At the beginning: Silver Spirit is Silversea’s newest vessel
By David Rottenberg
Being present at the beginnings of important events has always excited me. Ever since I witnessed the births of my children, I’ve been intrigued by the range of possibilities that lie in the future. What kinds of growth, experiences and events will follow? What kinds of successes will develop?
Even at the beginnings of things, I found myself looking forward in time.
Some of those feelings came back to me as I walked up the gangway of Silver Spirit, Silversea’s newest vessel. Silversea is an award-winning cruise line that has built its reputation for excellent service and luxury accommodations on small ship cruising, operating vessels that were more like floating villages than floating cities.
This was the maiden voyage of Silver Spirit, a break-in cruise that took it to major ports to introduce it to travel agents and writers. We were given the opportunity to experience a brief visit and to interview members of the crew. The company presented its newest luxury cruise ship with more verandas, more dining choices, and more onboard amenities.
Silver Spirit is the largest vessel of the company’s fleet but still considered small, when contrasted to vessels operated by the competition. Nevertheless, it is large enough to feature spacious cabins and a wide selection of facilities and services. All the vessels of the fleet have one of the highest staff-to-passenger ratios in the business. That enables Silversea to feature unexcelled service.
For example, on Silver Spirit, every suite is assigned its own personal butler. He helps guests with unpacking, making restaurant reservations and a myriad of special requests.
Cabins are beautiful, large and furnished with comfortable appointments. One of the unique features: televisions are beautifully embedded into a full wall mirror. The screen, when turned on, is clearly visible throughout the room. Bathrooms are lined with marble and feature luxurious Bulgari and Ferragamo toiletries. Storage space is ample in the walk-in closet. Most cabins have large exterior balconies on which to read and relax.
Silversea’s marketing appeals to younger clientele, professionals and executives who wish to explore and experience unique adventures while enjoying the best of dining and destinations. Because it is a “small vessel,” it can enter ports of call where larger ships cannot stop.
Dining meets the high standards of Relais & Chateau, the company’s culinary partner. Silver Spirit has six different dining venues, ranging from La Terrazza that serves wonderful Italian cuisine to Seishin, with amazing Japanese fusion dishes. Stars Supper Club combines dining with entertainment. Le Champagne is a special dining room where a six-course culinary experience in an intimate setting can be enjoyed. Fine wines are complemented by a set tasting menu of regionally inspired dishes.
Dining also can be enjoyed under the stars on beautiful nights outside on the upper deck. Guests love that there is no assigned seating or scheduled dining time. They may always choose when, where and with whom to enjoy their meals. There is even a spa menu for those who wish to watch their calories, which includes delightful dishes that don’t attack the waistline. And, for special treats, try the daily High Tea, in the English tradition with a choice of teas and a three-tier platter of scrumptious pastries.
Fitness is emphasized with a huge 8,000 square foot area devoted to a spa and fitness center. The spa experience includes the ultimate in personal catering. One of the unique popular treatments is a bamboo massage, where one’s body is caressed and manipulated using short bamboo sticks. The gym has the latest in treadmills and related equipment. A training session can be topped off with time in the whirlpool or sauna.
Activities at sea include classes and lectures from knowledgeable, articulate experts whose programs are relevant to the cruise or destination. Important famous chefs are invited often on board to offer cooking classes to students who usually get the privilege to eat what they make collectively. A popular land excursion involves going to local markets with the chef and then preparing and enjoying dishes with the products that were purchased.
At night after dinner, top-quality production shows are presented in the Show Lounge, including music, dancing and stellar performers. The casino is open while at sea, to tempt the smiles of a beneficent goddess of chance. Or, one may dance the night away in the Panorama Lounge.
Two policies distinguish Silversea vessels from most other cruise lines. First, no gratuities are expected by its staff. All staff service is offered with pleasant smiles and without expectation or motivation of rewards in the form of tips. Second, there is no additional charge for most wines and for alcoholic beverages. Guests can relax and enjoy without continually having to sign chits or be concerned with rising tabs. This removes a lot of the tension and complaints that passengers on other lines report.
From its distinctive funnel shape to the flowing lines of the main staircase to the beautiful and elegant art deco décor, Silver Spirit is an amazing addition to the Silversea fleet. The vessel continues the policies and standards of luxury that have won the company a host of adherents and repeat travelers.
I was delighted to be present at the beginning of the Silver Spirit adventure. As I pondered the future, all I could see was success, fun, good times, good meals and great destinations. Amazing cruises are scheduled for 2010 and 2011. For more information and reservations, visit www.silversea.com or call (877) 760-9052 or (954) 522-2299.
David Rottenberg is the editor of Dining San Diego Magazine, a guide to many of the city’s favorite restaurants. He is a member of the Southern California Restaurants Writers Association, a member of ASJA and vice president of the North American Travel Journalists Association.