On arrival at the ship at around 3:30pm we checked in the suitcases and made our way to the ship. Signage was excellent and security formalities handled quickly. Check-in and door passes issued, we made our way to our suite, one of the Silver Suites, #730. Suite itself described by my significant other as "cosy", which over the years has come to mean "cramped". However, everything in order, champagne on ice so time to relax a little. Suitcases arrived in good time and were unpacked in ready anticipation. Then, just as you think things are going well, it's time for dinner.
On arrival at the main dining room, the normal attempt at pretentious rubbish, the proffered arm for the lady to be escorted to the table whilst the man trundles along behind like some spare part. Comical to see, yet accepted by most, though not my wife I'm happy to say. First table we were shown to was around half a meter from a service station with plates crashing etc etc. We were moved to a quieter table, but it begs the question of why any table is positioned thus.
There are only a few comments I can make about the food and wine that evening. Inedible and undrinkable, in that order. We did order marinated shrimp, but it appears that long dead frozen shrimps left to marinate for a few days then air dried for a week are pretty tough. In the end we settled for a salad, we felt it safer to have something that, in theory, the "chef" did not have to cook. The wine was appalling. It transpired some days later that a container of wine did not get loaded in Singapore so the choices were limited. Again, my only comment is that the poor quality served up should not have been on a supposed 6 star ship in the first place.
On the second evening we tried the Terrazza, which is actually the Terrace breakfast/lunch buffet by day but is changed to a passingly acceptable Italian by night. Given that we had no desire to eat at the food factory, sorry "The Restaurant" ever again, we made reservations to eat at Terrazza and Champagne for the remainder of the trip. Sadly though, the poor quality wines followed us down to Terrazza but at least sommelier Robin tried his best. Most nights we ordered from the wine list (at our cost) just to get something drinkable.
Having cried off the food factory, we were invited to the Cruise Directors table for dinner on the third evening, so reluctantly accepted. It was embarrassing to be served the same quality of food and wine as before, touching little and trying to smile at the same time. Probably the most laughable part is that Vin du Pays is presented with the gusto of a Grand Cru. Actually, that is probably the psychology for the most part, tell people it's great and who are they, mere mortals, to disagree?
As a way of rounding up on the food and wine in general, I would say that La Terrazza was variable in quality. Service generally good and a nice, relaxed atmosphere. A tendency to try a bit too hard, but overall OK (except for the shark meat or similar that was presented to us as scallops one evening. Even the chef admitted they were not scallops but "it's what they send us"). The daytime use of the space, The Terrace, offers a buffet breakfast and lunch. Breakfast was marginal with again poor quality the general rule, the fresh fruit and smoked salmon in particular being about as cheap as could be found. Lunch buffet? Once and once only. Appalling. Still, whatever they had left over arrived in the room later that day as canapes. I kid you not.
La Champagne, where we ate 5 times in all, was again unnecessarily pretentious, but the staff lighted up a bit once you get to know them and they understood what sort of experience you wanted. Aziz in particular is very knowledgeable, though I have a feeling that new chef Paul will not last long, he is a proper chef and I'm not sure cooking to a formula will satisfy his creative instincts. Still, for the time being, nicely cooked food, even if the presentation formula is 15 years behind the times.
And that seems to sum up much of our feeling about this ship, behind the times.
Technology No iPod connection to the in-suite hi-fi, no way to contact suite stewardess (other ships we have been on have pagers), reams of paper every day (hope it gets re-cycled) Whatever happened to inter-active TV? Almost every airline can do it, why not the supposed cream of the cruise lines?
Entertainment In general, the on-board activities were very poor. OK, if needlework, bridge, knitting and bingo are your thing you'll feel right at home here. Latin dance class? Only useful if you've spent your entire life immobile, the "instructor" had no idea whatsoever. My wife (the dancer) just laughed. Wine tasting? Given the offerings with meals, why try to understand a wine with no redeeming features whatsoever (OK apart from cooking, and that was marginal) We went to a couple of the evening shows in the theatre, one OK but the second was a fiasco. Part way through, the raised section of floor started lowering, throwing the musicians into disarray, even the piano went. We left never to return. It does seem that on a smaller ship like this, the entertainment options are limited, though having the Cruise Director demeaning the position by "doing a turn" smacks of cost cutting in the extreme. And so to the resident entertainers, the Silver Whisper Quartet and Mario. Playing "old favorites" (in Mario's case, trying to play)but dare I say it, favorites of a departed generation. Although "considering retirement" my music generation favorites were The Stones, Pink Floyd etc. Difficult to call something from before you were born an old favorite. Understand that some people may like this, but a lot do not. One redeeming feature were the presentations from Michael Bourke. Not someone who had ever appealed, he proved to be witty and knowledgeable.
So, onto more about the cruise itself.
The destinations, on paper, looked to be interesting though we had been to most places in Australia many times before. However, it did appear as though nobody from Silversea had visited some of the destinations, had they done so they would have realized that there was no good reason to make a stop. Karimunjawa : A small resort island where we huddled under trees in the rain trying not to get water in the already watery Pina Colada. Semarang : Fascinating trip to Borobudur, though a long drive. Darwin : Nice half day trip to the Territory Wildlife Park Thursday Island : A joke, no reason whatsoever to stop here. Cairns : Best trip, through the rainforest by cable car and back by train. Hamilton Island : No reason whatsoever to stop here. Brisbane : Seemed a few interesting tours, but we chose shopping. Sydney : Best stop as it was where we got off.
Finally, I cannot finish this summary without commenting on the problems associated with the suite itself.
On the first morning, and every morning thereafter, at between 6 and 6:30 am, sun loungers were dragged across the pool deck making a horrendous noise. For most suites, not a problem. However, look at certain suites that are located directly below the open deck area and you will see that any noise is transmitted, and amplified. Suite #730 is a classic case in point. Complaints to the hotel director, along with requests for sleep during party times where herds of elephants danced on the ceiling, were met with a stony stare and no action. Seems that routine cannot change and the collective "we" is far more important than the individual. Anyone reading this should be aware of these problems.
Similarly, there was a leakage of water from the shower drain into the wardrobe area. We reported it but every day had to place towels on the floor to avoid stepping in wet areas.
All in all, if you play bingo, eat frozen food, enjoy cheap wine, like being woken at 6am to visit islands that are closed for the day, then I'm sure Silversea is the cruise line for you. Personally speaking, never, ever, again.