On Silver Whisper, it doesn't matter if you're a retired titan of industry or a hard-working professional who has saved for a trip of a lifetime. You will be treated to impeccable service, fine dining and spacious accommodations onboard, and enjoy a convivial atmosphere, in which strangers can become fast friends over the course of a meal.
The 382-passenger, 28,258-ton luxury cruise ship is neither Silversea's smallest nor its largest, but many repeat passengers told us that it's the perfect size and -- along with sister ship Silver Shadow -- their favorite class of Silversea ship. The ship is easy to navigate, with the forward half of most decks devoted to staterooms and the aft half reserved for public spaces. No matter where your suite is, you'll be close to something. Several lounges provide options for scheduled entertainment, as well as pre- or post-dinner socializing and daytime reading or chatting, so you don't get bored. And there's plenty of space per passenger, so you never run into queues or struggle to find an available lounger by the pool.
All cabins are suites and most have private balconies, and you really can't go wrong with any level of accommodation onboard. No matter where you sleep, you'll have access to a butler, some free Wi-Fi (amount varies by category), course-by-course white-tablecloth in-suite dining and a liquor set up and stocked mini-fridge. Large bathrooms with tubs and double vanities, plus walk-in closets, keep your home-away-from-home from feeling cramped -- a boon for Silversea travelers who choose to spend weeks at a time at sea.
For a small ship, Silver Whisper offers several dining options, in addition to room service. We were impressed with the breadth of the menus in The Restaurant, as well as the quality; whatever your dietary requirements, dining staff can certainly accommodate. A few things you might not expect: The buffet restaurant transforms into a reservations-required, sit-down Italian venue at night, with a lovely atmosphere. The only truly casual venue is the alfresco Grill, where passengers cook their own food; there is no indoor, quick-and-easy option other than room service. La Dame is Silversea's Relais & Chateaux restaurant, and -- unusual for a luxury cruise line -- charges a $60 per-diner fee to eat there.
Service is outstanding. The minute we stepped onboard, crew members were addressing us by name, and throughout the trip, we were constantly asked if we needed anything else. (Which, of course, we hardly ever did, so well were we taken care of!) Wait staff will personally escort you to tables -- even in the buffet -- and carry plates for you. Our butler even delivered a late lunch to us in the bar, so we could eat and take part in the daily trivia game. Silversea has a no-tipping policy, so its crew members are taken care of by the line and everyone can benefit from the culture of good service, without feeling pressure to grease anyone's palms.
If you're not going to like Silver Whisper, it's not because the ship doesn't pass muster but because its traditional style doesn't suit your personal travel tastes. Silversea is among the more formal of the luxury lines. There are three levels of dinner dress, and passengers do dress up, even on the casual nights. You'll be hard pressed to cruise without a jacket (men) or heels (ladies), and you will be turned away from restaurants and public spaces (or given the hairy eyeball by other passengers) if you show up in the wrong attire. Entertainment is old-school with musical revues, dances classes, bridge games and team trivia. If you're looking for cutting-edge shows or dance floor packed into the wee hours, this isn't your ship (though the bar can be quite busy late into the night and its small dance floor hopping).
But most travelers booking a Silversea cruise are focused more on Whisper's intimate ship size, refined atmosphere and primo service than on entertainment. Some don't even care where the ship is going. The many repeaters talk about the ship like it's their second home, and first-timers often find that they, too, have trouble leaving at the end of their trip.
Silversea Silver Whisper Dress Code
Silversea is still a holdout in the world of dress, with three different attire levels (formal, informal and casual) which are enforced in public areas after 6 p.m. Dare to flout the rules and you might get pointed looks from other passengers or refused entrance to The Restaurant. La Terrazza and The Grill are the options for passengers who want a more informal (i.e., no tie) dining experience.
The dress code is more specific when it comes to men's attire, and it's easiest for women to choose an outfit that would match the level of men's dress, rather than try to understand the differences as spelled out for ladies. Another tip is that casual on Silversea is not the same as casual on Holland America or even Oceania; the atmosphere is more formal and casual evening attire is dressier than on other ships.
Casual dress is listed as sport shirts and slacks for men and dresses or blouses and pants for women. This is not a capris and nice top or casual skirt ship; casual still means date night attire. Informal means jackets for men with tie optional, and dresses or pantsuits for women. Formal requires jacket and tie, and possibly suits and tuxedoes; women don their nicest dresses or even a gown.
Silver Whisper Inclusions
Your Silver Whisper cruise fare includes gratuities, butler service in every cabin, use of self-service launderettes and shuttle service into town where appropriate. Drinks are also included (excepting wines and liquors on a premium menu), and staterooms are set up with a stocked mini-bar and alcohol of your choice. Most passengers receive one hour of Wi-Fi per day (on a "use it or lose it" basis), while those in the highest suites receive unlimited access. Spa tips are included in the price, though there is a space on the bill to add an additional tip.
The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.