All cabins on Silversea Whisper are called "suites" but some are, well, sweeter than others. 80 percent have verandahs. Even basic "vista" (no balcony) suites are roomy and comfortably elegant, with dark woods and color schemes in harvest red, old gold and moss green. Standard suites (vista and verandah) come with sitting areas, a table large enough for in-cabin dining, writing desks, videocassette players and walk-in closets. Gorgeous marble bathrooms have a separate tub and shower. Beyond standard cabins are a variety of larger suites, from "medallion" to "silver" to "royal" to "grand" - many of these have whirlpool baths and completely separate living and sleeping areas - but the ooh la la ultimate-of-ultimates is the "owners' cabin." There are two; so spacious, they feature a living room with bar and big, plasma-screen television, a dining room, powder room and the choice of one or two bedrooms (with Jacuzzi bathrooms). The ship also has two extra-large cabins for physically and/or visually challenged passengers.
The quality of entertainment on Silver Whisper varies. The live musicians who perform in the Panorama Lounge and The Bar play all the right stuff - 1930s and 1940s torch songs, Broadway show tunes, and pop medleys. In the Viennese Lounge, the schedule alternates with typical revue-style shows (we've seen better-much better) and more low key performances, such as a puppet show that's hosted by the cruise director as a labor of love.
During the day there were the usual cruise-type diversions, from water volleyball to bridge. One highlight was a cooking demonstration by the guest chef. Another was the occasionally unstaged event - on one evening, as the ship sailed past an erupting volcano, the cruise director urged passengers to watch from the top deck while he provided quite knowledgeable commentary. One afternoon, the sommelier, upon request from a passenger, hosted an impromptu wine tasting.
Speaking of information, one other superlative about this ship is the quality of port reports offered by the shore excursion desk - regardless of whether or not passengers were actually signing up for a tour or simply exploring independently.
|Fitness and Recreation|
The Mandara Spa offers an exotic, south Pacific-influenced menu of treatments. The spa, is now owned by Steiner Ltd. but there's a major difference from the spa operations Steiner/Mandara offer on other cruise lines. In this case, Silversea forbids spa therapists from engaging in their infamously annoying sales product pitches at the end of treatments.
Spa treatments range from traditional style facials and massages to more unusual offerings. An "Indonesian Natural Facial" uses ingredients extracted from seasonal fruits and vegetables. The "Ultimate Indulgence" massage features two therapists offering simultaneous massage (to one person); we heard raves. The "Hot Lava Rock" massage was, admittedly, a bit gimmicky. There, the therapist uses lava stones from Hawaii that are supposedly "blessed" (though my therapist couldn't tell me with what and by whom) and then kneaded them gently into the body with the help of delicious- smelling cocoa butter. Regardless of its gimmicky "aura", the treatment is fun and absolutely worked wonders on sore muscles.
One note: treatments here are typically priced higher than on other cruise lines but there's a reason: many last nearly twice-as-long as average (80 minutes instead of 50) and, consistent with Silversea's "no tipping expected" policy, gratuities are built into the fee.
The spa facility also features steam and sauna, and a full-service beauty salon. Adjacent is an adequate fitness facility (can get a little cramped at peak times) with treadmills and weight machines and an exercise room. A fitness instructor offers a daily menu of classes.
Outdoors, there's a big-enough pool and two adjoining whirlpools. Other athletic-oriented features include a running/walking track (seven times around equals a mile), shuffleboard, ping-pong and a golf cage.
None. There were a handful of kids aboard on our trip but parents (and/or nannies) were expected to provide the entertainment and, indeed, the kids were all well behaved and unobtrusive.
For breakfast, passengers can opt for light fare, set out pre-sun-up in the Observation and Panorama lounges, or an ample buffet in the Terrace Cafe. The Restaurant is also open for a more formal-style breakfast (try the house-made Mueslix or the grilled lamb chops). For lunch, the Terrace Cafe continues its buffet theme (try to get one of the outside tables) and The Restaurant has the more formal menus. The Poolside Grille is an ultra-casual option; its menu features burgers, fries, grilled chicken and salads.
