The Giotto Report
My Cruise on Silversea Cruises’ Silver Cloud
Caribbean | February 2011
I have returned from the Caribbean and a cruise aboard Silversea’s Silver Cloud from Ft. Lauderdale to Barbados. Here’s my report of our Virtuoso Voyager Club’s great experience.
The first installment below covers Silversea and Silver Cloud in general with thoughts on service, crew & cuisine! Subsequent blog posts will focus on Voyager Club, the ports and excursions.
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida . Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands . Philipsburg, St. Maarten . St. John’s Antigua, Castries, St. Lucia. Port Elizabeth, Bequia. St. Vincent & The Grenadines (including Mustique) . St. Georges’s Grenada . Bridgetown, Barbados.
As most of my regular readers know, I used to work for Seabourn Cruise Line and had never sailed on Silversea. As I get rave reviews from my clients about both lines, I thought it was about time to try the former competition. I also wanted host a Virtuoso Voyager Club sailing and learn more about that so when the opportunity came up I jumped on it.
Silversea’s first ship was Silver Cloud –launched in 1994. Silversea was Seabourn’s first serious competitor, and took the Seabourn idea a step further with a bigger and more spacious ship, almost all with balconies (only Seabourn’s larger suites had them), and at a reduced price. Silversea was created by V Ships, who had recently sold off their Sitmar Cruises brand.
Throughout the cruise I was asked which I preferred, so I’ll tell you now that I really can’t answer that question. I did just sail on Seabourn Sojourn in November 2010, but that was only for 2 days. It’s been longer since I did a full Seabourn cruise and any full-on review wouldn’t be fair. (Yes, I did love it. Read my blog post) But frankly it’s not that important as my clients consistently tell me they love them both.
The cruise was very enjoyable for everybody I spoke to, including myself, our Voyager Club group of 28 persons, my co-host Gary Rhodes and other guests. Comments regarding the high level of service were the most common and I agreed to some extent. On a small ship of c. 450 or less guests, one’s relationship with their dining room and bar waiters, cabin stewardesses, butlers and ship’s general management (i.e. cruise director, shore excursions staff, reception, etc). is paramount. Because the ship is so small, and with a limited number of restaurants/lounges to explore and experience, the quality of your personal relationship can be the difference between a mediocre and a stellar experience.
Take Myra. She’s the bartender in The Bar. Fabulous. A bit like Cheers, she knows your name and what you drink – and only after one visit. After dinner, what a pleasure to hang out with your new friends in The Bar and to enjoy Myra’s company. Same to be said for Selma in the Terrace Café for breakfast. “Hello Mr Josh” or “Mr Friedman” was a very nice way to start the day. She and her colleagues tried to remember your preference for coffee, lattes or whatever. Jimmy Kovell the Cruise Director, Bertram Petyt the Hotel Manager and Jorge Caeiro, the Maitre’D all went above and beyond the call of duty.
I did feel however that there were language problems between guests and crew as well as a general lack of polish in the restaurants. With dining so important an event on a luxury ship, and interaction of the staff and guests so critical, English comprehension needed to be better. This created a problem with the general way in which the entire dinner experience flowed and with the specifics of getting what you wanted.
They could have done a better job in anticipating needs and being a bit sharper in their service. On a ship of this caliber, one shouldn’t have to ask for butter, bread, water, etc. but you did too often. And then sometimes it took too long to get it. Nonetheless, after a few days of cruising and relaxing a bit, it was less annoying. But it should have been better.
For me food is the #2 item of importance after service. But they’re close! I’ll remind my readers that I’m a San Francisco food snob before I say that I found the food quality inconsistent. Presentation on the plate was perfect, but flavor was mixed. Sometimes the courses were unique and would rival San Francisco’s best, and at other times they were basic and dull. Coupled with inconsistent service it was hard to know how your meal was going to go.
The very friendly and hardworking crew is primarily Pilipino, with a scattered person or two from other countries including Brazil, South Africa, Mauritius, Slovakia, Lithuania.
While mostly American from the Midwest and East (this was a winter cruise), there were many guests from England and Scotland. Others I met came from France, Belgium, Chile and Australia. Ages ranged from 2 on up, with most in their 50s to 70s.
The Giotto Reports are reviews and stories of my travels around the world. They’re named after Giotto di Bondone, the 14th century Florentine artist, whose namesake street I lived on at number 37 in Florence when I was in college.
For my complete set of photos from this trip and others, visit my photo home page. [photos coming soon]
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Josh Friedman is an old-fashioned travel agent offering highly personalized 24/7 service. Specialties include high-end and bespoke luxury travel for small groups and individuals. His areas of expertise include ultra-luxury cruises, customized vacations & luxury hotel stays. He also plans spectacular honeymoons, anniversary and birthday celebrations and completes trips that clients have started and just can’t quite figure out how to finish.
His relationships built over twenty years with the world’s top hotels, cruise lines and local agencies will ensure your successful vacation. As a client you get exclusive and complimentary perks that you can’t get on your own — from VIP introduction to the hotel’s management to upgrades, scrumptious breakfasts and hotel spending credits.
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