We had a fabulous cruise, in part because of the high points of the Silversea experience, and in part because we experienced unseasonably wonderful weather and the ports on this 7 day cruise, including the embarkation and disembarkation cities, were so wonderful; St. Petersburg was especially wonderful over three long, intensive days. As a port intensive itinerary the shortcomings of the cruise line took on less importance.
We previously cruised on Wind in 2005. Whisper, as a ship was better in virtually every respect. The service and passenger first approach of the entire crew was evident throughout our voyage. For us Silversea feels that a product of a different era with accompanying positives and negatives.
- Seamless embarkation/disembarkation, including port stops
- Seamless, gracious check-in
- Wonderful, intuitive butler and housekeeping service
- Comfortable, high quality bedding
- Pool Grille menu and service were first class
- Accommodating staff and policies: we were wowed by the extension of La Terazza lunch hours in Helsinki and Tallinn to serve those returning from late tours
- The pool scene was very civilized and comfortable - good chairs/never overcrowded etc.
- Very good spa with good massage at a reasonable price (for a cruise ship); although we missed the spa music and smells that others use to enhance the experience
- No attempts at upsells nor frivolous service at any time during the cruise
- Food preparation was uniformly wonderful, although the menu choices and recipes were not always to our liking (see below)
- Drinks at the main bar were very good
- The largely homogeneous passenger mix of respectful, reservedly friendly people meant an absence of annoyances that we have experienced on other lines
The personal negatives:
- Menus were eclectic and not well oriented towards contemporary mainstream tastes; best accepted by very flexible diners with European tastes. We were highly satisfied on occasion and at other times very dissatisfied. Menu 1 at La Terazza was great and Menu 2 in the rotation was very disappointing
- The more complex among the mixed drinks ordered at the pool were incompetently prepared. It appeared (not verified) that the "bartenders" were promoted/drafted pool waiters
- Silversea has the worst Internet we have experience at sea - comparable to early dial-up and priced as if efficient and fast. For us this alone would be a non-starter in choosing to cruise with Silversea on a lengthy cruise or to regions very remote from family
- Other technology integration is non-existent e.g. A/V, restaurant and services reservation systems etc.
- Ill-conceived frequent guest program whose first reward thresholds are set far too high
- The propulsion system felt like it was a product of another technology area when maneuvering in port; in Helsinki we experienced a level of noise and vibration unlike anything encountered on any other ship when we had to "parallel park" to our space at the pier
- No attempt was made to bring onboard local entertainment during three days in St. Petersburg
At the end of the day it is a value judgment. Some passenger may be more flexible diners, may not care about Internet access etc. For anyone with service first values and looking only for a small ship experience, Silversea is a wonderful choice; for us, it will continue as a viable choice in certain circumstances, but this cruise did not elevate Silversea to our "go to" cruise line.