Travel - Silver Spirit Cruise
PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 January 2015
Going on a cruise has never made my list of must-do's, I've always felt I'd dislike the close proximity of other guests and the lack of freedom it surely entailed. A trip with Silversea has opened my eyes and my mind to a world of possibilities.
Silversea don’t take any prisoners when it comes to quality. This is first apparent when reviewing the various cruises on their website; the photography and descriptions are all lusciously tempting. But websites can mislead – a clever marketer can convince you of anything – it’s the moment that the Travel Journal, a book filled with exciting information on everything from the location of your suite to departure dates to dress codes, arrives at your home, by courier, that you know you’ve really chosen well.
Our five-day trip was a short one for this particular boat, the largest in their fleet. The Silver Spirit was only commissioned in 2009 and carries 540 guests. When you think that these very few guests are then looked after by around 375 staff you start to realise that you’re in for a very special time.
On arrival we were met by our butler (yes, every room comes with a butler!) and taken to our suite. These are beautifully designed and 95% come with a private balcony – perfect for seeing the new dawn over a new destination while still in your pyjamas. As you’d expect from any five star hotel, and this is just that, the rooms are equipped with everything you need and they’ll even pop your favourite tipple in the mini-bar for occasions when you don’t feel like making your way to one of the several bar areas on the ship.
Now, onto something very close to my heart. My stomach. Oh I love good food. And I adore great food, and Silversea offer so much great food, really fine food, that you’d better be prepared to get familiar with the gym on board too.
Breakfast can of course be taken in your room, and it’s quite an experience to have a butler bring it to you! A snowy white table cloth, freshly squeezed orange juice and Eggs Benedict…it’s the high life for me! Tempted as we were to pretend to be wealthy hermits, we made sure to check out the various other options too, and it was worth the (minimal) effort.
Each day on our cruise the ship travelled overnight, taking us to a new destination. From Athens to Istanbul, via a stunning trip through the Bosphorus (something you really have to do, at least once in a lifetime) and into the Black Sea, we visited four ports in three countries. Leaving Athens we headed to Izmir in Turkey, where we could choose to join a Silveasea excursion to Ephesus, or simply take the tourist bus around the town until we found somewhere we wanted to get off. We chose the local bazaar, where we spent three happy hours drinking Turkish coffee and eating Baklava, before a stroll through the city square and more photo opps. A bus ride back to the boat later, we were curled up on beds by the side of the pool, waiting for freshly made salads and house cocktails, planning the next day’s adventure, in Constanta, Romania.
Dining on board is, as I’ve already said, extraordinarily good. With one main, no-need-to-book, restaurant that offers the finest of fine dining, plus four other fabulous venues, you could circumnavigate the world gastronomically as well as physically. With menus changing every two days, plus daily chef’s specials, your only regret will be when each day passes and you’ve had to choose just one meal. The wine flows too, a daily choice of a red or a white, carefully selected by the sommelier to complement the menus. I rather fell for a 2010 Vouvray and was able to enjoy it more than once.
During most of the cruises offered by Silversea you’ll experience one or more ‘at sea’ days. Personally, I love the opportunity to visit so many different places with zero effort, but an occasional at sea day is actually rather lovely. We chose to breakfast late, sharing a table with other guests. This is a lovely way to get to meet people and learn about their Silversea experiences; and it seems that the experience is addictive. I didn’t meet a single soul who hadn’t repeatedly chosen Silversea before; as one lovely gentleman from Alderley Edge said: ‘You’ve certainly started at the top’. It seems that once you’ve sailed with Silversea, on any of their ships, you never go elsewhere.
Following our very lengthy and chatty breakfast, we took ourselves off to the Spa, where a workout (readying oneself for Afternoon Tea!) was followed by a lazy several hours in the Thermal Suite. Lounging on deck, gazing at the passing sea from a cosy hot tub and then curling up with a Kindle on a heated bed…does it get any better? Throw in a scented salt scrub, steam, sauna and soft towels and I would argue not.
All Silversea cruises are all-inclusive. Regular guests tell me that this is one of the best things about it; all that luxury, fine food, fine wine…and you know exactly how much your holiday is going to cost you before you even leave the house. One horror story of a £1000 bar bill on another carrier was completed with: ‘I could have upgraded to Silversea with that money!’
Leaving the ship in Istanbul, despite being beautifully organised by the crew, was a sad moment. Who would not regret walking away from a period of time when life was lifted beyond the ordinary, when nothing but rest and relaxation was demanded from you and you were wrapped in luxury 24 hours a day?
I will be back Silversea, I will be back.
Silver Spirit departs on 19th August 2015 for a 9-day round trip from Istanbul, Turkey, calling at Trabzon, Batumi, Sochi, Yalta, Sevastopol, Odessa and Nessebur. Prices start from £3,050 per person based on double occupancy of the Vista Suite.
silversea.com 0844 251 0837