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The Silversea Experience
Better Than Gold

by Linda Coffman

Silver Shadow dockedSummer 2007 It's widely regarded that silver is even better once it's aged a bit. The patina is what gives it that glow. Much of the same can be said about Silversea Cruises. In slightly over a decade, the line has launched four of the highest-quality cruise ships at sea and consistently delivers what it promisesdistinctive voyages in a refined setting.

Consistency, Changes & Improvements
Small things can make or break any trip, and this is particularly true in the case of a cruise. I first sailed with Silversea in 2002 and always look forward to returning because of their consistency. I can count on feeling "at home" as soon a I set foot on board. Check in is always swift with staff members easing the way. Luggage is handled promptly. And, best of all, is the welcome feeling. Embarking on a Silversea cruise is like arriving at a private estate; passengers are treated as valued guests.

As much as I appreciate consistency, I love the choices Silversea now affords me. Had we been crunched for time, we wouldn't have had to pass up the unique ports we were most interested in seeing on our recent Silversea cruise. With their offering of Personalized Voyages, we had the flexibility to embark and disembark in ports of our choosing to tailor the cruise to our needs.

For those of us who can never be completely out of touch with home or the office, the addition of two amenities make cruising on Silversea a perfect fit—there is cell phone service as well as WiFi connectivity for laptops throughout the ships, including all suites. Both worked amazingly well, despite our location in the far north regions of Scandinavia.

Suite Accommodations
Upon embarkation, I was pleased to see my favorite Bvlgari toiletries in the bathroom, yet I could have also requested Acqua Di Parma and Neutrogena. My husband enjoyed the latter, less-girly option.

Silver Suite

All accommodations are suites with an ocean view, and the majority also feature private verandahs. The interior decor hasn't changed, but there was a heavenly upgrade awaiting my first night on board... new pillow top mattresses and fluffy down comforter and pillows. Paired with whisper soft linens, it was like sleeping in the clouds.

Silversea guests are greeted with a bottle of champagne chilling on ice in their suites and the mini-refrigerators contain bottled water, soft drinks, and beer. Make your favorites known to your cabin stewardess and she'll fill the fridge with your preferences, along with providing your choice of alcohol. Naturally, all beverages throughout the ship are included and you'll even find bottled water waiting at the gangway to take ashore.

Speaking of going ashore, transportation to the center of town is available in ports where it's too far to walk. Shore excursions are varied and a good value, especially those that include experiences that would otherwise be unavailable.

Back on board you might find an entertaining interlude presented by local performers. You won't want to miss the lectures by experts in their fields and professional entertainers hand-picked for their talent. Production shows are presently "out" and a variety of individual performers shine on stage.

The Restaurant

Dining In Style
As a true diva, I like things my way and Silversea's open-seating dining fits my lifestyle perfectly. Even when requesting a table for two in the main restaurant, there was never a wait to be seated.

While I was disappointed that the fantastic filet mignon I remembered was no longer on the room service menu (replaced with a sirloin steak), I was thrilled with a new (to me) Italian selectionIsabella Rossellini's Signature Pasta. In fact, all the dishes I tried were memorable and the pasta selections were outstanding!

An intimate dining experience aboard each Silversea vessel is the Wine Restaurant by Relais & ChâteauxLe Champagne. Adding a gourmet dimension to dining, the exquisite cuisine is designed to celebrate the winea different celebrated vintage is served with each set course of the dégustation menu ($200 per person). Menus and wines are chosen by Relais & Châteaux sommeliers to reflect regions of the world noted for their rich wine heritage. Or, if you prefer, you may opt to select from one of two entrées and order your own choice of wine ($30 per person, plus wine).

To celebrate Silversea's Italian heritage, an evening alternative to the main restaurant is La Terrazza, which features a different regional Italian cuisine each night. It's complimentary, although seating is limited and reservations are required. Should you choose not to dress to the nines on formal night, make a reservation for the casually elegant La Terrazza and you won't have to settle for room service.

The Humidor

This 'n That 
A much discussed
and always hotly debatedtopic of conversation is the matter of smoking. Despite their significant popularity with non-North American guests, Silversea has followed the trend of eliminated smoking in most areas of the ships. Smokers are still welcome to light up in designated areas on open decks, in the smoking section of The Bar, the casino bar, and, of course, The Humidor. No longer complimentary, cigarettes are available for purchase in the bars; however, brands are limited.

You won't find aspirin and similar items on display in the Gift Shop; however, if you need something, just ask. Pharmaceutical items and toiletries are available. Alas, the Bvlgari signature shop is long gone from Silversea ships. In its place is H. Stern, which features an exquisite collection of jewelry and accessories.

Little Touches
Many cabin attendants deserve praise. However, most do no more than make beds, clean bathrooms, and say hello in passing. How many would go out of their way to check up on a passenger who's feeling ill? I know of several instances where Silversea cabin stewardesses have not only done that, but have done it during their time off. When you're far from home and not well, it's comforting to know that someone cares enough to make sure you're okay and have everything you need.

It's those little touches that develop a patina and keep me yearning to sail on Silversea for many years to come.

Photos © Coffman

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