Day 1 – Embarkation in Civitavechia (Rome)

Day 1 – Embarkation in Civitavechia (Rome)

Suite 601 © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
The comforts of home in suite 601 on Silver Wind. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

Walking into Silver Wind’s reception area late Tuesday afternoon felt a lot like coming home. There were familiar faces, the first of which belonged to Flavio, the affable hotel director who hails from picturesque Positano. Flavio is a genuine reflection of Silversea’s Italian heritage. I had sailed with him in Australia and New Zealand on Silver Shadow a couple of years ago.

On that voyage, Flavio arranged the most creative turn-around event that I’ve ever experienced on a ship. He invited me and a handful of guests who also were in transit (doing back-to-back voyages) to the galley storage for champagne, cocktails and canapés, complemented by a tour of the storage facilities and a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how Silversea handles provisioning for its voyages. The early-evening event was fun and informative, and an example of how Silversea strives to push beyond the ordinary, creating experiences at every opportunity. Read about the turnaround party here.

Shore concierge manager Marcela smiled as she came up to greet me. She too had been on the Silver Shadow voyage. We talked for a few minutes about what was in store for us during this voyage. I was particularly interested in how to get the most from our two days in Israel, and I relied on her advice to choose my tours. Both are daylong excursions taking place next Monday and Tuesday.

Next up, the always-smiling Terence, Silver Wind’s senior accountant. I have cruised with Terence several times over the years, but back then he was a manager in the food and beverage department. From cuisine to cash, not a bad promotion for Terence.

Smiling as she put her arms out to hug me was Raquel. She took care of our suite on Silver Explorer last year in Antarctica. Also on that voyage and with us now was Lou, who tickled the ivories to entertain us on the Silver Explorer voyage. Lou beamed a big smile when he saw me, and I beamed back. It was good to reminisce with him about the good times that all of us had on Silver Explorer. Lou kept the evenings lively. You wouldn’t think of dancing on an Antarctic expedition, but Lou’s music induced toe-tapping for those who were a bit reserved and a conga line for those of us who were willing to set aside our inhibitions.

A Sense Of Familiarity & Family

The sense of familiarity with the crew members was comforting. Perhaps more than any other cruise company, Silversea has a family feeling about it. Skeptical that it is genuine? Me too. I like to think of myself as possessing a healthy degree of skepticism, so I always question whether a service company’s friendliness and warmth is genuine or whether the employees are really good at faking it. Something happened recently, however, that suggested to me that Silversea’s warmth was genuine.

On Silver Shadow in Australia (on the 2012 voyage I mentioned previously), I was on the pool deck, early morning, with the Sydney Opera House framed perfectly in front of me. With no one around to hold the camera (and no selfie stick at hand), I asked a waiter if he would mind taking a photo of me. That waiter’s name was Colin Fernandez, and from that moment on, we became friends — on Facebook and IRL.

I have sailed with Colin several times since that voyage. The odd thing is that even though he is from India, Colin reminds me of my 17-year-old son. Both are tall, towering even, and both have great smiles and winning personalities. Colin is older than my son, but both are young boys in my eyes. A few months ago Colin asked me via Facebook to come to India for his wedding. I didn’t realize how serious he was until I received a formal invitation weeks later. It was quite an honor, and naturally, I was touched.

Colin’s wedding takes place in a couple of weeks, and regrettably, I can’t be there. I wish that I could attend but in lieu of my being there, I wish Colin and his bride years of happiness. I’m sure they will do well together. Like many of the others who work on Silversea, Colin is a giver, which is a good characteristic for those in the service industry — or entering a marriage.

Silver Wind, Small & Intimate

Like its crew, Silver Wind is warm and intimate, partly due to its size. Carrying only 296 guests, Wind (along with its sister, Silver Cloud) is the smallest of Silversea’s classic vessels. In the coming days, I’ll be exploring the ship and relating what I discover here on these pages.

I’m traveling with Chris Stanley, a videographer from Vancouver. For the past few weeks, we’ve been on the road filming “10 aspirational ports,” destinations that I believe cruise passengers will appreciate when visiting Europe. After three weeks of living out of a suitcase, we were happy to step aboard Silver Wind and eager to wash away the road dust, literally. We were down to our last changes of clean clothes. Fortunately our suite, Royal Suite 601, includes free laundry and dry cleaning. We packed two laundry bags to the brim and sent our butler Mustafa trotting away with those.

Laundry, in fact, is one of the more coveted perks among suite guests and Venetians alike. Venetians who have sailed more than 100 days with Silversea and guests in Silver Suites receive free laundry service. Guests in Silver Wind’s big suites — Royal, Owner and Grand — receive free laundry service, plus complimentary dry cleaning. Read about additional perks for Silversea’s Venetian Society.

After our sail away from Civitavecchia on Tuesday, Chris and I headed to The Grill, which features “hot rock” dining under the stars. On previous voyages, I’ve enjoyed grilling prime cuts of beef on the heated volcanic rock slabs, but I was pleased to see two new additions since my last voyage on Silversea’s classic vessels, Marinated Tofu and Portobello mushrooms. It’s good to see Silversea providing options for those who want to maintain healthy standards of living while on their vacations. No doubt that I will grill a thick cut of beef later on in the voyage, but the tofu and the mushrooms were pretty darn tasty.

Grilling tofu © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Grilling tofu at the Grill on Silver Wind. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

Time to turn in. We have a big day ahead of us when Silver Wind docks in Sorrento on Wednesday.

Be sure to follow along on twitter by using the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport. Coverage runs from Tuesday, October 21 – Friday, October 31, 2014.

Our full journey:

Silver Wind's Voyage 2433 will take us from Rome to Athens. Illustration courtesy of Silversea
Silver Wind’s Voyage 2433 will take us from Rome to Athens. Illustration courtesy of Silversea

Silver Wind - Voyage 2433 - Rome to Athens

October 21, 2014Civitavecchia (Rome), ItalyEmbark Silver Wind6:00 PM
October 22Sorrento, Italy8:00 AM6:00 PM
October 23Messina, Italy8:00 AM6:00 PM
October 24Day at Sea
October 25Aghios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece8:00 AM1:00 PM
October 26Limassol, Cyprus1:30 PM7:00 PM
October 27Haifa, Israel 7:00 AM11:00 PM
October 28Ashdod, Israel7:00 AM7:00 PM
October 29 At Sea
October 30Santorini, Greece8:00 AM6:00 PM
October 31Piraeus (Athens), Greece7:00 AMDisembark
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