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Silver Spirit
Luxury Cruising Around the World

by Linda Coffman

 
Silver Spirit docked in Lisbon 

2011 — World Cruise. Those two words set some travelers' hearts aflutter. And it's simple to see why. There's no easier way to see a vast swath of the world's most treasured destinations than on a World Cruise.

Each of the more than 100 days of a World Cruise with Silversea is an adventure with a plethora of exotic ports of call and on board activities, including wine experts and guest lecturers and chefs, plus the  amenities luxury passengers expect.

Sadly, a World Cruise is out of reach for many of us who have neither the necessary time or disposable income. Happily, it's possible to participate in "segments" as we did earlier this year when we boarded Silver Spirit in Barcelona to sail the final segment of her World Cruise that ended in Southampton. As we discovered, each segment includes a complimentary Silversea Experience, an exclusive experience that all aboard are welcome to attend. In addition, there are Silver Shore Land Adventures that allow guests to explore a region further with overnight stays in destinations a bit too far from port to visit on an excursion. Participants depart the ship in one port and rejoin the cruise a day or more later.

Launched in 2010, Silversea Cruises' 540-guest Silver Spirit is the luxury cruise line's newest and largest ship, with the capacity to carry 30% more passengers than fleetmates Silver Whisper and Silver Shadow, and 45% more than Silver Cloud and Silver Wind. With more guests on board, would the larger ship deliver the line's traditional experience of luxury and service in a larger setting? That's what the Cruise Diva team set out to discover as we boarded Silver Spirit in Barcelona, Spain. Our 10-night segment of the World Cruise alternated sea days and port calls to Malaga, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Bilboa, Spain (where we attended a reception at the Guggenheim, a complimentary Silversea Experience); and St. Peter Port in the UK's Channel Islands before disembarking in Southampton.

Embarkation
Shortly after our arrival at the terminal in Barcelona we were greeted at Reception on board Silver Spirit to check in. With a short wait until our Royal Suite was ready, we set out to explore and easily found the Connoisseur's Corner where a waiter brought us coffees. While the Connoisseur's Corner is the designated cigar smoking lounge, we were to find it a congenial spot for evening conversation. It wasn't long before we were able to proceed to Deck 7 forward and suite 701.

Our butler Julian arrived shortly after we did bearing a tray with champagne and canapés and to offer us a choice of soaps for the bath. We were indecisive so he left a selection of them all after showing us some of the features of our 990 square foot home for the next ten days. There would be plenty of time to relax and enjoy the 125 square foot veranda, so we went exploring and soon found ourselves at the Pool Grill for an alfresco lunch. It didn't take long for us to decide that it was the go-to spot for light breakfasts and lunches served poolside.

 
The Lobby, looking into The Bar

Where Bigger is Better
Unlike her fleetmates, Silver Spirit has a more open arrangement with hints of art deco styling in the reception lobby and The Bar. Adjacent to the lobby area, The Bar is the first lounge you see when boarding and it's the go-to spot from morning, when coffee is available and the news is shown on the big-screen television, to nighttime for dancing and drinks before and after dinner.

Also adjacent to the lobby is the Shore Concierge and Cruise Consultant. Further aft, The Theater is the main show lounge where lectures are presented during the day and evening performances include concerts and lively production shows.

Dining Delights
As expected, dining on a Silversea cruise is an exquisite experience. All dishes are carefully prepared using the highest quality meats and seafood for Silver Spirit's guests.

  • The Restaurant is the main dining room where the atmosphere is stylish and elegant, but not stuffy, and the menus are diverse and interesting.
  • La Terrazza is the daytime buffet for breakfast and lunch and features themed evening dining that celebrates regional Italian cuisines with table service, either inside or al fresco.
  • Le Champagne, the wine restaurant by Relais & Château offers a six-course dining experience of either Gourmet Dining or regional Degustation Dining with wine pairings. Reservations are required and there is a surcharge.
  • Also reservations and surcharge-required, Seishin include seven sensibly portioned courses served in a casual, friendly style. Reservations are required, but there is no additional charge.
  • The Pool Grill is poolside with salads, burgers, and other favorites at lunch with table service. At night the complimentary Black Rock Grill is a an interactive dinner option with no surcharge that allows diners to cook their choice of steaks, veal, pork, lamb, salmon, fish, or prawns to their taste right at the table on a super-heated volcanic rock.
  • With jazz musicians setting a scene reminiscent of supper clubs of the 1930s,  Stars is the intimate art decor restaurant serving regional and seasonal dishes to be enjoyed in a succession of small courses. Make a reservation right away as seating is limited to 26 guests.
 
Dinner at Black Rock Grill

At our first dinner in Silver Spirit’s Restaurant we were fortunate to be seated next to a lovely couple—World Cruisers from the southern United States. Although we were each seated at tables for two, we chatted throughout dinner and looked forward to seeing them again during this segment of the cruise. In fact, had they not been so friendly I wouldn’t have discovered a dessert I ordered each night—dates and nuts (in this case, pecans) with a glass of port wine.

Wines chosen to complement each meal proved to be very good on our cruise and we enjoyed trying a wide variety of new vintages.

Cruise Diva is far from a food critic, but a few dishes deserve special mention. My room service breakfast often included Eggs Benedict after I first tried them just to see how they would measure up to those served in the dining room. Even from room service, they were consistently well prepared with a creamy sauce. Importantly, they always arrived piping hot. Our favorite spot for a light snack was the Pool Grill. This may seem like something odd to mention, but I love crispy French fries and Silver Spirit never disappointed me. While food is available at any time, I appreciated the portion sizes we were served—none were overwhelming.

Although dining hours are set, restaurants are open seating and guests dine with whom they please, when they wish, within the scheduled times. Requests for tables for two were always honored in The Restaurant.

Lastly, of course there is room service which is set up by your butler with flair—and crisp tablecloths—en suite, even at breakfast. Guests may order from the restaurant menus during dining hours. Or, if there is something you want, such as the guacamole and chips we craved one night, all you have to do is ask. If it's available, room service will provide it.

Where else are you going to play, relax, and sleep on board?

Silver Spirit -> Part Two

Photographs, © Linda Coffman, CruiseDiva.com

From Cruise Diva's Silver Spirit Blog Archive:


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