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Silver Wind
Explore the Med: Legendary Ports

October 2014: This fall, my husband Humberto and I wanted to explore Homer’s “wine dark” sea, the Mediterranean, visiting fabled sites that gave rise to so many legends, like that of the sirens whose irresistible songs he mentioned in his masterpiece, The Odyssey. And we wished to do so from a ship that is herself a masterpiece.

We selected Silversea’s Silver Wind, one of the coziest ultra-deluxe vessels around, with capacity for less than 300 guests, for a 10-day voyage from Rome to Athens.

We felt as if we were on a private super yacht—everybody knew our name by the second day—and we were spoiled by a staff who seemed to be right there when we needed them, and gave us the impression that they wanted to pamper us every which way including knowing our preferences even for beverages in lounges (the ship’s guest to crew ratio is 1.3 to 1).

Due to the ship’s recent makeover undertaken in late 2013, everywhere we looked everything sparkled. We toured the Silver Wind on embarkation day, after indulging in flutes of bubbly served in the Lobby by white-gloved wait staff as we boarded, and dropping off our carry-on luggage in our suite. The suite itself (all accommodations were refreshed with new carpets, upholstery, and soft goods) looked great, and throughout the public spaces, fresh new carpets, upholstery and other soft goods were in evidence.

A particularly noticeable aspect of the makeover was the transformation of the Relais & Chateaux Wine Restaurant at sea, Le Champagne. This gourmet venue that serves exquisite six-course dinners has received a full makeover including an upgraded entrance design, a new backlit wine display, plus new wood flooring, fabrics and window treatments, and the restaurant’s seating layout has been redesigned. Among the delectable dishes served in Le Champagne is the “risotto a la feuille d’or”—a risotto adorned with gold leaf: yep, real gold—both delicious and digestible.

“Makes you feel like King Midas!” exclaimed a guest from New York as she admired the golden risotto she was served.

The Bar, the social hub of the ship on Deck 5, particularly during the evening cocktail hour, has all new furniture and furnishings in a contrasting color scheme of cool teal tones and neutral colors in beige and brown.

We also noticed, during our embarkation luncheon at La Terrazza, an alternative restaurant located aft on Deck 7, that this venue has been given a redesigned buffet area that improves the guest flow.

As we toured the upper decks, we saw that they have new tiling in the pool area and new deck furniture. These novel features not only are eye-pleasing to sun-worshippers during the day and those enjoying lunch on The Pool Grill or a refreshing libation at The Pool Bar, on Deck 8, but also to guests having dinner at The Grill, Silversea’s hot-rock grilling restaurant where guests finish cooking their meals on a hot volcanic stone at their tables by the swimming pool.

Humberto and I thanked our lucky stars as the sun began to set on our first day onboard on this yacht-like ship and we vowed to establish a routine for our remaining nine days onboard that would make the most of the “luxe” and “refreshed luxe” benefits available to us.

Our butler, Mustofa, from Indonesia, was most useful in our daily routine and special pursuits (and on this ship saying things like “I’ll have my suite’s butler take care of it” is not boasting, as every guest onboard has both a suite and a butler). First off, Mustofa came around to make sure everything was to our liking in our refreshed suite where he had placed a welcome aboard bottle of bubbly and box of fine chocolates awaiting our arrival, and he inquired whether he could assist with unpacking, and made sure our complimentary beverage setup, which he would replenish during the voyage, was stocked to our liking. Since we were sailing from Rome and our itinerary featured some legendary Italian ports including Sorrento from where we headed for the Amalfi Drive (that no matter how many times you enjoy it, it always takes your breath away) and Messina (for impressive Mt. Etna and Taormina), we requested a bottle of limoncello to toast those magnificent Italian sights, and he brought it for us expeditiously.

Our butler also presented us with a selection of fine toiletries and a choice of more than a half-dozen pillow types; took care of such details as making dining reservations and serving us tea and room service dinner ensuite (from dining room menu during restaurant hours, and he served the meal course by course). Our suite, #602, was a Royal Suite in a one-bedroom configuration, with lots of luxurious space including foyer; living room with dining area and desk area; espresso machine; bedroom with vanity table, walk-in closet; two televisions, one with DVD and CD player; bath with whirlpool tub, and a spacious terrace with three chairs, dining table and two side tables. The suite is situated all the way forward on Deck 6, just below the Navigational Bridge, so our views were the ones the captain was seeing. One note, if you like to sleep in on port days, this may not be the suite for you as lots of activity, including noisy lowering of anchor or ropes, takes place on arrival, but if you are like us, who like to be up for port arrivals, it is a great choice as the panoramas obtained from its terrace are unbeatable.

