8 Silversea Silver Wind Middle East Cruise Reviews

We chose for the smaller of the three types of ships that they have. We have, in the past, sailed on the Silver Cloud and the Silver Spirit. We did not really like their largest ship the Spirit. The trip went from Athens, four ports in ... Read More
We chose for the smaller of the three types of ships that they have. We have, in the past, sailed on the Silver Cloud and the Silver Spirit. We did not really like their largest ship the Spirit. The trip went from Athens, four ports in Egypt as well as the Suez Canal, Aquaba, two ports in Oman and our last stop was Dubai. What a great trip this was, the very best ever with Silversea. Not one complaint. But we sail for specific reasons with them. We want a small ship, we want 4 - 6 real sea days, with no land in sight. We go for great food, good wines and very very good and friendly service. We like the all inclusive prices that they have. We like their suites, but moaners and groaners will probably have some reason to bitch about the size of the bathroom or a little bit of wear and tear. So it is not 100 % perfect, but it is cozy, homely, classy, european, friendly and luckily with few nouveau riche, noisy complaining, non cultured windbags. We loved it and have booked again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We flew with BA from Manchester to Athens via Heathrow on 10 November as a prelude to joining Silver Wind on the 12th. We were living in trepidation because of the frequency of strikes in Greece and the severe impact this could have on ... Read More
We flew with BA from Manchester to Athens via Heathrow on 10 November as a prelude to joining Silver Wind on the 12th. We were living in trepidation because of the frequency of strikes in Greece and the severe impact this could have on our plans. Fortunately, the general strikes in Athens fell only days either side of our stay. We did, however, get caught up in the security clampdown around the Parliament building on the 11th when the elected representatives voted on further budget cuts. As a result of tourists previously being ripped off, the Athens authorities had imposed a flat taxi fare of Euro35 between the airport and the city centre, some months prior to our trip. Before getting into our taxi at Athens airport, we told the driver we wanted the Hilton, which is central, and the fare should be Euro35 and he agreed. The journey took about 30 minutes and on arrival at the Hilton we gave the driver Euro40, which we judged fair for 3 passengers and a huge quantity of luggage. The driver was ecstatic and shook everyone's hand! The Hilton likes to claim it is the haunt of the Athens glitterati and certainly we did saw one Greek senator. Although we had secured a good rate for room and breakfast, other food and especially spirits were very expensive. The hotel is in a very convenient, central location and we'd use it again, together with the mainly Italian-themed restaurant round the corner and overlooked from our room balcony. We arranged a transfer to the ship with the hotel for Euro20. Other passengers staying at the Hilton and also on our cruise arranged a transfer separately, but seemingly paid more. We had used the Athens taxi driver well known on Trip Advisor during a previous stay in Athens, but his current prices for both the airport and ship transfers were way above the amounts we paid. We toured the central Athens sites on foot on the 11th in fine, warm sunshine and embarkation day on the 12th was the same. Our Hilton-arranged cab was waiting ahead of the appointed time and we made the pier in about 25 minutes, tipping an extra Euro5 on top of the agreed Euro20. The driver and car were immaculately turned out and we had an interesting discourse on the current Greek situation during the journey, so justifying the tip. Interestingly he lived in Santorini, apparently a large percentage of workers in the capital do not reside in Athens, thereby swelling the number of commuters who travel to work in the capital, but who's main residence is elsewhere in Greece. As always with Silversea, embarkation was a breeze, with Guest Relations manager, Tim, and International Hostess, Asta, pierside to supervise the local agent's staff with the formalities. After having our security photo taken on board, we did a tour of the ship to see if there had been changes since our last cruise on Silver Wind. The lift on the pool deck up to deck 9 had gone, thus removing an eyesore, which had been dubbed 'the bean can' by passengers. A wheelchair lift had been installed instead on the forward stairwell to enable those requiring assistance to reach deck 9. The Champagne restaurant had also been enlarged and now adjoins the restaurant. Otherwise, the ship seemed the same and looked to be in good order. Going to our cabin, we were surprised that there was no bottle to welcome us on board, originally we were given champagne, then it became a bottle of Prosecco (we were told because it was in keeping of their Italian heritage!) and now there is nothing. This was however remedied by our butler later and the bottle of champagne appeared. We had chosen cabin 727 because of its proximity to the forward stairwell and pool deck, which suits our lifestyle on sea days. We judge there to be two kinds of cruise passenger. There are lizards that bask all day in the sun, occasionally slithering into the pool to cool off, and this is us. Then there are the vampires, who you never seem to see during the day, but emerge at night to feed! By virtue of its size, nowhere is ever very far away on Silver Wind and this accounts for its popularity with passengers. Gennaro Arma was the Captain, Flavio Gioia, the Hotel Director and Colin Brown the cruise director. All three were visible and approachable throughout the cruise and we dined with all of them. "Socrafty" from Cruise Critic had originally posted a roll call for the cruise and about 15 CCs replied. We thought that in view of the numbers who had replied it would be nice to organise a gathering, and we arranged for canapes and drinks for respondees at 18.30 in the Panorama Lounge after sail away; and 12 passengers attended. This went down very well, particularly for the first timers to Silversea who thought it was a lovely welcome. Silversea had latterly decided to split this 16-day voyage into 7 and 9 night itineraries, presumably to boost bookings. In round numbers, 220 sailed from Athens, 24 disembarked at Safaga, and a few boarded here. Some of those leaving at Safaga did not wish to sail through the Gulf of Aden, or Pirate Alley, but it was surprising to learn that quite a number of passengers were unaware of the piracy issue! Indeed some passengers seemed ignorant of the actual itinerary!! In round figures again, there were 50 from the UK, 38 German speakers (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and 30 from North America. Over 20 nationalities were represented. Our practice is to dine in La Terrazza on the first night because this is frequently very