1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Silversea Cruises
  4. Silversea Cruises Cruise Reviews
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2018
This is our second cruise with Silver Seas. I wish we would have made time to see some of San Jaun before or after the cruise but we were squeezed for time. My husband, I and my son (14) were greeted in reception with a glass of bubbly ... Read More
This is our second cruise with Silver Seas. I wish we would have made time to see some of San Jaun before or after the cruise but we were squeezed for time. My husband, I and my son (14) were greeted in reception with a glass of bubbly and shown to our suite. Unfortunately our bags had not yet arrived. Not to worry we headed to the pool side grill for lunch. Things to remember for next time. Put your swim suit in your carry on bag so you have it with you as well as your sun screen, we could have been swimming. I loved not having to worry about the cost of lunch or drinks, its all included. Our butler was a pleasure. Make sure to let them know what you want your frig stocked with. After the fact I was wishing we would have booked the silver suite with more room. But I booked the Veranda suite to save a few bucks. It was a tight fit with a 6'1" teenager who wants to leave his stuff everywhere. The chairs seemed like over kill and were in our way most of the time. Wifi - what can I say, you are on a boat and its slow and expensive. My husband had to have it to keep up with his sports. I turned my phone off and didn't give work another thought It was a windy trip. I wished I would have checked the weather prior to traveling as I would have made some wardrobe changes and had more hair ties with me and a light jacket. We had some serious winds one of the nights. We happened to be eating at the Grill and have some great shots of the pool water splashing out before they drained it. The wait staff is excellent. They get to know you and by the end of the trip are bringing you your "usual". We probably under utilized our butler, he was kind and started showing up in the afternoons with a snack. This was great for the growing 14 year old who is always hungry. He found that he could order 2 entrees and an all you can eat lunch buffet he was in heaven. Go to the Grill for dinner one night and cook your steak on a hot stone. Our ship had various things you could participate in during the day and evening. We liked the mini golf and didn't miss a day of it. Get involved go play trivia you are gong to meet some super fun people We were named the adventure family by some of the staff. I highly recommend going to Baths while visiting BVI Gorda. The water was an incredible blue, and warm. We had a chance to swim before and after going on a hike through the boulders/caves. Amazing, I will do again some day. Down side was having all the excursions arrive back at the same time and not enough tenders. This also means you miss lunch and have to eat at the pool bar which was overwhelmed by all the people. Poor planning which I'm sure will be addressed by the time you cruise. Philipsburg you have to do the Soualiga Sky Explorer. Imagine a ride up the chair lift to the top of the mountain, getting a 360 degree view of the island. It was so beautiful. For an added thrill pay the extra and take the zip line to the bottom, exhilarating. We even paid a little more to ride the lift part way up and go down the intertubes. Super fun and the bar had great service. St. Kitts I was a little put off by the aggressive shop owners, I felt like I was back in Turkey. In St. Kitts we went with the zip line tour. It seemed like a really slow start but once you were transported to the start of the course things really moved along. We were hit with a torrential down pour so were soaked by the time we were done, but it will be one we will remember long after some of the others. Fort-de-France was incredibly populated. I have removed it from potential places to retire. We took the trip through the rain forest and visited the rum distillery. Wishing I would have booked earlier and gone on the catamaran tour. Lots of driving and for me just not enough doing. St. John's we took the helicopter ride to Montserrat. I've never been in a helicopter and thought it was going to be super scary. It was not. This was amazing. The helicopter held 6 passengers and flys you out to Montserrat to see the volcano and all the damage that's been done. Our pilot was very knowledgeable. It was fascinating. I highly recommend it. Jost Van Dyke we opted for snorkeling. I wish it would have been a little longer. There were three caves to explore. We used the equipment provided not wanting to bring our own. It was all good quality and no trouble getting the masks to seal. I've seen more fish in other places, but the caves is what did it for me. This was one of our longer stops. We came back to the ship for lunch and then grabbed a bottle of wine, glasses, cork screw, pop and water and headed back to the beach to paly in the water, build a sand castle and watch the sun set. Really doesn't get much better than that. We really like the smaller ship. No lines, no waiting and being able to get into ports that the larger boats can't. We love the all-inclusive nature. It helps to relax and know you are not getting nickeled and dimed. Staff takes the time to get to know you. Do go to the shows at night, they are amazing. I actually felt guilty the night that we missed one of them. Our son thanked us serveral times for taking him. He was engaged in the adventure where the other younger travelers were face into phones and tablets. We are looking forward to our next adventure Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We had a prior trip with Silver Seas in the Mediterranean (last year) and had a fabulous time. We really enjoy the size of the silver seas ships (small ships with some big ship amenities) - less the lines for everything. While this ... Read More
We had a prior trip with Silver Seas in the Mediterranean (last year) and had a fabulous time. We really enjoy the size of the silver seas ships (small ships with some big ship amenities) - less the lines for everything. While this Caribbean cruise was not quite as well pampered as the Mediterranean one we took, the experience was excellent. At the outset of the cruise, it felt like an inordinate number of staff were working for their first time - the service did not feel as personal or attentive and we regularly met with lines (which we hate). This got better as the cruise went along. The ports of call were spectacular, a nice combination of ports with other big ships (and amenities to go with it) and small quiet coves that are more "island" in nature. We enjoyed that. The included excursions were also excellent with a nice combination of relaxed and adventure options. We took advantage of a rum distillery tour, two zip line tours, two snorkeling tours and a helicopter tour of the Monserat volcano (which was excellent, but not included). All in all, we would recommend this cruise highly and would love to do it again. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We flew to San Juan on the morning of our trip since it wasn't far so I can't comment on local hotels. The ship does dock in Old San Juan which is close enough to walk around a little if you have time and is a pretty place with ... Read More
We flew to San Juan on the morning of our trip since it wasn't far so I can't comment on local hotels. The ship does dock in Old San Juan which is close enough to walk around a little if you have time and is a pretty place with lots of history. Boarding was very easy and relaxed. All of the food we had was good to excellent on this trip. We dined in all of the restaurants more than once including Le Champagne. My daughter really enjoyed the Hot Rocks grill by the pool at night. I thought is was fun and a very nice casual experience for days that we were a little tired from all of the sun and fun. The main dining room was nice, not too large but not crowded, and formal nights were beautiful as many guests did choose to dress up on this cruise. Here's the part where I say that Silversea is definitely a bit more formal on all evenings than some of the larger ships so keep that in mind if you are not someone who likes to dress for dinner and settle in for several courses. There are "informal" evenings but this is still upscale casual attire expected. Personally I enjoy this type of dress code but I realize it's not for everyone. I think the good food was made even better by the staff. I felt a cohesiveness on this ship that is sometimes lacking in the service industry. It really seemed like they were all working together and truly enjoyed making us happy. Entertainment--yes, it's minimal but very good. There were six singers who performed nearly every night with a different spin on the show, even an opera night to showcase two amazing opera singers. All of these folks were excellent entertainers but the fact that they also go on excursions and participate in games with the passengers makes their shows more special. There are also some pool games, trivia, golf putting, etc. that occur. These aren't on the level of the bumper cars and rock climbing some of the larger ships but rather a nice opportunity to fellowship with other passengers. We stayed in a mid-ship veranda suite for this cruise. While there were a few signs of the Wind being an older vessel, I was surprised at how well-kept she was. Also, I understand she is going to dry-dock soon so any rough edges should get taken care of. I have nothing bad to say about the suite except that I should have paid attention to the fact that the pool deck was right above us and the crew has move the chairs around late at night and early in the morning. Keep the noise in mind if you are a light sleeper. The linens were nice, the veranda was just large enough to relax on, and the bathroom was functional and clean. On the subject of our suite, our butler, Gideon, was AMAZING! From his politeness and efficiency to the thoughtful surprise snacks he and our cabin steward, Fritz, left us when our excursions made us miss teatime. What a wonderful pair they were! Honestly, we only chose this cruise because it fit the week we had off but I would go again. Some of the excursions were very good, some not as exciting but the weather was nice and it was a great way to see several islands that are difficult to get to by plane. In fact we had some of the islands to ourselves as the only ship or one of two in port on the first few days. We did hit a few islands on Sunday and Good Friday so that limited our excitement on those days but mostly just the shopping areas were closed. St Thomas: Most shopping and the mountaintop ride was closed as a local resident told us they only open for large numbers of tourists and we were alone at the dock that day. We did take a kayak, hike, and snorkel excursion. Not too relaxing but very pretty beach area. Dominica: Maybe my favorite as it is not yet too touristy and still retains the island character that has been lost in some places. It's very lush and the water is very dark and deep here so the views are stunning. They also have whales surrounding the island much of the time. Antigua: We took a tour around the island and did see some beautiful views but the buzzword here is "beaches". Some of the most beautiful beaches we saw and a nice catamaran ride was one of our favorite activities. St. Barts: Unfortunately, I didn't book an excursion as there weren't many offered and I read that you can just show up and enjoy it--no, actually I did and I've been trying to forget that one. It was the semi-submarine ride. I don't think anyone on our tour enjoyed that and it is severely claustrophobic so book that only if you aren't bothered by cramped, hot spaces and if you have young children that will be fascinated. I would recommend having a plan for St Barts. The area around the tender dock was very crowded and the little town quite busy. There is a beach that is supposed to be within walking distance but we were a little turned off by the initial crowds and chaos so we decided not to pursue this. I wish I had planned better as I'm sure the island is very pretty but it's just not easily accessible if you don't have a plan. There is shopping right by the dock but it is similar to what we have at home so nothing terribly unique or Caribbean. St Kitts: Enjoyed this island. There is a shopping area at the dock that reminds of an outlet mall but once you get past that, there is a lot of local flavor. There were several ships in port so more crowded that some of the others. We went ziplining and to the batik studio and enjoyed both. The people were nice and the island was pretty. St. Maartin: This was the most crowded as their were 5 ships in port and some were very large. We were so thankful to be on the Silver Wind. We had no lines on and off and no lines for our excursion. I actually took pictures of the half-mile long lines from the other ships. We did an art tour which was pleasant but the best part was that we drove around the entire island and got a great overview. This was more of a busy and populated island than the others with a very developed dock area and fewer easy-to-get-to beaches. Tortola: We were here on Good Friday so much was closed. It was a pretty island with lots of hills and winding roads. We took a history tour but our guide turned it into a sightseeing and beach break since most everything he was supposed to show us was closed. As another reviewer put it, this is not really a cruise for children. I did travel with my grade-school age daughter but I would guess that she is the exception rather than the rule for this type of travel. If your child needs to be entertained or doesn't like to sit quietly at dinner and eat adult-type food, then this environment might not work for them. The crew was lovely to my daughter but there just really isn't much for kids to do. That being said, it's exactly the reason some travelers will enjoy these ships. The atmosphere is quietly elegant and focuses more on relaxation and fellowship with other passengers than shows and recreation. For us, time to unwind and read a book with a glass of champagne that magically appears anytime we want it, is the definition of luxury. If you are looking to be entertained by robot bartenders, magicians, and diving shows, or if you want to stay up all night dancing, this probably isn't your cruise. There's nothing wrong with that but sometimes our expectations drive our experiences and you will be disappointed if you are looking for these types of activities. Also, this is a small ship which makes many things very convenient but does make the voyage a bit more difficult for some especially in choppy waters if you are prone to seasickness. Disembarking in Ft Lauderdale was easy and far too quick as it was like leaving a crew who felt like family for many of the passengers. Not to mention the great people who were our fellow travelers. From the deck crew to the hostesses and cruise director, and the captain himself, we enjoyed meeting each of the crew that made our trip so special. It wasn't perfect all the time, but it was good enough that we are looking forward to our next Silversea adventure. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
