Sunday, May 1, 2016
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
It’s my last day here onboard Silversea’s ultra-luxury Silver Spirit. I’m sad about that. The one constant I’ve noticed amongst all my Silversea voyages is that, no matter how many days I spend onboard, it’s never quite enough.
Today, we’re docked in Olbia, Sardinia, Italy. It’s impressively windy and remarkably cold out, with a temperature of barely 12°C. Hardly what you think of when you picture the sun-drenched Mediterranean.
Still, Silversea ran all scheduled excursions and offered a complimentary shuttle service between the town and the pier, the latter of which is an industrial terminal primarily utilised by ferries traversing between Sardinia and the mainland of Europe.
Needless to say, I didn’t spend long ashore. Olbia strikes me as something of a beachside resort town, and this being Sunday, a national holiday, and a chilly one at that, the place was largely deserted. Still, I managed to enjoy a quick bite to eat followed by an espresso, and did a bit of window shopping.
Once again, I returned to the Silver Spirit to spend my last afternoon and evening onboard relaxing. Silversea makes this very easy to do: my butler pulled my luggage out, placed it on a luggage stand in my suite, and cleaned its exterior. He asked if he could pack for me, but I declined. However, having done this on one past cruise, I have to say this: if you do elect to have your butler pack your luggage for you, it’s as close to pure bliss as you can get.
This afternoon also gave me some time to think about why Silversea fits me so well – and what sets them apart from the competition.
By now, you’ve no doubt heard that Regent Seven Seas is building their ridiculously-opulent Seven Seas Explorer to enter the luxury market in a few short months. Seabourn is upping its game with its elegant new ships featuring minimalist Scandinavian-inspired decor. Why then, one guest asked, was Silversea not doing the same?
Personally, I’m glad Silversea is making the forthcoming Silver Muse in the style of its past vessels, with some new and interesting enhancements. Think about it: why should every luxury cruise line look like Seabourn? Or Regent? What an utterly boring world that would be.
Sure, Silversea’s interior décor may not be to everyone’s liking. If you’re expecting to be wowed immediately upon entering the ship, think again: Silver Spirit, like the rest of the fleet, is a ship that grows on you slowly, over time. It’s not hip, or ulatramodern, or bright and vibrant. And that’s okay.
What it is, in a word, is classy. The décor aboard Silver Spirit, for the most part, is classic and timeless. Public rooms are quietly soothing, and at night, a Silversea ship is at its most gorgeous, with a complement of colours and soft lighting that can only be described as elegant.
So why should Silversea be more like Seabourn or Regent? My conclusion is that it shouldn’t. Silversea has always marched to the beat of its own drummer. It was founded at a time when it was thought that luxury cruising was dead. It launched luxury expedition cruises nearly a decade before other luxury lines caught on, way back in 2008. Silversea has a track record of cautious, measured growth, and it’s reasonable to expect that to continue.
But I come back to Silversea as much for the service, the amenities and the itineraries as I do for the ships themselves. This afternoon, there was a surprising rush to cram it all in. Afternoon tea in La Terrazza. Pre-dinner drinks in The Bar. After-dinner cocktails in the Panorama Lounge. Dancing. Team trivia. The whole bit.
Mother nature impacted us once again. Heavy seas and a predicted storm forced us to sail early for Civitavecchia, our disembarkation port and the gateway for Rome. Tonight’s production show was cancelled, and Silver Spirit began to plow her way across the seas, bound for her turnaround port.
Onboard, nobody seemed to mind. The Silver Spirit handled the heavy seas with reassuring calmness. Martinis were poured, cocktails served, pianos played. Even though it’s the last night onboard, everyone still dressed for the occasion, with men (including myself) in full suit-and-tie ensemble.
Next year is a big one for Silversea. The line’s newest ship, Silver Muse, will debut. The popular Silver Cloud – Silversea’s first-ever ship – will reposition to the line’s Silversea Expeditions fleet. Refitted with an ice class hull, she’ll join Silver Explorer in offering luxury expedition cruises to the world’s most remote Arctic and Antarctic polar regions.
If you’ve never sailed with Silversea before, Silver Spirit would be my pick to start with. She’s a graceful, elegant ship that boasts more amenities than her smaller fleetmates, beloved though they are within the Silversea community.
In the end, my short six-day trip aboard Silver Spirit showed me one thing: the ship that I fell in love with six long years ago is still as fabulous as ever.
Our Live Voyage Report from onboard Silversea’s Silver Spirit has sadly come to a close, but stay tuned for a full recap of our voyage through the Mediterranean. Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.