popular during the cruise, and therefore not necessarily so easy to obtain a table, but it is less so on the first night. The menu rotates between one of four, typically every three or four days. Most nights we ate in the dining room, where there is now a dedicated and extensive cheese menu, which is extremely welcome (some waiters do not offer this with the dessert menu, so you may need to ask for it) -as well as the usual dessert one. On one occasion we dined at Hot Rocks, where the pool deck area is turned into a dining venue. The menu choices are limited and the idea is you cook your main course on a hot stone, typically steak, fish or prawns. We also ate in Le Champagne twice. Here the concept has changed. Out has gone the $200 wine pairing option and rotating regional themed menus for $30. Instead, for a flat $30, there is now a single menu with several choices, and complimentary house wine is available. Compared to previous dinners in Le Champagne, we judged the menu to be that bit less gourmet, and thus a little disappointing. In fairness, Le Champagne was better patronised than we have seen for some time. With the exception of afternoon tea and dinner in our cabin, we sampled every dining venue. Consistent with previous cruises, the dining room was always quiet during the breakfast and lunch service. Overall, food quality and service were excellent. There were occasional disappointments, not being served fish hot, being the most notable one. On nights when we specifically wanted a fish main course, we opted for a table for two and this ensured it arrived hot. Robin and his team of wine waiters gave excellent service for our preferences. As part of the cutbacks we have noticed in recent years on Silversea, the dining room menu now groups the formerly separate soup, salad and pasta dishes under one heading. We usually ate lunch on Pool Deck at the Grill. Whilst the menu is fixed it is reasonably extensive, which includes fish, burgers, pizzas, salads and sandwiches. The staff here, including the bar staff, who provided drinks around the pool during the day, were generally very helpful. It did not take more than a couple of days for the drinks stewards to know exactly what we wanted whilst sunbathing and to bring this with a nod of the head. Across all food and beverage venues we had no difficulty in being understood by any staff and our requirements were fulfilled with a smile. Entertainment As mentioned by many passengers on previous cruises, entertainment is not one of Silversea's strong points, and this cruise was no exception. Whilst the troupe of singers had good voices, the "shows" they produced, from Motown to Abba were not worthy of the name. They had little or no choreography, and the costumes such as they were, were nondescript. It was a great disappointment to learn that the company originally employed by Silversea, the Jean Ryan Production Company, who were incredibly slick and professional, with both good dancers and singers and lovely costumes; are now no longer employed by Silversea. This should be remedied as soon as possible. We were told by a well-informed source on board that this particular company cost Silversea more than Jean Ryan. We suggest Silversea save money forthwith! The other offerings, including a mentalist, were mediocre. As for the enhancement programme, unfortunately one was now too long in the tooth, and the other was too full of self-importance. In common I imagine, with most well travelled Silversea passengers, we choose a cruise for the itinerary and the main attractions for this voyage were to transit the Suez Canal and to visit Luxor, neither of which we had previously experienced. The first day was at sea, followed by a day in Alexandria. Alexandria Egypt As is usual, Silversea provided a shuttle bus into the town. Having been to this port before we knew exactly what we wished to achieve. Leaving the port area and out through the dock gates, we walked straight ahead down the main thoroughfare before turning right and heading into the market area. Here we searched successfully for black seed honey, produced locally, and renowned for its medicinal properties. We had a look round the rest of the market and then walked back to the ship. We had no hassle from taxi drivers and other locals, trying to take us on a tour, though others said they did. We think it comes down to a matter of how you deal with local vendors and judge many tourists can't hack being pestered. If you are not interested in their wares, just ignore them, and do not continue to talk to them -- they will soon disperse if they realise they are not going to make a sale. This is sad because, by staying on the ship, passengers miss genuine cultural experiences, like being thanked as we were by many random passers-by in Alexandria for coming to their city. A fast sail brought us to Port Said around midnight, where we dropped anchor to await the start of our Suez Canal transit. Ships travel in convoys, two south, and one north daily, and they pass in Bitter Lakes. Departure time appears dependent on the Egyptian authorities and we weighed anchor at 01.30, passing the Port Said cruise terminal just after 02.00. Unfortunately, the northern half of the canal is the more interesting and we traversed much of this in darkness, though it was late morning by the time we reached Bitter Lakes. From here, we took the lead position in the convoy for the remainder of the transit. At Sokhna, the port at the southern end, we hove to, to await a tender bringing our passengers returning from an overnight trip to Cairo. Disappointingly, a commentary about the canal given by enrichment lecturer, Larry, was poor. Sharm El Sheikh - Egypt The following day we had reached the southern end of the Sinai peninsular and Sharm El Sheikh. Docking at the old town, we took advantage of the free shuttle to the main beach area-- Naama Bay. This is now a popular 365-day destination for those wishing to 'upgrade' from a "Spanish Costa" and is renowned for the diving and snorkelling offered by its reef. We had considered a snorkel break here and this visit was a perfect opportunity to make an assessment. We won't be returning! The beachfront is a succession of tacky hotel bars with sardine-like sun loungers. These are nominally private beaches, but access is unrestricted from the coastal public pathway that winds along the coast; check it out on Google Earth. To the left of this path are the hotels and their grounds. Most of the hotel beach bars were playing loud music. Many provided 'snakes', floating pontoons to enable people to move between beach and reef, the only problem being these sway in the waves and are not easy to walk along. Beachside bars and restaurants appeared expensive. Ship passengers who took a snorkel tour gave mixed verdicts for varying reasons. Those that took desert or St Catherine's monastery tours seemed more satisfied. Aqaba Jordan Docking in Aqaba for two days, enabled passengers to visit both Petra and the Dead Sea. With three ships in port, we drew the short straw and were put in the commercial harbour, whilst the other two were closer into town. We had visited Petra, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum previously and so took the ship's shuttle into town on both days. The Gateway Mall mentioned on various travel sites as having 33 outlets, was closed, seemingly mainly restaurants and bars, which wouldn't be open during the daytime. We did however visit the Jerusalem Bazaar, where we managed very successfully to haggle for spices, incense, and Arabic perfume (non-alcoholic, but pure essential oils). Safaga for Luxor Egypt Next came Safaga, where we disembarked for Luxor. 