The cruise through the Caribbean Islands was lovely. Be aware the ship is quite small and book a mid ship cabin as to make sure there are not any rough days. We sailed from San Juan to Ft. Lauderdale with stops at many of the islands. The ... Read More
The cruise through the Caribbean Islands was lovely. Be aware the ship is quite small and book a mid ship cabin as to make sure there are not any rough days. We sailed from San Juan to Ft. Lauderdale with stops at many of the islands. The excursions were great with easy on and off the ship. The service was fantastic! Having a butler for your cabin is very nice and be sure to have a balcony. The food was very good. Gratuities were included, but we added to some of the staff that went over and beyond. The only things that were not fantastic was the entertainment, which was very limited and the casino, very, very small and nobody ever there. Definitely for an older more sophisticated group...but we had a great time. This is definitely not a cruise for children. I would suggest a Royal Caribbean ship with all the activities if you are bringing children. We will probably take another Silver Seas cruise, but on a larger ship. March was a great time to take this cruise. The weather was fantastic. Be sure to make reservations prior to boarding for spa treatments, beauty salon and excursions. They do fill up. We did spend a night in San Juan prior to boarding at The Condado Vanderbilt. Highly recommended! Dinner at 1919 was spectacular and not too far from the pier. Have a wonderful time! You will not be disappointed! We enjoyed every minute and met some new friends! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
According to American law no royalties are due for music composed before 1923. Silversea's playlist reflects that fact. Their live music is not performed by a band but by a "Quartet". No singer - none needed for a repertoire ... Read More
According to American law no royalties are due for music composed before 1923. Silversea's playlist reflects that fact. Their live music is not performed by a band but by a "Quartet". No singer - none needed for a repertoire primarily consisting of Cha-cha-cha and various nondescript. So unfortunately we had to head straight for our cabin after dinner. If you don't like listening (or dancing) to music from your own lifetime performed by a band, and if you prefer your parents' and grandparents' music, Silversea may be the right option for you. In that case here are our observations: Like other reviews say the ship is dated but it is of course from 1995 so you cannot expect style and comfort to be from this century. What you could expect - but don't get - is a functioning aircon system. The excuse we were presented with at first was that we were in The Caribbean which is warm(!) So probably the system cools better in the Antarctic. In fairness: After a week of complaining we did get another suite where the heat was tolerable. We did two cruises back to back - 26 days total - and talked with quite a few repeat guests who complained that each year Silversea cuts away on the luxury items on the menu. We have sailed with them once before but that was 11 years ago so we couldn't say. In the meantime we have sailed 280 days with Seabourn and we found Silversea's cuisine and service to be on par. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
This was my first cruise with Silverseas and unfortunately it was not what I expected ! The ship was very " tired " and tatty in places, it is in my opinion ready for either a complete refurbishment or ready for retirement from ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Silverseas and unfortunately it was not what I expected ! The ship was very " tired " and tatty in places, it is in my opinion ready for either a complete refurbishment or ready for retirement from the fleet. Cabins are definitely in need of upgrading, carpets were in need of replacing, no tea or coffee facilities and bathrooms were cold and tired. Balcony was rusty and shabby. Service of the cabins was at best mediocre. Entertainment, Oh dear, this was one of the biggest disappointments. This did not cater for the age of the passengers on this ship at all. The 6 singers were all very pleasant but were too young and inexperienced for this cruise. No good shows, awful costumes that didn't fit and a terrible sound system did not bode well. Perry, the pianist in the lounge was excellent but that was it ! Dining, Le Champagne is not worth the extra money and to be honest the food in the main restaurant was nicer. Service in Le Restaurant was excellent and the food wonderful. Dining on the pool deck was also good and again excellent service . In short this was an enjoyable cruise but not an excellent one and definitely not worth the money. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Sailed luxury cruising (six star) several times but first time with Silversea Cruises. 1. First impression, embarkation smooth no long lines which was a plus point 1/2 glass of sparkling wine on arrival 2. Cabin old and tired. ... Read More
Sailed luxury cruising (six star) several times but first time with Silversea Cruises. 1. First impression, embarkation smooth no long lines which was a plus point 1/2 glass of sparkling wine on arrival 2. Cabin old and tired. No champagne in cabin on arrival. No fresh fruit daily or coffee maker. Small bathroom, shower over bath showing its age. Very old and grey bathrobe. Had to ask for toiletries to be replaced on occasion. Very noisy in cabin from engine, anchor, vibration etc. not much sleep at all throughout the cruise. Bar set up was organised by the butler but not topped up with soda etc or wine replaced until reminded. 3. Muster drill well organised 4. Pool grill excellent - especially fish of the day and the snacks. Pool staff worked extremely hard all day supplying food and drink replacing pool towels etc. pool and jacuzzi's clean. 5. Hot rocks - nothing spectacular basic food 6. Buffet breakfast again basic 7. The restaurant - again nothing special. No wow factor - food ok not as expected from a luxury cruise line. Food occasionally Luke warm. Did wait 20 minutes before being offered wine. 8. Did not go to the le champagne restaurant so cannot comment. This is an extra cost restaurant. 9. La terazza nice experience in the evening good service. 10. The Bar. Nice place for socialising and pre drinks. Good service with canapés. The live music in the bar excellent. 11. Did not go to any shows as retired early. 12. Trips ok extra cost Although the staff were amazing and worked extremely hard I thought the cruise overall was average, certainly not six star. More like 3 to 4 star. I cannot see how Silversea can justify the prices they are charging for their cruises. I will not be returning. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
Getting There: We had the free air from Manchester but as we had a 4 hour wait at Chicago, waiting in immigration, we missed the connecting flight. Despite appealing to both the airport personnel and American Air Express ... Read More
Getting There: We had the free air from Manchester but as we had a 4 hour wait at Chicago, waiting in immigration, we missed the connecting flight. Despite appealing to both the airport personnel and American Air Express Connection people they basically told us "hard luck" you have to stay in line. So instead of at least trying to fast track those with onward documents they ignored us. We spent the first night in Miami instead of San Juan and we could only find a Days Inn at 1.00AM.However Silversea in the form of their out of hours reps. Travel Services swiftly arranged for us to be picked up from the Airport etc. Thank you Mona Lisa Torres, you were superb.Cruise After the bad start Silversea Whisper and their staff were brilliant and quickly banished any bad feelings we may have had and Elin(staff) helped refund the missed hotel.We did anticipate a good cruise but it exceeded our expectations. The food, the cabin, the staff were first class and we have been to the odd superb hotel in our time. Our butler Danni, who seems to have been mentioned before exemplified all that Silversea are striving for. He produced tea for my wife without being asked and attended to all our needs, sometimes before we knew we needed them! Both he and indeed all the staff we met seemed genuinely pleased to do anything we wanted to make the cruise special.Excursions Just to pick out the Segway on Antigua and the River tubing in Dominica as great fun but they need care as there is the possibility of an accident and whilst serious injury is unlikely cuts and abrasions did happen.Going home This was the only minor problem as friends had been told that they were going to a hotel before the flight but when we asked the concierge she said that we were going straight to the airport. In the event we all went to the hotel but some of us would have dressed differently if we had known.One point, as we were going to Manchester via Gatwick the duty free booze we bought in Barbados was confiscated when we went through security at Gatwick to board the Manchester flight because it was not sealed at Barbados. Worth noting.Finally thank you to Phil and Helen whom we met on the cruise and whose company we very much enjoyed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
We were a little worried about Silver Sea after having a bad time on a cruise about 5 years ago (poor dining room service several times too many). This cruise was just the opposite: everything just went as well as anyone could wish. My ... Read More
We were a little worried about Silver Sea after having a bad time on a cruise about 5 years ago (poor dining room service several times too many). This cruise was just the opposite: everything just went as well as anyone could wish. My wife and I had a private dinner with the captain one night and 2 private dinners with the cruise director, Don Fluke. We found both to be very knowledgeable and enjoyable. (As often is the case, it helps to get to know someone before critiquing him/her).The food was good, the wine selections satisfactory (although my wife found and returned a bad bottle, the sommelier agreed), and I purchased a 3-bottle wine package for $303, which was fairly priced for the wines involved; the sommelier (Robin or Rose) made sure where we were eating each night so the wine could opened 1-2 hours prior to dinner.The room butler Dann was ever-present and every request was granted, and some we didn't even think about (like making sure our clothes were ready for formal night, and we had just a regular cabin).The internet was fairly priced: $85 for 250 minutes. We were charged $200 for 250 minutes on Oceania just the month before.My wife required a gluten-free menu. The gluten-free bread was a special recipe (which they gave us), her meals were thoughtful, and gluten-free vodka (yes, they are needed---wheat-free) was in our cabin and on the floors.We have signed up for the Prince Albert in Dec. We expect rough water for 2 days, but otherwise can only hope the over-all cruise is as good as this was. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2006
Getting there  We spent one night in Miami and 4 in St. Lucia. We had to depart our resort in St. Lucia at 6:30 a.m. to make our 8:45 flight. We paid $21 each departure tax at the George Charles airport. We boarded our American Eagle ... Read More
Getting there  We spent one night in Miami and 4 in St. Lucia. We had to depart our resort in St. Lucia at 6:30 a.m. to make our 8:45 flight. We paid $21 each departure tax at the George Charles airport. We boarded our American Eagle prop job at 8:00 and departed at 8:50. We arrived in Puerto Rico at 10:25, 35 min ahead of our scheduled 11 am arrival time. At George Charles in St. Lucia, all 4 of our bags were searched, as well as carry-ons, book pages were turned, all devices turned on. Then a second time, all items were again removed from my purse, even the Altoid mints were smelled. Customs was a breeze in San Juan. We were at the taxi stand at 11. We were given a ticket and quoted $19 for the fare and $2.50 for our bags (50 cents for first 3 and a dollar for the next one). The driver had us at pier 1 at 11:25. We went to see if we could leave our bags with Silversea in the terminal and were immediately offered the $100 pp early embarkation that had been refused at time of booking due to the cruise before ours being a charter. We jumped all over it. A white gloved, formally dressed gentleman waited with us while all of our bags were loaded on a dolly. He escorted us up the gang plank and to reception on the ship where we were happily greeted. Our ID cards were ready. We surrendered our passports and were told it would be 10 minutes for our suite and that we would have to come back later for our security photos. We were given Vueve Cliquot champagne. Everyone seemed so happy we had boarded the ship and would be sailing with them. We were already feeling the same way. Our white gloved gentleman took us to the Panorama lounge where a very nice lady offered us anything we desired to drink from a seat with a lovely view of our choice. They had mixed nuts also at the bar. We took a few pics outside until it began to drizzle. Leisurely, we browsed the computer center, library and other public areas and then went to our suite, as we were told lunch was served on deck 4 from 12-1:30. Our bags were ensuite, laid out on the bed, and the stewardess was in the room stocking all the refrigerator and drink selections we had made. Only thing not there yet was the orchids, which arrived soon after and also the foam pillows I had requested online. Suite Upon walkup, we saw 915, our suite number, a mail slot, and a doorbell and card slot for entry. Inside, the bathroom had a glass-enclosed shower stall, toilet, double marble sink, a tub with a removable shower head and there were 2 shelves below the sink. There is a clothes line that you can put across the tub area for drying swimsuits. The stewardess did this for us each day. Also all the Aqua de