My husband and I have just arrived home from a wonderful cruise holiday celebrating our 25th Anniversary. I am not one to "share" my thoughts on forums, but I must admit that I found it so very helpful reading the reviews that I ... Read More
My husband and I have just arrived home from a wonderful cruise holiday celebrating our 25th Anniversary. I am not one to "share" my thoughts on forums, but I must admit that I found it so very helpful reading the reviews that I thought it important to most our own thoughts on our recent cruise with Silver Seas, Silver Spirit. I am not a professional writer so I apologize in advance to the academics who find my thoughts a bit scattered :). I thought it would be helpful to compare the two Luxury ships of Seabourn Sojourn and Silver Seas Silver Spirit as they are both luxury lines within the same price point (give or take a few).
Last year, in May (2013), we had the opportunity to travel the Mediterranean with our two kids (18 and 19 at the time), and as such, booked a Penthouse Suite with an adjoining Veranda Suite on Sojourn. On the Silver Spirit, we booked a Penthouse Suite and, as such, are able to compare the two - apple to apple :)
Silver Spirit Embarkation
We embarked from Venice and used the "People mover" to get us to the terminal. If one has never travelled to Venice, the terminal is long and there is a long walk to the last ship docked....that was Silver Spirit. Signage was very limited, and there were no representatives to greet any guests at the end of the people mover to the ship itself. With all our bags in tow, we took the 15 minute walk to the ship...it was raining, but we looked at it as the final work out before indulging in the fine foods we were expecting. We found our way upstairs in the terminal where our passports and boarding passes were looked at, then scurried on to the ship. When we arrived on the ship, the emergency drill was being held. This suprised us as check in time was clearly stated between the hours of 2-5pm, and we arrived just shortly before 5 (remember, we didn't expect the 15 minute walk from the people mover :)). We were donned with life jackets as we walked in, and given a glass of champagne....we figured out we were in the "main lobby" on deck 5.
Once the drill was completed, we had to find our own way to our deck and to our room and once our bags arrived, we unpacked...no butler to be found for 2 hours. Not that we expect the butler to unpack us, we like ot do that ourselves, but at the very least to orient us to the room, the ammenities, and the ships features. When the butler did arrive, he was very nice, and apologized for his tardiness, stating that he got too busy. Hmmm......
Seabourn: When we arrived to the terminal in Civatevecchia, we were greated with white gloved representatives, champagne in hand, and a warm welcome at the terminal. We boarded the ship, directed to our rooms, and a butler and service staff represtative were almost "waiting" at the door for our arrival. We were oriented to the room, asked what our selection would be for toilettries, and were asked if we needed help unpacking. By the time we unpacked, our butler had informed us of where an when dinner was served, and where the ammenities were. We felt welcome and at home (even though it was our first time on Seabourn).
Silver Spirit Dining Experience
On the first night, we dined in the Restauraunt (the main dining room). It seemed a "cool approach" with the staff, almost distant like, and somewhat rushed. We are very approachable and friendly people, and we chalked this up to being the first day on board. Although I don't remember what we ate, I do remember the food being wonderful. We were a little perplexed by the fact that the wait staff only offered 1 type of red and one type of white that we "had" to try but I was prepared for this (thank you Cruise Critic posters), so I prepared my husband for this, and he gave the red a go, but asked for another "bolder" wine, which we received without a problem, and was lovely. We waited for the wait staff to smile, introduce themselves, but to no avail. It was not until Day 7 that the wait staff became a little more approachable, and were able to smile...not sure what was happening, but introductions did not start until about Day 6.
The morning breakfast buffet in La Terrazza was quite nice, lots of selection, wonderful Meusli, and made to order eggs when requested. Once again, familiarity, smiles, and introductions, did not happen until about Day 6. The Dining Experiences from a food perspecitve were always excellent. We dined in La Terrazza, Pool Grill )Hot Rocks), and Seishin for lunch...all were excellent - our favourite being La Terrazza (chalk that up to our European heritage :))
Seabourn Sojourn Dining Experience
On the first night, we dined in the main Dining Room. I remember sitting with my family and we were all so impresssed with the warmth of the staff, the genuine "caring" approach, and their thoughtfulness. Like Silver Spirit, the food was amazing, and there were several wine recommendations for my husband to select from. By Day 2, the staff knew our names, and the "preferences" we had - like sparkling water, extra breadsticks (definitely Seabourn has the best breadsticks :)), and how we liked our lattes. Not to mention that the Seabourn Cafe had a wonderful espresso bar where the barrista (Alex), remembered how we liked out Lattes by Day 2. Wow, very impressive! It just seemed that every day got better and better on Seabourn, and soon we were sharing laughs with the wait staff - Haley and Igor...we still remember their names...
Silver Spirit Room Appointment
For such a luxury line, and a Penthouse Suite, one would imagine an impeccable room. Not so on the Silver Spirit. The Penthouse suite was slightly larger than the Seabourn Sojoun, but it was drab in decor and there were nicks and scratches on the furniture that were in need of repair. The ship was built in 2009 and launched in 2010, yet it looked 10 years older than its actual date. For example, the Vanity table had several "burn" marks on it - which could have been easily remedied by a solid surface such as glass or granite. I noticed the door stops were broken, and the decor itself, although Silver Seas touts is as being Art Deco, was very pedestrian as compared to Seabourn Sojourn. The shower was spacious, but the "black" on the grout concerned me....mould? My husband who does not pay much attention to the decor details, commented on how the "bowl that holds the fruit" was so much nicer on Seabourn....wow!
Seabourn Sojourn Room Appointment
We were impressed from the minute we walked in the Suite...tastefully decorated, well appointed, and warm tones that made one feel warm and fuzzy. Tasteful and rich, but not overstated. The Bathroom, also very large, had a wonderful shower with curved glass (yes, expensive), but made the shower area feel larger than what it was. Extremely clean and well maintained.
Overall impressions: After meeting several guests, especially those who have travelled both Seabourn and now Silversea, they commented on the very same things and we all agreed that from a ship and staff perspective, Seabourn wins our vote, in fact, if Seabourn had run this itinerary, we would have gone with Seabourn. We travel extensively, and have cruised on Princess, and Royal Caribbean, so the comparison between Silver Spirit and and Sojourn are based on what we have experience on the other lines. We certainly look at itinerary first, and then ship (a close first :)), but if one is to compare and suggest between Silver Sea Silver Spirit, and Seabourn Sojourn, Seabourn will get our vote.