24 of us opted for the overnight visit and a further 58 chose the 13-hour day trip instead. The road to Luxor through the Eastern desert is generally good but unmetalled in places and the journey took three and half-hours of hard driving. Every so often we slowed down at checkpoints, and I assumed that it was for security, but not in the way I had expected. According to our guide, who came from Cairo, vehicle makes and numbers are taken, and then ticked off at the following checkpoint. If one of these does not appear, a searchparty would be sent out in case the vehicle was in trouble. Along with our Egyptian guide, Simona from the ship's tour desk took care of 'behind-the-scenes' tasks, and both worked well. We started our tour at the Luxor Temple, located in the centre of Luxor, which is exceedingly well preserved, before an indifferent lunch at the Sheraton. After lunch we visited the Temple of Karnak, which covers a vast area with 134 huge columns, then to the Hilton for check in for our overnight stay. This hotel fronts the Nile and has extensive grounds. The impression was that there were more staff than guests, and ours was the largest party. We took the optional sound-and light show that involved walking around in complete darkness between each segment before a final seated presentation. Anyone considering this show should take a torch because much of the ground is uneven and is traversed by moonlight. We returned to a good buffet dinner at the hotel. Two brave souls took an optional dawn balloon trip over the Nile, which involved rising at 03.30! We had originally intended to do this, but that start time was just a bridge too far!! They thoroughly enjoyed their experience and were pleased they had done so. The rest of us rose, breakfasted and set off at 07.00 for the Valley of the Kings and the west bank of the Nile. These visits are usually done as early in the day as possible to avoid the midday heat. We visited four tombs, including King Tut's where he currently reposes. After a short visit to Queen Hatshespsut's temple it was back to the hotel for lunch and a late checkout of our rooms. All meals at the hotel were both extensive and plentiful, and our room on the third floor was very comfortable and had a little Juliet balcony with a corner view of the Nile. Indeed, we were very impressed with the Hilton and would stay there again. By 13.00 we were on our way back to Safaga and Silver Wind. Next morning we had a mandatory briefing by the Captain in advance of our transit of the Gulf of Aden. This lasted an hour and needed only to have been half that duration. Only a few parts of the ship were put off-limits, the forward and aft outdoor parts of the top deck and the outside deck space behind the Panorama lounge on deck 8, and the Terrace cafe on deck 7. Sun loungers were only available around the pool and not on deck 9. Otherwise it was business as usual. Ships travel in convoys based on their speed. We appeared to be the only vessel in the fast 18knot convoy but noted air support by a Japanese military helicopter in a similar convoy travelling at only 12 knots. Muscat, Oman After 5½ days at sea we reached Muscat, Oman. By now, the passengers had bonded together very well and there was a very convivial atmosphere. Many of the ship's crew had learned passengers' names too, plus preferences for drinks. The hotel director told us the crew are expected to learn passengers' names from their security photos, and are tested on them after three days. A crew member told us that there is peer pressure to be good at this! It was disappointing to reach Muscat so late (15.00), particularly as one of the highlights to visit is the Sultan Qaboos Mosque, which closes at 11.00 am, thereby precluding those who had not been to Muscat before, the opportunity to see inside this beautiful building. A couple of months before the cruise we queried with Silversea why it was still offering full-day tours here. Two weeks later Silversea revised the tours to reflect the short time in port! Having been here before, we went to the souk in search of local items. With a late departure, the farrago of the deck barbeque took place. This is so much effort for both the waiters and the galley staff but the inevitable result is sharp-elbowed passengers forming a disorderly melee around the food, peering in the darkness to identify the dishes on offer. Sorry Silversea, this does not work for us, and we ate with another couple in the dining room. Fujairah UAE Fujairah, one of the United Arab Emirates was the last port visited on voyage 2235, prior to arrival in Dubai. We'd also been here before and so just took the ship's shuttle to town, and were deposited at Lulu's supermarket. We learned that Silversea's free shuttles are often provided by a shopping mall to entice cruise passengers. This hypermarket, owned by an Indian businessman based in Abu Dhabi has 104 stores in 22 countries across the whole of the Middle East, and Africa as well as the Far East. . As with 99% of shops in this area -- from Kuwait to Oman via Dubai -- all the staff were from the Indian sub-continent, with varying degrees of poor English. Dinner associates from the previous night wanted to buy perfume similar to that which we had purchased in Muscat, but we were unable to get anyone from security, customer services or indeed any of the retail staff to understand. Finally asking two Arab lady shoppers with my pidgin Arabic, got us our directions to a long "mall" running along the main street which led from an old (closed) cinema. A taxi (driven by an Indian) took us for $5. The shops offered a mixture of goods and there was an Internet cafe charging $2 for an hour. David Bilsland, Silversea's executive training chef who was running cookery classes on board, bought some herbs and spices from Lulu's, which he used in his demonstration the next day. All his demonstrations were enlightening, he is not only a very good chef with a great personality, but he also has the ability to explain with clarity and patience, complex cooking techniques. All attendees are given recipe cards at the end, with ingredients and detailed cooking instructions. Dubai Turnaround day is always different. The crew have to work really hard for long hours, unloading luggage for disembarking passengers, then repeating the process in reverse. Meeting, greeting and settling-in the new arrivals. There were too few 'in transit' (Silversea's phrase) back-to-back passengers (just eight) for Silversea to arrange a shuttle into the centre of Dubai, the turnaround port for voyages 2235 and 2236. Fortunately we know Dubai well, so the lack of a shuttle was of no consequence. We went shoreside to check out taxi fares to the airport and a cab driver quoted $25 or Euro20. This was to enable us to judge whether to use a ship's transfer at the end of voyage 2236. Back on board, we were fortunate that the pool had not been drained for maintenance and so settled down here in the sun, being the only occupants of the pool. We had to change cabins and our butler handled the move so we didn't have to pack. We now had a Medallion suite on deck 8, which had a double-length balcony and had two full-sized sun loungers and a dining table. The location was great for us, straight off pool deck. Further along the short corridor was the door to the bridge and senior officers' cabins. We joked with the captain that he should avoid late night parties disturbing passengers! That evening, cruise director Colin hosted a dinner in La Terrazza for the in-transit passengers. The pasta dishes here we found to be superior to those served in the main dining room, probably because they were not left lying around. Voyage 2236 had a quite different passenger mix to 2235, with some 250 now aboard. This time, German, Austrian and Swiss nationals were in the majority (over 60), with 50 Americans, 38 Belgians and 30 British. Unlike on 2235, this cruise had a distinct national divide, with no integration. The short -- 7-day -- duration also didn't help. Silversea is obviously marketing strongly to the German-speaking countries, maybe of necessity because of the sharp decline in US custom. In the next cabin to us was Silversea's main representative in Germany accompanying twenty of the top travel agents in that country. Abu Dhabi Next day we were in Abu Dhabi, the nominal capital of the UAE and the second largest in terms of population, and the largest of the seven Emirates. We took the shuttle to the same mall we had visited previously and then took a cab for the approximate one mile to the heritage centre. This differs from the one in Dubai by giving some insight into the tent-dwelling life of the Arabs, plus offering locally made (Indian sub-continent labour again!) handicrafts. We were also able to watch a powerboat race from here that generated such road traffic as to clog up the highway for hours. Two young Arab women asked if they could take our photo! Inevitably, the one full sea day saw deck loungers at a premium. At that night's formal dinner there was a poor showing of formal attire. In fact, it was notable how many men were turned away from the dining room because they were not dressed in even a jacket! La Terrazza and room service are available for those not wishing to abide by the ship's dress code. Next day was Silversea's first call into Kuwait City. The very high price of shore trips (Kuwait is expensive) meant most of these were cancelled, as the minimum number of participants had not been reached. Most passengers took the shuttle to the mall, which was adjacent to Ikea and near Debenhams. We got a cab with another couple into the old town centre. Here the other couple wandered off and we explored the souk on our own. This was quite busy, with sections for fruit & vegetables (good produce), meat, fish (not smelly, so very fresh) and general merchandise. The souk was clean and busy, with mainly Arab men shopping. Al Manama Bahrain With quite a lot of unspent onboard credit, we took a ship's tour here in order to spend some of it. This afternoon trip gave an overview of the territory and we visited the main mosque (very disappointing and not a patch on others in the Gulf States). Despite all the female passengers being dressed extremely modestly, with arms covered to the wrists, and mostly wearing trousers, we were made to put on abayas and headscarves, albeit seemingly freshly laundered. Many passengers refused and did not enter the mosque, however they didn't miss much! We also visited a camel farm owned by Sheikh Al Khalifa with over 100 tethered animals kept and bred for racing, and the Fort originally built by the Portuguese in the 14th century. It was unfortunate that by the time we reached here, it was going dark and a very cold wind was blowing so we didn't see as much as we might have done. The museum proved more interesting than expected, was very large, and was definitely the highlight of this tour. It helped us appreciate the ancient ties between the cradle of civilisation in (what is now) southern Iraq along the Tigres and Euphrates rivers with the Dilmun people of the Bahrain region and India. The free shuttle provided by Silversea ran to a city mall, near the market. The weather at the north end of the Arabian Gulf (was chilly out of the sun, a cold wind striking down from Iran in the north. Thus in both Kuwait and Bahrain, and even during the day at sea, you needed a change of clothes after swimming, because the sun was not hot enough to dry one's swimwear. A programmed late departure from Bahrain was to allow for the deck bbq. As we headed ashore for our afternoon tour, we commented it would be too cold for the bbq that evening. Nevertheless, organisation went ahead and the plug only pulled in the early evening because it was so cold and windy, and a galley dinner was substituted. So all the "gannets" were well ensconced in the dining room when we arrived at 8pm, with hardly an empty table. Gosh, it must have been at least five hours since those passengers last filled their stomachs! Doha Qatar Another ship's tour in Qatar the next day had its disappointments. The dhow boat yard and scenic drive were good but there was an international climate change conference taking place in the museum of Islamic art, a high spot of Qatar, and so we could not visit. Instead, we were taken to a building site that will eventually become a hotel, leisure and recreation centre and taken round in golf carts. The hour's visit to the (very traditional) souk was cut to 25 minutes and the visit to the equestrian centre skipped altogether in order to visit the aforementioned building site. On returning to the ship, we were not alone in registering our disappointment and received a very fair 50% refund. It appears that Doha is vying with Dubai on land reclamation and glitzy upmarket shopping complexes and expensive real estate. We were actually taken to one of the latter, Palm City, which whilst it is attractive and overlooks manicured gardens, is soulless. Interestingly, I wonder if one was in New York, they would take visitors to view apartments overlooking Central Park, or in London, Berkeley Square, or Docklands?! Reviewing all the Arab states visited on voyages 2235 and 2236, only Oman has any 'traditional' feel. Oman is not so much like the rest, in vying for the biggest this, or brashest that, usually mosques or hotels, all also wanting to become international business centres