Let’s deal with cold, hard statistics first; here is a 28,000 ton ship, with accommodation for around 380 guests in all suite accommodation. Ninety per cent of those suites have private balconies. These guests are looked after by a staff of around 330, and so highly attuned are they to your personal needs that they begin to anticipate them after only a day or so on board.
The result is a staggering amount of individual personal space, and a level of service that you’d expect to get at the Cipriani or the Savoy. Everything is deft, suave and understated. Tannoy announcements are almost as non existent as are lines of any kind. There are more than ample sun loungers and comfy spots throughout the ship. And God forbid that you should ever have to wait for a lift.
My veranda balcony suite was 345 square foot, inclusive of a teak balcony with two comfy mesh chairs and a small table. But numbers alone don’t begin to take you into the Silversea experience or ethos. The bathroom in that suite is marble clad, filled with exquisite Bulgari toiletries, and comes complete with a bath and separate shower stall. There’s a thick bathrobe that’s big enough to get lost in, and soft enough to make the idea seem appealing, too.
There’s a plasma screen TV/DVD combination with no shortage of available channels in a separate, curtained off area furnished with a couch, coffee table and a comfy chair. There’s ample storage space, including a walk in wardrobe the size of Westminster. The bed is a huge double, with sheets, pillows and a duvet so seductive that it practically qualifies as a dream destination in its own right. Throw in a fully stocked and constantly replenished complimentary mini bar, plus a room service menu that takes a while to read, and you begin to understand why these Silver Whisper suites form a very real hazard to activity of any kind. They are supremely, sublimely comfortable, commodious, and inviting.
But drag yourself outside, because there’s a whole ship to explore out there. Up top is a small, beautifully styled observation lounge with floor to ceiling windows, a few books, and coffee and pastries available more or less all day. Down one deck, there’s the open pool and its pair of twin hot tubs, all of which are open until late. Serving this is a more or less continuous grill, offering up steaks, burgers and other comfort food in a flash, as well as a poolside bar to keep you refreshed with another glass of whatever takes your fancy. And, don’t forget, it’s all inclusive, too.
The same grill area converts into a novel ‘Hot Rocks’ dining venue at night. Here, you can cook your own steak, chicken or other choice of cuts on a hot volcanic plate, with all the sides and condiments at hand. Try eating alfresco here in the endless summer glow of a Baltic night, and I guarantee you won’t forget it in a hurry.
On the upper deck, there’s a large panorama bar overlooking the stern, with comfy deck chairs and sofas outside, and a bar with a small dance floor inside. Entertainment tends to be low key, but highly styled; with the occasional disco and expertly choreographed floor shows in the intimate, two level theatre down below. For the size and style of the Silver Whisper this is a perfectly tailored approach, and the people on board genuinely love it.
Highlights for me included a Motown tribute show, and an excellent Rat Pack/Jersey Boys mash up that came across really well. There’s also a small, highly styled casino and an elegant cigar bar for those who want them. A secondary main lounge downstairs, known solely as The Bar, is the main venue for pre and post dinner cocktails and dancing, either to what was an extremely talented singing and playing duo, or an equally engaging pianist.
Just below the upper level lounge, there’s also La Terrazza. Open for breakfast and lunch as an open sitting venue, it has tables both inside and out. Foodwise?
Imagine fresh made waffles with chocolate sauce, eggs benedict, or even lamb chops. Better still, all of them Constant hot coffee and refreshing juices in a calm, unhurried oasis of cool. Sailing on the Silver Whisper is like putting to sea in the Ritz, but without getting a bill at the end. Sublime stuff, indeed.
In the evening, the same venue opens as a reservations only, top end Italian restaurant, and it’s exceptional. There’s no cover charge; you just need to get in damned quick.
The main dining room is down on four deck, and can seat every single passenger at one go. It’s a beautiful, window walled chamber with a small dance floor, and it holds occasional dinner dances during each cruise.
Everything about the dining experience here is pure theatre; from the lighting through to the stunning table settings, a world class menu that actually encourages you to ask for whatever you want, and service as expertly- and exquisitely- choreographed as any ballet. Add in interesting and well travelled company, some soft dinner music- and let’s not forget the excellent, complimentary, free flowing wines- and it’s little wonder that a meal here can run to more than two hours without you even being aware of it. This is food and service as theatre, for sure.
Trying to delineate the experience of sailing on the Silver Whisper is like peeling an onion; just when you really think that you’ve got under it’s surface, you begin to realise that there are just so, so many more things going on there, sometimes just out of sight. It’s like trying to stuff a cloud into a suitcase.
I could go on about the fabulous spa, and the unbelievable galley brunch tour. I could single out the excellent on board lecture programme, or the raft of up close and personal, intimate shore excursions offered on board. Being a relatively small ship, the Silver Whisper was able to get up close and personal to the centre of the smaller, more beguiling ports that the mass market ships have to leave in their wakes.
But what I was really left with are vivid, deep impressions, sentiments and memories. For a week, we were cocooned in a fantastic, exquisitely wrought Art Deco environment. We drifted from lazy lunches, to hot tubs, to pre dinner martinis on deck in what I can only describe as a kind of pampered stupour; one that burst like a balloon the very moment that we departed the warm womb of this enchanted universe.
The Silver Whisper is far more than a ship, or a means of transport; she is a beguiling, constantly unfolding experience in her own right. A small fantasy island, ablaze with light and suffused in her own, glamorous aura and sense of style from stem to stern. It’s pretty heady stuff.
If you’ve got a taste for adventure, an appreciation for elegance, and a lingering desire to sample the finer things in life, then the Silver Whisper is certainly worth considering. She is not a cheap date, but a real lady never should be. And, like the best and most fruitful investments of time, money and labour, the return is rich, indeed. Happy sailing!