West Indies, December 2 -- 18, 2011. Back to back 9-day cruises Ft. Lauderdale / Barbados / Ft. Lauderdale. My wife and I are seasoned travelers and have cruised a dozen times from the big ships to The World of Residensea. We are also foodies who enjoy dining out at all levels and have given up on the crowds of the larger ships.
Suite 1110: Our Silver Suite was excellent and spacious except for the tiny TV's. I was surprised however being put on the top deck towards the front after having told our travel agent that my wife was prone to seasickness. All four of our sea days were pretty ruff and we basically laid low in our cabin. The top floor has vibration issues we were told are associated with the HVAC system located nearby. Our suite was very noisy under way with lots of rattles.
Food: The food overall was our biggest disappointment. Boring, unseasoned and overcooked, most befitting a typical 3-star chain hotel. We stopped looking forward to meals after our fourth day onboard. The only way we could get our steaks and fish cooked to our satisfaction was to do it ourselves at Hot Rocks. Seishen was good but limited in menu. La Terrazza offered great pasta but the sauces were boring. The pool deck lunches were Holiday Inn at best. I could do an essay simply on the food but I'll just say that we found the specialty dining aboard Royal and Celebrity Cruises to be much better in terms of both food and service.
Service: Service was all over the board. It appeared that about half the food wait staff had not been trained in table service or even instructed to stand aside and make way of a guest walking down the restaurant isle. On the other hand our suite butler was excellent.
Smoking: This issue really bothered us. Smoking cigars seemed to be allowed on suite veranda's making using ours difficult at times. One port side (left) of the pool deck nine is smoking and the staff did not enforce the ships no cigars rule on the aft portion of deck nine which basically polluted about 50% of the deck space on deck nine and ten. We found ourselves with sore throats after day four.
Space: On sea days we found a lack of deck space for chairs and shade even though our two cruises were only at 75% to 80% occupancy. Towels were scarce at times and the pool food and towel crew seemed to offer the worst service on board. Restaurants all had low ceilings and the dÃ©cor seemed dated for such a new ship. The Musak in some public areas reminded us of a 60's dentist waiting room.
Dress: Sun and surf make for warmer body temps in the evening plain and simple. To have formal nights in a hot tropical climate made no sense to us.
Overall: Our first cruise on Silversea was a big disappointment and we'll likely be our last on the line. We had hoped for a good experience and were prepared to sign up for a 2012 Med cruise if we liked it, but that won't be happening. We paid a very premium fare but received below average food and service. Every meal we had ashore including our return flight to LAX on Virgin America was better than was offered onboard the Silver Spirit.