with futuristic office skylines. One of the most notable features of all the Gulf States is their cleanliness, and the complete absence of litter in the streets. The souks are often the only places to sample Arab culture but even here one finds Bangladeshis, Indians and Pakistanis doing the work. Khasab Oman Sailing from Qatar we had the morning at sea on a beautifully warm day before reaching Khasab in Oman. Having done the fjord dolphin cruise before, we took the ship's 4x4 (SUV) tour into the mountains. There were eight vehicles travelling in convoy, four passengers plus driver in each. We climbed high up into the Musandam Mountains, in the far north of the Sultantate, to Jebel Harim, (the Mountain of Women). This is the tallest peak in the region at over 2000 metres and we stopped along the way to see rock fossils. Several Americans had clearly seen nothing like these before and thought they were paintings! Leaving the ship in shorts, we packed warm clothing in the correct anticipation it would be cold high up in the mountains. Descending to Khasab, we ran into a terrific thunder and rainstorm. There had been nothing like it for two years, according to our driver, and the roads turned into wadis, with the police warning of deep surface water. The high ground clearance of our vehicles meant we had no difficulty. Arriving back at the port, it hadn't rained but this had been a truly spectacular excursion. We finished our, not inconsiderable packing, dined 'a deux' for speed and said some farewells before bed well after midnight. Next morning, by prior arrangement, Julie, the executive sous chef came to the Terrace cafe to cook an omelette and bid us 'au revoir' (Julie is Parisienne). The HR manager also came to find us and bid us bon voyage because she should have been flying home on our plane but had to stay onboard for a couple of extra days. Being on board for 23 days certainly helped us build a rapport with many of the crew at all levels. This meant they got to know our likes and dislikes. This resulted in a better cruise experience for us. We could have fun with the crew members who like a joke and were teased in return. The onboard service was up to Silversea's usual standard and the food probably slightly better than some. Silversea delivered and we will be back on the line next March on the Spirit. We crossed the 100 Silversea day mark during these cruises and now quality for an extra 5% discount on cruise fares, plus free laundry. In the event, we booked two more voyages whilst onboard. Finally, one very large brickbat -- Silversea no long produces a ship's passenger list, and this was universally condemned by all passengers. Contrary to the suggestion that it was another one of the cutbacks, (saving stationery), we were told the reason was because one American did not wish their name to be included on this list. They had threatened to sue if their name appeared. If this is indeed factual, perhaps Silversea could enquire of all passengers in advance, whether or not they wish their name to be included, and restore what all passengers of all nationalities have said they miss. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
This trip was exceptional from start to finish, with a few middle-eastern style 'quirks', which were down to the locals not the ship. I would highly recommend Silver Wind to anyone who values the personal touch, the very very ... Read More
This trip was exceptional from start to finish, with a few middle-eastern style 'quirks', which were down to the locals not the ship. I would highly recommend Silver Wind to anyone who values the personal touch, the very very best of service and personality over cutting-edge design and gimmicks. Silver Wind met my every expectation, it was a joy to be on-board. The people really make this ship, the crew, staff, managers and fellow guests were the best I have come across. We arrived into Athens during an anti-austerity demonstration outside the parliament and where was out hotel, King George Palace, but in Syntagma Square. Luckily George's Taxis were able to get us there even though all the roads were closed and the army and riot police were standing in a line blocking the streets in case things started to get lively. Our rooms in the hotel looked out over the square, it was interesting to watch the protests from the balcony. We didn't for one moment feel unsafe and as soon as the demonstration was over, ten minutes later the street sweepers were out, tidying up and things quickly returned to normal. Our transfer to the ship was again with George's Taxis, all went to plan. Dropped us right outside where Silver Wind was berthed. We were met by the car door by a porter who whisked us to check-in, no one was waiting, there were NO QUEUES! 5 minutes and we were onboard and it was only 12.30! Our bags went to our cabins and we went for lunch, outside at the back of the ship. The whole ship is friendly, comfortable, welcoming and very professional. When our suite was ready our butler and her assistant unpacked our cases for us, a real treat, whilst we relaxed and explored the ship. The fridge in the suite was stocked daily with whatever you desired, champagne, fresh juices, spirits. The staff knew our names by the second day and were addressing us by our first names by day 3. Food in all restaurants was invariably excellent and there were invitations to dine with various members of the ship's crew throughout the voyage, all very memorable. Onboard there is very much a have whatever you want, wherever you would like it policy and if that means curry, prepared by one of the Indian chefs, in the main restaurant, them so be it. You only need to ask. Entertainment was excellent,pianists, the ship's band, a young, very talented acoustic guitarist was exceptional. We participated in 'L'Ecole des Chefs' a cookery school with a series of demonstrations, tastings, lunches with wine pairings and workshops. All were excellent and included in the fare. Disembarkation was well organised and civilized. Obviously sorry to be leaving, but looking forward to a few days in Dubai. We will definitely be back onboard the Silver Wind some day, hopefully soon! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We ordinarily cruise with Crystal but as we liked this Middle-East itinerary we decided to try a smaller ship. As my husband is confined to a wheelchair; accessibility of all areas of the ship and the layout of the suite was important. ... Read More
