Sailing the Mediterranean on the Silver Spirit
Imagine sailing around the Mediterranean on a luxury cruise liner with gourmet food and wine; now imagine you had a suite larger than most London flats with sea views and a veranda, your own butler and all your food and drinks were included in the package. Well, that’s what I have just experienced when I was a guest on board the beautiful Silversea ship, Silver Spirit. The weather was hot and sunny, every day, the itinerary was exciting and the gourmet element was supported by Relais & Châteaux, who promote gourmet restaurant and luxury hotels all around the world……it was a truly exceptional and memorable experience.
I’ve been on several cruises before, and I have enjoyed them, but this was truly a luxury cruise in all senses; for a start, all the food, wine, spirits, beverages and even afternoon tea and poolside snacks were included. With the exception of the shore excursions, (although even some of those are now included), a small supplement in two premium restaurants and the Spa, you can leave your wallet at home – unless you fancy having a flutter in the casino on board or shopping in the exclusive designer boutiques of course! My suite (called cabins on most other cruise liners) was a Veranda Suite, which was large and roomy, with a FULL-SIZE bath tub, a separate shower, a large vanity unit and sink in the marbled bathroom – with a walk-in dressing room with safe, chest of drawers and more hanging space than I have at home.
In the bedroom part of the room was a Queen size bed with Pratesi® fine bed linens and down duvet covers – which were dreamy to sleep in, there was a choice of NINE pillows (I went with the memory foam ones), a separate sitting area with a comfy sofa and chair, a teak veranda with patio furniture and floor-to-ceiling glass doors, large writing desk with personalised stationery, radio/alarm with iPod docking station, direct-dial telephone AND a refrigerator and bar set-up, stocked with your preferences – Albert, my butler, stocked mine with prosecco and gin! Albert welcomed me to my suite on embarkation (with a glass of fizz) and was available throughout the cruise, to answer any questions, serve breakfast in my suite, top up my mini-bar, clean my shoes (although I didn’t prevail upon him for that, or to unpack my case and pack it again either) and also set up a birthday party in my room for a fellow guest.
All the butlers on board the Silversea vessels are trained at and are members of the Guild of Professional English Butlers, so you can imagine what excellent service I had. Helping Albert look after me was Peter, my suite attendant – and, I really was looked after like royalty on my seven-day cruise. My bed was turned down every night, chocolates were left for nocturnal indulgence, along with a copy of the latest Silversea Chronicles – the on board paper, listing all the activities and excursions available for the next day, including emergency drills and handy information about the next port we were visiting. And, if I wasn’t tired, I could watch TV or a movie in bed, on one of the two flat screens I had in my room.
As you can see my room was fabulous, as was the personal service I had; but the Silver Spirit has so much more to offer. Having sailed on some of the bigger cruise ships (with anything up to 5,000 guests) I loved the fact that the Silver Spirit had a maximum capacity of 540 guests (and 376 crew). This created an altogether more intimate” atmosphere. The ship is elegant in design with sweeping staircases of teak and chrome in an almost “Art Deco” style. Smaller it may be than most other cruise liners, but this also made me feel as if I was on board one of the old “Ocean Liners” with all the romance and service that they are renowned for. Silver Spirit has six dining areas and I was lucky enough to dine in four of them – Seishin Restaurant, Pool Bar & Grill, La Terrazza and The Restaurant.
In addition to dining at these restaurants, I enjoyed two Relais & Châteaux Gala Dinners, which were cooked by two Michelin star chefs (more about that in my next post), and I also took advantage of having breakfast in bed several times too! Not only can you enjoy breakfast in your suite, but there was a handy 24 hour snack and meal menu for room service, for those midnight snack moments. Breakfast was also available in The Restaurant, a la carte, and in La Terrazza, as a buffet. La Terrazza was my favourite eatery, with its outdoor dining areas, and sea views (or port views), it also hosted both Gala Dinners, as well as a daily Afternoon Tea service, buffet luncheon and Slow Food Italian food in the evening.
The Silver Spirit wasn’t just about fine wine and dining though, she also boasted a staggeringly large collection of genuine art, for sale, from artists such as Renoir, Dali, Rembrandt, Warhol, Picasso and even original black and white photos of Marilyn Monroe and a painting by Bob Dylan. The ship was a floating art gallery, the Andrew Wiess art gallery to be precise, and the art curator, Rami Ron was available to show you around the complete collection throughout the voyage, as well as special guest, Alexandre Renoir, who is the great-grandson of the French Impressionist artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Silversea cruises travel over seven continents – the cruise I was on was the last Mediterranean cruise of the season – we flew into Rome and transferred to the ship in Civitavecchia, before setting sail to Livorno (Italy) and then onto Monte Carlo in Monaco, Marseilles (France), Porto Mahon in Menorca and Palma de Mallorca before we disembarked in Barcelona. But, if adventure is more your bag, then you can take a trip on one of the Silversea Expeditions, to the Antarctica, Galápagos or the Arctic. In fact, Silversea sails to more destinations than any other cruise line, with over 800 destinations to choose from, which is pretty impressive. And the smaller ships come into their own again, as they can sail up narrow inlets, and in to the heart of a city, meaning you can access terra firma from the gangplank and not have to be transferred to the port by a small boat (tender).
As far as I am concerned, this is THE way to cruise – on smaller ships with butler service, all-inclusive food AND drinks……even the gratuities are included too, meaning there are none of the awkward moments at the end of a trip not knowing how much to “tip” the staff. To travel on a Silversea ship is a truly unique and very special experience, and one that I won’t forget in a hurry. Plus, it’s FAMILY owned and run, by the Lefebvre family of Rome. And, I think this adds to the high level of service and pride in maintaining a quality cruise liner company. I have listed a few of the key points of cruising with Silversea below, but DO pop back soon, when I will be sharing the Gourmet Food and Relais & Châteaux part of the cruise, as well as my tour around the galley, Michelin chef cookery demonstration and my shore excursions too. Karen
Disclaimer: I was the guest of Silversea Cruises; my return flights, transfers, 7 day cruise, on-board activities and Gala Dinners were paid for me as part of a media press trip. I was not asked to write a favourable review and all views and opinions remain my own. Karen Burns-Booth
What I loved:
All of it, genuinely!
What I wasn’t so keen on:
Although there is 24 hour room service and butler service, it would have been nice to have a kettle in the room for that early morning cuppa!
Mon – Fri: 08:00 – 18:00 GMT
Sat: 09:00 – 13:00 GMT
Facebook: Silversea Cruises
All alcohol and non alcoholic beverages
All food, snacks, meals in four main restaurants
Room service, food and drink
Personalised bar in suite
Personal butler service:
Upon Arrival, your Butler…..
Welcomes you to your luxury cruise suite
Presents a selection of bathroom amenities
Offers a choice of goose down, hypoallergenic or therapeutic pillows
Explains the entertainment controls
Offers to unpack your luggage, hang clothing and set out personal items
Chills your preferred beverages in your suite’s refrigerator
Discusses any special food preferences with the chef or maître d’
Makes onboard dinner reservations
Arranges private fitness sessions
Throughout your voyage, your Butler…..
Ensures your suite is immaculate
Recommends and serves breakfast orders in suite
Polishes and conditions your shoes
Facilitates laundry and dry cleaning requests
Replenishes your bar setup and preferred beverages
Refreshes your ice bucket
Turns your bed covers down nightly
Prepares, cleans and packs your luggage
Daily activities on-board
Bus shuttles and transfers from port to towns/cities
Why not read Leyla’s post about the cruise here: