We sailed on the Silver Cloud from San Juan through the Lower Antillles. The itinerary looked promising: no days on sea; some interesting islands like Dominica and Grenada; and a ship full of alumni from great colleges and universities. Indeed, the lectures were good; the embarkation and departure went smoothly; and the service staff were well-meaning and mostly very kind.
Some falsehoods to dispel immediately:
1)No one has a personal butler. The butler instead roams through several floors and has an appreciably high number of cabins to service. Often, it was difficult to find anyone, telephoning or peeking out into the hallway. Once you could reach the butler, he was attentive: room service was lovely, shoes were shined, and, if you care for this sort of thing (we do not), towels would be twisted into little animal forms at turn-down time. Rose petals were sprinkled into the bathtub, left for ther passenger to clean out if he or she wanted to take a shower!
2)The ship is not elegant. Rather, the furniture is chipped, the walls are scuffed, and the mirrors are all showing wear and scratches. The shower had a full-length mirror on one side, which was a miserable way to first look at oneself in the morning! The grout ands the area between the bathroom tiles were full of mildew, which many passengers noticed.The balconies had paint splashed on the floor and cheap furniture. The rooms were cleaned in so-so fashion, although on a daily basis. The library is nice; and the main auditorium was pretty. The pool was small and the chairs around it were very unattractive and clashed with the decor, suggesting a bulk sale on them. The computer room was tiny and the internet took hours to work.
3. The food is plentiful but not very good. Breakfasts never varied. The Italian retsaurant had the same menu night after night. Tea was nice, but you had to beg for the scones; otherwise, the waiters placed a stock dish on your table.Lunch was good and the best part of the eating day. The dining room menu was very difficult to read, and most of the food was the same nighr after night. It was not of high quality. The worst part of the cruise was how long dinner would take. If you arrived at 7:30, when dinner began, it was next to impossible to be finished before 10, making it hard to partake of the entertainment.The entertainment consisted of watered-down versions of Beatles songs and ABBA hits. The entertainers were peppy, but looked like they could have easily been as comfortable singing in the Magic Kingdom.
4. The passengers seemed to be mostly in their 70's and 80's. Nice people, but definitely an older crowd.
5. The executive staff was cold, mostly invisible, and liked to keep it that way. If you wanted to talk about anything, they sent out the same third-tier people time and again. The ship had an air of mostly not caring. Compare this to Crystal, and there is NO comparison.
6. The excursions were good and organized well. No complaints there.
If you have an opportunity to choose between Silverseas and Crystal, choose Crystal. Much better attention, food, and overall quality. Silverseas by comparison is like the awkward, homely first cousin who is not sure how to compete and stops trying.The Silver Cloud was down on the heels, and there are much better offers on much better ships.