5 Silversea Silver Spirit Cruise Reviews for Luxury Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

My wife and I took our first Silversea cruise exactly a year ago: a ten-night western Caribbean cruise on the Cloud. We enjoyed it greatly, but felt that the Cloud was a bit too small (296 passenger capacity), a bit too old (1994), and a ... Read More
My wife and I took our first Silversea cruise exactly a year ago: a ten-night western Caribbean cruise on the Cloud. We enjoyed it greatly, but felt that the Cloud was a bit too small (296 passenger capacity), a bit too old (1994), and a bit too quirky (some strange public-area design elements, such as no men's room on the deck where the main restaurant and Le Champagne are located; you have to go up a flight, and then have to look all over the place to find it). So, while on that cruise, we booked this one, on Silversea's newest (2009) and largest (540 passenger capacity) ship, hoping that the ship itself would be better but without sacrificing the things we loved about the Cloud, notably the high-quality cuisine and the restaurant, bar, and housekeeping service. We weren't disappointed. The Spirit is a more modern, better-designed ship than the Cloud. I'm hardly an expert on interior design, but even I could tell that the Spirit has a brighter look to it, both in the colors chosen for the public areas and in the amount of natural light that comes through. The cabins on the Spirit are somewhat bigger than on the Cloud, and nicely furnished, with ample closet space for a cruise of this length (and probably for a longer one, too). My wife took advantage of the deep, full-length bathtub, which is separate from the relatively roomy shower. The only area in which the Spirit came up short was---oddly enough---the coffee served at breakfast. It was weak and tasteless. I say "oddly" because Silversea is an Italian-owned cruise line that supposedly uses the highly-regarded Italian coffee brand, Illy. They may be using it, but they're not using enough of it. As I say, it was weak, but the espresso (which I quickly turned to as a substitute) was perfectly good. Go figure. Otherwise, the food in all the venues was of a very high standard. Although here and there a server lacked polish, the overall dining room service standards were excellent, and a few of the servers were among the best we've had anywhere---land or sea. I should point out that fifteen of our seventeen dinners were in the main dining room, one in the Stars supper club, and one in the Terrazza Italian restarant. We enjoyed the latter two dining venues, but we liked the main dining room so much we wound up going back again and again. (And because we frequently dined with other people we met at the bar before dinner, it was much easier to eat in the no-reservation-needed main restaurant). We only had room service once, for breakfast, and it was fine. For breakfast and lunch we ate almost exclusively at the buffet in La Terrazza (for which you DON'T need a reservation at lunch or dinner). On "lesser" ships, we usually avoid buffets like the plague, but on the Spirit the buffets were inviting, appealing, and efficient (no lines). The enrichment lectures were outstanding, particularly those given by Georgetown professor and former Ambassador Andy Steigman. We saw some, but not all, of the entertainers. Of the ones we saw, the best were Pete Neighbour (world-class clarinetist, who did two wonderful shows), and Garth (pianist) and Helene (singer) who play each night in Stars. Finally, I'll mention that the gym, although decently equipped, is on the small side, and can get crowded on sea days. However, there's a fairly large outdoor area directly off the gym that has plenty of mats and can be used by anyone for stretching, yoga, etc. when the area isn't being used for classes. All-in-all, a very nice cruise. Although we're curious to see what the new Seabourn ships are like (we last sailed with them way back in 2000), Silversea remains, in our opinion, the one to beat in the luxury-cruise category. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We are a retired couple in our late 50s and choose itineraries offering a mix of ports and sea days. With this in mind we tend to judge our cruise experience by whether the ship itself offers us the mix of food, facilities and comfort we ... Read More
We are a retired couple in our late 50s and choose itineraries offering a mix of ports and sea days. With this in mind we tend to judge our cruise experience by whether the ship itself offers us the mix of food, facilities and comfort we seek rather than by ports visited. On this cruise we were accompanied by my sister-in-law and her husband who are a couple of years older and had never cruised before. Silversea offered them a 5% Venetian saving as ''Friends of the Venetian Society'' - that is they were sailing with Venetian members (us!) and profited from the Venetian saving. Having flown into Miami the previous day and stayed overnight at the Ritz-Carlton we boarded the Spirit around 1pm and, as usual, the procedure was quick and painless allowing us to take lunch in La Terrazza. This