Silversea's Silver Spirit may well represent the sweet spot in luxury cruising, exceeding at everything that matters: personal space, beautiful interior design, service, food, wine and choice of compelling itineraries. At 640 feet in length and a beam of 86 feet, the ship could accommodate far more than the 540 passengers it allows. Yet, Silversea capped the number of guests in favor of creating a ship with one of the highest space-to-passenger ratios in the business.
The line's designers then had the freedom to create some stellar public spaces, all with a unique Art Decor flair. Look for design motifs that highlight patterns -- like the chevron, scallop, flamestitch and palmette -- that were popular in the 1920s, '30s and '40s. Glass and polished metals accent softer fabrics and plush upholsteries in soothing colors that range from the blues, sea greens and golds of The Bar to the burled walnut, reds and browns that decorate Stars Supper Club. Hallways are wide and public spaces are so well laid out that you don't necessarily internalize that you're on a cruise ship right away.
Service is a hallmark of Silver Spirit, with every officer and crew member going above and beyond to make sure passengers are happy. The staff truly seems to enjoy being on the job, and we got the sense that the Silver Spirit family is a happy one. That leads to excellent service -- from the ship's cabin stewards, who work in tandem with your butler, to the bartenders, waiters and waitresses, the gentlemen host dance partner, and the tender crew. (The latter deserve extra props for calmly and safely delivering passengers to and from Sanary-sur-Mer despite some intense swells on the day we visited.) Silversea is one of the few cruise lines that offers butler service in all of its accommodations, and these gentlemen add to the overall cruise experience. After an intense day of touring Florence (we walked more than 20,000 steps that day), our butler had a hot bath -- complete with rose-petal accents -- waiting for us upon our return to our suite. Gestures like that were appreciated throughout the voyage.
For a ship of this size, Silver Spirit has a tremendous number of dining options and each one is unique and above average. The food in The Restaurant (the ship's main dining room) is some of the best we've had at sea in years.
All in all, we found little to complain about aboard the ship. The water in the whirlpool tubs on the pool deck could have been warmer and the entertainers by the Pool Grill could have been a bit stronger, but those are truly our biggest gripes with the ship. We can certainly understand why some of our fellow passengers had booked back-to-back voyages. A mere weeklong cruise just wasn't enough.
Silver Spirit, the line's largest luxury ship until Silver Muse debuts in April 2017, seems to draw a slightly younger demographic than the smaller ships in the fleet such as Silver Cloud (transferring to Silversea's expedition fleet in 2017), Silver Whisper, Silver Shadow and Silver Wind. On our cruise, the preponderance of passengers were friendly, well traveled and in their 50s, 60s and 70s. However, there were quite a few professional couples in their 40s enjoying the unusual six-night itinerary.
The ship hosted an informal gathering for solo travelers every night of the voyage. It's rare to find families with small children sailing Silver Spirit due to the lack of a formal kids club or any age-appropriate activities, but it is common to see multigenerational families with teens or young adults traveling with their parents and/or grandparents. Silver Spirit draws a mostly American clientele but you may also meet a few Canadians, Europeans and Australians.
Silversea Silver Spirit Dress Code
Daytime attire is casual both onboard and ashore. Expect your fellow passengers to wear "country-club casual"-type outfits consisting of slacks or Bermuda shorts with a polo or T-shirt. Sneakers, sandals and other comfortable flat or low-heeled shoes are appropriate for exploring the ship during the day. Ladies: If you shop at Chico's or White House Black Market, you'll be in good company aboard Silver Spirit.
When the sun sets, the dress code will be casual, informal or formal. Your cruise documents include a schedule of the nightly dress code, and it's reprised in the Silversea Chronicles bulletin that's left in your room each night after dinner. Embarkation is generally a "casual" evening, which dictates pants or a skirt and blouse or casual dresses for women. Men tend to wear polos or open-neck shirts and slacks.
"Informal" evenings racket things up one notch with women wearing more dressy dresses or pantsuits and men wearing a jacket (tie optional).
On formal nights, men wear tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits, and women are expected to wear evening gowns or cocktail dresses. If you're not a fan of formal nights, you can dress informally on formal night as long as you choose to dine at La Terrazza, Seishin or Stars. Attire at The Grill (aka Hot Rocks) is always casual. However, be aware that if you wish to enjoy the bars and lounges later that evening, you would need to wear an outfit that adheres to the formal night requirements. Expect one formal night for voyages of nine nights or less; 14-night cruises have three formal nights. On seven-night sailings in the Baltic, Mediterranean and Alaska, formal night is always optional and passengers may instead dress according to the "informal" code.