We reserved this cruise over a year in advance based on the itinerary; we had not visited any of the ports listed. There was a new stop every day between Lisbon and London, including two days in Bordeaux and London and a visit to Omaha ... Read More
We reserved this cruise over a year in advance based on the itinerary; we had not visited any of the ports listed. There was a new stop every day between Lisbon and London, including two days in Bordeaux and London and a visit to Omaha Beach. As an expedition cruise, all of the tours, and there were many to choose from, were included. This, and the fact that it was all-inclusive, was enough to sign me up. After that, however, it only got better and better and exceeded our expectations.
A person was waiting at the airport for our private car transfer to the hotel (Lisbon Sofitel), which we booked (through Silversea) for a one-day pre-stay. At the hotel, a dedicated hospitality desk was available from 9 to 6 to handle all our questions, advise walking tours, restaurants and sites. On sail day, a luxury bus took us the 20 minute ride to pier and check in at Lisbon was quick. Although it was a our first time in Lisbon, we were never left to feel lost or easy tourist marks. (This was true of the all of the ports we visited).
The ship was recently refitted and has furniture and appointments generally similar to the new Silver Muse. Style is subdued and elegant and lacks the Las-Vegas-Disney style glitz so distracting on the 3,000 passenger ships we have previously sailed.
Although I knew this was an "expedition" cruise, I did not know until later that it was a "culinary" expedition cruise, with lectures on food, wine and cooking demonstrations. that does not say it all, however, as they also offered highly entertaining talks on military history, medieval cultural history, plants and animals. The tours offered reflected these particular interests. All of the tour guides were local and highly well informed. The passengers ran from about 50 to 80 years of age.
I was particularly impressed by the care and attention given by all of the expedition staff on the tours. A crew member was always available to make sure no one got lost and everyone got back to the ship on time. Many ports had courtesy desks set up so that you could strike out on your own.
Although Silversea does attract an older crowd (there were no children aboard), many of the tours required an admirable level of fitness, including several walks of several miles over various terrain and bike rides of several miles, and the passengers were more than up to this. They go in all weathers! By evening, passengers were happy to spend a few hours enjoying the evening meal, or a cocktail in the two lounges with pianists/vocalists. We did not miss the absence of broadway song and dance shows, which we usually skip anyway.
The level of service was outstanding; you only had to catch the eye of the steward for the merest moment for them to be rushing to your side. Yet, it was not intrusive. Each cabin has a butler as well as a steward for cleaning. In our case, the butler handled in-room dining and assisted with clothing care and was generally always available nearby.
About 30% of the passengers were US, the rest were Brits, Aussies and a smattering of others. All communications are in English.
A red and white wine is selected every evening for dinner; they are of medium quality but usually locally significant. The cocktails are uniformly imaginative and superb.
Although I have no interest in an Antarctic cruise (which is more than 50% of their expedition business), I would definitely sail with Silversea again on another type of expedition cruise. The one thing I would change next time is to make my own flight arrangements. Silversea offered a good price for the flights to and from Europe, but there was an upcharge if you did not want to fly back immediately after the cruise (ie, if you want to stay a day or more in the place of debarkation). It has nothing to do with the day of week on which you were leaving; it was just the mere change of departure date. Further, although you pay for the flights at the same time as the rest of cruise (which could be more than a year in advance), they do not actually "buy" the flight and assign the seats until shortly before you leave. Therefore, whereas you should get a choice of seats months in advance, you get whatever is left only 4 to 6 weeks before you fly. In our case, this meant that we were relegated to the last boarding group and were told we could not bring hand luggage onto the plane because there was no more room. This caused quite a bit of consternation at the outset of the trip. The last thing you want is to be kneeling on the floor at the departure gate trying to move valuables and medication from one bag to another two minutes before boarding.. I suggest that you price the flights before you make your cruise commitment.and see if you want to do your own flights and transfers.
One last tip: Silversea has a "My Silversea" link on their website which allows you to review and reserve all tours, specialty dinners and spa services in advance. I did all my reservations on line and was not disappointed once. Many of the tours booked up on the ship and there was only a waitlist. Read Less