THE CRUISE: Ten-day one-way Reykjavik (Iceland) to Tower Bridge, London, with stops in Kirkwell (Orkney Islands), Stornoway (Western Isles), Oban, Grennock, Waterford, Dublin and Fowey. This year Silversea is featuring a 15-day voyage out of London (Tower Bridge) on July 5 2011 calling at Aberdeen; Lerwick (Shetland Islands); Thorshavn (Faroe Islands); Akureyri, Isafjordur and Reykjavik (Iceland); Greenock; Dublin; Cobh and Falmouth before arriving in Southampton.
PRICE RANGE: From £5,333pp, on an all-inclusive basis, based on two people sharing a Vista Suite.
OVERVIEW: Silversea offers an impressive all-inclusive top-end product. Shore excursions were a little on the sedentary side (mainly coach tours with minimal walking/exercise involved).
STATEROOM: Our ocean-view stateroom featured a fair-sized balcony. A bottle of Drapier champagne on ice was waiting for us, and a mini-bar was stocked with soft drinks and wines. Bathroom toiletries were by Bvlgari, Neutrogena and Origins. Room features included a flatscreen TV, DVD player and iPod docking station. Burberry blankets and binoculars were provided. A butler introduced himself an hour after we boarded and was on hand 24/7.
EATING PLACES: Gourmet meals are served in two relaxed single seating dining rooms - The Restaurant and La Terraza - by friendly, attentive waiters. Meal hours are as flexible as the seating arrangement – no set meal times or dining companions - and quality complimentary wines are poured liberally. Cuisine highlights included lobster, Icelandic cod, halibut and lamb. Le Champagne is a pay-as-you-visit ($200pp) Relais and Chateaux fine-dining experience, The nightly menus featured regional cuisine paired with fine wines. Despite the chilly weather, the pool bar was a popular al fresco alternative, serving up gourmet pizzas, New York-style hot dogs and Thai crabcakes. Also popular was high tea in the Panorama Lounge.
WATERING HOLES: The pool bar served a selection of beers, wine and cocktails until early evening, then the simply called The Bar, on Deck Four, served as the place for pre-dinner cocktails. Open from 21.30 until the last guest left was the Panorama Lounger and the Humidor, where guests smoked cigars and drank premium cognacs they requested before embarkation.
ENTERTAINMENT: There was a somewhat limited line-up of singers, dancers, musicians and entertainers and, although not exactly up to West End or Broadway standard, the productions were enjoyable enough.
ACTIVITIES: Daily activities included the usual cruise fare of dancing lessons, Bridge, putting tournaments, yoga, Trivia competitions and lectures about the next destination. With plenty of shore excursions in Scotland, whisky tasting was also popular. The Spa at Silversea has three treatment rooms, six therapists and treatments that included an Elemis pro-collagen marine facial and a Swedish massage. There was a casino, library featuring the previous day’s UK newspapers, an internet café and a small fitness centre The small pool had two hot tubs.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Silversea seeks out uncommon and rarely-seen-elsewhere itineraries and this cruise fitted into that category. It felt like we were on a very exclusive country club at sea – on one of the industry’s most elegant small ships. The attention to detail was faultless, the cuisine superb, the ambience sophisticated, the backdrop elegant without being stuffy, fun but not too frivolous: ideal for couples who enjoy fine food, sublime service and intimacy combined with all-inclusive quality fare.
FOR TRAVEL AGENTS: Silversea is currently offering travel agents a range of benefits. These include an online training tool - www.silverseaacademy.com - with prize opportunities, and booking incentives, such as iPods and cash bonuses, on selected voyages. The cruise line is also offering customisable sales collateral, marketing support, the Silversea Collection preferred partner programme, a limited programme of familiarisation and ship visit and a travel agent centre at www.silversea.com.
INFORMATION: To book a Silversea cruise, call 0844 770 9030, or visit www.silversea.com.
First Launched: January 2011
Length/Tonnage: 1,115 feet/130,000-tonnes
Freelance Journalist, Selling Cruising