Parma amenities were theretwo types of soap , body gel, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. Shelves above contained water glasses, cotton & Q-tips, and tissues. Next was a walk-in closet. There were a number of hangers along two racks and then half the closet with only one rack for longer items, a suitcase shelf, a shoe rack, a tie rack, a chest of drawers, a digital safe, and those trusty life jackets. There was a light, and the closet also had a blanket in it. One drawer had a number of items for shoeshine, a sewing kit and a hair dryer. The bed had a nightstand on either side with lamps, and the left side had a clock. Four pillows were under the covers and then there were 3 throws. Opposite the bed was a dressing table with stool and various style plugs, including American. There was a magnifying mirror there. Next were the drapes than can be drawn and then the sitting area. There was a nice love seat with lamps and end tables on both sides. There was a chair that was more comfortable than it looked and a small table. There was a bigger table in the closet they can add on top of this to facilitate dining in the suite. Along the wall was the fridge in the lower left cabinet of the desk, which contained juices (4 kinds, one each) and then a few soft drink items and ice. Personalized stationery, postcards, in-room dining menus, and a book about the services offered were on the writing desk Above on the left was a cabinet where they put glasses, binoculars, and any drink items you requested. On the right side, there was the very small TV/VCR that swivels (when you figure the device out) and on the shelf below there was a DVD player that will also play your DIVX and mp3s from home. Below that was fruit-grapes, banana, pear, apple and sometimes a plum. The desk also had a variety of plug-ins. Each light throughout the cabin had a conveniently located switch to control it, so there was no wondering around trying to figure the lights. Recessed lighting is used a number of places, as well, so you can have it as light or not, as you choose. The verandah was nice with 2 comfortable, adjustable lounges and a small table. No footstools like those shown in the brochure. There were walls on either side for privacy. We were the last cabin on deck 9, so we knew we were not being looked at. I cant comment on if this would ever be an issue or not, but I doubt it would be worth any concern. In our closet were two thick, lovely robes and two sets of slippers, mans and womans. We got Aqua de Parma and Bvlgari both. Not everyone did. Lunch on April 5 -- After our survey of the room, we went down to deck 4 to The Restaurant and had a lovely 5 course lunch. We had penne pasta with meat and tomato sauce as an appetizer, cream of chicken soup, salad with balsamic vinegar. Todd had a sirloin steak, while I had broiled flounder. For dessert, Todd had apple pie with cream, and I had crème brulee and a side order of mixed berries. They offered wine of the day and then coffee or espresso. Service was outstanding, as it had been since arrival. Guests were rather well dressed, but we found out some were there just for the day, etc. People were talking across tables, and it was louder than we are used to. We were to discover this would be a common thing. Not a real issue. April 5 activities We checked out the rest of the public areas. The lounges were beautiful. The card room was larger than I was expecting. They had a nice conference room, though not large. The spa looked inviting. The gym had a number of machines, bottled water, lots of towels, and iPods, as well as headphones to listen to the TVs that were playing. The fitness schedule for the entire cruise was available for taking back to the room. We picked up the daily crosswords and sudoku puzzles in the library and went to get our pictures taken and then on to the suite. Todd stayed in the room and laid around reading the literature and resting, while I checked out regular embarkation. They had a receiving line with champagne or fruit punch, refreshing towels (which we didnt get) and then a line in the bar for taking pics, checking in and then caviar and smoked salmon canapEs made to order and finger sandwiches. There were many people there to take guests to their suites. I disembarked the ship after having my card scanned. I walked a mile or two around Old San Juan, getting a feel of the town. The architecture was interesting. There were many interesting-looking Indo-Latino restaurants and a lot of unique shops. I sat around in a couple of places to feel the vibe of the area. I came back about 5:15, and we readied ourselves for the 5:30 lifeboat drill. We went to level 5 to the B area and were greeted and told about when we should come there and then we were escorted to the Viennese lounge where they gave a demo of the life jackets and took the opportunity to plug the spa and shore excursions. In our suite were already the tickets for our shore excursion, my spa appointment card, etc. We had left a message for the golf pro for details of Todds golf excursion in Antigua and we picked up info on that and the program in general. Back in the suite, Frasier, the pro, called to discuss the outing with Todd and then ask about what type of club shafts he wanted. Lots of guests had been hanging out on the pool deck, as they served late lunch/early dinner there for a couple of hours, along with soft drinks and a full bar service. Mixed nuts and chex mix were available here. It was loud and bustling there, but festive. BTW, the guests were all ages, mostly 40s to 80s, and we saw a hand full of teens. Guests were not so formal as at lunch but not tacky or anything like that. Most had a long, hard travel day and were happy to be greeted by an inviting staff. Another tidbit, the gentleman that took us to our room had told me about the April 1 Pfizer charter. Because they had an early departure (most of them) they let us on. That was nice, but others missed out that didnt gamble to see. We went to the library and selected a couple of videos and then came to the room and watched Prime on the in-room movies. They had about 4 channels running various movies, and they had a booklet explaining it and showing the DVDs available. The TV had Fox News, BBC, and CNN. It had a navigational station we enjoyed that was tracking the ship (this played in the hallway on Deck 5, also) and some other info channels on the ship and its activities. There are also many VHS movies in the library, but they are not as new, but you will find old faves. Also in the library were many novels and also a puzzle there to be worked, chess, checkers, etc. Other public areas had board games and books about birds and fish and things of that nature. Sometime the stewardess came to offer additional types of toiletries, but Todd was alone and didnt pay attention to what was offered and told her to come back. After the movie, I steamed my pantsuit, and we dressed for dinner. At 5, we had tried to get a reservation for La Terraza for any night. They were already booked for the entire cruise. I should have done this at 11. Dinner in The Restaurant on April 5 -- We asked for a table for two, and we were given one. This was the quieter side, though the room was noisier than a cafeteria, something we were not expecting, but again, not a big deal. Some people asked to join others, and both types of wishes were granted easily. We had seen the menu in our suite and had an idea of what we wanted to have. They offered the daily pour and also were available to explain anything. Service was good. For appetizer, Todd had the king prawns with Indian spices, I had the Greek salad (feta cheese, cucumbers, and pine nuts inside a tomato with 4 green leaves). We enjoyed them. For soup, Todd had the beef essence, and I had the red onion with ginger. We loved them. Rolls were many hard varieties, we were not too interested in them. For salad, I had the greens with balsamic again, and Todd had Caesar salad (which had bacon and anchovies). You must order the sorbet, or it will not come. It was pina colada. Good taste! For the entrEe, Todd had the striploin with fries. I had halibut with garden veggies. The waiter brought the veggies and hand selected each vegetable at my urgence and whim! The fish was healthy but a bit plain. There were other choices, but I was trying not to gain weight. For dessert, Todd asked for mixed ice cream, and I had more sorbet. We nibbled on the petite fours. One tasted like chocolate cookie dough. Yumm. Others had fruit and cheese from a trolley. We did not. The trolley was something else you had to request. During dinner, our waiter hustled, and glasses were filled regularly. After Dinner April 5 We finished dining at around 9:30. The casino was not open in San Juan due to laws. We went up to The Bar to hear Daryl. He sang '60s tunes and played electric assisted piano. He read the words from a computer. I enjoyed him, but Todd didnt as much because the songs were his own rendition, vs. him trying to sound just like the artist. He stated that when he started the set. A few couples danced. At 10, we went to the show lounge for the Taste of Things to Come show. Ron, the cruise director, alternated introducing 3-5 staff members with a production number about 4 or 5 times. It was great to hear about the staff (not a single American except the cruise director who splits his time in South Africa). The golf pro indicated that he was sold out for the Antigua excursion. This whole program was a little too infomercialish, but we did see a few good production numbers. Randomly, guests got wait service. We did not, but it wasnt a concern. Ron ended the show at 10:45 so that guests could get ready for the sailing at 11. Some celebrated above us on 10 and others by the pool on 8. We hung out on our veranda from 11 to midnight until the lights of San Juan was out of sight. It was spectacular. April 5 pet peeves: Stewardess took club soda I had just prepared and was coming back to because we were not in the suite. Welcome champagne we were not done with was taken. Dining is louder than we expected. We went to sleep to one of the videos from the library, Generals Daughter. April 6, 2006 Virgin Gorda The wake-up Woke up at 6:25 to someones set alarm from a previous stay! No problem, we were waking up on our own anyway due to our surroundings. It was a beautiful sunrise that morning, postcard perfect. We passed by little islands after that and also saw lots of yachts. It was like a moving postcard. We enjoyed the view on the veranda and scoped it out with the binoculars. Todd worked both the crossword and the sudoku already by early am. We skipped breakfast, as we were still full from dinner. Todd went to the golf swing clinic. No swinging, just talk about technique. He got to chat with the pro. I ate a plum from our fruit in the room and went to the body conditioning class with Margit, the fitness instructor. Several ladies had been there for step, but I was alone for the toning class. She and I did it togetheraerobics with hand weights and then floor exercises. She kept asking me if I could feel it. What dummy would say not? Then I rode the exercise bike a while, looking out at the view. Todd and I went outside the observation lounge and watched the ship come into port and took some pics. Todd watched a movie from one of the in-room movie channels for an hour, and I laid out on deck 9 in my swimsuit. On 8 (pool deck) and 9, they brought cold towels and mist and offered drink servicebottled or sparkling water, soft drinks or other drinks, anything. There was sun or shade available and cushioned loungers with towels set up. We got ready for our excursion to The Baths. We went to lunch at La Terazza at noon when they opened. A number of people were already there. We prefer sit down to buffet, but the sit down started at 12:30, and our tour was leaving at 12:45. The selections included lovely salads. I had mixed greens with balsamic. Todd skipped salad, opting for a slice of cold roast beef. For entrees, we asked for bite sized of most to try several. They had carved chicken, Schezwan (sp) beef, lasagna, pizza, fried cod, pizza, and pasta cooked fresh to order. They had pumpkin soup (yum) and chilled raspberry cream soup. For dessert, they offered low carb and sugar free. I had berries, and Todd skipped dessert. They had several ice creams and all sorts of toppings, including pistachios, chocolate chips, etc. There were some hot desserts, also. Everything was carried to the table. Our glasses were filled with water almost before we sat down, and we were offered the pour of the day, something Greek. Dishes were cleared at just the right time. We arrived in the Vienesse Lounge as per our tickets at 12:45, but they seemed to have sent letters (we didnt get ours, we didnt think but found it the next day) on it being moved to the gangway. After going to Vienesse and then heading to gangway, we missed the tender and waited for the next. We were given towels and water. We missed our tour, but the tour director arranged for a staff member to take us in his personal jeep to join our tour at The Baths. The Baths The Baths is close to where the ship anchored. We were given drink tickets and told how to get down to The Baths. Thankfully, we saw some SS people and felt better about having missed our ride. Everyone was able to lay their towel in sun or shade as desired. T-shirts, etc. were available (we didnt buy anything). They also sell soda and beer, not sure what else. We didnt walk up there. This excursion with SS is $45 pp. For this price, they should have had a cooler or two down there or something, as we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. I think the entry fee for adults was only $3, so the transportation and entry were a bit much compared to what SS must have paid, though we thought it was reasonable when booked. I didnt see cabs after we tendered but I think there was a place for them. We spread out our stuff and went swimming amongst the rocks and took pics along the beach. We walked part of the way thru the caves toward Devils Bay Beach (I think that is the name) and got some great pics. Todd got the HP camera a bit wet it wouldnt come back on (later discovered the pics were at least saved on the SD card). We still had the Kodak. The climb back up seemed fierce after my personal session with the fitness lady. We got some punch with our tickets and sat on the patio overlooking The Baths and the bay. It was soo beautiful  the huge rocks, flowers and cacti on top of the ocean made an interesting backdrop. Back on Ship We were back on the ship at 4:30. We rinsed off our sand. I sat in the hot tub and chatted for a very long time to various