We just cruised on the Silver Spirit from Singapore to Dubai for 15 days, stopping in Malaysia, Thailand, India, Oman and then Dubai. This is our 3rd Silversea cruise, the previous ones were on the Whisper and we were looking forward to seeing how the Spirit compared.
We think the Silver Spirit is a wonderful, if not perfect, ship. We felt that Silversea had captured a lot of the feel of the original ships but just scaled it all up, it felt like home. She is in wonderful condition as you'd expect from a new ship.
We booked a midship veranda suite. The layout is good, splitting into a living and sleeping area and the balcony is now real usable space, you can sit out there, you could eat out there if you wanted. We loved the bathroom with a shower door which actually kept water in and a proper shower head as well as wood floor instead of freezing cold marble and tile. There was ample storage all over the room and we used quite little of it , our two fairly large suitcases fit nicely under the bed. The aircon worked well and noiselessly and in this part of the world you need it to. We particularly liked the dual TVs, built into the mirrors at the proper height, much better than the old ships where you crane your neck to see them. For techies, you have stereo/composite video, HDMI and a VGA input and they all display really well. We used a laptop and portable disk drive to catch up on 6 months of TV, lovely pictures. (we did have to get the TV tech to restart the system once, he said they have limited cooling and can overheat - after that it was fine).
The suite is a little narrower than those on the older ships, not a lot, but it's noticeable. There's a real lack of power points and none near the bed so you can't plug in an alarm clock. They do provide a 5v USB power outlet which will charge an iPhone equivalent (but doesn't have enough power for an iPad).
We thought that the public rooms on the ship were a little too small for the number of cabins. The theater is small and poorly laid out, bench seats instead of the much more sociable and waiter-accessible tables and chairs. La Terrazza is also pretty well stuffed with tables and really wanted to be larger, getting between the chairs to get to the buffet was sometimes an obstacle course and when in there you had to dodge wandering diners.
There was a lack of shade on the pool deck with tables and chairs going further on each side than on the small ships. That led to some competition for shaded beds on sea days as the sun was brutal. The areas at the back by the Panorama lounge and on Deck 8 helped a bit but you really needed more shaded areas.
Finally the observation lounge. Tucked away at the front of deck 11, down a corridor of rooms, a lot of people never even found it! A shame, it was a nice place.
Food and Drink
We thought the food on the cruise was very good, a step up from our last Silversea cruise. The menu was varied, they added in some Asian options which were welcome and (apart from one Chinese pork dish which was dreadful) well executed. Portions seemed to be smaller, but you could always ask for more and on a cruise where people eat all day, large portions probably go to waste. Ingredient quality and freshness were consistently high.
There are several restaurants on the ship. La Terrazza is the Italian themed restaurant and was very popular the whole cruise and always booked, we managed to go there 3 times in 15 nights, once as a crew invite. Book early and keep asking. The Restaurant is the main dining room, it was fine, we got window tables most of the times we asked and went early, we were found interesting company to sit with and the service was brisk and efficient, we rarely waited for anything.
On-deck is 'Hot Rocks', an outdoor BBQ concept restaurant, always casual, where you cook your food on a hot rock. The food was fine, the atmosphere was a little casual for our taste, we did it once. It was also very popular with the people who wanted to enjoy the outdoors and great weather and wanted something less formal.
The two themed restaurants which attract a surcharge are La Champagne and Seishin. In the former no free wines are served, but you can either take the (expensive) wine pairing, or select from the chargeable wine list. I saw nobody take the pairing and the wine list had good wines at better-than-expected prices. The food was very good and we went twice. Seishin is Japanese-themed, we went once and were less-impressed. It was a good facsimile of Japanese food, but perhaps it's not possible to get the real ingredients so the sashimi had an unusual texture, red radish was used instead of daikon .. etc. The overall impression from the people who went there we talked to was that it was ok, but not stellar and I know of nobody who went twice. You can have the complimentary wines there or take a sake pairing, as a sake drinker I tried that, it wasn't bad.
Stars is a supper club where they serve small morsels of food over the course of several hours. We didn't try it, the people we spoke to who did were mostly a little unhappy with the slow speed and small amounts of food. By 10pm one group we spoke to had had 3 mouthfuls each and gave up.
We don't lunch a lot so we skipped most of the lunch buffets. We did however keep an eye on the menu and there was one occasion we asked the staff to keep a portion of the lunch back for dinner because we liked it better than the dinner menu. They were only too happy to oblige. We also asked for things from the restaurant or off the room service menu to be served at the pool and it was never an issue. That's Silversea for you, they try to say yes.
House champagne was Drappier, we drank our fair share of it, it's fine. Generally we thought the quality of the wines was a step up from our last Silversea cruise too, everything very drinkable, some quite nice and we requested those we liked the most on later days.
Staff make Silversea. They are all well trained and helpful. They really honestly try to honour all your requests. I can't say much more about them except that they continue to be the basic reason we cruise Silversea. Silversea recently introduced 'all butler' service, I'm not sure we really got that much out of that. It was often easier (and less error-prone) to make reservations for the restaurants directly instead of using the overworked butler trying to deal with a corridor of guests. Ours was very nice, but calling him a butler is really more marketing than fact, he's a well-trained cabin steward.
The gym was just about big enough with just about enough equipment that you could find time to use it even on sea days. The spa, as has ever been the case, was professional and peaceful, but not the best value for money. The world cruisers who'd been on for a while had taken to looking up spas in the ports of call and going there.
Ports of Call and Excursions
On a trip from Singapore to Dubai the ports of call are somewhat limited, they don't all perhaps have a proper passenger cruise terminal. However there was a constant grumble (again from the world cruisers who had been on for months) that the ship continually docked at container ports or very old run-down passenger terminals and a suggestion that Silversea was cutting costs here. We didn't take any of the ship excursions this time, they are pretty expensive. Some people seemed to get a lot out of them, some people thought them not good value for money. We'd like to cruise Silversea somewhere in the world there's more of a cruising culture to see where they dock, we'd probably get off the ship more often; we were generally more than happy to stay on when everyone else got off.
The entertainment didn't excite us much, we went to a show with a magician which was great, didn't watch any others. Most people seemed to give them quite good marks. The on-board lecturers were one good, one not very good at all.
Wonderful. We totally relaxed, we had a great time, we'd have stayed on the ship another month if we could have. The Silver Spirit does feel like part of the Silversea family, it's not perfect, but the flaws are few and mostly to do with not having quite enough room in the public spaces. Food was good, wine was good and service was excellent in every way. We will definitely cruise Silversea again and thought this cruise was better than our last one and will enjoy both the larger Spirit and the smaller original sisters in future. Silversea, if you build another larger ship, please make it just a little bit larger for the same number of suites, or pack in a few less suites so the ship feels as uncrowded as the original ships do.