Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Silversea
Ship: Silver Whisper
Sailing Date: November 2nd, 2005
As previously stated we boarded in Ft. Lauderdale sailing at 5:00 pm (one hour later than scheduled) on the “Islands in the Sun Cruise” There was also a change of staff in many quarters. Captain Ignazio Tatulli from Genoa took over as Master of the ‘Whisper’. Paolo Vitali proceeded on vacation replaced by Jean Paul, Maitre d’ and Executive Chef, Dirk Martin who hails from a little town called Vogtland in the South East of Germany continued from the previous cruise. Dirk now lives in Malta.
Sunset departure from Ft. Lauderdale on 2nd November
On the 3rd and 4th November we remained at sea traveling South of the Bahamas Islands just skirting the Coast of Cuba and the Dominican Republic before our first stop on Saturday November 5 at 8:00 am in Roadtown Harbour, Tortola. Unlike our first cruise we were blessed with excellent weather, clear blue skies and calm seas. In fact these conditions prevailed until our disembarkation in Castries, St. Lucia on Wednesday November 9.
There is really little to report on the first part of this cruise other than the usual sea day activities, the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party the Venetian Society Party on the 5th November after our departure from Tortola. The tone of this second cruise was much different from the first, there was a much younger clientele on board and areas of the ship which had hardly been used on the first voyage were now booked to capacity, particular the gym and spa. The gym is very small on this ship being just after the Observation Lounge on Deck 10 and we had to proceed either very early in the morning or during the lunch hour to be able to use any of the equipment. It was also impossible to book many of the treatments as it seemed everyone had been pre-booked from embarkation day!
Despite the change of travelers (only 17 stayed on from the previous voyage) we met many very nice people including a couple from Paradise Island, Bahamas who in fact knew some of our relatives. Jean Paul the Maitre d’ in the main restaurant was a charming host and we were very well looked after, particularly when we had guests on board for dinner in St. Kitts on Sunday 6th November and as well as for lunch in St. Lucia on Wednesday 9th November.
In St, Kitts we took the opportunity to hire a taxi for a few hours and proceeded to the North of the Island to visit the home of ‘Caribelle Batik’ an establishment know for its had made silk screened items, situated in an old Plantation Estate House and owned by a friend of ours, Maurice Widdowson. In fact, as far as we could ascertain, Caribelle Batik was the only establishment open that day being a Sunday holiday. The “Whisper” was deemed too small a ship for any of the shops in town to be opened.
On Tuesday November 8 we anchored off the Iles des Saintes, a small group of islands off of the French Island of Guadeloupe. This little village was a charming, very friendly French outpost. We spent many hours walking around the island and were delighted with the friendliness of the local population.
That evening the Musical Variety Act ‘String Fever’ was once more featured however, this time we realized that the Act was identical to the earlier presentation on the first voyage that we knew every word and joke in advance. This brings up one of the weaknesses of Silver Seas on back to back cruises, for not only are the menus almost identical but the material used by the Captain and Officers as well as the Variety Acts remained exactly the same. For Silver Seas to seriously attract persons cruising on back to back voyages, there needs to be some thought given to subtle changes in menu and entertainment.
Having said this, another wonderful evening of entertainment was that put on by the Cruise Director, Michael Gregurich on Saturday 29th October on our First Voyage. Michael has a tenor voice and serenaded us with tunes from Broadway and the Opera including many of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s. Unfortunately Michael only did one performance on the First Cruise and another performance on the day we disembarked in St. Lucia. We hoped that we will get an opportunity to be on board with him again. By the time you read this he will be preparing to, or has already left ‘Whisper” for his two month vacation to spend time with his wife in South Africa. Anna Ascuda will be holding on for him during this time.
As stated at various times in this review, we were very pleased with the quality of the dining on board. We found that we mostly ate dinner in the main restaurant which in general had by far the best food of any of the other restaurants.
We ate 4 or 5 times in the Terrace Café for Dinner on some of the specialty nights as well as for the Guest Chef Dinner as previously noted. We did find the Terrace Café’s food and ambience to be much improved, but the problem with this restaurant is that you have no choice and either you accept the set menu or arrange in advance for dishes to be brought up from the main restaurant. In our experience this was never too successful. We understand that the Terrace Café will soon be converted to an Italian à la Carte and we look forward to this change which we think will definitely enhance the experience as well as the choice.
We have never enjoyed the Champagne Restaurant as we found the food to be generally over cooked and unfortunately our one dinner at this restaurant reinforced this opinion. Again changes are coming and it will be interesting to see how this restaurant evolves.
For Lunch on our first cruise we ate from the Buffet at the Terrace Café, on the second cruise in warmer weather, we ate at the Pool Bar & Grill.
Breakfast we generally had in our suite and on some Port days we ate in the Terrace Café to save time.
The quality of food was always of a high standard in all the locations. Towards the end of our third week we basically ignored the menus and requested our own concoctions. For no matter what you call a special dish and how you dress it up, it begins to all taste the same. We had meant to complain to the Chef regarding the amount of salt being used in some of the dishes, particular the soups, but frankly we never got around to it and simply avoided those dishes.
We did not have too many problems on this cruise as many areas of concern were corrected on or after our first voyage. We did however find that one of the weak areas is the Gym as previously stated, it is really far too small an area for today's health conscious travelers.
We also found the Spa on both cruises to be very poorly managed also in both the mens and ladies locker rooms none of the Spa products were ever available, except of course for purchase at the Spa desk. These products were principally way over priced ‘Elemis’ products. We complained about the poor management of the Spa on our First Cruise by way of the comment sheets but regrettably there was no improvement to be seen in the second voyage - in fact quite the contrary!. This Spa is simply not up to the standard expected of Silver Seas. On the same subject we noticed that the Spa instructor Manja, a little North Country English girl was more interested in selling products or pushing products on to customers instead of instructing. Of course the Mandara Spa on Silver Seas is run by Steiner, those familiar with the Steiner name and reputation will understand our comments.
If we had a preference between our two cruises, despite the problems of weather and missing Ports, the first Cruise was without a doubt far superior in tone and quality to the second. Somehow Caribbean Cruises attract a different clientele whose interests lie more in frequenting the bars, casinos etc. Which is fine for those who want that sort of thing, but really is not our ‘cup of tea’.
After disembarking in St. Lucia on the 9th November the heavens opened and Tropical Storm # 27 deposited copious amounts of rain on the islands for the following week. For those who stayed on board through to Barbados it must have been a wet and rainy time in Grenada and on their disembarkation day in Barbados.
All in all two more good cruises on Silver Seas so much so that we booked 3 more whilst on board.