Contact Form

    News Details

    Travel: Silversea is the ultimate ultra-luxury luxury liner
    • March 22, 2023

    How luxurious is Silversea Cruises? “Very” is a simple answer, but to do the question justice, it really begs another: “Where to begin?” We may as well start at the top of the day, as in breakfast, when even the simplest of things is elegant and elaborate on what many consider the epitome of sailing in style.

    Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes is not only tasty, but makes for a grrreat example when comparing and contrasting Silversea’s upper-luxury class of cruising with the other major consumer categories. So, let’s head to the buffet, grab a bowl and dig in.

    On Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and other mainstream-class lines, if the favorite breakfast of Tony the Tiger doesn’t come in a single-serving cardboard box, it’s probably out of a dispenser that requires a few turns of the knob at the serviceable, yet unsophisticated cereal bar. On Princess, Celebrity, Disney and other premium-class ships, Frosted Flakes often comes in single-serve plastic bowls. At the buffet on Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Windstar and other luxury-class ships, big spenders with a sweet tooth will likely find Frosted Flakes in a crystal bowl from which guests spoon into their own.

    The friendly and capable bar staff in the Dolce Vita Lounge is indicative of Silversea’s lofty level of hospitality. (Photo by David Dickstein)

    And then there’s Silversea. Like with so many things both ordinary and extraordinary, this ultra-luxury cruise line does things with a higher brow. Those boxes of Frosted Flakes lined up on a glass shelf in the Italian-themed La Terrazza bistro are not really for the taking — by you, that is. Just eyeing the cereal will get the attention of a watchful crew member who will assume the task, not only unboxing the sweetened contents from the other side of the sneeze guard, but having the cereal delivered to your table with your choice of six kinds of milk. They even do the pouring honors, but not before you sit down at the white linen-covered table. And don’t you dare carry your own plate as not letting them do it gets the same reaction as if you insulted their mother.

    While this six-star level of attention is embraced by returning guests and nettlesome for the uninitiated, this is Silversea’s culture, and they’ve been doing things this way long before COVID-19 literally took serving utensils out of passengers’ hands at the buffet. For nearly 30 years, the cruise line has been pampering guests at lofty levels, right down to asking coffee drinkers how much foam they want with their flat white and which of five types of pillows they prefer on what might be the most comfortable beds in the cruise industry.

    Each passenger on Silversea is assigned a genuine butler. (Photo by David Dickstein)

    Another bar-setter, when Silversea promises a butler assigned to each suite, he or she isn’t just a cabin steward in tails; this class of butler shines your shoes without being asked, arranges for a tailor to hem newly purchased slacks, changes the casing of even your decorative pillows, responds to a page within seconds, and, when they know you will be in the Dolce Vita lounge instead of your suite at 4:30 p.m., has your daily delivery of canapes sent to where you’ll be playing team trivia. Oh, and those bougie bites come with unlimited caviar.

    A museum’s worth of original artwork adorns Silver Moon. (Photo by David Dickstein)

    For a brand that’s all about service and goes to more destinations than any other cruise line, it’s surprising that Silversea hasn’t served Southern California since 2018, the year Royal Caribbean acquired the pioneer of all-inclusive cruising. Come January 2025, however, San Pedro’s World Cruise Center returns as an embarkation port for Silversea when Silver Shadow raises anchor for a 22-night voyage to six Hawaiian ports and four in French Polynesia. That April, the larger and newer Silver Moon embarks on a 19-night cruise from L.A. Harbor to Vancouver with six Hawaiian ports and lots of sea days in between. (At last check, rates were 75% off for that sail, as low as $11,400 per person, and that includes flights and transfers as part of Silversea’s “door-to-door” all-inclusive fare.) In May of 2025, Silver Shadow returns to the Golden State for an 18-night itinerary from L.A. to Southern Florida through the Panama Canal.

    Early risers aboard Silver Moon take advantage of a warm Brazilian morning. (Photo by David Dickstein)

    West Coast cruisers who don’t want to wait that long or travel far to pick up a Silversea ship have a few options out of San Francisco this year and next depending on availability: a 10-night expedition cruise to Puerto Vallarta on Silver Wind (October); a 132-night journey to Hawaii, Oceania, Asia and Alaska on Silver Shadow (January 2024); and a 23-day Panama Canal voyage to New York on Silver Shadow (May 2024). Additionally, Silversea has Silver Muse and Silver Whisper sailing to and from Anchorage and Vancouver for the Alaskan cruise season that begins in May. (Deep discounts offered at press time had fares as low as $3,800 per person for a weeklong voyage to the Last Frontier.

    Silversea ( sails to more than 900 destinations on all seven continents, and for the bulk of a recent 69-night trek, 140 well-to-do wanderlusters paying at least $51,000 per person did one of those large land masses in style. Their “Grand South American Cruise” out of Fort Lauderdale was aboard the 596-passenger Silver Moon, the very ship that pays Southern California a visit in 2025. As with many cruises dubbed “grand” or “world,” this one was broken up in multiple itineraries so that those who can’t afford to spend so much time and/or expense can still get a good taste of what cruising on Silversea is all about.