We ordinarily cruise with Crystal but as we liked this Middle-East itinerary we decided to try a smaller ship. As my husband is confined to a wheelchair; accessibility of all areas of the ship and the layout of the suite was important. We found the embarkation process very good and speedy. As with Crystal, the wheelchair cannot be simply wheeled onto the ship and entry through the kitchen is not the greatest first impression. But such is life in a wheelchair. The location of the mid-ship suite was good for us. (Never again on Crystal in a stateroom at the front of the ship when the weather turns bad. It is also difficult to book the disabled mid-ship staterooms on Crystal as Crystal allows these rooms to go to persons who are not disabled.) Our bathroom was not wheelchair friendly. A person confined to a wheelchair cannot access the basin comfortably and has to park next to it and then twist his/her body to use it. Not acceptable. A suitable shower commode chair was not provided (my husband could not get onto it because the side arm was not removable). As a result, we had to use the fold down chair but because of no pull down grab rail on the one side we had to park our wheelchair in the shower so that my husband could balance. Fortunately, the waters were calm the whole time but I hate to think what would happen if the ship was rocking. Crystal comes out tops with these issues. The suite was kept very clean throughout our stay and toiletries were well stocked. We found the butler service very good and really convenient for us as it freed me up having to accompany my husband when he wanted to go somewhere where accessibility was a problem. The butler was very accommodating. (The butler service is only provided by Crystal in the penthouse staterooms.) Desserts and confectionery on board were very good - far superior to our last Crystal cruise. It mostly tasted homemade and not processed like Crystal. We preferred the buffet lunches in the La Terrazzo restaurant to Crystal's buffet lunch. However, the dining options were limited. La Terrazzo never seemed to change its menu and the cover charge at La Champagne is unnecessary as it is not that great. The food never quite hit the mark e.g. burnt curries, tough chicken always, hard pasta that had been waiting around too long, vegetables boring, eggs Benedict a disaster. We missed an actual coffee shop. It was very hit and miss in getting a decent cappuccino. However, the red meat was great. Lobster very scarce and the tuna/sushi not up to standard. Fruit and salads below par as tasteless and limp. Don't want to go on about it because I did come back with a couple of extra kilos thanks to the blueberry pancakes! That said, Crystal wins hands down with the food except for confectionery. The wines offered at meals were not great. This is probably as a result of "all-in" cruising. The ship itself is old and it should go post haste to where all good ships go to die. The noise that we had to endure in the suite from the flushing toilets of adjacent suites made a good night's sleep elusive. In addition, we felt that the inside of the suite whilst comfortable, was fitted out very higgledy piggledy with its different permanent fixtures and it reminded one of the inside of a Nile Cruise boat cabin. The ceiling panels were grubby. I am not sure that next year's planned refurbishment will do the job. Wheelchairs cannot access the 8th deck (pool area) unassisted. They can on Crystal. I missed the running/walking deck right around the ship and the little track that Silver Wind had was taken up by sun loungers mostly blocking the way. There were language problems with Filipino staff especially around the pool deck. We found that despite their eagerness to help they didn't take the time to listen and their command of English was in some cases quite poor. We did have an issue with sullen staff/poor service/poor breakfast buffet on the pool deck but that got sorted out. The cruise director and the staff in general were very helpful and friendly. This is Silver Wind's saving grace. The entertainment was very very poor and amateurish. Crystal's shows are tremendous when compared with some cringe worthy shows e.g. singers forgetting their lines, singers with little singing talent. We found that there was never a quiet place to go to. Lounges were always noisy. Crystal was able to absorb the passengers and one never felt crowded. Whilst it was a bridge cruise, only 3 passengers came to play and so that was disappointing but obviously not the ship's fault. We were very lucky to be given free laundry service. Big bonus because the laundry facilities on board were very poor. In fact, halfway through the cruise, the irons were stolen and that was that. Crystal's laundries are luxurious in comparison. The itinerary itself was good. We enjoyed the Suez and the ports. The preparation for sailing through the pirate waters was outstanding. There was one peculiar incident when the ship passengers were not advised of an alleged overnight time change which resulted in a lot of frantic running around to get ready for the all-day Petra excursion. How the captain can blame the local authorities for not advising the ship when the time change had happened 1 month before is beyond me. In conclusion, we would be hard pressed to recommend Silversea and certainly we would not be returning to Silver Wind. This trip confirmed that we are Crystal loyal and the premium is worth it simply for the independent coffee shop, shipboard photographer, larger suite, better bathroom, movie house and food. Having said that, Silversea is not a cheap line. I am not sure that it holds itself out to be 6 stars but its loyal returning customers seem to think it is 6 stars - all we can say is that they need to try Crystal to experience 6 stars. It seems that the free laundry (after 100 days' sailing) is a big drawcard. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
On the recommendation of our cruise travel operator, we chose to visit the Middle East on the Silver Wind , hoping for an informative and fun adventure. Having enjoyed several cruises on other upmarket cruise lines, we were sorely ... Read More
On the recommendation of our cruise travel operator, we chose to visit the Middle East on the Silver Wind , hoping for an informative and fun adventure. Having enjoyed several cruises on other upmarket cruise lines, we were sorely disappointed by this experience. The royal suite was always dark, there being only small windows and no sliders to patio. The furnishings badly needed a revamp and the bathroom had no surface to place toiletries. Every evening at dusk we were admonished if we had not pulled down all our tatty blinds so the bridge was not distracted by our lights. The tiny balcony was rendered useless in the evenings as we stumbled in the dark. We enjoy information by expert lecturers on the regions we are visiting and this was poorly managed. The ship provided shuttle buses in most ports, but there was so little to see in each port, unless you particularly like shopping malls and building sites, that we often never alighted the bus, but went straight back to the ship. Booked tours were overpriced for a drive about, city overview and mosque after mosque. Entertainment was excrutiatingly embarassing, very amateurish. Most nights we avoided it. The main dining room and Italian restuarant served a good variety of dishes and were accommodating for the one vegetarian among us. The big dissapointment occured on New Years Eve, a time to dress up, dine and dance . The main dining room would not accommodate a table for two so we had to dine at the Italian venue. Here a set menu gave no vegetarian options, though this was swiftly sorted out. After dinner, we repaired to the main diningroom, where the dancing and champagne was in full swing, hoping to join in the fun till midnight. We were rudely turned away like gatecrashers and went back to our cabin to see in the New Year like naughty children sent to bed. Altogether too many negatives on this cruise line in comparrison to others we have taken. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Silver Wind is a small ship whose Tardis like properties make it feel far from small. The cabins are spacious if not cavernous, and it misses few of the traditional cruise ship facilities despite its meagre 17,400 tons. It doesn't ... Read More
