When I cruised with Silversea two years ago, I criticised the line for being complacent. Sure, my ship -- Silver Whisper -- was nice, but I felt that, because everyone was so busy telling me how ultra-luxurious everything was, they failed to notice standards were slipping.
It was not so much about the service (although that could have done with a quick polish). The ship was looking dated -- left behind, not just by other ultra-lux lines, but by those claiming fewer stars, as well.
So, I embarked on Silver Wind in February with a few negative thoughts in my head, especially as the ship is one of the oldest luxury vessels around and has several years on the Whisper. At 15 years old, Silver Wind is especially old for a luxury ship, given that our expectations of luxury are now much higher than they were back in the 90's.
On the other hand, Silver Wind had just emerged from a multimillion-dollar refit, which I hoped would have dragged it into the 21st century.
It did. Silver Wind, one of the cosiest and most intimate ships afloat today, now has a new spa, a handful of new, beautifully designed suites and an overall refreshment of cabins and public rooms that made it even more inviting.
Within a day of being on board, I was happy to admit that complacency was out, and surefire luxury was in.
Silver Wind is a small ship -- I reckon it took about five minutes to work out where everything was! For me, that was one of its big selling points, as it offered a very friendly atmosphere. The all-inclusive drinks policy also does a lot to promote that friendliness, especially if you are cruising alone.
Needless to say, though, if you like to do more than sunbathe, read books or eat -- and if your perfect holiday includes a huge casino, schedules packed tight with enrichment activities, and silly pool games -- this is not the cruise for you.
Either side of a rather staid Mediterranean summer season, Silver Wind specialises in more adventurous itineraries.
Mine was a cruise around India, from Chennai (Madras) to Mumbai, before the ship sailed on to Dubai and into the Med. It will be back in the Indian Ocean in November, sailing to South Africa. At the end of 2010, it is set to cruise the Middle East before returning to Mumbai.