    Sheer deck-adence

    Speaking of good tastes, much of what was served on the 12-night leg from Rio de Janeiro to Bridgetown, Barbados, yielded plenty, as it should from ultra-luxury cruising. Nearly half of Silver Moon’s Italian-accented decks have at least one restaurant, which is considerable for a mid-size ship.

    Elegant Atlantide, a main dining room on Silver Moon, features seafood and steak. (Photo by David Dickstein)

    From top to near-bottom: Excellent pizzas and gelatos are served at Spaccanapoli on Deck 11; on 10 is The Grill, the ship’s poolside restaurant that at night transforms into Hot Rocks where guests cook their own surf and turf on a 460-degree volcanic stone; and on 8 is the Parisian-inspired La Dame, the most elegant dinner option that’s well worth the $60 surcharge. Also on 8 is the Arts Café for perfect coffees and teas, and light bites changed five times between 6:30 a.m. and 11 p.m.; and on 7 is the aforementioned La Terrazza that transitions from a breakfast and lunch buffet to a fine dining Italian restaurant in the evening. Steps away on the same deck is the Silver Note, an intimate supper club with terrific food, drinks, live music and a smooth vibe for those who know the tricks to score a coveted table. This popular joint is way too difficult to book, and a certain someone who likes to have dinner around 6 was lucky to get a table at 9 on an undesirable night.

    Former Southern Californian Erin Montgomery leads a class on Brazilian cooking in the S.A.L.T. Lab. (Photo by David Dickstein)

    The lowest public deck is the most tasteful as nearly every inch is dedicated to food. On 4 are the ship’s two main dining rooms: the elegant Atlantide for seafood and steak, and S.A.L.T. Kitchen, which is one-quarter of a unique experiential program named for the acronym for “Sea & Land Taste” and debuted on Silver Moon in 2021. The first page of S.A.L.T. Kitchen’s menu changes with every port, featuring locally inspired dishes. Some of those recipes are cooked up next door at the S.A.L.T. Lab, which excitingly redefines the growing culinary class craze on cruises. It’s a beautiful space, but with only nine stations, it’s almost as hard to get into as the Silver Note upstairs. The other two components of S.A.L.T. are a bar that specializes in local libations, and select culinary shore excursions that truly offer guests some local flavor. Also on 4 is Japanese-themed Kaiseki, which is free for lunch, but $40 at dinner.

    Personal preference

    Silver Moon docked at Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. (Photo by David Dickstein)

    Just as ultra-luxury cruising isn’t for everyone, either is Silversea among the sailing elite. Take their dress code. Having cruised on 20 different lines, several of them in the luxury category, we can say without a doubt that Silversea’s is the strictest and most baffling. “Formal night” requires ladies to be in cocktail dresses or pantsuits and gentlemen in tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits and tie. The thesaurus considers “informal” and “casual” as synonyms, but not Silversea. Men must still wear a jacket on “informal night” with women in dresses or pantsuits. Also curious is that exceptions and variances exist depending on the day and whether you’re inside or out. Oh, and if dinner is indoors, the dress code is different restaurant to restaurant.

    Smokers delight in being able to light up portside at The Grill/Hot Rocks in addition to a dedicated indoor-outdoor lounge and on the outside patio of the Arts Café. Nonsmokers may detect a waft that’s surprisingly omnipresent for a ship built in 2020.

    A fun and flashy salute to British pop entertains guests in the Venetian Lounge. (Photo by David Dickstein)

    Passengers expecting elaborate shows will be disappointed, but there should be enough talent among the entertainment team to make up for modest production values. And although complaints were heard about the lack of activities scheduled during the day, this cruiser found the list to be robust for a luxury sail. Rounding out the key venues, a full-service spa includes a decently sized gym while the casino, although small, is staffed with dealers so reflective of Silversea’s brand of niceness they almost make losing a pleasure.

    OK, so that’s going too far. But going too far is also a signature of Silversea. They’ve got cloth cocktail napkins, by George. From butlers who will draw your bath to galley workers changing the direction of the sliced mango at the buffet to appease a lefthander, Silversea is determined to deliver the ultimate pleasure cruise for those who love being pampered, if not coddled.

    Related Articles

    Travel |

    How to survive a shark attack — or better yet, avoid one entirely

    Travel |

    Disney Cruise Line announces new Bahamas destination Lighthouse Point to open next year

    Travel |

    Two one-way flights or one round-trip ticket: Which is better?

    Travel |

    Best times to book the lowest-priced international flights in 2023

    Travel |

    Travel: The Grand Egyptian Museum is amazing — if you can get in

    ​ Orange County Register