Report on Silver Whisper Cruise October 14-24, 2010 New York City to Barbados We flew to New York City and spent two nights pre-cruise and finally used the time to visit the Intrepid Museum. We spent five hours there and were really tired after, but it was well worth the effort.
SILVER WHISPER CRUISE SHIP.
October 14, we boarded the Silver Whisper about 12 noon in spite of the suggested time of 3:00 PM. Our Luggage was in our cabin and we had lunch. We explored the ship and found it to be in great shape. The Silver Whisper is one of the Silversea (an Italian Company) ships. Registry is in the Bahamas. The builder was Mariotti, and it was built in Italy completed on July 2, 2001. The ship's capacity is 382 with a crew of 295. The ship has a gross tonnage of 28,258 and an average speed of 21 knots. It is 610 feet long, 81 feet wide, has 7 passenger decks and 194 outside rooms. It supports four restaurants and has five elevators. It seems like I did not ever have to wait on an elevator over20 seconds.
We had cabin 828 selected by my travel agent and it turned out to be a great choice. Deck 8 has the pool deck and a bar that is open 9:00 AM until. It was 20 steps from our room. If you are a pool person this is the deck to be on. The one elevator amidships seemed to be adequate on this ship. There were four aft in the areas that had more activity and the area to disembark the ship. We never waited very long for an elevator on this ship anywhere. It was easy to get to deck 10 by elevator and get some coffee in the observation lounge. Of course there was excellent room service which my wife used everyday for coffee. We did not do the in room dining since it was much more fun to be in one of the dining areas. Deck 4 aft was the main dining area and if you were on deck 5 you were close to reception and only one down to dining. The Casino and the Grappa Bar (opened late) were on deck 5 along with the shops. This is an all inclusive cruise and I found the drinks to be very adequate serving the best liquor. I did find however that the wine was poor choice for me, but that could be because I like cheaper wines. I did not like the wine aboard. The specialty restaurant (le Champagne) aboard was not good for us, but it could have been because we picked the wrong night. Each night has a fixed menu in several courses. The wine and champagne served were just not to my taste.
The service was the best that I have had after 41 cruises. The food was as good as on any other ship I have been on and better than most. The wait times for special cooked eggs was nothing and you did not have to wait at the cooking station. You just told the cook what you wanted and he fixed it the way you liked it and had it delivered to your table. We always ate in the le Terraza restaurant which was the buffet style. The buffet was never crowded. It was like the buffet was there just for you. The main restaurant was reported to be a little slower for breakfast. The service certainly could not have been any better. One special main restaurant buffet style “Galley Brunch” was spectacular and held in the main dining room. They laid out the food in the kitchen so you got a tour of the kitchen while you went through a beautiful display of food which was very tasty also. The shrimp made a magnificent part of the display and I had shrimp every day.
The night of the first day of cruising was quite a roll. As they say the ship will move. My wife and I both took a scopace tablet (scopolamine) and went to bed. We found that laying crossways in the queen size bed was better than laying length wise and we faired the night quite well. The next day we had a much better weather and the rest of the cruise was quite smooth.
Our first port of call was BERMUDA and we were supposed to stop at St.George. The captain decided that the wind was too high to get through the narrow passage to the harbor of St. George and we docked at the British Naval Dockyard. We had pre-arranged a taxi for St. George and he met us at the Naval Dockyard and we toured the entire island so we got to St. George and Hamilton in addition to the Dockyard. Colin Jennings our taxi driver gave a three hour tour for $40/hr for the four of us. He said that a basic home in Bermuda cost one million dollars. Bermudians paid no income tax, but import taxes were high and this was passed on to the consumer.
Bermuda is an archipelago of islands connected by causeways and bridges. There about 22,000 square miles and have a population of 65,000. Bermuda has very strict immigration laws. Visitors cannot rent a car and can only go on their own using the mopeds. The largest business in Bermuda is the re-insurance business in which insurance companies insure other insurance companies. They pay no income tax so it is beneficial for them to do business here. Bermuda doesn't produce anything for export but does grow a few fruits, but not enough to export. We spent the night in Bermuda and the next day (Sunday) we toured around the Naval Dockyard area which was not that much to see and do, but nice shopping areas and we ate a very nice meal at the Bone fish Grill.
We had two days of smooth sailing to San Juan and played our Joker Poker game with friends and boys beat girls 9 games to 5.
Arriving at SAN JUAN I had pre arranged a Segwey tour. None of us had ever been on a Segway before and we got our instructions and found it to be very easy to do. We thoroughly enjoyed our two hour tour out to Fort Morro and it beat walking. They don't have that many Segways so it seemed best to pre-arranged this tour for the four of us. It worked out to $90/p for the two hours, but a 10% tip was given because of the expert treatment we received. I would definitely recommend this tour www.segwaytouyspr.com My wife and I found a very nice P.R restaurant behind the Sheraton Hotel for an authentic Puerto Rican meal. San Juan is a great city to visit, and I would recommend that one stay in old town to enjoy the full effect of the culture.
The port of Gustavia, St. Barts was cancelled because of flooding there and we substituted ST.MARTEN (SXM). We however anchored in Marigot bay and tendered in rather than go to Phillipsburg dock and tangle with the Soltice and its traffic. We went to Orient Beach and spent the day at KAKAO restaurant area. Round trip $12/p. We then did some local shopping in Marigot before catching the tender back aboard. We stayed in St. Martin until 12 midnight because we had a wonderful barbecue around the pool aboard ship and being stationary we didn't have to contend with wind around the pool We couldn't have found better entertainment anywhere in St. Marten. We had a Latino show put on by the dancers around the pool with a manufactured stage using a backdrop.
Our next port was ST.JOHN'S ANTIGUA. Having been there several times in the past years we hired a taxi for a ride to Devil's bridge and the long bay area. We also had a look at Dickenson bay since we heard there had been some damage, but it looked to be in good shape. We past by to check on the Blue Waters hotel which was in good repair. There is a new Sandals on Dickenson bay right next to the old one. Apparently both are still functioning. Sandals on Dickenson Bay in Antigua would be a very nice place to spend a week. The Royal Antiguan a property on Deep Bay, that we had spent a week in 1994 had gone into some disrepair. The old Jaws restaurant on Deep Bay where the sunset was so magnificent as you dined in the evening was out of business and only used for private parties.
BEQUIA, GRENADINES was our next port of call. Bequia is a small island in the Grenadines measuring just seven square miles and is home to about 5000 people. It is just above Grenada in the Eastern Caribbean windward islands group. Independence from Great Britain was in 1979. The capital of the Grenadines is St.Vincent just across a small section of water 15 min by boat as long as the waves remain calm. The only thing about taking a ferry ride away from your cruise stop island is that if the waves kick up you might get stuck on that island and miss your cruise ship. There are several very pretty beaches on Bequia and quaint waterfront bars. Port Elizabeth is the main town and we disembarked there and met up with our taxi driver Noel Olivierre with his open air taxi. This actually was very nice in that it gave a good opportunity for photography from the back of the truck and was cool as the breezes flowed through. We remembered that this was the same type of transportation as in Papeete,Tahiti and Kirimati (Christmas) Island in the South Pacific used for touring. We stopped at a quaint little restaurant bar with a three room hotel. One would have to know it was there to find it. It had a quaint little small beach associated with it.
We went up to Hamilton fort to overlook Admiralty Bay and Port Elizabeth and then later went to Sargent's Model boat shop. One boat that was a replica of a yacht was commissioned for $5,000 by the owner of the yacht.
We visited Mr.King's turtle farm where he is raising Green and Hawksbill turtles. He is trying to help save the endangered sea turtle species. He said there are seven species of sea turtles. Bequians hunt the turtles for the shells and it was much more popular before they came out with the plastic shells. It is hard to maintain a species when only one out of 3000 will live to maturity after birth in the wild, so he is trying to improve the odds. He raises the turtles until they are full grown and releases them. He has permission to find the eggs on the beach and protect them.
Our final port was BARBADOS for disembarkation which went off very well. We hired a cab to gives us a 2 hour tour on the way to the airport and we went to the Crane Beach Hotel complex to have a look around. We had previously visited Crane Beach at a private home and could see the hotel, so we used the time to visit the hotel. The Crane Beach gets its name from a crane that was on the beach and used to unload cargo. Now you might see a statue of a crane in the lobby of the hotel. Crane beach has been listed as the 17th most beautiful beach in the world by the beach raters from a Travel Channel program. The hotel turned out to be more of a maze of little cottages than an actual hotel, but had a beautiful beach and an elevator to get down to the beach. The beach is under a high cliff that the hotel is built on. It was a good trip and no unusual problems. This cruise had more British than any other nationality aboard.
The down side of this cruise was I didn't like the wine on the entire cruise and didn't enjoy the specialty restaurant le Champagne. The Millennium class of Celebrity cruise ships has some cabins with 270 degree veranda views and that is the only thing I could see that would keep me with Celebrity if I was doing a Fjord Norway, Chilean Fjords, or Alaska Cruise. Otherwise the service and food in general on the Silver Whisper was far better than on a Celebrity cruise ship.
Pictures at: http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=5321
Let's be honest. One of the pleasures of cruising is the "fantasy factor". You know what I mean -- for a few days each year one is made to feel rich and famous, from spacious suites with attentive service to haute cuisine with fine wine.
Mainstream cruise lines offer a degree of luxury with their upper echelon suites and surcharged restaurants, but the kind of pervasive luxury and personal attention that I am talking about here is the raison d'etre of such cruise lines as Silversea, Regent (formerly Radisson) Seven Seas, Seabourn, and Crystal. These ships range from about 200 passengers on the older Seabourn "yachts" to about 1,000 passengers on the newest Crystal ship.
What follows is a review of our experience on a four-night, March 2006 Caribbean cruise on Silversea's all-suite Silver Whisper. I am semi-retired, in my late 50's, and not in the travel business. My wife and I have taken 17 cruises on a variety of lines. When on vacation I prefer not dealing with lines or crowds, and tend to travel independently rather than with tour groups.
This was a relatively short, heavily discounted itinerary from a U.S.port (San Juan), and as such may not be representative of the usual Silversea cruises, which average about 10 days and $5,000 per person for the least expensive cabins.
The bottom line: This was an enjoyable cruise on a highly regarded small ship, calling at three of the less crowded Caribbean ports.
The Good: Spacious cabins with double bathrooms (all cabins are outsides, most with balconies); the understated elegance of the extensive public areas; the absence of noise and crowds; the absence of sales pitches (no art auctions, photographers or bingo games); the talented musicians and entertainers (presented at reasonable decibel levels); the well traveled, well educated and articulate passengers; and the inclusive pricing (drinks and gratuities).
The Not-So-Good: Minor lapses in service; minor lapses in food preparation; inadequate exercise facilities; excessive off-line and Internet computer fees; and a tendency of the ship to roll in good weather during mild to moderate seas.
Background Silversea is a privately-owned Italian line with four luxury ships. The officers are predominantly Italian, and the staff is international. The Silver Clouod and Silver Wind were built in 1994-95 for 295 passengers each. The Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper were built in 2000-01 for 382 passengers each. All cabins are outsides, and most have balconies. Silversea prefers to call them suites, although most are a single room with a dividing curtain between the sitting and sleeping areas. Silver Shadow's and Silver Whisper's cabin size (345/287 sq. ft. with/without balcony), space ratio (74 tons per passenger), and staff-to-passenger ratio (1.3 to 1) are almost twice those of mainstream cruise ships, and are significantly better than most other cruise ships in the luxury category.
Pricing How much does a luxury cruise cost? I searched the Internet for the lowest Silver Whisper net per diem rates for various 2006 itineraries, after discounts but before taxes and port fees. With a few exceptions, prices ranged from about $400 to $700 per person per day (pppd) for the least expensive cabins (outside, but no balcony). The lower amount was for itineraries such as Asia; the higher for itineraries such as northern Europe. A balcony adds significantly to the price, depending on whether the balcony cabin is located forward or mid-ship. The largest (named) suites are much more expensive. Repositioning cruises are less expensive, beginning around $300 pppd.
