We had signed up for our first cruise ever, Ft Lauderdale to Barbados, on the Silver Shadow months before sailing and had no idea what to expect. In an effort to learn as much as possible we did a lot of reading and surfing the net where we read reviews of the Silver Shadow. "Down hill from there" and "no Ritz on the sea" gave us some mild apprehension prior to departure and certainly had our antenna up for the negatives that were reported.
While we were first timers on the sea (not counting a Greek Isles cruise back in college) we are not unfamiliar with luxury or first class service which I am happy to report the Silver Shadow met and exceeded. We met numerous other passengers who have sailed every luxury line out there and some who had as many as 500 days of voyages under their belts. They were all unanimous in their praise of the food, staff and quality of the Silversea's ships. Both embarking and disembarking were as easy as it could possibly be. We took the advice of embarking one hour after the prescribed time and walked right into our first of many glasses of champagne and caviar. It was up hill from there!
While we had two excellent meals in La Terrazza (the Italian flare) restaurant we found the most enjoyable meal experiences in the main dinning room for lunch and dinner. We were not interested in night clubs or entertainment so our group closed the dinner room down every evening and every night was better than the previous. I would highly recommend breakfast in La Terrazza. As the ship usually moors stern end towards town you are sitting on the 9th deck looking down into some exotic port. I ordered Eggs Benedict every morning and loved them. I would agree whole heatedly that more information on the islands (pots of call) for non-tour participants would help. The tour desk was putting out 8X10 copies of the island map on one side and the main town on the other. But it would have been nice to know that renting scooters on St. Kitts was not for the faint of heart and conversely everyone should rent and enjoy a scooter on Isle de Saint.
The Vista Suites have an ocean view - port hole almost at the water line. The cabins are a wonderful size with bathrooms and closets to die for but the only complaint would the slapping noise of the water on the hull made for fitful sleep. If you are cruising with Silversea forget the Vista Suites and step up to the Veranda Suites, not that much more and you will be glad you did.