was our third cruise on the Spirit and it was gratifiying to be welcomed back on board by several crew members whom we knew from previous cruises. After lunch we were shown to our suite, 411, a Vista on deck 4 right next to, but not connecting with, suite 409 which housed the in-laws. We always choose Vista because: a. we never use the balcony; b. we're rarely in it except to sleep; c. cost. Several Silversea old-timers are not greatly enamoured of the Spirit and a scan of the reviews will illuminate their views. For us, however? Well, we rather like it because of its modernity and choice of dining venues. Compared to the Shadow and Spirit it benefits from 2 extra restaurants. In general the ship is in very good condition and only the most curmudgeonly would find signs of wear and tear about which to complain. We are not really interested in organised activities or entertainment so this reviw will skip those points except to say that if you are ever on an SS ship where Cruise Director Moss Hills gives one of his stage performances then GO! Not only is Moss an excellent Cruise Director, he is also a gifted musician, singer and all-round good chap. I think our favourite aspect of the SS experience is the crew. Without exception we found the crew accommodating, welcoming and keen to provide a good service. A few examples: 1. B-i-l and I liked to sit out on Deck 9 aft (adjacent to the panorama lounge) for a read and a smoke. Within a few seconds the panorama barman would bring us each a drink - after the first couple of days he remembered our choices and quietly made sure we never went thirsty! 2. After dinner the 4 of us would retire to the Connoisseurs' lounge - upon arrival the dedicated steward would disappear and return within a minute or so with our usual round of post-dinner drinks and coffee. 3. Our butler became intuitive to our needs to the point where he seemed to know what we wanted before we did. I could go on but you get the idea. Let's get down to the nitty-gritty: Dining Now we all 4 like our food, but we have very different tastes and requirements from one who will eat anything (and I mean anything), to one who is extremely picky. Bearing this in mind it is outstanding that SS fed us 3 times (or more) a day and satisfied each of us. We found the food to be excellent, the choice of wines suited us very well - indeed, the sommelier would often suggest something other than the chosen wine for a meal because he came to know our tastes. The one thing I might criticise is the selection of dessert wines - they have a choice of 3 free-pour dessert wines, none of which were to my taste. I know this is a very personal thing but a decent Sauternes would have been heavenly. They do, however, have a very acceptable Tokai on the wine list for $90 or so and it is, in my view, worth every cent. Main Dining Room. This is a very elegant room with a formal feel. The wait staff are very attentive without being overbearing and the Maitre d' ran a tight ship. We knew the chap from earlier cruises as we did a particular waiter so were always seated at a table covered by that waiter. For dinner one just turns up between 7 and 9.30 pm and chooses a suitably sized table (although a group of 8 or more might be well-advised to clear this with the Maitre d' earlier in the day). Food is too personal to discuss at length other than to say that at no time did we receive anything that wasn't properly prepared and presented. The quality of ingredients was very good and we found the dinner menus to be imaginative and varied. There has been criticism that ''Gourmet Burgers'' are offered on the menu. I have no problem with this as eating them is not compulsory and they are very popular. Eating breakfast or lunch in the MDR is a very elegant, if rather lonely, experience. Breakfast in particular is a very quiet time as most people seem to head for the buffet in La Terrazza. We rather like it at such times and there is someting a bit more special about having one's bowl of muesli delivered by a smiling waiter. No reservations are needed for dinner La Terrazza Slow food. Eh? Yes, slow food. I think by that they mean that the meal is taken in an unhurried fashion with time between courses to chat, sip wine and generally treat the affair as a sociable, European-style experience rather than a refuelling-as-fast-as-possible exercise. The menu has a strong Italian theme but, dare I say it, with more than a nod to the Big Country on the left of the Atlantic. It works. Again, good quality ingredients carefully prepared and served by charming wait-staff (and again, a favourite waitress from a previous cruise kept us well fed and watered). Good ambiance, too. La Terrazza serves as a breakfast and lunch venue with a very extensive buffet. A few items need to be specially ordered - pizza, eggs - but you'd need to be very fussy not to find something to eat here! Notwithstanding the buffet nature of these meals, the staff still attend table to serve drinks or respond to requests. Reservations required for dinner. Pool Grill The pool grill serves lunch very much of the hot dog and fries, light salad, pasta fashion. It