While on Silversea’s newest ship, the 540-guest Silver Spirit, I spent time considering what defines an ultra-luxury vacation. After much thought, I believe that a 6-star cruise experience needs to provide aesthetic appeal, an attractive design for the ship’s hardware (the ship and its furnishings), and the software (the food and other items consumed).
Freedom to do what one wants, when one wants. A stress-free experience in which service is attentive and nearly every want and desire is satisfied with minimal apparent effort on the part of a happy and friendly staff. Most of the newer four and five-star ships provide attractive surroundings, and physical comfort and good levels of service, but complete guest freedom is not typically available. An ultra-luxury ship, on the other hand, should provide excellent service and freedom of choice in all aspects of the voyage. The ship met expectations for attractiveness and physical comfort; my verandah stateroom on Deck 8 was nicely appointed, and the bed was one of the most comfortable I’ve ever experienced at sea. However, there was some room for improvement when it came to meeting ultra-luxury levels of freedom and service.
I should add that the butler service provided for all staterooms is outstanding and this exceeded that of competitors. Otherwise, on occasion, there were lapses of quality and service that weren’t executed as expected.
I had great expectations for dining at the various speciality restaurants that are prominently advertised by Silversea and quickly learned that many of the restaurants—such as Le Champagne and Stars Supper Club—had been booked weeks in advance and there was nothing available on any night. I tried eating at La Terrazza—it’s the largest speciality restaurant, so walk-ins shouldn’t be too difficult to accommodate, especially if one arrives outside of peak times. Approaching the maître d’ several evenings at 8:30 pm, I was told, “Sorry, there’s nothing available,” even though half of the tables appeared to be empty.
Service ship-wide conveyed a feeling of disorganisation. Table settings in restaurants, for example, would vary from table to table. One table would have a plant and candle on it, while an adjacent one would not. One would have an oil and vinegar set on it, while another would not. Staff engagement could have been better at times too.
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