Silver Whisper - Singapore to Dubai - 29th March - 13th April 2008
This was our second cruise on SilverSea, and our second on the Silver Whisper. A year ago we did the Bangkok - Singapore leg and enjoyed it immensely.
The ship seemed to be in good condition. Since we last cruised on her the old analog TVs have been replaced by flat panels, and they really were just replaced, the position hasn't changed at all, placed oddly rather high up. Those TVs work much better and aren't affected by the metal of the ship. The gym has been extended into a piece of the observation lounge and more machines added. This is a good change as, especially on sea days, the old gym was full to the brim. Some people we spoke to did think the ship was a little bit tired, and perhaps some of the carpets need changing in the heavy use areas, they told us that a few of their bathroom and other fittings gave them some problems. Our room was issue-free.
Whisper has a new Cruise Director, Simon Heath, whom we greatly preferred over the last CD we had. He's British, with a very dry and self-deprecating sense of humor. He and the the rest of the entertainment staff were a very good team and really made the cruise fun, especially as we had 5 sea-days on this itinerary.
Entertainment was ok and people seemed to enjoy everyone except the magician they brought on board halfway, he totally bombed and his second show was replaced by something else at the last minute. Overall good shows, I am looking forward to the return of the larger cast shows .. I gather they are coming back.
Food and drink we thought was a notch worse than last year. We felt that SilverSea had been making cuts in the budget and it showed. Now food is very personal and I'm sure you can have good and bad cruises on the same ship in different weeks, but we weren't blown away as we were last year. We met one couple who refused to dine at The Restaurant at all after the first day, we met others who'd had a bad meal at La Terrazzo and wouldn't go back there. We tried both, had some good, some great and some quite poor meals. Similarly the wines served were only mediocre, it felt again like the budget had been cut and there were more recent vintages than before and a couple of quite poor wines. We found a nice white about 1/2 way through the cruise and then stuck to it for many of the rest of the evenings. The waiters were happy to bring it for us every time we asked.
House champagne was Pommery or Nicholas Feuillatte, both quite drinkable. As has been pointed out on the SilverSea board, there is no longer house caviar, you want it, you buy it. One of our fellow cruisers told us that you just needed to order a 'caviar canape' and you could get that daily on the house and it was basically the same thing, however they were 200 night cruisers so perhaps they got a little leeway ..
The staff were all excellent, even better than last year and we loved the staff then. There's nothing they wouldn't do for you or help you with and they were friendly, cheerful and .. they are SilverSea's best asset. We were craving thai food badly by the end of the cruise and asked if the chef could cook us some, we produced a recipe, he put together a very passable thai curry. I could give 100 examples of great service and not one single example of bad service the whole two weeks.
Overall we loved the cruise and were sad to get off, of course. We'll definitely sail SilverSea again. They need to watch the food side of things, if they are cutting budgets there, that's a mistake, people are noticing and there were grumblings about it all week. They have the ships, they have the staff and the staff were so good it probably made up for the drop in quality in the kitchen, but it would be good if they get that back up to scratch too.