Thursday, April 28, 2016
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
I’m convinced that Silversea must have sleep scientists on the payroll, because I always enjoy the most soothing, relaxing evenings of rest whenever I sail with the line. And with no tours scheduled for our port call today in Sanary-sur-Mer, France, I happily dozed through the announcement at eight this morning that Silver Spirit had anchored in the bay, and tender service had officially begun.
Sanary-sur-Mer – or Sanary for short – is considered to be one of the sunniest places in the South of France. Just 13 kilometres from Toulon and 49 kilometres from Marseille, it receives approximately 280 days of sunshine per year.
Today, sadly, isn’t one of them. Skies are overcast and brooding, and temperatures struggle to reach the published high of 17°C, or 63°F. Strong winds race out of nowhere and whip up whitecaps on the water, and Sanary-sur-Mer feels a bit like an off-season trip to Skagway, Alaska in these conditions.
High winds also made for some adventurous tendering operations, with swells that appeared seemingly out of nowhere. A few rogue swells completely washed over Silver Spirit’s tender platform, and one gave a few guests sitting in the first few rows of our tender a good soaking. But the crew of the Silver Spirit had control over the operations at all times, and gingerly erred on the side of caution for guests young and old alike.
Ironically, I ran into two familiar faces on my tender journey: two guests who I had the good pleasure to sail with last year aboard the Silver Wind. I’d joined their dinner table on a few occasions as we sailed from Oman to Greece through the Suez Canal, and they recognized me, over one year later, sitting on a tender bobbing wildly around.
It was a real pleasure to see them again – but this wasn’t the first time this had happened to me. In fact, I have run into past guests on several of my Silversea voyages, and every time it has been totally unexpected and entirely welcomed. It’s also a testament to the loyalty of Silversea’s past guests, who come back time and time again for the ship, the itinerary, but most of all, the friendships they’ve made on board on both the crew and guest sides of the equation.
This is Silver Spirit’s first-ever call on Sanary, and the maiden port call to Sanary by any Silversea ship. It speaks highly to Silversea’s itinerary planning department that, even after 20-plus years in business, it can still find new and out-of-the-way ports of call to stop at in the Mediterranean.
Silversea wants to make it easier than ever to explore the Med this summer. The line just announced that, for a limited time, it plans to offer $199 Business Class Air Upgrades on all of its inclusive Mediterranean cruise itineraries.
Available on new bookings made between yesterday (April 27) and June 10, 2016 on 18 select Mediterranean voyages, these upgrades are available from 50 air gateways in Canada and the United States. It’s pretty cool when you consider that Silversea’s all-inclusive fares, which the line calls its Most Inclusive All-Inclusive package, includes perks like roundtrip economy-class airfare; a two-night pre-cruise hotel stay and transfers; free Silver Shore Select excursions; and complimentary Wi-Fi fleetwide.
“When we introduced our Most Exclusive All-Inclusive program, the response was amazing,” said Mark Conroy, Silversea’s managing director for the Americas. “Now, we’re taking it to new heights with out $199 business class air upgrade option, making it easier than ever to discover the Mediterranean’s most coveted destinations.”
For me, the ship is as much of a destination as the ports of call are. If I’m being honest, I think the ship is the main attraction while the ports are the icing on the cake. And today, strolling around the cold, windy streets of Sanary, I kept thinking of the warm Silver Spirit sitting out there in the bay.
So, after about two hours of window-shopping and strolling its historic streets, I caught the 1:30 p.m. tender back to the Silver Spirit.
Sometimes, it’s hard for travellers to do this. They want to see every last inch of town – and why not? It’s their vacation after all. But this “fear of missing out” can quite often mean forgoing some of the joy of simply being onboard a cruise ship in the first place. In my day-to-day life, I rarely have time to sit down and read, for example, so I did just that this afternoon. I took my book (which, incidentally, is titled, Lost At Sea) and read for a few hours in the Observation Lounge up on Deck 11.
Although activities like Afternoon Tea in La Terrazza and Team Trivia in the Panorama Lounge threatened to sway me, I wanted to just enjoy the simple pleasure of being aboard a ship that, truth be told, I love very dearly. If I ran a cruise line, it would look a lot like Silversea.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy other cruise lines. I think there’s a cruise line, ship and itinerary out here for everyone. But Silversea (and, in particular, the Silver Spirit) seem to fit my personality like a glove.
Having said that, I’m always happy to see Silversea continue to change and adapt its onboard product. One very visible new change lies in the line’s onboard menus, which have been completely redone with an entirely new concept.
In the “old days”, you had a two-paged menu in The Restaurant. One page would list the daily specials, which would change each evening. The other facing page would consist of an “Always Available” menu, with features like Grilled Chicken Breast, Steak Fillet, and Grilled Salmon.
Silversea’s new menus are double-paged culinary wonders. The ‘Always Available’ selections are gone, but still available upon request from your waiter.
Divided into eight sections, the new dining room menus only have one constant: the availability of two brand-new hamburger selections (Smoked Applewood Shortrib Beef Burger and Mild Jalapeno-Infused Brisket Burger) that are listed each night. These can also be ordered from Room Service and the Pool Grill. Why hamburgers, you ask? The old menus lacked more casual fare, and these fill that gap nicely. Try the Jalapeno Burger; it’s very nicely done.
The rest of the menu features smaller portioned dishes that are designed to be ordered in multiples. Don’t feel afraid to choose five or six selections; your tablemates likely will, too. And – in typical Silversea fashion – you can get any dish in a larger portion to act as your main course.
Tonight’s dinner menu in The Restaurant on Deck 4:
FROM THE “CRUDO” BAR
Veal Tartar ‘Alba’-style
Flax & Chia Seed-crusted Crab Cakes
Carrot & Coriander Soup
Chilled White Bean Veloute
Silversea Mesclun Salad
Lasagna alla Bolognese
Risotto agli Asparagi
FROM THE SEA
Grilled Fish of Fresh Dorado
Chargrilled Fresh Swordfish Fillet
FROM THE FIELDS
“Belgian Blue” Veal Tenderloin under a Citrus Crust
Roasted Leg of Chicken ‘Viroflay’
Pink-roasted Margret of ‘Rougie’ Duck
OUR GOURMET BOUTIQUE BURGERS
Smoked Applewood Short Rib ‘Kansas Black Angus’ Beef Burger
Mild Jalapeno-infused Brisket ‘Kansas Black Angus’ Beef Burger
FROM THE GARDEN
Gratinated Polenta Gnocchi
Asian Potato Curry & Chickpea Salad
For dessert, don’t forget to ask for the special Cheese Menu, available upon request. It’s another double-paged list of delights. New dessert options include a stunning selection of made-onboard Italian gelatos, sorbets, and ice creams, along with the usual creative desserts that Silversea has become known for.
Oh, by the way: did you know you can order anything you would like off of the lunch or dinner menu in the main Restaurant and have it delivered to your suite? That’s true luxury.
Tonight, Silver Spirit sets sail for Monte Carlo, Monaco as our all-too-short voyage enters its halfway point. Tomorrow, we’re off on one of Silversea’s Silver Shore excursions to visit the picturesque nearby locales of Eze and Nice. Silversea’s European headquarters are located in Monte Carlo, and Silversea ships are always well-received in this millionaire’s paradise.
There are always plenty of swanky ships docked in the harbour, but somehow, I think Silver Spirit will take the award for the ultimate yacht that pulls in tomorrow morning.
Our Live Voyage Report from onboard Silversea’s Silver Spirt continues tomorrow from Monte Carlo, Monaco! Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.