April 6, 2017
Not that you'd be able to tell straightaway. It's the type of understated luxury -- "whispering luxury," the line describes it as -- that you gradually notice the longer you are onboard. More "ahh" than "Wow!"
So there's no million-dollar art adorning the walls or centerpiece sculpture to gawk at. No gold-plated shower stalls and no Swarovski-crystal chandeliers or staircases.
The ship is subtler than that. Think of it more like a Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton than a W. Everything is muffled and padded, soft and quiet, gray and beige. There is no flourish, or anything particularly eye-catching. This is exactly to some peoples' taste, while others might prefer a bit more detail.
But look closer and you can see where the money has been spent -- huge beds, vast suites, deep balconies, butlers for every suite, Bulgari products and the coolest TV we've ever seen on a ship (more on that later).
It's also got a few firsts for a ship this small, including eight (yes eight) different restaurants, which is astonishing for a vessel carrying just 596 passengers.
We got onboard on Monday for a super short cruise from Genoa to Marseille. Here are seven things we liked from our very short stay onboard Silver Muse and a couple we didn't.
(Editor's note: This was what's called a shakedown cruise, which means Silver Muse is on its very first voyage - it had only been delivered to Silversea the day before we boarded - and so certain aspects of the service and waiting times in restaurants for example, take time to come together).
The Coolest TV We've Ever Seen on a Ship
If you ever watched any CSI shows you'll know what I mean. Two entire walls -- one in the living area and the other in the bedroom -- are given over to the TV. Although they don't rise up and you can't use your hands to manipulate the images as in the show, they do look incredible: it's like having a movie screen in your suite. When in sleep mode, they show the time and a short welcome message with your name. When switched off, they turn into a mirror. They are also fully interactive and you can make all bookings through them. One small note: They look as if they are touch screen, but they are remote-controlled -- which a number of people found out after spending several minutes vainly rubbing their fingers against the glass.
We love ship bathrooms and there is nothing more indulgent than having a bath onboard. Wait, scratch that: the only thing better than having a bath onboard is having a rain shower first, then a bath. We loved the Bulgari products, and for those with sensitive skin, there is a range of Sebamed products. We also loved the proper bath mat -- a deep, large mat rather than those thin ones you often get on ships. But the best thing was the position of the taps -- right beside the head rather than the feet (why hasn't anyone thought of that before?).
Different Plates for Each Course
It might seem over the top. But Silversea has a different plate designed for every course -- across all of its eight restaurants. And we're not just talking size here, but shape and design. For example, with the signature vegetarian dish "My Little Garden" the plate had a ridge in with the veg draped over the ridge, as if it was a field with a small hill. The red snapper dish was presented atop an inverted glass bowl which looked as if there were small volcanic shards keeping it warm. It shows the amount of thought that has gone into the little touches.
We did not have a chance to eat at many restaurants onboard, but we have to give a big shout out to Spaccanapoli (even if we're not too keen on the name). There are a number of fine dining restaurants onboard such as L'Atlantide and La Dame, but sometimes pizza is all you want -- as long as it's good pizza. This one is, with thin crust, rich tomato topping, buffalo mozzarella and excellent pepperoni. Outstanding.
We know some passengers struggle to find things for their butler to do, but we think that's missing the point -- a good butler makes him (or her, in this case) invaluable. For example, Hayley (our butler), explained we should call her if we wanted food delivered to our suite -- not call room service -- as she would speed things up, which she duly did. Hayley sorted out Wi-Fi issues and explained about all the different products in the bathroom, she let us know where we needed to be, and so on. When she was briefly off in the afternoon and didn't rush to my door the second we called, we weren't quite sure what to do with ourselves! We told her we'd miss her when we left -- and we meant it.
Huge, capacious, commodious, sumptuous -- these just a few of the adjectives that come to mind when describing our 323-square-foot suite. As well as the aforementioned bathroom, there is a walk-in wardrobe, large bedroom area with a huge bed and wonderful plump pillows; a dividing curtain, a sofa and a desk in the living area -- and of course those TVs. The verandah is deep and wide at an additional 64 square feet, with enough space for two loungers. It was a supremely comfortable experience, and bear in mind this is a standard suite.
The Onboard Singers
We saw a wonderful show -- Argento (silver in Italian) -- which like the ship, was simple and understated, relying purely on the six performers' voices, their stage presence and the music. There were a few costume changes and wonderful lighting, but nothing else: no stage scenery to speak of, no big production, nothing really to distract you. They belted out a medley of swing numbers, including some from the Rat Pack, but the show stopper was without doubt Nina Simone's I'm Feeling Good. It began with a whisper and rose to a crescendo (as it should), giving me and everyone else in the audience goosebumps. A mesmerizing performance.
Sadly, neither the food nor service was up to scratch. This bills itself as a Japanese sushi bar, but there was no Japanese sushi chef in attendance and the food we were served was poorly executed and inedible. We were kept waiting over an hour and when our food was finally served it was not what we ordered.We acknowledge that this was a shakedown cruise and certainly hope things improve here.
It's almost as if the designers ran out of ideas when they got to the spa. For a ship this fancy, we expected a bit more. The thermal suite does have an outside thalassotherapy pool, but inside the steam and sauna are tiny; so too the changing rooms -- three people and it's a squeeze. The waiting area is also uninspired.
Silver Muse is the future of Silversea, as Manfredi Lefebvre explained to us onboard. The ship's design, color palette and décor will inform the redesign of its forthcoming ship refurbishments, and may -- if the line chooses to exercise its options on new-builds -- become an older sister in 2020. It's a beautiful ship and one which his father -- who always dreamed of having a 12-ship fleet -- would be justifiably proud.
Look for Cruise Critic's full review of Silver Muse, coming soon!
--By Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor