It was the bally butler that did it. There we were, sticking rigidly to the old Doctor’s Orders with our diet, and along comes our stateroom butler with daily hors d’oeuvres and suddenly everything’s gone to hell in a canapé basket.
We should have expected it, of course. It’s all very well having the MO tell you to stick to low sodium fare when it’s nose-bag time, but actually having the iron will-power to ignore a veritable culinary cornucopia floating before your goggling eyeballs at every mealtime is utterly unfeasible.
To be fair, our temporary maritime home aboard the beautiful Silver Muse of Silversea Cruises was putting temptation firmly in our Wheelhouse of Probability. We are extremely well versed in the mealtime mantra of just about every cruise line and, while we hadn’t cruised with Silversea in a fair while, we knew pretty well what to expect.
Turns out we were wrong. Not only was the variety and eminence of an even higher standard than we expected, the near 24-hour nature of the gastronomic gala was akin to being King Canute at the highest of tides, with a big helping of Global Warming on the side. Put simply, we were awash with fine food.
It all started with not one, but two main restaurants. Being the traditional sticklers that we are, we dutifully trotted down to the regular dining room for a spot of tiffin only to be faced with a double dilemma – did we go left or right? Atlantide or Indochine?
Because there, where the largest restaurant on the ship would usually be, was a space that had been literally cut in half and filled with a double helping of dining indulgence. You could have knocked us down with a wet Daily Telegraph.
If we’d done our pre-cruise homework, we would have been suitably forewarned, of course. Just a quick glance at the Deck Plans would have solved this inelegant quandary. Silversea has been culinarily crafty with the layout of their newest ship (minted barely 12 months ago, by the way), ensuring that, even with a full complement of 596 sea-going souls, there is practically an open seat in any of nine different eating locations at any one time. Nine. That’s even more than The Queen has castles.
We can cope with four or five. Six at a push if the ship has 2,000 or more paying customers. But nine, between less than 600? That’s just nautical insanity (but naughtily enticing).
Okay, so we had to choose between two main restaurants. But then there was the Relais & Chateaux restaurant, and a Japanese speciality diner, and a Supper Club (with some damn fine jazz), and the traditional pool bar and grill (which suddenly morphed into a hot-stone DIY extravaganza at night) and a pizzeria, and an all-day Café, and a stylish buffeteria that became an elegant Italian repository each evening.
How do you cope with all that dining diversity, that super-abundance of benefits? With a butler, of course. In fact with Rayan, our serendipitous sentinel of superlatives.
Every stateroom (or suite, as they prefer to call it) on board Silver Muse comes with a butler. Every one. Just let that sink in for a minute. Yes, we’re back in Royal territory again. Even Her Maj can’t rustle up that many flunkies.
But Silversea believe their guests deserve that level of cosseting, and to us, it pays off big time. Just to start with the level of technology in every suite needs a high degree of expert explanation, from the high-def TVs built into the mirrored walls to the nifty little iHome gadget that we plugged our iPods into and the dazzling array of musical choice elicited from the TV handset.
Rayan walked us through each technological mod con and ensured we were fully au fait with every operation. Then he set about arranging our dining choice, evening by evening, guaranteeing we touched every culinary base and each speciality hot-spot. If it hadn’t been for him, we would never have sorted out our Atlantide from our elbow, nor over-indulged in each of those nine dining dens of delectation.
But that wasn’t, ultimately, where our resolve receded. With the fact each kitchen knows that a dinner portion doesn’t need to make the plate groan with its own immensity to satisfy an educated palate, we were able to ingest with relative circumspection. Meals were never too heavy or calorific to over-stretch the elastic.
The ready availability of a tasty vegetarian choice was also conspicuous on every menu, while our pre-cruise invocation for sodium-free options was fully taken on board at every outlet with a mere mention of our suite number.
No, in all honesty, it was not the restaurants that did it. Main mealtimes did not prove our undoing. It was those blasted in-between nibbles that nobbled us. Every time we returned to our suite, it seemed, Rayan had placed another plate of pure intolerant temptation in front of us.
If it wasn’t fresh-peeled shrimp, it was a spread of fine cheese and biscuits. Or finger-sandwiches. Or chocolate treats. Or petits fours. The array of small-scale satisfaction was simply overpowering.
And that, in a nutshell, is why we were back at the doctor’s this week, trying to explain why our health profile just took a nose-dive off the high board of carbohydrate capriciousness.
It wasn’t our fault, we had to insist. The butler definitely did it.