My review describes the Silver Spirit on her 14 day transatlantic voyage from Lisbon to Bridgetown, Barbados, October 2010.
I flew from Sydney to Lisbon and had 4 nights at the Hotel Avenida Palace. This hotel is stunning. The public rooms have beautiful stained glass windows and magnificent chandeliers. My single room was a good size with 2 twin beds, a decent sized bathroom and the location was excellent. Easy walk to the main squares and next door to the railway station to Sintra. If I had the opportunity in the future, I would definitely stay at the Avenida Palace.
A Cruise Critic get-together had been organised at the Marriott Hotel for the night before embarkation. This function was well attended and we all had a great time getting to know each other. This set the scene for an excellent cruise.
Travel To Port of Embarkation:
Embarkation was quick and easy. Charlie and I checked out of the hotel and got a car to the port at around 12pm. Our luggage was taken immediately and we were shown where to check-in. From there, it was a short walk to the ship where we were welcomed onboard and had our picture taken. A number of CC friends arrived around the same time and after a short wait, we had a very nice lunch, the first of many, in The Restaurant.
I loved the ship. My favourite place was the Panorama Lounge which has incredibly comfortable armchairs and a lovely outside area with lounges and day beds. I also loved the Bar. Our group of 10 met there every evening for drinks. The only place I didn't like was the spa/gym area. The spa, in my opinion, was way too big and the gym, way too small. The area aft with the spa was lovely but there is a $25/day charge for it. The pool area is nice however the running/walking track is very short unless you walk the whole deck and on hot sunny days was very difficult because of all the lounge chairs in the way. I don't worship the sun so I didn't use the pool area, although I had several nice lunches at the tables on the pool deck. The pool deck did get crowded particularly on the sea days. The Observation Lounge was beautiful but very under utilised. It's almost like you forget it's there and seems to be more like a private lounge for the Silver Suites. It was a lovely venue for a get-together for all the passengers who were continuing on the Barbados round trip. If I remember correctly, we had 465 passengers on board.
We also had a get-together for all the CC members who had registered on the roll call. This was held in Stars and was a morning tea affair. Hotel Director, Paolo, had organised for invitations to go out the previous night and we had 28 people attend. Roll call meet and greets are a fantastic way to meet fellow passengers.
For the first time ever, I had a balcony and I loved it. This was due to Silversea's very reasonable single supplement of 125% (which probably won't happen again at anytime soon!!). My suite, 610, was lovely. The bed and pillows were so comfortable that most mornings I didn't want to leave my bed. I loved the TV screens in the mirrors and the ability to watch a movie on demand - a choice of over 400. The bathroom was fabulous with the full length bath and rainforest shower head. The tap and basin were a little odd but once I got used to it, was fine. The balcony was fabulous, much wider than I expected and the chair and foot stool were very comfortable. I often had a Bellini and cheese platter out on my balcony. It was great. My butler was Andung/Indonesia and my cabin attendant was Dalfon/Philippines. They were both very nice. I was not asked if I wanted the unpacking service, so I unpacked myself. I had been in my room for several hours before Andung came to offer me the toiletries (I chose the Ferragamo). I really didn't need a butler, I'm such a low maintenance cruiser but he was very pleasant and always brought my breakfast on time and with a smile. After my long bus trip back from Marrakesh, Andung had drawn a bubble bath for me. When I walked into my bathroom, there were lots of little battery-operated candles and heaps of bubbles. It was a gorgeous surprise.
I thoroughly enjoyed the food. I had one dud meal on the cruise and it was the Kansas beef. I asked for it rare but it came pretty much with its heart still beating - it wasn't nice at all. Everything else was yum. I had breakfast in bed every morning. We often went to the Restaurant for lunch and later in the cruise, La Terrazza, for lunch. I tried every option for dinner: The Restaurant, La Terrazza, Seishin, Le Champagne, Stars and the Hot Rocks grill which we re-named the Hot Rocks Cafe.
The Restaurant: interesting menus and lots of seafood which I love. Also the lamb chops were brilliant - from Australia (of course!). Desserts (and I'm a huge dessert fan) were spectacular.
La Terrazza: I had my best ever pasta dish there. It was long pasta in a cheese and pepper sauce and it was to die for. I dined at LT 3 times and each time I had this delightful meal. LT was great for lunch as well, there is a lovely al fresco area on the aft deck (bigger than the other ships) and the buffet area has plenty of room to manoeuvre and choose food. I don't normally do buffets on cruise ships because they tend to be like cafeterias but this was very orderly.
Seishin: the night we dined at Seishin, it was full, no spare tables at all. I chose the degustation menu for $40 and it was huge. 8 or so courses and I thoroughly enjoyed each course. With Seishin, although I liked the food, it was a case of been there, done that so won't go again next time.
