Silver Whisper: Smooth Sailing
Article Published: Friday, June 15, 2007
Can the nearly all-inclusive, ultra-luxury Silversea Whisper satisfy your insatiable appetite for pampering?
Ship: Silversea Cruises Silver Whisper
Entered Service: 2001
Overview:Like its sister Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper boasts an ultra-luxury, ‘near all-inclusive’ experience. You won’t need to dole out extra cash for gratuities, alcohol, soft drinks, juices, speciality coffees or shuttle service between the ship and city centers. But your cruise fare won’t quite cover everything, either. There are charges for shore excursions, internet usage, spa services, cigars from The Humidor, and premium wines and liquors. Laundry service, but not dry cleaning or pressing, is included in many stateroom categories, and use launderettes is free of charge for all stateroom categories.
Of Silver Whisper’s five dining options — The Restaurant, which is the main dining room; The Terrace Cafe, featuring buffet-style for breakfast and lunch; and transforms to La Terrazza, an a la carte Italian themed restaurant for dinner; The Pool Grill; and 24-hour in-stateroom dining — only Le Champagne charges an additional fee.
For the wine connoisseur, Le Champagne is perhaps a good value. The $150 per person cover charge in the attractive and intimate restaurant gives wine lovers the opportunity to experience some of the world’s finest wines. In cooperation with Relais & Chateaux, Le Champagne features vintages that retail for as much as $1,000 per bottle, and yes, you get a glass of fine wine with each course. At those prices, it doesn’t take many glasses to more than make up for the cover charge. Wines are expertly paired with menu items, and the wining and dining experience in Le Champagne truly sets it apart.
Le Champagne does have competition, however, in that the complimentary house wines served throughout Silversea voyages are palate pleasers. When I requested that a bottle of Pinot Noir be delivered to my stateroom, I was surprised to see that it was a fine French vintage. Just because the wine and spirits are free doesn’t mean that Silversea skimps on quality.
Silver Whisper’s passenger capacity (382) certainly warrants its inclusion in the ultra-luxury category, and the relatively small number of guests allows for open-seating dining. Moreover, with 295 crew, the passenger-to-crew ratio assures sufficient manpower for attentive service, and indeed on my cruise in February, Silver Whisper’s crew rose to the challenge of presenting an ultra-luxury level of service.
Expecting the Silver Whisper to be a small ship, I was surprised to see that it spanned 610 feet and rose 10 decks. Measuring 28,258 gross tons (a measure that indicates cubic space, not weight), Silver Whisper has one of the highest, if not the highest, space ratios of any cruise ship. That number is derived by dividing gross tons by the number of passengers.
A high space ratio (73) meant that Silver Whisper seldom felt crowded or congested during my cruise. Indeed, stepping out of my stateroom at 7 a.m. on the first day of my cruise, I walked almost the entire length of the ship before encountering another passenger, even though the sailing was near full. Later than day at lunch in The Restaurant, only nine other passengers were present. The rest presumably were dining at the Terrace Cafe, The Pool Grill or in their staterooms.
Staterooms are spacious, and bathrooms, in particular, are well-appointed on Silver Whisper. Not all staterooms feature verandas, and one category features a ’shared veranda.’
There were a few grumbles over the cost of internet usage, priced at 75 cents a minute, which is standard pricing for the industry but priced at 35 cents a minute on at least one of Silversea’s competitors.
Stateroom Categories and Brochure Rates: Silver Whisper (and Silver Shadow) feature seven categories of suites and staterooms. The company refers to all categories as suites, but some are more on par with staterooms. For example: While there are no inside staterooms, Vista Suites have no verandas and measure 287 square feet, still large by industry standards but not truly a suite. Likewise, Veranda Suites, the most abundant category on Silver Whisper, measure 345 square feet, and as their eponymous name suggests, this category does feature a veranda, but it’s still only one room — a nicely appointed and spacious room, but one room nonetheless.
The categories higher than Veranda Suite have separate rooms, at least separate bedrooms, and thus qualify as being true suites (in addition, these categories also offer free laundry service, a welcome perk).
Accommodations throughout the ship are spacious, well appointed and on both Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper, all suites and staterooms feature marbled baths with double sink vanity (granite countertops) and full size tub (some with Jacuzzi). Baths also included a ‘personalized’ amenities package, meaning that you choose your preferred amenities (choices on my cruise included the Italian brands Acqua di Parma and Bvlgari; and Neutrogena).
In the 2008 brochure, Vista Suites currently on Deck 5 will be renamed Terrace Suites (unlike the Vista Suites one deck below, the Terrace Suites on Deck 5 feature a veranda, though it is a shared veranda).
In the short descriptions below, I provide examples of the brochure rates offered on my 10-night Far East sailing in February 2007. Be sure to check with your cruise seller, however, for special offers and savings. On my February sailing, for example, rates were up to 50 percent off.
The Owner’s Suite measures 1,254 square feet and features two bathrooms and two bedrooms with twin or queen beds. Also available as a one-bedroom configuration. The category offers butler service. Brochure rate for my cruise: $19,095
The Grand Suite (there are three that range from 1,286 square feet to 1,435 square feet) feature not one but two verandas, two bedrooms and baths, plus butler service. One of the Grand Suites is designated as the Rossellini Suite, which was designed and accessorized by the actress Isabella Rossellini, Silversea’s ‘cruise ambassador.’ Brochure fare for my cruise: $16,595
The Royal Suite ranges from 1,312 square feet to 1,352 square feet and also features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two verandas and butler service. Brochure rate for my cruise: $15,795
The Silver Suite ranges from 653 square feet to 701 square feet and features a living room with separate bedroom and veranda. Brochure rate for my cruise: $12,395
The Medallion Suite measures 521 square feet, with a living room, sitting room, dining area, separate bedroom and veranda. Brochure rate for my cruise: $11,595
The Veranda Suite measures 345 square feet and features a sitting area and veranda. Some suites in this category can sleep three. Also, there is a ‘preferred’ midship veranda suite category that went for $400 more (brochure rate) during my cruise. Brochure rate for Veranda Suite on my cruise: $8,695
The Vista Suite measures 287 square feet and is the only stateroom category with no veranda. As previously noted, in the 2008 brochure, Vista Suites currently on Deck 5 will be renamed Terrace Suites (unlike the Vista Suites one deck below, the Terrace Suites feature a veranda, though it is a shared veranda). Brochure rate for my cruise: $6,595
How To Save: Silversea Cruises isn’t known for low lead-in cruise prices, but the company does offer good value for its all-inclusive product. In fact, if you do the math, you’ll often find that Silversea compares reasonably to other cruise lines in its league. Silversea Cruises’ Director of Corporate Communications Brad Ball says there are at least a couple of ways to get the absolute best value for your dollar.
- Book the Terrace Suite Category. Located on Deck 5, the suites (there are nine in this category) share a veranda. The reason they share: The veranda is part of an emergency exit, so furniture and other barriers cannot be permanently placed in the area. The Terrace Suites feature glass doors that open onto the veranda, giving you all of the pleasures of a veranda-category stateroom for less. The only drawbacks are the verandas aren’t private, not a problem, however, for families or for those who don’t mind getting to know their neighbors.
- Book A Silver Sailing. Silversea discounts select cruises up to 50 percent off brochure rates. These are capacity-controlled offers, so as space sells, the percentage discount decreases correspondingly. For the best discounts, book early. Ball says the Silver Sailings program features more than 50 voyages for 2007. Consult your cruise seller for more information.
The Bottom Line: When you take into consideration the all-inclusive nature of Silversea, the higher rates often turn out to be a good value. You’ll seldom, if ever, have to dip into your pocket for anything once your cruise is under way. Do the math to break down the cost of the cruise on a per-diem basis. It’s not unusual to pay as little as $300 per person per day on Silversea, and that includes all gratuities, shuttle service from the pier to the heart of town in most ports of call, complimentary beverages, including wine, champagne, spirits and beer.
For avid cruisers looking for a luxury, small ship, all-inclusive experience offering a diverse selection of itineraries worldwide, Silver Whisper and its sister are strong contenders.
This Just In
Silversea Cruises has a couple of new ships in the works. The first is scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2009; the second is an option, which basically reserves space at the busy shipyard. Each ship will measure 36,000 gross tons (a measure of interior space, not weight) and carry 540 passengers. Even with the increase in passengers, the new ships still feature a generous space ratio of 67 (Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper feature a space ratio of 73.)