Silver Wind is a small ship whose Tardis like properties make it feel far from small. The cabins are spacious if not cavernous, and it misses few of the traditional cruise ship facilities despite its meagre 17,400 tons. It doesn't provide the stylish drop-down stern and marina of some boutique competitors, nor romantic double chaise longue - if you are so inclined, however as the majority of passengers were retired if not exactly octogenarians these facilities might be interpreted as somewhat superfluous if not dangerous! The ship aspires to traditional excellence in a relaxed / Italian (via Miami) style - with a 'Country Club' atmosphere. The open-sitting dining is conducive to meeting new friends and I have never been with friendlier, nor more generally open passengers. Similarly the crew were largely dedicated and highly attentive, if a little too numerous at times. Unfortunately there were occasions, for example at embarkation, when it was necessary to ask for help and supervision might be a weakness. There were other times when I felt the ship was over-staffed and the crew were looking for things to do - most noticeably breakfast in the main dining room as when I visited the number of other passengers fluctuated between eight and none! There was, however, an overly motivated and very thorough future sales co-ordinator! The product is good if not perfect and there are clear areas of weakness. However, whilst I have cruised many times I have still yet to sail on a perfect ship. This ship similarly fails to achieve perfection and I agree with the 2009 Berlitz rating of 4 Star Plus - and indeed with most of the narrative. One disembarking passenger much experienced of cruising remarked whilst they awaited their airport transfer that their cruise had been good, very good, but they were not certain it had been good enough to justify a return visit. The line seems to be conscious of what its competitors provide and are keen to provide similar, even if it is not always appropriate to the ship. All cabins have Butlers, and whilst they were all charming and delightful I am not sure what their duties involved, except perhaps serving in-cabin breakfasts, cleaning the exterior of suitcases prior to passengers re-packing them, and greeting passengers by name as they walk to their cabins. They do not pack and un-pack for passengers - a fact that I found reassuring. It is, however, the crew's determination to greet passengers by name and to know things about them that I found unnerving at times and somewhat reminiscent of Big Brother. As I surfaced from my cabin the first morning disorientated from a long flight I was greeted by name by a member of the crew that I had not previously met - who wished me an 'Excellent morning' and enquired if my Mother (who had a cabin elsewhere on the ship and I am sure they had not previously met either - or any reason to know we were travelling together) was comfortably settled. It seems the crew are issued with pictures and possibly even short biographies of passengers and required to learn them. I find this form of forced familiarity unwelcome and intrusive. The sip was built in 1995 and last re-furbished in 2008. It is generally in very good condition with a good level of ongoing maintenance. For example and marks left of the hull from mooring are quickly painted over. It is difficult to find fault with the maintenance except perhaps for the caulking. I question why the slightly older Silver Cloud has still not been similarly refurbished and wonder whether this indicative of a limited future. There is an excellent amount of space per passenger even during this full cruise and with the exception of one tea-time, no hint of a queue or over-crowding anywhere. Indeed in the evening it can be difficult to find co-passengers in some parts of the ship. The shore excursions I took were well thought out and reasonably priced and a real strength. However, I don't know if this is representative of the line's other excursions, or merely the nor, for the geographic area. Prior to the cruise I was frightened by pre-cruise literature that included the option to take some remarkable, if extremely highly priced excursions. I assumed all excursions would be in this price league and was relieved by the reality. The excursion office were also extremely helpful with alternative arrangements that we could make for ourselves and their service was supplemented by visiting local tourist representatives - a delightfully useful service for those who like to go off and explore on their own. The food is OK if not exactly sparkling. Breakfast was excellent wherever taken, lunch was good, except for the pool-side service and dinner even less so - especially the deserts. The ingredient spend was quite good, although gallons of good caviar was certainly not flowing (unless you paid for it) and it seemed to lack a certain sparkle. I enjoyed the informal lunch in La Terrazza, where a traditional buffet was supplemented with pasta cooked to order and even pizzas cooked to order. Dinner wasn't bad and indeed I preferred dinner in the alternative zero cost La Terrazza to the main dining room. In the latter I felt the food lacked sparkle and the crockery a strange choice, especially the coffee cups which were a long way removed from demitasse and more serviceable for sturdy on-deck service. There was, however, a good mix of choices with an additional range of staples and very reasonable accompanying wines (or whatever else you might want to drink) gratis and a good wine list if you wanted connoisseur wines. There was similarly a connoisseur restaurant, but I failed to try this. The ship was certainly very generous with free alcohol, but the novelty of it for me had faded by the end of the cruise. I was surprised to see how large the delightful tiered show-room was. It was used for talks, films and unfortunately the inevitable dance shows. I have never really enjoyed the shows of most ships, but the dancers here really hit a new low. They were lovely people who at times assisted as hosts and were lovely to talk to, but for me dancing and entertaining was not their skill - nor do I think this type of show appropriate to the ambience of the ship. Personally I would have preferred more intelligent