We just returned from a dream cruise onboard the Silver Whisper. From start-to-finish, this cruise was nearly flawless. Let me start with the finish, for I feel that the way in which debarkation is handled speaks volumes for a cruise ... Read More
We just returned from a dream cruise onboard the Silver Whisper. From start-to-finish, this cruise was nearly flawless. Let me start with the finish, for I feel that the way in which debarkation is handled speaks volumes for a cruise line. Debarkation Day. My husband and I (hi ~~ we're Jim and Cindie) usually call this day "Mad Cow Day." ~~All of those formerly friendly employees suddenly can't seem to see you. Ask for something simple like an extra cup of coffee and they usually react to you as if you were Patrick Swayze in "Ghost." The passengers...many who are tired, bloated, and anxious to get home are herded like cattle into narrow hallways while waiting for their color to be called. Mad cows have behaved better! There were no mad cows on this cruise and the entire staff remained friendly and helpful to the very end. I was pleased that we could order room service on the final morning. (If only we hadn't accepted one more offer for a "final nightcap" we might have remembered to hang out our breakfast order.) We did enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the Terrace. We waited for our color to be called while sipping coffee around the pool. Absolutely civilized. Silversea arranged a wonderful tour of Greece on the way to airport. Once at the Athens airport, representatives were waiting with carts for our convenience. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. It's all in the little touches. Embarkation We thought we had done something wrong...missed a step. Where are the long lines? We just walked straight onto the ship only to be greeted by a waitress offering champagne. Really now. Love at first sight. We are not by any means new to cruising. We stopped counting at our 30th cruise. This was our first smaller ship cruise (definitely not our last.) We were very pleased with our stateroom, a standard verandah on deck nine. We are Crystal fanatics, so we were hoping that our stateroom would at least be as good. Surprise. Even better. The size of the verandah was impressive and the fact that Jim and I could both be in the walk-in closet without any (unintentional) bumping and squeezing was amazing. The bathroom was a comfortable size. I was impressed enough that I closed the door, balanced myself on the tub and began shooting some photos of the twin sinks and all that beautiful marble. It's too bad that I wasn't aware that our room service order was being delivered at that same time. (It would have been kind if Jim had alerted me.) I'm sure the waiter wondered about what I was doing in the bathroom, all alone, snapping photos. (Our camera is on the loud side.) Oh well. I'm sure they have a lot of stories to share with their fellow crew at the end of each day. The linens were divine, ~ in fact all appointments in the room were of high quality. Our Stewardess, Zuzana from Slovenia, was a dream and was also a psychic. We rarely needed to ask for anything...she always seemed to know in advance what we wanted. How we miss her!!! The service in general was outstanding. Everywhere. We only encountered one surly waiter. We arrived for breakfast at 8:45 a.m., and the dining room was nearly empty. Breakfast was listed as being served until 9:30, so we felt like we were there in plenty of time. I guess the considerate thing to do would be to go up to the Terrace, but it was getting toward the end of our cruise, and we hadn't yet tried the dining room breakfast. This waiter let us know that he did not appreciate our curiosity, nor our presence. Dining was a pleasure. We thoroughly enjoyed the "La Cucina Italiana" nights in the Terrace Cafe. I highly recommend signing up for these. They are open for reservations at 8 a.m. for that particular day. You begin in the "Le Champagne" Lounge with drinks and appetizers. The Chef and Wine Steward discuss the menu and the accompanying wines. It is a very lively and intimate setting. As we were traveling just the two of us, the atmosphere provided for a pleasant and easy way meet people. We were also pleased with the Restaurant. Initially, I found the meals a bit bland, but I confess to be a sassy, saucy girl (the last word is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h!) from California. I'm used to dining on our local ethnic cuisines, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese food. My palate is tuned to spice. Once I adjusted, I enjoyed most meals thoroughly. A highlight was the Barbeque Night. The pool and upper deck were transformed into a party/feast. We sat with some delightful people from Michigan and sipped and dined to the sound of the Silversea Quintet and watched the sunset. Spectacular. We found the clientele onboard to be very friendly and from a wide variety of backgrounds. Very international. We met some incredibly nice and interesting people. Of course, there are the exceptions. At the pre-cruise hotel in Rome we were nearly assaulted by a mean-faced woman (we call her "Jaba") who worked her way to the front of the Cashier's Desk line by pushing and swinging her orange umbrella. Dangerous lady. She tried to boot her big butt ahead of a woman with long blonde hair...turned out to be Anna Kournekova (sp?) who was playing in the Italian Open. Anna is not only tough on the court, she did a great job keeping this woman at bay, unlike most of us on the ship. Anwyay...this woman was obnoxious and annoying the entire 12 days. Out of 300-something passengers, though, only one...not bad! The crew and staff were wonderful. Captain Corsaro is the perfect Captain. Professional, yet friendly and naturally outgoing. The entertainment was good. Our favorites were John-Paul Alman (what a voice! And quite possibly one of the nicest people we've ever met), the dancers Wendie and Zoe (talented and sweet), and finally...Colin Salter. Colin made his debut as a lounge act on this cruise and we loved it. We laughed so hard...we will never be able to hear the song, "Copacobana" again without picturing him singing with his Barbie doll props...(do not miss this show!) If you meet him onboard, for fun, call him "Mr. Slater." He loves that. Okay...I'm getting a bit carried away here... To sum up this review: We will (God willing, of course!) be sailing Silversea again. We're very interested in trying the Silver Cloud or Silver Wind the next time. Despite the long flight from Athens to California, we've returned home feeling refreshed. Silversea offers an easy, relaxed pace. I honestly cannot remember standing in a line...the shuttle buses and tenders were always on time and blissfully uncrowded. I could go on and on, but then...as you can see, I already have. I am very excited for those of you with upcoming cruises. You are in for a delightful treat. June 2002 Read Less
Sail Date: May 2003
After trying several cruise lines, from Royal Caribbean to Seabourn, we wanted to try the acclaimed 6 star service of Silversea. This turned out to be the most terrible cruise experience ever and had nothing of a 6 star service at all. ... Read More
After trying several cruise lines, from Royal Caribbean to Seabourn, we wanted to try the acclaimed 6 star service of Silversea. This turned out to be the most terrible cruise experience ever and had nothing of a 6 star service at all. Upon embarkation we were told our suite access cards weren't there. We had to report to Reception. We entered the vessel and were offered a drop of welcome champagne. This was literally a drop, since the glass wasn't even half full. Reception didn't seem to know anything about our access cards. After a 15 minute investigation, we were told that we had to move to another suite. No reasons at all were given. We ended up in our "new" suite, but naturally our luggage ended up in the booked suite (since you put your suite number on the luggage tags before embarkation). It took 45 minutes and a lot of frustration before we actually could start to unpack. Our suite was nicely appointed. The bathrooms are lovely with just anything one could ask for. The suite set-up was poor. Upon reserving the cruise we clearly informed Silversea we would be two men and asked for a 2-man set up (a set of 2 larger bathrobes, slippers, etc). This request was not granted. The set up was for a man and a women. Besides that, the bathrobes both contained stains. So did the balcony chairs, of which one was broken as well. The in-suite table also was broken and could not be lifted up, making it impossible to have any proper dinner or meal over there. Upon booking, we requested our on-board credits, which we were entitled to (Singapore Airlines frequent flyer and Relais and Chateaux). This was confirmed by Silversea's reservations department. Once onboard only the Singapore Airlines credit was granted. It took us four major discussions and finally a hefty talk with the hotel manager to achieve our goal. All in all, a terrible start for a cruise line that claims to be 6 star and would go above and beyond. The ship itself is beautiful. The public rooms are appointed nicely and luxurious. The main dining room is large enough to seat everyone at the same time and service is efficient. Quality of the food is not so good and absolutely not up to 6 star. We even got raw food items twice. The wine advice by the sommeliers is poor and they seem to just pour what is selected by upper management. The Maitre 'd was informed of our experiences and asked us if he could do a special meal for us one evening. We agreed and he did ask about our likes and dislikes. Since one of us is allergic to seafood we clearly mentioned that. On the evening of the so-called "special and personal dinner" none of the waiters seemed to know about this. We had to ask for the Maitre 'd in person and then we were told the menu. We were shocked. As an appetizer they had shrimp! The food in the Verandah Cafe was mostly lukewarm or even cold. Refill of items was poor and sometimes even not at all. With the ship only half full, service still was so-so and staff sometimes seemed to have no time at all. The exception was the main dining room. The men's toilet on the sun deck was broken and stayed like that for the entire cruise, even after reporting it to the hotel manager. Once home, we put our experiences on paper and sent them to Silversea. It took finally 2 months and a threat with legal action to get at least a reply at all. This was not satisfactory, since all details were washed and wiped away. All-in-all this was a very negative cruise experience. We absolutely do understand that sometimes things can go wrong and 100% perfection doesn't exist, but a 6 star product should be able to also satisfy, at the end, the customers for which everything seems to go wrong. We do not recommend this cruise line to anyone. Staff is very, very, very arrogant and the head office even more. They think and feel they're the best and don't hesitate to show you this at any moment of the day. And although they advertise with going above and beyond, please be aware that this is just marketing !!!! If you think you're going to experience 6 star service with Silversea, you will be extremely disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
On January 29, 2004 we embarked on a 9-days cruise on Silver Whisper, which took us from Colon (Panama) to Callao (Peru). We had cruised on the smaller Silversea ships quite frequently in the past and were curious if the newer, larger ... Read More
On January 29, 2004 we embarked on a 9-days cruise on Silver Whisper, which took us from Colon (Panama) to Callao (Peru). We had cruised on the smaller Silversea ships quite frequently in the past and were curious if the newer, larger ships would also become our favorites. This was the major consideration to take this particular cruise. We had booked a midship veranda suite and the total cost was $7,942, which included an extra 5% savings, because we had already reached 100 days of cruising with Silversea. Most of the following comments are comparative to our experiences on the Silver Cloud and Silver Wind cruises we had in the past. We took advantage of the early embarkation possibility, which cost $100 per person but was well-spent money! We boarded at around 11 am, rather than in the afternoon, as usually done. We enjoyed the even more personalized welcome, the leisurely unpacking (on other occasions we had to really rush to make it to the lifeboat drill). We had our lunch and in the afternoon, after a good rest, we could watch the guests boarding the ship, while sipping champagne on our veranda. What a nice way to spend the initial day of the cruise... The increased roominess of the staterooms is really a big improvement, specially the bathroom, with the added shower stall and double basin. The walk-in closet will accommodate a reasonably large amount of clothing; there is also ample drawer space and a well-sized safe. The only size problem we encountered on the veranda: the furniture is much too large for one to move around more or less comfortably. All the amenities in the bathroom were excellent, and we especially enjoyed the above average fluffy towels. We also liked the expanded variety of classical music we could listen to in the suite. Quite an improvement indeed with very few repetitions. It was a nice touch to have put good quality binoculars in each stateroom - just like an umbrella, shoehorn, hair dryer, slippers and bathrobe, one item less to take with us next time! The Observation Lounge on the top deck can now be reached without crossing the open deck, as on Silver Wind and Silver Cloud. It is a quiet room, where continental breakfast can be had while watching the sunrise, or, later, reading a good book from the well assorted ship library. By the way, freshly squeezed orange juice has replaced the cartoned variety for good. The computer area was never crowded, not too expensive to use (for checking e-mails three times while on board, the total charge was about $15). The laundry service was even faster than on the other ships we know. Often was it returned by 3 pm the same day. Quality was, as usual, excellent. The jogging track may be somewhat shorter, however its width has been expanded, so there are no bottlenecks almost anywhere. Food was consistently good, more so when nicely served in the Restaurant, rather than in the more informal Terrace Cafe or the newly installed poolside barbecue. We did not use room service but for asking some mixed nuts to go with the afternoon glass of champagne. Maite D' Walter was of great help accommodating our particular wishes in his area of responsibility. To commemorate a special occasion we requested a special dinner - caviar, tournedos Rossini and zabaglione. It was superb. The special restaurant "Le Champagne" was an exceptional treat. The food was superlative, as was the service. It is a most worthwhile culinary experience, even if you have to buy a bottle of wine (otherwise all beverages are free of charge throughout the cruise). Menus are changed every two days. Early reservations (days in advance) are in order to secure a place in the small room. Food was prepared by chefs following an agreement between Silversea and Relais & Chateaux. The alternative dinner in the Terrace Cafe was good, but not outstanding. It was an Italian menu when we attended. Regretfully we ran out of evenings to repeat the experience and see if it became better. On the smaller Silversea ships these alternative dinners had always been memorable experiences. The Mandara spa offerings are superb, if quite pricey - a simple massage goes for about $2 a minute. We also found the shows offered and the variety of the available videos quite superior. The best musical entertainment was delivered by Duo D'Amour, we spent several evenings listening and dancing to their soft and classy music. Cruise director Ray Sollaire excelled with his top puppet show. Now to some of the details that were not so good. The quality of the wines has, in our opinion, deteriorated. The house champagne was also changed from the excellent Moet & Chandon to the little known Philiponat brand. Also, the quality of the hors d'oeuvres served during cocktail time has been reduced; almost never do you find some caviar or salmon. During the official cocktail parties (captain's evenings and repeaters' cocktails), there was just one glass of champagne but no replenishment was ever offered. The shore excursions we took were a mixed bag. By far the best was a tour to the Pachacamac ruins South of Lima and the visit to a horse farm thereafter. Here we were treated with good Pisco sours, lively music and dances, a show of paso fino horses (they are trained to move with a very smooth gait) and a quality lunch buffet of a variety of Peruvian food. Everybody had an excellent time, service was attentive and guests could even ride on those magnificently trained horses! The visit of the mud city of Chan Chan, close to the city of Trujillo and its port Salaverry, was very impressive. Even if much of the remains of this pre-Incan city are slowly disintegrating, the dimensions of palaces, streets and open spaces are awesome. The tour out of Guayaquil to visit a so-called "coastal hacienda" was very disappointing. Apart from looking at immense plantations of bananas, cocoa and other tropical plants, we were supposed to watch a working farm. But it was, regretfully, their day of rest... The farm had shrimp production going, we did not see one single of them, only one pond from afar. The lunch offered was extremely basic and they even ran out of drinking water. Cost of the 5-hours tour $110 per person. A truly deceptive experience. The "Silversea Experiences" are free excursions offered on selected cruises. All those we had in the past have all been satisfactory to excellent. Just to name a few: the visit of Chopin's museum on Mallorca, the dinner party on "Dune 7" in Walvis Bay, with great local music and the private Carnival parade in Salvador, Brazil. But on this cruise we were transferred to the Gatun Yacht Club, a facility formerly used by the Panama Canal corps of engineers. For the third time were we shown some local dancers, which had already danced for us on the pier during the embarkation and, subsequently, on the ship before dinner. There was some cold beer and soft drinks. We returned to the ship with one of the first tenders. Reading a good book on board was indeed a much better alternative. The lecturer Dr Atkins gave excellent renditions on the historical and socio-economic background of South America; he was indeed well documented on the subject. His talk on the Nazis in the area, though, was felt by many passengers as totally out of context. Given our proximity to Ecuador, Peru and Chile, a talk on the wars among these countries would have been much more appropriate. The pianist, Ms Nana Mukhadze delivered very good classical music. Those present would have had her play all evening. Once again, we noticed the mediocre quality of the baby grand piano. Silversea should really consider putting a better instrument on their otherwise excellent ships. We liked Silver Whisper very much to the point of booking our next cruise on board, taking advantage of the 5% savings that comes with this kind of advance reservations. Cruise consultant Selvaggia was indeed very patient with our various requests, which were promptly prepared for us. Silversea continues maintaining a very high level of service on their ships. We feel at home from the moment we step on board. And once again did we have cruising experience of extremely good overall quality. For further information: fleute@internet.ve Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
SILVERSEAS luxurious SILVER WHISPER: A long review of a short Caribbean cruise, with reflections on small ship cruising and suggestions for independent enjoyment of ports of call (St. Barts, Antigua, and Tortola) Lets be honest. One ... Read More
SILVERSEAS luxurious SILVER WHISPER: A long review of a short Caribbean cruise, with reflections on small ship cruising and suggestions for independent enjoyment of ports of call (St. Barts, Antigua, and Tortola) Lets 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 detre 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. Perhaps because the smaller luxury ships carry fewer passengers on less common itineraries, or perhaps because wealthy passengers are not as interested in cruise review web sites as the rest of us, there are relatively few recent reviews of ships like the Silver Whisper. BACKGROUND: What follows is a review of our experience on a four night March, 2006, Caribbean cruise on Silverseas all-suite ship Silver Whisper. I am semi-retired, in my late 50s, and not in the travel business. My wife and I have taken 17 cruises on a variety of cruise lines. When on vacation I prefer not dealing with lines or crowds, and tend to travel independently rather than with tour groups. I shall begin this review with a discussion of LUXURY CRUISING IN GENERAL; follow with a discussion of our SILVER WHISPER cruise in particular; then give suggestions for INDEPENDENT SIGHTSEEING at our ports of call (St. Barts, Antigua, and Tortola) with a gentle warning about an Antiguan incident; and conclude with a discussion of WHETHER LUXURY CRUISING IS WORTH THE PRICE. I shall HIGHLIGHT some topics in all capital letters, so that the reader can scroll down to any topic of particular interest. Before I begin, please understand the facts that: First, I have a value-oriented approach to travel. Those of you who have read my previous reviews (e.g. Star Princess in the Baltic, Constellation in the Southern Caribbean, Galaxy in the Eastern Mediterranean, Zuiderdam in the Eastern Caribbean, Tahitian Princess in Polynesia) are used to my personal viewpoint. Second, I am not an experienced luxury cruiser. Most of my previous 17 cruises have been on the cruise lines listed above. This may make me a less biased observer, or it may make me blind to some of the perks of luxury cruising. Third, 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 ten days in duration and $5,000 per person for the least expensive cabins. Finally, cruise ships change with time, and what I say here may not apply when you read this. Also, I apologize for any errors and omissions I have made, and suggest you supplement this review with other information from other reviewers. That being said, lets begin the review with the bottom line. THE BOTTOM LINE: This was an enjoyable cruise on a highly regarded small cruise ship calling at three of the less crowded Caribbean ports. PROS: The 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, no photographers, no bingo games); the talented musicians and entertainers (who were presented at reasonable decibel levels); the well traveled, well educated, and articulate passengers; and the inclusive pricing (drinks and gratuities). CONS: 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. SILVERSEA BACKGROUND: Silversea is a privately owned Italian cruise line with four luxury ships. The officers are predominantly Italian, and the staff is international. The Silver CLOUD and Silver WIND were built in 1994/5 for 295 passengers each. The Silver SHADOW and Silver WHISPER were built in 2000/1 for 382 passengers each. All cabins are outsides, and most have balconies. Silversea prefers to call them suites rather than cabins, although most are a single room with a dividing curtain between the sitting and sleeping areas. Silver SHADOWS and Silver WHISPERS cabin size (345/287 square feet 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. SILVERSEA CRUISE PRICES: How much does a luxury cruise cost? As an exercise to determine how much Silver Whisper cruises cost, I searched the internet for the lowest net per diem for various itineraries in 2006, after any available discounts but before taxes and port fees. With a few exceptions the prices ranged from about $400 to $700 per person per day (pppd) for the least expensive (outside but no balcony) cabins. The lower amount was for itineraries such as Asia, and the higher amount was for itineraries such as northern Europe. A balcony adds significantly to these prices, the price depending on whether the balcony cabin is located forward or mid-ship. The largest (named) suites are much more expensive than this. Repositioning cruises are less expensive, beginning around $300 pppd. SILVERSEA ITINERARIES: Like most luxury cruise lines, Silversea offers itineraries that span the globe, sometimes calling at ports not readily accessible to larger cruise ships. Most itineraries range from 7 to 14 days, but Silversea adds the option of designing your own cruise itinerary, allowing you to embark and disembark at any of the ships ports of call around the world, as long as space is available on the segments you want. The longer itineraries mean that the high per diems will have an even greater impact on your cruise cost. This is offset to some extent by the fact that all drinks and gratuities are included in the price, although one may wish to select surcharged premium wines and liquors or additionally tip staff as a matter of personal preference. SOME SILVERSEA OPTIONS: Adding to the price of the cruise are optional pre- and post-cruise hotel programs, some of which include sightseeing. Many of these are three days long and average about $300 pppd for hotel and transfers. Some, such as their English manor stays, may range up to $1,500 pppd. In addition, combined hotel and air programs, which include economy airfare and one night deluxe hotel stay prior to the cruise, are available through Silversea. Business class upgrades, home airport transfers, luggage pre-shipment, and cancellation insurance are among additional options. SPECIAL VALUES: Bargain prices are sometimes available in cases when a cruise is poorly subscribed, as one passenger reported on a war-time Middle Eastern itinerary and another on a last minute Alaskan itinerary, although neither listed the price or per diem in his review. 