A group of 260 young Latin American sales agents created a nightmare environment for us on Silver Spirit. Loud and boisterous by nature, their rowdy revelry turned the ship into a floating fiesta.
From 17 South American countries, their company, Herbalife, had treated the mainly 25 to 40 year olds to an all- expenses paid luxury cruise which they were determined to enjoy to the full. Unfortunately for the independent guests this meant that instead of the “ultra luxury cruise and relaxed elegance with each guest joining a sophisticated onboard community” as suggested in the brochure, we endured a week which was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Silver Spirit is beautiful and is tastefully furnished. Suites and bathrooms are very spacious and the attentive and friendly crew go out of their way to help. Quite unexpectedly on one occasion our cabin steward had checked what time we would return from an excursion and had prepared a bubble bath for us. The food in the buffet and the restaurant was good, and the entertainment provided by five classically trained singers was to our taste. Unfortunately, due to the way in which some of the Herbalife group impacted on the atmosphere and ambience of the ship we were unable to fully appreciate and enjoy our surroundings.
Calling to each other and blowing their whistles during the safety drill, leaning over the rails above our balcony, shouting and whooping on what should have been a magical sailaway out of Venice at 11.30 pm, and letting their suite doors bang shut as they called goodnight to each other well after midnight was just the start of things to come.
Feeling extremely angry and very upset, we spoke to the customer relations manager the following day who assured us that this type of group booking was quite normal and suggested two areas of the ship that we could use if we needed to find some peace and quiet! He obviously had no power to resolve the situation but did arrange for us to talk to the Corporate Sales Director who just happened to be on board (she was lucky that in that she had not had to pay for the privilege). When we met her two days later things had become even worse. Twenty two out of the thirty two suites on our deck were occupied by the group who continued to shout in the corridors and allow their suite doors to bang shut until 3am. Their behaviour in the tenders was very rowdy with attempts to distract the driver, and some of the group totally ignored the evening dress code, turning up in the restaurant in jeans, tee shirts and bodywarmers. Apparently the ship had exhausted its emergency supply of jackets to lend to them. Although the director shared our concerns and was apologetic about the problems that this large group had caused, she blamed Herbalife for not having better prepared their employees for life on a luxury cruise ship.
Further into the cruise, we were unable to use the pool area on our only afternoon at sea, due to it being dominated by Herbalife who generated a high level of noise including squeals and shouts from their children as they jumped and dived into the pool. On the night of the barbeque we heard banging and squealing outside our suite at 11.45pm and found two children aged approximately 3 and 7 years running around in the corridor unsupervised.
It should have been blindingly obvious that having such a group, comprising almost 50 percent of the guests would change the dynamics from an intimate club-like environment to that of a noisy carnival. Whilst we appreciate that corporate sales are necessary for all cruise lines, this group booking was totally out of proportion to the size of the ship. If it was not possible for Silversea to charter the whole of one of their smaller ships to this group, they should have informed independent guests on Silver Spirit of the situation, allowed them to assess the possible impact of the group booking, and if necessary offer them an alternative.
We have cruised 18 times with 7 cruise lines and have never experienced such a horrendous and distressing holiday. Our first Silversea cruise was on this ship last year when we had a wonderful time. We were completely delighted with the standards of service, the luxury, the lifestyle and the sophisticated atmosphere. We met interesting international fellow guests in an elegant and intimate environment and unreservedly recommended Silversea to all our friends. Whilst we did meet some lovely people this time, the sophisticated atmosphere was sadly lacking and for the considerable amount of money we paid for this cruise we feel that we have not received good value. We did not expect to have such a noisy group of fellow passengers inflicted upon us. We will not cruise with Silversea again unless they can assure us that the situation we found ourselves in on this occasion will never be repeated. Our two letters to them have been unanswered as have numerous telephone calls to their office when we were told “Customer Service not available” (how true that is) We wonder whether the company acknowledges that what we experienced was in any way unusual. We paid a high price to discover that Silversea’s promise that “every voyage is a rare experience, a journey to be treasured” is not a guarantee.
We got much more than we bargained for. Caveat emptor.
Unfortunately due to all the problems mentioned above we can only give one star for both value for money and overall experience.