people, including a lovely couple in their late 30s who had sailed SS a few times. Todd went to the putting contest. He got 4 points there. Sounds like I should have gone since not too many ladies were there. From one of the hot tubs, the couple and I witnessed a very drunk man. That guy had started rubbing my back out of nowhere at the bar while I was nibbling chex mix and waiting for a club soda (the reason I headed off to the hot tub). His friend had done the same earlier (nickname Roach). We called the other guy blue shirt. He passed out, and his friends could hardly get him up and out. Neither were Americans! Evening of April 6 This was formal night. I steamed Todds shirt, and we got dressed-tux for him and long dress for me. We joined the end of the captains cocktail party. Looks like we missed about everything. They had shrimp cocktail it seems (heard it was literally one shrimp pp). We did hear some more about some of what was going to occur the rest of the cruise. It was all very festive but hard to describe. We headed down to The Restaurant for the formal dinner and asked for a table for 2. Someone took our order before ever offering wine or water, but they tended to all of that. Since we got seated near a table for 12, our waitstaff were more focused on them. Our service was then average but not bad. I had the goose liver appetizer with candied plum. This was divine. Todd had the mixed berries in blue Curacao. For soup, I had the celeriac and apple soup (wonderful), and Todd had the chicken consomme with matzo balls. There were always 3 soups offered at every meal. I had the greens with balsamic, and Todd requested and got a Caesar. He had prime rib and requested a baked potato with bacon and cheese. It came plain. I had the lobster thermidorchix sized, just a few bites in each side of the tail, but it was enough for me. We skipped dessert, even the petit 4. We headed to the casino for a bit of roulette. We lost $80 but it took a while, and we had a lot of fun. Stakes were $2 min per number and $10 min on any outside spot (vs $10 total on the outside). This gave them a lot of advantage. We went to listen to Daryl for a bit. He played 60s tunes. We played roulette and lost $80 but had a good time. The table had an advantage on the outside due to limit being 10 dollars a position vs. the total of the outside. Then Todd went to the room, and I went to the Toast to Broadway show. It was a costumed show with a number of Broadway tunes. I was very tired. We went to bed and woke up a few times. Todd was snoring, and I curled on the couch a bit and slept. April 7, 2006 Antigua We did barely wake up for coming into port because the doorbell rang at 7:45 with our breakfast. I had bacon, eggs, toast, and hash browns. Todd had same except my eggs were fried, and he had an omelet. We shared the grapefruit and cantaloupe. Todd got ready for golf with his Cedar Valley Silver Links 365 group. I got ready to go off ship, too but took my time. I went to the computer center and got connected over there. I bought 100 minutes for $55. I didnt really need to do this because I had my Blackberry, and my GPRS service worked in every port and sometimes out at sea. They had around 6 pcs in the center, and you couldn print from any of them. You can also use wifi on your laptop against the same allotment of minutes. The wifi worked in the library/computer center, card room and lounges. I didnt try it anywhere but the computer center. In Antigua, the ship is at a pier, so there is no need to tender. You just walk off the ship, making sure you have your ship ID card and a photo ID. Shortly after departing the ship, I found a taxi stand. The gentleman there told me it would cost $12 to go to Sandals resort and asked if they were expecting me. I indicated I had a day pass over there. We walked a couple of blocks to his van, and we were to Sandals in about 6 minutes in traffic. I tipped the driver, and he was off. We had some hassle at Sandals because I had evidently said I needed the pass for Friday, April 8. Well, instead of asking me if I meant Friday or April 8, they assumed April 8, so they were expecting me the next day. It took 3 people to get to that, but I did get in and was all set with the pass. I walked around looking at the property. I really liked the garden areas with the pools. The gardens were quite lush. These areas were nicer than the main swim-up area. The beach was wide and long. One thing to note is that the beach goes beyond Sandals on both ends, and it is public. Therefore, there were kids walking by, etc. This area was just beautiful. I think a day pass here is a wonderful option for anyone on a non-inclusive cruise, as it is minutes from the pier, and then you get drinks and a beautiful beach, one of the nicest. I checked out the lunch buffet. They were cooking pasta to order and carving a whole pig. I just wanted to have some mango and a little salad. I was seated Oceanside at a table for two. It rained briefly and lightly. That brought a lot of people in, but it was over quite quickly. I headed down to check out the upcoming Mediterranean Village. It looks like it will be large and quite beautiful. The pool is going to be huge. Rooms will be suites and will all be identical. They are set back a ways from the ocean. It is to be complete in November. I should be able to check it out next February. I didnt want to miss too much time on the ship, and I still wanted to walk around town. The resort called a cab over for me, and it was the same price to go back. The cab let me off at a good location in town. I went around to various shops and bought some souvenirs before heading back to the ship on foot. Id missed all the regular meal hours, but I decided to check out the room service menu, not knowing when Todd would be back from golf or if hed have eaten. I was guessing he would have. Room Service Lunch The menu looked quite good, and I wish Id have ordered a soup. I ordered mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette, two shrimp cocktails, and pizza margherita. The menu warned that the pizza takes 20 minutes. I spent this time on the veranda perusing my email on my blackberry and contemplating my surroundings. I didnt time the food, but it must have been 20 or 30 minutes. The person that brought it was willing to set up my table the fancy way they do, but I just took the tray. It was just me, anyway. The salad was the same crisp greens with balsamic I had been enjoying. Silversea makes such a wonderful balsamic that Id been having it often. The shrimp came as 8 shrimp on a plate with delicious cocktail sauce. The pizza was a thin, crisp crust. I did not eat even half of it, but it was the best pizza I have had at a non-pizza place-ever! It was so yummy. Afternoon I went out to lay around on deck 9. After a short while, I was misted and had a drink order taken. There was plenty of shade or sun and lots of cushy loungers with towels. They have lots of refreshing soft drinks and will make anything else you want, too. I went to Cruise Consultant Carls get together talking about the upcoming 2006 and 2007 cruises. This was held in The Bar. I checked back at the cabin around 5 p.m. to see if Todd was available and wanted to do anything. He had only got back in the room at 4:30. He was a bit burnt because his golf outing was so long. He had put on sunscreen but didnt bring any with him. We watched an in-room movie while Todd unwound from his 8 hour outing. Todds Golf Outing He met his group at 8:45 at the gangway. He brought his own shoes, balls, and glove and signed up to rent their Nike clubs. We arranged his outing at www.silverseagolf.com, and I recommend golfers do this in advance of their cruise if possible because this excursion sold out. The group went to Cedar Valley. Todd thought the course was interesting and had some good views. He shot an 84 here. There were 3 groups of 4 playing, and the other 11 all knew each other. The pro played 4 holes with Todds group, 5 with another and 9 holes with another. Frasier, the pro tried to change peoples whole swing, rather than work with what they had. They were fed chicken wings and some other food. Transportation was included, and they also spent time on the range. This whole jaunt was in the $200 range when it was all over. Evening April 7, 2006 This evening they had a sailing party on deck. We just checked it out briefly. They had 3 types of appetizers. I tried 2 of the little nachos. We chatted with Buckie and Jane, the couple wed met that were celebrating their 40th anniversary. Jane was excitedly telling me about her needlepoint class. Todd did not try any appetizers. I got in the hot tub with the nice couple from Georgia Id met before. I just didnt want to get out and stayed a long time. The night was magical. This was an informal evening. Todd wore a jacket and tie, and I wore a dress. We headed to The Restaurant around 7:30. For appetizer, I had planned to have the king scallop ravioli with shellfish sauce and basil oil, but this was substituted for something with goat cheese. Instead, we had the mango, papaya and pineapple medley. For soup, we had the cauliflower and parmesan veloute with pesto crostini. This was quite good. I had assorted greens with balsamic, and Todd asked for and received Caesar. We forgot to order the sorbet but did this later and got it. They had key lime daiquiri sorbet. For the entry, I had the poached izumi dai fish with lemon butter sauce. It was a bit buttery for me but I took it out of the sauce. Todd had a beef dish and fries. I had the peach zero zero ice cream for dessert, and Todd had some other ice cream. We found the service only adequate on this evening. They did offer the pour of the evening, and they do offer to switch to red wine if you are so inclined when the entree comes. I did try it, Todd did not. We had already ordered our food before this or water was offered. This is the evening JJ, the head sommelier was in the restaurant. We were seated near some large tables, though we had asked for a quiet table. The large groups were not noisy like some in the distance, but they did receive the bulk of the service. Like I said, service that evening was adequate, just not over the top. Still better than many resorts. For the evening, we went to hear Daryl for a few minutes and then went down to the show lounge to watch Cirque Nouveau. This show was a tribute to Cirque de Soleil. There were a number of costume changes, and there was some dance up ropes, etc. It was a nice show for what they can do on a small ship. After the show we went back to the casino. I played quarter slots for a few minutes and got bored after spending about $10. We moved on to blackjack and played the $10 per hand each. We did only OK with the first dealer and then did well with the second. We cashed out and moved on to roulette. We played there for some time, and we cashed out up for the night $359 after the previous nights $80 loss. We were thinking we might play the last night, but they were staying in port until 11, and the casino cannot open in port. We sat on our balcony a little while, added the chocolates on the bed to our stash, looked briefly at the next days menu and activities, put out our breakfast menu and checked the television for news and movies before dropping off to sleep. April 8, 2006 Tortola I purposely left the drapes open between the sleeping and sitting area so that Id wake up for yet another sunrise. Tortola did not disappoint, and I happily watched more of my personal moving postcards delivered right to my door. I did close one side of the drapes for Todd to rest and played some with my email on my blackberry in between snapping photos. We had the same breakfast as the day before  bacon, egg, hash brown and fruit for me and omelet, hash brown and fruit for Todd. I forgot to order toast to go with my fried eggs. The day before, they had delivered one fruit plate even though I wrote down two. I cant believe I didnt order toast. SS seems to deliver exactly what is ordered, so things you take for granted will not come. Breakfast was had in our living room on the table as we watched the ship sail into port, one of our favorite experiences each day (sailing out was also a favorite). The morning was rushed as we hurried to make our 8:45 BVI snorkel trip. Buckie and Jane were trying to join because their 1 pm one was cancelled They did make it on because the 3 teens decided not to join their parents and younger brother. As always when disembarking, towels and water were readily available. We were taken away in a jeep safari type vehicle down to a large catamaran. Two guys ran the program. They had the fins and snorkel gear on board, and they asked sizes and passed everything around. We went out to Norman island, passing Peter Island on our way. We were taken to an area with great visibility. We saw fish of many sizes, and there were caves to explore, but there were thousands of jellyfish, and they were especially fond of the caves. The jellyfish didnt sting anyone, but they were a deterrent. I preferred, by far, our snorkeling at Anse Cochen a few days earlier during our resort stay in St. Lucia. We were given rum punch after snorkeling and taken to a small beach island called Pirates Island. The facilities there were closed. They kept us there an hour, which we didnt think was necessary. Jane was very excited about fish nibbling her toes, and I hung out watching them in the clear water while Todd and Buckie sat in the shade in two different spots. The sail back was also beautiful, as we were surrounded by little mound islands and yachts. I was chatting with two ladies when $100 bill floated by and into the water. One lady pointed it out to the loser of the money that it had flown by. The lady barely batted an eye. We got back and rinsed our sand off. I sat in hot tub briefly. We went up to La Terraza for the lunch buffet, feeling we could not go so close to closing (it was 1:40) to the course by course place. This day, the selection was not as appealing to me as the other day, and I so much had wanted a sit down meal. I had salad and gazpacho (nice and spicy) and some berries and pistachios. Todd had some hot dishes  a grilled fish and some garden veggies. I did try just a bite of the curry chicken. It was listed as mild and was. I was not feeling well and did not take a portion of it, just one bite to taste. A waiter informed us they were closing the hot items at 2 and that the salads and desserts would remain. However, at 1:55, they pulled the pistachios from the ice cream station. Someone did begrudgingly bring them back for me. We were offered tea or soda that day for the first time. We were a little bit turned off by them pulling some of the