I chose the newly revamped and stretched Silver Spirit, hoping I would enjoy the cruise to the Western Caribbean and Central America. After boarding the ship in Ft. Lauderdale, I had a wonderful lunch in the main dining room, and so my expections were very high. When I went to my stateroom, I was very impressed with its size, the champagne that was chilled and waiting for me. I met my butler, and I was very impressed with him and his assistant, and his efforts and kindness throughout the cruise were more than noteworthy.
I can say on a positive note, that you will have access to all the senior officers throughout the cruise-more than I have ever had before on other cruise lines. The chief maitre’d, Antonio, was absolutely amazing, and was the linchpin keeping all the heads of the many restaurants inline. He was there to ensure everything was done correctly in all the 7 dining rooms. On the first day of the cruise, there was an opportunity to meet with all the dining maitre’ d’s and the executive chef to discuss any food allergy or other food requests.
Now, here were some of the issues and problems I encountered: 1) The lifeboat drill was something I never experienced before. When I left my stateroom near the front of the ship, the crew monitors sent me toward the front of the ship, and then said our group, whose staterooms were in the front of the ship, had to go into the crew area door on deck 6, and down steep metal crew steps 2 complete flights into the bowels of the crew area down to deck 4. We then walked some distance on the crew deck 4, and went up another crew staircase to deck 5, which was where the lifeboat drill was to take place. My comment to the leader of our group was how would be know how and where to go, since the corridors were so confusing, if we were expected to take this same route during an emergency? Why should we be the only group that was sent down into the crew area, when all the other guests on deck 6, went down the center ship staircase to the meeting room on deck 5. This room is the only large space on the ship, and every passenger on the ship (around 500), was crammed into that room for a 40 minute drill. More than half of the guests had to stand throughout the whole drill, since there was no place for the rest of us to sit. Once they began showing the guests how to don the lifejackets, I was shocked they did not ask the guests to follow their instructions and put on the lifejacket. After they showed everyone how to put on the lifejacket, they announced we should all proceed in one big group toward the outside of the ship where the lifeboats were located. Those who had not put on their lifejackets had to put them on before we started moving out of the room. I felt very uncomfortable and like I was in grammar school, when they insisted that while we were in the big room, that all guests should put their hands on the person in front of them, and keep the hand there all the way to the lifeboat area. In my 40 years of cruising, I have never participated in such a screwed-up and long lifeboat drill.
2) If you are going on the Silver Spirit to enjoy wonderful meals in the main dining room and other restaurants, you need to know that all the ships’ dining rooms serve the same meals every day. That’s right, no specials, no nothing, but the same repetitive meals. I am glad I was not on this ship for more than 10 days-I was tired and bored of the same food choices. The only time you can get some variety is during lunch in the main dining room, where they have a new wonderful menu everyday, but that menu and meal is prepared by the Sous Chef. I complained and asked why they pay an “executive chef” if the food is the same in all of the venues every evening? But they insist that you have to go to the other meal venues for some variety, and to that I say, that is nonsense. No ship cruising today doesn’t have different menus and specials in the main dining room every evening. I looked in the sushi restaurant during dinner, and it was so dark at night, that I would not chance eating there. I spoke to a chef who was preparing different sushi rolls in the Sushi restaurant (they are only open for dinner) to be served for lunch in the Trattoria restaurant, and I decided to try one of his rolls that day while eating there, and I could not even swallow the first bite of a California roll-it was that bad.
The Central American ports were not ones that will ever go back to again. When we arrived at Grand Cayman, we encountered strong winds and very rough water and waves. The ship decided to disembark the ship via the tenders, but the water was so extremely rough that the light light boats were going up and down and banging-up against the temporary dock on the side of the ship. It was so extremely dangerous, that the tenders should have been shut down, but the crew continued to take guests ashore, even though the tenders were banging against the cement docks at the island’s piers. Again, the tenders were going up and down, and getting off was very, very dangerous. Returning later in the afternoon for the ride back to the ship, the Hotel Director, the Assistant Captain of the ship, and one other officer was there directing the boarding of the tenders-it was just as dangerous and even more frightening in the afternoon as it was earlier in the day, and very diffiicult to get back onto the temporary dock at the ship. I was thankful to be back on the ship safely.
My observations were that all the crew were amazing, so helpful, and good at their jobs. The front desk employees were so helpful, and kind. They were always there to help and provide the answers to any questions. My room was kept perfect, and as I said, my butler and his assistant were amazing. I had one hiccup with a very young maitre’d in the Silver Note restaurant, and I was assured by Antonio after I told him about it the next day, that he was going to take care of it, and make sure that this individual did not make the same error again that he had embarrassingly done with my group the night before.
If you are into fitness and working out, the gym onboard had to be an afterthought, and was really a joke. Way too small, and had only a few pieces of equipment.
Great cabin, great butler and his assistant. Could not ask for better service!! The room was quiet and just perfect. My shoes were even polished by my butler without me even having to ask.