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Silversea Cruises: Silver Whisper

Silver Whisper Review

The second of Silversea Cruises’ Millennium-class ships, Silver Whisper debuted in 2001. Built with proportions slightly larger in size than her two earlier twin fleetmates, the fourth ship to enter the Silversea fleet, Silver Whisper is virtually identical

to Silver Shadow and maintains the familiarity of Silversea’s all-suite luxury and trademark intimate ambience. Nine Terrace suites on deck 5 have doors to the outside that access a shared veranda. Even though the area is not furnished, it's like having a balcony without paying a higher fare.

The logical layout of these sister ships, with suites in the forward two-thirds of the ship and public rooms aft, makes orientation simple. The clean, modern decor that defines public areas and lounges might seem almost stark, but it places the main emphasis on large expanses of glass for sunshine and sea views as well as passenger comfort.

Silversea ships boast unbeatable libraries stocked with best sellers, travel books, classics, and movies for en suite viewing. Extremely wide passageways in public areas are lined with glass-front display cabinets full of interesting and unusual artifacts from the places the ships visit. The Connoisseur’s Corner is a clubby cigar smoking room with overstuffed leather seating and a ventilation system that makes it possible for even nonsmokers to appreciate.

Silversea Cruises was launched in 1994 by the former owners of Sitmar Cruises, the Lefebvre family of Rome, whose concept for the new cruise line was to build and sail the highest-quality luxury ships at sea. Intimate ships, paired with exclusive amenities and unparalleled hospitality, are the hallmarks of Silversea cruises. All-inclusive air-and-sea fares can be customized to include not just round-trip airfare but all transfers, porterage, and deluxe precruise accommodations as well.

Personalization is a Silversea maxim. Their ships offer more activities than other comparably sized luxury vessels. Take part in those that interest you, or opt instead for a good book and any number of quiet spots to read or snooze in the shade. Silversea’s third generation of ships introduced even more luxurious features when the 36,000-ton Silver Spirit launched late in 2009. Silversea’s Silver Explorer is the top choice for luxurious soft adventure expedition cruising, and in 2013 Silversea added a second exploration ship, Silver Galapagos, that will sail exclusively in the Galápagos Islands.

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What You Should Know

Pros

  • Champagne flows freely throughout your cruise
  • Sailing on a Silversea ship is like spending time as a guest at a home in the Hamptons where everything is at your fingertips
  • Silversea is so all-inclusive that you'll seldom use your room card for anything but opening your suite door

Cons

  • Lines can form to use a washing machine in the smallish (yet totally free) laundry rooms
  • In an odd contrast to the contents of display cases and lovely flower arrangements, artwork on the walls is fairly ho-hum
  • The spa’s complimentary saunas and steam rooms are quite small
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 295
  • Entered Service 2001
  • Gross Tons 28,258
  • Length 610 feet
  • Number of Cabins 191
  • Passenger Capacity 382
  • Width 82 feet
  • New

Jul 20, 2014

Baltic

This is a luxury cruise on an uncrowded, well-appointed ship. Comfortable cabin with veranda and state room, bed room with a huge closet, good bedding and a granite-lined bath with separate shower and tub. European style gourmet food, plenty of choice of venue for eating or relaxing and an attentive staff. Lighter on entertainment and activities, though there were activities throughout the day. Best for relaxing in luxurious style. The food

was for the most part excellent. A few pastas were either overcooked or undercooked. There was an abundant choice, including vegetarian foods. You could choose buffet service for breakfast, in-cabin service (by your personal butler) or restaurant table service. There was also a poolside grill. Our favorite was La Terrazza, because the view was exceptional. The high-end restaurant (for a $40 per person surcharge) was hardly worth it, as the bar was already so high, they did not have anywhere to go with it. The regular, no-reservation required restaurant was fine--it just didn't have the best view as it was on a lower deck. The wines were good--often they were what I recognized as $10 a bottle retail wines but carefull chosen. You could always opt for Piper Heidsieck champagne. Lunch could be restaurant or buffet--we chose buffet and there was an abundance of salad and fish, so it was possible to eat well and not consume vast calories. I gained not an ounce on this trip. But I enjoyed myself completely. Breakfast in the cabin was not so great. The bread was always stale and the coffee was frankly bad. If you opted for the buffet, it was a lot better. But if I'm on vacation, I want breakfast in bed. So stale bread it was. The wine and liquor is free-flowing, but on our cruise, the bar was pretty much empty. The humidor was fun--nice room for a cigar and a whiskey. Surcharge for some of the more exotic selections, but still reasonable. The lounges served coffee and pastries or snacks all day and evening. The hors d'oeuvres were pretty awful. I can forgive that because hors d'oeuvres are generally awful, no matter where you are. The stateroom was two parts--sitting room and veranda plus bedroom. A very comfy bed, and lovely linens. TV with various cable channels and a ship map of the voyage plus weather and speed, wind, etc. The bathroom was spotless with separate shower and tub. My tub was non-functional due to a missing gasket but this was repaired on request. Toiletries were not replaced, had to ask for everything I used up. Cleanliness was outstanding. A request for no feathers in stateroom was ignored from the onine registration but eventually sorted out. The shows were corny-- excellent operatic voices of the artists performing ABBA...but not everyone would prefer Mi Chiama Mimi rather than Mamma Mia. The theater is pleasant--club-auditorium format. There were lectures, card games, a casino open when at sea, a gym and a tiny outdoor track. Internet is about $0.50 per minute, and very slow. But it was sufficient to download email and send messages and check a few sites. You can buy time in blocks, but it gets used up quickly and you have to remember to log off or it disappears when you shut off your wifi. You could watch films on DVD in your stateroom, too. The excursions were expensive and they sell out. You can book private ones online yourself, with less of a herd experience if you do your own research. The ship kind of discouraged that, but as long as your visas are in order and you are on the pier at the appointed time before sailing, you can customize your trip. There is no opportunity to change local currency on board. This was like being in a five-star European hotel for 8 days, with personal service, friendly staff and excellent if not unusual cuisine. There were plenty of choices onboard ship for dining. Entertainment was more of the sedate variety; younger people would find it rather dull, I'm afraid. If you want a good rest, this is a great ship. Nice to be pampered.

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  • New

Jun 5, 2007

UNKNOWN

Silversea Cruises Silver Whisper Cruise Review Athens to Rome Just Returned From Silver Whisper-FABULOUS!! ________________________________________ My husband and I were on Silver Wind ten years ago and had the trip of our lifetime. I never thought it could be repeated again. But it was! Another trip of a lifetime on Silversea! We were on a 9 day cruise – June 6-15 to Greek Islands, Sicily and Italy. Of course the ports were wonderful,

but I am not going to review the ports since everyone chooses an itinerary based on their own preferences. My objective is to discuss our experience on Silversea. From the moment we boarded the ship - The service was incredible!! Every staff person always greeted us and had big smiles on their faces. Woke up very early every morning  - and ordered cappuccino delivered to our rooms. Ten minutes later it would arrive and placed on our balcony with fine linens and china. 24 hour room service - you can order anything to eat or drink. Ordered drinks at 2:00 a.m. and same efficient and quick service. Then we would go to La Terrazza for buffet breakfast when it opened. Huge wonderful assortment of breakfast items, juices, fresh omelet station, fresh fruit station with staff cutting the fruit. etc. – Glasses for juices were chilled. The attention to this kind of detail was evident in everything they did on the ship. Then you could have pancakes, waffles etc., prepared for you. I am not a breakfast eater- so ordered lamb chops, with wild mushrooms and ice tea every morning. (Asked for fresh pineapple slice in my ice tea). By the second day, the waiters knew me and would say – “Are you ready for your lamb chops and your Ice tea with fresh pineapple”. 10-15 minutes later the lamb chops arrived. The point I am trying to get across is whatever special request you may want- the answer is always “YES”! The waiters would carry your plates to your table from the buffet. All the waiters had wonderful attitudes and were there to please you in every way. You are made to feel very special! We had a veranda suite which included a balcony. We loved having the balcony and used it all the time. The room is lovely, with plenty of closet space and more drawers than you can fill up- and we had 4 pieces of luggage. Personalized stationary with your name on it. Fresh flowers in your cabin. The bathrooms were fantastic! - double sinks, shower and tub with Bulgari amenities- soap, shampoo, conditioner etc. Very comfortable bed with fine linens and duvet cover. The stewardess was fantastic. Always smiling and calling us by our names. Good morning Mr. and Mrs.…... The stewardess’s- work in teams with 2 people taking care of your suite. The cabins are cleaned twice a day and the cleaning was immaculate. They even lined up my makeup in a straight row! We kept saying to ourselves, this service is UNBELIEVABLE!!! We had to keep asking ourselves how anything can be so perfect like this. We ate dinner every night in the main dining room and also ate once in the Italian Restaurant. The food was excellent. Many choices and if you don’t see what you like on the menu - they will bring you what you request. One day I saw an appetizer from lunch that looked interesting and requested it for dinner. Nothing was ever a problem! The dining room wait staff was so professional, great attitudes and impeccable service. We were greeted by the waiter and wine steward the minute you sat down. Every night it was like eating in a fine restaurant. Presentation of the food on the plates was always beautifully done. The beef dishes were extraordinary - beef melted in our mouths! You will be pampered beyond belief!! Most nights we would stay in the dining room for 3 hours talking to our fellow guests we were dining with at our table. We enjoyed the formal nights as it made for a glamorous evening! Chef David was accessible to all the guests. Coming out to the dining room, greeting everyone and making sure you were happy. One day my husband told the chef- he may prefer something different instead of a filet of fish. The chef said call me and let me know- he said “do you want a whole fish - I can make it anyway you want”. Almost on every port before we were ready to sail- there would be a lovely small buffet set up by the pool area before dinner. Chef David was always walking around – getting to know all the guests. One night we had a “Barbeque Dinner” on the pool deck. It was FANTASTIC! Fourty desserts to choose from- I counted! The pool deck was set up with fabric covered chairs, linen tablecloths. Great entertainment and dancing to the wee hours. We were talking to a few couples and the Captain came by our table and talk to us for one hour! That is what made our cruise so special - all the staff treated you like family! Every cruise they do an open Kitchen Galley Buffet Lunch. What a magnificent presentation! So interesting to see how the kitchen functions. See pictures of Kitchen Galley Lunch, Barbeque Dinner Buffet on Pool Deck and Breakfast Buffet: http://pictures.aol.com/galleries/dafne478965 At the bars they use linen napkins - another attention to fine detail! All the bartenders made great drinks! I like Pina Coladas and had it prepared in Hawaii with vanilla ice cream. I told the bartender and with in a few minutes they went down to the kitchen galley and got the ice cream. No request is denied! When we disembarked at the ports they had cold bottled water to take ashore and on the way back waiting for the tenders to return to the ship –at the ports they had cold punch, water and chilled towels! What makes Silversea cruises so special are the fellow passengers you meet. We met wonderful, fascinating people from all over the world. Everyone was so friendly and wanted to socialize. We have made some lasting friendships that we will keep in touch with. If you want wonderful service, great food, and a smaller ship than there is only one Cruise Line - SILVERSEA! The advantage of the smaller ship is that it is easier to make friends since you run into the same people all the time and the staff members get to know you personally. Ron our cruise director was so friendly, and eloquent making announcements and always had a big smile when he greeted us. The entertainment was classy, A Broadway singer, a famous pianist etc. On the third day the Cruise Hotel Director delivered to all cabins a sheet asking if there is anything that he can do to make your cruise more pleasant please let him know. I wrote back on the sheet: “HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE PERFECTION” And I meant it. There is nothing that I would add or change. Spoke to many fellow passengers the last day of the cruise and everyone had the same opinion saying it was FABULOUS! Silversea is expensive, but worth every dollar you pay. We loved an all inclusive cruise - never have to sign for anything. Everything is included. We kept asking ourselves, how can a cruise line deliver such a perfect product down to every last detail? We travel all over the world for our business and have stayed in the finest hotels- and the Cruise we just went on with Silversea in all around service, food, attention to detail, and staff is top on our list. To be honest it was hard to go back to reality when the cruise ended as this cruise was a fantasy come true! How would we describe our cruise? MAGNIFICENT! AMAZING! PERFECT! FANTASTIC! INCREDIBLE! AND FABULOUS!!  

