First cruise with Silverseas on the Silver Shadow, a pleasant enough cruise blessed with generally good weather at almost all the ports of call. Here is a list of things that Silverseas gained points for, things that were a little ‘so so’ and things it lost points for, including the likely deal breaker for us taking another Silverseas cruise!
Merit points for;
Cabin/Suite - Our Silver Suite accommodation was very nice, had all the things required and the butler service is a nice touch. Having the included laundry service was also very good.
Crew Almost universally genuinely friendly and helpful. The duo in the bar were great and even learnt a song on request! The poor girls in the Casino did not seem to get that much custom, so they were happy to spend time teaching me to play blackjack!
Pool grill hot rock dining This was quite fun, sadly the colder weather closed the pool grill on quite a few evenings, but when available it was by far the best food on the ship for both lunch and the evening ‘hot rock’ dining (see later comments re the food in main restaurants).
Fellow passengers We met some delightful and interesting people on board and encountered very few crashing bores that we had to avoid. Not something a cruise line has any control over of course, but meeting fellow passengers is very much part of the overall cruise experience and this trip scored top marks on this front.
What was ‘so so’;
Range of activities There were a good range of enrichment lectures and food/wine demonstrations, but apart from that if you are not into Trivia (which we are not) then there really was not much else on offer for the several sea days.
Demerit points for;
Food The catering in the main dining room and the Italian al a carte restaurant were very much hit and miss. Some things were great and others were just plain dull. We eventually learnt to avoid the daily roast offering as it was usually well below standard. On a few occasions dishes had to be sent back as they were cold. We have done some previous cruising on smaller expedition style ships (not SiIverseas) and one trip on a larger Celebrity ship, frankly the food was not quite as good as any of our previous cruises. Just to be clear, the food was not bad to the point that you would complain, it was just not that outstanding. I should also add that despite the generally positive attitude of the staff, service in the main dining room could also be a little hit and miss.
Big time demerit points (and likely future Silverseas cruise deal breaker);
The extremely poor ‘all inclusive’ wine selection. This was by far and away the biggest disappointment, so much so that we may well not book with SIlverseas again for this one reason. The selection of wine offered as part of the normal ‘all inclusive’ selection was quite dire. Now I should add that we only drink white wine and Champagne, and the bubbly on offer (Monopole) was perfectly acceptable. But the white wines offered were a rather dull selection of old fashioned mostly French offerings, not one Australian or New Zealand wine to be found. The only ‘new world’ white on offer the the included selection was a Chilean Sauv Blanc that tasted like you could have probably happily driven your car on it. We are absolutely not wine snobs, but the selection really was very disappointing, we could not find one white wine that we really liked and so wound up drinking very little of the wines offered. We did speak to the head Sommelier and we were able to establish that they did have one of our favourite NZ Sauv Blancs on board, but it was $40 a bottle from the ‘Premium’ selection, and for some reason it did not even appear on the premium wine list! So we wound up spending quite a few extra bucks on bottles of that.
Overall, I am forced to conclude that the ‘all inclusive’ model really does not work, or at least as currently implemented by Silverseas it does not work. I would rather have paid a little less for a ‘non all inclusive’ package and then have selected what wines I wanted. As it is we paid for an inferior all inclusive style product and then were effectively forced to pay again to avoid a pretty dire selection of wines.
Unless Silverseas can demonstrate an improvement on this point then it’s fairly unlikely we will be booking with them again, which is a real shame as we otherwise quite enjoyed this cruise.