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 (actually per nocem on a short cruise such as this) 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 pp cruise fare, and the least expensive (independent) airfare from our regional airport added another $700. JUSTIFYING THE COST OF A LUXURY CRUISE: This leads to rationalization #1. If a luxury cruise is priced per diem at double what one would pay on a mainstream cruise, it is a good value, since the per passenger space and staffing ratios are nearly double those of mainstream cruise ships. Unfortunately, the usual per diem for luxury cruises is closer to three or four times what most of us are used to paying for a mainstream cruise. Then there is rationalization #2, which is the result of new pricing policies that some mainstream cruise lines have adopted in the last few years. Some mainstream cruise lines have curtailed discounting on cruise fares (you probably already know which cruise lines, one of which used to be our favorite). This leads to the frustrating message call our 800 number for the cruise price when one tries to plan a cruise vacation on the internet. Because of this opaque pricing and anti-discount policy, we find ourselves cruising less often, and as a result have that much more money to spend on a non-mainstream cruise experience. Finally there is rationalization #3. If you need to justify a luxury cruise, then you probably cant afford it. If luxury cruise prices are a significant concern to your conscience, if not your wallet, you probably arent going to enjoy spending that much money on self-indulgence. HIDDEN BENEFITS OF A LUXURY CRUISE: In talking with our fellow WHISPER passengers about why they selected a luxury cruise, each one mentioned the lack of crowds on the ship and in port. When a small ship is docked, one can generally walk off and back on without waiting in line. Unfortunately, this benefit is nullified when tenders are used, since these can add significantly to disembarkation times at popular cruise ports. The decision to tender passengers may be based on security or dock availability issues, but may also be based on financial issues as docking fees get more expensive. Personally, I think all cruise lines should include information whether the ship plans to be docked or tendered at each port of call in their itineraries, just as they disclose their port fees and taxes. This would help one choose among otherwise similar itineraries, and also would help the disabled make informed cruise choices. A significant theoretical benefit of small cruise ships involves HEALTH and SAFETY ISSUES. In an age of pandemics, why would one choose a ship with thousands of passengers when much smaller ships are available? Pandemics begin with an index case and spread rapidly in areas of high population density. It seems logical that an index case is more likely to appear, and the spread to be more rapid, on a mega-ship with thousands of passengers. Very few cruise ships, large or small, put enough emphasis on passenger hygiene, including passenger hand-wash options and gel dispensers near all dining and beverage areas, especially self-service buffets. You might want to take along your own disinfectant towelettes for use on the ship and on shore. In addition, if there is a fire or other disaster requiring passenger evacuation or re-routing, it seems logical that this is much more easily done on a small ship. Do not get me wrong, the mega-ships are just as concerned about passenger safety as the small ships are, but beyond a certain point the huge number of passengers and crew on some ships makes the logistics of responding to disasters exponentially more difficult. MEGA-MEGA-SHIPS: This brings me to the latest development in the cruise industry. Why in the world are we seeing plans for ships carrying 5,000 plus passengers and 3,000 plus crew members when such ships will swamp many cruise port facilities and will carry all of the increased risks mentioned above? Such enormous ships are not nimble enough to alter itineraries easily, and if one of them is out of commission due to fire, health hazard, or other cause, the financial loss to the cruise line and the ill-will generated among the passengers will be staggering. My impression is that these mega-mega-ships are being built to satisfy a perceived public desire for increased choices in shipboard activities and dining options, which is now being taken to bizarre extremes. Cruise ships are being bloated into floating theme parks. Why do I mention these issues in a luxury cruise ship review? It is with the hope that mainstream cruise lines will learn from the automobile and other industries that smaller and better quality products will ultimately prevail over behemoths. I hope that mainstream cruise lines will re-think their options and will start building small cruise ships with reasonable cruise prices, so that the public has additional choices in the small ship arena. Time to get off the soapbox and get on with the REVIEW of our SILVER WHISPER cruise. Silversea PRE-CRUISE documents are similar to those of other cruise 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 ones cruise preferences in Silverseas web site, but the site was not working properly when I tried it. Their webmaster told me that they were upgrading the site, and presumably it is functional now. We simply faxed our pre-cruise information forms. Those interested in the alternate dining at La Terrazza or Le Champagne restaurants (see dining options below) should inquire about the possibility of pre-cruise reservations (all of the La Terrezza nights were full and waitlisted 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 cruise 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 (a stylized S that looks a bit like a seahorse). We used neither, but they make nice souvenirs. The most useful tags we ever received from a cruise line had our names, membership numbers, and an 800- number to call if the baggage was found. That luggage locator tag has remained on our bags ever since. Other cruise lines should consider a similar service. EMBARKATION: We generally find it less expensive and more flexible to make our own air and transfer arrangements. Our flight touched down at San Juans airport (SJU) at 4:30pm on embarkation day. Since we travel without checked bags, just a regulation carry-on each (see my previous reviews for the secret to traveling light), we were at the cruise dock ready to board the ship at 5:00pm. No 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. GREETERS: 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 ships location. The 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 5pm. 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. LINES: The WHISPER was docked alongside a much larger mainstream cruise ship that was making a port call at San Juan. Unfortunately there was a long line of returning passengers from that ship stretched along the sidewalk, waiting to clear security. There was no Silversea representative curbside to allow us direct entry to our own ship, so we waited in line along with the other ships passengers. The curbside delay was only 15 minutes. As we waited in line I realized that some of the advantages of small ship cruising disappear as mega-ships proliferate and make cruise ports more crowded. In any case, we met some enjoyable fellow travelers as we waited. We felt a little smug, not because we were boarding the WHISPER instead of the neighboring mega-ship, but because our entire cruise luggage was smaller than some of the shopping bags waiting in line with us. (More about compulsive shopping when we land in St. Barts.) WELCOME ABOARD: As I look back on our welcome aboard the WHISPER, what I remember most is that 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, and that was it. One must imprint ones credit card (or arrange other payment for ones shipboard account), but for some reason the reception desk did not do this at embarkation. We received a notice later in the cruise to do this, but think it would have been more efficient to handle it at the outset as other cruise lines do. We had imagined that a ships officer or hotel manager would greet us and a waiter would offer us a glass of champagne at embarkation, but there were none. There was a tray of partially filled champagne flutes on the registration desk, but since the levels in the glasses varied, we assumed that these had been sipped and were waiting to be cleared. 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. The champagne was a great anodyne after our three long flights that day. FIRST IMPRESSIONS are important, and Silversea certainly missed an opportunity to impress from the outset. Embarkation on our other cruises has ranged from elegant to disorganized. This seems to vary more by individual ship than by cruise line (each line has had its hits and misses). To be fair to the WHISPER, we were 15 minutes later than the recommended boarding time due to the curbside line, and the boat drill began 15 minutes after our embarkation, so their staff was busy. ROOM SERVICE: Since our flights had no food service, we were hungry for a snack with the champagne. One of the negatives about a small cruise ship is that there are gaps in food service. 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 a persons name and a please leave a message answer machine. We never needed room service after that and do not know how efficient it is. We had packed Girl Scout cookies for just such an occasion, and had a great time celebrating the start of our cruise by drinking the champagne and raising toasts to the little scout who had sold us the cookies the day before. The secret to a happy vacation is to be happy. THE DECK PLAN of the WHISPER is quite logical, with cabins located forward and public areas located 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, without that lost-in-a-maze feeling one sometimes has during the first few days on larger ships. The one downside of the deck plan is that 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. We really appreciated how hard the crew works, and we told them so when we rode with them on the elevator. THE CREW: That brings up the issue of how some passengers treat crew members. Every cruise we have been on has had a few toxic passengers who make things difficult for the crew. Being demanding is especially tempting on a luxury cruise ship that advertises its premiere service. We have found that crew members on all cruise ships tend to be interesting, intelligent, and often highly educated people who by chance were born in a third world or war-torn country, and therefore do not have the job opportunities that we as Americans were born to. We do not impose a false camaraderie on them as is done on some cruise lines, but we do try to let them know that we appreciate that they are individuals and not just service employees. I think that most cruise passengers do the same, and the thought is appreciated. CABIN LOCATION: 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% of the cabins (all cabins are outsides, and 80% 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 ships center of gravity), especially since the ship tended to roll in good weather with mild to moderate seas. This certainly is not a problem on the usual Caribbean cruise, but may be a concern when crossing the North Atlantic or other rough 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. CABIN AMENITIES: The WHISPERS cabins are almost double the size of the average cabins on mainstream cruise ships. The cabin 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 cabins 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 minibar 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 minibar, 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. ALCOHOL: This brings us to the issue of free (included and essentially unlimited) alcoholic beverages. I have mixed feelings about this. Although we did not see any noisy drunken behavior, we did see a few quiet drunks, just as on any other cruise. Human nature leads people to over-indulge when drinks are all-inclusive. Those who drink reasonably end up subsidizing those who drink excessively -- restraint always pays for excess, whether it is health insurance, car insurance, or any other form of subsidy. Some cruise lines and all-inclusive resorts limit included (its never free) alcohol to wine or beer with meals, and this seems a reasonable compromise. I am told, however, that this is unpopular and that other semi-inclusive cruise ships are going fully inclusive soon. At some point this will become a safety issue, as one reads more and more about cruise passengers acting foolishly and even disappearing overboard. When careless or drunken behavior becomes a threat to passenger safety, the cruise lines will be forced to reconsider their alcohol policies. We will see how this develops with time and media exposure. STEWARDS: Our cabin was maintained by two chambermaids, one from Iceland and one from India. Although from opposite ends of the earth, one a fair beauty and the other a dark beauty, 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. THE PUBLIC AREAS ARE SUBTLY DECORATED in neutral colors, mainly off-white with pale blue, gray, or beige accents. There is no glitzy atrium or hey-look-at-me type 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. A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS: Rather than my describing each of the public areas around the ship, I suggest you log on to 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. SPACE RATIO: 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. 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 of their numbers. My wife and I thought that the dance floor would be too crowded to use 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 RYAN COMPANY of six dancers and two vocalists provided entertainment in the show lounge every evening after dinner. Their 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. I usually have to leave the cruise ship theater after a few minutes of ear-blasting pain, but on this cruise I was able to enjoy each production from start to finish. Kudos to the man in the sound booth (and to the absence of loud music around the swimming pool)! FELLOW PASSENGERS on this cruise were not what we expected. The average age was around 60, but ranged from the 30s to 80s. The average BMI was around thirty, but ranged a good deal higher (thin and rich do not always go together). 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. Mirabile dictu, 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, Celebrity, or Princess cruises. Perhaps it was just this particular short cruise. Sartorial habits aside, everyone we were seated with when dining 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 ones 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 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 TERRAZZA 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 pp 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. That in itself makes the experience pleasurable. 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. THE MAIN RESTAURANT: The food is good to excellent, similar in quality to the good food found in the main dining rooms of Celebrity, Holland, or Princess ships to the excellent food found in the surcharged restaurants on those same ships. We experienced a few minor lapses in service on the WHISPER. One appetizer and two drink orders were forgotten; often my water glass was not refilled when empty (the wine service was more reliable but the water was more important after a long day in the sun); 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 which 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. Such minor lapses made me appreciate the service at traditional dining venues found on mainstream cruise ships. When the waiter and his assistant see you every evening, they get to know your preferences and their service improves accordingly. Similar service is probably available to Venetian Society members on longer cruises. 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 CUISINE: The WHISPERS main restaurant provides a cuisine that matches, and sometimes exceeds, the fine dining we have experienced on other ships. Cruise lines know that dinner is the highlight of the day for most passengers, and they allocate their resources accordingly. Even mainstream cruise lines are now extremely successful at providing memorable dining, and the margin between cuisine on the 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 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. We did encounter a few minor lapses in food preparation and a few menu choices that seemed a bit odd. The fish courses were generally cooked to perfection, although my lobster and salmon were each somewhat overcooked on one occasion. This is a matter of chance. The lobster I was served was rubbery and adherent to the shell. I simply left it uneaten and instead treated myself to an extra dessert at the end of the meal. 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. One feels bad about ordering and then not eating food, but everyone was discreet about it. The fish courses are served with the traditional fish knives and forks. Ironically, 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 straight off the grocery shelf  unfortunately they 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, and only serve to reinforce the old saying de gustibus non disputandem est  there is no arguing matters of taste. You will have a very enjoyable time in the WHISPERS main restaurant, and if you plan far enough ahead, you may be able to sample their alternative dining. Before we leave the ship for a discussion of the ports of call, let me warn you about the 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 per minute fee from the first keystroke, whether working off-line or on the net. When I tried to use their system, I generated a charge of US $4.50 before even logging onto the net to access my e-mail. The on screen meter which tracks these 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 just as politely removed the charge from my account. I never did use the net on the entire cruise. Some passengers brought their laptops and used the ships wireless capability for e-mails and internet phone calls. I am uncertain whether there is a charge attached to this service. Some passengers complained that the net connection is slow, so the charges can be daunting. PORTS OF CALL ON YOUR OWN: That brings us to the other reason (after the food) that we enjoy cruising  the ports of call. Our cruise left from San Juan and was scheduled to call at Virgin Gorda, then Antigua, then Tortola, then return to San Juan. ST. BARTS: Because of the ocean surge at Virgin Gorda, the tenders were considered unsafe and our first port of call was cancelled. After some communication with the Silversea head office, our master decided to spend the first day motoring to St. Barts instead, where the anchorage is more protected. Essentially we had an unscheduled day at sea, anchoring at St. Barts in the late afternoon, with shore tenders available from 4-11pm. Having never previously called at St. Barts, which is reputed to be one of the most wealthy and stylish islands in the Caribbean, we were interested in seeing as much as we could in the two hours of daylight we had left. Fortunately we reported to the tender gangway early, because our late arrival in port meant that everyone was eager to disembark and the wait was a bit longer than usual. Meeting the tenders onshore in Gustavia were taxi (mini-van) drivers willing to provide a one hour island tour for US$12 per person (for a minimum of six people or $72). There were about 60 passengers on our tender, and not a single one was interested in seeing the island. They all headed directly to the main shopping street, which is lined with enough designer boutiques to satisfy any affluent Parisian. It was like watching a zombie movie, but the zombies were lusting after designer fashions instead of human flesh. It seemed an apt commentary on our consumer society, where even those who have everything seem to spend their vacations searching for more. In any case, since daylight was limited we did not wait for the next tender to provide more possible tour participants. Instead we walked along the waterfront clockwise past the small Anglican church and then over a small rise to nearby Shell Beach (Plage de Grands Galets). The route is marked or one can ask a local person. It is a pleasant ten minute walk from the tender port. What added to the pleasure of the walk was a line of the largest and most elegant sailboats we have ever encountered. Apparently a regatta was scheduled to start in a few days, and luxury sailboats ranging from about 40 to 60 meters in length were lined up at the dock. One could smell the affluence, even though the crew members we spoke with (perhaps an occasional owner hidden among them) were quite personable. Each boat had a minimum crew of ten, and what we saw of the rigging and the interiors was breathtaking. Shell Beach is quite pleasant, with rough rather than fine sand (as the name implies). The near end has a beach bar and restaurant that is convenient for those spending several hours at the beach, but we preferred to wade around the rocks to the far end of the beach for more privacy. We had a wonderful sunset swim and saw no one else from the SILVER WHISPER on the beach. There were a few yacht owners swimming laps parallel to the shore, with their crew following them back and forth in zodiacs for safety. As we were passing the Anglican church on our way back to the tender port we heard singing and stepped inside. The church choir was practicing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handels Messiah for their upcoming Easter service. We sat for a while and enjoyed their amateur but joyous rendition. It was dark by the time we made it back to the tender port, feeling refreshed and happy that we had a chance to enjoy our brief stay on St. Barts. ANTIGUA: The SILVER WHISPER docked at the cruise pier in St. Johns and was dwarfed by an adjacent RCL cruise ship. Exiting the cruise pier leads one through a gauntlet of tourist shops, tour operators, and taxi drivers. The natural tendency of cruise passengers is to walk briskly through this gauntlet, ignoring the various people offering goods and services. Instead of ignoring them, at least acknowledge our shared humanity by looking at them directly and thanking them politely when declining their offers. Remember that these people own the island and we are their guests. In our 17 cruises we have never opted for a tour organized by the ship. We prefer to explore on our own, using xeroxed sections of guidebooks we purchased or obtained from our local library. On Antigua we enjoy the inexpensive public transportation. Official minibuses leave frequently from the west side and east side bus stations, covering almost any destination (or beach) on the west or east side of the island respectively. From the cruise pier, the west side bus station is three blocks inland to Market St., then several blocks south to the market (which is located behind the large white statue and is worth a quick visit in itself). The east side bus station should be (we have not used it for a few years) one block north to High St., then several blocks inland to the park. Any local can direct you. From the west side bus station we usually take the bus south to Jolly Beach (US $1.50 pp). It is the end of the line (about 15-20 minutes by bus) and has frequent service because many locals work in the shops and resorts there. A dispatcher at the bus station will guide you to the correct bus. When using the local minibus, it is customary to greet other passengers as one boards, and to move as needed for passengers to enter or leave. We have found our fellow passengers to be very helpful in answering questions or pointing out destinations. At the end of the Jolly Beach bus line, follow the signs to the gravel road public access west and south around the gate-guarded resorts to the south end of the beach. Walk north along the beach past the various resorts (they get a little more upscale as one walks north) until you find the perfect patch of sunshine (or shade) for your beach towel. Jolly Beach is travel poster perfect, and typical water activity rentals are available. On this visit, for the first time during any of our many visits to the Caribbean, we came across a little attitude. We had put our beach towels on the sand in a patch of shade under a thatch roof on the beach (all of which is public land). An hour later a hotel security guard chased us off  apparently a guest felt that the shady spot was his because he had placed a beach chair there several hours earlier. Cruise ship pool pigs leave a book or T-shirt on the chaises longues early to reserve them