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Nov 2, 2005

UNKNOWN

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. DINING 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.

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Oct 20, 2005

UNKNOWN

On Friday 21 October, we checked out of the Ritz Carlton and boarded the ‘Silver Whisper’ at the Old Port of Montreal. Actually we had paid for an early embarkation but when we arrived at the docks the authorities kept us waiting for at least another hour before we could board. Presumably there was a delay in clearing the vessel and/or its passengers since she had arrived early that morning. At about 12:30 we finally made it to our

Silver Suite, found some of our baggage waiting for us and settled down for what would be termed by Silver Seas “The Colonial Coast and Florida Cruise”. The Whisper docked at the Old Port of Montreal We recognized many of the staff from our previous cruises and in particular our good friend Maitre d’, Paolo Vitali, as well as Terrace Café Host, Stefano – we were very pleased to see them as they always ensured that we had a good table and the best of “wait” staff. Also on our ‘glad to see’ list was Cruise Director, Michael Gregurich, who we would have for both cruises together with his lovely wife, Madra, they made us feel very welcome. The Entertainment Hostess was new to us - her name was Melani Lamey originally from Germany and now living in England. At around 6’5” she was an imposing figure in her high heels, at various functions. Our Captain for this trip was, Gennaro Arma, who hailed from Sorrento in Italy and unfortunately, due to circumstances which we shall later describe, we really never had much opportunity to chat with him. We sailed from Montreal at 6:00 pm that evening, the weather had turned clear and cold and this was expected to stay with us for the next few days. That evening we had an excellent meal in the main restaurant at a table for two. Our waiter “Claudio” had been with us on board for 3 other cruises. The next morning Saturday October 22, we woke up in Quebec City to temperatures of 6? 38? crisp, cold and clear. We spent the better part of the day walking around Quebec City, a beautiful city perched above the River with a commanding view of the countryside. We could easily have spent a few days there and shall definitely return for another visit. We departed Quebec City at 6:00 pm destined for Sydney, Nova Scotia. The Whisper & view from the Fort at Quebec City Wonderful mural painted on buildings in Quebec City Sunday October 23rd we spent cruising the St. Lawrence River - again another beautiful day on the water. That evening was ‘formal night’ with a Gala Dinner followed by a Broadway Performance with the Jean Ann Ryan Production Company. Having fun in the Terrace Restaurant Early on the morning of Monday October 24, somewhere in the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and off the Gaspe Peninsular we were awakened about 2:00 am by considerable movement of the ship, which necessitated securing everything in the Cabin, glass ware, flower bowls etc. as we were rolling about 30 degrees. The morning dawned wild and rough with estimated 30 foot seas off of our beam. Too rough in fact for us to dock in Sydney. On the P.A. system that morning the Captain advised us that we were being affected by a ‘Nor Easter’ and it was forecast that Hurricane Wilma which was then hitting Florida would very rapidly be heading our way and combined with the ‘Nor Easter’ would create the ‘perfect storm’, “it was” said the Captain “a party to which he did not want to be invited” and thus we would head directly to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Captain Arma felt that this would be a safe destination as we could hide away in the back end of Halifax Harbour. Later on Monday afternoon we arrived in Halifax and proceeded in howling winds and rain to moor the ship to a small, but secure dock at the back of Town. On Tuesday morning, despite rain and wind, we proceeded ashore for a quick walk through Halifax as well as to have a lobster lunch at one of the local seafood restaurants, I think the name of it was ‘The Little Fish’. By 2:00 pm it was becoming impossible to walk as the wind and rain were now horizontal. When we arrived back at the ship again the gangway had to be removed due to the weather conditions, it was later established that we had winds during the night approaching 100 mph. On Wednesday we were still in Halifax although the Captain felt the conditions had improved sufficiently to depart later that night and sure enough we did at about 11:00 pm. After two and a half days in Halifax we set sail for Philadelphia. Our schedule would regrettably have to be revised. A letter in our state room indicated: “The Silver Whisper will depart today, Oct 26th at 11pm from Halifax and proceed onto our newly revised itinerary. Silversea Marine Operations in Monaco has been working on the alternative and has secured our calls into Philadelphia, Baltimore and Port Canaveral. We regret that both Charleston and Amelia Island will be cancelled from this itinerary due to logistical and time constraint factors. We appreciate your understanding. Our new itinerary is as follows: 27th October – at Sea 28th October – Arrive Philadelphia at 8pm 29th October – Depart Philadelphia at 2pm 29th October – Arrive Baltimore at 10pm 30th October – Depart Baltimore at 1pm 31st October – At Sea 01 November – Arrive Port Canaveral at 12 Noon and depart at 9pm 02 November – Arrive Fort Lauderdale at 8am “ This task was further complicated by the fact that Hurricane Wilma had created havoc in South Florida and there was little or no communication with Silver Seas Head Office due to damage and the total loss of Electricity. We have a Townhouse in South Florida and we had no idea of the extent of the damages which we may have suffered and this was definitely putting a damper on our cruise. In addition one of the Ports which we had really wanted to see, Charleston, had to be eliminated. The evening of Wednesday October 26 was Formal Night. Additionally, the Venetian Society was having its first Party on board, at that time we also met the charming Cruise Consultant, Rosanna De Ria, who hailed from Verona, Italy. It was a somewhat apprehensive evening as the Captain had warned us that the seas would be rough on our departure as well as for our next day at sea on route to Philadelphia and rough it was, but certainly not as bad as Sunday night in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. The Captain requested that most passengers remain in their cabins and avoid walking around the ship as much as possible and