We are home after an interesting two weeks on the Muse from Montreal to Ft. Lauderdale. Several important ports were cancelled due to the ports needing space for cargo ships. I hope that those ships were taking cargo to the islands so ... Read More
We are home after an interesting two weeks on the Muse from Montreal to Ft. Lauderdale. Several important ports were cancelled due to the ports needing space for cargo ships. I hope that those ships were taking cargo to the islands so badly damaged by the hurricanes and not the fact that the Silversea ships are smaller and probably pay a lower fee. Charleston was changed to Wilmington, NC several months ago and subsequently changed to Morehead City. Savannah was cancelled only several days before arrival and they added an extra day and overnight in Cocoa Beach (not a thrill). These changes did not please a number of foreign guests who had planned this cruise in order to see those ports. There was not sufficient time when Savannah was cancelled to book any alternative plans ashore. We reserved the cruise more for the ship than the ports, so the changes didn't decrease our enjoyment of the trip. The day we were in Morehead City, there was a southern seafood festival which, while not as exciting as Charleston, was an interesting cultural experience for those not used to southern cuisine.
I immediately liked the décor of the ship, but it took a while for me to warm up to the differences between this ship and the classic ships. We were in a Silver Suite on deck 11 that was lovely. The issues we had had with Silver Suites on the Spirit have been largely corrected, and we loved the colors of the marble. While they have improved the bathrooms greatly (no vessel sinks) and increased the size of the shower, the closet now only has one door and less usable space. Additionally, there are no drawers in the closet for your “unmentionables”. There are many more plugs and USB plugs on the desk, but it would be nice if there were a few more in the bedroom. The sliding doors between the bedroom and living room did rattle so we put pillows against them at night. At least we didn’t have to tie them closed as needed on the Spirit to keep them from banging open during rough weather. Since we were in 1102, and the new unisex bathroom was next door, we felt we had a two-bathroom suite! The Observation Bar was also close by, and on this voyage it was a popular place unlike on the other ships where it is generally empty. We never had drinks anywhere else on the ship, and we never even sat down in the Panorama Lounge. The ship has massive amounts of public space and many of the public rooms are underutilized while others have a nice vibe.
We were aware of the need to make dining reservations in advance, and all of them were honored. Since we hadn’t coordinated with friends prior to the trip, we ended up changing a number of our reservations at the last minute without any problem. I must admit that the dining rooms felt more like good restaurants on shore rather than the usual SS dining rooms. That was a pleasant surprise, but in our opinion, the food was TOO GOOD, like eating at a fine restaurant every night! We really didn't have the option, as you do in the MDR, to order off menu and have a lighter meal. Despite the food being excellent, I found it very hard to eat sensibly because the restaurants didn't feature vegetables or lower calorie meals found on the “always available” menu. While I could have pre-ordered anything I wanted, that was not convenient. Also, because the menus do not change, I think the food would become quite boring on a longer cruise.
We had one less than good meal in La Terrazza the first night, and we each had one main course during the remainder of the trip that was less than hoped for. Overall, I give the ship an A for food. We enjoyed Indochine and had a spectacular meal in Kaiseki. We ate in Silver Note, and I found the food to be a bit pretentious and the tableware quite unattractive. The banquets in La Dame are as poorly designed as they are on the Spirit, and we had to ask for pillows in order to be able to sit properly at the table. Atlantide was a very comfortable room, and we were surprised at how quiet it was especially when compared to the MDR’s on the other ships. Lunch at the pool grill was disappointing with the onion mush rings rather than the real thing. Some interesting changes have been made to the menu at the grill/Hot Rocks that I enjoyed although the prawns were no longer the size of bananas! We liked the concept of the Arts Café and would have eaten breakfast in there more frequently had there been any selections that didn’t include yoghurt. It was nice to be able to grab a small sandwich for lunch before heading off on shore.
Our voyage was made so much more enjoyable due to the efforts of Eileen, one of the maître d’s. For our last evening on board, she arranged a spectacular Filipino banquet for our group of eight. There were interesting appetizers, eight different offerings for the main course and at least two desserts. She took care of planning the menu, and all we had to do was enjoy the meal, which we did.
They took down the wall between the bar and the restaurant in Atlantide while we were on board which meant that it was closed for breakfast and lunch. That didn't impact us since we usually eat in La Terrazza and this time in the Arts Cafe. They were getting ready to extend some of the glass dividers in La Dolce Vita to make it cozier, but that didn't affect us either. Dolce Vita was perfect for 100+ trivia participants who took up at least half the space. However, there was still sufficient space for others to enjoy the room closer to the reception desk. We usually go to the Observation Bar in the evening and did so all of the time on this trip because of the proximity to our suite. It is nice that they added bars to Atlantide and Indochine but we wondered why the designers would have also made La Dolce Vita so large rather than using some of that space for additional cabins.
Our biggest disappointment is the design of La Terrazza. This room has always been our favorite place for most meals. Now, it has been turned into a cavernous space totally lacking in ambiance even at dinnertime. Most disappointing were the lack of carpeting and the elimination of table cloths at breakfast and lunch. This “Carnivalization” of the room is a big mistake, and we hope that management will listen to the myriad of negative comments and make changes.
We felt that the staff was not as friendly or proactive as we have experienced on other ships. When I brought to their attention our dissatisfaction with one of the tours that was poorly described in the brochures and considerably overpriced for what it ended up being, my comments were met with little interest. Additionally, they seemingly made no attempt to accommodate passengers who wanted to find alternative ways to go to Savannah, and they didn’t advertise the added excursions available for our extra day in Cocoa Beach.
The legacy Silversea staff members were wonderful as usual. Our butler and suite attendant were among the best we have had. The newer staff needs some serious training not just in customer service but in the details of what happens on board. Captain Zanello runs a very happy ship and interacts frequently with passengers. I believe he was aware with the general dissatisfaction among some passengers who missed ports they had specifically wanted to see. Our last night, when we sailed from Cocoa Beach, knowing that SpaceX would be launching a rocket, he received permission from Monaco to remain just offshore so that the passengers could watch the launch. Having spent the day at the Kennedy Space Center, this was an exciting end to the day and to the cruise.
So much of our enjoyment of this trip was due to our fellow passengers many of whom we had met over the years on cruisecritic.com. Our entire trivia team consisted of cc.com contributors and we did quite well.
The real question always is - would we travel on the Silver Muse again. Certainly if the itinerary and pricing were what we wanted, we would. We would probably not pro-actively seek out the ship especially if I thought that children and their yuppie parents would be on board. We will happily return to the Whisper on our next voyage, although I will miss certain of the dining options on the Muse. Read Less