A Spiritual Experience With Silversea
But the new Silver Spirit brings a fresh, cool wind of change, enhancing and rejuvenating Silversea’s sense of “la dolce vita”. I experienced the 71 day Grand Inaugural Voyage from Florida to Los Angeles, circumnavigating South America. This larger flagship has a maximum of 540 guests - would the intimate ambience survive? The Spirit is consciously different as Silversea move to improve their hospitality and cruising experience to attract a more diverse, possibly younger, clientele.
The “ new look” is more that of a contemporary Designer hotel – albeit with art deco roots. It’s a re-imagining of the classic liners. She is certainly a larger lady, but no less chic and sleek. The major change is the glamorous retro interior design across the bars and restaurants. The style is inspired by the golden era of cruising, a period of elegance, tuxedos, cocktails and sheer class. Think Scott Fitzgerald, Noel Coward and Coco Chanel. The Bar is now located beside Reception creating a spacious open lobby lounge, similar to a grand hotel - sea-blue velvet sofas and armchairs, with beautiful art deco artwork, paintings and vintage photographs.
And I adore the New York-style Stars supper club for late night drinks, gourmet tapas and jazz cabaret – simply sheer romance. For those new to cruising it won’t shock or discomfort. While retaining many traditional elements, it seems more relaxed and the old “deck quoits and Titanic lounger” image has been softened, with modern rattan chairs and planters on the aft decks.
It might shock a few of the Silversea diehards who expect just a bigger version of what they already know and opinions will no doubt vary. Overheard comments bear this out, with as many loving the new bar area, as preferring the old. On formal nights in particular, the Bar can be busy where groups of friends prefer to gather for a glass of champagne, but this is no problem as pre-dinner drinks are also served in the Panorama lounge, Stars club and the Observation lounge. Overall, any initial fears that the ship would seem crowded have proved mainly unfounded. I have never found difficulty in finding somewhere to sit on deck with a book or sip a cocktail.
I was also the only passenger on the 3.45 pm tender boat, which seats 117 guests. The decision to have no one space capable of holding all the guests at one time initially seems odd, but probably helps to preserve the intimate ethos. For the smaller of the dining venues, booking is required for the limited number of covers. The Dining under the Stars concept has been a sailaway success and is, during the first week of the Grand Voyage (and weeks to come),it’s the talk of the ship. Who would have thought that a Hot Rock steak with a baked potato would be a hit amongst the sophisticated Silversea faithful?
And faithful they have been for this inaugural voyage with around 85% being repeat guests. Part of the formula that has kept Silversea at the crest of the cruise ship Award ratings is the loyalty of both guests and staff. Crew from previous Silversea ships abound. As I boarded on 20th January, I was warmly kissed by international hostess Alessandra, before being lifted off my feet in a bear hug by cruise director Fernando. “The ship may be new, but the people remain the same” remarks Ricardo, the bar manager, with a broad smile, as guests are greeted by familiar faces.
Our more spacious midship Veranda suite (852) is furnished in smart, terracotta fabrics, polished teak, with a larger table for in-suite dining. A welcome new concept is the butler service: Savio, our charming tail-coated Indian butler provides impeccable, personal attention. Two flat screen TVs offer the usual ship’s info and news channels but I am seriously impressed by the Movies on Demand system (350 + films), at the touch of a button.
Entertainment in the bars, lounges and theatre is the familiar variety of other Silversea cruises - small scale cabaret shows, excellent cocktail bar pianist and series of performances by top notch Broadway actors and musicians. The Spirit has been designed to offer more lifestyle and hospitality choices, with a diverse range of new restaurants: alfresco on Pool Deck, sassy in Stars and sophisticated in Seishin, where you can experience authentic sushi and sashimi Asian cuisine in an ornate Japanese lacquered box design setting. The quality and menu choice is seriously impressive in all the restaurants.
We also treated ourselves one night, (dressed in tuxedo for him and lbd for me) for a gastronomic Lobster Lavishly dinner in the deliciously posh and romantic Le Champagne: Equally elegant food and service, just one of many culinary highlights of the cruise. Day 5 - time to be pampered in the Spa with an indulgent signature and unique silver leaf facial before lounging on the exclusive, luxurious spa deck, complete with private plunge pool. Good health and wellbeing is emphasised with the addition of a Medi-spa specialising in non-surgical facelifts and acupuncture treatments.
There has been criticism that the Gym is rather small with insufficient bikes and treadmills but I am not a gym bunny! I found the best way to keep fit is to do regular ten laps (one mile) on the Deck 10 jogging track - healthy exercise in the fresh sea air at sunset. Perfect.! There’s something about the excitement of embarking this gleaming, shining ship which enriches the usual House Party atmosphere with convivial, lively conversation and laughter amongst new like-minded friends.
At the Pool Bar, 12 noon, Silversea-ers swap stories over a Silver Spirit cocktail (St. Germain elderflower, Plymouth Gin, Sauvingnon blanc, a kiss of lime – delicious), and Silver-tinis. To paraphrase T. S. Eliot, it’s the journey and the people you meet which are more important than the arrival. Some of the guests who are on this Grand Voyage might prefer the smaller ships and go back to them. But for Silversea there is no going back – they want more ships like the Spirit. For me too there is no going back especially for a long voyage like this or the world cruise. I love her. She is my new Spirit-ual home.
Written by Vivien Devlin