196 meters long, eight passenger decks, 540 distinguished guests and all-suite accommodations. Sounds too good to be true? Welcome aboard Silversea´s Silver Spirit, the company´s ultra-luxury flagship in boutique cruising until the soon-to-be arrival of the newest addition to the fleet, Silver Muse. Let me take you on a ship tour of one of the most luxurious small cruise ships in the world that I was pampered on.
Delivered in 2009, Silver Spirit was built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Ancona, Italy. She was the so far largest ship to be inaugurated for the Italian family owned brand with base in the Princedom of Monaco.
While being the largest vessel along the other four, even more intimate sister ships, Silver Spirit does offer the same infinite quality and even more space to unwind in. Like in the ship´s main dining room, The Restaurant. The dress code is smart casual, so generally no ties required, but I enjoyed that gentlemen were actively asked to wear at least a jacket inside. A reasonable obligation when considering that The Restaurant serves signature dishes by the world´s most renown Relais & Châteaux chefs.
There are no assigned seating times nor tables and guests can dine when and with whoever they please with, at your very own convenience. I personally loved the fact, that every time that I went for dinner, I was asked wherever I was open to share a table to get to know my fellow travelers, or if I was rather in the mood to have a dinner for one. Another detail I noted, was the farsighted placement and seating arrangement. By knowledge, I was always seated at a table with people I felt most comfortable with.
Not that you really needed it, but for younger cruisers like me that are most likely used to larger resort ships with an array of speciality restaurants to choose from, Silver Spirit does offer on top of the most excellent dining options inside The Restaurant four other dining venues. Seishin with its most delicious Asian Fusion menu is one of them. At a reservation fee of 40 US-Dollars per person, you may enjoy the most exclusive specialities that Japan, India, Vietnam, China and Thailand have on offer, prepared with attention to detail and served in an intimate and most exclusive environment. I went once and was thrilled by the freshness and the taste, it is absolutely recommendable!
Right across the hallway from Seishin comes the only Relais & Château restaurant at sea, Le Champagne. This little hideaway pampers its guests with a most elegant six-courses dinner along with an exclusive wine pairing, all for a reasonable cover charge of 40 US-Dollars per person. Unfortunately, I did not make it in here as reservations had already been completely booked before the cruise, and even though the staff tried everything to accommodate my needs, this gastronomical journey will have to wait until the next time.
Deck 5 is the ship´s beating heart in terms of shore exploration and guest services.
The Bar is a social gathering point right in the reception lobby area and a very popular spot to enjoy a coffee speciality, a cocktail and maybe a few tapas before or after returning from ashore. One thing I particularly enjoyed about Silversea Cruises is that in every port of call, a dedicated shuttle service from the pier into the city center was offered at no extra charge.
The lounge is beautifully decorated in Art deco style with high-end furnitures and lots of high-gloss finished wooden surfaces.
Other than on regular cruise lines, check-in at Silversea is conducted outside the ship. You will simply have to contact the reception to register your credit card and to deposit your passport with them. Once you have completed the check-in and security check inside the cruise terminal, every guest is being escorted personally to the ship´s gangway where you will be handed over into the care of the Silversea butler service.
Apart from the special treatment that I have encountered throughout the entire journey aboard Silver Spirit, one thing that is absolutely worth noticing (and that is actually much fun to explore during a day at sea) is the elaborate and rich collection of art works aboard the ship.
Drawn over the entire ship and its eight decks, Silver Spirit features photographs, paintings and sculptures by some of the world´s most renown artists like Chagall, Picasso, Salvador Dali or Rembrandt.
I particularly fell in love with George Barris´ original prints of Marilyn Monroe which he captured during her last official photo shoot in 1962, shortly before her death. Silver Spirit feels like walking a floating museum, the collection must have a worth of at least a few million dollars.
Seating 320 passengers at once, the Show Lounge at the stern of Deck 5 can be well described as Spirit´s entertainment and information main base.
This is the place to be for full-scale productions, movies, classical soloists or lecture talks. One might think that due to the ship´s size you would have to make compromises in terms of production quality? Let me assure you, the singers and dancers cast have rocked the stage with world-class voices, costumes and attention to detail. I was deeply impressed!
More than half of deck 6 features balcony suites. The rear section is reserved for The Spa at Silversea, the Fitness Center and the Beauty Salon.
The Beauty Salon offers a full range of salon services including hair styling, manicure and pedicure for both men and women.
Treatments and stylings are available at extra charges and can be booked in advance via the personal MySilversea account. Each guest may enhance his “profile” with personal information and a photo, this does help the onboard staff to provide the passengers with a most personalized service possible.
The Spa at Silversea is well dimensioned for Spirit´s size. It spreads over 770 square meters and consists of nine treatment rooms, a thermal suite and an exterior lounge terrace.