certainly at breakfast and lunch on Thursday 27th October not many people were to be seen. The Silver Whisper is a small ship and obviously more susceptible to the sea conditions however, with sea swells behind us the ship ran extremely well. This is a ship that both going into a head sea and running down from the sea exhibits very good manners – obviously a well balanced and well designed Hull. On a beam sea she appears to be ‘top heavy’ and rolls excessively. Perhaps a guide to us in booking destinations for future cruises. In all the confusion and concern about the Hurricane and sea conditions there were some good moments and good meals. This cruise was also built as a Wine and Culinary Cruise and there was a guest Chef on board, Robert Carter, from the ‘Peninsular Grill’ in Charleston. He gave several cooking demonstrations and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner cooked by him on the evening of Tuesday October 25, in the Terrace Café. This was a 5 course dinner reflecting “American Southern Cuisine” We arrived in Philadelphia at 11:00 pm on Friday 28th obviously too late to proceed ashore and we departed Philadelphia at 2:00 pm on Saturday 29th for Baltimore. The few hours that we spent in Philadelphia were disappointing. We found Philadelphia dirty and some what devoid of character. In addition to enter any of the Museums including the ‘Liberty Bell’ involved a tiresome series of security checks akin to that experienced at airports in the US today. On the other hand our visit to Baltimore where we arrived at 10:00 pm on Saturday 29th was a charming reminder of how well old Dock Lands can be converted and Baltimore’s inner Harbour was an area which we would like to have spent at least a day or two, again our early departure for Port Canaveral was necessitated by time constraints and we were forced to leave at 1:00 pm on Sunday. The weather in Baltimore was a cool 48f or 9c but was crisp and clear. Thus our continuing cruise through the Chesapeake Bay was a wonderful calm period of incredible sunset – see below. Sunset on Chesapeake Bay That evening after another superb dinner in the main restaurant we saw a Musical Variety Act called “String Fever”. It was put on by a Husband and Wife Team called ‘Jacqui & Brenton Edgecombe’ from Adelaide, Australia. She played the Chelo and he played the Violin accompanied by the Silver Whisper Trio. Monday October 31, which the evening ‘Chronicle’ dubbed “Happy Halloween” was another Formal Night, however, we decided to eat in and had a 4 course meal served to us in our suite. We choose the meals from the best of the main restaurant and the Terrace Café which was served to us, course by course, at 10 – 15 minute intervals. This meal was as good as any during our entire cruise and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quiet evening and away from the dressing up of another Formal evening. Dining in our Suite IN TRANSIT Tuesday November 1, we arrived in Port Canaveral at 8:00 am. We had decided to disembark the ship today and drive down to our Condo with two reasons in mind. One being to see the damage that had been inflicted on us by Hurricane Wilma and secondly to drop off our winter clothes and pick up our summer gear for the second stage of our Cruise 4539 departing from Ft Lauderdale on Wednesday November 2. We were very pleasantly surprised on arriving at the Condo to find it still completely intact although there was devastation all around us. On many streets and particularly on the A1A not a tree or shrub was left standing. Many of our neighbours had lost their roofs, high rise Condo Apartments had many blown out windows and doors, not a pleasant sight for us as it felt like ‘deja vu’. Last year two Hurricanes had also created substantial damage – Oh Well! – next year we shall once more have to replant and repair the garden. COMMENTS On the afternoon of Wednesday 2nd November we re-boarded the ship in Ft Lauderdale for the second part of our Cruise. We are often asked what problems did we encounter on this cruise and was the ship and Silver Seas living up to its billing as the ‘No. 1 Cruise Line’. Yes, these are wonderful ships, but like many things in life, they have problems although most of these were easily fixed. Our stewardess and her helper were not totally up to snuff and they were certainly not the most efficient that we have had on other Silver Seas Cruise, but they were friendly and helpful and when we pointed out to them areas of concern they were very prompt to correct it. We did have to buy a foam Pillow in Halifax as we found the pillows on board this time to be as hard as rocks. Being allergic to feathers obviously complicated this situation. In Philadelphia with only a few hours in the morning in which to head into town, 45 seater trolly cars were provided to move 300 plus passengers and around 100 crew into and out of town. These trollies should have been retired 50 years ago, they were hot and uncomfortable with minimum springs and certainly were not up to the task of moving so many people in so short a time. This was definitely a problem of the Tour Department. In Baltimore again with minimum time there were insufficient coaches to carry so many people and once more pandemonium and confusion was the name of the game. Of course the Tour Department blamed the Ground Handling had sent ahead via Silver Seas ‘air-ease’ programme, could not be found until after departure, it was claimed that somehow the baggage tags had become detached. Again on re-boarding the ship in Ft. Lauderdale we arrived at 2:30 pm on the docks and did not receive our bags until nearly 6:00 pm. We have never experienced this before on previous cruises on Silver Seas and obviously there is a problem here. In discussing these problems with Mark Rumbarger, he indicated that they were aware there was a problem and he promised that on our planned disembarkation in St. Lucia on the 9th November, he would see that this was corrected and true to his word our bags were collected and taken through the ship and carried to our waiting car in Point Seraphine in St. Lucia. It is very easy to complain and whine about problems, but our experience has been that by bringing it to people of authority most problems can quickly be corrected. Frankly, I would be hard pressed to find anything else to complain about other than the weather and the unfortunate cancellation of two Ports, perhaps Philadelphia could have been omitted entirely and more quality time spent in Baltimore. I did notice however that there were many containers being de-stuffed and the contents loaded onto the ship at our dock in Philadelphia so perhaps this was an important staging point for supplies.