for use later in the day, a practice we dislike and think should be eliminated. This little beach incident was similar but took us by surprise. Generally the public access to, and public use of, beaches is respected. If you prefer, minibuses to Dickenson Beach head north from the west side bus station, but we have not gone there. From the east side bus station buses head southeast across the island to English Harbour (Nelsons Dockyard historic district). Shirley Heights is not far away from there, and one might consider exploring that too. If I recall correctly, there is a nice, very private beach over a small hill just a short walk away from Nelsons Dockyard. Any local can direct you (ask at the nearby store). Last time we were there, an enormous yacht was anchored nearby, and a Duchess of Windsor type surrounded by several of her stalwart sailing crew motored ashore and shared the beach with us. Riding local minibuses can be as exciting as watching an Imax movie. On this trip our driver made change for passengers, smoked a cigarette, spoke on his cell phone, shifted gears, and turned the steering wheel, all while driving on the left and dodging pedestrians (which is the reason we do not rent cars in the Caribbean). As in an Imax film, if you get frightened during the drive, just close your eyes. In the afternoon, as the day cools, consider a walk though the town of St. Johns. It is a somewhat gritty town, but the people are polite and very friendly. There is a large old Anglican church on the hill several blocks east and north of the cruise pier. When we were there this time, the funeral of a prominent citizen was taking place. The parishioners were beautifully dressed, and the sound of their 500 voices singing traditional hymns in harmony echoed off the beamed ceiling and penetrated to the heart. It was a most moving experience. TORTOLA: The SILVER WHISPER was scheduled to tender into Road Town, but since we were the only ship in port, we docked instead. Tortola is very much like St. Thomas but more affluent and less crowded. One of the nicest local beaches is Cane Garden Bay, which resembles Magens Bay on St. Thomas but has no fee and is less private. Just east of Cane Garden Bay is Brewers Bay, which is said to provide good snorkeling. Taxis wait at the pier and will take you north over the spine of the island to the beaches, with fantastic views in all directions along the way, for about US $6 pp each way. Alternately, an open taxi (jitney style with sun protection) waits at the pier and offers a 3 hour round island tour, again with fantastic views of neighboring islands and photo stops along the way, plus an hour swim at Cane Garden Bay, all for US $20 pp. The drivers name on this visit was Larry, and I think he meets each cruise ship. If not, the local tourist board representative or taxi dispatcher who are at the pier should be able to arrange it for you. As Caribbean islands become more crowded, especially when more than one ship is in port, my wife and I prefer to escape to some of the nearby islands for a beach day in solitude. In this case, one can take the private ferry to nearby Peter Island (still owned by the Amway Corp. I believe) for US $15 round trip. This is a very quiet, very upscale island resort that allows day visitors but requests that they use the far east end of Deadmans Beach. The near end is reserved for resort guests. The far east end of the beach is shared with the yachters whose boats are anchored offshore. A restaurant is available in the middle of the beach, and we were told it takes credit cards. A taxi will take you from the cruise pier to the Peter Island ferry pier (caution, there are several ferry piers) for US $4 pp each way. Notify the ferry captain on your return that you need a taxi, and he should be able to radio ahead. As I write this, outbound ferries leave Road Town at 0830, 1000, 1200, 1400, 1530. Return ferries leave Peter Island at 0900, 1130, 1330, 1430, 1630, 1800 and 1930. Verify the schedules with the tourist office representative (or on the net) to make certain you do not miss your boat! Other ferry services run to neighboring islands, but these are farther away and less practical for a day escape. END OF CRUISE DISEMBARKATION: 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 0700 and 0800 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 0900 and is complete by 1000. As Silversea recommends, do not book 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 WHISPER crew member graciously took my wifes roll-aboard down the gangway to the dock for her. As we left the ship we felt truly pampered. It is time to bring our cruise and this review to a conclusion. In the end, WHAT DOES ONE GET FOR THE EXTRA COST OF A LUXURY CRUISE? Judging from our experience described above, one can expect more space, fewer crowds, and better itineraries. Dont expect better food or better service than on some mainstream cruise lines  over the last few years their food and service have improved to match what we experienced on the Silver Whisper. IS A LUXURY CRUISE WORTH THE EXTRA 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. TO END ON A PERSONAL NOTE, 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. Happy cruising! efschlenk at hotmail dot com. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2006
Getting there  We spent one night in Miami and 4 in St. Lucia. We had to depart our resort in St. Lucia at 6:30 a.m. to make our 8:45 flight. We paid $21 each departure tax at the George Charles airport. We boarded our American Eagle ... Read More
Getting there  We spent one night in Miami and 4 in St. Lucia. We had to depart our resort in St. Lucia at 6:30 a.m. to make our 8:45 flight. We paid $21 each departure tax at the George Charles airport. We boarded our American Eagle prop job at 8:00 and departed at 8:50. We arrived in Puerto Rico at 10:25, 35 min ahead of our scheduled 11 am arrival time. At George Charles in St. Lucia, all 4 of our bags were searched, as well as carry-ons, book pages were turned, all devices turned on. Then a second time, all items were again removed from my purse, even the Altoid mints were smelled. Customs was a breeze in San Juan. We were at the taxi stand at 11. We were given a ticket and quoted $19 for the fare and $2.50 for our bags (50 cents for first 3 and a dollar for the next one). The driver had us at pier 1 at 11:25. We went to see if we could leave our bags with Silversea in the terminal and were immediately offered the $100 pp early embarkation that had been refused at time of booking due to the cruise before ours being a charter. We jumped all over it. A white gloved, formally dressed gentleman waited with us while all of our bags were loaded on a dolly. He escorted us up the gang plank and to reception on the ship where we were happily greeted. Our ID cards were ready. We surrendered our passports and were told it would be 10 minutes for our suite and that we would have to come back later for our security photos. We were given Vueve Cliquot champagne. Everyone seemed so happy we had boarded the ship and would be sailing with them. We were already feeling the same way. Our white gloved gentleman took us to the Panorama lounge where a very nice lady offered us anything we desired to drink from a seat with a lovely view of our choice. They had mixed nuts also at the bar. We took a few pics outside until it began to drizzle. Leisurely, we browsed the computer center, library and other public areas and then went to our suite, as we were told lunch was served on deck 4 from 12-1:30. Our bags were ensuite, laid out on the bed, and the stewardess was in the room stocking all the refrigerator and drink selections we had made. Only thing not there yet was the orchids, which arrived soon after and also the foam pillows I had requested online. Suite Upon walkup, we saw 915, our suite number, a mail slot, and a doorbell and card slot for entry. Inside, the bathroom had a glass-enclosed shower stall, toilet, double marble sink, a tub with a removable shower head and there were 2 shelves below the sink. There is a clothes line that you can put across the tub area for drying swimsuits. The stewardess did this for us each day. Also all the Aqua de Parma amenities were theretwo types of soap , body gel, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. Shelves above contained water glasses, cotton & Q-tips, and tissues. Next was a walk-in closet. There were a number of hangers along two racks and then half the closet with only one rack for longer items, a suitcase shelf, a shoe rack, a tie rack, a chest of drawers, a digital safe, and those trusty life jackets. There was a light, and the closet also had a blanket in it. One drawer had a number of items for shoeshine, a sewing kit and a hair dryer. The bed had a nightstand on either side with lamps, and the left side had a clock. Four pillows were under the covers and then there were 3 throws. Opposite the bed was a dressing table with stool and various style plugs, including American. There was a magnifying mirror there. Next were the drapes than can be drawn and then the sitting area. There was a nice love seat with lamps and end tables on both sides. There was a chair that was more comfortable than it looked and a small table. There was a bigger table in the closet they can add on top of this to facilitate dining in the suite. Along the wall was the fridge in the lower left cabinet of the desk, which contained juices (4 kinds, one each) and then a few soft drink items and ice. Personalized stationery, postcards, in-room dining menus, and a book about the services offered were on the writing desk Above on the left was a cabinet where they put glasses, binoculars, and any drink items you requested. On the right side, there was the very small TV/VCR that swivels (when you figure the device out) and on the shelf below there was a DVD player that will also play your DIVX and mp3s from home. Below that was fruit-grapes, banana, pear, apple and sometimes a plum. The desk also had a variety of plug-ins. Each light throughout the cabin had a conveniently located switch to control it, so there was no wondering around trying to figure the lights. Recessed lighting is used a number of places, as well, so you can have it as light or not, as you choose. The verandah was nice with 2 comfortable, adjustable lounges and a small table. No footstools like those shown in the brochure. There were walls on either side for privacy. We were the last cabin on deck 9, so we knew we were not being looked at. I cant comment on if this would ever be an issue or not, but I doubt it would be worth any concern. In our closet were two thick, lovely robes and two sets of slippers, mans and womans. We got Aqua de Parma and Bvlgari both. Not everyone did. Lunch on April 5 -- After our survey of the room, we went down to deck 4 to The Restaurant and had a lovely 5 course lunch. We had penne pasta with meat and tomato sauce as an appetizer, cream of chicken soup, salad with balsamic vinegar. Todd had a sirloin steak, while I had broiled flounder. For dessert, Todd had apple pie with cream, and I had crème brulee and a side order of mixed berries. They offered wine of the day and then coffee or espresso. Service was outstanding, as it had been since arrival. Guests were rather well dressed, but we found out some were there just for the day, etc. People were talking across tables, and it was louder than we are used to. We were to discover this would be a common thing. Not a real issue. April 5 activities We checked out the rest of the public areas. The lounges were beautiful. The card room was larger than I was expecting. They had a nice conference room, though not large. The spa looked inviting. The gym had a number of machines, bottled water, lots of towels, and iPods, as well as headphones to listen to the TVs that were playing. The fitness schedule for the entire cruise was available for taking back to the room. We picked up the daily crosswords and sudoku puzzles in the library and went to get our pictures taken and then on to the suite. Todd stayed in the room and laid around reading the literature and resting, while I checked out regular embarkation. They had a receiving line with champagne or fruit punch, refreshing towels (which we didnt get) and then a line in the bar for taking pics, checking in and then caviar and smoked salmon canapEs made to order and finger sandwiches. There were many people there to take guests to their suites. I disembarked the ship after having my card scanned. I walked a mile or two around Old San Juan, getting a feel of the town. The architecture was interesting. There were many interesting-looking Indo-Latino restaurants and a lot of unique shops. I sat around in a couple of places to feel the vibe of the area. I came back about 5:15, and we readied ourselves for the 5:30 lifeboat drill. We went to level 5 to the B area and were greeted and told about when we should come there and then we were escorted to the Viennese lounge where they gave a demo of the life jackets and took the opportunity to plug the spa and shore excursions. In our suite were already the tickets for our shore excursion, my spa appointment card, etc. We had left a message for the golf pro for details of Todds golf excursion in Antigua and we picked up info on that and the program in general. Back in the suite, Frasier, the pro, called to discuss the outing with Todd and then ask about what type of club shafts he wanted. Lots of guests had been hanging out on the pool deck, as they served late lunch/early dinner there for a couple of hours, along with soft drinks and a full bar service. Mixed nuts and chex mix were available here. It was loud and bustling there, but festive. BTW, the guests were all ages, mostly 40s to 80s, and we saw a hand full of teens. Guests were not so formal as at lunch but not tacky or anything like that. Most had a long, hard travel day and were happy to be greeted by an inviting staff. Another tidbit, the gentleman that took us to our room had told me about the April 1 Pfizer charter. Because they had an early departure (most of them) they let us on. That was nice, but others missed out that didnt gamble to see. We went to the library and selected a couple of videos and then came to the room and watched Prime on the in-room movies. They had about 4 channels running various movies, and they had a booklet explaining it and showing the DVDs available. The TV had Fox News, BBC, and CNN. It had a navigational station we enjoyed that was tracking the ship (this played in the hallway on Deck 5, also) and some other info channels on the ship and its activities. There are also many VHS movies in the library, but they are not as new, but you will find old faves. Also in the library were many novels and also a puzzle there to be worked, chess, checkers, etc. Other public areas had board games and books about birds and fish and things of that nature. Sometime the stewardess came to offer additional types of toiletries, but Todd was alone and didnt pay attention to what was offered and told her to come back. After the movie, I steamed my pantsuit, and we dressed for dinner. At 5, we had tried to get a reservation for La Terraza for any night. They were already booked for the entire cruise. I should have done this at 11. Dinner in The Restaurant on April 5 -- We asked for a table for two, and we were given one. This was the quieter side, though the room was noisier than a cafeteria, something we were not expecting, but again, not a big deal. Some people asked to join others, and both types of wishes were granted easily. We had seen the menu in our suite and had an idea of what we wanted to have. They offered the daily pour and also were available to explain anything. Service was good. For appetizer, Todd had the king prawns with Indian spices, I had the Greek salad (feta cheese, cucumbers, and pine nuts inside a tomato with 4 green leaves). We enjoyed them. For soup, Todd had the beef essence, and I had the red onion with ginger. We loved them. Rolls were many hard varieties, we were not too interested in them. For salad, I had the greens with balsamic again, and Todd had Caesar salad (which had bacon and anchovies). You must order the sorbet, or it will not come. It was pina colada. Good taste! For the entrEe, Todd had the striploin with fries. I had halibut with garden veggies. The waiter brought the veggies and hand selected each vegetable at my urgence and whim! The fish was healthy but a bit plain. There were other choices, but I was trying not to gain weight. For dessert, Todd asked for mixed ice cream, and I had more sorbet. We nibbled on the petite fours. One tasted like chocolate cookie dough. Yumm. Others had fruit and cheese from a trolley. We did not. The trolley was something else you had to request. During dinner, our waiter hustled, and glasses were filled regularly. After Dinner April 5 We finished dining at around 9:30. The casino was not open in San Juan due to laws. We went up to The Bar to hear Daryl. He sang '60s tunes and played electric assisted piano. He read the words from a computer. I enjoyed him, but Todd didnt as much because the songs were his own rendition, vs. him trying to sound just like the artist. He stated that when he started the set. A few couples danced. At 10, we went to the show lounge for the Taste of Things to Come show. Ron, the cruise director, alternated introducing 3-5 staff members with a production number about 4 or 5 times. It was great to hear about the staff (not a single American except the cruise director who splits his time in South Africa). The golf pro indicated that he was sold out for the Antigua excursion. This whole program was a little too infomercialish, but we did see a few good production numbers. Randomly, guests got wait service. We did not, but it wasnt a concern. Ron ended the show at 10:45 so that guests could get ready for the sailing at 11. Some celebrated above us on 10 and others by the pool on 8. We hung out on our veranda from 11 to midnight until the lights of San Juan was out of sight. It was spectacular. April 5 pet peeves: Stewardess took club soda I had just prepared and was coming back to because we were not in the suite. Welcome champagne we were not done with was taken. Dining is louder than we expected. We went to sleep to one of the videos from the library, Generals Daughter. April 6, 2006 Virgin Gorda The wake-up Woke up at 6:25 to someones set alarm from a previous stay! No problem, we were waking up on our own anyway due to our surroundings. It was a beautiful sunrise that morning, postcard perfect. We passed by little islands after that and also saw lots of yachts. It was like a moving postcard. We enjoyed the view on the veranda and scoped it out with the binoculars. Todd worked both the crossword and the sudoku already by early am. We skipped breakfast, as we were still full from dinner. Todd went to the golf swing clinic. No swinging, just talk about technique. He got to chat with the pro. I ate a plum from our fruit in the room and went to the body conditioning class with Margit, the fitness instructor. Several ladies had been there for step, but I was alone for the toning class. She and I did it togetheraerobics with hand weights and then floor exercises. She kept asking me if I could feel it. What dummy would say not? Then I rode the exercise bike a while, looking out at the view. Todd and I went outside the observation lounge and watched the ship come into port and took some pics. Todd watched a movie from one of the in-room movie channels for an hour, and I laid out on deck 9 in my swimsuit. On 8 (pool deck) and 9, they brought cold towels and mist and offered drink servicebottled or sparkling water, soft drinks or other drinks, anything. There was sun or shade available and cushioned loungers with towels set up. We got ready for our excursion to The Baths. We went to lunch at La Terazza at noon when they opened. A number of people were already there. We prefer sit down to buffet, but the sit down started at 12:30, and our tour was leaving at 12:45. The selections included lovely salads. I had mixed greens with balsamic. Todd skipped salad, opting for a slice of cold roast beef. For entrees, we asked for bite sized of most to try several. They had carved chicken, Schezwan (sp) beef, lasagna, pizza, fried cod, pizza, and pasta cooked fresh to order. They had pumpkin soup (yum) and chilled raspberry cream soup. For dessert, they offered low carb and sugar free. I had berries, and Todd skipped dessert. They had several ice creams and all sorts of toppings, including pistachios, chocolate chips, etc. There were some hot desserts, also. Everything was carried to the table. Our glasses were filled with water almost before we sat down, and we were offered the pour of the day, something Greek. Dishes were cleared at just the right time. We arrived in the Vienesse Lounge as per our tickets at 12:45, but they seemed to have sent letters (we didnt get ours, we didnt think but found it the next day) on it being moved to the gangway. After going to Vienesse and then heading to gangway, we missed the tender and waited for the next. We were given towels and water. We missed our tour, but the tour director arranged for a staff member to take us in his personal jeep to join our tour at The Baths. The Baths The Baths is close to where the ship anchored. We were given drink tickets and told how to get down to The Baths. Thankfully, we saw some SS people and felt better about having missed our ride. Everyone was able to lay their towel in sun or shade as desired. T-shirts, etc. were available (we didnt buy anything). They also sell soda and beer, not sure what else. We didnt walk up there. This excursion with SS is $45 pp. For this price, they should have had a cooler or two down there or something, as we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. I think the entry fee for adults was only $3, so the transportation and entry were a bit much compared to what SS must have paid, though we thought it was reasonable when booked. I didnt see cabs after we tendered but I think there was a place for them. We spread out our stuff and went swimming amongst the rocks and took pics along the beach. We walked part of the way thru the caves toward Devils Bay Beach (I think that is the name) and got some great pics. Todd got the HP camera a bit wet it wouldnt come back on (later discovered the pics were at least saved on the SD card). We still had the Kodak. The climb back up seemed fierce after my personal session with the fitness lady. We got some punch with our tickets and sat on the patio overlooking The Baths and the bay. It was soo beautiful  the huge rocks, flowers and cacti on top of the ocean made an interesting backdrop. Back on Ship We were back on the ship at 4:30. We rinsed off our sand. I sat in the hot tub and chatted for a very long time to various people, including a lovely couple in their late 30s who had sailed SS a few times. Todd went to the putting contest. He got 4 points there. Sounds like I should have gone since not too many ladies were there. From one of the hot tubs, the couple and I witnessed a very drunk man. That guy had started rubbing my back out of nowhere at the bar while I was nibbling chex mix and waiting for a club soda (the reason I headed off to the hot tub). His friend had done the same earlier (nickname Roach). We called the other guy blue shirt. He passed out, and his friends could hardly get him up and out. Neither were Americans! Evening of April 6 This was formal night. I steamed Todds shirt, and we got dressed-tux for him and long dress for me. We joined the end of the captains cocktail party. Looks like we missed about everything. They had shrimp cocktail it seems (heard it was literally one shrimp pp). We did hear some more about some of what was going to occur the rest of the cruise. It was all very festive but hard to describe. We headed down to The Restaurant for the formal dinner and asked for a table for 2. Someone took our order before ever offering wine or water, but they tended to all of that. Since we got seated near a table for 12, our waitstaff were more focused on them. Our service was then average but not bad. I had the goose liver appetizer with candied plum. This was divine. Todd had the mixed berries in blue Curacao. For soup, I had the celeriac and apple soup (wonderful), and Todd had the chicken consomme with matzo balls. There were always 3 soups offered at every meal. I had the greens with balsamic, and Todd requested and got a Caesar. He had prime rib and requested a baked potato with bacon and cheese. It came plain. I had the lobster thermidorchix sized, just a few bites in each side of the tail, but it was enough for me. We skipped dessert, even the petit 4. We headed to the casino for a bit of roulette. We lost $80 but it took a while, and we had a lot of fun. Stakes were $2 min per number and $10 min on any outside spot (vs $10 total on the outside). This gave them a lot of advantage. We went to listen to Daryl for a bit. He played 60s tunes. We played roulette and lost $80 but had a good time. The table had an advantage on the outside due to limit being 10 dollars a position vs. the total of the outside. Then Todd went to the room, and I went to the Toast to Broadway show. It was a costumed show with a number of Broadway tunes. I was very tired. We went to bed and woke up a few times. Todd was snoring, and I curled on the couch a bit and slept. April 7, 2006 Antigua We did barely wake up for coming