entertainment or Western band / Jazz pianist. There were some good musicians on the ship, but they were not Western and were perhaps thus handicapped in their rappour. For children there was little entertainment except a reasonable video library and whilst the line indicated it would try to accommodate children I question what they can achieve - and whether this enthusiasm for children would be shared by the other passengers. There is a choice of local television channels, international news channels, ship sourced enrichment shows and ship shown films. I generally found everything that was ship sourced to be of little interest and was grateful for the international news and in-cabin DVD player - although I did seem to have seen most of the DVDs in the library. The ship was very comfortable and followed a seemingly well planned itinerary. It is, however, not cheap - especially at peak times - and the jury is still out as to whether I will return. The crew (largely Philippino and Indian) try hard to provide a good service, but there is a cultural gap and I suggest the ship should work harder at projecting its own image, rather than what seemed to be forever looking over their shoulder at what their competitors delivered and replicating it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
I have skimmed the prior review of this cruise and by odd coincidence, my daughters and I had staterooms that were nearly adjacent to that of the reviewer. We have very different observations. Be that as it may, I chose the Silverseas ... Read More
I have skimmed the prior review of this cruise and by odd coincidence, my daughters and I had staterooms that were nearly adjacent to that of the reviewer. We have very different observations. Be that as it may, I chose the Silverseas line because I had been on most itineraries that Seabourne travels. I also was attracted by the low single supplement fee charged for a second suite. As mentioned, I traveled with my daughters are college students. The elder is a senior at Cornell University Hotel School and is a very exacting critic. Plus we are from San Francisco and have ample opportunity for fine dining, albeit modern Californian cuisine. We were impressed by the warmth and attentiveness of the service. The staff was alert and personal, but not fawning. We found the menu to be at the level of a five star hotel. In short if a passenger seeks the service and cuisine of the Ritz Carleton Hotels, then they will have a similar experience with Silverseas. The prior reviewer stated that the ship was overstaffed at times. He or she must understand that the kitchen provides punctual room service from the dining room and breakfast buffet. Wait staff must linger to fulfill various orders as most passengers prefer breakfast en suite. At any rate, I would state that the service and cuisine were excellent. The lines sommalier found great unknown wines and champagne that compared to far better known wine labels. I am very particular. I think that there were a few weak spots. The ship was recently refurbished and is pristine; however, the interior design is awful. The carpeting, "artwork," upholstery fabrics, wallcoverings, etc, evoke a 1980's midprice Hilton. What were they thinking of??? It is no more expensive to have good taste and look at some "cool" traditional interior design. Go to the W Hotel. Also, I would have liked more depth in the ship's library or TV station regarding our destinations. It would be nice to have videos and researched reports about where we were going. The dance shows were indescribably, excructiatintly, terrible. The pianist was very good. Some one at Silverseas needs to hire an entertainment consultant. To sum up, we were positively impressed by Silverseas. The pluses were great service and food, a low single supplement fee, and a creative itinerary. The negatives were banal interior design, shallow research, and awful live shows. All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised versus Seabourne. Hastily, AGW Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We enjoyed every moment on board this lovely, welcoming and user-friendly ship. This was our first cruise. The weather was not good and the water very turbulent, as the shores of this coast are known to be. However, the fantastic crew, ... Read More
We enjoyed every moment on board this lovely, welcoming and user-friendly ship. This was our first cruise. The weather was not good and the water very turbulent, as the shores of this coast are known to be. However, the fantastic crew, from the chamber maid to the captain were incredibly helpful, friendly, communicative and competent. They actually made this trip memorable. The food was excellent, the duvet, pillows and the bed - the best we ever had outside of our home, and the cabin very spacious and comfortable. We particularly loved the walk in cupboard and the veranda. The library is small but very pleasant, and the restaurants very cosy and elegant. The gym is fine, although not huge and the champagne lounge (cigar lounge, really) very lovely. We would only make two less positive remarks: the DVD selection is not great (although not bad at all - we did manage to find 3 movies to watch!) and the entertainment was very mediocre. If you're after this side in particular, this small ship may not be for you. We felt so sad to part with it after 4 days, that we booked for next December. We were in absolute awe of the levels of personal care and wonderful attitude of all crew members. It is a great achievement for Silversea to have gathered such a great team from more than 20 different nationalities. The formal evenings we were warned about (some critics say Silversea is a little formal) of which we only had one, were very laid back and not at all stiff or pompous. The dress code was actually quite relaxed (most men wore shorts and short sleeves during the day, and long trousers and shirts in the evenings, and ladies in summer dresses, or shorts and vests during the day and pants and nice tops for the evenings. The exception was the one formal night.) The people on our cruise tended to be American, British and South African, but also from other countries. There were no children at all and very few young people. However, we, in our forties, felt very much at home, and were not alone. We loved the all inclusive approach of Silversea, and felt very pampered with excellent wines, champagne and spirits. It is expensive - but we felt that if one can afford it, and if you factor in beverages and service extra costs, this is well worth it! Many of our fellow passengers (we're told 60%) - were repeat customers. This does mean a lot. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Silver Wind Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 3.8
Dining 5.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.4
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.5
Family 1.0 3.5
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 5.0 4.0

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