Friday, October 16, 2015
It was pouring rain early this morning as I ate my breakfast at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac and gazed out at the misty expanse of the St. Lawrence River and Quebec City. But not even the chilly weather could dampen my spirits; with a vibrant backdrop of fire-red trees, Silversea’s elegant Silver Whisper was berthed at the Quebec City Cruise Terminal – and she was my ultimate destination today.
Built in 2001, the Silver Whisper is the sister-ship to the similarly-designed Silver Shadow, which typically makes her home in the Pacific Ocean for much of the year. I sailed aboard Silver Shadow to Alaska last summer and found the experience to be unlike any other Alaskan cruise I had experienced to that point. If there’s a quantifier about Silversea, it’s that they deliver more than you’d expect – and they do it consistently.
Carrying just 382 guests in accommodations that nearly all feature their own private verandas, the 610-foot long (186 metre) Silver Whisper is like the stretch limo equivalent of Silversea’s two launch vessels, Silver Cloud and Silver Wind. While I don’t believe in saying that any one ship is better than another (because “better” is highly subjective), I feel comfortable in saying that Silver Whisper and her sister Silver Shadow are two vessels that past Silversea guests have consistently counted as their favorites in the fleet.
Of course, it’s hard to not fall in love with these elegant yet understated ships, as I once again learned when I stepped aboard shortly before eleven this morning. Almost immediately, I began recognizing crew members from previous trips aboard Silver Wind and Silver Shadow. That’s the great thing about sailing multiple times with Silversea; you get to know and recognize the wonderful crews that they employ; crews that really are second-to-none.
There’s also an excellent degree of familiarity built-in to every Silversea ship. Though they differ in size and shape, their basic general arrangement plans are the same. That means that all guest accommodations are located forward of the funnel on each deck, while public rooms occupy the after portion of each deck.
The tour started off with an unexpected highlight: the chance to tour Vista Suite 421. Vista Suites are Silversea’s oceanview accommodations. There are only a handful of these suites aboard each Silversea vessel, and I’ve always wanted to see one, as they’re some of the first suites to be booked on each voyage thanks to their price-conscious nature.
Clocking in at 287 square feet, Vista Suites aboard the Silver Whisper are nearly as large as their Veranda Suite counterparts, yet they include all the amenities that are afforded to every other guests onboard. These suites still feature full butler service, Bulgari toiletries (or Ferragamo, if that is your preference.) You can choose nine (nine!) different types of pillow, two kinds of mattresses, indulge in Pratesi linens from Italy, and even enjoy room service from the evening’s dining room menu – served course-by-course in your suite, if that is your wish.
Because of that, these spectacular rooms are often some of the best values aboard the ship. They tend to be booked up at the same time as the upper-end Penthouse, Silver and Owner’s Suites.
Speaking of, let’s have a look at Grand Suite 601 and its connecting Veranda stateroom companion, Veranda Suite 603.
Measuring between 941 and 1,090 square feet, Silver Whisper’s Grand Suites are spacious and inviting. These are suites that are meant to straddle the line between being a personal home-away-from-home and a place to entertain; to see and be seen.
To that end, these rooms feature a spacious living and dining area that incorporates its own bar into the design. There’s moulded panelling and accent reliefs on the walls. Comfortable seating for dozens of guests – not to mention standing room for dozens more. Guests even have their own bathroom just off the entryway, complete with toilet, sink and vanity.
Grand Suite bedrooms overlook the bow of the Silver Whisper, and window height and placement varies depending on the deck. The bedroom windows of Grand Suite 601 are smaller than those found in Grand Suite 701 due to the suite’s physical location on the ship; should the ship’s bow take heavy seas, the windows must be strong enough to handle the pressure of all that water cascading on them. The need for increased strengthening decreases with each increase in deck height.
These bedrooms feature a positively monstrous walk-in closet, and an equally large private bathroom clad in marble and adorned with dual vanities, a standalone shower, and a spacious bathtub.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to tour other suites due to the fact that this Silver Whisper voyage is 98 percent sold out. Bad for us, but great for Silversea and the Canadian Maritimes in general!
Throughout the rest of the ship, a constant feeling of coziness persists. It’s what the Germans would call Gemütlichkeit – a persistent sense of warmth and welcoming in a particular place. Nothing about the Silver Whisper is going to knock your socks off on first viewing. There’s no soaring atrium, no rock climbing wall, no robotic bartender mixing cocktails with assembly line-like precision.
What Silver Whisper offers, though, is far harder to replicate than some gimmicky maritime fad: a genuine connection with the sea, done in such a way that the ship feels comfortable in any weather condition. Even today, with the rain pelting against the windows and the skies streaked with numerous shades of grey, Silver Whisper’s interiors oozed a pleasant warmth from every corner.
Some photographs of her inviting public spaces:
Silver Whisper also has many admirers here in La Belle Province. She’s been calling on Montreal, Quebec City and other Quebecois ports for nearly her entire service career, and 2016 will be no exception.
Beginning with her transatlantic crossing from Southampton, England on September 6, 2016, Silver Whisper will call on Quebec City on four separate voyages: V.4622, V.4623, V.4624 and V. 4625. By Canada & New England standards, it’s a decent season that spans the two best months: the fall foliage period in September and October.
But I’d love to see Silversea offer an expanded Canada & New England season. The weather here can be spectacular during the summer months, and I’ve always felt that this region of Canada – in particular Quebec – is under-utilised. There’s little reason why Canada’s Maritime Provinces couldn’t enjoy the same May to October cruise season that Vancouver enjoys as a base for Alaskan cruising on the Pacific Coast.
But it’s not just Canada & New England that potential cruisers can enjoy the Silver Whisper on. Next year, she will begin her year with a breathtaking World Cruise that kicks off in Fort Lauderdale in January. After that, she returns to Northern Europe and the British Isles, operating a series of voyages ranging from seven to 14 days in length that depart from popular ports of call like Southampton, England; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Stockholm, Sweden.
Following her summer in Northern Europe, Silver Whisper sails for Canada & New England before arriving in the Caribbean with V.4626, a 10-day voyage from New York to Bridgetown, Barbados.
Of course, Silver Whisper is but one of eight luxurious ships in the Silversea fleet: five “classic” luxury ships that carry between 296 and 540 guests, and three luxury expedition ships that carry just 100 to 132 guests. Together, they traverse the entire globe in style. In fact, there’s barely a place that Silversea doesn’t sail to in any given year.
Live the Dreams You Want to Tell. It’s a saying that derives from a marketing slogan Silversea has begun using as of late. I think it’s an appropriate credo for the line; their cruises are luxurious, yes. The service is exacting but friendly, approachable and personable. But at the end of the day, it’s your experiences onboard and off that you’ll remember most.
Any cruise line can build a glitzy atrium; few can replicate the kind of onboard ambiance that Silver Whisper and her fleetmates bring to each and every sailing they set out on.