Were there other pampering services from Mustofa? Yes! He also took care of shining shoes on formal nights and other occasions, delivered our laundry, dry cleaning and pressing, and even dusted off and cleaned our luggage that had been through the wringer on two flights to meet the ship in Rome. Talk about spoiling us!

When we were not having our butler serve us tea and other goodies in our suite, we routinely enjoyed the luxury of musical, white-gloved-service teas in La Terrazza, as well as conversation in the Panorama Lounge, a gracious room located aft on Deck 8 and featuring ocean views on three sides. Every time we arrived at this lounge and at The Bar, on Deck 5, for cocktails, to our delight, wait staff immediately greeted us bearing our favorite libations. Ditto for the Observation Lounge, located forward on Deck 9, where by the second day that we went there for port departures, the staff knew our preferences. And what a convenient luxury it is not to have to be signing and providing keycards for beverages, as most are complimentary. This is particularly welcome in the Parisian Show Lounge as you are not fumbling for keycards and signing bills while you are trying to enjoy a musical revue and performances by virtuoso pianists and other artists.

Dining on Silversea ships is always a grand occasion with wonderful menus and impeccable service. This is definitely so at the transformed alternative gourmet Le Champagne by Relais & Chateaux on Deck 4, located between The Restaurant and the Internet Café/Library, where we dined once during the cruise. A vision with tables set with snowy-white tablecloths, candlelight, fine china, silverware, and crystal, we felt, well, like royalty, sampling dishes from the six-course menu including a delectable foie gras cone, lobster bisque, the aforementioned Risotto a la Feuille d’Or, New Zealand Rack of Lamb, lobster thermidor, Grand Marnier soufflé, and my favorite, a trilogy of Valrhona chocolate lava cakes (Yummy and to die for!).

For more casual, yet equally sumptuous dinners, particularly after full-day shore excursions, we patronized La Terrazza on Deck 7, as we love Italian cuisine particularly in the case of this restaurant that is inspired in the Slow Food tradition whereby every dish is made to order with fresh, local, seasonal ingredients like delicious buffalo mozzarella from Genoa, Italy. The menu changes in La Terrazza every three days, so we patronized it twice during our voyage. We adored it each time, as we did the grilled salmon, prime cuts and other steakhouse fare of The Grill, where Humberto feasts on the prawns and salmon, and I delight in the veal and pork chops with grilled vegetables and baked potato. The Grill, by the way, has expanded its menu, adding two vegetarian dishes, grilled Portobello mushrooms and grilled tofu steak, to its steakhouse fare.

We always headed for The Grill after long days ashore exploring such classical and legendary sites as Paphos, according to legend the birthplace of Aphrodite in Cyprus; the Palace of Knossos, associated with the myth of the Minotaur, and the breathtaking village of Oia in Santorini, another island of legend – this time the legend of Atlantis.

The Grill is also open for breakfast and lunch, with such special not-to-be-missed treats as hot-from-the-oven pizzas including one of my favorites: Quattro formaggi (four cheeses). At La Terrazza’s buffet breakfasts and lunches, luxe touches included delicious daily milk smoothies such as a strawberry and oatmeal mixture and Vitamix drinks (a blend of fruits and vegetables) for breakfast, and ham from Parma and a wide variety of other goodies for lunch.

Dinner at The Restaurant, on Deck 4, is an indulgence of multi-course meals with such delights on the menu as Maine lobster and beef Wellington. Relais & Chateaux-inspired selections are featured in The Restaurant’s menus as are light selections low in sodium, cholesterol, and fat. At the conclusion of the meal, a two-level silver tray with petit fours is presented along with dessert and coffee.

Delectable meals with superb service; enrichment lectures by distinguished speakers; organized fun activities like golf putting and team trivia contests, complimentary wellness lectures and fitness classes including yoga and Pilates—the voyage was as we had hoped: legendary ports enjoyed from a legendary ship.

If you go, more info:

Image Courtesy Silversea Cruises

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