Luxury cruise that became experience of a lifetime

By Aaron Saunders, The Province

Every suite aboard the Silver Spirit has a butler and an attendantwho cater to your needs without fussing.

Every suite aboard the Silver Spirit has a butler and an attendant who cater to your needs without fussing.

After a week in the Mediterranean aboard Silver Spirit, the elegant flagship of ultra-luxury line Silversea (www.silversea. com), the “real world” seems a little, well, dull.

Everything was sensory-overload on our voyage from Athens to Barcelona, a segment of Silver Spirit’s maiden World Cruise that began in Los Angeles on January 19th.

It’s almost impossible to describe the multitude of experiences we had in a single week, so I’ll describe just one: we were sitting outside on the open deck aft of La Terrazza, Silver Spirit’s casual breakfast and lunch eatery. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it was so warm outside that our glass of fresh orange juice began to condense along its sides. As our waiter Boyke brought breakfast to us, the beautiful cliffs of Sorrento, Italy, came into view on our starboard side. The sun-splashed island of Capri was opposite. Fresh coffee was poured, and Boyke asked us about our plans for the day. Another morning aboard Silver Spirit had begun.

Idyllic is a good word to describe both the ship and our ports of call. The Mediterranean offers up an incredible mix of historic ports coupled with warm sun and blue seas. In one single week, we explored the Acropolis of Athens, rode ATV’s on Mount Etna, climbed the hills of Capri, experienced magical Rome, hobnobbed in Monte Carlo and toured Gaudi’s Barcelona. Yet I can’t help but feel like the ship was the real star.

Silversea works hard to ensure every passenger has an on-board experience that is relaxed and enjoyable, elegant but never stuffy. Coming from a largely mainstream cruising background, my biggest surprise was just how friendly everyone was. Silversea passengers are well-educated, well-travelled and generally enjoy life. The other big surprise: no lines, anywhere. Not at check-in, not at breakfast, not waiting to go ashore. Never.

The line also prides itself on little, unexpected touches that mean so much to the cruise experience as a whole. To that end, every suite features both a butler and an attendant, who are there for anything you might need, and then some. Our luggage was unpacked for us, my shoes were polished before I could ask, and after a long day ashore, our butler Arnel drew us a bubble-bath complete with champagne, electric candles (it is a ship, after all), and scented bath soap. If that’s not the pure definition of relaxation, I don’t know what is.

If you think you can’t afford a luxury cruise vacation, you may want to look again. Silversea may have a higher initial upfront cost, but with included economy-class airfare, gratuities, complimentary beverages (including beer, wine and spirits) and generous on-board credits on most voyages, you’re arguably getting more bang for your cruising buck. How much was your airfare and on-board bill from your last cruise? Factored in, the gap between mainstream and luxury closes quickly.

For us, our weeklong voyage aboard Silver Spirit stopped being just a cruise. It became an experience of a lifetime.

Silversea’s Silver Spirit sails the Mediterranean throughout summer and early fall, before repositioning to the Caribbean for the winter months.

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