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I think it’s safe to say that cruising has often been associated with an older demographic, but as a girl in my late 20s I’d actually been wanting to go on a cruise for quite some time. Although I’d never tried one, I quite liked the idea of being able to stop in lots of different places on one trip, as well as being able to fully relax and unwind. I think a lot of people like me are actually getting more curious about cruises and what it’s actually like to be aboard a ship for a week or two.
This month Silversea Cruises invited me on a cruise from Athens to Dubrovnik along with three other lovely bloggers, allowing me to sample a slice of cruise life for the very first time! The actual cruise ship was sailing all the way to Venice, but we disembarked a couple of stops early, missing Hvar and Venice. All in all we stopped in 6 cruise ports, including Mykonos, Monemvasia, Zakynthos, Corfu, Kotor and Dubrovnik.
It was hands down of the most relaxing, indulgent and memorable trips I’ve ever taken. I left the cruise the most tanned I’ve ever been and feeling like I’d had a proper holiday, which is quite rare these days. If you’ve found this post you’ve probably been asking yourself the question, “What are Silversea Cruises like?”, so here I’ll give you a rundown of the experience, including my suite, the facilities and the food.
Is Silversea really all inclusive?
While on some cruise liners you may have to pay extra for things like alcoholic beverages, on Silversea Cruises everything is all-inclusive. This meant I was able to order as many cocktails as I wanted by the pool and order whatever I liked at meal times without having to worry about how much things cost or settling a tab at the end of the cruise.
There are a few things that of course aren’t included, like spa treatments and certain excursions. A couple of the restaurants – Seishin and Le Champagne – have a $40 supplement. But on the whole your meals, drinks, entertainment and alcohol are all included in the price, meaning you really feel like you’re on a true vacation. Want to order a bottle of Bombay Sapphire to your room? No problem. Thinking about ordering a filet mignon by the swimming pool? Done! Fancy a glass of champagne at sunset? Oh go on then!
The Silver Spirit
Built in 2009, the Silver Spirit can accommodate 540 guests and has a guest to staff ratio of nearly 1 to 1, with personal butlers for every suite. There’s a total of 8 small luxury cruise ships in the Silversea fleet, meaning they can get to destinations the larger ships can’t reach. And while I haven’t travelled on another cruise liner in order to fully compare, I can really see the advantages of a smaller ship – the intimacy, the service and the ability to make life long friends.
The Silversea Suites
There are no cabins aboard the Silver Spirit – they’re called suites – and mine was one of the Veranda Suites. It was incredibly roomy (35 square metres), with a comfortable queen size bed, a proper living area, a full walk-in wardrobe and a teak veranda so I could sit outside and enjoy the view every morning.
I was expecting the bathroom to be quite small on a ship but mine was full-size, with a very powerful rain shower and a separate bath tub. It was even stocked with Bvlgari bath products so I didn’t need to bring my own shampoo or conditioner. I believe there is a choice of amenity brands but I stuck with the Bvlgari because they smelt so lovely!
My walk-in wardrobe was so big that I was actually able to take everything out of my suitcase and store it away for the entire week! It featured a safe, a huge set of drawers and plenty of coat hangers so I could hang everything up. When I found my clothes were a bit creased, I just trotted down the corridor to the ironing room where I ironed the clothes myself. There is a dry cleaning and pressing service, but extra fees apply.
I slept really well throughout the entire trip thanks to the thick premium mattress and luxurious Pratesi duvet, although I sometimes woke up to the sound of the ship’s anchor when we came into port. The room is also equipped with:
- Bath robes and slippers
- Large vanity mirror with hairdryer
- Radio/alarm with iPod docking station
- Direct-dial telephone
- Refrigerator and bar
- Flat-screen TV with on-demand movies and news
- Writing desk with personalised stationery, binoculars, and umbrella
My lovely personal butler was always on hand to ensure I had everything I need, although I didn’t need to ask for much because my room was so well-equipped! He delivered my breakfast with a smile in the morning and brought full bottles of my favourite wines and spirits for the mini bar. On my last evening I came back to my room to find he had run a bath full of rose petals so I could relax and unwind after my day out in Montenegro.
I always appreciate the little extras when I’m staying away from home and in this case I loved coming back to find luxury chocolates on my bed and a mini newspaper to read in the morning.
There are a total of 6 restaurants on board the Silver Spirit. You’ll always be able to get a table in The Restaurant (the main, large dining area) but with some of the other restaurants I’d highly recommend you book in advance, as they are very popular. It does make things a little less spontaneous, but at least you’ll get a table. The two we didn’t get to try were Stars Supper Club (small plate selections in a jazz lounge environment) and Seishin (fine Asian fusion cuisine) because they were full on the days we wanted to go.
However I can say that the food in all the restaurants I tried was of top quality and when I spoke to other guests, they all enjoyed the two restaurants I didn’t get to try. The portions are quite small but since everything’s included, you can just order extra like I did!
On our first night we ate in Le Champagne, which is the only Wine Restaurant by Relais & Châteaux at sea. We enjoyed a delicious set tasting menu involving six courses in a small, intimate setting with just a few tables. My favourite course had to be the gold leaf risotto and the lobster thermidor – both dishes were incredible! On the second night we went a bit more casual with dinner in the Pool Bar, which is transformed into The Grill at night. The servers brought preheated volcanic rocks to our table, so we could cook our own steaks to perfection.
Another meal I really enjoyed was our meal in La Terrazza, an Italian restaurant which serves authentic food al fresco on the ship’s terrace. Seriously, the pasta was amazing!