into port because the doorbell rang at 7:45 with our breakfast. I had bacon, eggs, toast, and hash browns. Todd had same except my eggs were fried, and he had an omelet. We shared the grapefruit and cantaloupe. Todd got ready for golf with his Cedar Valley Silver Links 365 group. I got ready to go off ship, too but took my time. I went to the computer center and got connected over there. I bought 100 minutes for $55. I didnt really need to do this because I had my Blackberry, and my GPRS service worked in every port and sometimes out at sea. They had around 6 pcs in the center, and you couldn print from any of them. You can also use wifi on your laptop against the same allotment of minutes. The wifi worked in the library/computer center, card room and lounges. I didnt try it anywhere but the computer center. In Antigua, the ship is at a pier, so there is no need to tender. You just walk off the ship, making sure you have your ship ID card and a photo ID. Shortly after departing the ship, I found a taxi stand. The gentleman there told me it would cost $12 to go to Sandals resort and asked if they were expecting me. I indicated I had a day pass over there. We walked a couple of blocks to his van, and we were to Sandals in about 6 minutes in traffic. I tipped the driver, and he was off. We had some hassle at Sandals because I had evidently said I needed the pass for Friday, April 8. Well, instead of asking me if I meant Friday or April 8, they assumed April 8, so they were expecting me the next day. It took 3 people to get to that, but I did get in and was all set with the pass. I walked around looking at the property. I really liked the garden areas with the pools. The gardens were quite lush. These areas were nicer than the main swim-up area. The beach was wide and long. One thing to note is that the beach goes beyond Sandals on both ends, and it is public. Therefore, there were kids walking by, etc. This area was just beautiful. I think a day pass here is a wonderful option for anyone on a non-inclusive cruise, as it is minutes from the pier, and then you get drinks and a beautiful beach, one of the nicest. I checked out the lunch buffet. They were cooking pasta to order and carving a whole pig. I just wanted to have some mango and a little salad. I was seated Oceanside at a table for two. It rained briefly and lightly. That brought a lot of people in, but it was over quite quickly. I headed down to check out the upcoming Mediterranean Village. It looks like it will be large and quite beautiful. The pool is going to be huge. Rooms will be suites and will all be identical. They are set back a ways from the ocean. It is to be complete in November. I should be able to check it out next February. I didnt want to miss too much time on the ship, and I still wanted to walk around town. The resort called a cab over for me, and it was the same price to go back. The cab let me off at a good location in town. I went around to various shops and bought some souvenirs before heading back to the ship on foot. Id missed all the regular meal hours, but I decided to check out the room service menu, not knowing when Todd would be back from golf or if hed have eaten. I was guessing he would have. Room Service Lunch The menu looked quite good, and I wish Id have ordered a soup. I ordered mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette, two shrimp cocktails, and pizza margherita. The menu warned that the pizza takes 20 minutes. I spent this time on the veranda perusing my email on my blackberry and contemplating my surroundings. I didnt time the food, but it must have been 20 or 30 minutes. The person that brought it was willing to set up my table the fancy way they do, but I just took the tray. It was just me, anyway. The salad was the same crisp greens with balsamic I had been enjoying. Silversea makes such a wonderful balsamic that Id been having it often. The shrimp came as 8 shrimp on a plate with delicious cocktail sauce. The pizza was a thin, crisp crust. I did not eat even half of it, but it was the best pizza I have had at a non-pizza place-ever! It was so yummy. Afternoon I went out to lay around on deck 9. After a short while, I was misted and had a drink order taken. There was plenty of shade or sun and lots of cushy loungers with towels. They have lots of refreshing soft drinks and will make anything else you want, too. I went to Cruise Consultant Carls get together talking about the upcoming 2006 and 2007 cruises. This was held in The Bar. I checked back at the cabin around 5 p.m. to see if Todd was available and wanted to do anything. He had only got back in the room at 4:30. He was a bit burnt because his golf outing was so long. He had put on sunscreen but didnt bring any with him. We watched an in-room movie while Todd unwound from his 8 hour outing. Todds Golf Outing He met his group at 8:45 at the gangway. He brought his own shoes, balls, and glove and signed up to rent their Nike clubs. We arranged his outing at www.silverseagolf.com, and I recommend golfers do this in advance of their cruise if possible because this excursion sold out. The group went to Cedar Valley. Todd thought the course was interesting and had some good views. He shot an 84 here. There were 3 groups of 4 playing, and the other 11 all knew each other. The pro played 4 holes with Todds group, 5 with another and 9 holes with another. Frasier, the pro tried to change peoples whole swing, rather than work with what they had. They were fed chicken wings and some other food. Transportation was included, and they also spent time on the range. This whole jaunt was in the $200 range when it was all over. Evening April 7, 2006 This evening they had a sailing party on deck. We just checked it out briefly. They had 3 types of appetizers. I tried 2 of the little nachos. We chatted with Buckie and Jane, the couple wed met that were celebrating their 40th anniversary. Jane was excitedly telling me about her needlepoint class. Todd did not try any appetizers. I got in the hot tub with the nice couple from Georgia Id met before. I just didnt want to get out and stayed a long time. The night was magical. This was an informal evening. Todd wore a jacket and tie, and I wore a dress. We headed to The Restaurant around 7:30. For appetizer, I had planned to have the king scallop ravioli with shellfish sauce and basil oil, but this was substituted for something with goat cheese. Instead, we had the mango, papaya and pineapple medley. For soup, we had the cauliflower and parmesan veloute with pesto crostini. This was quite good. I had assorted greens with balsamic, and Todd asked for and received Caesar. We forgot to order the sorbet but did this later and got it. They had key lime daiquiri sorbet. For the entry, I had the poached izumi dai fish with lemon butter sauce. It was a bit buttery for me but I took it out of the sauce. Todd had a beef dish and fries. I had the peach zero zero ice cream for dessert, and Todd had some other ice cream. We found the service only adequate on this evening. They did offer the pour of the evening, and they do offer to switch to red wine if you are so inclined when the entree comes. I did try it, Todd did not. We had already ordered our food before this or water was offered. This is the evening JJ, the head sommelier was in the restaurant. We were seated near some large tables, though we had asked for a quiet table. The large groups were not noisy like some in the distance, but they did receive the bulk of the service. Like I said, service that evening was adequate, just not over the top. Still better than many resorts. For the evening, we went to hear Daryl for a few minutes and then went down to the show lounge to watch Cirque Nouveau. This show was a tribute to Cirque de Soleil. There were a number of costume changes, and there was some dance up ropes, etc. It was a nice show for what they can do on a small ship. After the show we went back to the casino. I played quarter slots for a few minutes and got bored after spending about $10. We moved on to blackjack and played the $10 per hand each. We did only OK with the first dealer and then did well with the second. We cashed out and moved on to roulette. We played there for some time, and we cashed out up for the night $359 after the previous nights $80 loss. We were thinking we might play the last night, but they were staying in port until 11, and the casino cannot open in port. We sat on our balcony a little while, added the chocolates on the bed to our stash, looked briefly at the next days menu and activities, put out our breakfast menu and checked the television for news and movies before dropping off to sleep. April 8, 2006 Tortola I purposely left the drapes open between the sleeping and sitting area so that Id wake up for yet another sunrise. Tortola did not disappoint, and I happily watched more of my personal moving postcards delivered right to my door. I did close one side of the drapes for Todd to rest and played some with my email on my blackberry in between snapping photos. We had the same breakfast as the day before  bacon, egg, hash brown and fruit for me and omelet, hash brown and fruit for Todd. I forgot to order toast to go with my fried eggs. The day before, they had delivered one fruit plate even though I wrote down two. I cant believe I didnt order toast. SS seems to deliver exactly what is ordered, so things you take for granted will not come. Breakfast was had in our living room on the table as we watched the ship sail into port, one of our favorite experiences each day (sailing out was also a favorite). The morning was rushed as we hurried to make our 8:45 BVI snorkel trip. Buckie and Jane were trying to join because their 1 pm one was cancelled They did make it on because the 3 teens decided not to join their parents and younger brother. As always when disembarking, towels and water were readily available. We were taken away in a jeep safari type vehicle down to a large catamaran. Two guys ran the program. They had the fins and snorkel gear on board, and they asked sizes and passed everything around. We went out to Norman island, passing Peter Island on our way. We were taken to an area with great visibility. We saw fish of many sizes, and there were caves to explore, but there were thousands of jellyfish, and they were especially fond of the caves. The jellyfish didnt sting anyone, but they were a deterrent. I preferred, by far, our snorkeling at Anse Cochen a few days earlier during our resort stay in St. Lucia. We were given rum punch after snorkeling and taken to a small beach island called Pirates Island. The facilities there were closed. They kept us there an hour, which we didnt think was necessary. Jane was very excited about fish nibbling her toes, and I hung out watching them in the clear water while Todd and Buckie sat in the shade in two different spots. The sail back was also beautiful, as we were surrounded by little mound islands and yachts. I was chatting with two ladies when $100 bill floated by and into the water. One lady pointed it out to the loser of the money that it had flown by. The lady barely batted an eye. We got back and rinsed our sand off. I sat in hot tub briefly. We went up to La Terraza for the lunch buffet, feeling we could not go so close to closing (it was 1:40) to the course by course place. This day, the selection was not as appealing to me as the other day, and I so much had wanted a sit down meal. I had salad and gazpacho (nice and spicy) and some berries and pistachios. Todd had some hot dishes  a grilled fish and some garden veggies. I did try just a bite of the curry chicken. It was listed as mild and was. I was not feeling well and did not take a portion of it, just one bite to taste. A waiter informed us they were closing the hot items at 2 and that the salads and desserts would remain. However, at 1:55, they pulled the pistachios from the ice cream station. Someone did begrudgingly bring them back for me. We were offered tea or soda that day for the first time. We were a little bit turned off by them pulling some of the food before 2 pm when they close. We have seen this at resorts, and we never like it, either. Even if they dont take new guests past 2, they should leave the items out for those that are still finishing after 2. There were at least 30 people there that had all been on that snorkeling trip and were doing the best we could. In Tortola, I did go out to the tents past the pier and bought some souvenirsmagnets and some marble and glass items. Nobody there would bargain one dime, but some were cheaper than the others. They did make change in USD if desired. They had some nice shirts, but I didnt bring enough money out and didnt want to go back. Todd retired to the room a bit for an afternoon in-room movie and to finish a video he got at the library. He was not wanting any more sun and thought he might nap. I laid on deck a bit and then went to the internet café to work on using up my minutes. At 4 pm, I met Jane at afternoon tea for needlepoint. She had been so excited about it. I was so glad I went because I met Yolanda, the international hostess. Jane was working on a little clutch case, and Yolanda gave me a choice of several scissors covers and showed me how to do it. We had nice tea and conversation. Jane had a fruit tart. The selection was nicescones, pastries, tarts, custard cups. Jane remarked that it had been 15 minutes since we ate and that we should eat again! She is so tiny. After this, I went to see Carl, the cruise consultant about booking future cruises. He spent a great deal of time with me comparing various ones, prices, etc. and discussing his opinion on specific cabins. I was very impressed that sometimes he was even down-selling trying to show good value. I had enjoyed him at his talk a couple of days prior. I got everything arranged, and he drew up our papers and sent them later to our cabin, and I paid him before 7:30 that night, as he requested. At 5 pm, Todd joined Jane and Buckie at the golf putting contest. I joined at 5:20. I missed the short putt contest but played in the long putt contest. After that, we cashed in our points and got 2 money clips and a memo holder. You do get points for just participating and more for winning. Todd won something here. Yolanda is the one that cashes in the points. Next, I went to the hot tub. The Spanish family had their lap baby in the pool. The staff eventually blocked the hot tubs to get ready for the BBQ but did not throw anyone out. I was appreciative of that, as I was tired and enjoyed myself immensely. The temps were always so nice in the hot tubs, and I loved my 6 pm ritual every night. Jessica and Rich, the couple from Atlanta called out to me from above. She said she lost a lot at the casino the night before and had rewarded herself w/ a 15 course breakfast. They were going to Le Champagne that night to avoid the bbq. I had wanted to go to the sit-down at The Restaurant, but Jessica said they were having lobster at the bbq, so I got suckered in. In my mind I was thinking, go sit down at dinner and then stop by buffet to see if there is lobster and then see the show. Evening of April 8 Todd was not in any hurry to leave the suite. It was so comfortable, and we were just lying around. I told him people were already filling up the tables even though it wasnt 7:30 and that wed have nowhere to sit and probably get bad service (by now, we had agreed to go to the buffet since I still was not feeling well ).. This night was casual. People still looked nice and festive. We sat at a table with a Latino couple. They never spoke to us. We had to flag someone down for water, etc. I just dont like buffets no matter what is served, for the most part. They had no soup, my favorite part of a lot of meals. They had grilled steaks (most tender of the trip), ribs, chicken breasts, hot dogs, build your own tacos and then lobster claw paella. They had salads and desserts, including bananas foster and a number of ice creams and toppings. I tried the lobster claw dish, but it was salty to me (I dont salt my food). I ate salad and custard and some fruit. Todd had a rib and steak and some ice cream. We had trouble getting plates cleared. While many were getting great service, we were not, as we seemed to have been skipped since we were on time rather than early. The main reason we came, other than me not feeling well was to see the Latin dance show. We enjoyed the costumed dancers. They repeated the salsa number from the welcome party and did some other numbers. They changed costumes several times very quickly. After that, they started the dance party with the guests. Todd went back to the cabin, and I danced some with Yolanda and the other ladies either there alone or with partners that wouldnt dance. The music was so good that I rushed to the cabin to get Todd, and he danced with me a little before we retired back to the cabin around 10:45. We were to have our bags out by 11:30. Some people had them out by 6 pm; I assume they didnt want to interrupt their evening. We, of course, barely made 11:30, but we did. We put our grey tags on the bags, keeping our carry-ons. We checked just after 11:30, and all bags were gone. We managed to time it well at 10:45 to watch the sailing because they left a little earlier than 11 pm. Our stewardess had not done our turndown. Instead, she just stuck out our luggage sheet to protect the bed and put one suitcase on the bed and threw our literature and chocolates on it. We considered going to the shops or casino after 11:30, but that is late for us, so we snuggled into the comfort of our cabin, relaxed till the lights on-shore were gone and then laid around as long as we could stay awake and drifted off after calling for a wake up call for 6:15. April 9 Back to San Juan Unfortunately, our wake up call did come. By about 6:30 our final statement was on the door. We didnt have to do anything about it, as I had followed the announcements and advice and gave an imprint earlier the previous day. Everything was in order, so we just saved the bill for our records. We got ready for our long journey home, enjoyed the scenery going by and packed our carry-on for the most part. We headed to the breakfast buffet at 7 when they opened. The sit-down was a choice, but we wanted a last sit in our cabin before we took off. For breakfast, we didnt bother with eggs to order. We had scrambled eggs. Todd had ham, and I had bacon. I had fruits and toast. Todd had a lot of orange juice, I went for tea. This didnt take too long, and we were able to return to our cabin and relax a bit. We were the last group called and were called right at 8:30, the time all were to vacate their cabin. We had brought some bottled water and soda for our long journey home. We went to level 5 for immigration. Yolanda and a couple of other nice ladies were there. We received our passports and went to The Panorama lounge to await the call to customs. We had nice juice and tea and relaxed, though we did get smoked on (found out later we were in the smoking section, though we didnt know there was a difference). The lounge here had pastries, juices and tea and coffee. Only a small number of guests retreated here, while many sat uncomfortably herded with crowds when there was no need. All the public areas were open. We were not called until 9:50, and we went through the inspection easily. We had been offered a tour of Old San Juan and transportation to airport from SS at a reasonable cost, but I had done my own tour, and Todd wasnt interested. We just went to the taxi stand and paid the same $21.50 from before. We were at the airport at 10:30 and tried to stand by on the 12:16 flight. We could not get on, so we were stuck until 3:20 because I had foolishly booked this flight thinking we could pay for late debarkation. The San Juan customs didnt allow it. We were bored and tired after 5 hours at the airport, and both of our flights were oversold and crowded. I went to Burger King in Miami and went through a very thorough purse search since I didnt have luggage. We reached Houston on time but one bag was not there. It had come on the earlier flight and was at the claims office. After that drama, we arrived home at about 11:15. We were tired, but we are still reflecting on our time and looking forward to our next cruise, this time on Silver Wind, in February, 2007. 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Sail Date: February 2007
Our cruise was some months ago, but we're just discussing where to go for the next cruise and .. I realized I meant to review it at the time. We were on Silver Whisper late February 2007 from Bangkok to Singapore. It was our 10th ... Read More
Our cruise was some months ago, but we're just discussing where to go for the next cruise and .. I realized I meant to review it at the time. We were on Silver Whisper late February 2007 from Bangkok to Singapore. It was our 10th wedding anniversary, when we married we went from Bangkok to Singapore on the Orient Express, this was the same journey, just a bit slower. We stayed a couple of nights in Bangkok before the cruise, it's a better place to visit than it was a few years back, less touting, better service and great food. The trip down to the docks was somewhat fraught, roads were dug up and the driver got very lost in the port, so by the time we arrived we were pretty fried. We sat around the departure area for about 10 minutes before giving up and agreeing to pay the extra for early boarding, we just wanted to get on the ship. We were never actually charged for this .. which made us happy in the end. For reference our previous cruises had been with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, on and one with Star Cruises just better forgotten. The ship was lovely. Maintained, well appointed, just great. It's quiet, it seems empty even when it's not, we absolutely loved it. On the other cruise lines we'd chosen some of the larger suite cabins expecting we'd need to retreat to them and spend most of our vacation there (and we did). On silversea we were near the bottom of the categories and were concerned about that, but the room (vista balcony) was fine for the 11 days on board and the public areas of the ship were good enough, and quiet enough, that we could spend more time out of it. The room layout is wonderful, great use of space, clever closet, lovely bathroom. The housekeeping staff kept it in fine condition the whole week. We loved the service. This set the cruise apart from other cruises we'd been on. The staff got to know you, they figured out your likes and dislikes early on and that's good service. Like most people we had a favorite waiter in the restaurant. We felt the staff were all trained to the same standard, clearly Silversea didn't just put people on a ship and expect them to figure it out. The restaurant staff learned what we liked to eat, the deck staff quickly learned what I liked to drink, that's service. We found the food to be of a consistently high standard. It surpasses that on the other cruises we'd taken and we felt that it would be hard to deliver better on board a cruise ship. We didn't mess about asking for odd things, we took it as it came and were happy. As it was an asian cruise we'd have appreciated more asian food choices, just for fun, the impression was that the food was independent of the cruise, a little flexibility would be nice. Included alcohol was welcome and we thought the wine choices were good. We tried La Terazza one night and somehow it disappointed, the service was a mess, food was nice though. I used the internet daily and was pretty impressed that a ship managed to keep up a sold connection almost all the time. I probably spent 2 hours a day working and had very few problems. It wasn't cheap, but it's a necessary evil and I wouldn't cruise on a ship which didn't have it. I note that in-room wireless access is one of the post-drydock features .. I'd have liked that, although working in the forward lounge was fun, if I sail on the whisper again, I hope I don't use the in-room internet too much. I also put on the comment card that the whole ship needed LDC TVs because the old CRT ones were useless in a metal ship, I gather that too is being done in drydock, that's a plus. We didn't like the cruise director much, but a lot of people seemed to. See the comment below about 'young cruisers'. We didn't expect to like the entertainment a whole lot and ... we really didn't. This was expected when we booked, we watched DVDs in our room and that was more our taste. Definitely understand that a cruise line can't cater for every taste and we're perhaps not the target market. We found the staff in the gym/spa to be great. The fitness director on this cruise was so passionate about the subject I was finally, after 20 years of laziness, spurred into fitness action and I'm still going. If we had a complaint at all it was that the crew didn't seem to quite know how to deal with younger cruisers. I'm early 40s, my wife mid 30s and asian. We didn't get quite the personal treatment some other travellers received from the senior staff, table by the kitchen unless you asked not, nothing very special on our anniversary (noted that everyone on board had something special that week, so you can't all dine with the captain), cruise director didn't really stop by to say hi. At the same time we found the younger cruise staff very open and friendly so perhaps what we lost with the senior staff, we gained at the other end. The younger staff work very hard indeed, and with a smile and for us their attitude made the whole cruise. Silversea blew us away, really, there are always things can be done better, but we relaxed and we got off the ship wanting to go back, relaxed and happy. yes we're comparing with mass-market lines as that's what we'd done before, but the step up in quality and staff attitude was key to us really relaxing. We're planning our next cruise and looking at other lines too but it's hard to not go back, it's certainly hard to choose any line back down market. We read that the whisper is going for drydock and being tweaked and that really makes us feel that we need to return. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2007