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Nov 30, -0001

Mediterranean (Istanbul to Barcelona)

Background: Although I have cruised extensively, up to this point, all of my travels have been in the western hemisphere. As a member of NACTA, I was given the opportunity to cruise from Istanbul to Barcelona with 38 other travel professionals on the ultra- luxurious Silver Whisper. Having sailed on previous “seminars at sea” with NACTA, I was looking forward to the networking, and the potential for growth that these trips

provided. For me, this was a dream come true! I was ready to embark on a journey of discovery, and eagerly anticipated my first venture to Europe. Not only would I be traveling to exotic ports, but I would also be experiencing my first luxury class cruise. I am pleased to say, the trip surpassed my expectations. My review is a compilation of my thoughts and impressions, as well as opinions of some new friends I met onboard. Istanbul/Embarkation: My flight from Cleveland, OH to Istanbul, Turkey was long, but uneventful. I flew to Istanbul a day early, not only to allow my body to adjust to the time change, but to visit this vibrant city. Many of my family and friends were concerned about my traveling to this part of the world alone. As I had planned to meet others from our group in Istanbul, I was not concerned. Their apprehension and trepidation was unfounded, however. Istanbul is totally cool, extremely westernized, and I felt VERY safe. Had I not joined others, I would have felt quite comfortable traveling in and about Istanbul on my own. We stayed at the Marmara Hotel, which sits high atop a hill overlooking the Bosphorus, and provides a marvelous view of the entire city. Thanks to one of our group (Barb) for selecting these fine accommodations. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful, the rooms were nicely appointed, the location was perfect, and hotel amenities were extensive. I would highly recommend this property to anyone traveling to Istanbul. Istanbul, built on 7 hills in 2 continents (Asia and Europe), is a metropolis that is a wonderful blend of the old and the new. On our day of arrival, we wasted no time exploring the Old City. A visit to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Hippodrome, and the Grand Bazaar are all “must sees” in this bustling city of diversity. After some serious shopping, and a break for some liquid libation at the Grand Bazaar, we headed on foot to the Spice Market. The walk was entertaining, and the sights and sounds along the way were mesmerizing. The cab ride back to the hotel was our only negative experience. The value of the Turkish lira can be very daunting and deceiving. A very talented and clever cab driver managed to confuse us so masterfully, that a ride that should have cost us about $6 million Turkish lira, cost us over $40 million. By the time we realized we had been “duped”, rather than be angry, three otherwise intelligent and relatively savvy travelers were left in awe of his machinations. If I might make a suggestion to anyone traveling to Istanbul: First, check with the hotel concierge to determine the approximate cost for a cab to your specific destination, then negotiate the price with the cab driver before getting in the cab. Awaking early on the second day in Istanbul, I took advantage of the well-equipped exercise room, as well as allowing myself the luxury of my first Turkish bath, before meeting the others for breakfast. The embarkation process was not to begin until 3:00 pm, which gave my two traveling companions, Barb and Janet, and myself another day to explore the city. So, we headed off in a cab (much wiser this time) to Topkapi Palace, which stands atop the ancient Roman Acropolis. The Ottoman residence for over 400 years, Topkapi has now been turned into a museum where many of the Sultan’s treasures are displayed. If you visit Istanbul and have time to visit only one thing, this is it! It is a glimpse into the past that must be experienced to appreciate. At about 4:00 pm, we negotiated for 2 cabs to take us, and our luggage, to the port. We were instantly met by a porter who escorted us, and our luggage, into the cruise terminal. Within moments we were checked-in, given a “white glove” Silversea welcome, greeted with a flute of Moet & Chandon champagne, and ushered to our suite. Looking around at the environs, as I was being personally escorted to my suite, the term “understated elegance” comes to mind. The Cabin: “Cabin” is an entirely inappropriate term for the luxurious accommodations I was to share with another NACTA member from San Francisco. From the moment I stepped into my verandah suite on deck 8, I reveled in the sumptuous surroundings. A wall-to- wall sliding glass door opens onto a large inviting teak verandah with two comfortable deck chairs and footrests. The suite is decorated in soft pastels that offer a soothing ambiance and the fine appointments provide an inviting atmosphere. A very comfortable sofa, and chair are complemented by end tables and a coffee table in the sitting area. A special tabletop can be placed on the coffee table to convert this space into an exceptionally pleasant in suite dining experience. A fully functional drape can be used to separate the sitting area from the beds. Along the wall opposite the sofa is a large mirrored entertainment/work unit. Personalized stationary is provided for your convenience. In addition to a large desk area with telephone (one of 3), there is a TV with VCR, a mini-bar, and refrigerator that are restocked daily with your choice of complimentary beverages, including alcohol. This is one of the “all-inclusive” perks that are provided by Silversea. There is one electrical outlet in this unit. However, along the same wall there is a separate lighted vanity that also has an outlet. This comes in very handy when more than one person is getting ready. A hair dryer is provided for your convenience. A note about the hair dryer: It fits into a special outlet in the vanity allowing the other outlet to remain free for a curling iron, etc. But, be advised that the hair dryer requires you to hold down the power button during use, which can be a bit awkward. Twin beds with double nightstands ensconce the opposite wall. At this point let me interject that I derived immeasurable pleasure from the posh Frette bed linens, down pillows, and the exceptionally comfortable beds that were provided. Sleeping was pure bliss! Speaking about sleep, there is one glaring flaw with the design of the cabins – paper-thin walls. For all the amenities and luxury that these suites provide, I was very surprised at the poor soundproofing that existed between rooms. I could actually hear my neighbors get in and out of their bed. So much for privacy! An extravagant walk-in closet is located next to the beds. In addition to an extraordinary amount of hanging space (complete with padded hangers), there is also a chest of drawers, open shelving, a shoe