I spent a lot of my time soaking up the sun on the pool deck, which features a pool and two bubbling whirlpools, along with plenty of sun loungers in the pool and the shade. I never had a problem with finding a sun lounger and the staff were always really attentive, ensuring I never went hungry or thirsty. What I loved about the pool was that it had quite a wide ledge that ran all the way around the side, meaning when it was really hot I could just lay down on the side and still feel the cool flow of the water. Many afternoons were spent here drinking cocktails and chatting with my fellow passengers. The only thing I would suggest is perhaps a little bit of music by the pool to make things a little more lively in the afternoons.
Other facilities included a fitness centre, beauty salon, spa, library, internet cafe, card room and shopping boutiques. Once we’d finished dinner in the evening we usually headed up to the Panorama Lounge for drinks and karaoke, since that’s where most passengers seemed to congregate. We also visited The Bar for cocktails, which is a little more low key with a live jazz singer and pianist. If you appreciate cigars, and cognac you might want to visit Connoisseur’s Corner where there’s a large selection to choose from. Or if you fancy trying your luck at the roulette or blackjack table, there’s a casino for those who are aged 18 and over.
One evening we watched a music and comedy show in the Show Lounge, while on another evening we visited the Observation Deck, where we pretended to be Rose in Titanic as the wind blew through our hair to the sound of My Heart Will Go On…cheesy I know.
The only thing with the entertainment is that it wasn’t really geared towards 20/30 somethings, but I realise it’s a little bit difficult when you have to cater to older clientele too. There’s no nightclub and the entertainment shut down quite early, so you won’t find yourself cutting shapes on the dance floor long after midnight. Of course that doesn’t stop you hitting the casino, continuing drinks on the deck of the Panorama Lounge or enjoying a drink or two in the comfort of your own room.
When you travel on a cruise like this, you really just get a taster of each destination. We stopped in a different cruise port every day, meaning on most evenings we were at sea. I got into a routine of having breakfast on the ship then getting on the tender (a small boat that takes you from the ship to the shore) around 10am. I would usually spend the morning sightseeing nearby before getting back on the ship around 2 or 3pm for a snacks, drinks and sunbathing time. It’s nice to experience some of the local cuisine on shore at lunch time, but when your food is all inclusive on the ship it seems silly not to take advantage of it.
I’d say on most days the tenders started running around 8am and then we were all back on the ship around 5 or 6-ish for departure, similar routines than the FL Yacht Charters. The two main exceptions were Mykonos, where we were in port till after sunset and Montenegro, where we were in port all night. This does mean that you can’t venture too far from the port but if you plan things correctly, you can still get to a nearby beach or stroll around town.
I did feel a little bit sad to miss out on the nightlife in some of the ports we visited, but then again, the food on the Silver Spirit was so exceptional and we had fun hanging out in the Panorama Lounge with other passengers.
Here’s an example of what I did in each port:
Mykonos – I love this town – incredibly pretty with white and blue buildings. Giulia and I spent the morning walking around the town, before taking a taxi to Super Paradise Beach. This is definitely one of my favourite islands in Greece. Read my list of things to do in Mykonos here.
Monemvasia – I’d never heard of Monemvasia but it’s quite a striking iceberg-like island that’s linked to the Greek mainland by a causeway. It has an incredibly pretty little perched village with a few restaurants, cafes and boutiques. The weather was however incredibly hot walking around that day so I was very keen to get back to the ship for a swim!
Zakynthos – I didn’t rate this island itself – it seemed to be huge with not much charm or character. However Zakynthos is home to Shipwreck Beach – one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Giulia and I disembarked the ship with the intention of visiting Shipwreck Beach, not realising it was all the way on the other side of the island, which meant taking a full day boat trip. Unfortunately we’d missed the boats (most depart at 9am) so if you want to see it we recommend getting off the ship super early in the morning. Instead we decided to take a glass bottomed boat to see the turtles and go swimming in the caves. The water was so clear you could see all the way to the bottom and I really enjoyed being a mermaid for the day.
Corfu – Corfu Town is a labyrinth of narrow streets and I was quite surprised by how picturesque it was. It’s a great place for shopping, or just sitting in a cafe and watching the world go by. I’d highly recommend Pane e Souvlaki if you want to grab a traditional Greek souvlaki.
Montenegro – I’ve visited Montenegro many times now and it’s without a doubt, my favourite country in Europe. It’s stunning. When I woke up and stepped out onto my veranda I gasped at just how beautiful Kotor Bay really is (and this wasn’t my first visit). Since it was our last night of the cruise we went for drinks in the old town, then Giulia and I took a taxi to Top Hill – a world famous nightclub on the top of a hill.
Dubrovnik – This was our last stop on the cruise. Sadly we only had about half an hour to see it before heading to the airport, but it looked beautiful. It was however incredibly busy in July, so I’d like to go back again outside of peak season.
I’ve definitely become a cruise convert and I’m totally addicted! For lots of passengers on the ship it was their second, third, even fourth cruise and I would go on another cruise in a heartbeat. I think I’ve been spoilt with Silversea – the service, the food and the suites were outstanding.
Next up I think I’d love to sail the Caribbean!
Do you think you’d enjoy a cruise? Have you been on Silversea before? Do you have any questions for me? Leave your comments below!
To book your next trip on the Silver Spirit visit: http://www.silversea.com/ships/silver-spirit/#voyages_details
My cruise aboard the Silver Spirit was complimentary for the purposes of a review, however I am always honest and fair in my reviews. In this case, as you can see from my glowing review, I just really, really liked the cruise!