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kool kruiser

Silver Spirit-Singapore to...???

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Having returned last week , after a truly...adventurous cruise, I thought I would pen some thoughts on my Silversea experience in a series of posts. I absolutely get it that SS has a very loyal and devoted following and I must emphasise that these are very personal thoughts, some very positive and some not quite so. Perhaps they may be useful for anyone contemplating taking a first cruise on this line.

First some background. I have been an avid cruise devotee for some 35 years or so. I started on P and O (UK) with our very young family, moving to Princess, where we reached the top Elite status in their loyalty club. We also took a couple of cruises on similar lines. In 2017 we discovered and graduated to Crystal and have taken 4 cruises with them, another being booked for later this year. We have become great fans of Crystal and my thoughts will inevitably be based by comparing my SS experience to that on Crystal. Tthis was our first SS trip, it arose, due to a package being offered by a TA, comprising a 3 night p;re-cruise stay in Phuket, where we then joined the ship, for a planned (😀) 13 night cruise to Mumbai. We were then to fly to Delhi for a Golden Triangle tour, before returning home. The trip was, to our mind, very attractively priced and would give us the opportunity to sample another luxury experience afloat. For us, the accommodation on board is of much less importance than the other aspects, eg food and drink, entertainment, enrichment, service, etc. We are also, to be absolutely honest, a little budget-conscious, as we wish to spend what's left of our kid's inheritance over as long a period as possible !!

Hopefully, that provides some context to what will follow. Do let me know, during my postings if you have any particular thoughts or questions on the aspects covered. One small request, as I am a sensitive soul 😢. Do bear in mind trhat I cannot expect anyone to share my views or opinions, as we are all so different in our needs and expectations.

More soon....

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Embarkation, First Steps and...The Cruise

It may be helpful to outline the fun and games we encountered !

The voyage commenced in Singapore although, as part of our package, we enjoyed a 3 night pre-cruise stay in Phuket, where we embarked the Spirit. On arrival at the port, our small group were processed in a very professional manner, with an enhanced medical questionnaire, the first of many temperature checks and an invitation aboard. Our luggage was left at the foot of the gangway and was delivered, speedily, to our suites. We then proceed to the reception desk where we were welcomed with the first glass of champagne (many more subsequently enjoyed !). Paperwork was processed efficiently and very quickly and we soon found ourselves in our wonderful suite (more on that to follow). As our butler was on his break, another of his colleagues provided a brief but warm welcome and encouraged us to have lunch before service closed. No further prompting required !

That evening , whilst getting ready for our first evening drinks and meal, we heard the first ominous message from our simply too wonderful for words captain. He advised that we would not be allowed to dock in Yangon or Colombo. However, instead, we would be staying in Phuket for an extra day, we would then have a total of 5 days in various Malaysian ports and an extra day in Cochin. We were also told that SS appreciated that for many the ports missed were the primary reason for booking this particular cruise and thus head office were working on a compensation package. This was duly presented to our cabins the following day.

Well, that was just the start ! As many of you will know, we did not make our final port, Langkawi, as the Malaysian authorities closed their cruise ports. Unfortunately, this is where the Spirit had planned to take on supplies.

Subsequently, India also closed it's ports and a decision was made that we would go to Singapore, where the cruise would end. The compensation package was also increased. Well, we are used to sometimes to being chucked out of places (!!) but on this trip nobody would let us in !! Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines all, in turn, initially said yes to us but then changed their minds as we approached. Finally, we sailed towards Darwin, who had agreed to take us. Guess what, as we got nearer, the Australian authorities also closed their ports down. However, they,  sensibly in our view, said that they would honour existing bookings so we finally arrived there, after 10 consecutive sea days. Another reason why Australia is such a great country and why we love it and it's people so much.

Throughout this very eventful journey, Silversea were absolutely fantastic. The captain kept us fully informed, was kind, considerate, apologetic and was instrumental in creating such a tremendous on-board atmosphere. Head office were very supportive and took responsibility for flight re-bookings, irrespective of whether air was booked with them or independently. The crew did their very best to give us the best experience possible, which they most certainly did. The personnel on the reception desk were simply magnificent, keeping so calm and ever-helpful, kind and considerate in such difficult circumstances. Unsung heroes, every one of them.

So, other than all of the shenanigans, what were our issues. Towards the end of the cruise, as the captain had earlier signposted, stocks of fresh fruit and vegetables ran low, as did a few other specific items (eg slimline tonics). This simply meant that we were presented with some unusual and creative vegetable concoctions and had limited fruit choices. Thankfully, champagne, caviar and lobster remained in plentiful supply !

The protocol normally used in a norovirus episode applied throughout. Thus, we were always served in the buffet, although, by and large, the crew handled this efficiently, warmly and helpfully. I will elaborate on some minor service glitches in a future offering. Interestingly, salt and pepper mills and salad dressing bottles were still laid out on tables and the lavatory doors were not wedged open. Compulsory hand sanitisation was rigorously enforced in a friendly manner. I must also mention that my fellow passengers were incredibly understanding and compliant and my feeling was that we were truly all working together as one great team. I am sure that this heavily contributed to there being no cases of covid 19 throughout.

More to come but in the meantime do let me know of any thoughts, questions, etc.

 

 

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Such a big part of travelling is about making memories.

 

You won't forget this one in a hurry!

 

(and when we are finally able to socialise again you'll be in big demand as dining partners. Maybe a career as an after dinner speaker - or as a cruise ship lecturer.....?!  )

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Ship and suite

Thanks Silver Spectre and Noggins. As for the latter, he has clearly been drinking far too early in the morning, as he knows only too well how I can barely string a sentence together !

Now, on to today's musing. However, before doing so, a couple of snippets to add to yesterday's thoughts. One of our Malaysian stops was to Kuala Lumper, where the port is over an hour from the city centre. Silversea, as well as providing a full tours programme at very short notice, also offered a fully escorted/guided complimentary shuttle coach for both days we were there. Terrific !

Also, when it seemed that we would be going to Vietnam, a selection of complimentary tours were offered, Brilliant !

Now, to the ship. Before we left, we saw a programme featuring Jane McDonald on a Silversea ship and, to be frank, the appearance of the ship left us seriously underwhelmed. I posted as such on this board and was re-assured by poster Observer that we should not worry, as the Spirit was far removed from the ship featured on the programme. Boy, how right he was. The Spirit is, without doubt, the most beautiful ship on which we have ever sailed. To our mind, the designer should win every award going !. We thought every dining room and all of the lounges, bars, theatre, pool area, etc etc were absolutely magnificent and so, so, stylish.

The ship's condition was simply immaculate and it felt as if we were the inaugural post-refit cruise, so good was everything. Whilst keeping everything in perspective, all that we would do is slightly re-jig the spa/gym section. At present, the gym is clumsily split into 2 separate areas and there are 3 spin-type bikes incongruously located on the open hot deck, albeit in the shade but nevertheless making them virtually unusable. 

We also thought the crockery and cutlery used in each restaurant was excellent, with the exception of the dishes used to serve ice cream throughout the ship, which were tacky and looked as though they had been borrowed from a downscale casual dining establishment.

We were impressed by the number of lifts (which we didn't use) and staircases( which we did) and the excellent and stylish signage. The abundance of art on display was tasteful and blended in well. Passenger/space ratio seemed excellent although this was a little difficult to judge as the ship was only at about three-quarters capacity.All in all, the ship was...a wow.

And now, to the suite. we were in a standard balcony which, as Noggins had advised prior to departure was a knockout ! Really, it was bigger than a mini-suite on a mainstream cruise line. The interactive TV was terrific, with an extensive selection of TV channels, films etc and great ship info, including all dining room menus, our on board account folio, our reservations and much much more. The best we have ever seen. Thanks to these boards, we expected the bed to be super firm, which it certainly was ! However, forewarned is forearmed so we requested a mattress topper before our first night's sleep, which was fitted in good time by our brilliant cabin attendant Ricky, a truly lovely gentleman who we were blessed to have looking after us. We do not use room service nor do we dine in-suite, just not our thing. However, we did look at the room service menu which was outstanding in scope and quality. 

Of course, we also had a butler. For us, this was certainly an unnecessary luxury, as we barely used his services. We altered our dinner reservations at reception and did not really need him for anything that could have equally been provided by our attendant. He must have been happy to have such low maintenance guests. 

I must mention the air conditioning. Simply the quietest and most effective we have ever encountered. This also applied to the entire ship. All in all, it would be hard to find fault with anything in our so luxurious suite and it was good to have the traditional chocolates awaiting us when we retired for the night-Crystal take note !

My DW is the leading world expert on ship's launderettes and she was more than happy with those provided. However, she was not impressed with there only being one washing machine and one dryer in each location, as she finds the launderette a great socialising venue ! It suits me, too, as it gives me some downtime to read the paper on my ipad ! By the way, great to see the daily satellite newspaper sheets delivered each day.

