I'm a cruise writer and self professed savvy seafarer. Afterall I've taken more than 200 cruises on just about every cruise line afloat. Not all by choice. I penned a cruise guide called ACCESS Cruise (Harper Collins Publishers) for which it was mandatory to test the high seas. During the course of my gruelling research I found a few favorites. My Number 1 pick of all time is, was and will probably remain for ever, Silversea Cruises. This tiny fleet of three provides the most seamless service, tastiest food, best accommodations and experience at sea. The ships are small by today's standards with room for fewer than 400 passengers. While the fares are steep, they are also all-inclusive. Translated this means: gratuities, beverages (wines, even French champagne, liquor, soft drinks), and some shore excursions are included in the price. This is refreshing in an age when cruise passengers are being nickled and dimed by larger companies that charge for just about everything except the air your breathe. We're not kidding. Even use of the Internet is considerably cheaper than on other vessels. Elegant but not stuffy, refined but not stodgy, these are ships for discerning folks who appreciate top quality. Most of the staterooms come with outside balconies, all are spacious and beautifully done. Silversea covers the world. They are perfect for long voyages, like one we did from LA to Auckland which took 28 glorious days. It didn't hurt that we had the humongous Grand Suite with separate bedroom, unbelievably large walk-in closet, living room, dining area, butler service and even free laundry service. We dranks lots of bubbly and had room service more than we went to dining room. Most of the time we had dinner on the big balcony, but sometimes we took out free videos and sat by the tube while enjoying our meal served in courses. It was heaven. Of course we toured the ports and worked out the gym, swam (get this after one request for a pre-swim cappucino served by the pool, the waiter repeated the service everyday throughout the trip without us asking. The waiters on Silversea get to know their pax preferences well. We also made consequent long voyages on Silversea. Each one was fantastic. Trust me, it's the only way to cruise.
The Story of Silversea Cruises: Founded in 1992 this little cruise line has proved itself as a leader in luxury travel especially after introducing it's newest ships the Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper early in 2000. Both weigh in at 28k000 tons and carry 388 passengers in ultimate style. Each boast balconies in 75 percent of the total staterooms along with posh amenities and design features. Let me know if you want more information. Or go to the website: www.silversea.com.
The Grand Suite Life Aboard Silversea " I squealed with glee as the steward let us into our Grand suite—a 1,434 square foot concert of marble and mahogany mini mansion—which would be our floating home onboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Whisper for 33 glorious days on a voyage from Los Angeles to Sydney. I’d been in shipboard suites before, but this went outside the box. The bedroom was huge with an exquisite vanity and a king size bed covered in fine linen with Piumi Salpi down pillows and comforters. I couldn’t get over all the storage space, and the walk-in closet large enough for two steamer trunks and more. The Italian marble bathroom dazzled with a Jacuzzi tub, twin sinks, and separate shower. Lavish soaps, shampoos, conditioners and toiletries lined the glass shelves. Thick Frette terry robes hang on the door. The living room was so inviting we eased into a nightly routine sprawled out on the comfy sofa or recliner room watching movies on the Flat screen plasma television, or listening to CDs playing on the Bang & Olufsen or Nakamichi entertainment center. While we love the dining venues on the ship, the suite proved so comfortable that we opted to for room service about half the nights of the cruise. The waiters set our mahogany dining table elegantly with candles, Christofle silverware and Bernardeau Limoges china. We dined on truffles from Rome, foie gras from France, Italian-style pasta, filet mignon, and luscious desserts like Viennese tortes.
A beautiful wood bar, stocked with Schott-Zwiesel crystal, and complimentary beverages (Philipponnat Royale Reserve champagne, wines, liquor and soft drinks) proved perfect for entertaining new friends we made during the voyage. Our steward always ensured sure we had plenty of hors d’oeuvres for our soirees. The suite sports a large private teak balcony where we ate breakfast by day and sat sipping champagne at night.
We did manage to wrest ourselves from our suite to work out in the nicely equipped gym, take free Pilates and exercise classes, and swim in the 30 feet by 12 feet lap pool. We also got out to explore the ports of call.
The company that redefined old-world elegance to contemporary cruising when its first two ships debuted in 1994, Silversea’s four stylishly refined luxury liners: the 16,800 ton, 296-passenger Silver Cloud and Silver Wind, and the 28,000, 388-passenger Silver Whisper and Silver Shadow—are compact enough for intimacy yet large enough for comfort. Each provides ample space, and 75 to 80% stateroom balconies, single, open-seating dining in The Restaurant with its dramatic glasswork art, black cherry wood chairs where leisurely multi-course meals are served by a tuxedo-clad wait staff. The cruise line’s obsession to details is displayed by free flowing French champagne, afternoon canapés and Godiva chocolates delivered to your suite, leather ticket cases, inviting public rooms and amenities such as the outstanding Mandara Spa. For additional information call: 800-722-9055, fax in the U.S. to 954-522-4499, or visit the website at: www.silverseacruises.com