Le Champagne: the theme for our night was "Flavours of the Fall" which included mushrooms of various types and truffles. Venison was the main course and I hadn't eaten it in a long time because I felt it was like eating Bambi, however, this venison was so tender that I quickly forgot all about Bambi and got stuck into it. I was glad to have tried Le Champagne but I won't do it again.
Stars: Dining at Stars started at around 9pm or so. I cheated and had some dinner in my room first so wasn't all that hungry, however the little dishes of tapas were yummy and well presented. We had a table of 8 and we were fairly rowdy (in fact everywhere we dined we were rowdy). I don't remember anything about the singer - maybe I had too many Bellinis!
Hot Rocks Cafe: I loved this venue. We dined here several times and each time I had the Aussie lamb chops and the Madagascar prawns. It was so much fun cooking the food on the hot stone plates. One night it was very windy but that didn't stop us having fun.
A lovely afternoon tea service was held daily in La Terrazza offering all types of tea (or coffee). One afternoon there was an incredible chocolate buffet. It was delightful.
Lunch service was always excellent however the dinner service in The Restaurant was a little lack lustre for Silversea. I think this may have been because we always had a table of 10 and it is difficult to wait on a large table and perhaps there just isn't enough waiters. However on our last night, it took nearly 3 hours to eat. On the subject of drinks, the service in the Bar and Panorama Lounge was always excellent. All the staff members were friendly and would do their best to provide your request.
Besides all the eating and drinking, trivia was my favourite activity. My team was focused and we did very well because we had a variety of nations represented: Australia, USA, Canada, Bahamas, England and Ireland. During our sea days across the Atlantic, we had trivia twice a day and I never missed it. I also got hooked on Bingo and played it every day. There were a lot of other activities like language classes, enrichment lectures, boat building (go Bernard!), fitness classes (I only did one in the whole 21 days and that was a stretch class!). I found that most of my time was spent relaxing and chatting with my new found friends.
Port & Shore Excursions:
I enjoyed my shore excursions in Tangier (Cap Spartel) and the full day trip to Marrakesh. Although the bus ride is long, don't miss Marrakesh. It was fascinating, especially roaming through the medina, seeing the tiny alleyways and shop fronts. The major problem there is the hawkers, they never leave you alone and are constantly in your face. One guy followed me the whole way and kept telling me he was sure I was a movie star! Very corny but it gets annoying so be prepared.
I did the fire mountains tour to see the lunar and volcanic landscape in Arrecife. It was so amazing. There was a camel ride which was lots of fun as well as a visit to a winery to view the unorthodox method of grape growing on the mountainside. There was also a wine tasting.
In Tenerife, I did the tour to the Orotavo Valley and Puerto De La Cruz. We had a few stops for photo opportunities and a walk around the town which was right on the water. On the way back to the ship, we stopped off at a beautiful Orchid Garden.
It was in Tenerife that our dear friend Charlie was taken off the ship and to hospital. He was very ill in intensive care and I was able to get frequent updates from the Hotel Director as the ship was in constant contact with the hospital. I'm pleased to say that Charlie is doing much better now but we sure did miss him and his sense of humour.
Six glorious sea days across the Atlantic, sunny, warm and calm. Next port of call was Antigua. Since I'd already been here some years ago, I didn't do an excursion. Instead, a group of us wandered around the town but came back to the ship because of a huge downpour.
As we had been following Hurricane Tomas, we were unable to call into St Lucia so Dominica was the substituted port. It rained very heavily in the morning and in the afternoon I got off the ship and bought a fridge magnet. We were docked out of town because this was an unscheduled stop - I think it was one of the Royal Caribbean ships that was docked in town.
For the first time ever on a cruise, I only went to one show and that was Aquarius. I enjoyed it immensely because I love the music from that era. I didn't make any of the other shows because we were always too late - our dining usually finished around 1030pm and then a few of us would go to the Panorama Lounge for more cocktails and dancing with the DJ playing his favourite playlists - although it got a bit boring because he played the same thing nearly every night. After reading RonMathMD's review of this cruise, I have to disagree that they were the youngest on the ship. Two in our group were in their late twenties/early thirties and were always in the Panorama Lounge each night dancing to the music.
I didn't leave the ship as I was doing the next cruise, round trip Barbados. Disembarkation was very sad as all my friends (except for PhilipB) had to leave. During our next 7 days, Philip and I continually talked about how much we missed them.
When summing up my experience, what comes to mind is not that the gym was crap or the suites not wide enough, it was the remarkable people that I met.
I want to thank all my Silver Spirit friends for their wonderful friendship during those 14 days. I will look back fondly and remember our good times. I hope that we will have the opportunity to sail again in the not too distant future.