Finally, one tiny enhancement occurs to me. How about dispensing with the rather old-fashioned do not disturb/please make up my room hanging card and have a more modern electronic/switch method instead ? Just a thought, as I am struggling to find any other suggested improvement.

Well, that's it for this section. OK ?

 

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1 hour ago, kool kruiser said:

 

Finally, one tiny enhancement occurs to me. How about dispensing with the rather old-fashioned do not disturb/please make up my room hanging card and have a more modern electronic/switch method instead ? Just a thought, as I am struggling to find any other suggested improvement.

 

 

 

I understand that this "tiny enhancement" was introduced on Silver Shadow during its recent drydock and will probably be a standard feature, beginning with Silver Moon.

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Dining and waitstaff

Thanks Observer, always good to see when one is not too far off the mark.

Now on to today's segment. Like so many, for us one of the abundant joys of cruising is the chance to enjoy wonderful cuisine, served professionally in lovely surroundings for what is, in effect, terrific value compared to the nearest equivalent on land. Let me start by giving a massive thumbs up to whoever is responsible for the line's supply chain, as we felt the quality of sourced ingredients was tip top throughout, with no noticeable cutting of corners anywhere. One small gripe. We often prefer cheese rather than dessert and whilst quality and, especially, presentation was excellent, the choices offered in most venues was unimaginative and frankly, rather boring, definitely lacking any wow factor. As for the restaurants, we enjoyed the concept of having so many alternatives and being served in a calm rather than bustling environment, with no busy and noisy wait stations.(if that's what they're called; I hope you follow what I mean !). Background musak was always discreet and tasteful. My food comments are, in the interests of fairness, based entirely on our experiences before any food shortages arose.

Perhaps it would now be best to deal with venue in turn:-

La Dame and Seishin

I have lumped these 2 together, as they are, perhaps the most upscale and both attract an additional cover charge. To be honest, I am averse to such charges, having paid so much on a luxury cruise to begin with and prefer an alternative method of capacity control. Having said that, we bit the bullet and have no regrets whatever, as these were our outstanding meals during the cruise. Every dish in both restaurants was so, so good and the service was brilliant. Researching these Boards was invaluable in selecting our choices, although the waitstaff were ever helpful. I particularly recall the memorable  foie gras (pear version), dover sole, souffle, tempura and wagyu beef and lobster. Great to be greeted with a welcome drink and amuse bouche and we were easily able to resist the gentle up-selling attempt for us to choose some additional cost wine, which we felt was utterly unnecessary. I also enjoyed being able to inbibe sake in Seishin. Whilst appreciating that it is available, without charge, at lunchtime, I was a tad surprised that sushi and sashimi was unavailable In the evening Seishin menu. Nevertheless, great experiences, highly recommended.

Silver Moon

We loved the supper club vibe and thought the singer Esther and her accompanist Chantal were brilliant. The waitstaff generated a relaxed and laid back atmosphere but we would have welcomed a more proactive helping hand with the rather eclectic menu. Whilst the mains were fine, the appetisers etc were very strange, to say the least and for us, did not really work at all. Desserts were somewhat boring and thus unmemorable. Incidentally, the website and pre-cruise documentation still refers to a tapas style offering and thus needs updating. For us, a further menu revamp would truly make this venue unmissable.

Indochine

Very much a combination (clash?) of different cuisines, so choices did need to be carefully selected, as dishes did not really complement each other. Putting this to one side, the dishes were very enjoyable and the service great. The menu did change(once I think) during our scheduled 15 nights but the desserts surprisingly and disappointingly did not. Once we had exhausted the dishes we fancied there was little incentive to return. Incidentally, this venue has a superb selection of relevant beers and I really enjoyed my Asahi dry. If only this were the case elsewhere...

La Terazza

The buffet offerings at breakfast and lunch were plentiful, varied and really enjoyable. It was great to have egg dishes, pancakes, french toast and waffles cooked to order and delivered to our table, resulting in really top class offerings. The waitstaff were very pleasant and friendly but not always as efficient as would be hoped for. Indeed, we found a fundamental weakness in service which was replicated elsewhere. Orders are taken on an ipad and there can be a disconnect between what a guest says, what is put on the ipad and what is delivered. What the waitstaff do not (but should) do is check the order before it is served to the guest. We recall, with horror, when I was served truly cremated toast with under-cooked poached eggs, which would not have reached the table of a ''greasy spoon'', let alone a luxury cruise ship. This dish should not have left the preparation area and, if checked, would not have been served. Of course, it was replaced with profuse apologies but this should simply not have happened. It also seems that the senior supervisors are there to welcome and seat guests, sort out issues and lend an extra pair of hands when busy but do not exercise any ''quality control' on their team. Not great, as efficiency was often sadly lacking and numerous service errors were made.

In the evening, the food was lovely, although, when we dined as a four, the antipasti served was obviously for 2 and we had to ask for a second serving. Desserts had far too many cake-based offerings, including cassata, served as a cake rather than the traditional gelati. Not sure why there is a need to book , in view of the enormous number of available covers. Sadly, the menu remained unchanged throughout the cruise, not encouraging repeat visits.

The Grill/Hot Rocks

The lunchtime grill was excellent in every respect, with very attentive service and a terrific selection of offerings. We enjoyed great  burgers and sandwiches. However, the beer selection was woeful, the worst we have ever seen on ANY ship. The only non-lite lager-style beers available were Becks and Stella. Really ?

We enjoyed the Hot Rocks experience, there being a vast choice of proteins and carbs, spoilt by only one fibre choice, skewers of vegetables. Why not have some side dishes such as creamed spinach, asparagus, etc ? Service was fine but not particularly pro-active in what may be a new concept for many. Once again, no need to reserve here, as so many covers.

Spaccanapoli

We enjoyed a superb pizza one lunchtime, the best. However, what a wasted opportunity. Nothing else available, other than a salad collected from the grill below and a scoop or two of ice cream. The same for the evening. Closer to a pizza stand than a pizzeria. Come on Silversea, use the pizzas as a centrepiece for a bespoke casual dining alternative with proper starters, soups, sides and desserts, less upscale  than La Terraza. And, of course...Peroni (unforgiveable not to serve THE pizza beer!). Sorry for the rant !

Atlantide

Interestingly, this restaurant now has a selection of appetisers, soups and entrees changing every day, with an always available very upscale selection, including escargot, caviar, french onion soup, lobster, steak and other offerings. A great idea, spoilt by the same dessert offerings not changing throughout the entire cruise (silly!). The starters, soups and desserts were really good but the entrees inconsistent in execution. The same disconnect issue referred to above for the buffet was also experienced here. An example would be when chateaubriand was an option chosen by me, which I ordered medium-rare. It was patently overcooked, not having been checked by the server. Replaced with apologies, the second was only marginally better but as my DW had nearly finished her offering, I decided to simply grin and bear it. 

We also thought the overall presentation of mains was very lacklustre and old-fashioned, the dishes never looking exciting in their presentation.

It irked that we were so strongly encouraged to drink one of the two daily wine selections. Thanks to these boards, we sourced great alternative inclusive offerings from the amazing lady and gentleman sommeliers, who were so professional, knowledgeable and helpful.When we asked for a discovered alternative which we liked from the waitstaff at future sittings our request was not always warmly received and once the waiter was even somewhat surly. Also, why not publish the inclusive list in printed form and also on the excellent in-cabin television system, alongside the menus ? To our mind, pretty obvious.

Finally, the maitre'd here was not that great. Whilst being friendly, on one occasion we declined the suggested seating and moved to a location more to our liking. Guess what ? Next time we dined there, we were shown to the same table we had previously declined ! Also, we were once asked whether we had enjoyed our meal, to which I replied yes but after several hiccups. His response...as long as they were sorted then !!

Arts Cafe

Let's finish on a high. Great, great and great. Lovely concept, well executed with great style and charm. What more can I say, other than we wished we had discovered the late night truffles much earlier, as they were sensational. Also, loved the aft outdoor section, as we did in the buffet and Panorama Lounge, stunningly designed and furnished.

 

Sorry for such a long missive. To sum up, a curates egg, definitely room for improvement in certain areas and a definite need for increased menu rotation. Please bear in mind that these are very personal observations based on my experience.

 

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Thanks for your next missive. I am intrigued about your beer comments, there is usually a reasonable range onboard. Did you inquire of the head barman or F&B Manager exactly what was available. With regard to the wine pours SS has never produced a complimentary list, although some guests have been able to winkle it out of them. Part of the problem is inventories change, reprovisioning gets missed,   stocks run out and it would probably cause more issues to provide a list and then have to deal with guests disappointment when their choice is unavailable.