food before 2 pm when they close. We have seen this at resorts, and we never like it, either. Even if they dont take new guests past 2, they should leave the items out for those that are still finishing after 2. There were at least 30 people there that had all been on that snorkeling trip and were doing the best we could. In Tortola, I did go out to the tents past the pier and bought some souvenirsmagnets and some marble and glass items. Nobody there would bargain one dime, but some were cheaper than the others. They did make change in USD if desired. They had some nice shirts, but I didnt bring enough money out and didnt want to go back. Todd retired to the room a bit for an afternoon in-room movie and to finish a video he got at the library. He was not wanting any more sun and thought he might nap. I laid on deck a bit and then went to the internet café to work on using up my minutes. At 4 pm, I met Jane at afternoon tea for needlepoint. She had been so excited about it. I was so glad I went because I met Yolanda, the international hostess. Jane was working on a little clutch case, and Yolanda gave me a choice of several scissors covers and showed me how to do it. We had nice tea and conversation. Jane had a fruit tart. The selection was nicescones, pastries, tarts, custard cups. Jane remarked that it had been 15 minutes since we ate and that we should eat again! She is so tiny. After this, I went to see Carl, the cruise consultant about booking future cruises. He spent a great deal of time with me comparing various ones, prices, etc. and discussing his opinion on specific cabins. I was very impressed that sometimes he was even down-selling trying to show good value. I had enjoyed him at his talk a couple of days prior. I got everything arranged, and he drew up our papers and sent them later to our cabin, and I paid him before 7:30 that night, as he requested. At 5 pm, Todd joined Jane and Buckie at the golf putting contest. I joined at 5:20. I missed the short putt contest but played in the long putt contest. After that, we cashed in our points and got 2 money clips and a memo holder. You do get points for just participating and more for winning. Todd won something here. Yolanda is the one that cashes in the points. Next, I went to the hot tub. The Spanish family had their lap baby in the pool. The staff eventually blocked the hot tubs to get ready for the BBQ but did not throw anyone out. I was appreciative of that, as I was tired and enjoyed myself immensely. The temps were always so nice in the hot tubs, and I loved my 6 pm ritual every night. Jessica and Rich, the couple from Atlanta called out to me from above. She said she lost a lot at the casino the night before and had rewarded herself w/ a 15 course breakfast. They were going to Le Champagne that night to avoid the bbq. I had wanted to go to the sit-down at The Restaurant, but Jessica said they were having lobster at the bbq, so I got suckered in. In my mind I was thinking, go sit down at dinner and then stop by buffet to see if there is lobster and then see the show. Evening of April 8 Todd was not in any hurry to leave the suite. It was so comfortable, and we were just lying around. I told him people were already filling up the tables even though it wasnt 7:30 and that wed have nowhere to sit and probably get bad service (by now, we had agreed to go to the buffet since I still was not feeling well ).. This night was casual. People still looked nice and festive. We sat at a table with a Latino couple. They never spoke to us. We had to flag someone down for water, etc. I just dont like buffets no matter what is served, for the most part. They had no soup, my favorite part of a lot of meals. They had grilled steaks (most tender of the trip), ribs, chicken breasts, hot dogs, build your own tacos and then lobster claw paella. They had salads and desserts, including bananas foster and a number of ice creams and toppings. I tried the lobster claw dish, but it was salty to me (I dont salt my food). I ate salad and custard and some fruit. Todd had a rib and steak and some ice cream. We had trouble getting plates cleared. While many were getting great service, we were not, as we seemed to have been skipped since we were on time rather than early. The main reason we came, other than me not feeling well was to see the Latin dance show. We enjoyed the costumed dancers. They repeated the salsa number from the welcome party and did some other numbers. They changed costumes several times very quickly. After that, they started the dance party with the guests. Todd went back to the cabin, and I danced some with Yolanda and the other ladies either there alone or with partners that wouldnt dance. The music was so good that I rushed to the cabin to get Todd, and he danced with me a little before we retired back to the cabin around 10:45. We were to have our bags out by 11:30. Some people had them out by 6 pm; I assume they didnt want to interrupt their evening. We, of course, barely made 11:30, but we did. We put our grey tags on the bags, keeping our carry-ons. We checked just after 11:30, and all bags were gone. We managed to time it well at 10:45 to watch the sailing because they left a little earlier than 11 pm. Our stewardess had not done our turndown. Instead, she just stuck out our luggage sheet to protect the bed and put one suitcase on the bed and threw our literature and chocolates on it. We considered going to the shops or casino after 11:30, but that is late for us, so we snuggled into the comfort of our cabin, relaxed till the lights on-shore were gone and then laid around as long as we could stay awake and drifted off after calling for a wake up call for 6:15. April 9 Back to San Juan Unfortunately, our wake up call did come. By about 6:30 our final statement was on the door. We didnt have to do anything about it, as I had followed the announcements and advice and gave an imprint earlier the previous day. Everything was in order, so we just saved the bill for our records. We got ready for our long journey home, enjoyed the scenery going by and packed our carry-on for the most part. We headed to the breakfast buffet at 7 when they opened. The sit-down was a choice, but we wanted a last sit in our cabin before we took off. For breakfast, we didnt bother with eggs to order. We had scrambled eggs. Todd had ham, and I had bacon. I had fruits and toast. Todd had a lot of orange juice, I went for tea. This didnt take too long, and we were able to return to our cabin and relax a bit. We were the last group called and were called right at 8:30, the time all were to vacate their cabin. We had brought some bottled water and soda for our long journey home. We went to level 5 for immigration. Yolanda and a couple of other nice ladies were there. We received our passports and went to The Panorama lounge to await the call to customs. We had nice juice and tea and relaxed, though we did get smoked on (found out later we were in the smoking section, though we didnt know there was a difference). The lounge here had pastries, juices and tea and coffee. Only a small number of guests retreated here, while many sat uncomfortably herded with crowds when there was no need. All the public areas were open. We were not called until 9:50, and we went through the inspection easily. We had been offered a tour of Old San Juan and transportation to airport from SS at a reasonable cost, but I had done my own tour, and Todd wasnt interested. We just went to the taxi stand and paid the same $21.50 from before. We were at the airport at 10:30 and tried to stand by on the 12:16 flight. We could not get on, so we were stuck until 3:20 because I had foolishly booked this flight thinking we could pay for late debarkation. The San Juan customs didnt allow it. We were bored and tired after 5 hours at the airport, and both of our flights were oversold and crowded. I went to Burger King in Miami and went through a very thorough purse search since I didnt have luggage. We reached Houston on time but one bag was not there. It had come on the earlier flight and was at the claims office. After that drama, we arrived home at about 11:15. We were tired, but we are still reflecting on our time and looking forward to our next cruise, this time on Silver Wind, in February, 2007. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
SILVERSEAS luxurious SILVER WHISPER: A long review of a short Caribbean cruise, with reflections on small ship cruising and suggestions for independent enjoyment of ports of call (St. Barts, Antigua, and Tortola) Lets be honest. One ... Read More
SILVERSEAS luxurious SILVER WHISPER: A long review of a short Caribbean cruise, with reflections on small ship cruising and suggestions for independent enjoyment of ports of call (St. Barts, Antigua, and Tortola) Lets be honest. One of the pleasures of cruising is the fantasy factor. You know what I mean -- for a few days each year one is made to feel rich and famous, from spacious suites with attentive service to haute cuisine with fine wine. Mainstream cruise lines offer a degree of luxury with their upper echelon suites and surcharged restaurants, but the kind of pervasive luxury and personal attention that I am talking about here is the raison detre of such cruise lines as Silversea, Regent (formerly Radisson) Seven Seas, Seabourn, and Crystal. These ships range from about 200 passengers on the older Seabourn yachts to about 1,000 passengers on the newest Crystal ship. Perhaps because the smaller luxury ships carry fewer passengers on less common itineraries, or perhaps because wealthy passengers are not as interested in cruise review web sites as the rest of us, there are relatively few recent reviews of ships like the Silver Whisper. BACKGROUND: What follows is a review of our experience on a four night March, 2006, Caribbean cruise on Silverseas all-suite ship Silver Whisper. I am semi-retired, in my late 50s, and not in the travel business. My wife and I have taken 17 cruises on a variety of cruise lines. When on vacation I prefer not dealing with lines or crowds, and tend to travel independently rather than with tour groups. I shall begin this review with a discussion of LUXURY CRUISING IN GENERAL; follow with a discussion of our SILVER WHISPER cruise in particular; then give suggestions for INDEPENDENT SIGHTSEEING at our ports of call (St. Barts, Antigua, and Tortola) with a gentle warning about an Antiguan incident; and conclude with a discussion of WHETHER LUXURY CRUISING IS WORTH THE PRICE. I shall HIGHLIGHT some topics in all capital letters, so that the reader can scroll down to any topic of particular interest. Before I begin, please understand the facts that: First, I have a value-oriented approach to travel. Those of you who have read my previous reviews (e.g. Star Princess in the Baltic, Constellation in the Southern Caribbean, Galaxy in the Eastern Mediterranean, Zuiderdam in the Eastern Caribbean, Tahitian Princess in Polynesia) are used to my personal viewpoint. Second, I am not an experienced luxury cruiser. Most of my previous 17 cruises have been on the cruise lines listed above. This may make me a less biased observer, or it may make me blind to some of the perks of luxury cruising. Third, this was a relatively short, heavily discounted itinerary from a U.S. port (San Juan), and as such may not be representative of the usual Silversea cruises, which average about ten days in duration and $5,000 per person for the least expensive cabins. Finally, cruise ships change with time, and what I say here may not apply when you read this. Also, I apologize for any errors and omissions I have made, and suggest you supplement this review with other information from other reviewers. That being said, lets begin the review with the bottom line. THE BOTTOM LINE: This was an enjoyable cruise on a highly regarded small cruise ship calling at three of the less crowded Caribbean ports. PROS: The spacious cabins with double bathrooms (all cabins are outsides, most with balconies); the understated elegance of the extensive public areas; the absence of noise and crowds; the absence of sales pitches (no art auctions, no photographers, no bingo games); the talented musicians and entertainers (who were presented at reasonable decibel levels); the well traveled, well educated, and articulate passengers; and the inclusive pricing (drinks and gratuities). CONS: Minor lapses in service; minor lapses in food preparation; inadequate exercise facilities; excessive off-line and internet computer fees; and a tendency of the ship to roll in good weather during mild to moderate seas. SILVERSEA BACKGROUND: Silversea is a privately owned Italian cruise line with four luxury ships. The officers are predominantly Italian, and the staff is international. The Silver CLOUD and Silver WIND were built in 1994/5 for 295 passengers each. The Silver SHADOW and Silver WHISPER were built in 2000/1 for 382 passengers each. All cabins are outsides, and most have balconies. Silversea prefers to call them suites rather than cabins, although most are a single room with a dividing curtain between the sitting and sleeping areas. Silver SHADOWS and Silver WHISPERS cabin size (345/287 square feet with/without balcony), space ratio (74 tons per passenger), and staff-to-passenger ratio (1.3 to 1) are almost twice those of mainstream cruise ships, and are significantly better than most other cruise ships in the luxury category. SILVERSEA CRUISE PRICES: How much does a luxury cruise cost? As an exercise to determine how much Silver Whisper cruises cost, I searched the internet for the lowest net per diem for various itineraries in 2006, after any available discounts but before taxes and port fees. With a few exceptions the prices ranged from about $400 to $700 per person per day (pppd) for the least expensive (outside but no balcony) cabins. The lower amount was for itineraries such as Asia, and the higher amount was for itineraries such as northern Europe. A balcony adds significantly to these prices, the price depending on whether the balcony cabin is located forward or mid-ship. The largest (named) suites are much more expensive than this. Repositioning cruises are less expensive, beginning around $300 pppd. SILVERSEA ITINERARIES: Like most luxury cruise lines, Silversea offers itineraries that span the globe, sometimes calling at ports not readily accessible to larger cruise ships. Most itineraries range from 7 to 14 days, but Silversea adds the option of designing your own cruise itinerary, allowing you to embark and disembark at any of the ships ports of call around the world, as long as space is available on the segments you want. The longer itineraries mean that the high per diems will