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 ... Read More
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 assortment of 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: http://pictures.aol.com/galleries/dafne478965 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! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2007
This was our second voyage on Silversea, the first was last September on Shadow doing the inside passage in Alaska. While we immensely enjoyed that trip we thought the ship was a bit tired and the weather (clearly not under Silversea ... Read More
This was our second voyage on Silversea, the first was last September on Shadow doing the inside passage in Alaska. While we immensely enjoyed that trip we thought the ship was a bit tired and the weather (clearly not under Silversea control) was not very accommodating. This trip was to celebrate my retirement and our wedding anniversary. We embarked at Monte Carlo after spending two nights at the Fairmont Hotel there, a completely satisfactory hotel. We opted for early embarkation and took a taxi to the ship around 12 Noon. We were met at the gangway by a young man who escorted us to the reception area on the fifth level of Whisper. In moments we had our pictures taken and our silver key cards issued. Our cabin was ready and our escort took us there directly. We found everything in perfect order -- from the welcoming chilled champagne to the specific liquors we had ordered on our pre-boarding information form. We had a Silver Suite on Shadow and, while the Veranda Suite was just fine, we missed the extra space provided by a Silver Suite. We went to lunch in the dining room, where there were a few other early boarders, and had a delightful lunch. This was the first of many excellent dining experiences. My wife went back into Monte Carlo for some last minute shopping and I explored the ship. I recalled that some areas on the sister ship, Silver Shadow, were a bit worn. Not so on Whisper. There was not a torn or faded carpet or piece of upholstery to be found. By the time my wife returned the luggage had arrived and we unpacked. I also set out to make reservations for dinner at La Terraza one evening and at Le Champagne for the evening of our anniversary. These could both be booked at La Terraza after 3 PM. I also asked to be put on the waitlist for a second evening at La Terraza. It turned out that did not develop but we were not disappointed to eat the other five evenings in The Restaurant. I do find the reservation process for the two alternate restaurants a bit odd, but I knew it worked this way from Shadow and went along with their system. The meals in each of the dining rooms were excellent. Le Champagne was way over the top and a real special treat for our anniversary. The wait staff through out were most friendly and charming and, much to our delight, Leanne who had been our favorite waitress on Shadow was on this cruise and we sat in her area each evening in The Restaurant. For lunch we alternated between the buffet in The Terrace (odd how the name changes for the breakfast and lunch buffets) and eating by the pool. Great hamburgers, there. Each evening we began with drinks in the bar or, our preference when it was open, The Panorama Lounge on deck 8. Shore excursions were a mixed experience. We did a lovely tour of Rapallo and Santa Margherita. The weather turned nasty for our drive on the Amalfi Coast. Pisa was interesting and well worth the drive. And we loved the guides who took us to the ruins at Pompeii. The weather the last two nights at sea was very rough with high seas and much tossing and turning (both the ship and yours truly). And then we were at the port near Rome, where we left Silver Whisper for a few nights in the city of Rome -- which we arranged on our own. Disembarkation was smooth as silk. All in all, a wonderful cruise on a most lovely vessel. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
This was our 2nd Silversea's cruise, the first being on the Shadow in the summer of 2006 which did not meet our expectations. Now onto the Whisper, although an identical ship the whole package was just so, so fantastic and why so much ... Read More
This was our 2nd Silversea's cruise, the first being on the Shadow in the summer of 2006 which did not meet our expectations. Now onto the Whisper, although an identical ship the whole package was just so, so fantastic and why so much better than the Shadow my wife and I will never know.I would like to add that all reviews are " In our opinion "and would like to trust that all future cruisers with Silversea's might expect the same,we do hope so. Our short cruise was an 8 day from Dubai to Mumbai which included an overnight on the ship in Dubai and Mumbai, call at 2 ports in Oman and 1 in the U.A.E.. We made our own air arrangements with British Airways and stayed for 1 night pre cruise in Le Meridian airport hotel in Dubai.This hotel avoids the traffic of the beach hotels is of a fine quality with some excellent places to eat, we choose the " Seafood Market " which was superb. My wife and I paid the extra $100 pp early embarkation fee which was well worth the cost as you have to vacate the hotel by noon. Greeted with a glass of champagne and told our suite would be ready around 1.30 pm we boarded at 10.30 am, no problem ,we made our way to a bar and within 15 minutes we are informed that our suite was ready and shown to our room. Our suite was spotless and well maintained during our cruise, after leaving Dubai the bar was stocked with our choices of spirits and beer with no complaints in this department. We opted for a basic veranda suite which was very spacious with a walk in closet, separate bath and shower and a "his"and "hers" double wash basins.All in all the suite would be fine for a much longer cruise. The ship on our cruise was about 95% full with a passenger list of 365 and a crew count of 297 by anyones' standards that is a good ratio for the guests. The service in every area was superb,faultless and gracious with many crew members addressing you by name, knowing your preferences in food and drink and treating you with great respect. With the exception of one bland white fish dish,the food was bordering on gourmet.Where ever you ate it was an un hurried service and the food was delivered with excellence.You can order off of the menu with a little notice and this proved to me to had had one of the best Beef Tatares I have ever tasted. You can find out about all of the ships facilities on the web or brochures so there is little need for me to go on. In the U.K.Silversea Cruises are one of travels best kept secrets, this is a real shame as this Six Star product with the weak $$$$ is good value for British clients.I have worked out that if you do a like for like cruise matching cabin size and are a moderate social drinker with the big lines such as Celebrity then a cruise on the four ships of Silverseas' is much better value. On board there are no trashy "Art Auctions" no " Inch of Gold " no "Snowball Bingo" just a fantastic feeling of being spoilt,why not. I just hope that the company can keep it up with the expansion plans with the much larger new build due in 2009, fingers crossed. The only small downside is the lack of quality entertainment, the 4 piece band were awful and seem to be where ever you were, not really a problem. From this review it may look like a work for Silverseas', I do not but wish I did because I could increase their U.K. market but a hugh amount. Please feel free to Mail me if you have any further questions about the product,it was and is industry leading. Chris Willett Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2007
On arrival at the ship at around 3:30pm we checked in the suitcases and made our way to the ship. Signage was excellent and security formalities handled quickly. Check-in and door passes issued, we made our way to our suite, one of the ... Read More
On arrival at the ship at around 3:30pm we checked in the suitcases and made our way to the ship. Signage was excellent and security formalities handled quickly. Check-in and door passes issued, we made our way to our suite, one of the Silver Suites, #730. Suite itself described by my significant other as "cosy", which over the years has come to mean "cramped". However, everything in order, champagne on ice so time to relax a little. Suitcases arrived in good time and were unpacked in ready anticipation. Then, just as you think things are going well, it's time for dinner. On arrival at the main dining room, the normal attempt at pretentious rubbish, the proffered arm for the lady to be escorted to the table whilst the man trundles along behind like some spare part. Comical to see, yet accepted by most, though not my wife I'm happy to say. First table we were shown to was around half a meter from a service station with plates crashing etc etc. We were moved to a quieter table, but it begs the question of why any table is positioned thus. There are only a few comments I can make about the food and wine that evening. Inedible and undrinkable, in that order. We did order marinated shrimp, but it appears that long dead frozen shrimps left to marinate for a few days then air dried for a week are pretty tough. In the end we settled for a salad, we felt it safer to have something that, in theory, the "chef" did not have to cook. The wine was appalling. It transpired some days later that a container of wine did not get loaded in Singapore so the choices were limited. Again, my only comment is that the poor quality served up should not have been on a supposed 6 star ship in the first place. On the second evening we tried the Terrazza, which is actually the Terrace breakfast/lunch buffet by day but is changed to a passingly acceptable Italian by night. Given that we had no desire to eat at the food factory, sorry "The Restaurant" ever again, we made reservations to eat at Terrazza and Champagne for the remainder of the trip. Sadly though, the poor quality wines followed us down to Terrazza but at least sommelier Robin tried his best. Most nights we ordered from the wine list (at our cost) just to get something drinkable. Having cried off the food factory, we were invited to the Cruise Directors table for dinner on the third evening, so reluctantly accepted. It was embarrassing to be served the same quality of food and wine as before, touching little and trying to smile at the same time. Probably the most laughable part is that Vin du Pays is presented with the gusto of a Grand Cru. Actually, that is probably the psychology for the most part, tell people it's great and who are they, mere mortals, to disagree? As a way of rounding up on the food and wine in general, I would say that La Terrazza was variable in quality. Service generally good and a nice, relaxed atmosphere. A tendency to try a bit too hard, but overall OK (except for the shark meat or similar that was presented to us as scallops one evening. Even the chef admitted they were not scallops but "it's what they send us"). The daytime use of the space, The Terrace, offers a buffet breakfast and lunch. Breakfast was marginal with again poor quality the general rule, the fresh fruit and smoked salmon in particular being about as cheap as could be found. Lunch buffet? Once and once only. Appalling. Still, whatever they had left over arrived in the room later that day as canapes. I kid you not. La Champagne, where we ate 5 times in all, was again unnecessarily pretentious, but the staff lighted up a bit once you get to know them and they understood what sort of experience you wanted. Aziz in particular is very knowledgeable, though I have a feeling that new chef Paul will not last long, he is a proper chef and I'm not sure cooking to a formula will satisfy his creative instincts. Still, for the time being, nicely cooked food, even if the presentation formula is 15 years behind the times. And that seems to sum up much of our feeling about this ship, behind the times. Technology No iPod connection to the in-suite hi-fi, no way to contact suite stewardess (other ships we have been on have pagers), reams of paper every day (hope it gets re-cycled) Whatever happened to inter-active TV? Almost every airline can do it, why not the supposed cream of the cruise lines? Entertainment In general, the on-board activities were very poor. OK, if needlework, bridge, knitting and bingo are your thing you'll feel right at home here. Latin dance class? Only useful if you've spent your entire life immobile, the "instructor" had no idea whatsoever. My wife (the dancer) just laughed. Wine tasting? Given the offerings with meals, why try to understand a wine with no redeeming features whatsoever (OK apart from cooking, and that was marginal) We went to a couple of the evening shows in the theatre, one OK but the second was a fiasco. Part way through, the raised section of floor started lowering, throwing the musicians into disarray, even the piano went. We left never to return. It does seem that on a smaller ship like this, the entertainment options are limited, though having the Cruise Director demeaning the position by "doing a turn" smacks of cost cutting in the extreme. And so to the resident entertainers, the Silver Whisper Quartet and Mario. Playing "old favorites" (in Mario's case, trying to play)but dare I say it, favorites of a departed generation. Although "considering retirement" my music generation favorites were The Stones, Pink Floyd etc. Difficult to call something from before you were born an old favorite. Understand that some people may like this, but a lot do not. One redeeming feature were the presentations from Michael Bourke. Not someone who had ever appealed, he proved to be witty and knowledgeable. So, onto more about the cruise itself. The destinations, on paper, looked to be interesting though we had been to most places in Australia many times before. However, it did appear as though nobody from Silversea had visited some of the destinations, had they done so they would have realized that there was no good reason to make a stop. Karimunjawa : A small resort island where we huddled under trees in the rain trying not to get water in the already watery Pina Colada. Semarang : Fascinating trip to Borobudur, though a long drive. Darwin : Nice half day trip to the Territory Wildlife Park Thursday Island : A joke, no reason whatsoever to stop here. Cairns : Best trip, through the rainforest by cable car and back by train. Hamilton Island : No reason whatsoever to stop here. Brisbane : Seemed a few interesting tours, but we chose shopping. Sydney : Best stop as it was where we got off. Finally, I cannot finish this summary without commenting on the problems associated with the suite itself. On the first morning, and every morning thereafter, at between 6 and 6:30 am, sun loungers were dragged across the pool deck making a horrendous noise. For most suites, not a problem. However, look at certain suites that are located directly below the open deck area and you will see that any noise is transmitted, and amplified. Suite #730 is a classic case in point. Complaints to the hotel director, along with requests for sleep during party times where herds of elephants danced on the ceiling, were met with a stony stare and no action. Seems that routine cannot change and the collective "we" is far more important than the individual. Anyone reading this should be aware of these problems. Similarly, there was a leakage of water from the shower drain into the wardrobe area. We reported it but every day had to place towels on the floor to avoid stepping in wet areas. All in all, if you play bingo, eat frozen food, enjoy cheap wine, like being woken at 6am to visit islands that are closed for the day, then I'm sure Silversea is the cruise line for you. Personally speaking, never, ever, again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2008
Silver Whisper - Singapore to Dubai - 29th March - 13th April 2008 This was our second cruise on SilverSea, and our second on the Silver Whisper. A year ago we did the Bangkok - Singapore leg and enjoyed it immensely. The ship seemed ... Read More
Silver Whisper - Singapore to Dubai - 29th March - 13th April 2008 This was our second cruise on SilverSea, and our second on the Silver Whisper. A year ago we did the Bangkok - Singapore leg and enjoyed it immensely. The ship seemed to be in good condition. Since we last cruised on her the old analog TVs have been replaced by flat panels, and they really were just replaced, the position hasn't changed at all, placed oddly rather high up. Those TVs work much better and aren't affected by the metal of the ship. The gym has been extended into a piece of the observation lounge and more machines added. This is a good change as, especially on sea days, the old gym was full to the brim. Some people we spoke to did think the ship was a little bit tired, and perhaps some of the carpets need changing in the heavy use areas, they told us that a few of their bathroom and other fittings gave them some problems. Our room was issue-free. Whisper has a new Cruise Director, Simon Heath, whom we greatly preferred over the last CD we had. He's British, with a very dry and self-deprecating sense of humor. He and the the rest of the entertainment staff were a very good team and really made the cruise fun, especially as we had 5 sea-days on this itinerary. Entertainment was ok and people seemed to enjoy everyone except the magician they brought on board halfway, he totally bombed and his second show was replaced by something else at the last minute. Overall good shows, I am looking forward to the return of the larger cast shows .. I gather they are coming back. Food and drink we thought was a notch worse than last year. We felt that SilverSea had been making cuts in the budget and it showed. Now food is very personal and I'm sure you can have good and bad cruises on the same ship in different weeks, but we weren't blown away as we were last year. We met one couple who refused to dine at The Restaurant at all after the first day, we met others who'd had a bad meal at La Terrazzo and wouldn't go back there. We tried both, had some good, some great and some quite poor meals. Similarly the wines served were only mediocre, it felt again like the budget had been cut and there were more recent vintages than before and a couple of quite poor wines. We found a nice white about 1/2 way through the cruise and then stuck to it for many of the rest of the evenings. The waiters were happy to bring it for us every time we asked. House champagne was Pommery or Nicholas Feuillatte, both quite drinkable. As has been pointed out on the SilverSea board, there is no longer house caviar, you want it, you buy it. One of our fellow cruisers told us that you just needed to order a 'caviar canape' and you could get that daily on the house and it was basically the same thing, however they were 200 night cruisers so perhaps they got a little leeway .. The staff were all excellent, even better than last year and we loved the staff then. There's nothing they wouldn't do for you or help you with and they were friendly, cheerful and .. they are SilverSea's best asset. We were craving thai food badly by the end of the cruise and asked if the chef could cook us some, we produced a recipe, he put together a very passable thai curry. I could give 100 examples of great service and not one single example of bad service the whole two weeks. Overall we loved the cruise and were sad to get off, of course. We'll definitely sail SilverSea again. They need to watch the food side of things, if they are cutting budgets there, that's a mistake, people are noticing and there were grumblings about it all week. They have the ships, they have the staff and the staff were so good it probably made up for the drop in quality in the kitchen, but it would be good if they get that back up to scratch too. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
Silver Whisper: Dubai to Athens, 4/20/08 - 5/5/08 Embarkation. It was a hot Sunday in Dubai and by mid-morning we were out of touring options, seriously jet lagged, with five hours to kill before our scheduled boarding. We hadn't ... Read More
Silver Whisper: Dubai to Athens, 4/20/08 - 5/5/08 Embarkation. It was a hot Sunday in Dubai and by mid-morning we were out of touring options, seriously jet lagged, with five hours to kill before our scheduled boarding. We hadn't purchased an early boarding permit but we decided to call the Silversea port agent to see if we could show up at the ship, pay the $100 per person fee, and proceed on board early. He said yes. By noon we were cheerfully received and directed to The Restaurant for a leisurely, delightful lunch. All the wait staff ambled over to our table to introduce themselves and welcome us aboard. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that when you board early they attempt to get you to your cabin early. By the end of lunch our cabin on deck eight was ready. We were unpacked and sipping our complimentary champagne when general boarding commenced. Under the circumstances we decided the $200 we splurged to board early was well spent. We would have spent $60pp for food and drink waiting at our hotel. For me, embarkation gets an A+. The Ship. We were immensely impressed with the Silver Whisper. She is totally comfortable, spotless, and in top condition. Her public rooms are spacious and richly appointed without seeming the least bit stuffy and well disbursed throughout the ship so we never experienced a sense of crowding. We had 375 passengers on board but it seemed like only 75. Our standard cabin was excellent, ample space and storage, a very comfortable bed, and a large bath with double sinks and a separate tub and shower. The cabin furnishings were a bit worn, but in a homey comfortable sense. Getting about the ship was initially a bit of a challenge since some areas are accessible only by forward stairs and elevators and others by the aft stairs and elevators. But after charging down occasional dead ends, we mastered the territory and grew to love the ship's layout. For me, the ship gets an A+. She isn't new, but she wears her years oh so well! Service. I have never experienced service of this quality. When we boarded early, the staff at Reception all but cheered. The waiters in The Restaurant were warm, welcoming, totally genuine and determined (successfully) to remember our names from that moment forward. Our cabin attendants treated us like visiting VIPs. They were simply perfection throughout the cruise. We found our cabin a bit warm when we moved in and inquired about the air conditioning. An engineer was quickly dispatched and determined, cheerfully, it was fine. The next morning, returning from breakfast, we encountered three teams of attendants working the cabins on our deck eight. They all knew us. They all stopped what they were doing to ask about our air conditioning. (It was fine.) This wasn't an accident. This was Silversea's commitment to passenger service at work. Wow! That evening, I walked into the Panorama Lounge after the show and ordered a cognac. This was our second night on the ship. My cognac was delivered in thirty seconds. My response: "That was fast!" My waitress casually responded: "The bartender saw you walk in." Business as usual!!!! That quality of service continued throughout our journey. In my opinion, A++. How could it get better? Ports of Call. We usually decline ship's tours when we cruise to avoid Jake Snake from Serpent, Idaho who inevitably finds his way on to our bus. But given this itinerary, we decided to make this cruise an exception. We stuck with the ship's tours and we're glad we did. Jake found us only once, on our four-hour tour of Fujairah. (He snuck on the bus as a Brazilian in drag.) The tours were generally quite well done. We were highly impressed seeing the Whisper's Tour Desk personnel not only present but actively involved in all the tours. They were friendly, knowledgeable, and eager to please. Best Tour Desk we have experienced by far! Dubai was, for me, a good place to get over jet lag, once. It's a massive desert construction zone with a flicker of native culture apparent if you look hard for it. We did a fascinating desert safari trip that was a gas—an hour of navigating desert sand dunes in a Range Rover with its tires partially deflated followed by dinner and belly dancing under the stars in a "native encampment." Our evening in the desert ended with an unplanned moment of magic. We were the first of about fifty Range Rovers to leave the encampment. As we drove in darkness across the sands a herd of several dozen camels appeared in our headlights, their ghost-like images a majestic and unforgettable sight. The camels proceeded calmly toward and around us on their way back to camp. (Daytime versions of the desert safari were offered as shore tours in Fujairah and Sharm El-Sheikh.) If you have unlimited amounts of money to squander, Dubai is ready and able to help you do it. If you like shopping for mostly familiar consumer goods in giant awesome ultra lavish shopping malls, you will find bliss in Dubai. If you like lounging on a beach or poolside, dozens of impressive five star properties are at your disposal in Dubai with many more on the way. For us, a day on the Ho Ho bus and an evening in the desert was enough. Our first two ports of call were half-day stops, Fujairah, U.A.E, and Salalah, Oman. Both are beach resorts serving, largely, citizens of nearby nations. The ship's tours we took gave us a nice overview of what little there was to see. The busses were only half full and the guides pretty good. Some folks were disappointed but I didn't expect much and thought our four hours on shore was time well spent. It was like turning down a new road on a car trip just to see where it went. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was another matter entirely. It was an exotic, dramatic, highly memorable travel experience. Our sense of anticipation began several months before the cruise when Silversea alerted us to the fact that all women must wear an abaya in order the leave the ship. Several days before our arrival in Jeddah, the Tour Director gave us a thirty minute briefing (some would call it a rant) on the Jeddah stop. Not only did he reiterate dress requirements, he cited a laundry list of "stipulations" that would apply to all of us while in Saudi waters—all alcohol would be confiscated and placed under lock and key in the hold; strict manifests would be maintained for each tour bus; a variety of documents would need to be completed for each passenger for presentation to Saudi authorities upon arrival; our on shore tour the travel guides might not measure up to the standards we expect from Silversea since we would be only the third cruise ship to call at Jeddah; any infractions discovered by Saudi authorities, particularly the religious police, would prompt severe penalties, (The Cloud, which had visited Jeddah about three weeks ahead of us, received a $10,000 fine and was threatened with impoundment because a half bottle of wine was discovered in a crew cabin.), the Saudis were oh so difficult to deal with, and on it went. By the time we boarded our busses in Jeddah we were as excited and apprehensive as our mother hen Tour Director. The guide on our bus wasn't much but was better than we had been lead to expect and somewhat of a jovial chap. His surprise of the morning: he informed all the abaya clad ladies "we Saudis aren't all that formal. Don't bother to cover your hair." Our first stop was the Qomosani House. To say this was a modest facility would be drowning it in praise. Then we were treated to a brief walk through the fascinating streets of old Jeddah, Al-Balad, to see some of the remaining early architecture. Next we proceeded on foot to the grand souk for more than an hour of independent shopping and people watching. I loved every minute of it. We then boarded the bus and drove along the Corniche, the new, modern waterfront of Jeddah stretching for many miles. It is punctuated with dozens of huge pieces of quite striking modern sculpture, a source of justifiable pride for the Saudis. From this point, those who booked a half-day trip were taken to the local fish market and then back to the ship. Unfortunately, the moment the half-day folks pulled up to the fish market the mid-day call to prayer began. They spent thirty minutes cooling their heels in the parking lot while the Saudis tended to Allah. The delay caused them to miss lunch back on the ship. Understandably, they were an unhappy lot. Meanwhile, we had booked a full day tour so we were taken to a modern elegant Lebanese restaurant in a fancy neighborhood close to the Corniche for a dining experience I will never forget. Teams of young waiters descended upon us serving eighteen separate entrEes family style at tables of eight. It took two hours for us to devour this magnificent feast. The problem was the first entrEe was excellent and all that followed kept getting better. We departed the restaurant the happiest of sated campers. Then on to a most surprising and incongruous stop. We were taken to a fashion design studio, a women's studio in a land where women show only their hands and eyes in public. What a hoot watching dudes in dish-dashes touting sexy lingerie and related items of high fashion. Not a Saudi woman in site unless you count manikins! Go figure! Then we proceeded on to the Abdul Raouf Khalil's Museum. This magnificent facility is a beautiful and meticulously restored private mansion. It contains three stories of brilliantly presented art and artifacts of Saudi culture and history. I am not a museum person but I wanted much more time here. Our Tour Director said Silversea is considering this museum as a future "special Silversea event" site. They couldn't do better. We were then hustled off to the local fish market which, at four in the afternoon, was well past its prime and then back to the ship. The Jeddah stop, in my opinion, was worth all the angst Silversea experienced in offering it to us. It was timely, truly unique, and exceptionally well done particularly in light of the "special circumstances" the Saudis currently impose on visiting cruise ships. I am sure Silversea will tweak the half-day itinerary to correct blatant deficiencies and all future visitors to Jeddah will be in for a treat.. We got our booze back at about 7:00 p.m., the moment we departed Saudi waters. Nirvana! Our overnight to Luxor was quite well done. It's a three hour bus ride each way in a scheduled caravan with armed escort and an armed "minder" who catches up on his sleep on each bus. When you reach the Nile valley, about an hour before arriving at Luxor, you are treated to views of the Egypt that has existed for five thousand years. Fascinating. The temples of Karnak and Luxor are awesome, along with Petra the focal point of the cruise. No one was disappointed. Our hotel was the five-star Sonesta. It should have been called the Construction Zone since they were in the process of adding three new floors to the top of it. It was ok for one night, great setting right on the Nile. We were offered three beautiful, lavish but flavorless buffet meals. I found the Valley of the Kings to be annoying because of the crowds. Seeing one magnificent tomb was enough for me. Our guide, a university professor of antiquities from Cairo who was flown in by Silversea exclusively for this tour, was simply sensational. His commentary in excellent English perfectly embellished the sights and sounds of Egypt. I've never experienced better. We drove to Luxor thinking this would be our first and last visit to Egypt. We drove back to the ship determined to return. In our opinion, Petra is equal to all the superlatives applied to it. We will visit it again so we can enjoy it in the early morning before the crowds arrive and again in the evening twilight. Our tour was well done and the drive to Petra much more interesting than I had anticipated. Sharm el-Sheikh is a popular, tried and true resort stop, beautiful beaches with world class diving opportunities. We skipped a ship's tour here and had a good time simply walking the beach. The final highlight of our cruise was the Suez Canal passage. It was great fun rising early to view scores of ships waiting to take their place in our northbound caravan. I had planned to do a video piece entitled "Images on the Suez Canal." Unfortunately, I discovered while really interesting images are there to see they are few and far between since the canal is nothing more than a lengthy ditch cut through the desert. The world will have to wait for a more patient videographer to produce "Images." The ports and tours get an A. Entertainment. I've always assumed the larger the ship the better the entertainment. The Whisper reminded me not necessarily so. I was totally pleased by the entertainment offered on board. During the first half of the cruise we were entertained by a magician, an excellent Irish flautist, an equally excellent singer-impressionist as well as our Cruise Director Simon Heath, a respectable singer himself. On the second half of the cruise, Simon was joined by a pair of versatile pianists, a superb vocalist and an excellent violinist. The Silver Whisper Quartet played daily on the Pool Deck at lunch, before and after dinner in The Bar, and ably backed up several of the entertainers. They were versatile and most enjoyable. And our lounge lizard was also a solid performer. We weren't offered a production show but I didn't expect it or miss it. One of the highlights of this cruise was our Enrichment Lecturer, Dr. Richard Atkins. A retired academic and brilliant speaker, his presentations on Islam, Saudi Arabia, "The Curse of Oil," our Greek and Roman cultural heritage and the Suez Canal perfectly enhanced our tour experiences. His lectures were very well attended and enthusiastically received. Best lecturer I've experienced on a cruise ship! Our Guest Chef, Jeffrey Bates, was, to me, a disappointment. His presentations were a mix of thirty minutes of tedious patter with fifteen minutes of cooking demonstration. I probably expect too much since I regularly watch the stars do this stuff really well on the Food Channel. I loved the fact that his demonstrations ended with a stream of waiters passing out a taster plate to everyone in the audience. Overall, the entertainment and enhancement package gets yet another A. The Dining Experience. I regret I must rate the dining experience on Whisper only a B. When it was good it was very good indeed. And it was frequently very good. On our first formal night, dinner was perfection: caviar, assiette of artichokes, fresh lobster, and a magnificent chocolate plate. The chef was bolder with flavoring than most ship chef's we've experienced, with outstanding results. But the galley produced far too many failures for a luxury cruise. Here are a few examples. One night, three at our table were served beautifully plated empty mussel shells. On another night, two at our table were served souffles that were so undercooked they were runny on the bottom. On another night, one person was served an ice cream dessert that was so melted the ice cream had lost its shape. I ordered a medium rare sirloin steak. It was tasteless and served at nearly room temperature and well done. The Spanakopita was all filo dough, almost no filling. At our last dinner, I was served risotto that was flavorless because it had been rushed. You can't rush risotto. And three folks at our table ordered the pork tenderloin and ate only one bite. Furthermore, the wait staff were consistently superb but frequently too rushed. During one lunch we noticed our wonderful Bulgarian waitress literally running in order to keep up. That shouldn't happen. That afternoon there was one sommelier serving the entire dining room. She fell woefully behind. The sommeliers on Whisper are instructed to fill your wine glass no more than a third full. That's ok by me. But the policy requires the sommeliers to make frequent table visits in order to keep up. Our wine glasses remained empty much of the time because the sommelier had no hope of keeping up. Unacceptable! We met lots of Silversea regulars on this cruise. All with the exception of one English couple agreed the galley had problems and assured us this was an exception to the rule. The delightful English couple thought the galley was doing just fine. Disembarkation. The marvelous crew of Whisper made leaving the ship as painless as possible. The luggage was promptly transferred to the Athens terminal. They then hovered around the gangway offering to carry anything we had in our hands. I was more than able to handle my camera. Crew members stood every few hundred feet lining the route to our luggage. Everyone was off the ship by nine. Another A for the Whisper. This was our first Silversea cruise. We loved every bit of it and plan to book another Silversea cruise in the near future. We are Regent regulars and found Silversea to be a worthy competitor indeed. The larger Regent ships offer a few more entertainment and dining options than Whisper, but less of the sense of intimacy we enjoyed on Whisper. While Regent service is excellent, we found the service on Silversea even better. This was most noticeable at the Reception and Tour Desks. The dining experience on Regent is consistently excellent. That wasn't the case on Whisper but Silversea regulars aboard convinced us to give Silversea another try and that we will! 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Sail Date: June 2008
I had cruised with my Mother two year's prior on the Silver Cloud for her 70th birthday. We went to similar ports - Nice to Rome, in October of 2006. My mother and I had such a great time on that cruise, that my husband wanted to give ... Read More
I had cruised with my Mother two year's prior on the Silver Cloud for her 70th birthday. We went to similar ports - Nice to Rome, in October of 2006. My mother and I had such a great time on that cruise, that my husband wanted to give it a try. So, we booked the Silver Whisper, Rome to Monte Carlo, but this time we chose high season in June. Both cruises were great in their own ways. My husband and I booked the cruise through our Travel Agent, but we arranged our own air travel using Delta points. Prior to our departure, we filled out our preboarding information on the Silver Sea website. Our sailing vouchers were mailed to us by our travel agent a few weeks in advance. We flew into Rome a couple of days prior to the cruise and stayed at the Rome Airport Hilton. We made the hotel arrangements independently using Hilton points. The Hilton is conveniently located within walking distance of the terminal. It was very easy to get to, and upon check in, we were upgraded to the concierge level, which had complimentary breakfast and food and beverages, including a great espresso machine, during the day. The Hilton also offers a complimentary shuttle service into Rome's City Center, which we used each day. We also took advantage of the train system in Rome to get from point to point, and we walked a lot. Rome is a very easy city to get around to see the sights. At the end of the day, we met back up with the Hilton shuttle bus at the city center at the appointed time, and it took us back to our hotel. On the morning of the cruise, we checked out of the hotel and took the shuttle bus once again into Rome. Then we took a short cab ride to the designated Silver Sea Bernini Hotel, where we met up with the Silver Sea transfer coordinator. We had arranged for the group transfer to the port, which was very convenient. Within 90 minutes we were at the port, and we were able to board right away. The Silver Sea personnel greeted us with smiles and welcome wishes, and one of them escorted us to our room. Our maid was waiting to greet us, as well. She was very friendly and lovely and very helpful. She stocked our fridge with beverages that we prefer, and also brought any alcohol to our room for the trip that we preferred to drink. Our cabin suite was ready, and we dropped off our carry on luggage. We had met another couple on the transfer bus, and we met up with them to explore the ship. We also immediately went to La Terrazzo, the Italian restaurant to make reservations for dinner that night. Our travel agent arranged to have a fresh fruit, chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne waiting for us in our room upon arrival. A very nice touch! We had purchased a Vista suite with a large window but no balcony, and this was perfect for us. We tend not to linger in our room, and so a balcony would have been waited on us. Our luggage arrived within the first 30 minutes after boarding, and we started to unpack. There was plenty of storage, and our luggage fit under the bed. The walk in closet was spacious, too. During the trip, beds were turned down nightly while we were at dinner, and Godiva chocolates were left on our bed. We also had daily newspaper and ship's chronicles pointing out sights and daily schedules, left at our door daily. Mandatory life boat drill was before departure and took about 15min. Entertainment: We enjoyed the broadway singer, the Italian classical pianist and the quartet that played in the lounge at night. Our first day was at sea, the weather was perfect. We spent the day at the pool. I think that there were about 300 passengers on the ship, and it never felt crowded. Food and Service in the main dining room was excellent across the board. We also enjoyed breakfast in La Terrazzo. It was great to eat on the deck outside of the restaurant and watch as we pulled into port. We also enjoyed the one night that we dined there. The pasta was amazing! The lunches by the pool were great, as well. Room service was always on time. Food hot, order correct. We also love that we could order anything at anytime. My husband ordered a vanilla milkshake and chocolate covered strawberries almost daily, and it was always brought to our room quickly. Although, one day they brought vanilla milk and not a milk shake. A minor mistake. Dress - Everyone dressed well aboard the ship. I normally where jeans at home, and didn't pack any for this trip. Everyone dressed a notch above the norm. On formal night, most men wore tuxedos and women wore gowns and cocktail dresses. On casual nights, everyone was somewhat dressed up, too - no gowns or tuxedos on casual night, though. Malta: I had been to Malta before, so I knew not to book an excursion here. Instead, we hired a car and driver for 4 hours to tour the island. It was very easy to do, as there are plenty of cars waiting by the port. We shared the car with another couple - the new friends that we had met on the transfer bus - and it only ended up costing about $50 pp. By doing this, we also saw all of the island, instead of just one or two sights. The most fun thing to do was to go to the Blue Grotto by small boat. We also enjoyed Mdina, the Dinlgi Cliffs, Marsaxlokk - where we shopped for linens, and the ruins of the temple of Hagar Qim. Downtown Valetta is nothing much to see, except for St. John's Cathedral - well worth seeing. Sicily: We took the excursion here to Taormina. What a beautiful, charming city! There are tons of quaint shops and the tour of the ancient theater and views of Mt. Etna - which was active - was not to be missed. Lunch was fabulous, too. This was a good excursion. Sorrento & the Amalfi Coast: What can I say? This was a fantastic port! We decided to rent motor scooters and drive the Amalfi Coast to Positano on our own. We went with our friends and had a blast. We wanted to also go to Ravello, but didn't have enough time to do both on scooters, as we took too much time shopping and eating in Positano. It was a beautiful town. I will say, though, that riding motor scooters down the coast is not advisable, as the locals are crazy drivers! We saw 3 accidents that day. Corsica - We did the excursion here to Bonafacio. Our tour guide was great and very knowledgeable about the history of Corsica. She was funny and we thoroughly enjoyed her talks. We also loved Corsica and Bonafacio. Note - this was my second time to Corsica. It is a huge island and very mountainous. It is impossible to see the whole island in one day or even two, because of the terrain. The last time I was there it took an entire day to get from Ajaccio to Calvi and back, although on the map they look very close to each other. It is advisable to do an excursion here with a guide who knows their way around. Florence - This was my second time to Florence. It has to be one of my all time favorite cities. The museums, the food, the shopping...al wonderful! I could spend several days here. We did the group transfer from the ship to Florence and back, and spent the day on our own. It was great! Monte Carlo - We didn't spend time here, as we had to go back home and had an early flight. So, we decided to book a helicopter transfer to fly over Monaco and the South of France Coast to Nice. We booked the transfer through Heli Air Monaco, and they picked us up at the ship right on time at 8:45am. By 9:00am we were airborne and on our way to the Nice Airport. It was a great flight. It only took 10 minutes and we were at our terminal. The Heli Air Monaco ground crew met us at the Helicopter and drove us right to the terminal doors. In a matter on minutes, we were at the check in counter. I highly recommend this transfer from Monaco to Nice, instead of a cab or bus. It's fun, fast, relatively inexpensive and efficient! Flight home was on Delta through JFK. It was comfortable, but we had a 3 hour delay getting out of JFK due to weather. Typical of JFK on a Sunday night. In conclusion: I would highly recommend Silver Sea and would sail with them again. Difference between the Silver Cloud and the Silver Whisper cruises - There were a few differences between the ships. I found the lay out of the Silver Cloud to be more "cruiser friendly" - in that you could walk straight down the hall on deck 4 to from the rooms to the dining room, and on the Whisper you had to go up a flight down the hall and down a flight again. Also, I found that the crew on the Cloud tried to memorize names, and the crew on the Whisper did not. It wasn't a big deal for me though, as everyone had smiles and was courteous and friendly. Both Silver Sea cruises were fabulous. The weather on our June trip was perfect and sunny every day! My October trip two years ago had one half day of rain, but the rest was sunny and pleasant. I have only cruised with Silver Sea, so I have nothing to compare it to. I do know that I enjoy not being "nickled and dimed" for tips, food and drinks, and do like the all inclusive aspect and smaller size ships of Silver Sea. I would definitely sail with them again in the future. However, my husband and I have two children - boys ages 6 and 9, and they want to cruise with us. Because Silver Sea caters to adults, we are looking into other lines that cater to kids, too. I don't care much for large crowds or screaming children running wild all over a ship, as some others have written about, so I will be scouring the message boards on CC to see what other lines might be appropriate for our next cruise with the kids. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2008
We flew into Singapore from our home in Manila, and being cheapskates we took the MRT (light railway system) directly from the airport to the cruise terminal which is incorporated inside a busy shopping mall. We were a couple of hours too ... Read More
We flew into Singapore from our home in Manila, and being cheapskates we took the MRT (light railway system) directly from the airport to the cruise terminal which is incorporated inside a busy shopping mall. We were a couple of hours too early for boarding, so it was a relief to discover that we could nevertheless check in our bags. Even at this early stage we began to experience was was soon to become the norm..the wonderful personalized service of Silversea. While already being escorted from the information desk to the check-in area another Silversea representative came rushing over to welcome us with a warm handshake, and stayed chatting with us during the baggage check-in process, which, given that we were the only passengers at that time, took no more than 3 minutes. We returned 2 hours later, and following a 5 minute wait were through security and on into the lounge where were were offered champagne and canapEs before receiving the access cards for our suite. I would just like to mention in passing, two irksome episodes during our boarding experience. My Filipino partner was asked at pre-boarding if he was crew, and again when we boarded a security officer asked if he was a travel agent. You may read into this what you will! Our balcony suite was nicely furnished and the queen sized bed almost too comfortable to be true. The luxurious marbled bathroom complete with a full range of Bulgari products was the icing on the cake. The balcony furniture, consisting of a small table and 2 mesh chairs looked a little cheap, however, this was not an issue since we hardly used this area. Having said that, when we did use the balcony we were bothered by a pipe smoker from the deck below. Too bad also about the noise of the anchor dropping when docking early morning at each port of call. We ate from the buffet breakfast each morning and apart form the wonderful array of food on offer, it was a joy not to have to stand in line for anything. With the exception of one day, we chose to skip lunch, preferring to save ourselves for the luscious afternoon tea. For dinner we ate twice in the much lauded Le Terrazzo restaurant. Great for an intimate meal, though unfortunately one evening was somewhat spoiled by a large and noisy golfing group. To his credit, the maitre'd warned us in advance, and our experience the following night more than compensated. The service in Le Terrazzo and The Restaurant was above reproach. I will give special mention to Devish, and Skulk, but this in no way detracts from the service of all the other waiting staff we came into contact with. On our first night, having mentioned to the wine waitress that I was a non-drinker, she offered to make up a special non alcoholic cocktail for me. To my delight, and without any prompting, she proffered a 'surprise' drink to me each and every evening. In general, we had no complaints about the food, but neither were we ever overwhelmed. The ship itself and the overall service were 6-stars but, similar to previous postings, I would not rate the food as such. On the subject of the overall service I cannot say enough. From the moment we stepped out from our suite in the morning we were greeted by each and every member of staff most of whom addressed us by our names. This surely is the key to making every guest feel special. The entertainment was for me typical cruise fare, and for the most part was entertaining, though I did feel that Helga the cruise director tried too hard on occasions. (How many encores can you bleed from an audience?) We did not partake in any of the tours, since I consider the organized tours of any cruise line to be overpriced. (cheapskates). We did however venture out on our own, and frankly, with the exception of Penang, we found the other ports of call to be dull and uninteresting. Having previously read the passenger profile for Silversea, I was a little apprehensive, fearing that we would be spending a lot of the time alone. However we were to be proved wrong since we made many friends of all ages and backgrounds. This was our first cruise on a smaller ship, and with the exception perhaps of Celebrity, I will never venture on a large ship again following our experience with Silversea. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2008
