As a child, I loved cruising because of the activities offered on board. I thought that cruising meant waterslides, and pools. When we were invited to go on the Allure of the Seas on a press trip, I was so excited because of all the activities offered onboard. However, upon arrival I was extremely overwhelmed, and on the three day press trip, I only saw about a quarter of the ship. At that moment I realized that big ships are great for some people – my brother had the best time aboard the Allure of the Seas – but not for me. For awhile, I thought that I just didn’t like cruising anymore. That changed when I was invited to go on Silver Whisper in 2012. I learned that there was more fun to be had on a small ship than on the top deck of a very big ship. In preparation for my cruise aboard Silver Whisper, I bought all new clothing. Having never been on a luxury cruise before, I didn’t know what to expect. I figured that everyone was going to be dressed up all the time, and that my jeans and t-shirts wouldn’t cut it. To some extent I was right. While I wasn’t wearing formal attire throughout the trip, I definitely noticed that people were more dressed up than they would be on a big ship. On a bigger cruise line, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about walking straight up to the pool without any sort of coverup on – although that may speak more directly to my character than the environment of the ship. I felt a need to wear something over my swimsuit, and wear shoes that felt a little bit more classy than flip-flops. This was not a huge struggle for me, as someone who enjoys dressing nicely, but I will admit – as soon as we arrived in Lisbon after our cruise concluded, I eagerly put on a t-shirt. I was worried about how I would be perceived aboard the ship, which explains why I felt the need to scrap my entire closet. That worry dissipated, however, as soon as I stepped aboard. Everyone that I met aboard the ship was so nice, and so relaxed. I thought that there would be a bit of a stiff vibe, but that could not have been further from reality.
On my first day, I met a group of Australians who I really hit it off with. We shared stories and drinks, and it was a great first night for me. As someone who was overwhelmed on larger ships, it was really nice to be able to sit in the lounge and talk to people over drinks in a calm and quiet environment. When I went up to the pool, there was never any shouting or screaming. It felt more like a vacation than a playdate, which was not always true on previous cruises. Dining was a completely different experience aboard Silver Whisper than it was on previous trips that I had taken. We dined with different friends every night on the ship. The most memorable dining experience was The Grill, where we cooked our food on rock slabs on our table. Of course, the experience itself was memorable because it was something I had never done before, but on top of that, the staff was so nice. Everyone really seemed to go out of their way to make sure that we were not only doing things correctly, but that we were having fun and enjoying ourselves. Another fun meal was in my dad’s suite. We decided that we wanted to have an Indian dinner and wanted our butler, who was from India, to plan the menu. It was so great that we could make a request like that and have it fulfilled. It was not only that we were getting room service, but that we had food that was made specifically for us, with input from our friendly butler. On that note, the thing that made this trip most notable for me was the butler service. That was something that I never experienced before, and it was really neat to be able to have access to someone that could help me out at all times. I did not take full advantage of the butler service, because I don’t have a lot of requests generally – but one night I was hanging out with a friend and her mom, and we got French fries and Nutella delivered to the room at about 2 a.m., which was pretty cool. I am so glad that I got the opportunity to travel with Silversea, because it completely changed my perception of cruising. I learned that I prefer traveling on smaller ships. It provides a more quiet and relaxed environment, but also provides a more intimate experience. As someone who enjoys meeting people and making connections, I felt that the environment fostered close relationships with people. While there are aspects of large ships that I enjoy, next time I am walking up the gangway, I hope that it takes me to a small ship. Are you a big ship lover or a small ship lover?