Background: The package was put together by a travel agent and was chosen for the following reasons:
a, 2 night pre-cruise stay in Rome, b, to experience Silverseas and compare against other 5/6 star cruises already taken, c, a 3 day post cruise stay in Venice.
Rome Hotel: St. George hotel in Rome is well situated for walking to the main sites. The room was not large but comfortably furnished. The hotel, in an old building, is decorated and furnished in a modern style.
Venice Hotel: The Hilton Stuky is a very large hotel in an old mill on an the island of Giudecca. Rooms are modern and comfortable and service is good. Situated on an island means that visiting the sights of Venice requires a water crossing to Zattere and then St Marc's. The hotel provides a Complimentary Shuttle service across the water but at peak times there are queues to use it. If returning from Zattere at popular times beware that the shuttle may be full and a wait for the next shuttle could take a long time.
Silver Wind: A smaller ship than we have been used to. It carries about 400 passengers and had a full occupancy on our cruise.
1,Most cruise lines warn prospective customers about problems. e.g. "obstructed view" These warnings allow customers to decide whether to book or not. Silverseas does not give warnings! I booked without checking the suite location. - a big mistake! We were allocated suite 412. On checking the deck plan I saw that it is the Foremost Suite on Left hand side on deck 4. I asked the agent to ask Silverseas if it was going to be a noisy cabin. Silverseas replied that the suite would only be affected by "the ship's normal operational noise." This turned out to be a masterly use of english to disguise a problem the line was well aware of. If you need your sleep and do not usually awake until 8am or later - AVOID suites 412, 411 and the foremost suites on deck 5. When anchoring or mooring (every day except Sea Days) preparation work: dragging chain, warps, electric motors, bow thrusters, and winches start one hour before arrival and lasts for approx. 1.5 to 2 hrs. In the cabins mentioned and maybe others: Think: "laying in a dentist's chair and having a heavy chain dragged through your teeth or being in a hotel room with major building work being carried out in the next room."
In our case anchoring in Sorrento on our first morning at 4am (even though we couldn't leave the ship until 8am) produced the horrendous noise at 3am! All other arrivals were timed at 0730 - 0800hrs so we suffered the noise from about 0630hrs every day. My wife had a whole week of disturbed sleep. A complaint to the Hotel Director produced no apology but a note saying, "Thank you for your comments."
2, In good restaurants we expect hot courses to be served hot and on hot plates. Silver Wind Restaurant serves warm food on cold plates. When the problem was mentioned to our waiter I was asked if I wanted the course changing. On a table for 8 and with dinner guests politely waiting it was easier to accept what was served. The Restaurant Manager contacted me later and explained that the restaurant was air-conditioned, was a large space with many diners, and that if I wanted hot courses served on hot plates then I should ask the waiter at the time of ordering! I'd never come across this excuse before but carried out his instruction at all future meals. - Sometimes it worked but mostly it didn't!
3, It was almost impossible to get a cup of tea made with boiling water except at the Afternoon Teatime.
Generally the service was good to "over the top" with waiters doing their best to help, but much to our amusement, frequently getting things wrong. e.g. 2 eggs instead of 1, toast arriving much later than the poached egg, scones served with jam and cream when the order was for jam and butter.
We only took one shore excursion organised by the ship. To Herculaneum. Expensive but worth it even though it was a very wet day and most people were soaked to the skin. The only problem was that instead of the coach taking us to the coach/shuttle bus station it dropped us at a "wonderful local craft market where the shuttle to the port would be along soon!" 20 mins. later the shuttle arrived, took us to the port where we were able to board the tender and return to the ship. After a quick change we dashed up to the lunch buffet, only to be told that they were about to close! We explained that we had just returned from a ship's tour. We were then admitted to the buffet and had the choice of what was left.
We didn't expect much and the young, recently graduated singers did their best with varying degrees of success.
This was smooth and efficient.
Silverseas professes to be ultra luxury and 6 star. It has the pretentions of being 6 star but doesn't quite make it in practice. Except for the cabin noise problem we would rate Silver Wind as a 5 star ship. Would we use Silverseas again? With the right itinery, dates and a different cabin we might, but wouldn't choose this over another cruise line.