Silver Dawn is the third ship in Silversea Cruises' Muse Class, but the 596-passenger ship differs slightly from its siblings Silver Muse and Silver Moon, not necessarily in the ship itself, but in what's provided onboard.
After having success revamping its culinary offerings through the S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program on Silver Moon, Silversea turned its attention to the spa, with not only a new space for wellness but a bunch of luxurious touches that you can do in your room, making your down time even more relaxing.
Entertainment, too, on Silver Dawn seemed edgier than previous Silversea sailings, with a cruise director who wasn't afraid to poke fun at herself and entertainers who were seen about the ship more than usual (including leading dance parties at 10 p.m.). Silversea CEO Roberto Martinoli has said the line is looking to up its entertainment game next, taking cues from sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises. We saw a preview during the ship's christening, which juxtaposed balletic dance with high-tech optics and music -- if this is where Silversea is going, they are on the right track.
All in all, the atmosphere on Silver Dawn felt less stuffy and, dare we say, more fun than we've witnessed on other Silversea cruises. All the trappings of luxury cruising -- massive arrangements of fresh flowers, free-flowing Champagne, caviar on demand, in-suite butler service -- are still there. Dining still feels like an occasion, and people still dress up more than you see on most cruise lines. (For those fashion-starved by the pandemic, the people watching is a treat with luxury brand names the rule and not the exception.)
Silversea regulars will not be disappointed with Silver Dawn. But there's a freshness onboard Silver Dawn that we think will appeal to people who might not have tried a luxury cruise before.
The deck plan for Silver Dawn groups most of the restaurants, theater, spa and activities at the back of the ship, with the suites predominantly in the front. This ensures that most of the rooms will be blissfully quiet but also means it might take you a while to figure out exactly what floor has the restaurant you want to go to.
The biggest changes have occurred in the new Otium spa, which is unlike any wellness areas in the rest of the fleet. Inspired by the Roman concept of baths and wellness, the Otium spa now has a new relaxation area, with adjoining thermal saunas and steam rooms. Designed to be an area for people to linger, either before or after their treatments or during certain open hours, this relaxation area offers alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, complimentary scrubs and decadent treats for noshing.
What you won't find: the for-fee thalassotherapy pool that appears on the other two Muse-class ships. While we missed having a water element in the thermal suite, we did appreciate the clever Otium extras -- and also the expanded space for the fitness center. The Otium concept also extends well beyond the physical spa area itself -- read our take on the enhanced pillow menu, the hot chocolate balcony experience and the ultra-luxe butler-drawn baths.
Speaking of spending time in your suite, Silver Dawn has some of the nicest appointed rooms in the cruise industry. The smallest cabin onboard Silver Dawn is 334 square feet, and most have balconies and thick curtains that you can pull shut to keep your living area separate from your bedroom.
Of course, if you want more space to spread out, the Silver Suites are a welcome splurge. These rooms on Deck 10 and Deck 11 have the vibe of being in their own enclave and also put you closer to your favorite sunning area. (There are also Silver Suites on Deck 9, but these are scattered among other room categories.)
The Silver Suites are also true suites, with long entrance hallways, large dining tables both inside and outside, and a bedroom area that can be separated by pocket doors as opposed to curtains. While there are more spacious suites onboard -- the Royal, Grand and Owners suites are all popular with families -- the Silver Suite represents a nice upgrade from what is already a fine cabin, if you're looking for a gentle splurge.
All suites onboard come with butler service -- if your butler is off duty, a substitute butler will quickly answer your call. We found our butler to be a tad tentative and reactive; there wasn't the same anticipatory service that we experienced on past Silversea sailings. Still, we found that our butler was eager to show off the new Otium in-suite services and all in all, the pampering was still there if you wanted it. You just had to be more direct in asking for it.
We weren't sure it was possible for the food on Silversea to get better, but the S.A.L.T. program has definitely added a fission of excitement to onboard dining, while the Otium room service menu on Silver Dawn gives you more options for those nights you don't want to dress up.
That's not to say that there is anything wrong with the old favorites. Atlantide still has a massive menu full of luxury dishes, with gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. The popular Italian menu at La Terrazza remains outstanding, and the service here was the best we received on the ship. We enjoyed the menu at for-fee restaurant Kaiseki even more on this cruise than previous ones.
The S.A.L.T. Kitchen, however, is truly ambitious and different than what you find on any other cruise ship, let alone a luxury one. The menu in this restaurant changes almost daily, depending on the port, and the wines here, too, are locally sourced. A complete cocktail menu comprising local spirits is located next door at the S.A.L.T. Bar.
What's nice about S.A.L.T., which also encompasses hands-on cooking classes, lectures about local cuisine and curated shore excursions, is that you don't have to be a foodie to enjoy it. If food is not your thing, you can skip as much of S.A.L.T. as you want (although it would be a shame not to at least have one meal at the Kitchen, and you'll regret not having at least one drink in the atmospheric bar).
Silver Dawn and Silversea overall ooze luxury, from the cashmere blanket on your balcony to the quietly replenished minibar and the foie gras burger that now appears on the Otium room service menu. We would argue, however, that Silversea's continuing desire to innovate, improve and delight is perhaps the hallmark of the "new luxury." Now excuse us. We have some Champagne to consume.
For the most up-to-date testing, masking, and vaccination requirements aboard Silver Dawn, please refer to Silversea Cruises' health and safety protocols. You can also refer to Cruise Critic's guide to masking and testing requirements on the world's major cruise lines.
· Meals at most restaurants onboard
· All beverages
· Most shore excursions
· S.A.L.T. Lab cooking activities
· All shows and entertainment options
· Most daily activities, unless otherwise noted
· Use of the fitness center
· Thermal suite (during certain hours)
· Shuttle transfers into town centers
· Butler service
· Limited Wi-Fi
· Wetbar and minibar setup
· Self-service laundry
· Executive private transfer service
· International roundtrip flights, with business-class upgrades, in selected destinations
· In-country flights (when required by the itinerary)
· Pre- and post-cruise hotel nights, based on flights
· Unlimited premium Wi-Fi (depending on suite category)
· Dinner at Kaiseki and La Dame
· Spa treatments
· Personal training sessions
· S.A.L.T. and premium shore excursions
· Laundry and pressing services (depending on suite category)
Silver Dawn doesn't necessarily just draw the 1% -- well, some of the passengers certainly qualify, but you'll find a few top 5% and even 10 percenters in the mix. People on Silver Dawn come from around the world, and the ship and line have a sophisticated European vibe, a remnant of Silversea's roots as an Italian luxury cruise line.
The ship has a handful of accessible cabins, with grab bars in the bathroom, extra-large showers instead of tubs, outdoor access to the balcony for wheelchairs and strategic locations near elevators. The pool onboard has had more steps down into the basin added, making for easier access.
On our shakedown cruise, special meet-ups for LGBTQA+ and solo travelers were not scheduled. Silversea does have a history of hiring "gentlemen cruise hosts" to have dinner, dance and do activities with solo guests; CEO Roberto Martinoli has said these will return on longer voyages. The cruise director does an active job of placing solos on team trivia teams.
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