The spiffy little Silver Cloud, a member of Silversea Cruises' fleet of small luxury ships, is the nearly identical twin of Silver Wind; they were both launched in 1994. Like all Silversea ships, 296-passenger Silver Cloud stands out for its high levels of service, gourmet dining and spacious, all-oceanview suites. It's elegant without being stuffy, fun but not too frivolous, and ideal for couples who enjoy fine food, sublime service and intimacy.
Silver Cloud has among the highest space-to-passenger ratios in the industry. The genuine and warm crewmembers make passengers feel truly at home, and every cabin offers butler service. Many of the onboard staff have been with Silversea for years, demonstrating a true dedication to the cruise experience. The small size of the ship means your name will always be remembered.
Plus, Silver Cloud's fares are all-inclusive. Food, alcohol and wine, as well as gratuities, are all included in the fare. (The exceptions are a meal at the exclusive Relais & Chateaux restaurant and any high-end wines.) In addition, in select ports, the ship offers complimentary transportation into town and occasionally a gratis shoreside event.
In October 2012, Silver Cloud underwent a three-week stem-to-stern refurbishment during a dry dock in Sicily. All suites and public spaces, except the gym and theater, were refurbished with new furniture, carpets and decor. The result is a fresher, more contemporary look and feel.
Silver Cloud offers an Internet cafe, or you can use your own laptop or tablet to access the Internet via shipwide Wi-Fi. In either case, you must buy a package of minutes. You can get 100 minutes of online access for $45, 250 minutes for $85 and 1,000 minutes for $250. There's also a well-stocked library filled with DVD's, books and newspapers.
The Card Room on Deck 6 provides a great meeting place for bridge players. The shore concierge desk and passenger relations manager are also based on Deck 6.
The duty-free boutique on Deck 5 offers a nice selection of perfumes, as well as designer handbags, sportswear, costume jewelry and incidentals like memory cards for cameras and suntan lotion. For those in the market for real baubles, the H. Stern boutique offers a mesmerizing selection of diamonds and gold, including many modern pieces.
There's a self-serve Laundromat on Deck 4. The medical center on Deck 3 has regular hours, plus an onboard doctor is available at any time for emergencies.
Silver Cloud's 146 suites all have ocean views, and 75 percent have private balconies. There are six categories of suites ranging in size from 240 square feet to more than 1,300 square feet. The Vista Suite is the smallest and does not have a balcony. The next step up, Veranda, is identical to the Vista Suite but offers a 55-square-foot teak balcony with a floor-to ceiling glass door instead of a large picture window.
The midship Veranda Suites are the best value on the ship, as they are well located, especially for a smoother ride in rough seas. There are three Silver Suites (541 square feet), each with a larger verandah and separate dining and living areas. The Owner's Suite (827 square feet) has two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a 95-square-foot teak verandah. The two Royal Suites pile on the space with an additional 200 square feet in living space. Finally, the two Grand Suites are the largest suites with stunning ocean views, 1,341 square feet of space and three verandahs.
Suites are decorated in beige and orange with wood accents. During the ship's dry dock refurbishment in October 2012, all of the carpets, headboards, curtains and verandah furniture were replaced. All of the sofas and chairs were updated with new fabrics. The new mattresses were made exclusively for Silversea, and they're outfitted with Pratesi sheets and linens. The beds can be configured as two twin beds or a queen, and passengers can select specific pillow types from a range of options.
Each suite features a sitting area with a minimum of two chairs, a table, a sofa and a desk. A makeup area with a small stool and a lighted mirror is another nice feature. Silversea's suites use space so efficiently that even the smallest ones feel like they have everything you need.
Other items you will find in the suites include direct-dial phones, safes, binoculars, iHome alarm clocks and a flat-screen TV's with DVD and satellite reception. Even the smallest Vista Suites offer walk-in closets with drawers, shelves and plenty of room to hang clothing for a multi-week trip. Silver Suites and higher feature CD players. The Royal, Grand and Owner's Suites also offer guest powder rooms and full-size Jacuzzis.
The large bathrooms in all staterooms have been refitted with new flooring and marble, and nearly all suites that formerly had bathtubs now have new walk-in, glass-enclosed rainforest showers (complete with seats) or bath-shower combinations. (A few suites still have bathtubs, so ask when booking.) The shelves on the sides of the bathroom mirrors offer plenty of storage for toiletries. Upon arrival, your butler will offer you a choice of Acqua di Parma, Bvlgari or Neutrogena bath products.
Each suite is assigned a butler (who wears tails); he's a phone call away to make dinner reservations, provide you with a different type of pillow or ask you which beverages (alcoholic and nonalcoholic) you would like stocked in your refrigerator/cocktail bar.
Dining on Silver Cloud is heavenly, with numerous options depending on your mood and cravings. The high-quality food is one reason cruisers choose Silversea over other lines.