does the job but could hardly be described as fine dining. They also set up a buffet style lunch here from time to time that tends to follow a theme. It's OK if that's what you like. In the evening, however, the grill becomes ''Hot Rocks'' where a superheated stone is placed in front of each diner and the food is cooked on that by the diner. The choice is between steak, giant prawns, veal, pork (or all of the above if you are gastrically commodious). Fries, onion rings etc and salads can be ordered as accompaniments. I don't like this venue yet the other 3 of our group loved it. I'd give it 2 stars, they would give it five. Shows how little I know! Stars Stars is a supper club serving a six-course menu, each course consisting of 3 very small tasters, to the accompaniment of a very talented jazz singer. Now, we love this venue and because the menu changes every 4 days we go every fourth day. Dinner starts a little later than the other venues (8.00) and the whole meal needs to be taken slowly. Those that wish to go to the show at 10.15 would be ill-advised to dine here. We never go to the shows and are quite happy spending 2 or 3 hours being overly-well provided with impeccable comestibles. Reservations needed Seishin Japanese food. Not for me. We had one lunch, the other 3 loved it, I really, really didn't. According to others we spoke to the quality of the food is very good - I guess if you like dead fish and sticky rice it probably is. That's unfair because there is quite a variety on the menu. And the setting is very cool. This venue is no charge or reservation at lunchtime but carries a $40 dollar per diner charge in the evening when reservations are needed. Champagne $40 per diner charge, reservations needed, dinner only. Didn't eat there. That was quick, wasn't it? Suite Suite 411 is fine. As much space and the same facilities as a veranda suite but without a, er, veranda. We found the furnishings and facilities to be in very good condition and the suite was maintained impeccably by our room steward. The wardrobe area is easily large enough even for OH's clothing storage requirements. And the bathroom has a seperate bath and shower. Yippee. (And 2 basins but I've never found I've needed more than one at once although it does mean that you and your partner can get it on with a bit of stereo toothbrushing.) Each suite has a butler but the butler serves several suites. Quite how he always managed to be available when we wanted him remains a mystery. From looking after the minibar to getting our tax-free smokes, making reservations, serving breakfast or whatever he never put a foot wrong. Best of all, he never called on us - on another line we had a room steward who would call every now and then to see if we needed anything. At my age I can ask and prefer to be left alone. I find the TV screens in the mirrors quite fun and once you've learned that the remote control sensor is in the grill under the mirror there are no problems with the system. The in-laws couldn't get their's to work but that was because of all the stuff arranged on the shelf in front of the grill. Stuff moved, TV worked. QED. There is an extensive selection of on-demand films for a quiet night in. Shore excursions. Always a contentious issue: pay for a ship's tour or arrange privately? We opted for ship's tours in Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala largely because we had onboard credit to use, we knew nothing about these countries and we had some security concerns (ill-founded, as it happens). On the other hand we went alone in Key West and at the 2 Mexican ports of Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas. Had we known that Acapulco is the fourth most dangerous city in the world we'd not have ambled around the place in such a blase fashion - I suppose the number of paramilitary armed police around the place should have warned us. I'm from Belfast - it was quite nostalgic! Of course, the highlight of the trip was the Panama Canal passage. This took almost all day starting at dawn and was an awesome experience made all the better by having staff on the observation deck keeping us refreshed with drinks, hors d'oeuvres and cold handtowels. I think this probably rates as one of those ''10 things to do before you die'' things. So how would I summarise this cruise? It was what we expected. SS suits us and our needs and the Spirit is our preferred SS ship (we have sailed also on the Whisper and Shadow and will be taking the Wind next year). Is it cheap? No. Is it good value? Definitely Yes. We spent the 2 nights after leaving the ship in the Beverley Hills Four Seasons and when you add in the food and drinks that was at least twice as expensive per night as the cruise and it didn't even go to another country. So could I mark down the score to less than 5 stars? Erm, in all conscience, no. But what suits one person isn't necessarily going to suit someone else. If you want big, professional shows, hideously glitzy decor, holiday camp activities, regimented dining and like standing in line for everything then you need to go elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We have been sailing on Silversea since 1995 and have over 240 days on board all of its ships. While the line is not what it once was--the food is nowhere near as good and the amenities of caviar, decent champagne upon arrival, and access ... Read More
