La vie est belle. Life is beautiful…on the high seas.
Many years ago, an ocean liner's slogan was "Getting there is half the fun". As a dyed-in-the-wool cruiseaholic, I am compelled to bring that slogan up to date for the 21st century. My version has to be: "How you get there is more than half the fun". My recent cruise aboard Silversea's Silver Shadow was living proof of that.
GETTING THERE ON SILVER SHADOW IS MORE THAN HALF THE FUN
For the first time ever, I took an ocean-going cruise that sailed me to from the United States to four ports…you guessed it…in the United States. Starting in Fort Lauderdale, Silver Shadow's Atlantic Coastal Cruise sailed 330 passengers and me from 7 countries northward to Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Norfolk, Virginia. As a bonus, she also threw in the islands of Bermuda and the Bahamas…just to make sure my passport didn't feel slighted.
This was an unbelievable experience for me. Sure, I could have flown to all the US port cities…I could have even driven to them from my home…but it would not have been the same. Not even close!
From the minute I boarded "The Shadow", and was handed Silversea's customary glass of bubbly, I didn't really care where I was sailing. All I cared about was the fact that I was back on a luxurious Silversea cruise for 13 days of relaxing and being pampered by an attentive, but unobtrusive staff who would cater to my every need and desire…a staff that was doing this because they cared, and not because they wanted a big tip at the end of the cruise. (Gratuities are always included on all Silversea cruises.)
A SILVER SHADOW WELCOMING TRIO
Whoever coined the phrase 'less is more' must never have sailed on a Silversea cruise. Be it on the all-suite Silver Shadow, or any of the ships in Silversea's 8-ship fleet, let me tell you that 'more is more' with Silversea. For the next 13-days, I knew I was in for more of everything I could hope for on a luxurious cruise ship.
Let's start with my 345-square-foot, private verandah suite…a serene sanctuary where I could truly unwind. My sweet suite indulgences went far beyond the Pierre Marcolini chocolates and Pommery champagne that greeted me. Add to that a complimentary fully-stocked bar, Pratesi sheets, a down duvet covering a plush mattress, spa robe/slippers, flat screen TV, i-Pod docking station, personalized stationery and an Italian marble bathroom with my choice of Bulgari or Ferragamo bath amenities.
Oh yes, lest we forget the piece de resistance, the butler service. My butler Noli Larroza was there to make my voyage unforgettable…to pour me a glass of champagne as we cruised the Atlantic coastline or sailed to Bermuda and the Bahamas…to serve my dinner if I chose to dine in my suite…to shine my shoes, and to discreetly attend to the countless little details that made my voyage memorable.
MY BUTLER NOLI
But nothing could top what Noli did for me one afternoon while I was touring ashore. When I returned to my suite, I entered my dark bathroom where a strange light was flickering. There, much to my surprise, I found a (LED) candle perched on the edge of a rose-petaled bubble-filled bathtub. A red heart, made from the suite's drapery tieback cord, adorned a rose-petaled bath mat. A note from Noli read: "Please do enjoy your bubble bath." And I certainly did!
BUBBLE BATH BY NOLI…PHOTO BY MY HUSBAND
And then there was the food…both haute and cold. In The Restaurant, amid sparkling crystal, fine porcelain, and sweeping ocean views, we dined on specialties created exclusively for Silversea by Relais & Chateaux.
La Terrazza offered open-seating buffets for breakfast and lunch. In the evening it became an authentic Italian restaurant, the first and only Slow Food restaurant at sea. (Slow Food is an eco-gastronomic concept that began at a grass roots level in reaction to "Fast Food" and is dedicated to proper land stewardship while preserving cultural food traditions.)
Le Champagne, the one restaurant on the ship where there is a reservation fee, is the only Wine Restaurant by Relais & Chateaux at sea. It offers an extraordinary tasting experience in an intimate, elegant setting. My gourmet dinner started with four hors d'oeuvres that began with a small glass containing Porcini (mushroom) Cappuccino and ended with a miniature cone filled with Foie Gras.
A QUARTET OF HORS D'OEUVRES IN LE CHAMPAGNE RESTAURANT
Add to that Red Tuna Carpaccio, Pan-fried Foie Gras, Dover Sole, and a Grand Marnier Soufflé, and I had just tasted one of the best meals ever!
RED TUNA CARPACCIO AS PRETTY AS A PICTURE
Last, but not least, were the port stops. Once you have traveled the world many times over, it is exciting to explore those places you have not been in, and around, your own country. I will give a brief rundown of our port stops but will go into detail in future articles
SAVANNAH, GEORGIA was Silver Shadows first port stop. Spanish moss dripping from live oaks…stately mansions exuding the charm of the 1800's…historic Revolutionary and Civil war sites. Classic yet cool, historic yet hip, this "Hostess City of the South" magically melds the old with the new.
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA may well be America's most beautifully preserved architectural and historical treasure. The readers of Condé Nast Traveler have voted Charleston the #1 city in the U.S. for the fourth year. The city also ranked #2 in the World by Condé Nast Traveler 2014 Readers' Choice Awards.
NORFOLK, VIRGINIA is a nifty and new 320-plus year old city. The lifeblood of Norfolk is the water surrounding it. Located in the heart of the mid-Atlantic, at the crossroads of Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Norfolk is a bustling international seaport fronting one of the largest, naturally deep, ice-free harbors in the world.
BERMUDA is a string of idyllic islands framed by a shimmering turquoise ocean. Homes painted in pastel colors, and topped with white lime-washed roofs, line the flawless spun-sugar beaches of these breathtakingly beautiful islands. The delicate water-colored islands of Bermuda are among the most beloved islands in the world.
NASSAU, although most people call it an island, Nassau is not an island. It is a city on one of the many Bahamian islands called New Providence. Yet no one calls the island New Providence. They mistakenly call the island Nassau, which is the island's capital city. Confusing? You bet! On adjacent Paradise Island, The One and Only Club is truly Paradise.
THE ONE AND ONLY OCEAN CLUB ON PARADISE ISLAND IS TRULY PARADISE
Although we sailed only the Atlantic, and not 3-seas on this cruise, Silver Shadow did manage to provide me with other 3-c's. She indulged me with the comfortof my luxurious suite, gave me the camaraderie of like-minded passengers, and assuaged my curiosity about places in my own country that I had never seen.
On the down side of my hedonistic voyage…cruising on Silversea's Silver Shadow made it very difficult for me to come home without a butler to wait on me and a chef to cook for me; she also made it very difficult to go to bed without turndown service and to awaken without hearing the sound of waves lapping on the side of a ship.
On the upside...irreplaceable memories and anticipation of another Silversea cruise! Ah yes, la vie est belle…life is beautiful on the high seas.
AH YES, LA VIE EST BELLE ON SILVERSEA!
JANET STEINBERG is an International Travel Consultant, Travel Writer, and the winner of 40 National Travel Writer Awards.