Pool area on the Europa 2
2013 has been a bit of a banner year for luxurious, albeit brief opportunities to look at a spectacular, highly styled trio of luxury cruise icons- Europa 2, Silver Whisper and Seven Seas Voyager, in order of encounter. With a bit of time to reflect on this true trio of swells, here’s a few observations I harboured in respect of each.
To my mind, Europa 2 is much more aimed toward those who usually take time out in high end, luxury resorts and hotels, rather than on traditional cruise ships. The ship offers a phenomenal eight dining venues for a maximum of 516 guests, and sublime, beautifully sculpted, modern hotel style interiors. The suites all come with commodious, lavishly furnished balconies and- unlike the other two ladies in this piece- Europa 2 is not a truly all inclusive experience. Hapag Lloyd Cruise Lines are adamant that this policy would not change, but so were both Regent and Crystal in the past.
The real change in emphasis is the child friendly nature of this stunning new ship, with interconnecting suites for families, and no less than six nannies on hand to look after the little ones. On our cruise, we saw virtually nothing of the fifty children that we knew to be on board. And, with a smart casual dress code throughout, Europa 2 neatly side steps one of traditional cruisings most oft perceived bugbears.
Silver Whisper is, without doubt, one of the finest ships afloat anywhere, and the service and ambience on board is right up there with the Adlon and the Ritz. As a product, Silversea continues to emphasise it’s Italian heritage and fine, European style of service.
But there are changes; the dress code is no longer quite so formal as it once was, although passengers still dress very smartly for dinner. The entertainment menu has been rethought, with much more intimate performances where the singers and dancers interact, singing, dancing and chatting to the passengers.
On board the Silver Whisper
The Italian heritage is most apparent in the evening emphasis towards Mediterranean style dining, and the Hot Rocks alfresco dining venues, where guests can barbecue their own steaks or chops, is a fun, interactive venue unique to Silversea.
Like her fleetmates, Silver Whisper remains a largely all inclusive product. The line still offers stylish, intimate touches, such as welcome mimosas, canapes and live jazz on deck on our recent arrival in Tallinn. Almost a full decade after it’s inception, Silversea remains a paragon, very much a premier exemplar of stylish, seagoing panache.
Now, Voyager. Newly renovated with a sweeping, $25 million eight day dry docking in Marseille, the ship now showcases areas intended to presage the forthcoming Seven Seas Explorer.
Stunning new, eggshell white seating and gorgeous, beautifully etched new light fittings adorn the Observation and Horizon lounges. New carpeting is featured right through the ship, and all teak decking- including that on all of the 350 balcony suites- has been replaced.
Those same balconies now boast funky, commodious new, resort style seating, as do the terrace decks at the stern. New artwork right throughout the ship is outstanding and, in terms of entertainment, no less than eight new production shows are almost ready for ‘curtain up’.
Style wise, Regent has always had a smart casual dress code and, with all shore excursions included right throughout the cruise, it is unquestionably the most all inclusive, value loaded of the three products mentioned here.
New outdoor terrace furniture on the Seven Seas Voyager
All things considered, these three ships represent some of the most fabulous and self indulgent travel experiences afloat anywhere today. It is safe to say that any of these ships will offer you an incredible travel adventure, long before you even consider the idea of stepping ashore.
Such differences as there are lie in terms of some of the things noted above. All have space, grace, and are suffused by a sense of calm, casual ease. For lovers on the luxury cruising lifestyle, the industry as a whole has never been so deliciously diverse.