Background Information: I flew to Singapore and spent 2 nights there before embarking on the Silver Whisper (voyage 4838) to travel back to Sydney (my home). Hotel Information: My first night in Singapore was at the Swissotel and the ... Read More
Background Information: I flew to Singapore and spent 2 nights there before embarking on the Silver Whisper (voyage 4838) to travel back to Sydney (my home). Hotel Information: My first night in Singapore was at the Swissotel and the second night, which was part of my package deal, was at the Fairmont. Both hotels are part of the one complex with a giant shopping centre underneath. I have been to Singapore many times so I spent these 2 days shopping and relaxing. I also went on the Singapore Flyer which is a short walk from the hotel. Both of these hotels are very nice and I can definitely recommend them for their location. The MRT train station is located underneath the shopping centre and it is extremely easy and cheap to travel around on this train. Embarkation: I was driven to the cruise terminal during a heavy monsoonal rain shower - this storm lasted several hours. When we got to the cruise terminal my driver was able to drive right up to the waiting Silversea staff, easily identifiable with their umbrellas. I was escorted straight to the baggage drop off point and then directed to the boarding area. Boarding was to commence at 3pm and I was an hour early. Around 240pm boarding commenced and after a short walk to the ship I was met by some of the crew standing in line (all wearing white gloves), smiling and welcoming everyone on board. I was ushered into the Viennese Lounge where a photo was taken and I was given my access card in a vinyl wallet. Then it was around to the Bar, where a glass of champagne or a fruit cocktail and some huge king prawns and canapEs were offered. It was here that I met a very nice couple from Glasgow, Scotland. Cabin: A member of the staff then accompanied me to my Vista suite, 411, on Deck 4. I was pleased to see my luggage was already in the walk-in wardrobe. My room was an absolute delight, queen size bed and down pillows that were a dream to sleep on, sitting area, marble bathroom with double vanity and a bath. A bowl of fresh fruit and my pre-ordered alcohol was sitting on the desk and I packed it into my fridge. I might add here that I never saw my cabin stewardess until the 2nd week of the cruise. I thought that this was a bit odd since others were talking about how friendly and helpful their steward/stewardess was. Therefore I wasn't offered a choice of toiletries, I just accepted the Bulgari that were sitting on the bathroom vanity. I love Bulgari so I was very happy with it. I'm a very low maintenance solo cruiser so meeting my stewardess late into the cruise was not a problem for me. For anyone interested, suite 411 is at the front of the ship and is quite noisy due to the anchor and all the other mechanical devices that are at work when arriving/departing ports. Also when the swells are high, the waves and wind pound into the window. I got used to these noises pretty quickly as I'm used to noise, living on a busy street however if you need quiet, I would suggest a suite midship. Silversea really look after their solo women cruisers. I found an invitation to a solo cocktail reception after sailing and I met a lot of solo ladies who cruise only with Silversea. A few of them have over 350 days. I was very impressed with the way I received dinner invitations on the formal nights to sit at an officer's table. During one of these evenings, I met a couple who invited me for champagne and canapEs, served by their butler, in the Royal Suite. It was so spacious and beautifully decorated however it was on Deck 7 and had too much movement for my liking. I also had the opportunity to view the Owner's suite - it was divine. Activities: There was something for everyone, for example, aqua aerobics, pilates, yoga, aerobics, stretch and relax classes, table tennis, golf putting, dancing classes with the gentlemen hosts (who were charming), bridge classes, needlepoint, water volleyball, shuffleboard, fitness seminars (more about those later), team trivia, daily crossword and Sudoku puzzles, the daily Silver Quiz (which was really difficult however I managed to win one!), culinary demonstration from the Viking Cooking School. This was very interesting as we had a chocolate tasting and learnt how to make chocolate truffles as well as porcini mushroom, goat cheese and walnut truffles. There was a galley tour and a navigational tour, enrichment lectures by various people and language lessons in Italian and Spanish. The fitness area is small but I never found it over crowded. I was always able to get a piece of equipment and it's very pleasant walking on a treadmill and looking out to sea. Port & Shore Excursions: There was a change in our itinerary and we anchored and overnighted in Padang Bay (Bali). I booked the elephant safari and after a long drive in a mini van (nearly 2 hours) and with a police escort, we arrived. This was great and such a lovely environment for the elephants. They put on a show for us and then they painted pictures using their trunks. These "paintings" are available for sale and as I understand it, the proceeds go towards the upkeep of the park. We then had a ride on an elephant for about 30 minutes, ending up in a big pool for them to wander around in. When we approached the pool, there were handlers nearby to take your camera and take lots of photos of you in the pool. We then had a buffet lunch then drove back to the ship with the police escort, stopping at a Balinese handicraft shop with very expensive carvings etc for sale. This elephant safari was a great experience - a definite must-do. About two hours after leaving Padang Bay, we had a medical emergency and the captain advised us during dinner that we would have to turn around and go back to Bali to evacuate the passenger. I did not find out any more information about this incident. Next port was Darwin, where I did the Lichfield National Park tour. This was another long drive on an extremely hot and humid day. We stopped to see the giant termite mounds, a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole, then an Aussie barbeque lunch (barramundi or beef). This lunch ended up being rushed because the restaurant wasn't ready for our group when we arrived and then we had to hurry to get on the bus to get back to the ship in time. I didn't think that this trip was worth the US$199 (a lot more when converted to A$). Thursday Island was the next port of call. We tendered into town. It was extremely hot and like a ghost town, nothing was open. I managed to buy a fridge magnet and was so bored that I went back to the ship. One passenger did the helicopter tour and said it was great so if you get the chance to go to this little island at the top of Australia, put the helicopter tour on your must-do list. Cairns was next. I've been to Cairns several times so I just got off the ship and walked around the city and the shops. Other passengers loved the Kuranda Skyrail and train tour (it is fantastic) and of course, the visit to the reef and snorkel - Silversea charter a boat and provide a wonderful lunch on board whilst you swim and snorkel. Another must-do if you are in this part of the world. We anchored at Hamilton Island next. A catamaran had been organized to ferry us all into the marina. There were several tours available however having been to this area before and having not seen the reef from the sky, I did the scenic seaplane tour. This was a 1 hour flight and was an awesome experience. We flew over the islands, out to Hardy Reef and the Heart Reef, landed in the sea at Whitehaven Beach and then took off and flew back to Hamilton Island. This was fantastic and a must-do. I would definitely do it again. The view of the Great Barrier Reef from the air is amazing and at the end of the trip we were all given a DVD as a souvenir. The little seaplane held 14 passengers but there was only 8 of us on board so most of us had a window seat. Brisbane was our last port of call. I visited friends so didn't do any tours there. Arrival in Sydney, my home town. It was very disappointing because our last night was extremely rough (we'd had perfect weather the whole way up to then) and Sydney was overcast, windy and quite awful for the middle of December. I had hoped for a lovely sunny morning but alas, crap weather. We managed to rock and roll excessively through the Sydney heads and into the harbor where we cruised down towards the harbor Bridge and Opera House. I guess I'm biased but Sydney has got to be the most beautiful harbor in the world! Entertainment: I went to a few shows, but generally I dined late and I preferred to sit and chat with my fellow diners who happened to be great people all from Scotland. Sometimes we got to the shows and sometimes we didn't. I did see Jane Rutter, the Australian flautist who was very entertaining. There was a virtuoso pianist, Tian Jiang, who was supposed to be very good. Unfortunately I missed his performance. Our cruise director, Helga, was also a singer/performer and she put on a show for us. Donald Cant, the Australian baritone, who had also performed in Phantom of the Opera, had a couple of shows. I heard a number of people claiming that he was terrible but I thought he was ok. There was "Dancing through the Waves" which was all the Silversea dancers. It was ok. I did enjoy an afternoon classical concert by Australian pianist, Robert Keane. He was quite amusing and very talented, playing various pieces by Chopin and Schubert. I'm not a big classical lover but I thought he was great. I also went to the Variety Show Extravaganza on our last night which was all the Silversea dancers and all the onboard entertainers. This was quite a good show. Dining: Many people have complained about the Whisper's food in previous reviews, however everything that I ate was delicious and perfectly prepared for my pallet. For me, dining was a highlight of the trip and every meal that I had was superb. I had room service breakfast most mornings. The waiter would set up a special table in the middle of your suite and set it with silver service. I think I managed to try everything on the breakfast menu. I also ate in the La Terrazza cafe, which was a buffet at breakfast and lunch and intimate Italian restaurant by night. I ate there at night several times - I neglected to say that this cruise was not full, only 290 passengers and 292 crew! So it was easy to get a reservation at La Terrazza. The dining room was also excellent and I had some nice casual quick meals at the pool. I also had dinner a couple of nights in my suite. I must say I really enjoyed room service, it was such a novelty to me. Everything was beautifully prepared, hot and delivered so quickly with a huge smile. With respect to dining, the must-dos are the Barbeque dinner on the pool deck, the International Restaurant lunch and the Galley lunch. These were all amazing buffets with a huge range of food to choose from. Servings in the dining room were not large so if you had 4 courses, you didn't waddle out totally stuffed. On a couple of occasions, I even had double dessert. "Death by Chocolate" was amazing! Despite all that I ate and drank, I got on the ship as a passenger and didn't get off as cargo! Service: I've left my comments about service to the end. It was totally brilliant and as my title suggests, how many superlatives can I use. I cannot praise the crew enough and I won't mention any names because everyone was superb. From the bartenders who knew I wanted an apple martini every night, to the wonderful waiters in the dining room where nothing was too much trouble, to the pool waiters who offered sorbet and fruit kebabs at the pool, everyone calling you by name. The crew were wonderful and a credit to Silversea. They made every guest feel special. I thought it was really nice to be escorted to my dinner table every night and at the buffet, staff would take your plate back to your table. One night, my dinner companions had left their glasses in their cabin and couldn't read the menu. Our waiter went away and brought back a box of various types of glasses - we all cracked up laughing, but we were all pretty impressed. Disembarkation: This was a dream. It took me 5 minutes to get off the ship, 2 minutes to collect my luggage and 30 seconds to go through immigration. I've never had a disembarkation like it. Now for the only irritation on my cruise: I attended a fitness seminar on the second day of the cruise and it was simply a hard sell to do a session called a body composition analysis. I figured it would be a good idea so signed up for it with another friend. The next day I had the test, the Fitness Director asked me what I weighed (she should have weighed me) and then I had the test and we discussed the results. She then proceeded to hard sell me with a cellulite treatment and various expensive Elemis lotions. My friend also got the same treatment and was not overly impressed either. We both went to another seminar about detox and it was just a hard sell for the Fitness Director's personal nutrition planning. Summary: This cruise was absolutely fantastic. I loved every minute of it and understand why people keep coming back to Silversea. I like small ship cruising, there is rarely a queue and you rarely have to wait for anything - even at the pool which was the most popular spot on the ship. I also met many interesting people of all ages and backgrounds. I hope that some day I will have the opportunity to travel on Silversea again. If anyone has any questions, I would be happy to answer them. Email is: gingiepoo@hotmail.com Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
I received an unsolicited call from my travel agent saying "You gotta do this" OK, I'm standing in line in a liquor store anyway, why not! OK, I'm a man of my word. I agreed to this. I guess I'd better read up on ... Read More
I received an unsolicited call from my travel agent saying "You gotta do this" OK, I'm standing in line in a liquor store anyway, why not! OK, I'm a man of my word. I agreed to this. I guess I'd better read up on it. Armed with a glass of something, I started checking some of the blogs for Silverseas "Silver Whisper" Iv'e been on the Silver Spirit and the Silver Shadow since then but nobody forgets their first time! I recall reading a blog in which the writer advised several things including that Lamb Chops for breakfast on Silverseas was not to be missed. I locked this away in my human hard drive. The ship was everything that the other cruise lines weren't. All ships take you picture for your boarding card. Silversea Officers take pride in knowing the guests by sight and calling you by name. OK, there are only 325 passengers but this is still pretty cool. Once we got settled in our stateroom, we thought about ordering-in for the next day breakfast. We went through the usual and then I remembered Lamb Chops (med rare).Later that evening we received a call from the Executive Chef no less appologizing profusely that they did not have Lamb Chops but that they would get some on the next stop. I had placed a couple of good bottles of wine in my suitcase to see if we could do a tasting with the Sommelier. He pulled out some of his favorites out of the cellar. Great evening. If you are planning a multi generational family cruise, this is not for you or the little ones. No nursery. What they do they do very well. It is not stuffy.My favorite cruise line Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2010
We selected the "Silver Whisper," chiefly because it docked for three days in St. Petersburg, enabling us to see a good bit of the city. Additionally we were initially aware and became increasingly so of the reputation of ... Read More
We selected the "Silver Whisper," chiefly because it docked for three days in St. Petersburg, enabling us to see a good bit of the city. Additionally we were initially aware and became increasingly so of the reputation of Silversea. The advance mailings and publicity were well-organized and attractive, and the included airfare, tips and beverages became an additional inducement. There was so much to like about this cruise. In the first place, "Whisper" docked close to city centers, enabling us to walk from our hotel in Copenhagen to the ship and from the ship to our hotel in Stockholm (we travel light). In St. Petersburg, we could have walked to the Hermitage in fewer than fifteen minutes. Check in was efficient and friendly. The condition of the ship was impeccable, and the surroundings very appealing without resorting to atriums and grand staircases and neon lights. Our vista suite, the least expensive on the ship, was extremely well-fitted out and comfortable, with a large sitting area, walk-in closet, and bath with both shower and tub, as well as a double sink. The service was responsive, friendly, efficient and, yet, relaxed. The entertainment, particularly the nine extremely talented singers and dancers not only performed virtually every night, but mixed with the guests. The food and its presentation were excellent, particularly in the main restaurant. If the wine proposed was not to our taste, we could request another, specifying the qualities we preferred. We understand that the pool side evening restaurant (Stones, I think) was very popular. And the weather was perfect, allowing us to enjoy the pool in the late afternoons and the additional indulgences of passed fruits skewers and dishes of sorbet. Because of a very early start to a privately contracted tour in St. Petersburg, we requested breakfast in our suite ten minutes earlier than it officially is available. It arrived at the time requested. In short, nothing seem like too much trouble. We have sailed with Windstar and on the "Paul Gauguin," and enjoyed them both immensely and would recommend them, but the "Whisper" receives our most enthusiastic recommendation. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2010
Having completed 6 Cruises with Silver Sea I'm afraid there is no going back to "traditional" size Ships for my Wife & I. The "Whisper" is a perfect size with 340 pax to 300 Staff. SS offer every Facility that ... Read More
Having completed 6 Cruises with Silver Sea I'm afraid there is no going back to "traditional" size Ships for my Wife & I. The "Whisper" is a perfect size with 340 pax to 300 Staff. SS offer every Facility that you would expect of a 6* Cruise Ship. Accommodation is excellent,The Mini Bar is re Stocked every day with your Preferred Champagne & Wines. Every Staff member is highly trained, extremely Pleasant and very attentive. Restaurants are well Furnished, Food is of an excellent standard (we feel as though we are Dining out every night!)Le Champagne, well worth paying a supplement for. We paid $30 each and bought our Champagne and Wine.......a less expensive option than the $200pp Degustation Menu charge. Pool is excellent, Spa and Gym are Functional. The Bars are well staffed, after night 1 the Barman (Oscar) remembers your drink! nice touch. Entertainment in the evening can be anything from a "Classical" Concert Pianist to a "Hollywood musical" with a late night (10pm)Cinema Film. There is a Bridge Club, Casino.There is a fumidor for Smokers, the Spirit allows Smoking on Oneside of the main Bar and on the Pool Deck. Silver Sea Ships are truly ALL INCLUSIVE! Fantastic experience Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
Background: Having travelled on the Whisper in the spring this year we wished to see just how well the dry dock refit had worked out. More of that later. This was a 12 day transatlantic crossing, departing Southampton and heading to ... Read More
Background: Having travelled on the Whisper in the spring this year we wished to see just how well the dry dock refit had worked out. More of that later. This was a 12 day transatlantic crossing, departing Southampton and heading to New York via Fowey (UK), Waterford (Irish Republic), St John (Newfoundland, Canada), Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada)and Newport (Rhode Island, US). Best of all, 4 full days at sea between Waterford and St John. The ship had approximately 270 odd guests, so about 75% full. Ship's Company: Master - Captain Cataldo Destefano Hotel Director - Norman Rafelson Cruise Director - Don Fluke Guest Relations Manager - Saskia Harm Shore Concierge Manager - Scott Kinney Executive Chef - Lionel Lavergne Restaurant Manager - Ali Yilmazturk Guest Entertainers - Michael Victor, Judy Carmichael Guest Lecturers - Corey Sandler, Alastair Bruce, Thomson Smillie Bridge Instructors - Chris & Tammy Moll Internatioanl Hostesses - Carla & Soraia Singers & Dancers - Sophie, Charlotte, Brandon, Gemma, Cameron, Irina & Alex Embarkation: Very straightforward, arrived at the Southampton Cruise Terminal at about 12:45, no one else there. In fact the Whisper was the only cruise ship in port. Checked in by the lovely Charlotte and on the ship in less than 5 minutes. Photos taken at reception and told that our suite would be ready at 14:00. Decided to go and check and found it was ready, so took possession and went for lunch. Look and feel: The Whisper now looks spic and span and has more of a feel of how she would have been when first entering service. All the soft furnishings in the suites have been renewed, the mattresses were changed, all the carpeting was changed throughout the ship, restaurant chairs recovered & re-varnished. The furniture on the pool deck has been renewed and a set of banquettes added between the two spa pools and the back of the pool deck. The furniture at the back of the Panorama lounge is new. Both these are cane based tables and chairs with deep cushions and are more comfortable than the wooden ones they replaced. A fixed awning has been attached over the section between the bar and grill on the pool deck, to provide additional cover for the pool grill in the evening. A further fixed awning is now above the outside section of the Terrazza, providing cover, but meaning that you cannot sit outside for either breakfast or lunch and be in direct sunshine. I happen to prefer the back of the Terrazza the way it was, but I suspect opinions will be mixed. One addition in the suites is an alarm clock/Ipod dock and speaker. The dance floor in the Panorama has been completely cleaned (to remove the horrible deep black marks made by the flamenco dancers earlier this year) and the band stand has been moved across the room. Entering the Panorama its now on the left side. This leaves the area by the bar free for serving. Seems to work ok. The only oddity that we noticed was the pattern on the carpet on decks 5, 6 and 7 in the main public areas, it had a large wavy design, and when the ship was moving I suspect that looking at will make any slightly nauseous person feel somewhat worse. All in all the refit worked well (and it was needed). Staff in general: Much more like the SS service of old, with some returning from the Spirit, and those who were new earlier this year now up to speed. Bar staff were superb, especially Oliver in the Grappa, Edourdo (?sp) in the Main Bar, and the Pool bar guy. The waiting staff were very good all round, with Ali Yilmazturk absolutely outstanding. Food: The Restaurant: Did not use for breakfast. Had lunch on the Galley Lunch day (too much food as ever, but well done) and once for a special occasion which was excellent. Dinner was generally good to very good. The menu is still missing the old SS wow factor, but we ate well most evenings, exceptionally well on a couple of occasions and I only had to send one meal back. (a big improvement over the previous cruise) La Terrazza: Ate breakfast most days and the food selection was good, plenty of fresh fruit (although the mangoes were not ripe), and the service was excellent. It was never crowded, mainly because the ship was not full. Also ate lunch here most days, generally good to pretty good, the freshly made pasta was always excellent. Service again very good. Avoided for dinner as we do not like or agree with the change away from regional Italian dinners. The current menu