Once we got off the plane and were greeted by the ground staff at LAX, we knew we were on Silversea! The representative stayed with us until we collected our luggage and then put us in a taxi to take us to the pier, but not before reminding us that the fare and the tip were all taken care of. We walked up the gangway and were enthusiastically welcomed with hot towels and champagne. One step over to reception to turn in passports and have our ID photo taken and then we were escorted to our suite.
The new Spirit is beautiful. It is modern yet the colors and furnishings are muted and elegant. This is a completely different experience from the other Silversea ships and is a wonderful alternative. We were in a verandah suite and were prepared that it would be "different" from other Silversea ships. Yes, the verandah suite is narrower, the hallway is only wide enough for one person at a time and the staff is challenged to get their large serving trays through, but it is not a negative. The suite itself is roomy and the furnishings are perfectly proportioned to the room. One can't help but get a kick out of the televisions that magically appear from behind the mirrors in the sitting area as well as the sleeping area. There is tons of storage with lots of nooks and crannies. The walk-in closet seems smaller than on other Silversea vessels, but it is certainly adequate. Also in the closet is a "chest of drawers", that is wide and deep as well as a safe. The bathroom is lovely. The marble and wood floors are elegant as is the wood cabinetry. While some miss the double sinks, we love the large vessel sink (we're not in the bathroom at the same time anyway!) There is a full sized tub as well as a large shower with both a conventional hand held shower as well as a rain shower from the ceiling that is absolute heaven. The teak verandah is larger than on other Silversea ships and has two very comfortable chairs that convert to full loungers, two foot stools, and a nice sized table. The bath sheets were fluffy and the bed linens were silky. Our outstanding cabin stewardess, Gemma (the best we have had on any Silversea ship), changed the sheets every day because she didn't like that they wrinkled! We personally preferred the new Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries to the Bulgari and the former Aqua Di Parma.
There have been numerous blogs and posts about the "growing pains" endured by past passengers as the Spirit gets its act together. Like anything new, sometimes you don't know what doesn't work until you use it. Unlike those who have sailed before us, we found the Spirit to be absolutely up to par with all the other ships in the fleet. The service has been outstanding, the crew amazing and positive, and the new venues different and fun. The Spirit is different from others in the fleet and how fortunate that we have another choice.
We did have a service issue with our butler, but it got resolved on the second day of the cruise. Our butler was new to the ship; he embarked with us in LA. He was a disaster after our first breakfast and we knew this was not going to work. We decided to deal with it immediately, rather than give him a chance to get oriented - after all it was our vacation and we are not here to train him. After 3 incidents of poor service (although he was polite and apologetic) we called reception and left a message with Oliver who oversees all butlers. We were impressed that not more than 5 minutes after our call, Oliver was at our suite and asked if he could come in and speak with us. He wanted to hear every detail and never made an excuse. He told us our experience was unacceptable and informed us that he was going to assign a seasoned butler to take care of us for the remainder of our journey. He also told us that he would have our former butler more closely shadowed to insure he gets up to speed quickly. We were really impressed with Oliver. And our new butler, Emilia, was FANTASTIC! I must also say that every time we saw our "former" butler he still greeted us with a smile and a warm greeting every time he saw us in the corridor.
Every crew member has been friendly, calling us by name and giving perfect Silversea service. It seems that they are, indeed, stretched too thin, but they are working very hard to accommodate all passengers.
We have enjoyed the food and would rate it from mostly very good, some excellent, and a few misses. We tried every dining venue. The main dining room is not well designed and lacks the elegance other Silversea ships. The ceiling is also very low which gives it a more casual feel. It is difficult for the wait staff to maneuver around the dining room in very narrow paths, and gone is the carving trolley—no room. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to get the cheese trolley around after dinner so waiters often try to ask you to order cheese rather than select it. We have breakfast in our suite almost every morning and it has been very nice, but I think that has more to do with our butler than the dining room. We are not big on buffets and were only in La Terraza a couple of times for breakfast and only once for lunch. However, those experiences were very good ones. The pool grill was great for casual poolside lunches. We found La Champagne to be an extreme disappointment both in the menu and the quality of the food. However Marcello is an amazing maitre d' and his wine selections are stellar—and reasonable! La Terraza at night was outstanding on all three occasions when we dined there. The food, service, and ambience were great. We really tried to like Hot Rocks Grill! It is just awkward to have a hot, sizzling stone in front of you while eating. We liked being able to cook our entrees (we both had filet mignon and tiger prawns) and keep them warm, but our faces were steaming from the heat off the stone and we were always afraid we were going to burn ourselves! But it sure is a great concept—I just wish it worked better. Stars was great. There was plenty of food and it was creative, fun, and original. The entertainment in Stars was outstanding. Seishin was another disappointment. The sushi and sashimi were good, the rest of the dishes were poor. The lobster was in a consumE and lacked flavor and the Kobe (Wagyu) beef was a huge disappointment.
This was our third time through the canal but our first time taking any of the ships excursions. We were extremely pleased with the excursion staff. They were ever-present and helpful.
The pool deck was always full (the weather was great) but never felt crowded. There appeared to be room for everyone. We never had a problem getting a table at the pool for lunch either. The service at the pool was excellent and there was always someone around to check on you.
All of the public rooms were very nicely furnished and comfortable. We spent time each day in the Panorama Lounge and very much enjoyed the outside sitting area there as well. Again, there was always plenty of room and there was always a friendly server nearby. We also enjoyed the Observation Lounge on deck 11. The computer center/library is indeed small, but we never found it to be a problem (I had my own laptop, so I can't say whether or not there were enough computers available.) We were in The Bar every evening before dinner and had great drinks and conversation before dinner. Sometimes it was crowded, but it was never a problem. The real problem was that we never got to dinner before 8:30 so we never made it to any of the shows! Yes, there is the early show at 6:15, but we didn't want to get dressed just to go to the show. That was just our choice. I can't speak from personal experience, but I heard that some of the guest entertainers on board were excellent, while the production shows were weak.
Disembarkation was a breeze. It was well organized, unhurried, and there were lots of Silversea staff both on the ship and on the shore to assist people. This was our first time using Silversea air and transfers and we were very impressed with how the transfers were handled. There were representatives with us on the bus to the airport and they managed the luggage, and secured (and tipped) porters.
In summary, we had a grand experience on the new Spirit. We think that she is a wonderful alternative and a new and different Silversea experience. In our humble opinions, they should do away with the "specialty" restaurants if they are going to continue to charge a premium ("reservation fee") - the food was not special enough to warrant an extra fee. However, we really liked having so many choices in dining. The staff is stretched a bit too thin (perhaps management will be looking at this for the future), but every crew member had the Silversea "spirit" (pun intended) and provided the kind of excellent service we expect from this line.