This was our second Silversea cruise - the first was on the Silver Spirit in November, 2010. Having been on several Regent cruises, we felt it was time try another luxury line. We were impressed with the service on the Spirit but did not really care for the ship. The Whisper was recommended by friends, so we booked it.
Flights from Vancouver to New York were difficult at best. Silversea worked with us to get the best flights possible. We flew from Vancouver to Los Angeles and then directly to New York (sounds difficult, but this was the best routing we could find)
Embarkation was a bit hectic and chaotic. One reason for this was the Queen Mary boarding next to us. It was amazing that only one Silversea passenger had their luggage sail on the wrong ship. It was difficult to figure out where passengers should go who were on Silversea vs. passengers for the QM. It was eventually sorted out and we were on the Whisper. Once on the ship, everything went smoothly.
Wow is the word that comes to mind. This is a beautiful ship down to the smallest detail. The size could not be more perfect. There were approximate 280 passengers which seemed to be the ideal number. The Bar was filled to capacity in the evening and we wondered where they would have fit another 100 or so passengers. But, I am getting ahead of myself.
The temperature of the ship was quite warm. With temperatures cool to cold outside, we dressed with long sleeves and often felt too warm. The air conditioners in the suites work well so we were able to sleep in cool comfort. Speaking of beds, they are amazing with one side of the mattress being softer than the other.
We booked a Silver Suite (#727). With the exception of two special occasions when we stayed in Regent Master Suites, this was the most comfortable suite we have had. Even though one had to walk through the closet to get into the bathroom from the bedroom, the layout worked well for us. There was a lot of storage space, a desk with two drawers (unlike the Spirit with no drawers), a make-up area with a drawer (again, no drawer on the Spirit) and good lighting (also unlike the Spirit).
The Silver Suites, Master Suite and Medallion Suites are under the pool deck. Had the weather been better, there would have been a lot of activity going on that could have been heard in these suites (scraping of chairs, etc.) We were under the area where the pool bar is set up and did hear noise around 6:00 a.m. on the few days the pool bar was open. It did not bother us, but, one should be aware of this in advance.
The service in this dining venue is amazing. Although buffet style for breakfast and lunch, many items are prepared fresh (eggs, waffles, pasta, etc.) The servers are happy to assist you at all times. We had no difficulty getting coffee refills in the morning or wine refills at lunch. Must note that I agree with some posters who do not feel the coffee on Silversea is much above coffee shop level. The choices at breakfast were pretty typical. Offering proper English bacon was a definite plus. Although I am not a breakfast person, there was always something I could select.
The first day I went to La Terrazza at lunch looking for sushi. The sushi on the Spirit was excellent. On the Whisper, however, it was mediocre at best. The difference is probably due to the fact that there is a Japanese dining venue on the Spirit. This enables them to put out fresh, well-prepared sushi items (rather than rolls with a carrot piece stuck in the middle). Food is subjective.. . . . we found breakfast and lunch in La Terrazza good to very good.
Dinner in La Terrazza is a treat. We tried the Italian dishes as well as the catch of the day. I understand that the food provider for this venue will be changing. Hoping it will be as satisfying as it is now.
The tables were set up nicely with plenty of room between tables (unlike the Spirit where you can barely any room).
Le Champagne and Hot Rocks
Hot Rocks was closed most of the time due to the weather. We ate in Hot Rocks on the Spirit and found the food good, but the whole set-up quite gimmicky. It's nice to try once.
We made reservations at Le Champagne and cancelled (did the same thing on the Spirit). While we pretty much wanted to dine there, the offerings were just not to our taste. We also find that when on board credits are given (as they will be next year), Le Champagne is packed. On our cruise, the maximum number of tables we saw filled was two. In my opinion, this would feel like dining in an empty restaurant.
We had breakfast there 2 or 3 times. It was very good with extremely large portions (a little too large). The Restaurant opened for lunch at 12:30 p.m. This was a bit late for us so we did not try it.
When we first entered The Restaurant for dinner, we noticed how beautiful it was (again, unlike the Spirit that reminds me of a Las Vegas coffee shop). The food and service in The Restaurant was excellent. The everyday menu choices are also a step above what we have seen on Regent. I am not sure why filet mignon is offered daily on the Whisper but not on the Spirit - an interesting difference. We enjoyed every meal we had in The Restaurant.
This will be a short section. While wine is a matter of personal preference, we did not care for 90% of what was served.
In general, we find the bars on Silversea to have strange hours. The hours varied depending upon whether it was a port or sea day. One could never be certain when or if a lounge was going to be open. It would make more sense if one bar were open from 11 a.m. to midnight (and not the pool bar).
The Observation Lounge is lovely - however, we never seemed to make it up there for a drink. We stopped by once to get a view and that was all.
Despite the fact that The Bar has smoking in one section that wafts over to the non-smoking side, we enjoyed having a pre-dinner cocktail there each night. This is where the lovely Nikki serves. She has an amazing knack of remembering everyone's name and preferences and is a delightful person. Preparation of drinks in The Bar was a bit inconsistent.
The non-smoking side of The Bar was packed around 7:00 p.m. each night. There was room on the smoking side, but few people wanted to sit there. As mentioned earlier, it is hard to imagine another 100 passengers on the ship.
When the Panorama Lounge bar was open we enjoyed it very much. Oliver, the bartender, made every visit a fun experience. He got to know us fairly quickly and when I would order a drink, he would recommend something else (that was always made to perfection). After a few days I knew that I would never receive what I ordered and we were fine with that. When he bartended in The Bar, we requested that Oliver make our drinks.
On Board Activities
Food and wine was spotlighted on this cruise. The food demonstrations (paired with wine) and the wine tastings (paired with food) were excellent. Chef David did an excellent job. The guest chef was also very good. We enjoyed every event they put on.
Daily Trivia was well done and well attended. Our team came out #1 overall. It was nice to enjoy a competitive game without becoming too serious. It was handled in a professional but lighthearted manner. Although not Bingo players, we had some time before Trivia and tried out a few games. Quite enjoyable once you get enough cards to keep your mind occupied.
Smoking (not long:-)
The smoking policy on the ship is confusing. A notice was put out in the Chronicle that seemed to indicate that there is no smoking in suites, balconies or lounges. This comment is not for or against smoking. It would be nice to have clarity.
Ports and Excursions
The port stops in Canada were interesting, if a bit low key. We took private tours in Halifax and Sydney and found the cost to be less than if had booked ships tours.
I have to give an Silversea A+ for the way Waterford, Ireland was handled. We were docked in Cobh (near Cork), Ireland. The Captain came on the loudspeaker around 5:00 p.m. and announced that there was a high probability that we would not be able to tender in Waterford (our next stop). So, a decision was made to stay in Cobh and arrange bus transportation the next day to Waterford. Within minutes of the announcement, the tickets were printed up and available (no charge). Other buses would arrive in the morning to pick up passengers who had booked ship excursions in Waterford. The ride into Waterford took 1 ½ hours. The scenery and commentary by the driver was marvelous (better than many excursions we had been on). We had approximately 3 ½ to 4 hours to walk around Waterford. Some passengers went to the new Waterford factory, while many shopped and had lunch. We had lunch in a wonderful Irish pub - Guinness, Irish sausages, potato's. . . . I get me hungry to think about it.
The day before we reached the end of the cruise, we were in Fowey, England. We went through Passport Control for England in the theater. Everything was handled quickly and efficiently This made debarkation in Southampton swift and very easy. We were off of the ship by 8:30 a.m. and being transported to Heathrow shortly thereafter.
The Officers and Crew of the Silver Whisper were excellent. The communication, particularly in Ireland when changes in scheduling were made, was better than we have seen on any cruise ship. We would not hesitate to recommend this ship to my frirends. Now, if only there was an itinerary that we were interested in for next year!