We disembarked the Silver Wind in early June and generally had a very good cruise.
The main attraction, certainly so far as my OH was concerned, was the sail in and out under Tower Bridge (note to destination lecturer - not "The" Tower Bridge, just Tower Bridge).
We had a quick and easy embarkation and our suite, a classic veranda, was fine and looked in good order. We did find an item on a shelf which belonged to a previous occupant and which indicated, perhaps, not the most thorough of inspections before we arrived. It was not a major deal for us but we received a fulsome apology from 2 senior members of housekeeping staff.
I dislike the bathroom on the Wind, in particular the bath/shower combination with a fixed shower screen and I gather that most, if not all, of the baths are to be removed when she is refitted next year – can't come soon enough, though I know some will miss them.
The interactive TV in the suite was excellent, with Chronicles, restaurant menus, tour information and the newspaper all on-line, and a good selection of films. The hard copy of the newspaper disappeared on the 1st June but appeared on screen, so I assume the decision has been made to provide it online only, which saves a few trees and is fine with us.
Connectivity for the TV and the internet, however, was frustrating, channels were often unavailable – particularly trying where there is a huge football game and the channel showing it is as dead as a Norwegian Blue . Apart from late at night and very early in the morning, it could be a dispiriting experience to try to use the internet. We had the standard, included, package only.
Food we found, generally, to be good, with plenty of variety in the Restaurant. This was in contrast to our experience on the stretched Spirit last year when we found the Restaurant menu to be limited and repetitive, though there are of course many more dining options on the Spirit. With curries, pasta and local dishes offered on the Wind on various days in the Restaurant, we did not miss the alternative venues as we feared we would, though an Arts Café style area would have been welcome.
Three courses and coffee were the norm at dinner, with no separate salad course or sorbet on offer and no petits fours. I am sure you could have had them as a special request. We did not need them.
We also ate in La Terrazza, which was very good on the first night but rather mediocre later in the cruise to my mind, although OH enjoyed his dishes. I had rather expected a lasagne in an Italian Restaurant on an Italian ship to be sensational. I was disappointed.
Hot Rocks in the evening has consistently excellent meat and fish, if you don’t mind doing your own cooking, which we rather enjoy and the best bit is that, no matter how much mess we make, someone else does the clearing up. During the day this area is the Pool Grill, where the food was adequate but where the service, on this trip, was under par. Things took ages to arrive, service was bit slapdash, i.e. tables were not properly cleaned down between guests and food dropped on the deck lay there and provided fodder for the birds. This was a coldish weather cruise, where the Grill was probably not as well used and I got the impression that staffing levels had been curtailed accordingly.
Elsewhere, service was very good and charming though perhaps not quite as intuitive as on other ships. As an example, I always have expresso at breakfast and even though we very often had the same server, I always had to ask for it, it was never remembered . I could cope with this but one of the selling points of Silversea has been how quickly crew get to know passengers' preferences.
The included wine was, again, generally acceptable and there was no difficulty in obtaining something other than the daily pour. Pudding wine was provided on request but was not routinely offered.
The one big, and completely avoidable, problem on this voyage was the tendering process, which was lamentable. Unusually for Silversea, only one tender was in operation at tender ports, and it ran out and back on the hour and half hour. If, therefore, you missed one tender you had to wait for an hour until the next one. The difficulty was particularly acute at Gerainger where several ship tours arrived back at the quay at the same time, filling the scheduled tender to full capacity. Guests left behind were told they had to wait until the next scheduled tender, which was over an hour later. Minor mutiny ensued –can you mutiny on a quayside?-and after a lot of hoo-ing and ha-ing, the tender came back sooner than scheduled. This should never have been an issue, the ship was close to the quay so the tender journey was only a few minutes. There was absolutely no need for any hassle, the tour concierge team know how many guests are on tour and when those tours will arrive back, and so tenders should cater accordingly
In Vik, we arrived at 7 am but the first tender for non-tour group guests was at 10am, the last tender back was at 11am, which left a frustratingly short time to explore the village and to walk to the famous churches there.
My only other negative comment on the arrangements was that there should have been a shuttle bus into the centre of Bergen. However, perhaps my view was jaundiced by the fact that it rained on the way back to the ship and I got very wet and very, very grumpy.
Entertainment- Colin Barbiere Brown was the Cruise Director and a there was a complete change round of Voices of Silversea and of at least one of the lounge musicians in London who boarded with us. Thus, the cast were putting their shows in place on the ship and so were not visible throughout the ship to engage with passengers. I did feel that we suffered somewhat from this.
Colin is a polished Cruise Director, he runs a tight trivia and he performed on several occasions, with or without other musicians. It was, however, a mistake not to have some guest entertainers on board for this cruise as the performances by the Voices were to be limited and a variety of entertainment was lacking. I am aware that one does not choose a Silversea cruise for the breadth of its entertainment but some alternatives to Colin and his piano might have been welcome, excellent musician though he is.
This brings me to the demographic of guests. As it was a London to London cruise, it was hardly surprising that the majority of guests were British, some 170 out of 294, I believe. A good number were older and with a degree of frailty. This meant that, in our opinion, the ship was less lively than we have experienced hitherto, especially in the evening. A couple of lumpy nights did not help, but the bars seemed to close early and I got the impression that a fair number of people didn’t get off the ship at ports. Given the average age of the guests, I suspect that some must have been surprised to be assailed by versions of Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen classics from the Voices on the last night.
When it got rough, the crew were excellent older guests or those with mobility issues, some of whom were helped all the way back to their suites by crew who would not let them risk walking back unaccompanied.
And yes, we had a wonderful sail out of London at night but an even more spectacular sail in in the morning, accompanied in part by 50 or so hot air balloons, flying almost close enough to touch. We know that Silversea can't take the credit for that, but it was the perfect end to an enjoyable voyage.