Appointments can be made in advance or onboard the ship. I personally tried out the Hot Bamboo massage after one of my workouts, it was most excellent and with a price of 194 US-Dollars a reasonable charge for one hour and a half of pure bliss and relaxation.
A waiting and relaxation lounge is set up for guests awaiting their appointment, providing refreshments, magazines and comfortable seating. Personally, I would have loved a little daylight in here.
One of the nine treatment rooms.
Like on the majority of cruise lines, access to the Thermal Suite aboard Silver Spirit can be purchased at a price of 114 US-Dollars for a Single pass or 173 US-Dollars for a Couples pass for any 7 days cruise.
Inside the suite, guests await heated lounge chairs to unwind on …
… a Turkish bath, also known as Hammam …
… for which you receive a do-it-yourself body scrub package when purchasing the spa pass.
A Finnish sauna awaits all those preferring hot and dry air to relax in.
The adjacent outdoor terrace is exclusively accessible via the thermal suite and is equipped with luxurious sun loungers, seating and a large whirlpool. Bar service is available during times of operation (8am to 8pm).
But even if you decide not to buy the additional access, there is both a small Hammam and Finnish sauna integrated into the male and female changing rooms.
Both offer sea views.
One thing that was a little tricky before aboard smaller ships of older origins was an adequate fitness offering for people like me, who enjoy a decent workout as part of their cruise experience.
While I have already sailed on larger vessels than Silver Spirit which onboard gyms consisted of only an old treadmill and a rowing machine, the equipment here is surprisingly diversified.
There is a good selection of cardiovascular as well as muscle-building machines available, all state-of-the-art and in great condition.
Most of the complimentary yoga and exercise classes offered are conducted on the outside terrace, which is a neat detail.
But of course, for bad weather you will also find the space to get active.
Silver Spirit´s main stair case connects all of the ship´s decks. Simply for the most luxurious suites as well as the observation lounge on deck 11, you will have to connect to the forward stairs.
The extensive Library is located on Deck 7. It is well equipped with hardcover books, magazines, newspapers and reference material. It also hosts a wide range of dvd´s that can be enjoyed in the privacy of your suite.
It also inherits the onboard Internet Café from where you have access to the world-wide web. These days, on most cruises Silversea has already included the WiFi access which is great to stay in touch with your friends and family via chat, mail or Social Media. Complimentary black and white laser printing, headphones and digital camera media reader rentals, as well as CD burners are also available free of charge.
The interiors are decorated in an elegant and homely design. Beautiful artworks line the hallway towards additional restaurants at the rear of Deck 7.
Like Stars Supper Club which is aimed to resemble the elegant Art Deco-atmosphere of the legendary supper clubs that the 1930´s were popular for.
Reservation is required for the venue which serves modern twist menus of regional and seasonal delicacies in artistically presented, small courses along with life music and nightclub-style entertainment. Though a reservation is required, no additional cover charge applies. I dined here during my last night aboard. It was delicious!
La Terrazza is Silver Spirit´s Italian dining venue. During the day, it is the ideal spot to enjoy a casual buffet-style breakfast or lunch on the outdoor terrace or inside in an open seating environment.
Being of Italian heritage, Silversea´s pasta is made freshly on a daily base in the onboard galleys while most of the other classic Italian ingredients are obtained from local family run businesses, such as buffalo mozzarella from Naples, Balsamic vinegar and olive oil from Umbria or air-dried ham from Parma.
During the evening, the restaurant transforms into Spirit´s à la carte Italian Trattoria. There is no additional cover charge, yet it is highly recommendable to place a reservation in advance in order to sample the line´s exclusively produced 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano.
Deck 8 was home to my lavish Balcony Suite 853. The all-suite accommodations aboard Silver Spirit offer at least 35 square meters of living space, consisting of a combined bed and living room (which may be separated by a curtain), a walk-in closet, a large bathroom and a teak veranda.
Silversea is the only cruise line in the industry that offers butler service to all of its guests onboard the ship. Each butler looks after around 15 suites, so there might be waiting times during peak hours, yet personally I never found this to be disturbing. As peace and quiet is probably one of my most guarded preferences, I enjoyed hardly being disturbed when enjoying the suite.
Each suite features a pillow menu that you may choose from before boarding the ship. The bed was heavenly to sleep on and the refrigerator is daily stocked with your preference of drinks at no extra cost. At the first day of the cruise, your butler will introduce himself and asking your personal preferences. It was such a pleasure to find my mini bar set up every day with an ice-cold bottle of champagne and two large bottles of water, just as I like it.
Most of the suites accommodate a maximum of two passengers, while others have room for three. The general crowd aboard consists of a rather more mature group of affluent world travelers and quite a number of solo travelers as well. One of the reasons for this may be the very generous single occupancy surcharge of only 25 percent!
There is ample storage space in the suite with neat details as built-in mirror televisions or a personalized stationery. Fresh flowers add to the cosy and homely atmosphere and even though the interior design may be less contemporary than newer ships offer these days, I felt perfectly comfortable during my cruise.
Fresh fruits are delivered automatically on a daily base. You may choose from an international selection of newspapers delivered daily to your suite and whatever you order from room service will be served by your butler who individually sets your table, if even only for a soup.
The walk-in closet holds an additional cupboard with a personal safe, plush bathrobes and slippers, as well as binoculars and an elegant umbrella to take along when going ashore.
The large, marbled bathroom is stocked with premium Bulgari amenities which are replaced daily.
This was one of the best bathrooms I have had so far on a cruise and I enjoyed a hot bath along with champagne almost every night before going to bed.
The rain shower is huge compared to other ships and provided me with a spa experience every single morning.
Each veranda has a teak flooring and luxurious balcony seating.
Even though Silver Spirit can accommodate just 540 distinguished passengers, at the end of the journey you will notice that there will always be people who you may not have seen during the cruise. One reason for this could be the unparalleled privacy of each suite´s veranda. I spent a lot of time here!
A view down the main staircase.
The rear section of Deck 8 hosts the famous Shops of Silversea.
An exclusive collection of world-class luxury brands such as Gucci, Bulgari, Le Vian, Damiani or Buccellati (just to name a few) is available.
Apparently, Silversea has recently partnered with the LVMH Company to provide an even more glamorous and carefully selected collection of fashion, jewellery, accessories and perfumes.
Connoisseur´s Corner is the ship´s onboard smoking lounge. This is where a fine selection of cigars is available (à la carte menu) along with a wide range of luxurious Cognacs.
Located right adjacent to the onboard casino, Connoisseur´s Corner is particularly busy during the evenings.
I am not a gambler at all, but I enjoy sometimes watching the people getting nervous about it.
Silver Spirit´s casino seems quite well proportioned. Looks like that a lot of guests enjoy to win or lose a little fortune in Blackjack, at the Roulette table or at one of the slot machines.
On Deck 9 you will find the swimming pool and the embedded coin from the keel laying ceremony back in 2008.
It is completely done in teak with luxuriously padded sun loungers. One medium-sized swimming pool and three whirlpools invite to unwind in.
One of my favorite part times during the day or after the return from shore excursions was to grab a few magazines from the library and nestle myself onto a sun bed while sipping on a glass of ice-cold bubbly. Heaven!
Or hop into one of the three hot tubs in the evening, watching the stars pass by above me.
During the day, the Pool Grill is a casual poolside eatery serving made-to-order healthy bites, sandwiches, meats or freshly baked pizza. In the evening, it transforms into an interactive Black Rock Grill experience where you can cook meats and seafood to your liking on a heated volcanic rock.
Panoramic sky views through the forward part of the funnel.
Panorama Lounge is Spirit´s multi-functional social meeting point at the stern of Deck 9. During the day, afternoon tea is served here accompanied by live piano music …
… while in the evening the place transforms into the ship´s discoteque holding Silversea´s legendary parties with the staff interacting personally. This is where Moss, Silver Spirit´s cruise director (at the time when I was onboard), performed many times singing and playing strings.
The outdoor terrace invites to enjoy the setting sun or simply the fresh ocean breeze while sipping on a world-class cocktail.
Right underneath the glazed forward funnel on Deck 10, Picasso is showcased in an exclusive little studio.
A jogging track as well as additional teak deck chairs are hidden on the after deck of Deck 10.
This is probably one of the ship´s most quietest areas during sea days apart from your personal veranda.
If you want to visit Silver Spirit´s Observation Lounge or you hold the key to one of the Silver Suites, the forward staircase connects to the final passengers accessible deck, Deck 11.
Providing that “King of the World” feeling, the Observation Lounge is the right place to enjoy panoramic views from the highest point on Silver Spirit.
Intimately decorated, this hideaway is a quiet place to enjoy your favorite book during the day or a cocktail in a familiar atmosphere during sunset hours.
The accessible terrace allows you to enjoy the surroundings from an even closer setting.
During some cruises, for instance to the New Zealand Fjords or during the Panama Canal Transit, the open deck of the bow may also be open to the passengers for unparalleled views.
Meeting Silver Spirit back in December 2015 in the port of Cartagena, Colombia during my Panama Canal cruise. That week from Lisbon to Barcelona aboard the white beauty was one of my most memorable cruises.
While cruising is always a delight in terms of gastronomical experiences and high-class services, Silversea had truly done everything possible to make my vacation a royal one. The only bad thing about a luxury cruise like this one is, that after you have done it once, it is hard to go back to anything less extravagant.
For more information about Silversea and their ships, visit their website www.silversea.com.