This was our third cruise in as many years on Silversea, and our first time on the Silver Spirit. Our two previous Silversea experiences were on smaller ships, where we were delighted by high level of service at every turn. On those two ... Read More
This was our third cruise in as many years on Silversea, and our first time on the Silver Spirit. Our two previous Silversea experiences were on smaller ships, where we were delighted by high level of service at every turn. On those two cruises, we felt like the staff read our minds, anticipating and meeting our needs before we asked. We couldn’t imagine a better experience on a cruise ship.
With the exception of multiple service problems, our third cruise met our basic expectations. The Silver Spirit appeared to be in fine shape, well maintained, and clean. We were pleased with the selection and availability of food and beverages throughout the ship. We made restaurant reservations on line as soon as booking opened, and all were honored on board the ship. Our favorite restaurant for dinner was La Terrazza, where we always had very good food and service. The itinerary – Lisbon to Venice, with stops in Portimao, Cadiz, Malaga, Cartagena, Trapani, Malta, and Corfu -- was interesting, with plenty to do and see. The only suggestion we would make would be to extend the in-port times in Trapani and Malta, which were too short. We walked around most of the ports on our own, which was extremely easy to do, and hired a driver in Trapani because we needed help squeezing everything we wanted to see into the six hours we were docked. We did not take any Silversea tours.
We were astonished by the weird service problems on board, some of which we are still laughing about (after all, it was vacation!), and some of which are inexcusable for a luxury experience.
For example, on our two previous Silversea cruises, we were welcomed aboard by smiling staff members and waiters offering glasses of Prosecco. This time, not a single staff member smiled at us or welcomed us on board; we had to ask a glum waiter, standing in a corner near reception and holding a tray of glasses of sparkling wine, if we might have one. The waiter did not respond, so we took glasses to drink while waiting in line at the reception desk. No one came around to collect empty glasses.
After we handed over our credit card and had our pictures taken by another glum uncommunicative staff member, we headed to the main dining room, weighed down by hand luggage, to have lunch while we waited for our rooms to be available.
Upon arrival at the main dining room, the person at the podium, without smiling or greeting us, simply said, Wouldn’t you be happier at the buffet? We said no, we preferred to eat in the main dining room. The person reluctantly directed a waiter to seat us, but stopped the fourth person in our party, who was wearing a fedora, telling him hats were not allowed in the dining room. Our friend said he understood and he would remove his hat as soon as he put down his hand luggage. The person at the service station glared at him and told him to put his luggage down immediately and remove his hat if he wanted to eat. It was an extraordinary start to the cruise, leaving us to wonder if we were on the right ship or if something terrible happened before we boarded.
Unfortunately, the indifferent dining room service continued throughout the cruise. Each time we entered the main dining room for breakfast or lunch, a person at the podium attempted to direct us to the buffet and seated us only after we insisted we wanted to eat in the dining room. We began to feel that eating breakfast and lunch in the dining room was a tremendous imposition on the staff.
Service was painfully slow and uneven; sometimes we’d be offered breakfast pastries or bread, sometimes not. Sometimes butter, salt, and pepper would appear on the table; sometimes not. Perhaps this explains why there were so few passengers in the dining room at breakfast and lunch.
On three occasions, we were served coffee in cups and water in glasses with obvious lipstick marks. The cups and glasses were replaced immediately when we pointed out the problem, but those cups and glasses should never have reached the table. (Lipstick marks seemed to be a problem for housekeeping, too. When our room was available, we noticed obvious lipstick marks on the pillowcases as soon as we entered and asked to have the linen changed.)
Several waiters in the dining room had problems speaking and understanding English. Typically, we had to repeat our order two or three times while pointing to the item in the menu, before the waiters appeared to understand. Even then, we were served things we hadn’t ordered and not served things we had ordered.
Waiters also argued with us. One morning, when we ordered a bagel with cream cheese at breakfast, which we had successfully ordered the previous morning, the waiter insisted a bagel with cream cheese had never been available on the ship and but that we could order a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon. One evening, when I told a waiter that there was no cheese in the Caesar salad I ordered, the waiter picked up my fork from my plate and dug through the salad insisting I must have overlooked cheese at the bottom of the salad.
To Silversea's credit, after we reported the problems to management, we noticed improvement in the dining room service. While I hope our third Silversea experience was just a one-off thing, perhaps some combination of over-worked staff, poorly trained staff, customer-facing staff with poor English skills, and the phase of the moon, it’s often the little things that form long-lasting memories. If we take a fourth Silversea cruise, it will be on one of the smaller ships. Read Less