I was fortunate enough to experience a wonderful four night Educational on board the newly refurbished, 296 guest all-inclusive, Silversea Silver Cloud. It was the final leg of a transatlantic re-positioning cruise which had begun in Barbados and was ending In Lisbon. I embarked in Madeira on 30 April.
DAY 1 – MADEIRA – 30 APRIL 2013
After a very smooth check-in at London Gatwick at 3.30am we boarded our 3 and a quarter hour flight with TAP Air Portugal to the Island of Madeira. On arrival we were swiftly transferred to the ship which took about 25 minutes. Once on board we were shown to our Suites, unpacked and familiarised ourselves with the layout of the ship. Having never been on one of Silversea Cruises‘ ships before, I was immediately struck by how polished and luxurious everything looked and it was evidently clear why they are heralded as one of the top luxury cruise lines in the world.
We sailed at 5pm en-route to Cadiz in Southern Spain where we would arrive on 2 May after a day at sea. At 7pm we joined our fellow Agents for a pre-dinner drink to get to know each other. We then had an amazing meal at Hot Rocks which is an outdoor restaurant on the Pool Deck which specialises in steak.
The weather was taking a turn for the worse as we headed into the North Atlantic but we were all given blankets to keep warm and just enjoyed the delicious food and drink. We began to bond more with each other before enjoying a Motown themed evening in the Show Lounge. We then retired to our Mid-Ship Verandas (mine was number 531 with bath and overhead shower). It’s probably important to note here that some of the suites on Silver Cloud just have a shower so it’s worth checking what facilities you’ll have when confirming your booking.
DAY 2 – AT SEA – 1 MAY 2013
We awoke to a fair swell in the Atlantic but we were not deterred. For those not feeling their best, sea sick tablets were given out at Reception. We had breakfast and then we made our way to the two hour seminar that Silversea were conducting. It was very friendly and informative. After our session we then had a ship tour. We were shown the bar, library, laundrette, main restaurant, casino (small), show lounge, Panorama Lounge, La Terraza restaurant and the following suites – Royal Suite (Amalfi) – Number 601 and Silver Suite – Number 527 (Bath/Shower). We also saw a Vista Suite which is the exact same size as the Veranda Suite but without the Balcony. There are also 2 wheelchair adapted suites but we did not see these.
During the afternoon the weather improved dramatically, so we adjourned to the sun deck to try out the sun beds. I dozed off for an hour and woke up looking slightly lobster-like. Oh for the joys of soothing pure aloe-vera!
We then scrubbed up for our formal evening in the main restaurant which was brilliant, with excellent food, drink, company and superb discreet service from the restaurant staff.
After dinner we adjourned to the Panorama Lounge to chat more and enjoy the low key ambience with some piano music.
DAY 3 – CADIZ – 2 MAY 2013
My pre-conceived idea of Cadiz was that it was a very industrial port. How wrong could I have been! Cadiz has a lovely beach area and an old town with lots of churches and lots of pretty cobbled streets and alleyways. We were not sailing until 10pm.
We disembarked at 9.30am after a very hearty breakfast and met our guide for the four hour excursion entitled “A Taste of Andalucia”. We were met by our guide, Carolina. She was a real character with a beautiful personality and dressed in traditional Spanish costume. We were taken by coach about half an hour to the lovely town of Jerez de la Frontera. After a short road tour we were taken to a house which looked very normal on the outside, but once inside it was a real “Alladin’s Cave”. It had an amazing entrance hall, chapel and a beautiful courtyard which was full of mint plants, the smell was amazing.
We were then taken to the kitchen and bar area where we sampled sherry and were shown how to make sangria. We then donned our pinafores and partook in a spot of home-made Spanish cooking. This consisted of stuffed mushrooms with pork and veal, potato salad, garlic prawns and gazpacho (basically cold tomato soup). We all interacted well, had a few giggles (not to mention, sherries) and then sat down to the fruits of our labour. To round off the trip, we were then treated to a flamenco lesson. A great time was had by all. Much more than your average shore excursion.
The afternoon was spent having a stroll around the old town and then relaxing back on board. (well, this in fact, consisted of more eating and drinking actually). We then got on our glad-rags on for the evening outdoor sumptuous buffet and then disco-danced the night away (yes, Macarena and Gangman Style were on the playlist). Cadiz disappeared into the horizon as we boogied into the wee small hours…
DAY 4 – PORTIMAO – 3 MAY 13
Day four and we awoke to a bit of a drama. An announcement was made by the Captain that we had a problem with the Port Authority and they would not let us dock in Portimao. All guests just extended their breakfast and carried on their business without any complaining at all. We docked two hours later after all issues were resolved. Lunch and excursions were duly rescheduled without any fuss.
There was a 15 minute shuttle-bus service which took us into town and then onto the larger resort of Praia Da Rocha. We stopped off in Portimao which was very sleepy. We wandered round the cobbled streets and then caught the bus to Praia Da Rocha. The weather was perfect, and so was the beach. We then hired a sun lounger for a couple of hours and it was a case of Magnums, Cornettos and Calippos all around at a reasonable cost of 2 Euros each from the friendly beach vendor.
We cleared the sand from our flip-flops and headed back to our beautiful floating hotel for the last night (sadly). I then tried the delightful afternoon tea, which is a must-do. It was then time to return to my suite for a wash and brush up before we headed for our very last meal at Le Champagne (normally an extra charge of $30 US Dollars Per Person). This is a Relais & Chateaux Restaurant with an exquisite menu (7 courses). We then retired once again for a few nightcaps in the Panorama Lounge. We had to leave our luggage outside our Suite by 11pm for disembarkation in the morning.
DAY 5 – LISBON – 4 MAY 2013
We docked in Lisbon at 7.30am. We disembarked at 9.30am prompt and were swiftly transferred to the airport which took approximately 20 minutes. Our TAP Air Portugal flight was at 12:50pm. After a spot of retail therapy at the very pleasant, and very spacious Lisbon Airport it was time to fly back to the UK. We took off spot on time and arrived back in Gatwick two and a quarter hours later.
Silver Cloud Review Summary
- I was so impressed with my experience on Silversea and there are certain things in particular that I will remember:
- I never saw any laundry trolleys. All cleaning was undertaken so discreetly. I never witnessed anyone cleaning in my suite.
- Butler – Again, only ever saw twice. Once, when paged regarding making double bed into twin configuration. Secondly, when delivered in-suite breakfast.
- All staff genuinely enjoy their work. For example joining in the dancing on barbecue night .
- All restaurant / bar staff so attentive without being overwhelming.
- No queues – embarking, disembarking and at ALL meal times.
I would recommend Silversea to anyone who would enjoy sailing on small luxury ships. Another bonus is that tenders are not required in port. In a nutshell, intimate but discreet service and faultless cuisine.
A truly wonderful experience…..
You can read more about Silver Cloud and view her upcoming itineraries by clicking here. If you’ve experienced a voyage on Silver Cloud below – or if you have any questions – please leave them in the comments below.