Silver Spirit, launched by Silversea Cruises in 2009, continues the line's tradition of classic luxury, offering an experience that's cozy and comfortable while remaining elegant. The line has added more variety in its dining with two restaurants only found on this ship: Seishin, featuring Asian cuisine, and Stars Supper Club, with sampler tapas-style menus and cool jazz entertainment. Silver Spirit also has a spacious spa that includes a ceramic-tiled thermal suite.
With 540 passengers, the ship is considerably larger than Silversea's other vessels, which accommodate between 132 and 382 passengers. Silver Spirit is an all-suite ship, with every cabin offering butler service. Fares are all-inclusive and cover gratuities and beverages (except for the truly premium brands): wine, liquor, beer and soda. What the ship doesn't do is promote art auctions, spa treatments, shopping talks or shore excursions.
While our sailing was fully booked, it never felt crowded. Public facilities were spacious and never filled to capacity. Lounge chairs were plentiful at the pool, and there was no wait to use computers in the Internet cafe.
It's the extra niceties that make a Silver Spirit cruise above the norm. For example, the Internet cafe is staffed with a technician with regular hours who assists passengers with not just the Silversea computers, but with their iPhones, iPads and other tech toys.
That being said, there are still a few quibbles. While beautifully appointed with cozy upholstered love seats and good sight lights, the show lounge lacks Broadway-style revues, interesting set designs and multiple costume changes.
And while Silver Spirit has endeavored to provide dining variety with restaurant choices, seating in the alternatives is limited. La Champagne has 24 seats, as does Seishin, resulting in waitlists for most specialty restaurants; even 70-seat La Terrazza needs advance notice. If your heart is set on a venue, make reservations ahead of time, just as you would for a more mainstream ship.
Many of the passengers on Silver Spirit were couples celebrating special occasions. They tended to choose tables for two, of which there are many in the dining venues and even in the theater, with its loveseats for two. For passengers wanting to mix and mingle, there was plenty of opportunity to participate in group activities like bridge, bingo, team trivia and shuffleboard.
What you'll love about this ship is the feeling of freedom. Silver Spirit passengers don't have to wait in lines for activities or dinner, or listen to myriad ship announcements in their cabins. There are no first seating, second seating rituals. You dine when you feel like dining. Special requests are honored, and with butler service in all suites -- unique to Silver Spirit -- you'll never have an annoying knock on the door by attendants wanting to service cabins. You can relax, knowing all your needs are taken care of. What more could you want in a vacation?
Slightly more than half of the well-traveled and well-heeled passengers on Silversea are American; the rest are Brits, Australians, New Zealanders, Germans, Canadians, French, Chinese and Japanese. Most of the passengers are couples, ranging in age from their 40s to 80s; the majority are seniors in their 60s and 70s. There are no programs for young children, and none were onboard on our spring cruise. There were a few teens, however. Summer Mediterranean sailings attract some multigenerational family groups with parents, grandparents and children. There is no discount for children. Announcements are mainly in English.
A 10-day cruise typically has one or two formal nights, four informal nights and four that are deemed casual. Essentially, it's a resortwear crowd. You're not going to find a lot of denim past daytime activities and shore excursions. On casual evenings, men wear open-neck shirts and slacks, while women opt for dresses, blouses and skirts or pantsuits. On informal nights, men bring up it a notch with jackets, though ties are optional. For women, informal and casual are pretty much the same. Formal night translates into tuxedos or dark suits for the men and evening gowns, cocktail dresses or dressy pantsuits for women.
All gratuities are included in the fares, and nothing additional is expected. Spa tips are an extra 15 percent. Dollars are the currency used onboard.