We very much enjoyed this cruise, met some lovely people and saw some very interesting places. Ship and standard of service was, as usual, very good and, overall, all staff were excellent. While we were pleased overall, there were some ... Read More
We very much enjoyed this cruise, met some lovely people and saw some very interesting places. Ship and standard of service was, as usual, very good and, overall, all staff were excellent. While we were pleased overall, there were some disappointing aspects.
Over some 15 years, we've been on a number of Silversea cruises. Previous cruises were on their smaller ships. We wanted to try one of their larger ships, so chose the Spirit, and selected the Rouen-Lisbon cruise as they were new destinations for us.
The ship (and number of passengers) is larger, about a third larger, than Whisper/Shadow. Our cabin was large, larger than other Silversea ships we've been on, but not so you'd notice it, with all the usual, good facilities. On our previous cruise, we had an instance of soiled linen. Unfortunately, this happened again. On our first night we found the bed sheet had not been properly washed. It was replaced immediately and sincere apologies were made by senior officials, but it should not have happened.
In comparison to the Whisper/Shadow, the layout of the ship is similar, with a couple of extra small, specialist restaurants. As expected, other areas were larger, though, again, not so you'd notice. In comparison to the smaller ships, the larger number of passengers is only apparent (or a problem) when embarking/disembarking.
Our embarkation was not as smooth as on previous cruises, where we were well-greeted and offered champagne. Ours may have been affected by a safety drill just before, but should have been as welcoming nonetheless.
You could have all your meals in your cabin, but mostly we went to the various restaurants. We also enjoy the 'open dining' on Silversea. There are two principal, larger restaurants - the Main Restaurant and the Terrazzo (each providing breakfast, lunch and dinner) and three other, smaller dinner venues - Le Champagne, Stars and a sushi-type. For breakfast and lunch we always used the Terrazzo (cafeteria-type service), which was very good. For dinner at the Main Restaurant you may elect to sit with others (seldom a bad move, in our experience) or alone. (In former times, ladies were escorted to the tables - no longer an option.) At the Terrazzo, we always booked a table. Likewise, you need to book for the other restaurants. We had very good meals at the larger restaurants. Our meals at the Stars and Le Champagne were not so good. The Stars was a multi-dish, tasting menu approach - too many dishes in our view. Le Champagne is billed as a Relais&Chateau venue. Having dined at many R&C establishments, I'd question Le Champagne's status. We were given very good advice on wines, but came away questioning the food. My wife and I had the same meat dish, though differently cooked, but were given each other's plate. Alas we did not notice this at first. Our soufflés were almost flat affairs. (We noticed other diners also had flat soufflés.) I raised these issues with the maitre d', who thanked us for our feedback(!).
Silversea ships operate a dress-code: formal, informal, casual. Alas, we saw several examples where this was not being observed by passengers - changing times?
Again, over the years, we've noted the improvements in Silversea entertainments. This cruise included a troupe of able singers and some very good opera singers. We did not find the change to the evening entertainment in the Panorama lounge to our liking, however. Previous cruises usually had a relaxed, piano-singer arrangement, but this cruise had a full-on DJ/disco affair. Again, changing times?
We've always found staff on Silversea ships to be extremely helpful, attentive and courteous. This was certainly the case on the Spirit.
Each port, except 'Le Verdon (Bordeaux)', was very interesting. The weather, as always, had a bearing, but only one port, St Jean de Luz, was missed, as proving too rough for tendering. As it turned out, that miss allowed very useful extra time in Bilbao. Over the years, we've found the Silversea shore excursions to be not good value, each usually including both some good and some questionable aspects, e.g. overly long coach journey or wholly unnecessary item/venue included. So this time, we elected just to explore the ports visited by ourselves, using shuttle bus arrangements usually laid on. This generally worked well, with all ports providing good sightseeing opportunities. We only came unstuck at Bordeaux. I expected we would be able to shuttle bus into Bordeaux, but I had not appreciated we would be berthed at Le Verdon, which is many, many miles away from Bordeaux and one could only get there by pre-booked excursion. Pre-cruise homework is therefore worthwhile!
Notwithstanding the issues of concern, we would choose Silversea again. Level of service is very good and staff very friendly. We are, however, tempted to opt for the Whisper or Shadow, feeling their slightly lower number of passengers offers something lost in this larger ship. It's difficult to be specific, but, over the years of cruising with Silversea, we feel the standard of 'luxury' they purport to offer has slipped somewhat. Read Less