Because of a heavily discounted price and a desire to sample the Silversea experience before committing several thousand dollars to a longer cruise, we selected one of four short (four-night, three-day) back-to-back cruises round trip out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Although the discounted per diem started out higher, I found a price of $250 pppd on these itineraries, and our cruise agent (Pavlus Travel) kindly included taxes and port fees in that price. We jumped at this opportunity, even though the cruise included only three ports for our $1,000 per person cruise fare, and the least expensive (independent) airfare from our regional airport added another $700.
Pre-departure Silversea pre-cruise documents are similar to those of other lines, with options including pillow preference, bed configuration, and special dietary needs. Although alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are included in the cruise fare, there was no option for us to indicate personal preferences for our mini-bar.
One can enter preferences in Silversea's web site, but the site was not working properly when I tried it. Their webmaster told me that they were upgrading, and presumably it is functional now. We simply faxed our pre-cruise information forms.
Those interested in alternate dining at La Terraza or Le Champagne restaurants (see dining options below) should inquire about the possibility of pre-cruise reservations (all La Terraza's nights were full and wait-listed by the time we boarded). Information about shore excursions and spa treatments is on the web site, and one might want to pre-reserve those also, although I heard no problems about booking them onboard.
Silversea documents arrive in a silver-colored box, and include two black leatherette document cases and two black leather luggage tags with a metal Silversea logo.
Embarkation We generally prefer to make our own air and transfer arrangements. Our flight touched down at San Juan's airport at 4:30 p.m. on embarkation day. Since we travel without checked bags, just a regulation carry-on each, we were at the cruise dock ready to board the ship at 5 p.m.
No pre-booked cruise transfers are necessary in San Juan since it has an excellent and safe taxi system for tourists. The airport and the cruise docks have taxi dispatchers who will write down your destination and the appropriate taxi fare, giving a copy to you and to your driver. That way there is no problem with overcharges or unwanted "city tours". Look for the dispatchers' booths curbside at both locations. The cab fare for two between the airport and Old San Juan, where most cruise ships dock, is $19 (plus $1 for our two bags). Many of the cabs are mini-vans, which can hold several people and extensive luggage.
One of the negatives of cruising on a small ship is that there may be no greeter at the airport to answer questions and confirm the ship's location. The Silver Whisper was docked at a different pier than stated in our pre-cruise documents, and Silversea did not send us an e-mail or (apparently) notify our agent of the change. Fortunately the two piers were nearby, and our taxi driver found the correct one. It would be nice if all cruise lines used an e-mail alert system similar to that of airlines.
Silversea recommends embarking between 3 and 5 p.m. Early boarding (including lunch onboard) is available for a $100 per person surcharge if pre-reserved, but it is gratis to Venetian Society members (repeat Silversea cruisers) who have completed more than 250 Silversea cruise days. Similar late disembarkation is available in some ports, but not U.S. ports, which require disembarkation of all passengers once a ship clears immigration.
On the ship, there was no special welcome aboard. We cleared security and were directed to the reception desk, where we turned in our cruise tickets, were photographed, received our key cards. One must imprint one's credit card, but for some reason the reception desk did not do this at embarkation. We received a notice later in the cruise to do this. There were several chambermaids in line near the registration desk, and one of them assisted us with our hand carries and led us to our cabin, where a bottle of Pommery brut champagne on ice was waiting for us.
Since our flights had no food service, we were hungry for a snack with the champagne. After our boat drill there was no food venue open until dinnertime and the mini-bar had no snacks, so we called room service. Unfortunately the room service button on our phone responded that "this service is not currently available". Another room service number we found in our cabin directory responded with "please leave a message." We never needed room service after that and do not know how efficient it is.
The Ship The deck plan of the Silver Whisper is quite logical, with cabins forward and public areas aft on all decks except Deck 10, where the observation lounge and spa are forward. This deck plan makes it easy to find almost any venue quickly.
The one downside: There is only one small elevator forward in the cabin areas, but there are four elevators aft in the public areas. Since there is no service elevator for room service or other crew members, the one forward elevator is often used by the crew. It makes for some snug but friendly trips among enormous breakfast and dinner trays.
The Cabin Our cabin was one of the "Vista" Suites, which have a window rather than balcony. These are the least expensive accommodations and account for approximately 20 percent of the cabins (all cabins are outsides, and 80 percent have balconies).
Vista Suites are clustered on Deck 4 forward, and abut the dining room bulkhead. That means that Vista passengers must go up one or more decks to reach any of the public areas, including an up-and-then-down trip to the main restaurant entrance on Deck 4 aft.
Being on Deck 4 can be an advantage in rough weather (it is nearest the ship's center of gravity), especially since the ship tended to roll in good weather with mild to moderate seas. Several passengers we met were wearing accu-pressure wristbands for motion sickness, and these passengers were all repeat (Venetian Society) cruisers.
Deck 4 is also nearest the sewage treatment area, and we noticed a faint odor of sewage several times as we approached our hallway. This odor was never a problem. It was not apparent in the public areas, just in the Deck 4 stairwell and hallway, and it did not seep into our cabin at any time.
Silver Whisper's cabins are almost double the size of the average cabins on mainstream cruise ships. The configuration is standard, with the bathroom and closet along the entry hall, then the sleeping area, and then the sitting/dining area adjacent to the window or balcony. One does not notice the extra floor space so much in the sleeping and sitting areas, but it is very apparent in the bathroom, which allows two to bathe and dress for dinner at the same time. The tub and shower are separate, and there are two sinks (and double bath amenities) at the granite counter.
We did appreciate the quality of the cabin's accoutrements. The duvet was sparkling white and light as air, the towels were textured and double thick, and the robes were heavyweight terry. A table converter (for room service dinners) was stowed in the closet but we never needed it. The TV had a DVD player, but I cannot imagine why anyone would use it when there are interesting ports of call, although it may help pass time when there are back-to-back days at sea.
Our mini-bar was stocked with beer, mixers, and fruit juice. In addition to the champagne bottle waiting on our arrival, we were given a bottle of red wine during the cruise. We never opened it and left it for the next passengers. We did not request extra alcohol for the mini-bar, but I am certain many passengers do. We would have preferred having some colas and champagne splits, but we never asked for them (or were asked our preferences). We simply went to the nearest bar each evening for our pre-dinner drink. No problem.
Our cabin was maintained by two chambermaids, one from Iceland and one from India. They made a great team and did a fine job keeping our cabin ship-shape. We rarely saw them, but when we wanted something (like additional personalized stationery) we simply left a note and they responded efficiently.
Public Areas The ship's public areas are decorated subtly in neutral colors, mainly off-white with pale blue, gray, or beige accents. There is no glitzy atrium or hey-look-at-me decor. Everything is elegant in an understated way. The art collection is not extensive, but features pleasant antiquarian prints and occasional ethnic art works from various ports around the world. The one must-see art collection is the Florentine style mosaics in the bar on Deck 5. These interpret in stone various famous prints by Gustav Klimt - the images are familiar and the craftsmanship is impressive.
Rather than my describing the public areas around the ship, log onto one of the many web sites featuring Silversea photos taken by previous cruisers. Just Google "Silversea Silver Whisper reviews" and follow the trail. The photos are beautiful, far better than any of my own. The ship is very handsome inside and out.
The excellent space ratio is apparent throughout the ship. No public area ever seemed crowded, although the alternative dining rooms and the show lounge were sometimes full. The exception was the tiny gym, which seemed cramped even when no one else was there. The ship was so quiet compared to our previous cruises that we sometimes wondered where everybody was. There were no more than a handful of cruisers in the library, the lounges, or the shops when we were there. The privacy and sense of calm were very impressive.
Entertainment The entertainment was surprisingly enjoyable, especially for such a small ship. Although there were no enrichment lectures or formal concerts on this itinerary, the musicians, vocalists, and dancers were all very talented.
A vocalist played piano and sang every evening in the Deck 5 bar. He has a fine voice and great sense of style. Ingeniously, he used his laptop screen instead of sheet music.
A piano trio provided dance music every evening in the Deck 8 Panorama lounge. They knew all the standards, took requests, and even did vocals on some numbers. My wife and I thought the dance floor would be crowded on a cruise like this, but we found only a handful of passengers in the lounge with us, and they listened at the bar but did not dance.
The Jean Ann Ryan Company of six dancers and two vocalists provided entertainment in the show lounge every evening after dinner. Productions ranged from an evening of Broadway show tunes to a Cirque du Soleil style performance that combined avant-garde music with acrobatic dancing. The production values matched any that we have seen while cruising, and the bonus is that this is the first and only cruise production company we have encountered that does not over-amplify its music and vocals.
The Passengers Fellow passengers on this cruise were not what we expected. The average age was around 60, but ranged from 30s to 80s. We expected the dress to range from Armani to Zegna, and were worried that our three outfits (formal, informal, and casual) would not be sufficient, even on a short cruise. But to our surprise, the average dress during the day was shorts and T-shirts. Dress during the evening was surprisingly informal. In fact, although everyone was presentable, people made less effort to dress well on this cruise than we were used to seeing on previous Holland America, Celebrity, or Princess cruises.
Everyone we dined with on this cruise proved to be well traveled, highly articulate, and very entertaining. On some cruises my wife and I prefer to dine at a table for two, but on this cruise we always opted to join a group because of the enjoyable company. Perhaps the maitre d' has ESP -- he always seemed to look into one's eyes, think for a moment, and then say "Hmmm, yes, I think I have the perfect table for you." He was right every time.
Dining Dining can be a touchy subject because it is so subjective. As I mentioned earlier, we were never able to sample the regional Italian cuisine in La Terraza restaurant because this was fully booked before we ever boarded the ship.
We also opted not to try the multi-course dinners and wine tastings in Le Champagne dining room. These had a "nominal" fee of $150 per person to cover the cost of the premium wines. Although I enjoy a good wine, I cannot detect the subtleties of a great wine, so it would have been a wasted evening for me.
That leaves the Deck 7 buffet and the Deck 4 main restaurant. The buffet is very enjoyable at breakfast. Since we did not have a balcony, we preferred to eat breakfast on the veranda outside the buffet rather than have room service. The buffet selections are varied, well prepared, and nicely presented. The breakfast buffet is very comparable to those found on mainstream cruise ships, but without the lines and crowds. The lunch buffet parallels the menu in the main restaurant. As a matter of portion control and made-to-order freshness, we preferred the main restaurant for lunch.
In the main restaurant, the food is good to excellent, similar in quality to the good food found in the dining rooms of Celebrity, Holland America or Princess ships to the excellent food found in the surcharged restaurants on those same ships.
We experienced a few minor lapses in service. One appetizer and two drink orders were forgotten; often my water glass was not refilled when empty; and sometimes there were unusually long intervals between courses.
A few dining quirks are native to Silversea. On our first night we ordered leg of lamb. The meat came without vegetables or potatoes, which were listed on the menu but have to be separately ordered to appear with the main course. A sorbet is always listed between the salad and the main courses, but this too must be ordered since it is not served automatically.
The drinking water is served in beautiful grand cru stemware that magnifies the chemical odor of water just as it does the aroma of good wine. Requesting bottled water with the meal should be a simple task, but it almost always elicited a sour expression from the waiter, and the request was never carried out through the entire meal.
The dining room was never crowded on our cruise. In fact the quietness of the main dining room was a pleasure, and contrasted sharply with the noisy, multi-tiered dining rooms on larger ships.
The main restaurant provides a cuisine that matches, and sometimes exceeds, the fine dining we experienced on other ships. Even mainstream cruise lines are now extremely successful at providing memorable dining, and the margin between cuisine on the Silver Whisper and that on other ships is very narrow.
The menu has somewhat greater choice than on some other ships, perhaps because most of its cruises are longer than one week, and most of its passengers are repeat cruisers. The Silver Whisper adds the extra option of ordering specialty items not listed on the menu (if ingredients are available). On a short cruise such as ours this was not necessary, but for a long round-the-world cruise this would be a lifesaver. Some passengers on our cruise apparently tried to order exotic dishes but were unsuccessful, which in my opinion was just as well, since there was adequate choice to be happy for four evenings.
The fish courses were generally cooked to perfection, although my lobster and salmon were each somewhat overcooked on one occasion. The lobster was rubbery and adherent to the shell. Another person at our table that evening found his lobster so excellent that he ordered a second portion, which turned out as tough as mine, so he left his second portion uneaten.