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21 hours ago, Silver Spectre said:

Thanks for your next missive. I am intrigued about your beer comments, there is usually a reasonable range onboard. Did you inquire of the head barman or F&B Manager exactly what was available. With regard to the wine pours SS has never produced a complimentary list, although some guests have been able to winkle it out of them. Part of the problem is inventories change, reprovisioning gets missed,   stocks run out and it would probably cause more issues to provide a list and then have to deal with guests disappointment when their choice is unavailable.

Thanks for your response. My first request as to what lager-style beers were available was made at the Grill, whilst enjoying an excellent lunchtime burger. When i was told (just) Becks and Stella I expressed disbelief. The waiter then said that he would check with his manager but then came back and confirmed the position. This was also the situation when I subsequently enquired over a terrific lunchtime pizza. My third and final enquiry was made in the Dolce Vita when the pub lunch was served. I received exactly the same response and also noticed there were no other lagers in the room display put up near the bar for the event. i saw little point in checking ''further up the line''. Incidentally, when discussing this with a fellow experienced SS passenger, he remarked that SS always had a poor beer selection !

As for the wine, whilst understanding what you say, every day the Atlantide menu changed and updated menus were printed, and the in-suite TV menu was amended. Surely the same could be done when included wine stocks/availability changes, which I think would be much less frequently. I appreciate that this has always been SS policy but not sure that this makes it right or that it could not be changed ? I feel certaine that this would be welcomed by guests and can't see any real downside.

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We've had our food, now for some drinks !

Thankfully, dear readers, a much briefer instalment today.

Once again, for us a bit of a mixed bag, although definitely more pluses than minuses.

First of all, the bar attentiveness and service was excellent with far fewer errors, possibly as traditional writing pads rather than ipads were used. It was also noticeable that staff were re-deployed from elsewhere on the ship when a venue became busy and I even saw the bar manager making cocktails when his colleague was struggling with the volume of orders. Great management and leadership.

The illy coffees were absolutely delicious and very well and consistently delivered throughout. Unfortunately, the english breakfast tea, as ever on cruise ships, was insipid and pretty awful. The only good thing about it was the presentation !

As previously mentioned, the included wines were of really good quality.

Turning to the bar drinks, where SS really excels is with the martini-style drinks. What a brilliant idea to concoct the Silver Spirit cocktail, a lovely drink, very popular and deservedly so. The unique take on an espresso martini, using a liquor called, I think, Amurela, made it the best ever ! 

Sadly, the long cocktails were not so great. Far too sweet and sickly due we found out, as a consequence of our discussions with the bar manager, to the pre-mix used, which definitely needs to change. Although we were told, helpfully, that the sweetness could be neutralised by either using lime or insisting on fresh fruit juices, the former did not appeal as the underlying mix would still be there and the insistence on fresh fruit juices would be so unfair to such a hard-working bar team. We decided to avoid, not a great hardship but for SS, definitely an area for improvement.

Worldwide there has been a recent explosion in the popularity of gins and gin-based drinks. SS certainly had a good range of top shelf gins, including my favourite, Hendricks. However, very surprisingly, the market-leading  premium tonics, Fever Tree, were not available, instead being offered the vastly inferior schweppes. Also, g and ts were served in the rather passé tall tumblers, rather than the modern bowl-type glass. A rather poor execution of such a popular drink.

The canapés  served pre-dinner were delicious and beautifully presented. Why not increase the offering to 6 (from 5) ie 3 each per couple, just a thought ?

Finally, what a great idea to have a tray of drinks with champagne and other lovely concoctions ready and waiting when entering the theatre lounge for a show. Finally, finally...Jeffrey (in-joke for Silver guests, sorry) !!

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This is making interesting reading - and is reawakening lots of memories of the Silverseas experience. We have had c.60 nights on various SS ships (including Spirit) but all quite a while back now and certainly pre Muse. All things considered, at this stage of KK's comments, I'm thinking we need to go back (when we're finally allowed to...and assuming there will be such a thing as cruising in the ACV years!). However there has not been yet been any comment about afternoon tea. That is critical feedback and could make all the difference for a future decision......

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That depends now on the ship, classic is still in the Panorama on some ships, otherwise in La Terrazza, on the post Spirit ships it’s in the Arts Cafe.

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4 minutes ago, Silver Spectre said:

That depends now on the ship, classic is still in the Panorama on some ships, otherwise in La Terrazza, on the post Spirit ships it’s in the Arts Cafe.

Ah - how some things change!

