This was our fifth Silversea cruise, our second on the Muse but our first repositioning voyage.
As always, we flew to our embarkation city the day beforehand and had a fun 24 hours in Athens. We didn’t feel it necessary to book our accommodation through Silversea as it’s a major European city with good transport links. When you just need a relatively central location, a comfortable bed and a good shower, why pay over the odds? Silversea waived the “deviation fee” on this occasion so we booked a simple hotel 10 minutes on the metro from the Acropolis. We enjoyed exploring the city on the Sunday and spent Monday morning in the magnificent Acropolis Museum before taking an inexpensive taxi to Piraeus and boarding the ship with minimum fuss. We were sat outside La Terrazza having lunch within 15 minutes.
We previously sailed on the Muse on her inaugural voyage in April 2017 and had a great time, despite the dining chaos complained of by some. It definitely felt like a home-coming, with some familiar faces amongst the crew and we easily slipped into the warm embrace of luxury provided onboard.
The ship looked good and well-kept. For us, the public spaces achieve the balance between muted luxury and comfort - we are not interested in being surrounded by “bling”. Our suite, although on a lower deck than we have previously sailed on, was in all other respects exactly the same and very convenient for the “big beige lounge” (the Dolce Vita) and Team Trivia every afternoon.
Over the course of the cruise, we ate in all the restaurants with the exception of La Dame. This was a conscious choice on our part as on our previous voyage we didn’t feel La Dame merited the extra charge when the food in Atlantide is particularly good. We dined in Kaiseki to celebrate a birthday and the chefs and staff gave us a memorable evening. We also enjoyed the sushi and sashimi for lunch at Kaiseki, which sometimes provided a quieter alternative to the buffet or the pool deck. The food at all restaurants ranged from very good to excellent. It was pleasing to see that the menu at Silver Note (previously our lest favourite option) had improved. The flavours at Indochine were spot-on and the bar there was one of the nicest on the ship. Not all guests appreciate Asian fusion, but it was heartening to see the Indochine dining room busier than previously.
Where we had previously sailed on port-intensive itineraries with relatively few sea days, we had to make an adjustment on this cruise where it was roughly half port and half sea days. This was made easier with plenty to keep us busy. There were three guest lecturers on board, two of whom - Mark Elowitz and Tom Jones - were particularly popular. Team Trivia became increasingly popular as the cruise progressed. Cruise Director Vikki conducted matters with elan and confidence. We used the gym regularly and my husband attended a number of classes with the fitness instructor, who he rated highly. The jogging track was busy with walkers and runners first thing in the morning. We had a bridge tour, various cooking demonstrations in different parts of the snip, a galley tour and many other diversions.
The Voices of Silversea did a really good job on this voyage and all the various musicians worked hard to support each other and devise new combinations of musical entertainment to offer guests. Charlie the guitarist was a particular star. In addition, there were two other artists brought in for different parts of the cruise - a singer/pianist and a flamenco guitarist. Both were very skilled.
We took a number of excursions in the ports we visited. The desert jeep safari in Sharm El Sheikh was more fun and interesting than we had originally expected. The landscapes through which we drove were remarkable and the visit to the Bedouin camp was enlivened by both a whirling dervish and a belly dancer.
The full day excursion to Petra was tiring but very well worth it. Again, the desert landscape we passed through to get there was quite spectacular. Everybody will say that there isn’t enough time to do more than skim the surface in Petra and I think that is true. Once we had passed through the Siq, we left the tour group behind and wandered on our own. There was enough flexibility in the lunch arrangements for us to maximise the time in the old city and just grab something quick back at the Movenpick Hotel. After all, there didn’t see a lot of point in going all that way to spend half of it sitting in the dining room of a hotel, however nice.
In Safaga, we took the overnight excursion to Luxor. This gave us the best chance to see as much as we could in the time available. For us, the Valley of the Kings was the highlight and more time there rather than at a couple of the photo stops on the way back to Luxor would have been welcome. The evening buffet dinner at the Sonesta Hotel on the banks of the Nile was very relaxed and enjoyable.
Having sailed through Pirate Alley and reached Salalah, we cancelled the excursion we had booked and took a taxi with another couple. This gave us the chance to see what the city had to offer at our own pace. It’s not a big place but there are still points of interest - the vegetable and fish markets were amazing.
It always surprises us when we hear and read complaints of poor service on Silversea. We have never experienced anything less than exemplary service and this cruise was no different. Our butler and room attendant were efficient and friendly and did a beautiful job of decorating the suite for my husband’s birthday. The staff definitely deserved the applause at the crew parade on our penultimate evening on board.
Disembarkation at Muscat was a little slower than on previous occasions, but that was more to do with the local immigration officials than with Silversea staff. All the arrangements for our transfers within Muscat went smoothly.
We are looking forward to our next Silversea cruise - we have an open booking and are still pondering which itinerary to try next. Based on our previous experience, we are confident that Silversea will deliver the cruise we want.
Spacious, well-designed and comfortable. The cabin was immaculate throughout our voyage. When we raised the issue with a someone smoking on a neighbouring balcony, this was handled by management and did not happen again.