Silversea's Silver Spirit may well represent the sweet spot in luxury cruising, exceeding at everything that matters: personal space, beautiful interior design, service, food, wine and choice of compelling itineraries. At 640 feet in length and a beam of 86 feet, the ship could accommodate far more than the 540 passengers it allows. Yet, Silversea capped the number of guests in favor of creating a ship with one of the highest space-to-passenger ratios in the business.
The line's designers then had the freedom to create some stellar public spaces, all with a unique Art Decor flair. Look for design motifs that highlight patterns -- like the chevron, scallop, flamestitch and palmette -- that were popular in the 1920s, '30s and '40s. Glass and polished metals accent softer fabrics and plush upholsteries in soothing colors that range from the blues, sea greens and golds of The Bar to the burled walnut, reds and browns that decorate Stars Supper Club. Hallways are wide and public spaces are so well laid out that you don't necessarily internalize that you're on a cruise ship right away.
Service is a hallmark of Silver Spirit, with every officer and crew member going above and beyond to make sure passengers are happy. The staff truly seems to enjoy being on the job, and we got the sense that the Silver Spirit family is a happy one. That leads to excellent service -- from the ship's cabin stewards, who work in tandem with your butler, to the bartenders, waiters and waitresses, the gentlemen host dance partner, and the tender crew. (The latter deserve extra props for calmly and safely delivering passengers to and from Sanary-sur-Mer despite some intense swells on the day we visited.) Silversea is one of the few cruise lines that offers butler service in all of its accommodations, and these gentlemen add to the overall cruise experience. After an intense day of touring Florence (we walked more than 20,000 steps that day), our butler had a hot bath -- complete with rose-petal accents -- waiting for us upon our return to our suite. Gestures like that were appreciated throughout the voyage.
For a ship of this size, Silver Spirit has a tremendous number of dining options and each one is unique and above average. The food in The Restaurant (the ship's main dining room) is some of the best we've had at sea in years.
All in all, we found little to complain about aboard the ship. The water in the whirlpool tubs on the pool deck could have been warmer and the entertainers by the Pool Grill could have been a bit stronger, but those are truly our biggest gripes with the ship. We can certainly understand why some of our fellow passengers had booked back-to-back voyages. A mere weeklong cruise just wasn't enough.