have an even greater impact on your cruise cost. This is offset to some extent by the fact that all drinks and gratuities are included in the price, although one may wish to select surcharged premium wines and liquors or additionally tip staff as a matter of personal preference. SOME SILVERSEA OPTIONS: Adding to the price of the cruise are optional pre- and post-cruise hotel programs, some of which include sightseeing. Many of these are three days long and average about $300 pppd for hotel and transfers. Some, such as their English manor stays, may range up to $1,500 pppd. In addition, combined hotel and air programs, which include economy airfare and one night deluxe hotel stay prior to the cruise, are available through Silversea. Business class upgrades, home airport transfers, luggage pre-shipment, and cancellation insurance are among additional options. SPECIAL VALUES: Bargain prices are sometimes available in cases when a cruise is poorly subscribed, as one passenger reported on a war-time Middle Eastern itinerary and another on a last minute Alaskan itinerary, although neither listed the price or per diem in his review. Because of a heavily discounted price and a desire to sample the Silversea experience before committing several thousand dollars to a longer cruise, we selected one of four short (four night, three day) back-to-back cruises round trip out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Although the discounted per diem (actually per nocem on a short cruise such as this) started out higher, I found a price of $250 pppd on these itineraries, and our cruise agent (Pavlus Travel) kindly included taxes and port fees in that price. We jumped at this opportunity, even though the cruise included only three ports for our $1,000 pp cruise fare, and the least expensive (independent) airfare from our regional airport added another $700. JUSTIFYING THE COST OF A LUXURY CRUISE: This leads to rationalization #1. If a luxury cruise is priced per diem at double what one would pay on a mainstream cruise, it is a good value, since the per passenger space and staffing ratios are nearly double those of mainstream cruise ships. Unfortunately, the usual per diem for luxury cruises is closer to three or four times what most of us are used to paying for a mainstream cruise. Then there is rationalization #2, which is the result of new pricing policies that some mainstream cruise lines have adopted in the last few years. Some mainstream cruise lines have curtailed discounting on cruise fares (you probably already know which cruise lines, one of which used to be our favorite). This leads to the frustrating message call our 800 number for the cruise price when one tries to plan a cruise vacation on the internet. Because of this opaque pricing and anti-discount policy, we find ourselves cruising less often, and as a result have that much more money to spend on a non-mainstream cruise experience. Finally there is rationalization #3. If you need to justify a luxury cruise, then you probably cant afford it. If luxury cruise prices are a significant concern to your conscience, if not your wallet, you probably arent going to enjoy spending that much money on self-indulgence. HIDDEN BENEFITS OF A LUXURY CRUISE: In talking with our fellow WHISPER passengers about why they selected a luxury cruise, each one mentioned the lack of crowds on the ship and in port. When a small ship is docked, one can generally walk off and back on without waiting in line. Unfortunately, this benefit is nullified when tenders are used, since these can add significantly to disembarkation times at popular cruise ports. The decision to tender passengers may be based on security or dock availability issues, but may also be based on financial issues as docking fees get more expensive. Personally, I think all cruise lines should include information whether the ship plans to be docked or tendered at each port of call in their itineraries, just as they disclose their port fees and taxes. This would help one choose among otherwise similar itineraries, and also would help the disabled make informed cruise choices. A significant theoretical benefit of small cruise ships involves HEALTH and SAFETY ISSUES. In an age of pandemics, why would one choose a ship with thousands of passengers when much smaller ships are available? Pandemics begin with an index case and spread rapidly in areas of high population density. It seems logical that an index case is more likely to appear, and the spread to be more rapid, on a mega-ship with thousands of passengers. Very few cruise ships, large or small, put enough emphasis on passenger hygiene, including passenger hand-wash options and gel dispensers near all dining and beverage areas, especially self-service buffets. You might want to take along your own disinfectant towelettes for use on the ship and on shore. In addition, if there is a fire or other disaster requiring passenger evacuation or re-routing, it seems logical that this is much more easily done on a small ship. Do not get me wrong, the mega-ships are just as concerned about passenger safety as the small ships are, but beyond a certain point the huge number of passengers and crew on some ships makes the logistics of responding to disasters exponentially more difficult. MEGA-MEGA-SHIPS: This brings me to the latest development in the cruise industry. Why in the world are we seeing plans for ships carrying 5,000 plus passengers and 3,000 plus crew members when such ships will swamp many cruise port facilities and will carry all of the increased risks mentioned above? Such enormous ships are not nimble enough to alter itineraries easily, and if one of them is out of commission due to fire, health hazard, or other cause, the financial loss to the cruise line and the ill-will generated among the passengers will be staggering. My impression is that these mega-mega-ships are being built to satisfy a perceived public desire for increased choices in shipboard activities and dining options, which is now being taken to bizarre extremes. Cruise ships are being bloated into floating theme parks. Why do I mention these issues in a luxury cruise ship review? It is with the hope that mainstream cruise lines will learn from the automobile and other industries that smaller and better quality products will ultimately prevail over behemoths. I hope that mainstream cruise lines will re-think their options and will start building small cruise ships with reasonable cruise prices, so that the public has additional choices in the small ship arena. Time to get off the soapbox and get on with the REVIEW of our SILVER WHISPER cruise. Silversea PRE-CRUISE documents are similar to those of other cruise lines, with options including pillow preference, bed configuration, and special dietary needs. Although alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are included in the cruise fare, there was no option for us to indicate personal preferences for our mini-bar. One can enter ones cruise preferences in Silverseas web site, but the site was not working properly when I tried it. Their webmaster told me that they were upgrading the site, and presumably it is functional now. We simply faxed our pre-cruise information forms. Those interested in the alternate dining at La Terrazza or Le Champagne restaurants (see dining options below) should inquire about the possibility of pre-cruise reservations (all of the La Terrezza nights were full and waitlisted by the time we boarded). Information about shore excursions and spa treatments is on the web site, and one might want to pre-reserve those also, although I heard no problems about booking them onboard. Silversea cruise documents arrive in a silver colored box, and include two black leatherette document cases and two black leather luggage tags with a metal Silversea logo (a stylized S that looks a bit like a seahorse). We used neither, but they make nice souvenirs. The most useful tags we ever received from a cruise line had our names, membership numbers, and an 800- number to call if the baggage was found. That luggage locator tag has remained on our bags ever since. Other cruise lines should consider a similar service. EMBARKATION: We generally find it less expensive and more flexible to make our own air and transfer arrangements. Our flight touched down at San Juans airport (SJU) at 4:30pm on embarkation day. Since we travel without checked bags, just a regulation carry-on each (see my previous reviews for the secret to traveling light), we were at the cruise dock ready to board the ship at 5:00pm. No cruise transfers are necessary in San Juan since it has an excellent and safe taxi system for tourists. The airport and the cruise docks have taxi dispatchers who will write down your destination and the appropriate taxi fare, giving a copy to you and to your driver. That way there is no problem with overcharges or unwanted city tours. Look for the dispatchers booths curbside at both locations. The cab fare for two between the airport and Old San Juan, where most cruise ships dock, is $19 (plus $1 for our two bags). Many of the cabs are mini-vans, which can hold several people and extensive luggage. GREETERS: One of the negatives of cruising on a small ship is that there may be no greeter at the airport to answer questions and confirm the ships location. The WHISPER was docked at a different pier than stated in our pre-cruise documents, and Silversea did not send us an e-mail or (apparently) notify our agent of the change. Fortunately the two piers were nearby, and our taxi driver found the correct one. It would be nice if all cruise lines used an e-mail alert system similar to that of airlines. Silversea recommends embarking between 3 and 5pm. Early boarding (including lunch onboard) is available for a $100 per person surcharge if pre-reserved, but it is gratis to Venetian Society members (repeat Silversea cruisers) who have completed more than 250 Silversea cruise days. Similar late disembarkation is available in some ports, but not U.S. ports, which require disembarkation of all passengers once a ship clears immigration. LINES: The WHISPER was docked alongside a much larger mainstream cruise ship that was making a port call at San Juan. Unfortunately there was a long line of returning passengers from that ship stretched along the sidewalk, waiting to clear security. There was no Silversea representative curbside to allow us direct entry to our own ship, so we waited in line along with the other ships passengers. The curbside delay was only 15 minutes. As we waited in line I realized that some of the advantages of small ship cruising disappear as mega-ships proliferate and make cruise ports more crowded. In any case, we met some enjoyable fellow travelers as we waited. We felt a little smug, not because we were boarding the WHISPER instead of the neighboring mega-ship, but because our entire cruise luggage was smaller than some of the shopping bags waiting in line with us. (More about compulsive shopping when we land in St. Barts.) WELCOME ABOARD: As I look back on our welcome aboard the WHISPER, what I remember most is that there was no special welcome aboard. We cleared security and were directed to the reception desk, where we turned in our cruise tickets, were photographed, received our key cards, and that was it. One must imprint ones credit card (or arrange other payment for ones shipboard account), but for some reason the reception desk did not do this at embarkation. We received a notice later in the cruise to do this, but think it would have been more efficient to handle it at the outset as other cruise lines do. We had imagined that a ships officer or hotel manager would greet us and a waiter would offer us a glass of champagne at embarkation, but there were none. There was a tray of partially filled champagne flutes on the registration desk, but since the levels in the glasses varied, we assumed that these had been sipped and were waiting to be cleared. There were several chambermaids in line near the registration desk, and one of them assisted us with our hand carries and led us to our cabin, where a bottle of Pommery brut champagne on ice was waiting for us. The champagne was a great anodyne after our three long flights that day. FIRST IMPRESSIONS are important, and Silversea certainly missed an opportunity to impress from the outset. Embarkation on our other cruises has ranged from elegant to disorganized. This seems to vary more by individual ship than by cruise line (each line has had its hits and misses). To be fair to the WHISPER, we were 15 minutes later than the recommended boarding time due to the curbside line, and the boat drill began 15 minutes after our embarkation, so their staff was busy. ROOM SERVICE: Since our flights had no food service, we were hungry for a snack with the champagne. One of the negatives about a small cruise ship is that there are gaps in food service. After our boat drill there was no food venue open until dinnertime and the mini-bar had no snacks, so we called room service. Unfortunately the room service button on our phone responded that this service is not currently available. Another room service number we found in our cabin directory responded with a persons name and a please leave a message answer machine. We never needed room service after that and do not know how efficient it is. We had packed Girl Scout cookies for just such an occasion, and had a great time celebrating the start of our cruise by drinking the champagne and raising toasts to the little scout who had sold us the cookies the day before. The secret to a happy vacation is to be happy. THE DECK PLAN of the WHISPER is quite logical, with cabins located forward and public areas located aft on all decks except deck 10, where the observation lounge and spa are forward. This deck plan makes it easy to find almost any venue quickly, without that lost-in-a-maze feeling one sometimes has during the first few days on larger ships. The one downside of the deck plan is that there is only one small elevator forward in the cabin areas, but there are four elevators aft in the public areas. Since there is no service elevator for room service or other crew members, the one forward elevator is often used by the crew. It makes for some snug but friendly trips among enormous breakfast and dinner trays. We really appreciated how hard the crew works, and we told them so when we rode with them on the elevator. THE CREW: That brings up the issue of how some passengers treat crew members. Every cruise we have been on has had a few toxic passengers who make things difficult for the crew. Being demanding is especially tempting on a luxury cruise ship that advertises its premiere