By Simon & Susan Veness
Anyone who followed our extensive Silver Muse ‘Live’ presentation for The Cruise Line last month will already know that we loved our time aboard the Silversea flagship. It more than lived up to expectations, and gave us one of our best luxury cruises anywhere.
But we thought it would be worth recapping the experience here, and pointing out the individual elements that really appealed to us, all of which added up to a superb experience, and one we think genuine cruise aficionados will really appreciate (if they haven’t already).
10. The Ship
Just to start with, Silver Muse is still less than a year old, and it feels as new as they come, with everywhere aboard still having that fresh, gilded look that only comes from being the latest thing out of the shipyard. She is bigger than any other Silversea vessel and has more onboard choice and flexibility, making for a wonderfully comfortable and stylish sea-going ‘home,’ with a restrained elegance that harks back to the great ships of yesteryear.
9. The Pizza
Really? Pizza? Yes, absolutely. Perched on Deck 11, the true Neapolitan pizzeria of Spaccanapoli boasts a proper pizza oven and the end products were invariably light, crisp and tasty – as good as anything to come out of the cafes and restaurants of Napoli itself. This made for an ideal light lunch or an indulgent afternoon snack, with the bonus of its own Gelato kiosk serving heavenly ice cream concoctions with all the flavour of Old Italy.
8. The Small Details
While the big picture aboard was hugely impressive, so was the small-scale. Everywhere you look there are subtleties that add more gild to this particular lily. Coffee wasn’t just ordinary coffee, it was distinctive Illy coffee from Italy. The tea came from Ronnefeldt, Germany’s illustrious loose-leaf tea blender. And every piece of bread had that oven-fresh bakery texture and crispness. Even the drawers in our suite were of the self-closing variety; just give them a small push and they did the rest. Now that’s attention to detail.
7. The Entertainment
Okay, so this is not a ship with all the bells and whistles of its larger brethren. You won’t be seeing ice-dancing, high-diving or circus shows on Silversea anytime soon. But what you do see is a thoughtful and well-balanced programme of live music, both on the main stage in the Venetian Lounge and in the other entertainment venues. The Voices of Silversea sextet ensured a high-quality musical performance each evening, while a pianist tinkled the ivories in style in the Dolce Vita lounge, the Contemporary Trio maintained a lively beat in the Panorama Lounge and DJ Bart put out some surprisingly energetic sounds after 11pm in the Panorama.
6. Arts Café
Can a coffee bar really be a social hub in a ship? It can when it’s the chic Arts Café on Silver Muse. Not only was this a non-stop source of that Illy coffee and Ronnefeldt tea we already mentioned, the Café’s all-day food service was seriously impressive. From breakfast sandwiches and pastries in the morning, to a delectable array of salads and paninis at lunch, then delicious cakes and finger sandwiches in the afternoon, and finally more salads and paninis in the evening, this was the ideal back-stop just in case we missed a meal somewhere or needed a quick top-up. Once again, everything came up fresh and appetising, with portions just the right size.
5. The Butler
Okay, this is the place for a special mention for our superb suite attendant Anu, who made every day go with a swing, with nothing too much trouble to ensure our needs were met almost before we thought of them. From taking care of laundry to making restaurant bookings, and explaining the technology to delivering canapes each afternoon, he was the epitome of friendly efficiency with a smile that could light up small cities. If there was one thing we missed most when we got home (to our usual household jumble), it was admirable Anu.
4. The Space
This is a more imprecise facet of the cruise, but we definitely felt this was a ‘space’ ship in the true sense of the word, with masses of elbow room and always a quiet or indolent corner to be discovered. Even on a sea day with a full ship, there were plenty of open sun-loungers, tables at the Pool Grill, seats with a view at La Terrazza and spaces at the bar when in need of an alcoholic libation. Simply put, we never ran into a crowd on board, and that is a remarkable achievement with almost 600 fellow passengers.
3. La Terrazza
Speaking of La Terrazza, this wonderfully versatile dining option most definitely found our favour by the end of the cruise, whether for a quick breakfast, a full (make that extensive) lunch buffet (with some of the best Indian dishes we’ve had at sea) or in full-service dinner mode, when it became a gracious speciality Italian restaurant. The service was never less than slick and the food was simply divine. True, main dining rooms Atlantide and Indochine served up some memorable meals, but La Terrazza had an extra edge that made dining there into a genuine occasion. Oh, it also had the essential attribute that gets Susan’s seal of approval every time – a hand-washing facility right next to the buffet!
2. Silver Note
If it seems we’re focusing heavily on the food, it is because it was off-the-charts good, exceptional in every way. And, with fully 10 different places to dine, the quality on offer, whether it was the humble pool grill, coffee lounge or pizzeria, was never less than gourmet. But top of the lot for us, for the creative nature of the cuisine as well as the ambience, was the supper club style of Silver Note. Not only was the food some of the most imaginative and downright tastebud-pleasing we’ve had in a long time, the cool jazz sounds of Helene (vocals) and Andre (piano) ensured it was also an aural sensation, a real grown-up treat for those who like to hear classic songs superbly rendered. It’s hardly an Einsteinian equation, but Good Food + Great Music = Major Satisfaction.
1. The Suite
When it comes to deluxe accommodations at sea, Silversea has definitely arrived at a winning formula. Our Veranda Suite had all the space we needed for the nine-day voyage – with some to spare in the walk-in closet – while its high-quality fittings, from the bedding to the bathrobes, slippers and the two high-tech TVs built into the dark-mirrored walls, were positively sumptuous. The crown jewel, though, might just have been the bathroom, a hugely generous space by modern ship standards, boasting a full bathtub as well as a walk-in shower. With so much effortless luxury at our fingertips, this was easily the six-star experience it was purported to be. We’ve been fortunate to enjoy several voyages in the ultra-luxe category in the past, and there’s no doubt this was up there with the very best.
Footnote: As crazy as it sounds given nine full days, we never actually got round to sampling the dinner fare at the small-scale dining options of La Dame, with its Relais & Chateau cuisine and wine cellar, and Kaiseki, the super-smooth Japanese restaurant. We did enjoy a wine-tasting and food-pairing session at La Dame and a sushi lunch at Kaiseki, both of which more than hinted at a major gastronomic experience in each case but, hey, we have to have a good reason to go back, don’t you think?
And we think we will.
Have you cruised aboard Silver Muse, or any of the other Silversea ships? What did you like about them and how did they shape up for you? Let us know in the Comments section below.