is too samey. La Champagne: Have never eaten here, nor seen any reason too yet. We live in London and can eat at Michelin starred restaurants when we please and I have not yet seen a menu in La Champagne that lives up to that standard. Shouldn't put anyone else off though, just our opinion. Pool Grill: Occasionally had fresh fish for lunch, which was always good, and ate here one evening with the Hot Rocks concept. It was a cold evening, but we had a good time, the rocks worked well and the food and service were excellent. I do not think that there were ever more than 6 to 8 people here in the evenings on this cruise, mainly because of the weather. It will work much better in balmier climes. Wines: Generally an ok selection, with some gems. Firstly they ran out of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and also had no new world Chardonnay, which annoyed quite a few people. But there were other SB's, from Chile and France, there was some old world Chardonnay, there were two Reislings from Alsace, one a very good Hugel, and there was a pretty good selection of reds, including some Barberra. The head sommelier, Lukas, was pretty knowledgeable, and were his wine waiters, and always ready to help with something else if you did not like the days choice. I admit that the provisioning could have been better, and they could have found a more oaky Chardonnay from the paid list for those disgruntled aficionados, but there was plenty of choice if you looked and especially if you took the time to have a conversation with the sommelier. Overall Food & Wine: It is obvious that the budget has continued to be trimmed, apparent in food choices and the level and range of wines, but it is still pretty good. Not quite 5* but it does reach 4 and 1/2*'s. Entertainment: The cruise director, Don Fluke, was clearly barking. His Trivia questions and general trivia handling were weird to say the least. Other than that he was pretty professional. The singers and dancers were very, very good, especially when they were under pressure to perform on a stage that was moving with a 6' swell. Two shows were cancelled and moved because of poor conditions and those guests who complained about this really had no appreciation of how difficult or dangerous the conditions were. This was exacerbated by there only being one guest entertainer on board for the crossing instead of the published two. Never did find out what happened to the other one. The two guest entertainers, one a tenor and the other a pianist were both good and generally up to the usual SS standard. Each did two shows. The bar duo were good without being obtrusive and the SS band were perfectly ok. Enrichment: The guest lecturers were all very good, but Alistair Bruce, the voice of Sky News for Royal and major occasions, was outstanding. The bridge lecturers, Chris and Tammy Moll, were also very good. They were extremely professional and rather nice people too. Other Guests: A good mixture from the UK, US, Australia and a few Europeans. Happy to dress up and enter into the SS spirit. At least 175 Venetian Society guests, including a couple with 1,000 days - wow. They got flowers and a gift, having probably paid for a large chunk of the ship. Some smokers, two pony tails, one an aging hippy. Two British ladies of indeterminate years, who just happened to monopolise the two gentlemen hosts. Ports: All the ports were well worth visiting, especially those on the North American seaboard, but I do not intend to review them here. Shore Excursions: Did not use any, the desk staff were good, and I believe most people enjoyed the ones taken. Generally they are expensive, but they do look after you well. Disembarkation: Ran rather late, about an hour or so, but this was mostly due to US Customs. Once cleared, everything was speeded up and the whole process functioned well. No complaints really. Gripes: The lack of NZ Sauvignon Blanc mentioned above. This is popular, especially with the Brits and its just poor provisioning not to get it right. The Charity charge and wrist bands. This is just SS being particularly bone headed and stupid. The lack of ship's tenders in Newport. This was forced on SS by US Customs crawling all over the ship and crew for hours, apparently this was the first time in 4 years that the Whisper had been in a US port. The port tender, the good ship Amazing Grace, was used, however the schedules got messed up, and instead of a half hourly service there were waits in excess of an hour. Not handled well by the crew, but partly out of their hands. On arrival into New York some fool (probably Don Fluke) played Sinatra's New York, New York on the open decks (no problem), but also through the internal pa system at high volume and at 06:30. Those that had tried to lie in were not amused. Overall: A good cruise and itinerary and nice to see the Whisper back up to speed with the normal SS service. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
This was my first experience with an almost all-inclusive luxury line such as Silversea. I was impressed with many aspects of the cruise -- especially the quality of the crew, most of whom seemed eager to please and helpful, and the ... Read More
This was my first experience with an almost all-inclusive luxury line such as Silversea. I was impressed with many aspects of the cruise -- especially the quality of the crew, most of whom seemed eager to please and helpful, and the quality of the guests -- mostly British and American along with some Canadians and Europeans -- who were all exceptionally outgoing and friendly. The number of guests (370+) seemed just right to me.Boarding was a lonely and strange experience, perhaps because I had been visiting relatives in Fort Lauderdale who drove me to the pier at 4:00 pm -- rather late to be embarking. This, however, was a deliberate choice, as my embarkation experience on Holland America's Noordam the year before had been nightmarish. When I disembarked the Silver Whisper in Barbados I saw glasses of Champagne and punch on trays for arriving guests. However, due to my late arrival, that set-up was all gone. However, I was in my suite in no time, along with my luggage, where a bottle of drinkable, but certainly not great, Champagne (Drappier which doesn't appear in my local stores) in an ice-filled silver bucket awaited me, along with a fruit plate and lovely potted orchid. The "veranda suite" is really a stateroom with a sitting area and a balcony with two chairs and a small table (not large enough for lounge chairs). The marble countered bathroom featuring double sinks and both a shower stall and a bathtub with hand-held shower is absolutely six-star quality. I was delighted to find a pair of binoculars in one of the cabinets, along with all necessary bar ware. However, the only outlet where I could charge my camera battery turned on the vanity light as well. Also, the clock radio was on the desk in the sitting area -- not readable from the bed or convenient for wake-up calls.Although the Whisper spent June, 2010, in dry-dock, and was supposedly refurbished from bow to stern, the furniture showed considerable wear, with noticeable nicks in wood framed chairs, etc. I found the color scheme thoroughly depressing, and entirely non-nautical. The predominant colors were rusty burgundy (think dried blood) and gold, along with touches of brown (the sofa and vanity hassock). There was more than enough burgundy and gold in the theatre (the Vienna Lounge): violets, blues and/or greens contrasting with the wood trim would have made my suite a far more pleasant home away from home. There is an ample closet with plenty of hangers and drawer space. My queen-sized bed was exceptionally comfortable, and a choice of pillows is available.The much-vaunted Relais et Chateaux dining always sounded great in the menu descriptions but rarely lived up to them. Some specific examples: I've spent a lot of time in Boston and on Cape Cod, and one night New England clam chowder was on the menu, described as containing clams, cream and potatoes. Although a potato may have been pureed into the thin fish stock, I found none of the ingredients listed above. On another evening the appetizer was "crispy prawns;" it was delicious but consisted of a single prawn. One night I ordered grilled mahi-mahi as an entrEe. I received two small pieces of dry, barely edible fish that had never been near a grill; I assume the fish was baked. Although I confess to not being a dessert fanatic, the selections were not especially impressive. I do love ice cream, but my favorite flavors, chocolate and coffee(hardly unusual), were never available. The poolside barbecue "under the stars" which was supposed to be a special treat, wasn't. The best dinner I had on board was at La Terrazza, a specialty restaurant that requires a reservation but carries no extra charge.As to cruising solo, I'm not sure I'll repeat the experience. Vacations are romantic experiences, and I find it tough-going to be a widow among many couples in my age range. Ging444 raved about being invited to dine with officers on formal nights. I looked forward to such invitations, but they never came. One day, the ship's Shore Excursion Manager invited me to dinner, but he didn't show up. Instead I was seated with a family group of passengers I'd been seated with at an earlier dinner, and my next-door-neighbors on board: they were all friendly, pleasant people, but where was the officer who had invited me?I'm an avid snorkeler who brings along her own gear, and I had high hopes of finding like-minded people among the passengers. That didn't happen. Phillipsburg in St. Maarten might as well have been a sea day for me. I could have gone snorkeling at Dawn Beach via a taxi, but it really isn't wise to attempt to snorkel alone - especially amidst high winds and strong currents -- as I had discovered the day before at Jost Van Dyke. I do not like snorkeling with a life vest on at all, which -- with one exception -- was the rule on snorkeling excursions (although the Shore Excursions Manager had told me, incorrectly, that I would be allowed to waive the vest). Even deflated, vests spoil the freedom of the experience, invariably riding up even when properly strapped on, and the long straps, flapping around one's body, are a nuisance too. When I mentioned at the beginning of this review that Silversea offers an almost all-inclusive voyage, I was thinking of the shore excursions. They are expensive, but entirely necessary for a solo snorkeler.The ship could have rounded up snorkelers looking for company via the daily newsletter, but did not do so. I assume they were more interested in selling their shore excursions than in accommodating individual interests. To Silversea's credit, someone representing the ship always accompanies shore excursions, which ensures high quality via appropriate feedback to management.As to entertainment, the best events I attended in the Vienna Lounge were the enrichment lectures. The shows were poor in quality, and I walked out on two of them, preferring to dance with the gentlemen hosts (a big plus for solo women cruisers) in the Panorama Lounge after dinner. A nice event that was held in the Vienna Lounge was the ship's muster on the first afternoon (shortly after I boarded). While we were given all the necessary information, it was presented with some good humor, and in a relaxed, comfortable setting -- so unlike my previous experiences with Windstar and Holland America where one's first impression of the voyage was regimented boredom.I'd advise anyone looking for luxury to avoid lunches and drinks in the pool area. The food was very ordinary, and I turned down one drink before the bartender had poured it because the plastic glass was all smudgy -- as was a lot of other "glassware" there.One other cavil: Windstar and Holland America (both owned by Carnival) present you with a tote bag for your towel and beach stuff on the first night. On luxurious Silversea ships, if you need a tote bag, you'll have to buy one advertising the line in big letters to the tune of $30.00. That's downright chintzy. Please note: the reason I awarded 5 stars to the rates and value for money is that on this voyage Silversea charged only a 25 percent single supplement, which is a real bargain for solo travelers. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
My wife and I just completed a 7 day Silversea cruise aboard the Silver Whisper in March going from Bridgetown Barbados to San Juan, Puerto Rico (4105). In short the experience was fantastic! We had very high expectations for this cruise ... Read More
My wife and I just completed a 7 day Silversea cruise aboard the Silver Whisper in March going from Bridgetown Barbados to San Juan, Puerto Rico (4105). In short the experience was fantastic! We had very high expectations for this cruise and I am happy to report that they were all met and often exceeded. We found the ship to be in very good condition. As A former Coast Guard officer I was very impressed with the paintwork and material conditions. The Silver Whisper would have easily passed any of my inspections. Our stateroom was also to be in excellent condition. It was very clean and everything worked perfectly. Our butler, Dann, introduced himself when we embarked and provide a very good description of what he would do for us during the voyage. We saw Dann at least once a day (and some days several times) and he did an excellent job responding to all our requests. Our stateroom was kept very clean and we never returned to it without somebody coming in to put things in order. We also found the food on board to be excellent. Every meal that we were served was of the highest quality. We were particularly impressed with the seafood and beef dishes. We were lucky enough to dine at L'Terreza on three evenings and they were all magic. The pasta was marvelous and my wife commented several times that her main course was some of the best food she had been every served (luckily, she was kind enough to give me a bite). The desserts were also fantastic. We also enjoyed the wide variety and quality of the wines that were included with the meals. The staff was very good and very attentive, without being overly intrusive. Everyone's English was impeccable and it was a pleasure to interact with everyone from our butler Dann, to the housekeeping staff, to the restaurant and cocktail waiters and sommeliers, to the maitre d's, and the officers. Clearly a few were new and were being trained, but they were well supervised and did not cause us any problems. We did not take in much of the entertainment, but we did particularly enjoy the duet that performance during the cocktail hour in the Bar. We also did not participate in many of the on shore excursions, but the one we did were well organized and enjoyable. However, we did find ourselves often asking why we left the ship that we enjoyed so much. My wife and I have not made very many cruises and only one other on a luxury line (Regent). We found Siversea to be the best so far. We were also very impressed with the value of the cruise. Considering the fact that our airfare, transfers, wine, beer, cocktails and gratuities were included we found our total fare to be comparable to similar level staterooms and amenities on much larger lines. The one thing we noticed, and appreciated, was that the Silver Whisper did not have the "shopping mall" at sea atmosphere that we have felt on other larger lines. I read the review of the same cruise by unitedave and was quite surprised. I am sorry they did not have a good experience, but it seemed that we were on two different ships. Taking a small ship, luxury, all inclusive cruise was great - we cannot wait for our next one (and very likely to be on Silversea)! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
We were a little worried about Silver Sea after having a bad time on a cruise about 5 years ago (poor dining room service several times too many). This cruise was just the opposite: everything just went as well as anyone could wish. My ... Read More
We were a little worried about Silver Sea after having a bad time on a cruise about 5 years ago (poor dining room service several times too many). This cruise was just the opposite: everything just went as well as anyone could wish. My wife and I had a private dinner with the captain one night and 2 private dinners with the cruise director, Don Fluke. We found both to be very knowledgeable and enjoyable. (As often is the case, it helps to get to know someone before critiquing him/her).The food was good, the wine selections satisfactory (although my wife found and returned a bad bottle, the sommelier agreed), and I purchased a 3-bottle wine package for $303, which was fairly priced for the wines involved; the sommelier (Robin or Rose) made sure where we were eating each night so the wine could opened 1-2 hours prior to dinner.The room butler Dann was ever-present and every request was granted, and some we didn't even think about (like making sure our clothes were ready for formal night, and we had just a regular cabin).The internet was fairly priced: $85 for 250 minutes. We were charged $200 for 250 minutes on Oceania just the month before.My wife required a gluten-free menu. The gluten-free bread was a special recipe (which they gave us), her meals were thoughtful, and gluten-free vodka (yes, they are needed---wheat-free) was in our cabin and on the floors.We have signed up for the Prince Albert in Dec. We expect rough water for 2 days, but otherwise can only hope the over-all cruise is as good as this was. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
Getting There: We had the free air from Manchester but as we had a 4 hour wait at Chicago, waiting in immigration, we missed the connecting flight. Despite appealing to both the airport personnel and American Air Express ... Read More
Getting There: We had the free air from Manchester but as we had a 4 hour wait at Chicago, waiting in immigration, we missed the connecting flight. Despite appealing to both the airport personnel and American Air Express Connection people they basically told us "hard luck" you have to stay in line. So instead of at least trying to fast track those with onward documents they ignored us. We spent the first night in Miami instead of San Juan and we could only find a Days Inn at 1.00AM.However Silversea in the form of their out of hours reps. Travel Services swiftly arranged for us to be picked up from the Airport etc. Thank you Mona Lisa Torres, you were superb.Cruise After the bad start Silversea Whisper and their staff were brilliant and quickly banished any bad feelings we may have had and Elin(staff) helped refund the missed hotel.We did anticipate a good cruise but it exceeded our expectations. The food, the cabin, the staff were first class and we have been to the odd superb hotel in our time. Our butler Danni, who seems to have been mentioned before exemplified all that Silversea are striving for. He produced tea for my wife without being asked and attended to all our needs, sometimes before we knew we needed them! Both he and indeed all the staff we met seemed genuinely pleased to do anything we wanted to make the cruise special.Excursions Just to pick out the Segway on Antigua and the River tubing in Dominica as great fun but they need care as there is the possibility of an accident and whilst serious injury is unlikely cuts and abrasions did happen.Going home This was the only minor problem as friends had been told that they were going to a hotel before the flight but when we asked the concierge she said that we were going straight to the airport. In the event we all went to the hotel but some of us would have dressed differently if we had known.One point, as we were going to Manchester via Gatwick the duty free booze we bought in Barbados was confiscated when we went through security at Gatwick to board the Manchester flight because it was not sealed at Barbados. Worth noting.Finally thank you to Phil and Helen whom we met on the cruise and whose company we very much enjoyed. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
Having cruised the exact same ship just a couple years ago, I observed a significant "slip" in Silversea's quality and service; but it wasn't just me who noticed. It was a frequent topic among fellow passengers. One ... Read More
Having cruised the exact same ship just a couple years ago, I observed a significant "slip" in Silversea's quality and service; but it wasn't just me who noticed. It was a frequent topic among fellow passengers. One couple complained about their room temperature being too hot and their refrigerator not working. They were asked to give the crew time to sort it out and in the mean time given another room - filled with boxes. They eventually were moved on day 3 but to a room someone else had left because of noise from a nearby slamming crew door. My room only had minor problems like the shower leaking out to the floor; that was finally repaired the last day of the cruise. There was also hair in some of the drawers and I kid you not, a bottle of vagisil left under the bed. Housekeeping was strangely absent yet we always returned to a cleaned room. The butler did introduce himself but that was the last time we saw him. At the bar, one friendly waitress kept getting our names mixed up and in the dining room a certain waiter could be smelled approaching before seen. It was one of those cruises where it was advisable to pick out the best and tip them early so they would stay with you. All the help had turned over from our last cruise and it seemed to be a training day everyday. The head chef and another "nameless" director seemed a bit cavalier (loose) as if they were accountable to noone. The food suffered more than once; dried out sea bass, overcooked lobster, and really nothing that wowed us, until the last night, that is. It seems they wanted to leave us with a good impression and everything was spot on for 3 whole hours. A predictable poolside buffet went well for us because we had Paul looking out for our table of six but we heard lots of gripes from others who were not so lucky. The after dinner party music sounded unfortunately like a wedding reception play list: "YMCA", "Macarena", etc.. They seemed open to our suggestions after most of the crowd left. he port stops though were fairly well arranged. The one exception was Antigua after St Barts and before St Martin. I would have preferred if they had just stayed anchored off St Barts for two days and skipped Antigua. The cruise ended much like it began, like something was missing. I walked in wondering what had happened to the staff who used to line up and greet guests as they arrived and I left wondering what had happened to one of my suitcases that was collected the night before. I was in the process of filling out the lost luggage form (along with another guest in the same situation), when my bag suddenly appeared. It had been re-tagged as another guests and thankfully they noticed. To sum it up, I walked away saying: "well that was certainly different". Not the Silversea I remember. It was still a really enjoyable cruise but more thanks to our traveling companions and the other fun guests who we met. Sorry to say, I would rank Silversea at the bottom of the other four cruiselines I've been on. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
My wife and I had another fantastic cruise happening: 10 days of pampered bliss. No one will ever be on a cruise ship with better service, wonderful passengers with the same interests, and of courese, gormet food.Speaking of passaneger: ... Read More
My wife and I had another fantastic cruise happening: 10 days of pampered bliss. No one will ever be on a cruise ship with better service, wonderful passengers with the same interests, and of courese, gormet food.Speaking of passaneger: Rudy and Susan, Terry and Christi and Roxi and the double mothers, all made our trip more fun and enriching for entering into our lives for just 10 days....We hope to see them again on future trips.Our mid ship veranda cabin was 345 SF, with a seating area and outside veranda. Bathrooms had 2 sinks and a sep tub and shower. plenty of space and a walk in closet.(not kidding)This is an all inclusive ship, which takes all the stress out of eating and drinking, literally, all day or night...You can make up a drink, and they will fix it for you on the spot...and if you want 2-3 more, not a problem.(Naps are plentiful!)...Right.Plenty of choices for restaurants to choose any type of meal, form the casual pool deck to the elegant Champagne Room, from continental, carnivores, or Italian, this ship had it all...not to mention all the complimentary wine you can drink. Estefana, you were the best...Of course, the planned excursions are well thought out, and planned with the passengers best interest at heart. We even had our own shopping consultant meet with us both on the ship and in the stores to insure we bought the best jewelery at the lowest price....everyone new Mat Miller....all the best, Mat!Would recommend this cruise line to anyone who loves luxury at the highest level on the high seas..... Read Less
Silver Whisper Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.5
Dining 4.5 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.4
Public Rooms 5.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 2.5 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.6
Service 5.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates N/A 4.1

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