffleboard, with wine tasting and fitness classes for any live wires.
Those who adore Crystal Cruises' vast suites with private butler service may find these ships mildly disappointing. The majority of staterooms (75%) are standard suites with a 296-square-foot private veranda. The cabins are luxurious enough, though, for just about anyone. Staterooms have big walk-in closets, a separate sitting area with sofa and desk, twin/queen bed configuration, down pillows, and 24-hour room service. The bathrooms have tub/shower, terry cloth robes, hair dryers, and private label toiletries -- and ought, frankly, to be bigger.
The minimum category Vista Suite without balcony is 240 square feet. Larger suites include Silver Suites at 541 square feet and the Owner's Suite (827 square feet). The Royal Suite is 1,030 square feet, the Grand Suite, with two bedrooms, a whopping 1,314. All suite residents get complimentary laundry service. How suite it is!
The occupants of the largest Silversea suites - the Grand, Royal, Rossellini and Owner's -- enjoy the ministrations of butlers certified by no less than the Guild of Professional English Butlers, which trains the British Royal Family's servants. Your butler will do everything from unpacking your suitcase to arranging a private car at the next port, from drawing a bath to planning an in-suite cocktail party.
Silver Cloud's small fitness center offers classes during days at sea, There are also a beauty salon with massage offerings, but with a minimum staff on duty.
Bring your tux and long sequined gown. Silversea's passengers delight in dressing up - way up. Formals nights follow days at sea.