We have been sailing on Silversea since 1995 and have over 240 days on board all of its ships. While the line is not what it once was--the food is nowhere near as good and the amenities of caviar, decent champagne upon arrival, and access to a full range of call brand liquor, and special Silversea adventures on each cruise are no longer available at no charge to all--we still enjoy the line. From time to time, we have had problems, most of which have been equitably resolved, sometimes without our even asking for help. On the positive side, I never have traveled on a ship with better butler or housekeeping services than we experienced on this occasion. The wait staff was extraordinarily competent. When we complained on our passenger survey and asked to speak to the Hotel Manager about the matters mentioned below, he visited us in our suite, listened to us with respect, offered us a complementary dinner at the fanciest restaurant on board, and promised to let "Fort Lauderdale" know about all of our input, both positive and negative, via the form. I thanked him for his courtesy and told him that I would wait for a response from Fort Lauderdale before complaining on the record on line. We debarked on March 13, and as of today, April 24, we have heard nothing from Fort Lauderdale except advertisements for additional cruises. And so it was with absolute shock that we emerged from the Valparaiso-Ft. Lauderdale trip with a very bad feeling about the line's devotion to its customers. In our years with Silversea, we have taken trips of several segments in length, and we have had accommodations ranging from the Grand Suite to the Silver Suite to the Veranda Suite. We always have been nicely treated, regardless of how long we sailed or what type of room we rented. We never have experienced the bald-faced fawning over passengers who are traveling for more than one segment that we experienced on this cruise. We never have seen such obvious preferential treatment for people who are traveling on more than one segment. Friends have told us that they never will travel on a Silversea long-term cruise again (such as World or Discovery), because there is cliquishness and exclusivity in the air. We had never noticed this before. On this trip, it stared us in the face. We often were with friends who received these services and conveniences that were offered only to them as we looked on. Officers and senior managers singled out people with whom we were dining for special privileges and meals that were not offered to us or others who had not traveled since the cruise began. They actually ignored us while planning special events for these people at the restaurant. One watched while someone pointed to us and said to the restaurant manager, "Not for them. They're not in our party that night." We were told by longer-term passengers about options for meals in La Terraza that are available upon request--but they weren't when we requested them. We watched our friends who had been on board from the beginning of the cruise angle for delivery of prizes to their suites, rather than having to stand in line as everyone else was directed to do. The provisioning on this trip was pitiful. Despite advertising premium foods and beverages, the ship ran out of Pellegrino a few days into the cruise segment; never had Heinekin beer; never had a California Chardonnay; only served broccoli that was half yellow; served fish so smelly and meatballs so dry at the Terraza luncheon that we asked the dining room manager to return them (and he came back to us and said the chef agreed and was remaking the dishes). Venetian Society members--those who have sailed with Silversea before--always are invited to dine with officers and executive crew on their next cruise. We never were invited to do so by any of these people. Our friends who had been on longer were invited several times while we were on board. Despite the lavish accolades printed and spoken by senior staff about how valuable Venetian Society members are to Silversea, apparently passengers who book multiple segments--even those who have fewer total days on Silversea than other Venetian Society members onboard--are even more valuable. We were very disappointed at the poor food and drink and the way we were treated on board during this $1000 plus per person per day vacation. There are an awful lot of other opportunities to obtain more value for that amount of money from gracious travel hosts. We hope that Silversea will some day make this right. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Our experience on this newest and largest of Silversea's ships was truly wonderful. Our Silver Suite was a luxury of space and design. Our butler made the trip very pleasant as he was always on hand, seemingly anticipating our ... Read More
Our experience on this newest and largest of Silversea's ships was truly wonderful. Our Silver Suite was a luxury of space and design. Our butler made the trip very pleasant as he was always on hand, seemingly anticipating our needs. The Silver Spirit is larger and somewhat harder to get a handle on than the Whisper/Shadow ships we had sailed on before. The Dining Room seems huge and in a way off-putting by it's size. The Bar is much larger and easy to find a spot in, that's a plus for us. All the other familiar spots are bigger and, in many ways, better. This was our first experience with Hot Rocks, the transformation of the Pool Grill at night. We really enjoyed the under the stars hot rock experience. In fact we enjoyed all our meals: four dinners in the Main Dining Room, four in La Terrazza, four at Hot Rocks, two in Le Champagne, and (of course) the Pool BBQ. Overall, a luxurious pampering experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Once we got off the plane and were greeted by the ground staff at LAX, we knew we were on Silversea! The representative stayed with us until we collected our luggage and then put us in a taxi to take us to the pier, but not before ... Read More
Once we got off the plane and were greeted by the ground staff at LAX, we knew we were on Silversea! The representative stayed with us until we collected our luggage and then put us in a taxi to take us to the pier, but not before reminding us that the fare and the tip were all taken care of. We walked up the gangway and were enthusiastically welcomed with hot towels and champagne. One step over to reception to turn in passports and have our ID photo taken and then we were escorted to our suite. The new Spirit is beautiful. It is modern yet the colors and furnishings are muted and elegant. This is a completely different experience from the other Silversea ships and is a wonderful alternative. We were in a verandah suite and were prepared that it would be "different" from other Silversea ships. Yes, the verandah suite is narrower, the hallway is only wide enough for one person at a time and the staff is challenged to get their large serving trays through, but it is not a negative. The suite itself is roomy and the furnishings are perfectly proportioned to the room. One can't help but get a kick out of the televisions that magically appear from behind the mirrors in the sitting area as well as the sleeping area. There is tons of storage with lots of nooks and crannies. The walk-in closet seems smaller than on other Silversea vessels, but it is certainly adequate. Also in the closet is a "chest of drawers", that is wide and deep as well as a safe. The bathroom is lovely. The marble and wood floors are elegant as is the wood cabinetry. While some miss the double sinks, we love the large vessel sink (we're not in the bathroom at the same time anyway!) There is a full sized tub as well as a large shower with both a conventional hand held shower as well as a rain shower from the ceiling that is absolute heaven. The teak verandah is larger than on other Silversea ships and has two very comfortable chairs that convert to full loungers, two foot stools, and a nice sized table. The bath sheets were fluffy and the bed linens were silky. Our outstanding cabin stewardess, Gemma (the best we have had on any Silversea ship), changed the sheets every day because she didn't like that they wrinkled! We personally preferred the new Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries to the Bulgari and the former Aqua Di Parma. There have been numerous blogs and posts about the "growing pains" endured by past passengers as the Spirit gets its act together. Like anything new, sometimes you don't know what doesn't work until you use it. Unlike those who have sailed before us, we found the Spirit to be absolutely up to par with all the other ships in the fleet. The service has been outstanding, the crew amazing and positive, and the new venues different and fun. The Spirit is different from others in the fleet and how fortunate that we have another choice. We did have a service issue with our butler, but it got resolved on the second day of the cruise. Our butler was new to the ship; he embarked with us in LA. He was a disaster after our first breakfast and we knew this was not going to work. We decided to deal with it immediately, rather than give him a chance to get oriented - after all it was our vacation and we are not here to train him. After 3 incidents of poor service (although he was polite and apologetic) we called reception and left a message with Oliver who oversees all butlers. We were impressed that not more than 5 minutes after our call, Oliver was at our suite and asked if he could come in and speak with us. He wanted to hear every detail and never made an excuse. He told us our experience was unacceptable and informed us that he was going to assign a seasoned butler to take care of us for the remainder of our journey. He also told us that he would have our former butler more closely shadowed to insure he gets up to speed quickly. We were really impressed with Oliver. And our new butler, Emilia, was FANTASTIC! I must also say that every time we saw our "former" butler he still greeted us with a smile and a warm greeting every time he saw us in the corridor. Every crew member has been friendly, calling us by name and giving perfect Silversea service. It seems that they are, indeed, stretched too thin, but they are working very hard to accommodate all passengers. We have enjoyed the food and would rate it from mostly very good, some excellent, and a few misses. We tried every dining venue. The main dining room is not well designed and lacks the elegance other Silversea ships. The ceiling is also very low which gives it a more casual feel. It is difficult for the wait staff to maneuver around the dining room in very narrow paths, and gone is the carving trolley—no room. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to get the cheese trolley around after dinner so waiters often try to ask you to order cheese rather than select it. We have breakfast in our suite almost every morning and it has been very nice, but I think that has more to do with our butler than the dining room. We are not big on buffets and were only in La Terraza a couple of times for breakfast and only once for lunch. However, those experiences were very good ones. The pool grill was great for casual poolside lunches. We found La Champagne to be an extreme disappointment both in the menu and the quality of the food. However Marcello is an amazing maitre d' and his wine selections are stellar—and reasonable! La Terraza at night was outstanding on all three occasions when we dined there. The food, service, and ambience were great. We really tried to like Hot Rocks Grill! It is just awkward to have a hot, sizzling stone in front of you while eating. We liked being able to cook our entrees (we both had filet mignon and tiger prawns) and keep them warm, but our faces were steaming from the heat off the stone and we were always afraid we were going to burn ourselves! But it sure is a great concept—I just wish it worked better. Stars was great. There was plenty of food and it was creative, fun, and original. The entertainment in Stars was outstanding. Seishin was another disappointment. The sushi and sashimi were good, the rest of the dishes were poor. The lobster was in a consumE and lacked flavor and the Kobe (Wagyu) beef was a huge disappointment. This was our third time through the canal but our first time taking any of the ships excursions. We were extremely pleased with the excursion staff. They were ever-present and helpful. The pool deck was always full (the weather was great) but never felt crowded. There appeared to be room for everyone. We never had a problem getting a table at the pool for lunch either. The service at the pool was excellent and there was always someone around to check on you. All of the public rooms were very nicely furnished and comfortable. We spent time each day in the Panorama Lounge and very much enjoyed the outside sitting area there as well. Again, there was always plenty of room and there was always a friendly server nearby. We also enjoyed the Observation Lounge on deck 11. The computer center/library is indeed small, but we never found it to be a problem (I had my own laptop, so I can't say whether or not there were enough computers available.) We were in The Bar every evening before dinner and had great drinks and conversation before dinner. Sometimes it was crowded, but it was never a problem. The real problem was that we never got to dinner before 8:30 so we never made it to any of the shows! Yes, there is the early show at 6:15, but we didn't want to get dressed just to go to the show. That was just our choice. I can't speak from personal experience, but I heard that some of the guest entertainers on board were excellent, while the production shows were weak. Disembarkation was a breeze. It was well organized, unhurried, and there were lots of Silversea staff both on the ship and on the shore to assist people. This was our first time using Silversea air and transfers and we were very impressed with how the transfers were handled. There were representatives with us on the bus to the airport and they managed the luggage, and secured (and tipped) porters. In summary, we had a grand experience on the new Spirit. We think that she is a wonderful alternative and a new and different Silversea experience. In our humble opinions, they should do away with the "specialty" restaurants if they are going to continue to charge a premium ("reservation fee") - the food was not special enough to warrant an extra fee. However, we really liked having so many choices in dining. The staff is stretched a bit too thin (perhaps management will be looking at this for the future), but every crew member had the Silversea "spirit" (pun intended) and provided the kind of excellent service we expect from this line. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Silver Spirit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 5.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 5.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.5
Family 2.0 3.5
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 3.7
Rates N/A 4.0

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