service. We have found that crew members on all cruise ships tend to be interesting, intelligent, and often highly educated people who by chance were born in a third world or war-torn country, and therefore do not have the job opportunities that we as Americans were born to. We do not impose a false camaraderie on them as is done on some cruise lines, but we do try to let them know that we appreciate that they are individuals and not just service employees. I think that most cruise passengers do the same, and the thought is appreciated. CABIN LOCATION: Our cabin was one of the Vista Suites, which have a window rather than balcony. These are the least expensive accommodations and account for approximately 20% of the cabins (all cabins are outsides, and 80% have balconies). Vista Suites are clustered on deck 4 forward, and abut the dining room bulkhead. That means that Vista passengers must go up one or more decks to reach any of the public areas, including an up and then down trip to the main restaurant entrance on deck 4 aft. Being on deck 4 can be an advantage in rough weather (it is nearest the ships center of gravity), especially since the ship tended to roll in good weather with mild to moderate seas. This certainly is not a problem on the usual Caribbean cruise, but may be a concern when crossing the North Atlantic or other rough seas. Several passengers we met were wearing accu-pressure wristbands for motion sickness, and these passengers were all repeat (Venetian Society) cruisers. Deck 4 is also nearest the sewage treatment area, and we noticed a faint odor of sewage several times as we approached our hallway. This odor was never a problem. It was not apparent in the public areas, just in the deck 4 stairwell and hallway, and it did not seep into our cabin at any time. CABIN AMENITIES: The WHISPERS cabins are almost double the size of the average cabins on mainstream cruise ships. The cabin configuration is standard, with the bathroom and closet along the entry hall, then the sleeping area, and then the sitting/dining area adjacent to the window or balcony. One does not notice the extra floor space so much in the sleeping and sitting areas, but it is very apparent in the bathroom, which allows two to bathe and dress for dinner at the same time. The tub and shower are separate, and there are two sinks (and double bath amenities) at the granite counter. We did appreciate the quality of the cabins accoutrements. The duvet was sparkling white and light as air, the towels were textured and double thick, and the robes were heavyweight terry. A table converter (for room service dinners) was stowed in the closet but we never needed it. The TV had a DVD player, but I cannot imagine why anyone would use it when there are interesting ports of call, although it may help pass time when there are back-to-back days at sea. Our minibar was stocked with beer, mixers, and fruit juice. In addition to the champagne bottle waiting on our arrival, we were given a bottle of red wine during the cruise. We never opened it and left it for the next passengers. We did not request extra alcohol for the minibar, but I am certain many passengers do. We would have preferred having some colas and champagne splits, but we never asked for them (or were asked our preferences). We simply went to the nearest bar each evening for our pre-dinner drink. No problem. ALCOHOL: This brings us to the issue of free (included and essentially unlimited) alcoholic beverages. I have mixed feelings about this. Although we did not see any noisy drunken behavior, we did see a few quiet drunks, just as on any other cruise. Human nature leads people to over-indulge when drinks are all-inclusive. Those who drink reasonably end up subsidizing those who drink excessively -- restraint always pays for excess, whether it is health insurance, car insurance, or any other form of subsidy. Some cruise lines and all-inclusive resorts limit included (its never free) alcohol to wine or beer with meals, and this seems a reasonable compromise. I am told, however, that this is unpopular and that other semi-inclusive cruise ships are going fully inclusive soon. At some point this will become a safety issue, as one reads more and more about cruise passengers acting foolishly and even disappearing overboard. When careless or drunken behavior becomes a threat to passenger safety, the cruise lines will be forced to reconsider their alcohol policies. We will see how this develops with time and media exposure. STEWARDS: Our cabin was maintained by two chambermaids, one from Iceland and one from India. Although from opposite ends of the earth, one a fair beauty and the other a dark beauty, they made a great team and did a fine job keeping our cabin ship-shape. We rarely saw them, but when we wanted something (like additional personalized stationery) we simply left a note and they responded efficiently. THE PUBLIC AREAS ARE SUBTLY DECORATED in neutral colors, mainly off-white with pale blue, gray, or beige accents. There is no glitzy atrium or hey-look-at-me type dEcor. Everything is elegant in an understated way. The art collection is not extensive, but features pleasant antiquarian prints and occasional ethnic art works from various ports around the world. The one must-see art collection is the Florentine style mosaics in the bar on deck 5. These interpret in stone various famous prints by Gustav Klimt  the images are familiar and the craftsmanship is impressive. A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS: Rather than my describing each of the public areas around the ship, I suggest you log on to one of the many web sites featuring Silversea photos taken by previous cruisers. Just google Silversea Silver Whisper reviews and follow the trail. The photos are beautiful, far better than any of my own. The ship is very handsome inside and out. SPACE RATIO: The excellent space ratio is apparent throughout the ship. No public area ever seemed crowded, although the alternative dining rooms and the show lounge were sometimes full. The exception was the tiny gym, which seemed cramped even when no one else was there. The ship was so quiet compared to our previous cruises that we sometimes wondered where everybody was. There were no more than a handful of cruisers in the library, the lounges, or the shops when we were there. The privacy and sense of calm were very impressive. THE ENTERTAINMENT was surprisingly enjoyable, especially for such a small ship. Although there were no enrichment lectures or formal concerts on this itinerary, the musicians, vocalists, and dancers were all very talented. A VOCALIST played piano and sang every evening in the deck 5 bar. He has a fine voice and great sense of style. Ingeniously, he used his laptop screen instead of sheet music. A PIANO TRIO provided dance music every evening in the deck 8 Panorama lounge. They knew all the standards, took requests, and even did vocals on some of their numbers. My wife and I thought that the dance floor would be too crowded to use on a cruise like this, but we found only a handful of passengers in the lounge with us, and they listened at the bar but did not dance. The JEAN RYAN COMPANY of six dancers and two vocalists provided entertainment in the show lounge every evening after dinner. Their productions ranged from an evening of Broadway show tunes to a Cirque du Soleil style performance that combined avant-garde music with acrobatic dancing. The production values matched any that we have seen while cruising, and the bonus is that this is the first and only cruise production company we have encountered that does not over-amplify its music and vocals. I usually have to leave the cruise ship theater after a few minutes of ear-blasting pain, but on this cruise I was able to enjoy each production from start to finish. Kudos to the man in the sound booth (and to the absence of loud music around the swimming pool)! FELLOW PASSENGERS on this cruise were not what we expected. The average age was around 60, but ranged from the 30s to 80s. The average BMI was around thirty, but ranged a good deal higher (thin and rich do not always go together). We expected the dress to range from Armani to Zegna, and were worried that our three outfits (formal, informal, and casual) would not be sufficient, even on a short cruise. Mirabile dictu, the average dress during the day was shorts and T-shirts. Dress during the evening was surprisingly informal. In fact, although everyone was presentable, people made less effort to dress well on this cruise than we were used to seeing on previous Holland, Celebrity, or Princess cruises. Perhaps it was just this particular short cruise. Sartorial habits aside, everyone we were seated with when dining on this cruise proved to be well traveled, highly articulate, and very entertaining. On some cruises my wife and I prefer to dine at a table for two, but on this cruise we always opted to join a group because of the enjoyable company. Perhaps the maitre d has ESP -- he always seemed to look into ones eyes, think for a moment, and then say Hmmm, yes, I think I have the perfect table for you. He was right every time. DINING can be a touchy subject because it is so subjective. As I mentioned earlier, we were never able to sample the regional Italian cuisine in LA TERRAZZA restaurant because this was fully booked before we ever boarded the ship. We also opted not to try the multi-course dinners and wine tastings in LE CHAMPAGNE dining room. These had a nominal fee of $150 pp to cover the cost of the premium wines. Although I enjoy a good wine, I cannot detect the subtleties of a great wine, so it would have been a wasted evening for me. That leaves the deck 7 buffet and the deck 4 main restaurant. The BUFFET is very enjoyable at breakfast. Since we did not have a balcony, we preferred to eat breakfast on the veranda outside the buffet rather than have room service. The buffet selections are varied, well prepared, and nicely presented. The breakfast buffet is very comparable to those found on mainstream cruise ships, but without the lines and crowds. That in itself makes the experience pleasurable. The lunch buffet parallels the menu in the main restaurant. As a matter of portion control and made-to-order freshness, we preferred the main restaurant for lunch. THE MAIN RESTAURANT: The food is good to excellent, similar in quality to the good food found in the main dining rooms of Celebrity, Holland, or Princess ships to the excellent food found in the surcharged restaurants on those same ships. We experienced a few minor lapses in service on the WHISPER. One appetizer and two drink orders were forgotten; often my water glass was not refilled when empty (the wine service was more reliable but the water was more important after a long day in the sun); and sometimes there were unusually long intervals between courses. A few dining quirks are native to Silversea. On our first night we ordered leg of lamb. The meat came without vegetables or potatoes, which were listed on the menu but have to be separately ordered to appear with the main course. A sorbet is always listed between the salad and the main courses, but this too must be ordered since it is not served automatically. The drinking water is served in beautiful grand cru stemware which magnifies the chemical odor of water just as it does the aroma of good wine. Requesting bottled water with the meal should be a simple task, but it almost always elicited a sour expression from the waiter, and the request was never carried out through the entire meal. Such minor lapses made me appreciate the service at traditional dining venues found on mainstream cruise ships. When the waiter and his assistant see you every evening, they get to know your preferences and their service improves accordingly. Similar service is probably available to Venetian Society members on longer cruises. The dining room was never crowded on our cruise. In fact the quietness of the main dining room was a pleasure, and contrasted sharply with the noisy, multi-tiered dining rooms on larger ships. THE CUISINE: The WHISPERS main restaurant provides a cuisine that matches, and sometimes exceeds, the fine dining we have experienced on other ships. Cruise lines know that dinner is the highlight of the day for most passengers, and they allocate their resources accordingly. Even mainstream cruise lines are now extremely successful at providing memorable dining, and the margin between cuisine on the WHISPER and that on other ships is very narrow. The menu has somewhat greater choice than on some other ships, perhaps because most of its cruises are longer than one week, and most of its passengers are repeat cruisers. The WHISPER adds the extra option of ordering specialty items not listed on the menu (if ingredients are available). On a short cruise such as ours this was not necessary, but for a long round-the-world cruise this would be a lifesaver. Some passengers on our cruise apparently tried to order exotic dishes but were unsuccessful, which in my opinion was just as well, since there was adequate choice to be happy for four evenings. We did encounter a few minor lapses in food preparation and a few menu choices that seemed a bit odd. The fish courses were generally cooked to perfection, although my lobster and salmon were each somewhat overcooked on one occasion. This is a matter of chance. The lobster I was served was rubbery and adherent to the shell. I simply left it uneaten and instead treated myself to an extra dessert at the end of the meal. Another person at our table that evening found his lobster so excellent that he ordered a second portion, which turned out as tough as mine, so he left his second portion uneaten. One feels bad about ordering and then not eating food, but everyone was discreet about it. The fish courses are served with the traditional fish knives and forks. Ironically, the fish courses sometimes were matched with al dente vegetables that were so crisp that one could not cut them with the fish knife or spear them with the fish fork -- a great excuse if you prefer not to eat your vegetables. Our lamb chops were ordered rare and came seared on the outside but translucent red on the inside. The unique taste of lamb was undetectable. Medium rare should get you the pink to red doneness that you want. One appetizer was made with taco shells straight off the grocery shelf  unfortunately they were stale and tough. The filling was excellent though. Salads were sometimes overdressed and low fat dressings were not featured  the easy solution is to request the dressing on the side. One dessert was a creamy chocolate mousse that had clear gelatin cubes inside  a strange combination. Another dessert