Over the past ten years we have cruised many times on the Silversea fleet, sailing on the Whisper, Shadow and the smaller Cloud and Wind. With the launch of the new larger Spirit in 2010 we often found ourselves in conversation with fellow travellers when the question 'have you sailed on the Spirit and what is your opinion of it'? Was raised, well with varied answers we decided to try the Spirit ourselves and make our own mind up.
Late October we embarked on a ten day voyage from Barcelona bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. Initial impressions were very good, the ship makes good use of the additional space and the public areas all benefited from being that little bit larger. In particular the La Terraza restaurant benefits greatly from a larger buffet servery and outdoor terrace. Throughout the ship fixtures, fittings and furnishings all met the high standards expected from Silversea.
The veranda suites are about 12" narrower than the Whisper & Shadow which is a shame, they are however longer, the balcony slightly larger and the bathroom is very much improved.
The food and service was very good throughout the ship and all it's restaurants, although there was a feeling shared by others that the food fell short of sister ships. Oh dear! Who on earth purchased the cutlery? Particularly the forks! The design makes them very uncomfortable and difficult to use, a compliant shared by many fellow passengers. Maybe if you are using the forks 'American Style' as a spoon they are ok but as a fork the do not function!
The Show Lounge (theatre) looks impressive however the design differs from its sister ships. The Spirit lacks the two level layout, with access from two decks and seating on two levels found on the other ships. Also the seating layout is new, gone are the tiered benches with free standing chairs and tables. They are replaced with tiered rows of twin seats, similar to those you are more likely to find in the back row of your local cinema! I think it fair to say this seating arrangement did not draw universal approval! So alas, it is no longer possible to enjoy a drink or two with same canapes as you no longer have the tables or indeed the space.
Out on deck the sun loungers were excellent and easy to use. Not so the unfortunate use of a 'plastic' material used for the outside dining tables. The 'plastic' must be porous in some way, with many of the tables being disfigured with dark wine glass stains. It seemed that the surface had absorbed red wine and the stains appeared impossible to remove. Coincidently there is a similar problem with the three Jacuzzis, each of which is badly marked with what appear to be rust stains which have penetrated the plastic material surrounding the Jacuzzis making them look unclean. The actual body of the Jacuzzis also show dark markings which detract from the appearance.
We were surprised to find the Captain' Welcome Reception, normally held in the Show Lounge (theatre), had been pared back to a brief 15 minute affair in the bar. An even greater surprise was the absence of the Captain's Farewell Party. "Time to Say Goodbye" In our experience this "Signature Event" has always been a highlight of the cruise -- for both crew and passengers!
All in all the staff were very good indeed with many being Excellent and displaying all of the exceptional qualities we have come to expect of from Silversea crews. However ,I think it fair to say that overall the Spirit is lacking in the passion and pride so very well demonstrated on the sister ships.
On board entertainment predominantly in the Show Lounge was a disappointment. The song, dance and variety shows we were expecting were replaced by a succession of 'tribute song acts' with some very poor costumes for the singers. We assumed the performers were working to performances created by their Producer but it has to be said they were pretty dire!
Disembarkation did not go as smoothly as it could have done, hampered by lack of clear communication from the cruise director, with some passengers, us included, experiencing unnecessary delay and problems having our baggage properly transferred from ship to the terminal.
So would we go again? Well if it was to a destination we particularly wanted to visit and other ships in the fleet were not operating there yes we would. We do however feel the Spirit -- good as it is -- still has a way to go to exude the warmth, pride and care of the Shadow and Whisper which will remain as our first choice.