The Restaurant is the main dining venue on Silver Cloud. Friendly, attentive waiters serve delicious multi-course gourmet meals with a Mediterranean influence. There's a standard menu that's always available, along with a lengthy list of daily chef's specials. All three meals are served a la carte. Dinner reservations aren't required; passengers may simply arrive any time between 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
La Terrazza is a smaller a la carte restaurant that features scrumptious Italian cuisine in the tradition of Slow Food. The dinner menu of delights -- Pecorino pie, handmade tagliatelle, veal, tiramisu and panna cotta -- changes every three days. Each of the four courses is paired with the perfect Italian wine. This specialty restaurant (no extra cost) is a must for at least one night, but many cruisers find themselves there several times, given the intimate, quality dining experience. Reservations are required, as the capacity is limited to 50 people. La Terrazza also serves buffet breakfast and buffet lunch. You don't need reservations for these meals, and there is never a wait for a table since people come at different times.
The experience is even more exclusive at La Champagne, the only Relais & Chateaux restaurant at sea. Only 20 diners per night can enjoy an exquisite six-course meal. There's a $30 surcharge per person, plus the cost of any upgrades in the wine selections. You must reserve ahead of time.
In 2012, the Pool Bar and Grill was expanded and transformed into The Grill, which offers passengers the chance to cook their own steak and seafood on heated volcanic rocks at their table. Some passengers enjoy the novel experience of cooking their own meal, while others would prefer to leave the work to Silversea's excellent chefs.
Room service is not to be missed. Many of the main courses served in the restaurant are also featured on the room service menu, so choosing to spend the night in your cabin doesn't mean you need to forego the gourmet experience. Dinners are served in courses -- the waiters ask when you'd like them to come back -- and they're divine on starry, balmy nights in the privacy of your balcony. For other times of the day, or a midnight snack, the usual array of burgers, salads and appetizers is available. Room service breakfast is also a standout, and it's a great alternative when you want to spend a little more time in your cabin getting ready for a port call.
Tips are included, and additional gratuities are discouraged by the staff; however, some passengers still give them for exemplary service.
|Fitness and Recreation|
Silver Cloud has a sizable saltwater pool (large enough for laps) and two hot tubs on Deck 8. The deck space is more than ample for sun-lovers. On sea days, there's usually a rousing game or two of pool volleyball. Just above the pool deck on Deck 9 are a walking track and a small gym housing elliptical machines, treadmills, free weights and yoga mats. The gym provides terrific views. A variety of fitness classes is offered daily. You can also try your hand at paddle tennis, or practice putting at the onboard green.
For those who prefer pampering to pumping iron, the Spa at Silversea is a sight for sore muscles. There are a full hair salon, including nail services, and nine treatment rooms to fulfill your every rejuvenating fantasy. You may want to try a warm stone or Swedish massage, reflexology or an anti-aging facial. Each changing room has a sauna and steam bath.
While the Silver Cloud permits children onboard, there aren't any specific facilities or programs for children or teenagers.
Silverseas' generally 40-and-older passengers are well-traveled and sophisticated. The ships attract an international clientele, with the majority being American and European..
Daytime dress is always casual. A typical weeklong sailing includes one formal night, when the dress code is black tie optional, two evenings with "informal" apparel (dresses or pantsuits for women, jackets for men) and three casual nights (dresses or blouses and pants for women, sport shirts and slacks for the guys).
The gamut of usual shipboard activities is offered during the day, from lectures and language lessons to dance classes and bridge. The most popular pastime is the daily trivia competition.
Evening entertainment features "The Artists of Silversea," a troupe of three female and three male singers/entertainers who perform everything from Beatles hits to opera. The quality of the entertainers is fairly high for a ship of this size, and the cruise director also performs along with the group. The multi-tiered Venetian Lounge provides a pleasant setting for these evening shows or movies with unobstructed views.
The most popular spot is The Bar, a bustling art deco saloon, where folks meet and mingle easily before and after dinner. The barkeep will call you by name and remember what you drink after one visit. On many evenings, the Silver Cloud Quartet performs there; it's a great place to dance.
The pretty, well-designed and user-friendly Panorama Lounge is a great place for just sipping drinks, listening to music or simply sitting and watching the sea go by. At night, a pianist plays and sings there.
There's also a tiny casino that gets good table action, but not too much slot play.
The highlights of Silver Cloud's shore excursions are the knowledgeable guides the cruise line contracts. Excursions run the gamut from half-day city orientations to cooking classes and winery outings. A Silver Cloud staff member accompanies every shore excursion to make sure everything is running smoothly.
The shore concierge conducts briefings on ports a day or two before docking, going over the excursions provided by the line and how passengers can tour on their own. At each port, a local expert comes aboard just after docking and can provide maps, restaurant recommendations and information on taxis.
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