Silver Spirit Cruise Review
Is Silversea right for you?
The term "luxury cruising" can be a turn-off for some travelers (even those who can easily afford the fares), since it has implications of exclusivity, pretension, and stuffiness. If your experience with butlers is limited to watching Downton Abbey and you think tuxedos are best worn by waiters or nightclub performers, a Silversea cruise may not rank high on your bucket list.
But don't be too quick to judge: "Luxury" has a different meaning in the 21st Century than it did in the 20th, and Silversea--luxurious though it may be--isn't your grandfather's upscale cruise line.
On our Silver Spirit cruise, we encountered a wide spectrum of passengers, such as:
Still, we wouldn't want to give the impression that Silversea has lost its edge with the landed gentry or the hedge-fund crowd:
One final thought about luxury: To us, the luxury of a Silversea cruise isn't about free-flowing Champagne, upscale jewelry in the ship's boutique, or French chocolates at bedtime. It's about the quality of accommodations, the lack of crowding, the freedom from nickel-and-diming, and the unpretentious but attentive service.
Formality on board
Silversea hasn't abandoned dress codes or "formal nights" (which remain popular with traditionalists), but the evening ambiance has changed quite a bit since we first cruised with Silversea in 2002. Back then, you couldn't go anywhere on the ship after 6 p.m. on a formal night unless you were dressed appropriately. Most men wore black tie, evening gowns weren't uncommon, and the atmosphere was that of a charity event at the Waldorf.
Silversea still has a handful of formal nights during a typical cruise, with "casual" or "informal" (jackets, but no neckties) prevailing on other days. But nowadays, the formal-night dress code applies only to the main restaurant and Le Champagne, and "formal" doesn't mean what it once did. On the two formal nights during our nine-night Silver Spirit cruise, only a minority of the guests wore tuxedos and gowns.
Luxury cruises have become more affordable in recent years, thanks to competition and higher occupancy rates.
When we first sailed with Silversea in 2002, a Mediterranean cruise in a standard Veranda suite was priced at nearly US $1,000 per person per day.
Ten years later, the per diem for a comparable Silversea cruise is in the $400-600 range, and most fares include an onboard spending credit of $500 to $1,500 per suite that you can use for shore excursions, Internet-access fees, surcharges in specialty restaurants, premium wines, spa treatments, or shopping.
We aren't experts on cruise pricing, but we've been told that--unlike some cruise lines--Silversea eschews promotional fare-slashing. You'll probably get a better deal by booking early than by waiting until the last minute, and you'll certainly have a better choice of staterooms. (To check fares and special offers, see the cruise listings on the "Destinations" pages of Silversea's Web site, which we list on our Silver Spirit Web Links page.)
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3rd inset photo courtesy of Silversea Cruises.
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