Touring Europe by Ship:
Silver Whisper Mediterranean Cruise
from page 4
ABOVE: The Silver Whisper's
room-service breakfast menu offers pancakes, fresh fruit, pastries, and more.
Food and drink
Even on a port-intensive cruise (see
Europe by Ship), food is a central part of the cruise experience. Silversea
Cruises puts a great emphasis on its culinary and wine offerings, and our 12-day cruise
on the Silver Whisper gave us the opportunity to savor everything from
Pizza Margherita on our balcony to a dinner created by a Chef de Cuisine from the
Restaurant Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France.
Breakfast. On tour
days, we usually had breakfast in our suite. Our order typically included banana or blueberry
pancakes, fresh fruit, Müesli, croissants, and
Danish pastries. If we'd wished, we could have had eggs cooked to order with
meat, potatoes, or hash; a Scandinavian-style breakfast with cheese and cold
cuts; assorted yogurts; or smoked salmon with cream cheese and bagels.
The Terrace Café was our other favorite breakfast
spot, since we could enjoy the buffet breakfast at a large outdoor table. We had a leisurely breakfast
in the Restaurant one morning, with fresh flowers on our table and a view of the
sea. If we'd been early risers, we could have started the day with coffee and
pastries in the Panorama Lounge or Observation Lounge at 6:30 a.m.
When we were on the Silver Whisper for lunch, we alternated between the
Terrace Café's buffet (which included freshly cooked pasta) and hamburgers or panini at the Poolside Grille. A
more elaborate course-by-course lunch was available in the Restaurant, which
also was the site of Silversea's traditional Galley Brunch on one of our days
at sea. During the Galley Brunch, we followed a red carpet into the kitchen,
where the chefs had arranged an elaborate buffet with entrées that ranged from
cold seafood to Kalbsbratwurst mit Rösti and other Swiss-German dishes.
Dinner. On most evenings, we dined in the
Restaurant (the Silver Whisper's main dining room), which has "open
seating" rather than assigned tables. We often found ourselves dining with other
passengers, either by prior arrangement or on the spur of the moment. We
normally arrived just after the Restaurant opened at 7:30 p.m. and lingered
until it was time for the evening show in the Viennese Lounge.
Restaurant dinners typically offered choices of
several hot or cold appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, and desserts. At
least one vegetarian entrée was on the menu each night. On a number of evenings,
the Restaurant offered a "La Collection du Monde" Signature Dish in association
with Relais & Châteaux.
We dined twice in the Terrace Café, which becomes an intimate reservations-only
theme restaurant for 50 guests on most evenings. One of our favorite meals
was a "Cucina Italiana" dinner, which was similar to a chef's tasting menu with
various appetizers and pastas leading up to the main course. Other theme dinners
during the cruise focused on Greek, French, and Asian cuisine.
The traditional Silversea Cruises Pool Barbecue was
another special occasion. The kitchen staff erected tables and barbecues on the
pool and jogging decks, with grilled meats and salads served buffet-style while
waiters kept glasses topped up with wine and other beverages. Greek entertainers
from Katakalon performed folk dances under the stars, with several dozen
uninhibited passengers joining in for a Greek-style conga line around the deck.
(So much for the preconception that upscale travelers are sedate and stuffy.)
In 2004, Silversea converted the Silver
Whisper's Le Champagne winetasting room into a dinner restaurant that serves a
special chef's menu to no more than 30 guests at a sitting. (There's no extra
charge to reserve a table in the restaurant, but wines must be ordered and paid
for by the bottle.) In 2005, there were reports that Le Champagne would be
converted to a new format (possibly "Asian Fusion" cuisine) and that the Terrace
Café would become an Italian restaurant in the evening.
Ingredients and portions. Silversea
doesn't skimp on its food budget, to judge from the quantities of caviar, foie
gras, smoked salmon, and truffles that were available during our cruise.
Portions of individual dishes in the Restaurant weren't large, however, because Silversea's
corporate chef believes that guests should be able to enjoy a complete meal from
appetizers through dessert. If you have a hearty appetite, you're free to order
extra portions or to request an entrée (such as a fish or pasta dish) as a first
Service. We had friendly, attentive service
in all of the Silver Whisper's dining venues, although we did see one
waiter become slightly impatient with a tablemate who was afraid of getting
trichinosis from wild boar that hadn't been overcooked. The level of deference toward passengers
seemed almost excessive for our populist sensibilities, and we tried turning the
tables one night--without success--as we left the Restaurant. (Headwaiter: "Thank you very much." Durant:
"Thank you very much." Headwaiter: "Thank you.")
alternatives. We enjoyed Silversea's imaginatively prepared cuisine, but if you're
ever in a "back to basics" mood, not to worry: The hamburgers and hot
dogs at the Pool Grille
are cooked just the way you want them, and you can order unadorned steak, salmon,
chicken, or spaghetti marinara in the Restaurant when you've had your fill of gourmet
cuisine. Each day's menu also has "Cruiselite" options that are low in sodium,
fat, and cholesterol. And if you'd rather just stay in
your cabin, you can order anything from a snack to a full meal from room service
24 hours a day.
Beverages. Silversea's cruise prices include
all the soft drinks, mineral water, beer, wine, and liquor you can drink. If
you'd like to order a bottle of
Champagne while dressing for dinner each evening, you're welcome to do so--and
you won't find it billed to your account at the end of your voyage. (The only
exceptions are "connoisseur's list" wines and spirits or drinks in the Le
Champagne specialty restaurant.)
We aren't big drinkers, so our "Welcome aboard"
bottle of Champagne was carried home and parked on our dining-room buffet to
a special occasion. But we drank many excellent table wines on the Silver
Whisper, often because we felt guilty in saying "no" to sommeliers who
took such obvious pride in the wines they were serving.
(Note: If you're a teetotaler, simply inform the
maitre d' or the sommelier that you don't want to be offered wine or spirits.
And if Silversea's generosity with alcoholic beverages is likely to be a
problem, watch the Silversea Chronicles newsletter for the Friends of
Bill W. meeting schedule.)
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Activities and entertainment