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Perdidogirl

Trip observations from recent Silver Spirit Baltic Cruise

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Posted (edited)

My husband and I recently went on a Baltic Cruise on the Silver Spirit. Here are our observations and some things that we wished we had done differently. (We are first time cruisers so most of this stuff is probably obvious to veteran cruisers! Hopefully a few other newbies will find this beneficial.)

 

1.       Wifi 2-step authentication/Wifi generally: Given the ship’s one device Wifi policy, the day we boarded in Copenhagen, I should have logged into key websites that I need to use frequently for business so that I could do the 2-step authentication process using the ship’s Wifi for my laptop and cell phone service (needed in order to receive the authentication codes by text). Failing to do that and then having a day at sea with no phone service really hampered the ability to keep up with certain critical business activities back home. (Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of completely “unplugging” from work so please do not criticize.) On the topic of Wifi, it is really poor because of the satellite 22,000 miles above the earth according to SS, etc...  Whatever the reason, it is extremely slow and basic things like uploading a small document to attach to an email are nearly impossible to do so just be aware.

2.       Butler: Our “butler” was a very sweet, well meaning young guy that unfortunately was extremely forgetful and overworked. So many things were forgotten and/or went awry that by the end of the cruise, we had low to no expectations of him and we ended up calling the Reception Desk for what we needed (forgotten Chronicles, help with moving dinner reservations, the beer we had asked for, forgotten colored disembarkation luggage tags, etc.).

3.       Cleaning Attendant: In contrast, this fellow was on it. Our room was kept sparkling clean with an abundance of toiletries daily. We could choose from green Bulgari, white Bulgari, Ortigia or SebaMed toiletries. He even offered to draw a bubble bath for me one day.

4.       Room Service: We found this to be very hit or miss. 3 breakfast orders and 1 dinner order arrived incomplete. When filling out the breakfast door tag, we learned over time that the best chance for accuracy was to fill out the entire order under one person’s name, not per person as indicated on the room service door tag,  I also wish that we had brought insulated travel mugs for coffee on our balcony as coffee was served in little cups that cooled down quickly.

5.       Restaurants: We really enjoyed Indochine and it was not as busy as their no-reservations policy might suggest. The service at La Terrazza was incredibly slow at dinner (2 ½ hours was common) and the portion sizes were very small by American standards. (Not a complaint, just an observation.)

6.       Advance Reservations: I am sure that veteran cruisers know the secrets here but despite logging at precisely the time when reservations were said to be “open”, we could not get a reservation at places like Seishin, La Dame, the spa on At Sea days, etc…  My hunch is that frequent cruisers or guests on high floors (or their travel agents) get to make reservations even earlier and thus book out the most desirable spots.

7.       Tor’s Observation Deck: We found this to be the most peaceful, quiet place to get a cocktail or a glass of champagne before dinner.

8.       Smoking: Despite the ship’s policy, fellow cruisers smoked on their balconies so we could smell it on ours. Also, the crew’s smoking lounge was located on Deck 5, directly below the Fitness Center’s outdoor yoga/stretching deck so the smell of smoke was very prevalent there.

9.       Individual Bottled Water: Individual bottled waters could be found at the Fitness Center, in an outdoor crate on the Jogging Track or during disembarkation in port.  Despite asking for this, our butler would only bring a glass carafe of water or a giant plastic bottle of water so we learned to go to these other places.

10.   Tallinn: We opted to walk around the old town on our own using the Rick Steves guidebook walking tour. The old town seemed like an empty Disney cobblestoned village for tourists. Anyways, we walked up to the top, saw the cathedral where we were told to not take pictures inside and walked back down to the ship via the souvenir shop streets. We would probably have had a much better experience had we done a tour.

11.   St. Petersburg:

A.      The first time leaving the ship in St. P was a laborious long process at Immigration. After that, it got faster and faster.

B.      If views matter to you, don’t choose an odd-numbered room. We had 601 and while docked at St. P, our balcony view was of old hulking rusted oil tankers and construction cranes. Had we been on the other side of the ship, we would have had a nice city view.

C.      Seeing the Hermitage via an early morning tour organized by SS was definitely the way to go in order to avoid the dense afternoon crowds. We really liked the canal cruise and metro station tours. Others we spoke with enjoyed the dinner at Catherine’s Palace very much and we wished we had done that.

12.   Helskinki: We took a local bus to the Seurassaari Open Air Museum where we had a delightful time walking around in the wooded setting and seeing the old Finnish houses and other rural structures.  Afterwards, we took the bus back to the center of town and enjoyed a nice late lunch on the elegant Esplanade boulevard. This was one of our favorite days of the cruise.

13.   Stockholm/Uber: Our cruise ended in Stockholm. Once we collected our luggage and exited the ship, we ordered an Uber via our phone app. The Uber car arrived quickly and took us to our centrally located hotel for ~12 euros. Other ship passengers stood in a long line for taxis. We met up with a fellow couple for dinner the next night and they had been charged ~40 euros by one of those taxis to go to a hotel about 3 blocks from ours.  

 

I want to stress that these are not complaints, just our observations and am sure that others may have/will have very different experiences!

Edited by Perdidogirl
typo

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A couple of remarks:

 

  • For what it's worth, I bring my own plastic coffee mug and fill it up at Arts Cafe or in Panorama.
  • Room service breakfast is a huge challenge for the butler staff -- esp. on port days when many people may want their breakfasts at the same time.  It takes time for the butler to travel from the galley to the suites, etc.  
  • Now that you know what you want from your butler, you might on future cruises bring a typed list of requests to present to him/her on embarkation.
  • I know that on many cruises only a limited number of spa reservations are available 120 days out.  I think this may also be true of restaurants.  In the case of the spa, I was informed that spa staffing is never certain 120 days out.  Therapists may take ill or leave the ship unexpectedly, etc.  By embarkation day they have a much firmer sense of spa staffing and lots of other times are made available.  If I don't find what I want online, I go to the spa at 1 pm on embarkation day and make reservations.  Of course, sea days are the most popular.... 

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Perdidogirl, thank you for putting down your comments.

It sounds like you were badly served by your butler and I am sorry you experienced this.  Whilst hindsight is a wonderful thing, you should probably have asked that another one be assigned to you. Who wants the hassle of that, however, in the middle of what is supposed to be a relaxing cruise. Filling out the mid cruise survey is always an option, of course, but I do think it would be no bad thing for the head of housekeeping to contact each suite to see if they are happy with things. A card left in  each suite inviting direct comments to him/her would be easy and cheap to achieve, even better would be a short visit to each suite  a few days into the cruise to check that all was in order.

I am interest in what you say about portions in La Terazza, we were on the Wind a couple of months ago and portions were so large there, I couldn't finish them and I am greedy so and so. Fortunately, my OH has hollow legs so hoovered up my left overs.

I agree about the coffee cups with room service, what a good idea to bring an insulated cup on board. Thanks, I will remember that for the future.

Regards

Rp

 

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Rosepark- Thanks for your post.  I did voice concern at the beginning about the butler's mishaps and the head of the butler service "Morgan Dias" came to our room see us. We shared what we had experienced so far and he promised improvement. However, issues kept occurring so I didn't want to keep banging a drum for no reason. Plus, our butler told us that he works for 6 months at a time with no day off. Just 4 hours sporadically here and there. It sounded really grueling and continued complaining or asking for another butler might have gotten him fired which we definitely did not want to do. He was a sweet guy, just in the wrong job.  

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A tip of the hat to you for your humane concern for the butler and his job security.  He may have a family somewhere depending upon his income.  He may have simply been lazy or incompetent, in which case I doubt he will last long at Silversea.  On the other hand, he may have had a couple of suites with guests (like those new-to-SS guests in the suite next to me on my most recent cruise) who got their jollies by making repeated and extravagant requests of the butler.  I knew because I could hear them all too clearly talking with another couple on the verandah about how many random things the butler would do, as if the butler was exclusively at their service.

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Thanks for your thoughts Perididogirl.

 

One comment regarding WiFi - you actually get  one connection per guest not per suite, so you could have used both your connections at the same time (assuming you weren't travelling solo). Doesn't help with your authentication issues... I had similar problems trying to do banking payments in Vietnam and gave up in the end. Good advice to get this done in port prior to departure like you said.

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les37b- You are correct that it is one connection per guest.  My Wifi authentications require that a text be sent to a phone no and my husband's cell no was not registered for that purpose so he could not receive the authentication code. Lesson learned! 

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Observer- Thanks for your post. Our butler could well have been overworked by other guests on our end of the hall. There were also a few disabled folks in our area as evidenced by all the wheelchairs left outside cabin doors. Maybe they took up a lot of his time.

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19 hours ago, Perdidogirl said:

les37b- You are correct that it is one connection per guest.  My Wifi authentications require that a text be sent to a phone no and my husband's cell no was not registered for that purpose so he could not receive the authentication code. Lesson learned! 

 

Right, but you can sign in on your phone using his credentials, at least temporarily, when you need to grab an authentication code on your phone. True, it's a pain, but it's a workaround. It would temporarily disconnect him while you logged in on your phone, but then he could log in again when you're done and disconnect you.

 

Also, I remember back in the days when I had Verizon, I could access my text messages through their website, once I'd logged in to my account. That would be a workaround for you , so you could use a laptop to log into a 2FA website, and get the text message code on that same laptop, while only using one WiFi connection. I haven't tried that with T-Mobile yet - haven't needed to as I use my phone for everything.

 

Lastly, you can sometimes modify the 2FA requirements so that your code is sent via e-mail instead of via cell phone SMS. Even easier, as you can get the e-mail on the same laptop, and do it all with one connection. Not all 2FA sites may offer that option, but for those which do, could be another workaround.

 

Thanks for posting. I'm sure the 2FA requirement is something that people don't always think about until they're stuck in the middle of the Baltic. 🙂

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Did no one report the guests smoking on their balconies?  I would have reported it immediately to guest services.  

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Guests smoking on their balconies is a definite no no, not just because of the smell but also for safety reasons as it is a fire hazard.  This should be reported immediately.

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No, I didn’t report the smoking on the balconies. 

It was our first cruise and I didn’t realize that I should. I figured that was normal despite the rules. 

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We are off in nine weeks but for the last couple of weeks ‘La Dame’ has been shown as simply ‘not available’ on every night .... I wonder if some people make multiple bookings on a ‘just in case we fancy it’ basis? 

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6 hours ago, MBP&O2/O said:

We are off in nine weeks but for the last couple of weeks ‘La Dame’ has been shown as simply ‘not available’ on every night .... I wonder if some people make multiple bookings on a ‘just in case we fancy it’ basis? 

Isn't SS's rationale for charging extra for La Dame that it makes it easier for everyone to get at least one chance at a reservation? Guess not. Their real rationale is making more money. 

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On 8/18/2019 at 12:11 PM, MBP&O2/O said:

We are off in nine weeks but for the last couple of weeks ‘La Dame’ has been shown as simply ‘not available’ on every night .... I wonder if some people make multiple bookings on a ‘just in case we fancy it’ basis? 

Just had the worst meal and service in La Dame so cancelled remaining reservations.cold food poor presentation cold plates .We waited for main courses which ended up being served 40 minutes apart for our two main courses.Refused to pay the premium and dined in MDR every night where food is varied ,much more choice than ever before ,service excellent hot food on hot plates and coffee and tea served hot rather than Luke warm in La Dame.Enjoy your upcoming cruise and in our current experience it will be a bonus missing out on the expensive mediocrity of La Dame.

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Posted (edited)

Good Morning Brimary - sorry to hear of your La Dame ' Experience ' but it has always been a lottery as to whether the Actual matches the Expectation. So pleased that the Cruise is at least proving somewhat better than when we were together in June. Sorry to go slightly off subject but can you tell us if Corey Sandler & Janice are back on board after disembarking for the Charter ?

We hope that the remaining days are good for you - what will be your decision on future Silversea Voyages ? - we will be sorry to lose you both.

Edited by Mayflower1
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