I promised myself I would write this review today as I feel obligated to warn fellow cruisers of our experience as a 7 day cruisers on the tail end of a World Cruise.
My husband and I choose this trip as a 25th Anniversary Celebration and fully expected a wonderful cruising experience on the Silver Sea Spirit- cruising the Red Sea- Petra, Sharm, Suez and Alexandria- ending in Greece. We travel a lot but both are still self employed and do not desire to take long vacations, however, we take many small vacations every year. We have traveled from Galapagos, Trans Siberian RR, Borneo, Europe, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Morroco, Baltic Countries, South America, etc... We stay at 5 star and we stay at 2 or 3 star accommodations. We enjoy many types of experiences. So I believe we set off on our adventure at Easter to meet up with the Silver Sea Spirit at the Red Sea with good expectations and as experienced travelers.
However, we should have known something was wrong from the minute we joined the group on a day trip in Luxor. The cruise director who was there early had no idea we were joining group and questioned us on whether we had paid for that part of excursion-we had.(Though it was free for all other travelers as mid- cruise excursion) After an afternoon of touring in Luxor we boarded the pre-assigned bus #6- which had our name on a list and set off for a 3 hour in the dark trip to Red Sea and Safaga. At arrival on the ship no one greeted us, bus driver stopped us from pulling our own baggage but yet we had to go to a harbor police to find assistance- Silver Sea knew we were on that transfer but made no effort to greet us.
Upon arrival in our room, our assigned Butler was off so some one showed us a couple things, no offered to help unpack -champagne and fruit was waiting. I do not know what the purpose of the butlers are other than to bring coffee when I ordered in the morning. There was no attempt to anticipate our needs, no attempt to bring snacks to pool as Beaches/Sandals Butlers do, no attempt to bring canapes/snacks before dinner- nothing.
The gift shop was very poor selections on everyday items, I hunted the whole cruise and at the ports for curlers or curling iron, having forgot mine to no avail. Nor did any staff seem to care- Meals were so so and not any better than Carnival. The Supervisor of the Butlers should go to school at Beaches/Sandals and figure out how to be make a vacation truly enjoyable.... Our Butler was nice and brought coffee - when I ordered- that was it.....
However, the purpose of my review is to explain NEVER EVER to join a world cruise in the last week or two of their 100 day cruise even if it is free- unless your time is worth nothing- then only if free-- There were no activities on board except shuffleboard, scrabble and bridge that no one was playing. There were no cooking demonstrations, no ice carving, nothing. Even the captain's bridge tour was limited to those who had "signed up 10 days earlier" in Dubai or something, since we joined 7 days after Dubai that was not much help.
The staff made no effort to meet us at arrival. (another traveler we met last day advised of same experience.) The staff made no effort to provide any orientation to the few couples that arrived at Safaga. Never ever was there a meeting to acquaint orient, to explain availability of shore excursions, anything about ship, anything about anything- we were just shadows- maybe SPIRTS! who joined at Safaga etc. We were advised when I asked on 4th or 5th day that this had been done earlier in the 100 day world cruise- My newspapers did not start until 3 days later- All I can figure out is the staff was worn out from 100 days or they themselves had joined the world traveler club of which we were not a member.
A mention about other travelers- The first couple of days we could not decide if the mostly elderly travelers had a hearing problem or were simple rude. My husband is 85 and I 55, so we are used to dealing with people in this age range. It is common courtesy for us- to say Good Morning to someone we pass in the hall- outside of the restaurant heading in to breakfast- however- they would look past you -like you did not exist- finally, we quit saying good morning. Perhaps none of them could hear- or they were too tired of their trip, or they simply did not associate with the common people who did not have their name engraved on a brass name plate outside their room and only joined the cruise for 7 days- I truly believe it was the latter based upon multiple experiences.
So as you can see- a group of very "cliquish" travelers- who already were in the group- (Thought perhaps I was in junior high again and a new kid) and a ship staff that did NOTHING- let me repeat NOTHING to welcome you, to orient you, to provide activities and information to the few couples that joined in Safaga or even Dubai as I was advised from a Dubai embarkation couple.
Since, you do not know WHO this handful of newly arrived travelers were- as there was not even an orientation meeting- you couldn't even find travelers with same experience going on.
One evening was touted as Arabian night- since we had no pre-warning of this other than the daily paper- I did not bring my Abeya or a head wrap etc, I looked at the yet another empty port town on the Red Sea that we stopped and could find nothing, I looked in ship's gift shop and they had nothing- yet when we arrived at the pool side dinner- (the one special dinner) this whole group of world travelers were dressed the part and dancing and carry-on etc. When I questioned how they could find such outfits and had such warning, I was advised that -oh they bought those in Dubai where they planned it with cruise staff a week before we arrived. I do not understand why the cruise staff could not have had at least some head wraps- etc for sale in the gift shop or something for the rest of us, infidels.
The Suez Canal transit was very boring, just desert on both sides and flat, so nothing entertaining like a Panama transit. In addition, the "expert" only spoke from a loud speaker that was not audible from the observation deck. (The stated reason was that a ship of the calibre of Silver Sea Spirit could not figure out how to broadcast in the observation deck/room without broadcasting in the spas.? Go figure..)
The last port was Alexandria and as my husband and I sat sipping coffee, a couple walked by that I recalled meeting 6 days early on an elevator and thought they may have arrived the same day as we had arrived. I said hello and we sat and had coffee, they had the exact same opinion on these topics in which I post- When I said to them that I had told my husband that morning that I felt like we were the "Black Sheep of the Cruise"- she laughed and said she had said -just that morning that they were the "Lost Children of the Cruise." They advised that previously they had been on the first week of a world cruise and the experience was totally different and activities were going on- and guests were friendly- (probably didn't realize they were only on for 1 week-ha)
Speaking of that the ship staff had a couple special meeting/dinners for these really special people- who were part of the world cruise- which is fine- BUT they still needed to do something for the rest of us. Other than handing us a bucket and mop to mop the floors - we were treated like 4th class travelers. Very poor and one could not PAY me to take another SILVERSEA World cruise-in which I only joined for a week.
I might would consider a week or 10 day cruise that all guests were on the same itinerary- however, I would look close at what the ship had to offer in activities on board etc before I wasted my money on Silver Sea again.
I did mention the last night my dissatisfaction to the Butler on these issues on the cruise- I did not think much of this was his responsibility- and he immediately brought his supervisor- who had just joined the ship from I think a South America cruise and she was very kind, understanding and seemed genuinely concerned and appeared to believe these issues were unacceptable. At a minimum she had been trained on how to handle a customers dissatisfaction.- not that I ever heard anything more- nor did I really expect to. I was disappointed that the comment questionnaire did not have a company land address to mail them to- therefore I did not take the time to complete as i assumed it would not make it off the ship.
In any event, I hope this review helped some in deciding whether to join in the middle of a world cruise---On a side note- since nothing going on- I was able to watch Royal wedding and the Osama death coverage in the beautiful cabin and I appreciated the veranda and the heavy curtain separating the bedroom area from sitting area.