The fish courses sometimes were matched with al dente vegetables that were so crisp that one could not cut them with the fish knife or spear them with the fish fork -- a great excuse if you prefer not to eat your vegetables. Our lamb chops were ordered rare and came seared on the outside but translucent red on the inside. The unique taste of lamb was undetectable. Medium rare should get you the pink to red doneness that you want.
One appetizer was made with taco shells that were stale and tough. The filling was excellent though. Salads were sometimes overdressed and low fat dressings were not featured - the easy solution is to request the dressing on the side. One dessert was a creamy chocolate mousse that had clear gelatin cubes inside - a strange combination. Another dessert was a banana concoction constructed on a translucent gelatinous base - flavorful but strange in appearance and texture.
These issues are minor. You will have a very enjoyable time in the main restaurant, and if you plan far enough ahead, you may be able to sample their alternative dining.
Computer Fees We did encounter excessive computer and Internet fees. Formerly there was a charge only for uploading or downloading data from the Internet, and the resulting fee was reasonable. Now there is a US 75 cents per minute fee from the first keystroke, whether working off-line or on the net.
I generated a charge of $4.50 before even logging onto the net to access my e-mail. The on screen "meter" that tracks charges is not that clear, nor is the log-off window. Fortunately a shipboard IT assistant alerted me to the charge and I logged off with her help. When I politely expressed my dismay to the reception desk, they removed the charge from my account. I never did use the net on the entire cruise.
Some passengers brought laptops and used the ship's wireless capability for e-mails and Internet phone calls. Some passengers complained that the net connection is slow, so the charges can be daunting.
Disembarking This follows the usual drill and is handled efficiently. Color coded baggage tags are distributed the day before disembarkation. The color code determines the disembarkation priority, and is based on a questionnaire distributed during the cruise. Baggage is left in the hallways the last night of the cruise, and is reclaimed and cleared through customs dockside by the passengers as they disembark the next morning.
Passports are held by the cruise ship for the duration of the cruise and are returned to the passengers (in order by luggage tag color code) between 7 and 8 a.m. on the day of disembarkation. U.S. immigration inspection generally goes quickly, but every passenger must be cleared by immigration before any passenger is allowed off the ship.
Disembarkation begins around 9 a.m. and takes about an hour. Silversea recommends not booking a return flight much before noon, since one must taxi to the airport, check in, and go through security inspections there too.
As we disembarked, the gangway was relatively steep. Without being asked, a Silver Whisper crew member graciously took my wife's roll-aboard down the gangway to the dock for her. As we left the ship we felt truly pampered.Is a Luxury Cruise Worth the Cost?
Yes and no. The choice in cruise ships is very much like the choice in new automobiles - there is one for every taste and budget. Some people insist that a Lexus or a Cadillac is the only way to travel. Others insist that a Ford or Toyota is the logical choice. The bottom line is that there is no single automobile (or cruise line) that will make everyone happy, but there is at least one automobile (or cruise line) that will make each one of us happy.
Last year for the first time I bought identical Honda Accords for myself and my wife, together less than the cost of one Mercedes. The Hondas are safe, reliable, economical cars that are a delight to drive. They have given us as much pleasure as our Mercedes ever did. I guess that says it all.
This is the first time we have ever felt the "need", to write a review of any cruise we have taken.. We typically take one of the RCCL or Celebrity ships, and usually, with the help of our very astute agent.. we get a nice cabin with a nice price.Overall, we are very satisfied with the service and food, and the entertainment tends to be very erratic? As many of you regular cruisers know.... the industry in general has become mediocre at best. The ships are gorgeous , but due to the need to fill these behemoths at bargain basement prices.. the service, food, entertainment, and especially... ATTITUDE has become somewhat numb! Although still a good value..cruising has become a "challenged', industry!
Here is the good news!! SilverSea has brought cruising back to an era when SERVICE was paramount! The ships are like private yachts! The cabins are all suites, and you can actually move about in them.. They have thought of every detail, and the word "NO", doesn't exist in their vocabulary! From the moment you enter their world.. you are a welcome guest! Nothing is too much to ask,and most times it's done before you can even think of it! It's as though they actually read "ALL", the customer comment cards from the other cruise lines and made the appropriate changes!
We actually had nothing to even think of complaining about.. The suites are gorgeous, the staff is absolutely wonderful, the food is truly 5 star, there is never a crowd to do anything, no loud music, no loudspeaker announcements of the "bargains", in the gift shop, never an attempt to "pick your pocket", in any way! In fact everything is included. Friends of ours invited us to a party in their suite with champagne, caviar, crab claws, lobster,.... It was all provided "free of charge"...and the cabin was cleaned by the time dinner was finished!
Silver Sea is definitely a amall intimate and very upscale adventure.. You really do "get what you pay for", with this cruise line!
We would highly recommend SilverSea to all age groups, except those parents traveling with children! There are no special areas or activities for kids.
Needless to say... we will be regulars with SilverSea in the future!!
We boarded the Silver Whisper in Barcelona and sailed for seven days on the Med., winding up in Rome. From the moment we stepped aboard, was handed a glass of champaigne, and was shown to our stateroom, I knew we had arrived. The Silver Whisper holds 380 guests and almost all have the "Veranda Suite". It is about 270 square feet, a perfect size. Extra large bathrooms, walk-in closet, spacious bedroom, comfortable living room, and nice veranda, through the double sliding glass doors.
We were shortly greeted by our Suite Waitperson, and she stocked our suite bar exactly as we requested, including Hennesy VSOP, and kept it stocked throughout the trip. We had Champaigne, fresh flowers, and chocolates to greet us.
Here is should be noted that all champaigne, wines, liquers, drinks,at any time are included in the price. Everything is premium brand and whatever you want, whenever you want it, is free.
There is also no tipping for anything on the Silverseas line, so if you want a six course meal brought to your room, a course at a time, (like we did) there is no tipping. Not at dinner, notwhen you leave the ship. Speaking of dinner - in the main dining room, you go when you feel like eating, anytime between 7:30 and 9:00. When you arrive they will ask if you wish to dine alone, with two others, or four others. Whatever your desire, they will accomodate you and you can meet new friends, or dine alone. They of course have other dining rooms and buffets if you so desire. They also have special regional dining rooms that serve French or Italian on certain evenings that you can sign up for in the morning. They also have 24 hour room service that they challange you to test them on. Champaigne and caviar at midnite? We did!
This was the most relaxing trip we had ever been on. Plenty of activities and shore excursions, the one to the winery in France was awsume. But to just kick back and relax on that beautiful ship and enjoy your stateroom veranda while gliding across the Med. was incredible.
The entertainment was a little below average for a cruise, but it was light and enjoyable. Just a little something before you went to bed, to put a smile on your face.
The price is such that there are very few children. Most of our fellow passengers were older, relaxed, and very pleasant to be with.
I have checked the reviews for other ships, and I think that we will stay with Silversea until a reviewer can convince us otherwise.
Just Returned From Silver Whisper-FABULOUS!!
My husband and I were on Silver Wind ten years ago and had the trip of our lifetime. I never thought it could be repeated again. But it was! Another trip of a lifetime on Silversea!
We were on a 9 day cruise - June 6-15 to Greek Islands, Sicily and Italy.
Of course the ports were wonderful, but I am not going to review the ports since everyone chooses an itinerary based on their own preferences. My objective is to discuss our experience on Silversea.
From the moment we boarded the ship- The service was incredible!! Every staff person always greeted us and had a big smile on their faces.
Woke up very early every morning (we couldn’t wait to start our day on Silver Whisper) - and ordered cappuccino delivered to our rooms. Ten minutes later it would arrive and placed on our balcony with fine linens and china. 24 hour room service- you can order anything to eat or drink. Ordered drinks at 2:00 a.m. and same efficient and quick service.
Then we would go to La Terrazza for buffet breakfast when it opened. Huge wonderful assortmentof breakfast items, juices, fresh omelet station, fresh fruit station with staff cutting the fruit. etc. - Glasses for juices were chilled. The attention to this kind of detail was evident in everything they did on the ship. Then you could have pancakes, waffles etc., prepared for you.
I am not a breakfast eater- so ordered Lamb Chops, with wild mushrooms and ice tea every morning. (Asked for fresh pineapple slice in my ice tea). By the second day, the waiters knew me and would say - “Are you ready for your Lamb Chops and your Ice tea with fresh pineapple”. 10-15 minutes later the Lamb Chops arrived. The point I am trying to get across is whatever special request you may want- the answer is always “YES”! The waiters would carry your plates to your table from the buffet. All the waiters had wonderful attitudes and were there to please you in every way. You are made to feel very special!
We had a veranda suite which included a balcony. We loved having the balcony and used it all the time. The room is lovely, with plenty of closet space and more drawers than you can fill up- and we had 4 pieces of luggage. Personalized stationary with your name on it. Fresh flowers in your cabin. The bathrooms were fantastic! - double sinks, shower and tub with Bulgari amenities- soap, shampoo, conditioner etc. Very comfortable bed with fine linens and duvet cover.
The stewardess was fantastic. Always smiling and calling us by our names. Good morning Mr. and Mrs.…... The stewardess’s- work in teams with 2 people taking care of your suite. The cabins are cleaned twice a day and the cleaning was immaculate. They even lined up my makeup in a straight row!
We kept saying to ourselves, this service is UNBELIEVABLE!!!
We had to keep asking ourselves how anything can be so perfect like this.
We ate dinner every night in the main dining room and also ate once in the Italian Restaurant. The food was excellent. Many choices and if you don’t see what you like on the menu- they will bring you what you request. One day I saw an appetizer from lunch that looked interesting and requested it for dinner. Nothing was ever a problem! The dining room wait staff was so professional, great attitudes and impeccable service.
We were greeted by the waiter and wine steward the minute you sat down. Every night it was like eating in a fine restaurant. Presentation of the food on the plates was always beautifully done. The beef dishes were extraordinary- beef melted in our mouths! You will be pampered beyond belief!!
Most nights we would stay in the dining room for 3 hours talking to our fellow guests we were dining with at our table.We enjoyed the formal nights as it made for a Glamorous Evening!
Chef David was accessible to all the guests. Coming out to the dining room, greeting everyone and making sure you were happy. One day my husband told the chef- he may prefer something different instead of a filet of fish. The chef said call me and let me know- he said "do you want a whole fish- I can make it anyway you want".
Almost on every port before we were ready to sail- there would be a lovely small buffet set up by the pool area before dinner. Chef David was always walking around - getting to know all the guests.
One night we had a "Barbeque Dinner" on the pool deck. It was FANTASTIC! Forty desserts to choose from- I counted! The pool deck was set up with fabric covered chairs, linen tablecloths. Great entertainment and dancing to the wee hours. We were talking to a few couples and the Captain came by our table and talk to us for one hour! That is what made our cruise so special- all the staff treated you like family!
Every cruise they do an open Kitchen Galley Buffet Lunch. What a magnificent presentation! So interesting to see how the kitchen functions.
See pictures of Kitchen Galley Lunch, Barbeque Dinner Buffet on Pool Deck and Breakfast Buffet:
At the bars they use linen napkins- another attention to fine detail! All the bartenders made great drinks! I like Pina Coladas and had it prepared in Hawaii with vanilla ice cream. I told the bartender and with in a few minutes they went down to the kitchen galley and got the ice cream. No request is denied!
When we disembarked at the ports they had cold bottled water to take ashore and on the way back waiting for the tenders to return to the ship -at the ports they had cold punch, water and chilled towels!
What makes Silversea cruises so special are the fellow passengers you meet. We met wonderful, fascinating people from all over the world. Everyone was so friendly and wanted to socialize. We have made some lasting friendships that we will keep in touch with.
If you want wonderful service, great food, and a smaller ship than there is only one Cruise Line- SILVERSEA!
The advantage of the smaller ship is that it is easier to make friends since you run into the same people all the time and the staff members get to know you personally.
Ron our cruise director was so friendly, and eloquent making announcements and always had a big smile when he greeted us.
The entertainment was classy, A Broadway singer, a famous pianist etc.
On the third day the Cruise Hotel Director delivered to all cabins a sheet asking if there is anything that he can do to make your cruise more pleasant please let him know. I wrote back on the sheet: “HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE PERFECTION” And I meant it. There is nothing that I would add or change.
Spoke to many fellow passengers the last day of the cruise and everyone had the same opinion saying it was FABULOUS!
If you like Four Seasons hotels than you will love Silversea!
In fact I think Silversea is a cut above Four Seasons Hotels if you compare everything.
Silversea is a CLASS ACT! You will not be disappointed. In fact it will probably be one of the highlights of your life!! You will be blown away with the Perfection in everything they do to make your cruise a memorable experience.
Silversea is expensive, but worth every dollar you pay. We loved an all inclusive cruise- never have to sign for anything. Everything is included.
We kept asking ourselves, how can a cruise line deliver such a perfect product down to every last detail.
We travel all over the world for our business and have stayed in the finest hotels- and the Cruise we just went on with Silversea in all around service, food, attention to detail, and staff is top on our list.
To be honest it was hard to go back to reality when the cruise ended as this cruise was a Fantasy come true!
Our experience on Silversea was beyond our wildest dreams!
How would we describe our cruise? MAGNIFICENT! AMAZING! PERFECT! FANTASTIC! INCREDIBLE! AND FABULOUS!!
If you want the best service, great food, a wonderful cruise experience than Silversea is for you!
Just returned from our 2nd SS cruise - last was 4 years ago on the Silver Wind & was fabulous. I was a little nervous about trying to do it all over again, but had an absolutely incredible cruise and the Silver Whisper is even more gorgeous - and at 30% of, we were very happy!
Boarded in Barcelona (see my 'Barcelona Notes on Google Groups rec.travel.europe if you are going there). Shown immediately to our balcony suite - WOW!! We booked a reg. balcony suite - the mid-ship ones are more expensive, but we were only 2 doors away from the higher priced ones & I don't see any reason to pay more. Suite #641 - veranda had tons of privacy as bottom-to-top metal wall to the right between us & other cabin and no one in cabin on other side. Beautiful bathrooms - all marble, double sinks, separate shower & regular sized tub. Soft plush huge towels. And those fabulous Bulgari eau tea vert toiletries - it's been my fav spring/summer scent since the last cruise!
Large mirror with shelf in hall between bath & closet. Walk-in closets even larger- full wall & double rack for hanging clothes - my only complaint is that since there is a larger drawer built into the floor, there is no full length hanging space for formal gowns - almost, but about 4 inches too short. Shoe rack & 6 or 7 drawer cabinet with safe on top. Fluffy robes & full length mirror on door.
Cabin itself seemed pretty similiar to the Silver Wind - so well designed - comfy big bed, bedstands with drawers on either side, built in well-lit vanity & stool. Sitting area with loveseat, 2 chairs & table. Built-in fridge, desk & more shelves/drawers. TV on top on swivel platform & bar set-up in opposite shelf. Tons of storage space.
Veranda with sliding door, 2 chairs & footrests, table.
Our cabin girls came in & introduced themselves - Ulrike & Julia - just darling & so sweet. They were a big part of what made the cruise so special - so friendly & out-going. Asked us about any special requests & what we wanted bar stocked with - asked for vodka (they asked if Absolut ok - absolutely!), Pouilly Fuisse wine, cokes & tonic water. No problems! Also, wonderful fruit plate always filled in room.
Ship didn't sail til 11pm, so we got off & had another great dinner in Barcelona. 1st day sea day - had Balinese Bliss massages in lovely spa - got away with only buying some de-tox bath stuff! Very nice rooms & don't feel crowded at all. Were given our own email adresses, so spent some time in library on one of 8 computers contacting home. Formal night & sat with ship's doctor - very interesting - caviar & excellent poached lobster for dinner.
Casino is nice, but only other complaint is how unfriendly dealers were. They really don't need to be so stiff & cold. An English mother & daughter were cleaning up on the slots - all the time, but didn't see a whole lot of luck at any of the tables. Darling little 'Grappa Bar' off the casino turned out to be our hang-out.
Other guests were very friendly & fun - age group much younger than last SS cruise - probably partially due to fares coming down.
Docked in Malaga & took the tour to Granada & the Alhambra - excellent guides & a nice, but too long lunch afterwards (typical for Spain). Gibralter the next day, where I'd never been. We hired a local tour guide to take us over the Rock & to see the monkeys, absolutely amazing huge caves with stalagtites & -mites - so beautiful & the defense tunnels & caves - cute little town & wish we'd had a little more time there to shop as we heard the prices were great - unlike the rest of Europe!
Lisbon next - I hung out in the old town while hubby golfed with pro at what he said was a great course - $350, tho, which seemed rather steep. Some other guests did it on their own for much less. Next time! Oporto was a wonderful old town built on very steep cliffs & we enjoyed lunch at a charming cafe by the river, then did a port winery tour.
Next day, La Coruna, where we took the tour to Santiago de Compostela - would go back there in a heartbeat. Darling old town with teency cobblestone streets & great - looking seafood restaurants. Another excellent tour - SS even made a donation to the Cathedral so that the priests would perform aspecial ceremony - lighting a 6 ft tall silver oil lamp, pulling it up to the ceiling & then pushing it so it swung from ceiling to ceiling over our heads, controlled by 8 priests holding the rope - truly spectacular!
Sea day, then St. Malo. We decided to do Mont St. Michel on our own as hate the early departure times of tours. Had a terrible time finding a taxi - even the local port agent couldn't get one for us. Evidentally all 6 were already in Mont St. Michel. After 2 1/2 hours & total frustration - I've always wanted to go there & agent finally told us it wasn't going to happen, found a taxi & fought over it with a French woman & I finally just got in & the driver was more than happy to take us there & wait 2 hoursfor us. Boy, was it worth it - so glad we perservered!
Honfleur next, where we disembarked 3 days early to go to Paris. 9 nights was just perfect. SS staff did all kinds of amazing things for us - I consulted with the head chef re: a special birthday dinner served in the suite for us. Caviar, giant shrimp cocktail, Greek salad, broiled lobster tails & my husband's favorite, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce & Spanish peanuts. Champagne & a special Mersault ($48 additional) with dinner. They had already dropped off a beautiful chocolate ganache flourless cake for him earlier. Frangelico after-dinner drinks.
The galley tour was fabulous - at least 10 different stations - caviar, proscuitto, sushi, 30 kings of cheese, unbelievable desserts - kept going back for more. Only time we truly pigged out.
Our last night, one of our new friends, a couple from England arranged a special dinner with the Maitre D' for 6 of us - nothing on the regular menu, sauteed foie gras (my new addiction), roasted gambas shrimp, a delicious layered lamb dish, special wines, salads, can't remember dessert, but all wonderful. No problems at all arranging that morning evidentally.
We usually give shows a miss, but had 2 stand-out acts - "Space Violins" - 2 young gorgeous Polish sisters who play everything from bluegrass to rock on their plexiglass electric violins. They did their first show at the deck BBQ dinner & danced & played around the promenade on the deck above the pool, then had a too-brief part of another show. The other show we loved I can't remember the Italian name, but was a cross between Cirque de Soleil, amazing ballet & acrobatics - best show & most elegant I've ever seen on a ship. Definitely worthy of Vegas!
Gym was big enough & excellent equipment. Took several classes - a power pump, stretch & Pilates (only one with a charge - $10 additional, so is Yoga) to try & burn some calories.
If they didn't have the wine we wanted at a bar, they would go & get it - was never too much to ask for anything. Only somewhat weak spot it that this was supposed to be a wine education cruise - a class on champagne & several expensive private tours that we didn't do. Had a wine & cheese night on deck, but not the education/tastings I had been hoping for.
Although no tipping policy, gave the bartender we had spent a lot of time with & cabin girls nice tips - they were rather reluctant, but of course kept in the end!
All in all, the best cruise ever - we are already looking at next year's sailings to go again as soon as possible - due to children & work, need to put some time in between sailings, but would get on again tomorrow if I had the chance. It's so nice not to worry about charges, tipping, drinks costs, who buys, etc. So romantic, elegant without being stuffy & fun - was really hard to go to our hotel in Paris & have to pay for things - $20 for 2 teas & $9 for a 7 oz bottle of tonic (we'd brought the reminder of our 1.5 liter bottle provided by SS with us) - yikes! The Silver Whisper is an absolutely beautiful ship & you will be so pampered, reality is very hard to deal with!
I now have a problem. After experiencing Silversea's Silver Whisper for seven nights how can I go better? I have now reached the pinnacle of luxury cruising!
Joining the ship in Istanbul the concierge greeted us alongside the Cruise Director, both dressed immaculately in full tails. Check-in was over quickly and we found ourselves embarking the Silver Whisper to assemble of stewards who immediately took our hand luggage from us and replaced them with a glass of chilled Moet et Chandon champagne. Although this was the first of many a glass of complimentary Moet throughout the cruise, the first glass was special.
The first thing that I noticed is the elegance of the ship. The environment does not jump out and ‘wow' you with some flashy atrium or huge showlounge. The ship is simply a class in its own. My veranda suite measured in at a very comfortable 345sq/ft. Once again a welcoming bottle of Moet on ice invited me in to the sitting area of the suite. Large walk-in closet with enough space for an army of tuxedos. Marble washroom, complete with separate shower and bath, toiletries by Bvlgari. Private veranda, TV/VCR, roomsafe, robe and slippers, fresh fruit all awaiting my arrival. My Croatian suite steward welcomed me immediately and informed me of all the onboard facilities and services.
One thing missing however was the hoards of bulletins and flyers to promote and convince you to run straight to the boutiques, casino or beauty salon and spend, spend, spend..something I welcomed with great relief. In fact, during the whole cruise I never heard any "sales pitching" from any onboard concessions, no photographers and thankfully no Art Auctioneer!! One this ship I was forced to relax, and I didn't complain. The daytime activities also reflect the atmosphere. Gone are the belly-flop competitions, limbo poles, bingo and horseracing. In place are daily quizzes, shuffleboard, lectures and even Italian lessons. Despite the size of the ship we were treated to two full production shows with singers and dancers that would rival the Royal Caribbean and Princess ships of similar size. We enjoyed two cabaret shows, one magician, a piano entertainer and even a fantastic puppet show from the Cruise Director. The showlounge has more seats than passengers on the ship, therefore you are always guaranteed a view for the show. In the evening of Rhodes we were treated to a top deck barbeque and local Greek dancers. In The Bar we had live music from the Silver Quintet, the Panorama Lounge had late night entertainment with Colin Salter, an Australian entertainer no-one should miss. Nothing was forced on you, and with complimentary drinks flowing I had more fun in the evenings on this ship than many of the larger ships.
The highlight of the cruise however had to be the food. I have never eaten finer food in my life. "Salade de Salmon au ble noir", "Stuffed Chicken Breast with Fois Gras and Chilled Celery-Pistachio Sauce", "Curried Clam Soup with Apples" and "Crispy Duck with Candied Turnips and Spiced Plums" to name a few dishes. Silversea are recognised within the "Relais and Chateaux" awards and have collaborated with them to produce some fantastic dishes. The head sommelier always recommends a red or white wine to compliment the cuisine, but there is an extensive wine list of 75 wines (45 of these are complimentary). The service was equal to the food. A simple raise of the eyebrow is all you need for a waiter to appear next to you! The dining at Silversea is open. No reservations are needed, and not once did I have to wait for a table. Alternatively you could dine in the Terrace Café which provided a different themed menu each evening. I chose the Oriental evening and experienced some of the best sushi I have tasted. Its limited to 50 passengers and starts prompt at 7.45pm and is worth one evenings worth of enjoyment.
As you roam the ship in the evening other lounges invite you in. The small casino has just the three tables and a dozen slots, enough for the few budding gamblers testing lady luck. "Grappa" bar next to the casino offers a quiet retreat with a wonderful collection of Erte paintings overlooking the bar. "The Champagne Bar" boasts an impressive collection of wines and champagne, sponsored again by Moet. The cigar lounge created by "Davidoff" maybe wasn't my scene, but I had to be impressed by the contents of cigars and the best Louis XIII brandies offered. Even the late night shopper was kept busy in the Bvlgari shop drooling over the wonderful jewellery in the display counters.
I haven't spoken about the ports as this is a review of the ship itself, but ports are a bonus on a Silversea cruise. The ship is the destination itself. You cruise on Silversea to relax and to be utterly spoilt. The beauty of the ship is its elegance, attention to detail, service, food and importantly no constant pestering from the concessions. There is simply no better cruise line if you want to be treated like someone special for a few days and pretend you're royalty. Go on, spoil yourself!!!!!