Embarkation Day – Day One
Cruise log – Fort Lauderdale.-
Checking in for a cruise is never usually an especially enjoyable experience, but you do expect above average for an ultra-luxury line. Did we say above average? How about seamless. That was how it worked out for us today at Port Everglades, where Silver Muse was awaiting us.
Okay, so the ship holds ‘only’ 596 passengers, but the way we breezed through the check-in procedure – arriving at Port Everglades at 2pm and walking across the gangway into the ship at 2.10 – gave us the feeling it was there just for us personally, and the ‘welcome aboard’ couldn’t have been more distinctive.
So chalk up another, unlooked-for, bonus of travelling small-ship style and enjoying the kind of unhurried, genteel experience you expect from the world’s finest boutique hotels. That is the essence of Silversea, and that is how we felt as we walked aboard today, getting our first taste of this 24-year-old line in more than 10 years.
For those unfamiliar with the true deluxe end of the cruise world, this is the genuine refined, distinguished and rarefied style of travel that dates back more than 100 years to the Golden Age of cruising, with all its class distinction but none of the class-conscious stuffiness that went with it.
Put simply, this is travelling in high style, with a level of classic service and sophistication that remains rare in the world today. Many cruise lines have started to use the word ‘luxury’ with a reckless abandon that renders it useless in real terms, but, happily, there are a few bastions of veracity and rectitude, and Silversea is definitely one of those.
And our first impressions more than lived up to that high level of expectation. Following our swift embarkation, we were greeted with a glass of bubbly and conducted to our suite (and Silver Muse deals only in suite accommodations) which, while being at the lower end of the scale (a Veranda Suite) is wonderfully spacious at 387sq ft, including the balcony. There is masses of living space and a truly gorgeous bathroom – which is all a far cry from the industry barely 25 years ago, when 200sq ft was considered spacious!
That was followed by lunch, with a choice of three venues on Embarkation Day. We chose two! The Grill on the main pool deck promises to redefine casual American dining, with gourmet versions of the classic Reuben Sandwich, Tabouleh Salad, a smoked Barbecue Chicken Wrap and even the humble Hot Dog, and we were amazed by the tasty and well presented nature of everything straight out of the gate.
We also sampled a (small) Funghi & Porcini Pizza from the top-deck Spaccanapoli, which turned out to be a genuine Naples-style thin-crust pizza from their purpose-built pizza oven, and we were hugely impressed at the truly crisp, flavourful plateful that was on our table in barely five minutes
After the obligatory lifeboat drill, we were able to wander around to our hearts’ content and get our bearings on what turns out to be a beautifully composed and presented ship. Where some designers make the mistake of thinking that style is everything, Silver Muse exhibits a cool, calm and subtle vibe that eschews glamour for true finesse. The colours are muted but distinct, the décor understated but masterful, providing a totally coherent whole that wraps its guests in a cocoon of quality.
As a final thought on our ‘home’ for the next nine days, this is also a very intimate and small-scale ship, even though it weighs in at 40,000 tons (the largest in the Silversea fleet currently) and features multiple dining and bar options, as well as a full show-lounge, blissful Spa and plenty of other creature comforts.
The most remarkable feature, therefore, is how effortlessly the ship’s public rooms cater for almost 600 guests, spreading them out and providing so much space it is almost impossible to believe you are at sea with more than 1,000 souls (by the time you add in the crew). Truly, this is a remarkable vessel and an immaculate first impression. We can’t wait to see more tomorrow….!