For me I am not too bothered about the location (where is not wonderful on any ship...?) but the presence of 3 tiers is key to my litmus test.... (not KK's preference, I know. But then what does he know about cake?!)

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58 minutes ago, Noggins said:

Ah - how some things change!

For me I am not too bothered about the location (where is not wonderful on any ship...?) but the presence of 3 tiers is key to my litmus test.... (not KK's preference, I know. But then what does he know about cake?!)

Not sure about three tiers in the Arts Cafe, but there is a very healthy selection, but the three tiers are still on the other ships, and of course scones and clotted cream still rule the roost!

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Although very health conscious in most regards (alcohol / cake / desserts / scones / clotted cream / more cake / alcohol - are among my only weaknesses...) it sounds as though I will continue to be well catered for!

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The great tea issue

Okay then, an unplanned extra, to put my dear friend Mr N's mind at rest.

So far as I am aware, afternoon tea was not served in LA Terazza or other venues but was most definitely in the Arts Cafe and in plentiful supply ! Yes, we did indulge and most acceptable it was too. No cake stands ( and thus no unnecessary waste) but:-

  • Lovely sandwich selection (unchanged throughout cruise), either served as a selection of five different varieties on a smart tray or individually selected
  • Great selection of indulgent cakes
  • Scones with traditional accompaniments, sensibly kept not on display, to ensure optimum freshness but freely available on request
  • Terrific cookies ( our absolute fave, the peanut butter variety...scrumptious

 All that one could hope for and really enjoyed on the beautiful aft terrace. Will this do for you, Mr N ?

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The on-board experience

Before ducking to avoid the missiles that will undoubtedly be hurled at me by SS devotees, please do once again bear in mind that these are very much my personal thoughts. They are also, maybe unfairly, benchmarked against our Crystal experiences, that line generally accepted as having a superb offering in this area. I also appreciate that Spirit has a capacity of about 600, whereas Crystal ships accommodate say 800-900.

Cruise lines naturally focus more on certain areas than others. Also, every aspect has a different level of importance to individual passengers. For us, enrichment, activities and entertainment are very critical to our enjoyment of a cruise and, unfortunately, this is not where SS excels. Let's try to deal with each aspect in turn.

Musicians

The sum total was;_

  • A cocktail pianist, who, whilst extremely proficient, played very softly, with no audience engagement. Background music, in essence.
  • A guitarist who played well but sang terribly
  • A trio, well-suited to a modest hotel/function but not that great for a cruise ship ( I am being kind here !).

And that's it, other than the terrific duo resident in Silver Note. To compare, Crystal has a 7 piece very professional showband (who play in the theatre shows, do dixie and big band sets etc) and whose individual members also play solo sets in various locations, a dance quartet, a cocktail lounge duo, a cocktail pianist, a violinist and a piano bar pianist. Way, way better.

Evening shows

We were told that on our 15 night cruise, 2 guest entertainers were booked, playing 2 shows each. Due to covid 19, one couldn't make it and a replacement was to join at a port which got cancelled. The magician who did perform was very professional and most enjoyable. To compare, on our forthcoming Crystal cruise, at present 7 entertainers are scheduled and there could well end up being even more.

The remaining shows were provided by 6 individuals, lovely engaging individuals who performed a mix of solo and group shows. To be honest, they would not have been of the required standard to headline on many other cruise lines . To contrast, Crystal have two excellent experienced lead singers, backed by 8 professional dancers, some of whom also provide backing vocals. Big production shows abound, none on SS.

Only one performance each evening, not the usual two and on two evenings, no live entertainment at all in the theatre, just a film (Crystal has a separate cinema). Inexcusable.

Enrichment

SS had on board an excellent destinations lecturer, truly top class. Nobody else though ( Crystal may have 5, 6 or even more  different expert  speakers).

No gym classes ( through the grapevine I heard the instructor was ill and had not been replaced), no hosted bridge, no hosted craft classes, no IT/computer classes, really not much else, other than trivia and bingo.

I have disregarded the chats and get together gatherings, common to all cruise lines.

Bits and bobs

I cannot omit from today's musings a reference to the absolute stars of SS, the CD Rico and his assistant Dean (Dino). They were the most outstanding team and they were brilliant throughout. It says everything when the two activities we most looked forward to each day were the bingo and trivia, which they each hosted. Terrifically engaging in conversation as well. Top class !

It also says a lot about the really underwhelming and uninspiring scheduled offerings that the 2 stand-out highlights were the wonderful hastily put together cruise show and the brilliantly executed crossing the equator traditional ceremony. Oh, the boat-building was great fun, too.

In order to keep spirits up in such a difficult situation, in our unscheduled additional days the schedule included a pub lunch, an american diner lunch and a decadent chocolate buffet. These were all very well organised and presented but I wonder if we would have received them on our scheduled 15 nights, as they were all on the ''additional'' sea days.

 

Sorry to make so many references to Crystal but this is our only other experienced luxury operation. Truly, this aspect was the real downer for us. Sorry....

 

My next instalment is intended to be a final summing up and conclusion. However, do let me know if I have missed any aspects.

 

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It's great to read a traveller's record of a trip that is both detailed and honest. Inevitably different things please different folks but you put your reports into the frame of your own perspective so I think referring back to Crystal is very valid. 

 

I remember posting a report of a trip on the QM2 from our perspective as SS regulars. From the outset I made clear it was a personal view but I was eviscerated by Cunard regulars simply because my needs, and therefore my outlook, were different. 

 

So thanks for your openness and honesty. A refreshing read! 

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, Tothesunset said:

It's great to read a traveller's record of a trip that is both detailed and honest. Inevitably different things please different folks but you put your reports into the frame of your own perspective so I think referring back to Crystal is very valid. 

 

I remember posting a report of a trip on the QM2 from our perspective as SS regulars. From the outset I made clear it was a personal view but I was eviscerated by Cunard regulars simply because my needs, and therefore my outlook, were different. 

 

So thanks for your openness and honesty. A refreshing read! 

 

It's always useful to reference other Lines you are aware of to compare and this forms a gauge that most will find useful.

 

Whilst I'm clearly in the SS camp, I certainly understand there must be areas other lines excel with or simply better than SS at. The reverse would always likely be true.

 

Echo your thoughts on the review.... So thank you Kool Kruser for this and your efforts. Always good when a balanced perspective is written with detail.

 

Hopefully your final installment will tell us if (even with the adventurous nature of your cruise)... You will recommend SS and plan to sail again in the future.

 

 

 

 

Edited by les37b

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Thanks very much for these long and thoughtful posts.

 

I have *lots* of nights on both Crystal and Silversea (though I have booked away from Crystal lately because of what I consider to be their onerous payment and cancellation terms, especially for long voyages I prefer).

 

I think you are absolutely correct that Crystal enrichment/entertainment is superior to that on Silversea.  But I would gladly trade a few lectures or evening shows for the more modern Silversea ships, the smaller size, the larger standard suites (with walk in showers as well as baths on most ships!), etc.

 

Life (it's said) is a series of trade-offs, and I gladly trade Crystal entertainment/enrichment for all Silversea offers.

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Before penning my final thoughts, may I thank Tothesunset and les37b for their kind words, which are truly appreciated. Thanks also to others who have liked various posts in this thread.

To Observer, I do recall your past contributions to the Crystal board and was truly disappointed at some of the rudeness you encountered there. When posting some, shall we say, negative views, I was waiting for some responses along the lines of ''Well you obviously prefer Crystal/don't like Silversea, so you had best sail with them in the future''. I am truly delighted that this has not proved to be the case and how courteous people seem to be on this board. Sadly, this is still not always the case on the Crystal board and I sometimes cringe at the utter rudeness displayed there.

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Final thoughts

First and foremost, this cruise left me in no doubt that, in the event of any unforeseen issues, you simply cannot be in better hands than with Silversea. Their fantastic helpful approach, kindness, care and support could not have been bettered. An example to be strived for by others, not just in the cruise but in the wider travel industry. Thank you Silver Spirit and Silversea.

Now for my final conclusions. Do bear with me again for the further comparisons to Crystal. So, in bullet point form:-

  • The ship has to be the most beautiful on which I have ever sailed. We love Crystal but this was even better.
  • The balcony suite was simply wonderful, much much better than Crystal.
  • We felt the Butler  was really not needed, as we feel sure that the vast majority of his services could equally be carried out by our wonderful cabin steward Ricky. Of course, we do not dine in our suite and are very low-maintenance in this respect.
  • We loved the ship's size. Although we were only about 75% full, I think the passenger/space ratio would be excellent, even if sailing at capacity. For us, we are happy, provided a ship has a passenger count of 3 rather than 4 figures.
  • We liked the choice of dining venues and their style and ambience. We think the reservation protocols need revisiting and the menus need to change daily, with always available options of course, in what I would call the 3 'core' restaurants, Atlantide, Indochine and La Terazza. 
  • Whilst the quality of the food was excellent, presentation and style was, for us, far too 'traditional and we prefer a more modern and contemporary offering. Sadly, Crystal wins hands-down here, for us.
  • The 2 paid for restaurants are the exception but we resented the cover charges (none for the first 2 visits on Crystal).
  • Lovely staff but too many service delivery issues for us. Not something we have encountered on Crystal. Disappointing.
  • Drinks..good but could be better. Great illy coffee though.
  • Entertainment and enrichment...the least said the better !! My previous posting says it all.

