The Silver Spirit is Silversea’s newest and largest vessel with luxury accommodations for 540 passengers. At 642 feet long and 36,000 tons, Silver Spirit is not a small vessel, however; compared to most of the newbuilds today, she is on the smaller more intimate size. With 376 European crew members serving the 540 passengers, the crew to guest ratio is higher than on most other cruise ships. It is this exclusivity that is so appealing to Silversea passengers, in a ship that offers amenities and services for a few hundred as opposed to a few thousand passengers. I didn’t see crowds of passengers nor did I wait in any lines for dinner. The feeling onboard the Silver Spirit was close to being at a private club or yacht, but the most distinguishing element was a relaxed, carefree, precise environment to indulge in the good life…whatever that may mean to you.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
The Sweetness of Luxury aboard the Silver Spirit
Enter the world of Silversea and you are embraced by a refined, unobtrusive blend of modern design and a sophistication reserved for the affluent individuals who are accustomed to concierge and butler services, fine dining, exquisite wines and exotic destinations. Today the world often seems like it’s shaking with political and economic fallout all around us, yet when you board the Silver Spirit those cares of the world fall away, and it’s like entering an oasis of peace. I recently boarded the Silver Spirit for a seven night cruise through the Italian Riviera, however; I missed the first couple of days because of transportation and logistics. We boarded the Silver Spirit in Taormina, Italy on a beautiful day in May. The ship was anchored in the harbor perfectly contrasted with the ancient Italian culture, and beckoning us to open our imagination to the upscale experience awaiting us. As a Journalist, I usually travel with my wife, but this time my Father-in-law, Richard, assisted me with my video work. It’s interesting, Richard is a retired minister and now works in an executive position with Kids Against Hunger, so this level of luxury was very foreign to him. Can you imagine how thrilled I was to watch Richard experience the fine dining and exotic excursions?
I enjoyed the dining experience, knowing that each meal was made-to-order, and a testament to the expertise of highly trained chefs, with the best possible ingredients. Every evening, complimentary fine wine is served and the wine glass is kept full throughout the meal. The attentive waiters made me feel like they enjoyed their job and were sincere when they often asked if I needed anything. The reason I mention this is because on the many cruises I’ve been on over the years it’s not uncommon to notice that many wait staff personnel are on automatic pilot, and work as if they are on an assembly line just doing their job. This was certainly not what I experienced onboard the Silver Spirit, the waiters and waitresses were genuinely focused on providing exceptional service. I counted at least six different restaurants onboard the Silver Spirit from the main Restaurant on Deck Four to the Italian La Terrazza on Deck Seven and the Pool Grill serves a wonderful “Hot Rock” dining experience on Deck Ten overlooking the pool. The Hot Rock dining gives the guest an opportunity to cook their own meat on a hot slab of rock served at your table, so you can have fun preparing your fresh fish or steak cooked exactly how you prefer. Rudi Scholdis, Silversea’s Culinary Director, was onboard our voyage preparing mussels using beer, at an exquisite poolside buffet. Setting the standards for Silversea’s cuisine fleet-wide, Chef Rudi has demonstrated his culinary expertise for Royalty including Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Heads of State like Bill Clinton, King Kayd of Saudi Arabia, Israeli Prime Minister Netenayu, and numerous Hollywood stars. Since Chef Rudi has prepared fine dining for all these famous world-personalities, why not for me? On a Silversea voyage you can ask the same indulgent question, “why not you”?
Luxury does have a certain “feel”, a certain “taste”, and even a familiar “sound”, relative to the distinguishing senses of those who can afford it. During my experience aboard the Silver Spirit, I savored the aroma of luxury, even as a mere Journalist. For me, there were numerous and specific moments that caused me to be more than content, for example; I enjoyed the spa onboard, particularly the steam room and sauna that each had a large window looking out to the sea. I’m no elite, and I may have been pretending to be someone I was not, but it did feel good to have the ability and freedom to ask for a glass of champagne while in the relaxing thermal bath on deck by the pool. During our visit to Rome, my Father-in-law and I embarked on a special shore excursion lead by Rosalba Iocca, who was no ordinary tour guide. Yet another example of Silversea’s commitment to provide the very best for guests, Rosalba was an expert in Roman history, she studied archeology, but her greatest asset as an expert Roman guide was through her intimate contacts at Vatican City and the Coliseum. Rosalba lead our bus group ahead of the masses waiting for hours in lines to enter the museums and the coliseum, circumventing the system and quickly ushering our group immediately into the many museums, the coliseum and so much more as if we were VIP’s or someone special. It’s no coincidence, our tour guide to Rome was the best there is, and I’m certain the Shore Excursions people at Silversea go to great lengths to plan, coordinate, and capture the best guides, tour routes, buses, and VIP access for Silversea guests.
Whatever your definition of luxury is, the perks of being a Silversea passenger are obvious, but sometimes the perks are subtle. The beautifully appointed suites, the butler service, wide cooridors, fine dining, classy interior décor and the refined-level of service among the crew stand out as an obvious statement of luxury, however; I noticed a few small details and perks that might get overlooked. Mini news-of-the-day printouts from the country of your residence are placed in the slot just outside your suite each day. If you are from the U.S.A. you’ll receive news applicable to what’s happening in America, if you come from Britain, you will receive a news-flyer focused on news in Britain. I noticed the shape of the silverware in the restaurants, particularly the handles, had a unique feel that better conformed to your hands. For those passengers who were residents on the world cruise, there was a special engraved plaque just outside your suite with your name and the country you are from. Many cruise ships have the internet available, but through MTN Satellite Communications, there were more Wifi hotspots throughout the whole ship, so you could access the internet on your laptop or internet device from the pool if you choose. Security is tight on all the cruise ships throughout the industry, however; I did appreciate the precise, yet unobtrusive manner in which security was conducted at the gangway. I was delighted to see a set of quality binoculars in our suite so we could explore the horizon or get a close-up view of the port we were visiting right from our private veranda. The fresh flowers, over-sized fluffy towels and the personalized stationary in our suite was a nice perk. The scented oil sticks in our bathroom were not only nice to look at, but created a rich, subtle fragrance. Obviously the Silver Spirit scored high points from my perspective, and when you look at the popularity of Silversea among the affluent, it’s clear to see the expectations of luxury, are continuously met by a wide range of people from around the world.
I enjoyed the hardware of the Silver Spirit and appreciated the consistency of quality in the ship’s design, the artwork onboard, and the fittings that provide the atmosphere and ambience of luxury. I’ve said this many times and it is also true aboard the Silver Spirit, you can have a fabulously luxurious ship, yet it’s the crew and staff that make up the personality of a ship. A highly trained and fine-tuned crew, complete the element of luxury on any ship. The crowning jewel aboard the Silver Spirit is the crew and staff that contribute to the overall sweetness of luxury on this ship. I want to encourage you to indulge and savor the sweetness of luxury aboard the Silver Spirit or any of the ships in the Silversea fleet. Pick out an itinerary anywhere in the world and you should be able to find a Silversea ship that goes there.
Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you have cruised with Silversea, I'd like to hear from you.