We are regular cruisers and recently took an 11 day cruise with Silversea from Singapore to Hong Kong, taking in ports in Thailand and Vietnam. This is our fourth cruise with Silversea. We have always enjoyed the 6 star style of cruising. On the plus side, everything was very consistent with previous cruises, which starts from the moment you get dropped off at the port, in this case, the new Cruise Terminal in Singapore. The Silversea staff are there to make the checkin process as seamless as possible and you couldn't help contrast the process for the Silversea passengers versus those joining the large cruise liner also docked and going through their boarding process. On board, the staff are amazing and cannot do enough for you. We had a terrific Butler (Heri) and he was very attentive and followed through on any requests we made.
We really love the configuration of Silver Shadow, a ship that we had travelled on previously about three years ago from Anchorage, Alaska to Vancouver, Canada. We had sailed on a Princess Cruise prior to that cruise and you could notice the step up in class, the ship was sparkling and very stylish. The service levels, the quality of the food, the wine selection that never stops coming and the people generally. Everything seems to happen seamlessly under the surface. The cruise director (David) was very personable and seemed to always be around and made a real effort to get to know the passengers and be very informative about all aspects of the cruise.
Now, we are going to contrast that experience, with some aspects of the latest cruise, which to our way of thinking are dragging down the Silversea brand. The first and most striking is the ship. Silver Shadow is looking tired and this is obvious everywhere. The carpets, the furniture throughout the ship, look very much in need of a refurbishment. In our suite, the sofa had threads and fibres coming away from the material, the desk was seriously chipped and scratched, the coffee table the same. The mirrors in the bathroom are degrading around the edges. The tapware had lost it chrome look and really needs replacement. The balcony had splotches of white paint on the ground, timber flooring and chairs and the small coffee table looked like it was ready for firewood. In the Casino bar, the counter tops are chipped and scratched. In the main bar, the chairs look faded, as does the carpet. The gym is adequately equipped, although having only one cross trainer is a big deficiency. They need at least two. The big issue with the gym is the air flow. I assume there is air conditioning, but it is thoroughly inadequate in the warmer temperature, like we experienced during the cruise. If you get a few people in there at the same time, there is no air. They need to install some wall fans to circulate the air. The day we arrived in our suite, there were two towelling robes hanging in the closet. Both robes were quite damp. On two occasions, the clean towels left in our bathroom were also damp (i.e. about the dampness level as if they had been used once). I was in the pool and noticed all this crime on the floor of the pool. I wasn't sure what it was until I moved it with my foot. It was just dirt from one end of the pool to the other. These are not examples of the Silversea standard we are accustomed to. The cruise director was Moss Hill. I understand he is brand new, so we will give him some leeway, but there was not the level of engagement with the passengers as with the previous cruise directors we have travelled with (David on Silver Shadow and Mike on Silver Spirit). What was most concerning to us is that when I talked with the onboard management, they agreed about the condition of the ship, but openly admitted that there was no update in the planning. We think that is unacceptable for a six star luxury cruise product.
We recently travelled on Silver Spirit, which is a newer ship, but apart from the condition (which is much better), it is fresher, smarter and more up to date. For example, Silver Spirit has two TV's in the same size verandah suite, neatly incorporated into the mirrors. It also has a wide selection of movies available for accessing from the menu screen. On Silver Shadow, there is an old DVD player in the suite and a common library where you can borrow movies, but when we looked, there appeared to be nothing new added to the library in the past three years. They do have three channels which seem to show a more current movie in a repeating loop, if it happens to be what you want to watch, when it is showing.
A couple of comments on Silversea generally, when you are paying top dollar to go on these six star cruises, where it is largely "all inclusive", we can't understand why they insist on charging for use of the internet. Is it just to generate extra revenue, surely not. We travel a great deal and in the higher end hotels for example, it is more commonplace these days that internet access is complimentary. We understand this is the case with Seabourn, the nearest competitor to Silversea. Having to buy minutes and logging on and off in a hurry to preserve those minutes is cumbersome and outdated. Lastly, a new practice that has started on Silversea is that when you come on board, you need to nominate up front which restaurant bookings you want (other than the main restaurant), i.e La Terrazza, Le Champagne and other specialty restaurants when available on the ship. We really find it hard to determine weeks in advance, what restaurant you want to dine at on a given night and how many people would be dining. You tend to meet people on cruises and dine together. How do you know how to include them up front. Plus, from the last experience on Silver Spirit, it seemed that most of the restaurants were panic booked up front and then bookings released during the cruise, so in the end, you could book on the day and still get in. I don't think that process works. Finally, we think that Silversea needs to broaden their offerings in on shore activities. They tend to be all sightseeing and this can get old once you have done it a few times during the cruise. They need to add some activities. Appeal to perhaps some of the younger guests. For example, when we docked in Chan May, it is a very remote port with nothing in the immediate area. We enjoy golf and had privately researched a Nick Faldo designed golf course only 15 minutes from the port. So I arranged with the club for a game of golf. They picked us up, we had a great game of golf at Laguna Lang Co Golf Club and returned to the ship in the afternoon before the sail away with plenty of time to spare. Several of the guests who saw us with our golf clubs commented that they wished they had have known about the golf option and would have preferred that to the Silversea sight seeing offerings.
We hope these comments are viewed as constructive and fair. Silversea is an amazing cruise product, with great itineraries, exceptional food and wine and most importantly, incredible people and service. But our most recent sailing has been a quite disappointing due to the matters we indicated above.