Snapshot: Family-owned and operated by the Lefebvres of Rome, Silversea Cruises has been offering high-end cruises since the early 1990s when it first launched the SILVER CLOUD, joining Seabourn as one of the world’s most upscale cruise lines focused on excellent food and service, posh suites, and exotic itineraries. A year after the CLOUD, sister ship SILVER WIND debuted — the two subjects of this review — and then in 2000 and 2001, a pair of larger even more luxurious twins hit the water, the 382-passenger SILVER SHADOW and SILVER WHISPER respectively. In 2009, the luxury stakes were raised again when the 540-passenger SILVER SPIRIT was introduced, with six dining venues including an Asian restaurant.
Note: In August 2017, the SILVER CLOUD will be refurbished and converted into an ice-class expedition ship called SILVER CLOUD EXPEDITION and by year-end 2017 will join the company’s Silversea Expeditions division.
Ship, Year Delivered & Passengers: SILVER CLOUD (built 1994 & 296 passengers) and SILVER WIND (b. 1995 & 296 p)
Passenger Profile: Well-to-do couples 40s on up, and a number of senior singles, from North America, and a handful from the UK and Europe.
Passenger Decks: 6; an elevator connects all but the topmost deck.
Price: $$ – $$$ Expensive to Super Pricey
Included Features: Just about everything — wine, spirits, and tips.
- Winters, 7- to 14-night Caribbean cruises round-trip from or between Fort Lauderdale, Puerto Rico and Barbados, with a vast variety of itineraries to the eastern, western and southern regions; most cruises are a combination of offbeat small-ship ports (such as Tortola and Bequia) and bustling big-ship ports (the likes of Grand Cayman and St. Thomas).
- Spring and fall months, 7- to 14-night Med cruises with a variety of port combos, sailing between Istanbul, Athens/Piraeus, Barcelona, Civitavecchia/Rome, Monte Carlo and Venice.
- Summers, a mélange of 11- to 17-night Northern Europe cruises between Lisbon, London, Southampton, Hamburg and Reykjavik.
- Winters, 10- to 14-night Africa cruises between Mombasa and Cape Town, or round-trip from Cape Town, with a variety of port combos that may include Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, Richards Bay, Maputo, Mahajanga, Nosy Be/Komba, Mamoudzou, Zanzibar, and Tulear.
- Spring, Summer and Fall (2016), 7- to 11-night one-way Mediterranean cruises including a vast variety of port combos, sailing between Barcelona, Civitavecchia, Venice, Monte Carlo, Piraeus, Lisbon and/or Istanbul; (2017) 10- to 17-night Northern Europe cruises from London, Stockholm, Olso and/or Copenhagen.
When to Go? The ships cruise when the weather in optimal in the destination.
Cabins: The all-suite ships have 149 very comfortable ocean-view suites, all with walk-in closets, a sitting area with sofa bed (for a third guest), and marble-clad bathrooms. The majority of rooms are 246 sq. ft. suites with 49 sq. ft. balconies. The 27 Vista Suites measure 240 sq. ft. and are the only rooms on the ship with windows and no balconies. The largest suites measure 1,214 square feet and top categories have a one- or a two-bedroom configuration, plus a powder room for guests, full-sized whirlpool bathtub, CD player, and espresso machine, in addition to the amenities every accommodation on board boasts — butler service, plush robe, slippers, choice of pillows, choice of Ferragamo, Bvlgari or hypoallergenic bath amenities, ritzy Pratesi bed linens (if they were good enough for Elizabeth Taylor …), and a stocked mini fridge. Each also has a flat screen TV with on-demand movies, direct-dial telephone, Wi-Fi access and cellular service.
Public Rooms: Overall, there is an appealing abundance of polished woods and teak decking, unlike newer ships. Up top is the forward-facing Observation Lounge, a quiet place for scenery viewing, reading and crossword puzzles. Just behind it are the spa, gym and hair salon. Otherwise, the public areas are at the stern of the ship. The windowed Panorama Lounge on Deck 8 is popular for daytime activities like dance lessons, and drinks before and after dinner, sometimes with live music; a cozy attached room called Connoisseur’s Corner is for cigar smokers. Two decks below, the multi-tiered entertainment lounge hosts mini Broadway-style shows; it’s also used for movies and lectures. Going down to Deck 5 you’ll find the small casino with blackjack, roulette, poker and slot machines, plus another bar and the ship’s boutiques. A small library and Internet room reside on Deck 4.
Dining: Mealtime is a highlight of a Silversea cruise, with top-end continental fare and gracious five-star service. The four dining venues aboard WIND and CLOUD include the elegant Restaurant with candle-lit tables, crisp white linens and china and seating capacity for all passengers at once; seating is open and there are tables for two and four passengers as well as larger tables, though you may have to wait for a two-top during the most popular dining times. Adjacent is the intimate Le Champagne, a 40-seat Relais & Châteaux conceived venue offering fine wines complemented by a set six-course tasting menu of regionally-inspired dishes ($40 per person and reservations are recommended). La Terrazza serves buffet-style breakfast and lunch, with some a la carte options, and in the evening becomes a reservations-required Italian Restaurant inspired by the principals of Slow Food (ie, fresh and sustainable); for example, there is buffalo mozzarella from Naples, air-dried ham out of Parma, 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, and pasta made fresh daily on board. The casual al fresco Pool Grille serves lite fare for breakfast and at lunch, you’ll get grilled meats, pizza, salads and more. Come evening, it becomes a novel dinner venue where you grill fish, prawns, steaks and other goodies exactly as you like them on a heated volcanic-rock plate right at your table (reservations are suggested). There is also room service that includes the option of ordering the same multi-course meals being served in the restaurants.
Activities & Entertainment: Most cruises have an expert lecturer or two — authors, scientists, professors, diplomats and others — who present day-time talks about the destination or other interesting topics, from foreign affairs to conservation. There’s a card room and some passengers entertain themselves with bridge and other games on long sea days. Others prefer spending time in the spa with its five massage rooms and sauna/steam rooms. The oceanview gym sports a row of treadmills, stair climbers and stationary bikes, as well as free weights; there are Pilates, yoga and circuit training classes. Amidships on Deck 8 you’ll find the pool and two hot tubs, and a jogging/walking track up on Deck 9. Evenings, drinks with friends before and after dinner are de rigueur, plus there are live musicians in the various lounges and song and dance acts a few times a week in the show lounge.
Along the Same Lines: SEA DREAM I and II, and the ex-Seabourn trio, Windstar’s STAR PRIDE, STAR BREEZE and STAR LEGEND.
Contact: Silverseas Cruises, 110 East Broward Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301; www.silversea.com, 800-722-9955