OUTSTANDING IN ALL RESPECTS: Silver Cloud Cruise Review by bogey
Overall Member Rating
OUTSTANDING IN ALL RESPECTS
Destination: Baltic Sea
This was out 18th cruise. We've cruised with Holland America, Costa and Carnival. We've also tried the "higher end" lines of Oceania, Crystal, Regent and Silversea. Bottom line, this cruise was one of the very best.
We arranged our own air and spent two nights in Copenhagen prior to embarkation. Copenhagen is an easy city to explore and this was a nice way to get over jet lag and begin the vacation.
Embarkation could not have been easier. We took a cab to the ship where our bags were immediately taken from us. No lines for check-in and we were on board in less than 5 minutes from getting out of the cab. Cabins weren't ready, so we went to La Terazza for a bite to eat. Rudy, a La Terazza waiter, More recognized us as we walked in and escorted us to a table in the sun on the aft deck. For the rest of the cruise, Rudy appointed himself "our guy" in La Terazza. He made sure we were taken care of, even if we weren't in his station. This "welcome back" greeting set the tone for eleven days of superb, professional and friendly service.
After a light lunch, we decided to see if we could drop our carry-on bags in the cabin. As we walked down the passageway, a butler saw us and, without a word, turned around, walked to our cabin (regular verandah) and opened the door. I cannot imagine how he knew who we were or our cabin number, but he did. He was our butler for the cruise and he and his cabin-attendant partner were the most efficient we've had in all of our cruises.
I hope I've made the point, that the service on this cruise was simply amazing. I'm not going to comment about the food --- other than to say that it was uniformly excellent. I've posted something on the Silversea Board in a "sticky" thread about food, and don't want this to be any more boring and long than it already is.
We were on the Cloud in April of 2012 and it was not in the best condition. The ship was beginning to look worn and there were some continuing problems, particularly with daily leaks in the plumbing. The ship went through a yard period last fall, and the results are fantastic. Cosmetically, the color scheme has changed for the better and a lot of furnishings and surfaces have been upgraded. We never saw a single sign of a leak or other "infrastructure" problems -- except for the HVAC which I'll discuss below. Bathrooms have been completely re-done and we absolutely loved the new walk-in showers with "rain" shower heads. Folks who love to soak in a tub will be disappointed, because the tubs have been removed from most cabins. If you want a tub, reserve early.
Our only disappointment with the ship was the HVAC. It seemed to us that the ship warmed up as you went aft. Since all of the public rooms are toward the stern, it was frequently a bit warm in the Venetian Lounge, the Panorama Lounge, La Terazza, etc. Additionally, we had a difficult time with our cabin temperature -- too warm at first, then too cold. Finally, things seemed to settle in, and we were quite comfortable for the final 3 or 4 days. We had dinner one evening with one of the ship's staff who said that they were aware of the HVAC challenges and had contractors aboard evaluating the entire system.
The itinerary was excellent. First stop was Tallin where we took one of the ship's "survey" tours. It was an interesting, exceptionally clean city. The most interesting thing about the tour (to me) were the very candid comments of the tour guide about the horrible conditions and treatment during the cold war era of Soviet rule.
After Tallin we had two days in St. Petersburg. Due to the compressed time there, we booked a tour with a private company -- Alla Tours. The two days with them were excellent, but exhausting. St. Petersburg is an amazing place, but be prepared for huge crowds in all the popular spots. We had an "early opening" at the Hermitage, and it was still crowded when we arrived. By the time we departed, the place was officially open and wall-to-wall people.
Helsinki was the next stop. After that, Stockholm. Both are very charming Nordic cities. The trip through the archipelago entering and departing Stockholm was spectacular. I think somebody said that the archipelago consisted of 30,000 islands. It was worth getting up at 0500 to watch the two hour sail into Stockholm harbor. The Captain and the pilot were certainly fully occupied the entire time.
After Stockholm, we had a 5 hour visit to Visby on the island of Gotland. It was a quaint little town and we could have enjoyed even more time to wander the streets and soak up the atmosphere.
Next, we stopped in Warnemunde, Germany. The thing to do there was a bus tour to Berlin. We decided not to spend 6+ hours on a bus in order to have about 4 hours in Berlin. Instead we took a tour to the town of Sherwin and its beautiful castle which is located on an island in a lake.
The last two days were spent going through the Kiel Canal, to the North Sea, to the River Thames. The Canal was an interesting "ditch" through German farmland. The North Sea was calm and very foggy. The arrival in London was perhaps the highlight of the entire trip --- especially when they raised the Tower Bridge so we could sail under and tie up along side the HMS Belfast. It was great to see London from that perspective and the cheers from folks on the banks of the river were a great welcome.
We (sadly but smoothly) disembarked the next morning and began the journey home after a truly wonderful cruise on the Silver Cloud. Less