The Crossing to Kusadasi
“There is one spectacle grander than the sea – that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky – that is the interior of the soul.”
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
A total of 546 nautical miles separate those of us aboard Silversea’s Silver Wind from our final port of call of Kusadasi, Turkey. With an average speed of 15.6 knots, that translates into a relaxing and enjoyable day at sea prior to our arrival in Turkey tomorrow morning. Impressively, our final port of call will mark the fifth country we’ve visited on this 15-day voyage through the Middle East, with a total of six separate countries if you count our disembarkation port of Piraeus, Greece, where we will arrive on Monday.
With a rejuvenating (and rather quiet) day at sea today, I now have the time to talk about some of Silversea’s alternate dining venues here onboard the Silver Wind – and two of my favorite dining experiences.
The first is decidedly casual: each night, the Pool Grill transforms into The Grill featuring hot rock dining. It’s kind of a clunky name for what is a really fun experience that first began back on the Silver Spirit, but which quickly proved to be so popular that all of the line’s ships – including the Expedition fleet – were quickly outfitted with it.
Dining out on deck, under the stars, guests are invited to make their selections from a three-course menu. The first course is comprised of salads, including New York and Caesar, followed by main course selections. These have notably been expanded from my last voyage, and now include lamb and veal in addition to several cuts of steak, jumbo shrimp, and a fish option that changes regularly depending on the ‘catch of the day.’
Salads come as per normal, and if the weather is chilly (as it was the evening I dined there with a group of fellow guests), warm wool steamer blankets are produced that keep you nice and toasty. A glass or three of red wine doesn’t hurt either.
When the main course comes, it’s time to play chef: you grill your selected meat on your very own slab of hot volcanic rock. Don’t worry if you’re not exactly sure how – The Grill’s fantastic staff will help to ensure your selection is cooked to perfection. These courses come with a baked potato, grilled vegetables, and sauces to complement the meal. It’s a heck of a lot of fun, particularly in a large group of people. This is one of those experiences you should do with some new friends you meet onboard.
For dessert, Silversea offers up a number of selections. I’ll be honest, though: I’ve never made it further than the Apple Pie, which is absolutely sublime. Sometimes I think I dine at The Grill on each Silversea voyage just to have that Apple Pie. A few members of our group rushed off to see the nightly show when I dined here earlier in the week; not me. I savoured my apple pie, enjoyed an espresso, and sat listening to the wind whip around the pool deck. A great evening.
Another great dining experience is Le Champagne. Located on Deck 4 just adjacent to the main Restaurant, Le Champagne carries a surcharge of $40 per person, which is worth it due to the intimacy of the room and the higher quality of food.
On the Silver Wind, Le Champagne was heavily refitted during a Fall 2013 refit, and is now one of the most beautiful public rooms onboard. Walnut-walls are complemented by elegant window treatments, charcoal-grey highback chairs, and specially-designed plates, glasses and cutlery.
Let me say this first: skip lunch. Dinner at Le Champagne is a veritable feast. The menu is a set one, so there’s no pressure to dine here on certain days. Offerings include risotto topped with edible gold leaf; a choice of hot or cold foie gras; several kinds of soups – including the best Lobster Bisque I’ve ever tasted – and some very diverse mains.
Meals are presented with a nice flourish, arriving tableside covered with highly-reflective metal dome coverings that are then removed in unison. Le Champagne Maitre’d Sivi would then explain to each of us what the meals were that we were about to enjoy, and guests at my table seemed to delight as much in looking at what everyone else had selected as they did when it came to enjoying their own course.
When I first started sailing Silversea back in 2010, Le Champagne sported a hefty cover charge of $200 per person. This was designed as a “degustation” experience: a multi-course meal paired with different high-quality wines that had been selected to complement each course. For the non-drinker, however, the price was a steep one to stay with sparkling water all night, and the charge was gradually paired-down. If you want, however, you can still do the full degustation experience onboard with a selection of champagnes, wines and dessert wines from the ship’s premium menu and cellar. Personally, I think it’s nice to have the choice.
If there’s a drawback to Le Champagne, it’s that dinner here is so rich and so filling that the experience can scarcely be done more than once per voyage. I don’t think I even ate breakfast the next morning, save for some grilled peaches with honey and a cup of coffee. I heard some grumbling about the $40 fee – but only from those who hadn’t dined in Le Champagne yet. From the guests at my table (I was part of a large group of 17 who dined one evening), I never heard a single complaint. We arrived at 8:00 p.m…and they rolled us out of there, full and happy, at 11:45p.m.
Don’t rush it – this is one experience you want to savour!
Although it’s not our last night onboard, tonight we had our Captain’s Farewell Cocktail, followed by the traditional presentation of the ship’s crew that Silversea does so well. And, as with every other Silversea sailing I’ve been on, a full standing ovation was in order for the people who have worked so hard, both front-and-back-of-house, to make this kind of experience seem effortless.
When I was a film editor, the general rule of thumb was that good editing should never be seen. If you noticed a particular cut or dissolve, the editor hadn’t done his or her job. That’s very much the way service on Silversea works: it appears, as if by magic, when you need it, slipping into the background when you don’t. It’s hard to do. Sometimes its ungratifying, as guests tend to oversimplify the duties of those onboard simply because they aren’t seeing the work that goes on behind the scenes.
What must surely make it worthwhile is seeing every guest onboard the ship, in the Parisian Lounge, stand up and applaud for nearly two minutes straight.
Silver Wind Middle East Adventure
|April 5, 2015||Muscat, Oman||Embark Silver Wind||19:00|
|April 6||Day at Sea|
|April 7||Salalah, Oman||13:00||23:00|
|April 8||At Sea|
|April 9||At Sea|
|April 10||At Sea|
|April 11||At Sea|
|April 12||Safaga, Egypt||07:00||21:00|
|April 13||Aqaba, Jordan||09:30||21:00|
|April 14||Transiting the Suez Canal|
|April 15||Port Said, Egypt||08:00||17:00|
|April 16||Ashdod, Israel||08:00||23:00|
|April 17||Haifa, Israel||07:00||18:00|
|April 18||At Sea|
|April 19||Kusadasi, Turkey||08:00||17:00|
|April 20||Piraeus (Athens), Greece||07:00||Disembark; Live Voyage Recap|
Our Live Voyage Report aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Wind continues tomorrow as we arrive in Kusadasi, Turkey and set out on-tour for Ephesus! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.