PART ONE: CHILLING IS FULFILLING
Whenever I took a cruise (and I’ve taken over 150), I had always thought about doing nothing…just totally chilling…possibly never leaving the ship. Yes, I had always dreamed of doing that. However, “Type A” individual that I am, I have never allowed myself that luxury. But finally it was time. I was determined to do it now! I made up my mind to relax in Florida for a week before the cruise and then just savor the sea and live my dream of traveling like a mermaid.
LIVING MY DREAM AS A MERMAID
There would be no rush to leave my Pratesi-sheeted bed in my luxurious 376-square foot Silver Spirit suite…no rush to get out of my plush robe…no rush through my room-service breakfast served to me by a butler on my private teak veranda……and no rush to get on a tour bus
Was I crazy? Well, please allow me to tell you how my new idea for this 2-week vacation played out. Then you be the judge.
For the first week, I spent my pre-cruise New Year's vacation lounging by the pool at the wallet-friendly, winter obliterating, Embassy Suites Ft. Lauderdale. Then I was off to Port Everglades. (Embassy Suites is only a few blocks from the Port).
|NEW YEAR’S WEEK AT EMBASSY SUITES FT. LAUDERDALE|
Minutes after departing from the hotel, we turned into the port, and there she was in all her splendor. The regal Silversea Silver Spirit awaited me! Having breezed through embarkation, I stepped into the ship where I received a warm welcome by the Silver Spirit staff. A flute of champagne was offered to me as I was escorted to my ocean-view suite. Once inside my suite, I was indulged with white orchids and a bottle of bubbly Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose chilling in a silver champagne bucket.
|SILVERSEA'S REGAL SILVER SPIRIT|
I was greeted by my personal butler Albert Magsino who welcomed me to my luxury cruise suite. (Trust me, I was not a privileged passenger. Butler Service is offered to every guest on every Silversea cruise ship.) Albert assured me that he was available to pamper me with personalized attention, taking care of every detail and indulging my every whim.
|MY PERSONABLE PERSONAL BUTLER ALBERT MAGSINO|
He began by presenting me with my choice of bathroom amenities from Bulgari or Ferragamo. Albert then offered me a choice of goose down, hypoallergenic or therapeutic pillows. He explained the suite’s entertainment controls and offered to unpack my luggage, hang up my clothing and set out personal items.
He then proceeded to list of some of the services he would be providing throughout the voyage such as making sure my suite was always immaculate; making onboard dinner reservations for me; polishing and conditioning my shoes; replenishing my complimentary bar setup throughout the cruise; and turning my bed covers down nightly. Albert even said he would unpack my luggage for the cruise, and pack my luggage back up when it came time to leave.
Being the Type A person that I am, I overrode Albert‘s kind offer to unpack my luggage. Following the mandatory fire drill, 479 passengers from 23 countries joined me on the pool deck for a Sail-Away Party complete with music, cocktails, hors de oeuvres, and an introduction to the ship’s staff.
|SAIL-AWAY PARTY ON THE POOL DECK|
Our first night’s dinner onboard was in the ship’s main dining room simply called The Restaurant. With sweeping ocean views, the room sparkled with silver, crystal, and candlelight. The Restaurant serves contemporary, international cuisine with sophisticated elegance and impeccable service. It offers open-seating dining, which means there are no assigned times, no assigned tables. You are free to dine when, where and with whom you please.
Following dinner my husband and I enjoyed a little night music in the Stars Supper Club. The stunning Art Deco design was inspired by the old Rainbow Room in New York City, and the velvety sound of the cabaret singer conjured up thoughts of what the Gatsby era must have been like some years before my time.
STARS SUPPER CLUB GLOWS AFTER DARK
And so to bed.
You might wonder what I could do for the rest of the week if I really spent the remaining seven days on board the ship. Well, let me tell you, there are a myriad of choices aboard the Silver Spirit. Here are some of Silver Spirit’s many options, all of which were graced with my presence at one time or other during the cruise.
To stimulate my mind there was the Internet Café; the Library; the Silver Perspectives® Enrichment Programme with lectures by highly qualified guest speakers; and daily trivia games where we teamed up with other competitive passengers all trying desperately to beat the other teams for silly prizes that nobody really needed.
