Why has the travel industry decided that most people want to be enveloped in shades of brown, blood red and gold during their cruises? As the Silver Cloud was only renovated a year ago, I was disgusted to find these same depressing non-nautical colors dominating the palette of my cabin as they did nearly three years ago on the Silver Whisper. How about some cheerful nautical blues and greens?
The beds are very comfortable, and the cabins (they're not "suites") are efficiently designed. I was glad to find the deck chairs on the balcony capable of various positions, so that one could lie back, although on the starboard side the ports of Valencia and Barcelona were hideously industrial and uninviting. We also lacked good enough weather to permit star-gazing at night, but, of course, neither are Silversea's fault.
I thought the food was generally very good ( better than that served on my first Silversea voyage in 2011), however, I was disappointed in the overall quality of the wines (and I'm no wine snob), and I was very distressed not to find a cheering bottle of bubbly in an ice bucket as I did last time around. I was told that now you must request it in advance, but it's the generous gesture and first impression that counts!
Last time around, the passengers were extremely friendly and most were in the 50 -- 70 age range, like me. This time, although the diversity seemed to be similar (one had no way of really knowing, as the line no longer furnishes a guest directory, which was extremely helpful on my first voyage, the general age range seemed more like 70 -- 90). I see no reason whatever for not publishing a directory, as individuals or couples could be given the option of whether they wished to be included. As it was, I exchanged email addresses with no one, unlike last time around. I met some very nice people, and would have liked to have done that -- too late now. In fact, I knew only one gentleman's first and last name, and I probably presumed upon him for this reason.
This time, the average age seemed more like 70 -- 90. On the last night, due to a mechanical failure of my safe for the fourth time during 9 days, I missed meeting my fellow solo passengers at 7:15 in the Panorama Lounge, and didn't get down to the dining room until closer to 8:00 PM. At the first table I was seated with individuals who were hard of hearing, making conversation impossible. I was then seated by myself at a table until my loneliness was noted. Then I was moved to a table with no one directly to my right, but a person to my left who described the President of the United States (she was, of course, an American) as "little more than a monkey." At that point, I said "That's enough for me; goodnight everyone," and ended my last night of the voyage dining alone in my cabin. Silversea cannot be blamed, of course, for right-wing guests who can't be polite, but the line can be blamed for including Fox Television in its news line-up (why not just have CNN and BBC or include CNBC for some political balance?)
Finally, there's the issue of tipping. Silversea says that tips are included and discouraged. However, on my last night, a receptionist told an inquiring first-time Silversea cruiser that the matter was "optional." How coy! This is an outrageous no-no, and should be quelled. Please be honest in your policy and the way your reps describe it.
I would cruise with Silversea again, but I do hope that management reads these comments from their cruisers.