rack, and safe. The closet still has ample space to be used as a dressing area. Last, but not least, is the sumptuous, marble bathroom. With its full-size bathtub, separate enclosed shower, exceptionally large vanity with double sink, telephone, and Bvlgari toiletries, nothing has been overlooked in providing the ultimate in creature comforts. As I strolled around the suite taking in all the amenities, I was interrupted by the doorbell. (I have to admit that I had never been on a ship that had doorbells, so it took me a while to figure out what the noise was). My cabin stewardess was at the door to introduce herself, deliver my luggage (I had been in my suite less than 10 minutes at that point), and to provide me with any requested cabin amenities. Add to all this the plush bathrobes and slippers, as well as the complimentary bottle of chilled champagne awaiting my arrival in the suite, and it is easy to see why Silversea has received so many accolades. Public Rooms: The Silver Whisper has a unique design that places all the suites in the forward half of the ship. All the public rooms, with the exception of the Observatory Lounge, and Spa are located in the aft portion of the ship. This does afford additional quiet and privacy when utilizing your suite. The Observatory Lounge and Spa are both located on Deck 10 (the highest deck). With its dark blue carpet, white chairs, wood paneling, and floor to ceiling windows, I found the Observatory Lounge to exude a soothing, pleasant ambiance. A self-service bar provided early morning coffee, juice, and breakfast rolls. This was one of my favorite spots to enjoy some early morning tranquility and solitude. A small hall off the Observatory Lounge leads to the Spa, and exercise room. Although I did not use the spa facilities, in speaking with those that did, the services were quite pleasurable. I was extremely disappointed in the exercise room. It was very small, and what little equipment there was, made the space feel cramped and totally unappealing. I did use the treadmill a few times, but the facility was not very comfortable, or conducive for a serious workout. The only public facilities on Deck 9 were a jogging track, and the golf cage. There was a golf pro onboard providing workshops and private lessons. I do play golf, albeit poorly, and had planned to use his services, but just never found the time. Deck 9 also serves as the open deck surrounding the swimming pool, providing additional lounge space for the sun worshippers. The sheltered swimming pool is located on Deck 8 mid-ship. There are a fair amount of very comfortable padded teak lounge chairs surrounding the pool. The nice size pool is flanked by 2 jacuzzis. A small bar, and poolside grill round out this area. We had some beautiful weather on this sailing and the pool area got quite crowded during our days at sea, but was still large enough to provide ample space between passengers. As I love the sun (Someday I know I will regret it), I spent as much time here as possible. The bar and grill provided me all the sustenance I would need to wile away the afternoon hours. Also located on Deck 8 is the library and computer center. The library was filled with videos, both recent releases and old favorites, to use with the VCRs that were standard in all cabins. As for the computer center, you will receive a Silversea e-mail address with your documents. Using this e-mail address will cost you substantially more money than if you just log onto the internet and use the e-mail address you use at home or work. The $.75 a minute charge initially seems excessive, but you are charged only for the time information is actually being transferred. I was online for a great deal of time during this cruise and my entire tab was under $5.00. The Panorama Lounge completes the public rooms located on Deck 8. This is the largest of the bar/lounges located on the ship. Its neutral walls, white and green furniture and floor to ceiling windows give it a spacious and open feeling. The rather large parquet dance floor adds to the openness of this space. This lounge was frequently used as the piano bar, as well as the location of Jazz Night. A card room, conference center, cigar bar and champagne bar are all located on Deck 7. The champagne bar serves as the location of the pre-dinner presentation at 7:45 each evening when dining in the “by reservation only” Specialty Restaurant adjacent, the Terrace Cafe. The Terrace Cafe also serves as the location of the breakfast and luncheon buffets. In the evening the buffet area is closed off, and the space is transformed into an intimate dining alternative. The main showroom, the Viennese Lounge, is located on Decks 5 and 6. This is an exceptionally large showroom for a ship with so few passengers. It is reminiscent of “Moulin Rouge”, with its central color scheme of deep red and gold. Although site lines are very good, the seats on both sides of the upper level provide a limited view, and should be avoided if possible. Immediately forward of the Viennese Lounge, on Deck 5, is “The Bar”. This seemed to be the place our group elected as our pre and post-dinner spot. A mellow dance band, as well as an outstanding piano player, took turns performing here. It was an extremely comfortable lounge decorated with plush sofas and chairs arranged in many conversational nooks. Tasteful artwork adorned the walls, and from my point of view, was one of the most inviting public areas. An oval lobby is located on Deck 5, which is where to find the purser, hotel manager, and shore excursion desks. This space is enhanced by an open stair tower, and utilizes earth tones and wood paneling to provide an elegance befitting the size of the ship. Off the lobby is a small shopping area. The Silversea boutique and the Bvlgari store both offer a nice upscale selection. Directly across from the shops lies the casino. The casino is small, but offers sufficient gaming tables and slots to appease those that enjoy this “sport”. Actually, some of my new cruise friends spent quite a bit of time here and left the ship with their coffers full. Directly off the casino is the Grappa Bar, a very intimate space that accommodates 24. Although small, it was the only place to get a cocktail late at night. The group of revelers I had the pleasure of partying with closed this spot many a night. The formal dining room, aptly named “The Restaurant” was on Deck 4. Large windows, wooden floors, and once again those neutral colors, made this area appear much larger than it actually was. Open seating was enjoyed on this cruise, and the restaurant never seemed overcrowded. One special note to demonstrate how Silversea anticipates and provides for passengers every need: On one occasion I mentioned casually to a dining companion that I had forgotten my glasses and might need some help deciphering the menu. Within moments a waiter presented me with a handsome box that contained none other than numerous reading glasses of various magnitudes for my