Dinner is each day's culinary highlight. The Restaurant offers a six course menu, with plenty of choices, including a vegetarian entree and "CruiseLite" menu (low cholesterol, low fat and low sodium). The ship's affiliation with the prestigious Relais & Chateaux network of top-notch inns and restaurants results in an occasional guest chef stint from one of its storied hostelries; on our trip the chef from France's world-famous Bocuse offered a variety of appetizers and entrees - each one more fabulous than the next - throughout the voyage.
Another intriguing option is the Terrace Cafe's themed events. Occasionally throughout each voyage the restaurant opens for dinner (banishing any trace of its buffet operation), offering any one of 16 different six-course set menus ranging from Asian to French to Italian to all-seafood. The chef works in tandem with the sommelier to pair the food with appropriate wines. Advance reservations are required for these events, which are limited to 50 passengers, but we rarely experienced trouble booking a table.
Room service was consistently exceptional. There's a comprehensive 24-hour menu and passengers can order from The Restaurant's menu during meal times. Service is prompt and efficient; wait staff arrives with crystal, china and Frette tablecloth and performs a full, restaurant-style setup in your suite. Upon request, they will serve the meal course-by-course (at a pace you specify) or all at once. Staying in for a movie night? Order the popcorn.
Always elegant, whether casual (chic resort wear) or formal (subtle finery; not a beaded gown in sight). Many men wore tuxedos on formal nights.
All gratuities are included in the cruise fare and "extra" tips are not encouraged.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief
Silver Whisper has a nice blend of traditional cruise-style rooms-with-a-view. The Panorama Lounge, aft, and the Observation Lounge, forward, offer panoramic views. There's the Card Room for bridge, a conference center with chess-set embossed tables, and The Bar, a cozy lounge-with-dance floor. Distinctive hideaways include The Humidor, the ship's cigar bar and the casino-adjacent Grappa Bar. The ship has transformed its Champagne Bar, which is next to the Terrace Cafe, into a private dining and wine tasting venue. The room can be rented by passengers for a fee.
The Viennese Lounge, in lush red and gold, is the elegant two-level showroom and hosts everything from cooking demonstrations and shore excursion talks to film showings and live performances. There are two shops: one sells pricey apparel and accessories and Bvlgari is a jewelry boutique.
One of the busiest spots on the ship is the Internet Center, which contains five computer terminals (every passenger is pre-assigned an onboard email address). The adjacent bookshelf-lined library - with the usual cruise ship collection of bestseller type books along with a wonderfully eclectic selection of videos - has another two terminals. Even that wasn't enough on our recent cruise; passengers often had to wait for a terminal (the ship's highly erratic and completely unpredictable satellite connections didn't help). On the serious side, the ship has a fully serviceable Medical Center.
Silver Whisper, like its sister ship Silver Shadow, holds slightly more passengers than earlier ships Silver Cloud and Silver Wind. As a result, there are a few more options (such as a poolside grill, a cigar bar and a dedicated Internet center), but the experience remains relaxing, genuinely pampering, elegantly casual and yet - sophisticated.
The Silversea hallmark is its veritable all-inclusiveness along with the kind of superb hospitality that comes with superior service. The onboard experience includes drinks (wine, cocktails, juices, sodas) and gratuities. Not to mention the wonderful little extras, like complimentary shuttles in port, and free laundry facilities (among just a few examples), that make this an effortless vacation.
An interesting mix, from mid-30s on up and geographically diverse, with passengers hailing from the Far East, South America, and Europe - though most were American. One note: the line's more aggressive promotional efforts - via Simplicity Pricing and a presence on the Internet auction site Luxury Link (non-balconied cabins only) has resulted in more 30- and 40-something passengers. Regardless, everyone is relatively well-to-do.
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