So les37b, let's come to your questions.

Would i recommend the Silver Spirit? If the on board 'experience' is not important, you like your food traditionally styled and you really want to enjoy a relaxing time with warm, friendly service, a beautiful ship and superb suite, then I would definitely recommend this ship unreservedly. Throughout this thread I have avoided any ageist references. However, I think this type of offering may appeal particularly to a slightly more mature demographic ( I hope this is sufficiently sensitive !).

Would I sail on her again? We are in our 60s but we feel we still need an active type of cruise. We also enjoy a more modern approach to dining. The luxuriousness of a ship and our suite are not so important to us at this stage of our lives. So the short answer is sadly no, the real deal-breakers being the enrichment/entertainment, the service delivery failings  and the style of cuisine.  In all of these areas we find Crystal a better fit for us at present, although I am not sure that this will always be the case.

Notwithstanding the above, we feel truly blessed to have been lucky enough to be on the Silver Spirit in such trying and difficult circumstances. It could have been so much worse.

 

 

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It is not often, on any of the boards, that you read as thorough a review, so thanks, Colin. It was a particularly interesting read as a result of having met you and Steph on a couple of past cruises and therefore having a sense of your preferences and also of your 'cruising history'. As regards the latter we have had a similar journey ranging from mass market lines through to more exclusive experiences. Once you have traded up it is a little more difficult to trade back down but there again you adjust your expectations because, by and large, you get what you pay for. A question, if I may, Colin. How did you feel the fare value compared between the two lines - I imagine you paid a higher per diem than on Crystal?

We loved Silverseas and then, equally, we loved Regent. And then our TA persuaded us to try Crystal - which left us with very similar conclusions. The range of entertainment on offer combined with the fantastic lecture programmes and still with terrific passenger / space ratios left it as our number one choice.

However, as I said in an earlier post, listening to Colin describing SS it reminded me of some of the things we particularly liked about SS and I think we shall revisit (opportunity allowing...). It may make sense for a port intensive itinerary - that way we might not miss the packed daytime programme so much. (With Crystal we look for itineraries with multiple sea days because of the busy daily programmes.)

Ultimately it is about choices and in the world PCV (pre-coronavirus) we were spoiled for choice. Let's hope that we still have plentiful cruise choices in the ACV (after coronavirus) world...

Adrian

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Thanks for taking the time to share your experience.  It was a detailed and balanced review.  

I have sailed with Crystal and would agree that their enrichment program is more comprehensive than Silversea.  If you are looking for more active cruising have you considered trying some of Silversea's expedition cruises?  Active during the day, but quite low key entertainment in the evening due to the smaller size of the ships.

I agree with your comment about the unimaginative cheese offerings - this was feedback I gave during my last trip.   

 

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Adrian

It's a little difficult to compare pricing, as our cruise was part of a package set up by a well-known UK operator, with a single price for the various elements. Usingmy own guestimates, I don't think there was much difference in the per diem cost of the cruise element. Indeed, as, I believe, Silversea is generally reckoned to be a tad more expensive than Crystal, the very keen pricing was a significant factor in our decision. 

Thanks also for your kind words zigtraveller. Yes, I have given the expedition cruises a thought, as I have no doubt that they would be brilliantly organised and we would be looked after handsomely. At present, however, they are way above what our budget would permit but it is definitely one to consider in the future. Of course, our expectations regarding the entertainment offering would be entirely different on this type of trip and I would imagine that guests would probably spend much of the evening chatting about their daytime adventures. By the way, I am sure that the excellent guest attitude and atmosphere on our eventful cruise owed much to the large number of your fellow country folk on board ! Sadly, some of my own citizens have a rather unrealistic and unreasonable approach on occasions. Perhaps why we so much enjoy being with Aussies (we have been on 3 fantastic trips with APT where the majority of fellow guests were from your great country, although some originally started out in ours !).

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