use. Now that is what I call service! Food/Dining: Needless to say, on a cruise of this caliber, one would expect gourmet food, of outstanding quality and service to match. In most instances this cruise lived up to those high expectations. Each evening “The Restaurant” provided a unique and varied menu. Having already mentioned that the Silver Whisper enjoys open seating, it was very pleasant to eat when, and with whom we pleased each night. I should mention open seating on mainstream cruises often means that you do not eat at your assigned table, but are seated in the order in which you enter the dining room, filling all the space at one table before moving to the next. Consequently, depending on the number in your party, often sitting with a group of strangers. This was not the case on the Silver Whisper as tables of 2 to 10 are provided to accommodate the dining requests of the passengers. Having made friends with passengers who had sailed on Silversea frequently, I was given an insiders scoop to specific requests. Silversea prides itself on fulfilling passenger requests if at all possible. One evening a group of us wanted escargot, which was not on the menu. The restaurant staff was quick to assure us, that although our request could not be honored that night, a special order had been placed, and we would have the delicacy the next evening. Service was never rushed, and dining was a culinary treat. An exquisite gourmet feast was presented in the Terrace Cafe each evening. Reservations were required, and seating was very limited. Dining was an event, which began with pre-dinner presentation of the pre-selected menu for the evening. The chef and sommelier made the course selections and the wines to accompany them. We had the pleasure of dining at this venue twice during the cruise. Although this was an interesting concept, I am not a gourmet aficionado, and would have preferred some choice in finding a delicacy to delight my palate. The Terrace Cafe was, however, my favorite place for breakfast. Although it was considered a casual dining venue, linen tablecloths, fine china, and white-gloved waiters at your service were part of the package. Eggs, and any other breakfast delicacy, were prepared to order, and delivered to your table. Many in our group also enjoyed the excellent luncheon buffet. My priority, however, was to enjoy the sun. So, when I chose to eat lunch while on board, I opted for the poolside grill. Even in this casual setting, service was of the highest quality. Food was brought to you upon request, and served with real silverware and plates! The burgers, fries, and hot dogs were excellent, as were the salad and sandwich offerings. Being pampered and catered to while lounging in the sun was truly a decadent delight. As pleasurable as the dining options were, I was a bit disappointed in the dessert menu. The choices were uninspiring, and seldom tempted me to indulge in unnecessary calorie consumption. I actually lost weight on this cruise, rather than gain, so perhaps I should actually thank the chefs! Entertainment: It is in this category that I think the “Silver Whisper” may have missed its mark. There is no question that there were some extremely talented performers on board to entertain us. Colin Salter had a wonderful voice, and entertained us nightly on the piano. In the intimate setting this ship provides, we were able to enjoy his company, as well as his talents. Our nightly sing-alongs became a highlight of the evening. The very talented and accomplished Broadway entertainer, John Paul Almon was the male lead of the Jean Ann Ryan Production Company. He had a magnificent voice and extraordinary stage presence. The multi-talented Gloria Parker was the female lead of the company and is a renowned opera singer. Unfortunately, their exceptional talents are limited by the constraints of the production material. Somehow an accomplished opera singer performing 70’s disco music is not a good match. It was evident when given the latitude to showcase their own unique talents, as they did on Jazz Night in the Panorama Lounge, the true depths of their abilities can be appreciated. I do not believe the Jean Ann Ryan Production Company and Silversea is a good mix. Don’t get me wrong, I consider the Jean Ann Ryan Company to be one of the better production companies. Their shows are always high energy and very entertaining. But, this is the same company that produces the shows aboard NCL. NCL and Silversea are two entirely different products, and the type of entertainment on board should reflect these differences. Jazz Night was wonderful, as was the special concert, “Baroque to Broadway” performed by Gloria Parker. Songs by Puccini and Verdi featuring special guests from Livorno, Corale Pietro Mascagni, was the kind of entertainment one would expect as part of the “Silversea Experience”. Entertainment like the cruise director’s puppet show, and the efforts of a very poor ventriloquist/comedian are other examples of what didn’t work. Ports of Call/Cruise Highlights: As delightful as I found the cruise experience, visiting this part of the world for the first time was awesome! As there was so much to see and do, I could write a book about each port. In an attempt not to bore you, I am going to share the highlights, and if you have specific questions about a port, contact me via e-mail and I will be happy to answer your query. Leaving Istanbul at ll:00 pm meant that Day 2 of the cruise found us cruising the Dardanelles. The tour manager, Neil Hird, provided a detailed commentary on the significance of the many landmarks we passed as we sailed through the straits. This informative presentation could be heard in the Observation Lounge and on the open decks. It was also a treat to cruise by Mt. Athos, the seat of Eastern Orthodox monasticism, in the afternoon. Neil, the tour manager, again shared fascinating details about this unique island of 20 monasteries, where women are still forbidden. Early in the morning on Day 3 we arrived in Mykonos, Greece. A shuttle bus was provided to deliver us from the port into town. Mykonos is a visual delight with its whitewashed buildings contrasted by vibrant blue shutters and doors. After walking through the labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, our group headed for one of the beaches that make this little resort community so popular. Not quite ready for the European beach experience, we chose not to go to one of the nude beaches. Instead we made our way to Platis Gialos, a quaint and picturesque beach, with a marvelous little restaurant that served excellent food as well as outstanding Greek hospitality! I would love to return to this island for a longer stay. Day 4 was another day at sea, and a NACTA “seminar at sea” occupied my morning. The presentation was informative and quite helpful in developing my computer/internet skills. The conference room is long and narrow, however, and if I were doing a presentation in that room, I think I would