For pure hedonistic pleasure, there was the Fitness Centre; Observation Lounge; Panorama Lounge; Casino; Show Lounge; Boutique; Beauty Salon; and an 8,300-square-foot Spa that is a sanctuary of pure bliss. And of course, lest we forget the pool deck where we could swim, lunch by the Pool Bar and Grill, or have lunch brought to us because we just didn’t want to move from our deck chair.
|POOL DECK LUNCH WITH YUMMY SWEET POTATO FRIES FOR STARTERS|
In addition to sweet potato fries, the Pool Bar & Grill offers a delicious poolside menu including to-die-for cheeseburgers and made -to order pizzas. As the stars begin to peek out from a darkening sky, the top deck of the Pool Bar & Grill is transformed into The Grill where an intimate al fresco eatery features an interactive Black Rock Grill experience that brings a preheated volcanic rock to your table, allowing you to cook your own meat or fish selection at your own white linen-clothed table.
During the day, La Terrazza is open-seating for casual, buffet-style breakfast and lunch with indoor or al fresco dining on the outdoor terrace. During the evening, La Terrazza transforms into an à la carte traditional Italian restaurant with reservations required. And of course I cannot forget the other dining options. In addition to the previously mentioned open-seating Restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there are two other not-to-be-missed dining options .
|TEA TIME WITH AN OCEAN VIEW|
These two alternative restaurants (with minimal reservation charges for dinner) are Seishin and Le Champagne. Seishin, an innovative Asian-fusion restaurant where Kobe beef and a variety of seafood’s vied for the attention of our taste buds, features a large round chef's table as its centerpiece. At dinner, we opted for Seishin’s 9-course degustation menu. This began with the Amuse Bouche of Seishin’s Signature Caviar Sorbet…a piece of cucumber topped with lime sorbet and red caviar. This was followed by courses of sushi, sashimi, seafood, meat, and dessert. From our table at lunchtime (there is no reservation charge at lunch), we watched the chef at work sculpting fresh sushi and sashimi. It tasted as good as it looked.
At Le Champagne, the only Wine Restaurant by Relais & Châteaux at sea, we indulged ourselves in an evening where fine wines complemented a set tasting menu of regionally inspired dishes. In an intimate elegant setting, we were privy to an enriching, flavorful, and memorable dining experience that included Caviar and condiments, Foie de Canard Poele (Pan-fried Rougie Foie Gras with Forest Berry Compote), Bisque de Homard (Lobster Bisque). Carre d’Agneau (Rack of Lamb), and Grand Marnier Souffle.
|PAN-FRIED FOIE GRAS WITH FOREST BERRY COMPOTE|
After dinner each night it was time to try our luck in the casino, have a nightcap in the Stars Supper Club, shop in the Boutiques, or enjoy a show in The Show Lounge. There were full cast shows like “Mind the Gap” (British music that dominated the sixties), and “Don’t Stop the Music” (a feel good, foot tapping sing-along show from the Divas of Disco to the Masters of Motown.)
But the surprise show of the week was the outstanding one-man show, “Musical Memories”, performed by Cruise Director Moss Hills. This unbelievably talented showman...in addition to being a witty, affable, Cruise Director...also sings, dances, plays piano, harmonica, saxophone, drums, and guitar. He took an awestruck audience through memories of Billy Joel, Dire Straits, The Monkees, Chuck Berry and The Beatles.
|CONGRATULATING THE TALENTED MOSS HILLS FOR A SUPERB PERFORMANCE|
Silver Spirit, like the rest of the small luxury ships in Silversea’s fleet, are designed for those travelers who delight in the thrill of discovery while indulging mind and body in the most lavish surroundings imaginable. And trust me, spending an entire eight-day cruise aboard the Silver Spirit, (with the exception of leaving the ship for lunch on day one in Key West) my mind and body were totally indulged.
You’ve heard the saying: “Try it, you’ll like it.” However, that’s not quite true. Take it from me: “Try it, you’ll love it!”
Janet Steinberg is the winner of 41 national Travel Writer Awards and a Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority in Cincinnati/Mariemont Ohio.