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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman

 

Silver Whisper
May 2003
Barcelona to Honfleur

by Brenda McCroskey

Just returned from our 2nd Silversea cruise - last was 4 years ago on the
Silver Wind & was fabulous. I was a little nervous about trying to do
it all over again, but had an absolutely incredible cruise and the
Silver Whisper is even more gorgeous - and at 30% of, we were very
happy!

Boarded in Barcelona. Shown immediately to our balcony suite - WOW!!
We booked a reg. balcony suite - the mid-ship ones are more expensive,
but we were only 2 doors away from the higher priced ones & I don't
see any reason to pay more. Suite #641 - veranda had tons of privacy
as bottom to top metal wall to the right between us & other cabin and
no one in cabin on other side. Beautiful bathrooms - all marble,
double sinks, separate shower & regular sized tub. Soft plush huge
towels. And those fabulous Bulgari eau tea vert toiletries - it's
been my fav spring/summer scent since the last cruise!

Large mirror with shelf in hall between bath & closet. Walk-in
closets even larger - full wall & double rack for hanging clothes - my
only complaint is that since there is a larger drawer built into the
floor, there is no full length hanging space for formal gowns -
almost, but about 4 inches too short. Shoe rack & 6 or 7 drawer
cabinet with safe on top. Fluffy robes & full length mirror on door.

Cabin seemed pretty similar - so well designed - comfy big bed,
bedstands with drawers on either side, built in, well-lit vanity &
stool. Sitting area with loveseat, 2 chairs & table. Built-in
fridge, desk & more shelves/drawers. TV on top on swivel platform &
bar set-up in opposite shelf. Tons of storage space.

Veranda with sliding door, 2 chairs & footrests, table.

Our cabin girls came in & introduced themselves - Ulrike & Julia -
just darling & so sweet. They were a big part of what made the cruise
so special - so friendly & out-going. Asked us about any special
requests & what we wanted bar stocked with - asked for vodka (they
asked if Absolut ok - absolutely!), Pouilly Fuisse wine, cokes & tonic
water. No problems! Also, wonderful fruit plate always filled in
room.

Ship didn't sail till 11pm, so we got off & had another great dinner in
Barcelona. 1st day sea day - had Balinese Bliss massages in lovely
spa - got away with only buying some de-tox bath stuff! Very nice
rooms & don't feel crowded at all. Were given our own email addresses,
so spent some time in library on one of 8 computers contacting home.
Formal night & sat with ship's doctor - very interesting - caviar &
excellent poached lobster for dinner.

Casino is nice, but only other complaint is how unfriendly dealers
were. They really don't need to be so stiff & cold. Darling little
'Grappa Bar' off the casino turned out to be our hang-out.

Other guests were very friendly & fun - age group much younger than
last SS cruise - probably partially due to fares coming down.

Docked in Malaga & took the tour to Granada & the Alhambra - excellent
guides & a nice, but too long lunch afterwards (typical for Spain).
Gibraltar the next day, where I'd never been. We hired a local tour
guide to take us over the Rock & to see the monkeys, absolutely
amazing huge caves with stalactites & -mites - so beautiful & the
defense tunnels & caves - cute little town & wish we'd had a little
more time there to shop as we heard the prices were great - unlike the
rest of Europe!

Lisbon next - I hung out in the old town while hubby golfed with pro
at what he said was a great course - $350, though, which seemed rather
steep. Some other guests did it on their own for much less. Next
time! Oporto was a wonderful old town built on very steep cliffs & we
enjoyed lunch at a charming cafe by the river, then did a port winery
tour.

Next day, La Coruna, where we took the tour to Santiago de Compostela
- would go back there in a heartbeat. Darling old town with teensy
cobblestone streets & great - looking seafood restaurants. Another
excellent tour - they even made a donation to the Cathedral so that
the priests would perform a special ceremony - lighting a 6 ft tall
silver oil lamp, pulling it up to the ceiling & then pushing it so it
swung from ceiling to ceiling over our heads, controlled by 8 priests
holding the rope - truly spectacular!

Sea day, then St. Malo. We decided to do Mont St. Michel on our own
as hate the early departure times of tours. Had a terrible time
finding a taxi - even the local port agent couldn't get one for us.
Evidently all 6 were already in Mont St. Michel. After 2 1/2 hours
& total frustration - I've always wanted to go there & agent finally
told us it wasn't going to happen, found a taxi & fought over it with
a French woman & I finally just got in & the driver was more than
happy to take us there & wait 2 hours for us. Boy, was it worth it -
so glad we persevered!

Honfleur next, where we disembarked 3 days early to go to Paris. 9
nights was just perfect. Silversea staff did all kinds of amazing things for
us - consulted with the chef re: a special birthday dinner served in
the suite for us. Caviar, giant shrimp cocktail, Greek salad, broiled
lobster tails & my husband's favorite, vanilla ice cream with
chocolate sauce & Spanish peanuts. Champagne & a special Mersault
($48 additional) with dinner. They had already dropped off a
beautiful chocolate ganache flourless cake for him earlier.
Frangelico after-dinner drinks.

The galley tour was fabulous - at least 10 different stations -
caviar, proscuitto, sushi, 30 kings of cheese, unbelievable desserts -
kept going back for more. Only time we truly pigged out.

Our last night, one of our new friends, a couple from England arranged
a special dinner with the Maitre D' for 6 of us - nothing on the
regular menu, sautéed foie gras (my new addiction), roasted gambas
shrimp, a delicious layered lamb dish, special wines, salads, can't
remember dessert, but all wonderful. No problems at all arranging
that morning evidently.

We usually give shows a miss, but had 2 stand-out acts - "Space
Violins" - 2 young gorgeous Polish sisters who play everything from
bluegrass to rock on their Plexiglas electric violins. They did
their first show at the deck BBQ dinner & danced & played around the
promenade on the deck above the pool, then had a too-brief part of
another show. The other show we loved I can't remember the Italian
name, but was a cross between Cirque de Soleil, amazing ballet &
acrobatics - best show & most elegant I've ever seen on a ship.
Definitely worthy of Vegas!

Gym was big enough & excellent equipment. Took several classes - a
power pump, stretch & Pilates (only one with a charge - $10
additional, so is Yoga) to try & burn some calories.

If they didn't have the wine we wanted at a bar, they would go & get
it - was never too much to ask for anything. Only somewhat weak spot
it that this was supposed to be a wine education cruise - a class on
champagne & several expensive private tours that we didn't do. Had a
wine & cheese night on deck, but not the education/tastings I had been
hoping for.

Although no tipping policy, gave the bartender we had spent a lot of
time with & cabin girls nice tips - they were rather reluctant, but of
course kept in the end!

All in all, the best cruise ever - we are already looking at next
year's sailings to go again as soon as possible - due to children &
work, need to put some time in between sailings, but would get on
again tomorrow if I had the chance. It's so nice not to worry about
charges, tipping, drinks costs, who buys, etc. So romantic, elegant
without being stuffy & fun - was really hard to go to our hotel in
Paris & have to pay for things - $20 for 2 teas & $9 for a 7 oz bottle
of tonic (we'd brought the reminder of our 1.5 liter bottle provided
by SS with us) - yikes! The Silver Whisper is an absolutely beautiful
ship & you will be so pampered, reality is very hard to deal with!


Dk Eyewitness Travel Cruise Guide to Europe & the MediterraneanDk Eyewitness Travel Cruise Guide to Europe & the Mediterranean

Cruise Diva's comments:
The most useful guidebook I've found for multiple European ports of call


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