configure the chairs to face the windows. It would provide a more central location for the speaker to be heard. The remainder of my day was spent enjoying the sun and appreciating the perfect weather. Catania, Italy was our next port of call. Situated at the foot of Mt. Etna, it is one of the busiest cities in Sicily. Catania itself is not very picturesque, nor memorable, but grabbing a cab to Taormina made this port another fascinating stop. Taormina is built on a hillside, providing a breathtaking and dramatic view of the Mediterranean Sea. Here one can visit the ancient theatre, walk through old town pedestrian areas, or do some elegant shopping on “Corso Umberto”. Enraptured by the charming atmosphere and unspoiled beauty, it is here that my love affair with Italy began. On Day 6 we arrived in Salerno. Once again our group chose to explore on our own, rather than through a ship’s excursion. We hired a cab for the day, and headed off to Pompeii. As we had so many things we wanted to see, we allocated only a few hours to explore the ruins. Even sailing through at a record pace, we could not accomplish our goal. Allow yourself ample time to explore this fascinating look into the past, and purchasing the audio guide is well worth the money. Not realizing the enormity of Pompeii, we made the mistake of exiting from a different place than we had entered, falsely assuming we could walk around the periphery of the site, thus avoiding the crowds. Not so, we had to hire a taxi to take us to our taxi that was waiting for us on the other side! What a comedy of errors! We had planned to take a ferry over to Capri for lunch, but were running short of time. Not wishing to miss the ship, we opted for a trip to Sorrento instead to enjoy lunch at an outdoor cafe overlooking the sea. Sorrento is another quaint and picturesque town that would have been wonderful to explore in greater detail. Civitavecchia (Rome) was our next port of call. Rome is actually over an hour away from the port and can be reached by train. That was our original plan, but as it was raining, and we had a long list of “must-sees” on our agenda, we opted for our tried and true plan of hiring a cab for the day. This truly was the cheapest and most efficient way to travel when in a small group. Arriving in Rome on a Wednesday provided us with the special treat of a papal mass at St. Peters. As it was raining, and the pope’s health is failing, mass was held indoors. Our whirlwind tour of Rome took us to Vatican City, the Coliseum, the Forum, and the Spanish Steps. We threw our coins in Tivoli Fountain, and made sure we had time to enjoy a marvelous lunch at another glorious restaurant! Good Italian food and wine were high priorities with our merry band of travelers, and needless to say, we were not disappointed! Day 8, and this would be our last port in Italy. We arrived in Livorno early in the morning, had a hearty breakfast, and located a van to take our group into Florence. We got tangled in a huge traffic jam as we entered Florence costing us valuable sightseeing time. Florence is a city best traveled by scooter. When it rains, which it was on this day, all the people who normally travel by scooter are forced to take their cars, thus the huge traffic jam. Once we arrived in Florence we took in the Duomo, saw Michelangelo’s “David”, shopped for leather goods in the upscale shops in the town, and once again located a perfect restaurant to taste local delicacies and enjoy some wine. Architecturally I would probably rate Florence as my favorite of the ports. It was an absolutely beautiful city! Each port enhanced my love of Italy, and my desire to return. Our last day on the ship was spent cruising the Mediterranean on our way to our final destination, Barcelona, Spain. Our NACTA group had a business card exchange, was taken on a tour of some of the larger suites (absolutely decadent), and enjoyed a wonderful Galley Buffet luncheon. Lounging at the pool, and in the jacuzzi was a perfect way for me to end the cruise. Overall Impression (Kudos and Complaints): My cruise on the “Silver Whisper” was overall an excellent experience. Passengers ranged in age from 30 to 80+, with the majority falling somewhere in between. For the most part they were experienced, discerning travelers, but genuinely friendly. The atmosphere on board was one of quiet, easygoing elegance. The non-invasiveness of the staff was particularly appreciated. There were no photographers on board, and no one ever tried to sell you something. They truly did respect your privacy, while still finding a way to cater to your every need. I also liked the “all-inclusive” feature. No tipping, and a tab at the end of the cruise that was under $10, was a rare treat for me! I have always preferred to cruise the new mega-ships, but there is something to be said for the small ship experience. I loved getting to really know and socialize with many of the other passengers and entertainers. It was a pleasure to have the staff recognize you by name. Embarkation and debarkation is much less stressful on small ships, as is the ease of getting off the ship in each port. With advance notice, the “Silver Whisper” even permitted passengers to bring guests on board while in port. This is unheard of on the larger mainstream cruise lines! The relaxed, quiet atmosphere on board, however, would not be to everyone’s liking. A party ship this was not! Very little activity could be found at night. Lounges closed early and late night entertainment scarce. One interesting note regarding this, however: One night there was a group of about 20 of us drinking, and enjoying the piano music, when the bar tender announced that the bar was closing (it wasn’t even midnight yet). One of the ship’s officers was with our group, and was not pleased! He let it be known that the lounges are for the passengers’ enjoyment, and it is the passengers, not the crew that decides when it is time to retire. The officer was true to his word, and from then on, lounges remained open for evening socializing. This speaks volumes to the commitment Silversea has for providing personalized service and acknowledging their guests as the number one priority. Although service was usually impeccable, friends I met that were frequent passengers onboard Silversea felt that the service on board the “Silver Whisper” was inconsistent They felt some of the bar and wait staff did not provide the gracious and personalized service that is a trademark of this cruise line. Also one note regarding wine and alcohol: On occasion the wine and brand of alcohol served were of poor quality (For some reason this seemed to occur most frequently in the Viennese Showroom). I am sure after this cruise I have been forever spoiled! Getting my first taste of European culture, and being pampered with six-star service has raised my level of expectation. I have tasted the best the world has to offer, and I am hungry for more!

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