was a banana concoction constructed on a translucent gelatinous base  flavorful but strange in appearance and texture. These issues are minor, and only serve to reinforce the old saying de gustibus non disputandem est  there is no arguing matters of taste. You will have a very enjoyable time in the WHISPERS main restaurant, and if you plan far enough ahead, you may be able to sample their alternative dining. Before we leave the ship for a discussion of the ports of call, let me warn you about the EXCESSIVE COMPUTER AND INTERNET FEES. Formerly there was a charge only for uploading or downloading data from the internet, and the resulting fee was reasonable. Now there is a US $.75 per minute fee from the first keystroke, whether working off-line or on the net. When I tried to use their system, I generated a charge of US $4.50 before even logging onto the net to access my e-mail. The on screen meter which tracks these charges is not that clear, nor is the log-off window. Fortunately a shipboard IT assistant alerted me to the charge and I logged off with her help. When I politely expressed my dismay to the reception desk, they just as politely removed the charge from my account. I never did use the net on the entire cruise. Some passengers brought their laptops and used the ships wireless capability for e-mails and internet phone calls. I am uncertain whether there is a charge attached to this service. Some passengers complained that the net connection is slow, so the charges can be daunting. PORTS OF CALL ON YOUR OWN: That brings us to the other reason (after the food) that we enjoy cruising  the ports of call. Our cruise left from San Juan and was scheduled to call at Virgin Gorda, then Antigua, then Tortola, then return to San Juan. ST. BARTS: Because of the ocean surge at Virgin Gorda, the tenders were considered unsafe and our first port of call was cancelled. After some communication with the Silversea head office, our master decided to spend the first day motoring to St. Barts instead, where the anchorage is more protected. Essentially we had an unscheduled day at sea, anchoring at St. Barts in the late afternoon, with shore tenders available from 4-11pm. Having never previously called at St. Barts, which is reputed to be one of the most wealthy and stylish islands in the Caribbean, we were interested in seeing as much as we could in the two hours of daylight we had left. Fortunately we reported to the tender gangway early, because our late arrival in port meant that everyone was eager to disembark and the wait was a bit longer than usual. Meeting the tenders onshore in Gustavia were taxi (mini-van) drivers willing to provide a one hour island tour for US$12 per person (for a minimum of six people or $72). There were about 60 passengers on our tender, and not a single one was interested in seeing the island. They all headed directly to the main shopping street, which is lined with enough designer boutiques to satisfy any affluent Parisian. It was like watching a zombie movie, but the zombies were lusting after designer fashions instead of human flesh. It seemed an apt commentary on our consumer society, where even those who have everything seem to spend their vacations searching for more. In any case, since daylight was limited we did not wait for the next tender to provide more possible tour participants. Instead we walked along the waterfront clockwise past the small Anglican church and then over a small rise to nearby Shell Beach (Plage de Grands Galets). The route is marked or one can ask a local person. It is a pleasant ten minute walk from the tender port. What added to the pleasure of the walk was a line of the largest and most elegant sailboats we have ever encountered. Apparently a regatta was scheduled to start in a few days, and luxury sailboats ranging from about 40 to 60 meters in length were lined up at the dock. One could smell the affluence, even though the crew members we spoke with (perhaps an occasional owner hidden among them) were quite personable. Each boat had a minimum crew of ten, and what we saw of the rigging and the interiors was breathtaking. Shell Beach is quite pleasant, with rough rather than fine sand (as the name implies). The near end has a beach bar and restaurant that is convenient for those spending several hours at the beach, but we preferred to wade around the rocks to the far end of the beach for more privacy. We had a wonderful sunset swim and saw no one else from the SILVER WHISPER on the beach. There were a few yacht owners swimming laps parallel to the shore, with their crew following them back and forth in zodiacs for safety. As we were passing the Anglican church on our way back to the tender port we heard singing and stepped inside. The church choir was practicing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handels Messiah for their upcoming Easter service. We sat for a while and enjoyed their amateur but joyous rendition. It was dark by the time we made it back to the tender port, feeling refreshed and happy that we had a chance to enjoy our brief stay on St. Barts. ANTIGUA: The SILVER WHISPER docked at the cruise pier in St. Johns and was dwarfed by an adjacent RCL cruise ship. Exiting the cruise pier leads one through a gauntlet of tourist shops, tour operators, and taxi drivers. The natural tendency of cruise passengers is to walk briskly through this gauntlet, ignoring the various people offering goods and services. Instead of ignoring them, at least acknowledge our shared humanity by looking at them directly and thanking them politely when declining their offers. Remember that these people own the island and we are their guests. In our 17 cruises we have never opted for a tour organized by the ship. We prefer to explore on our own, using xeroxed sections of guidebooks we purchased or obtained from our local library. On Antigua we enjoy the inexpensive public transportation. Official minibuses leave frequently from the west side and east side bus stations, covering almost any destination (or beach) on the west or east side of the island respectively. From the cruise pier, the west side bus station is three blocks inland to Market St., then several blocks south to the market (which is located behind the large white statue and is worth a quick visit in itself). The east side bus station should be (we have not used it for a few years) one block north to High St., then several blocks inland to the park. Any local can direct you. From the west side bus station we usually take the bus south to Jolly Beach (US $1.50 pp). It is the end of the line (about 15-20 minutes by bus) and has frequent service because many locals work in the shops and resorts there. A dispatcher at the bus station will guide you to the correct bus. When using the local minibus, it is customary to greet other passengers as one boards, and to move as needed for passengers to enter or leave. We have found our fellow passengers to be very helpful in answering questions or pointing out destinations. At the end of the Jolly Beach bus line, follow the signs to the gravel road public access west and south around the gate-guarded resorts to the south end of the beach. Walk north along the beach past the various resorts (they get a little more upscale as one walks north) until you find the perfect patch of sunshine (or shade) for your beach towel. Jolly Beach is travel poster perfect, and typical water activity rentals are available. On this visit, for the first time during any of our many visits to the Caribbean, we came across a little attitude. We had put our beach towels on the sand in a patch of shade under a thatch roof on the beach (all of which is public land). An hour later a hotel security guard chased us off  apparently a guest felt that the shady spot was his because he had placed a beach chair there several hours earlier. Cruise ship pool pigs leave a book or T-shirt on the chaises longues early to reserve them for use later in the day, a practice we dislike and think should be eliminated. This little beach incident was similar but took us by surprise. Generally the public access to, and public use of, beaches is respected. If you prefer, minibuses to Dickenson Beach head north from the west side bus station, but we have not gone there. From the east side bus station buses head southeast across the island to English Harbour (Nelsons Dockyard historic district). Shirley Heights is not far away from there, and one might consider exploring that too. If I recall correctly, there is a nice, very private beach over a small hill just a short walk away from Nelsons Dockyard. Any local can direct you (ask at the nearby store). Last time we were there, an enormous yacht was anchored nearby, and a Duchess of Windsor type surrounded by several of her stalwart sailing crew motored ashore and shared the beach with us. Riding local minibuses can be as exciting as watching an Imax movie. On this trip our driver made change for passengers, smoked a cigarette, spoke on his cell phone, shifted gears, and turned the steering wheel, all while driving on the left and dodging pedestrians (which is the reason we do not rent cars in the Caribbean). As in an Imax film, if you get frightened during the drive, just close your eyes. In the afternoon, as the day cools, consider a walk though the town of St. Johns. It is a somewhat gritty town, but the people are polite and very friendly. There is a large old Anglican church on the hill several blocks east and north of the cruise pier. When we were there this time, the funeral of a prominent citizen was taking place. The parishioners were beautifully dressed, and the sound of their 500 voices singing traditional hymns in harmony echoed off the beamed ceiling and penetrated to the heart. It was a most moving experience. TORTOLA: The SILVER WHISPER was scheduled to tender into Road Town, but since we were the only ship in port, we docked instead. Tortola is very much like St. Thomas but more affluent and less crowded. One of the nicest local beaches is Cane Garden Bay, which resembles Magens Bay on St. Thomas but has no fee and is less private. Just east of Cane Garden Bay is Brewers Bay, which is said to provide good snorkeling. Taxis wait at the pier and will take you north over the spine of the island to the beaches, with fantastic views in all directions along the way, for about US $6 pp each way. Alternately, an open taxi (jitney style with sun protection) waits at the pier and offers a 3 hour round island tour, again with fantastic views of neighboring islands and photo stops along the way, plus an hour swim at Cane Garden Bay, all for US $20 pp. The drivers name on this visit was Larry, and I think he meets each cruise ship. If not, the local tourist board representative or taxi dispatcher who are at the pier should be able to arrange it for you. As Caribbean islands become more crowded, especially when more than one ship is in port, my wife and I prefer to escape to some of the nearby islands for a beach day in solitude. In this case, one can take the private ferry to nearby Peter Island (still owned by the Amway Corp. I believe) for US $15 round trip. This is a very quiet, very upscale island resort that allows day visitors but requests that they use the far east end of Deadmans Beach. The near end is reserved for resort guests. The far east end of the beach is shared with the yachters whose boats are anchored offshore. A restaurant is available in the middle of the beach, and we were told it takes credit cards. A taxi will take you from the cruise pier to the Peter Island ferry pier (caution, there are several ferry piers) for US $4 pp each way. Notify the ferry captain on your return that you need a taxi, and he should be able to radio ahead. As I write this, outbound ferries leave Road Town at 0830, 1000, 1200, 1400, 1530. Return ferries leave Peter Island at 0900, 1130, 1330, 1430, 1630, 1800 and 1930. Verify the schedules with the tourist office representative (or on the net) to make certain you do not miss your boat! Other ferry services run to neighboring islands, but these are farther away and less practical for a day escape. END OF CRUISE DISEMBARKATION: This follows the usual drill and is handled efficiently. Color coded baggage tags are distributed the day before disembarkation. The color code determines the disembarkation priority, and is based on a questionnaire distributed during the cruise. Baggage is left in the hallways the last night of the cruise, and is reclaimed and cleared through customs dockside by the passengers as they disembark the next morning. Passports are held by the cruise ship for the duration of the cruise and are returned to the passengers (in order by luggage tag color code) between 0700 and 0800 on the day of disembarkation. U.S. immigration inspection generally goes quickly, but every passenger must be cleared by immigration before any passenger is allowed off the ship. Disembarkation begins around 0900 and is complete by 1000. As Silversea recommends, do not book a return flight much before noon, since one must taxi to the airport, check in, and go through security inspections there too. As we disembarked, the gangway was relatively steep. Without being asked, a WHISPER crew member graciously took my wifes roll-aboard down the gangway to the dock for her. As we left the ship we felt truly pampered. It is time to bring our cruise and this review to a conclusion. In the end, WHAT DOES ONE GET FOR THE EXTRA COST OF A LUXURY CRUISE? Judging from our experience described above, one can expect more space, fewer crowds, and better itineraries. Dont expect better food or better service than on some mainstream cruise lines  over the last few years their food and service have improved to match what we experienced on the Silver Whisper. IS A LUXURY CRUISE WORTH THE EXTRA COST? Yes and no. The choice in cruise ships is very much like the choice in new automobiles  there is one for every taste and budget. Some people insist that a Lexus or a Cadillac is the only way to travel. Others insist that a Ford or Toyota is the logical choice. The bottom line is that there is no single automobile (or cruise line) that will make everyone happy, but there is at least one automobile (or cruise line) that will make each one of us happy. TO END ON A PERSONAL NOTE, last year for the first time I bought identical Honda Accords for myself and my wife, together less than the cost of one Mercedes. The Hondas are safe, reliable, economical cars that are a delight to drive. They have given us as much pleasure as our Mercedes ever did. I guess that says it all. Happy cruising! efschlenk at hotmail dot com. Read Less
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise