Sometime in 2023 we had booked an 11 day cruise on the Silver Spirit as we had never experienced Silver Sea andsuddenly we found this round trip from Southampton. It meant we did not have to fly. Not cheap by all means but it was 6 Star and we understood that there would be no difference in service whether you had the smallest balcony suite or the Owner Suite.

I have set this review up in several sections, if you are only interested in the main points 1,2 and 3 will do. If you also want to have the impression of on board life and where we went  and how I came to the pro’s and con’s, then go to 4 & 5 as well. There you also will find most of the photos.

  1. Overview.
  2. My personal opinion.
  3. Pro’s and con’s observed.
  4. Dairy of the cruise.
  5. Notes.

The ms Silver Spirit. (Photo, courtesy Wikipedia)

1. Overview.

The ship is the ms Silver Spirit, one of the older and smaller units of Silver Sea. Built in 2009, it has  a volume of 35000 tons and was lengthened in 2018 with 15 meters to a length overall of 210 meters. Capacity 608 in double occupancy and 410 crew. This cruise there were 509 guests on board  which gave everybody plenty of room.

In a nut-shell:

Space ratio: 57

Crew /guest ratio: 1.5

Per diem per guest cost for a standard suite : $ 550,– (no flights included)

Cruise length: 11 days around the British Isles and Ireland.

8 Restaurants, of which 2 have a cover charge.

All drinks are included, except the premium wines etc.

Star Rating: (google average) 6 Star.

Tipping Included. (Although some guests seem to tip on top of that)

The Glare: (*)  95%

(*) The “Glare” is a little, maybe nasty thing, that I do. When walking through the corridors, I look each crewmember straight in the face to see if they greet me. On Holland America it scores about 90 to 95% if I only count the crew who do not know me. With mainly technical failing. Here  from engine to deck to hotel, everybody smiled and wished us a good  day. IMPRESSIVE. The only one failing was one officer who was later introduced as being the head of the butler service & Housekeeping. He averted making eye contact twice when passing in the corridor.

(Note: I have not given this percentage in the review of the Queen Anne. This would not have been fair as the crew was suffering from the understaffing of the maiden voyage and really wanted to be on the Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth)

2. My personal Opinion.

In a nutshell: Imagine you buy a top of the line luxury car and the dealer has advertised the best air-conditioning in the world, a top speed of 200 mph. and an expensive hamper, included, upon delivery.  You buy the car and then find out it does only 180 mph., and the hamper you do not get as they could sell it to someone.  Does it detract from having bought a nice car ? No. Does it leave you with a niggling feeling that you did not get everything you were promised and expected? Yes.

Was it worth the $550 per diem a person, Yes & No.  There is a lot more offered and available than on a small size five star ship.  But there is no booklet in the cabin, nor anything on the App that tells you what you get. So you have to ask for everything as the crew does not offer anything, except to continue with what you had before or having at the time. And that is in a way a bit tiresome.

This is the cabin directory as we found it, and had it during the cruise. Everything else you need or want to know is hopefully on the TV or on the phone.

If you ask your butler for caviar, for fresh fruit, for nibbles in the cabin, for filling up your fridge etc. etc. it comes with great alacrity but it is not offered. Same in the bars, they are VERY fast to attend to you but you have to ask for nibbles as they do not offer. Once you start asking, the sky is the limit (within in budget ofcourse).

Cruises are very personal but with this cruise being very port intensive, I had a hard time quantifying the $550 a day for a standard verandah cabin / suite. I think it should be down to about $ 350- 400 unless there are flights involved. We looked at the  Med. cruises, which include flights from the UK but the per diem is roughly the same.

The cabin directory as laid on bed every evening with the (high quality) Daily Program and a chocolate. This is the formal night version when the choccies came in a nice box.

Would I recommend a cruise with Silver Sea??? Well look at the pros, and the cons as listed below. I will not be back unless I can get a better deal that brings the per diem down. I had expected that we would NOT have been able to pick any holes in the product as it is considered 6 star. But as you can read below, we could pick holes. Maybe more than others, as both my wife and I have been in the Cruise Industry for 30+ & 40+ years. But other guests did as well.  Even those on their first cruise. So it is a good product but it did not match the expectation that Silver Sea had raised and cultivated with emails, announcements, brochures and other communications.

For this ship, I found the service provided by the crew excellent, often more than excellent.  But there was this nagging feeling that the management was well satisfied with letting the crew run on routine. But if something cropped up, outside the established routine, then they just let it go. We were all over the ship and we seldom saw senior officers on rounds, or in public areas, and not once at the two outside restaurants. They were only visible during parties. (We saw the Staff Captain catching the Lift twice and that was it. And YES, he passed the glare test with flying colors)

The strange thing is on this ship, there is no forward guest staircase ( only one for the crew) to go up or down. The first staircase is about half way to the stern, with two lifts, and then two staircases with 4 lifts even further aft.

3. Pros   (+) / Cons (-) Observed.

(+)Ship in excellent condition, inside and outside, lifeboats, safety gear. Compliments,

(+) Very friendly and attentive crew. (A lot of guests on Facebook seem to be amazed by this but it is simply 6 star level so nothing special to me) but with so many nationalities, cultures and races on board and having to work together, Silver Sea is doing a good job here. The crew TOP  ratio to pax. is quite good, with 600 guests against 400 crew. Even easier with only 509 guests on board during this cruise..

(+) Daily program. Printed in color on high quality paper. I do not know how many guests are still using it, or prefer their phone but I like it.

(+) Excellent cast Dancers & Singers. Professional shows, even the local shows were of a very high standard.

(-) Passport handling. How difficult is it to give a receipt when you hand in your passport and assume responsibility when taking into custody something that does not belong to you? (see Notes)

(-) Shore excursions. Taking away an excursion included in the price when you booked a 100 days ago, is not good. Especially when never letting you know why that was. Same for being fobbed off  at the Pursers/Guest Services desk when you try to make inquiries.  (see Notes)

(+) No announcements in the cabin. When you hear an announcement in the corridor, you have 30 seconds to switch the TV to channel 2 and you can follow the whole announcement.

(-) No fresh pressed orange juice for breakfast but a concentrate mix, so it is not consistent each day. 6 Star ??? They DO sell oranges in England………………..

(+) Very impressive buffet setup in the “La Terrazza” restaurant.

(+) Cabin entry. There is a door bell, and Butler, Stewardess and anybody else needing to come in, ring and then wait a while for you to get to the door. Totally different to HAL, Cunard, Fred, Saga etc. etc. whom we have also sailed and whose staff, after a tentative single knock, just barge in. (See example in the Queen Anne write up)

(-) No binoculars in the cabin. Even 4 star ships have them in their suites and they are nice for scenic cruising.

(-) No “tote bag” in the cabin for shopping. I think that Silver Sea is missing a trick here. However posh the guest level might be, they all like to walk around with a free tote bag with the ships name /company  logo. Providing free publicity, to the locals and to guests from other cruise ships that most likely do not know that you are in port. (And what you are) Plus many guests do not bring there own small bag with them for taking on tour.

(+) Comment card acknowledged by the Hotel Director. I do not know if my comment card complaining about the tender service in Dun Loaghaire made any impact but in the next two ports it was much better. Other guests noticed it as well. (See Diary)

(+ Tour Escorts. The company puts  tour escorts/ ships crew on the tours, if crew wants to . We had one of the cast singers twice, Beatrice and she did all the right things. Introduced herself, counted guests in, out, chatted with the guests, WONDERFULL and the way it should be. And a great singer on top of that.

(-) No soft ice on board. It would be soo nice if they had a soft ice machine in the Arts Cafe.  (If you ask for ice cream, they will run somewhere and get you a few scopes, so it is not about service).

(-) Very limited company logo wear on board. Even posh guests like a souvenir, and with the incleement weather during this cruise, wind breakers would have flown out of the shop.

(-) When talking to other guests, it became more and more apparent that for a six star standard, there is little flexibility in what they want to do for you; like providing some extra service or help with challenges, apart  from what they have set out as their own service level.

Example: The daughter of a guest had sent a $80,— chocolate gift via the company. It never arrived and Guest Services acted totally indifferent to the problem, did not want to follow up. After constantly putting pressure  on Guest Services, they sent 2 small boxes of chocolates to the cabin. The same little boxes we all received on the bed on formal nights for free. So these guests have to take up their complaint when they get home. That might be the attitude of a 3 star company but not expected from a 6 star.

(-) The constant need to ask the service staff, if they can provide what you would like. The “Cabin Directory” is limited to some writing paper, a few postcards and the Breakfast menu with plenty of space to have a listing of what your Butler can do for you. (The Room Service menu is on the TV) In the public rooms, the only bar listing there is a grey booklet with some cocktails. You have to learn, which bar serves which brand of beer as it differs. Same goes for Gins etc.

(-) Disembarkation. Why with a six star ship  do we have to be out of the cabins by 08.00?  While a five star company like Holland America with 2000+ guests on board, can manage change over in such a way that their guests can wait in the cabin ?? ……….

(-) The last evening of the cruise,  the show is at 18.30, as everybody has to have their luggage out of the cabin by 22.30. So the last day of the cruise sort of stops after dinner.

(+) There is room service / breakfast available on disembarkation day, as long as you order it for 0600 – 0700. Most guests seem to go La Terrazza though for their final breakfast and then wait for dis-embarkation.

(-) The ship does not have a “hall of fame” with photos of the Sr. Officer staff, so you do not know who is who and whose name is what, except for the cruise director and to a certain extent the Captain.

Diary of the Cruise.

2024 June 11 Southampton.

Yesterday we drove from Cromer to Southampton and for once traffic on England’s main roads flowed without much of a problem. At least the way we were going, From the North East to the South West. Counter Clockwise on the M25. The other way  was a different story as we saw some long lines.  But we “enjoyed” those long lines last time when going home so I assume that the traffic gods took mercy on us today.

We are going on a 11 night cruise around the United Kingdom & also calling at the Northern and (Southern) Ireland. Basically to see what the 6 star Silver Sea product is as we have never been involved with this company. In the grey mists of time, there were always complaints about the French /Italian crew favouring guests from their own home countries but as the officers and crew are very international nowadays, that problem is gone. The only common dominator is to provide the Silver Seas service. Facebook has been buzzing with observations (commonly known as complaints) that since RCI (the parent company) has taken a more direct interest in the operation that the service has gone down in quality. We will see. The only thing we are aware of, is that they have combined the perk programs on even terms. Which is nice for RCI guests  as they get 100 days Silver Perks for much less money, than the same 100 days accumulated by Silver Sea guests for 100 days RCI perks.  It does not affect us, as Lesley and I only have a few days with RCI and Celebrity and we have none with Silver Sea.

11 June 2024 Embarkation Day.

We arrived at the pier at 12.45 and Silver Sea does a luggage check-in on the dock. You do not get your luggage tags at home as most company’s do. Check -In was in full swing as many suitcases had already been processed by the longshoremen. This check-in worked well; a local gentleman wrote out the luggage tags, after I spelled out my long and glorious name and that was it.  By 14.00 hrs. we found our suitcases back in the cabin as this was the time that the cabins were released. Check in went fast. We came in between bus loads of Americans  (making up 300 of the 500 guests) from the airport or from hotels somewhere so we rolled through without delay and directly on board.

Once stepping on board, we had to take the hurdle that they wanted to take our passports away without giving a receipt. (See Notes)

Our cabin as seen from the Balcony. Sitting area with TV on the bulkhead, a large mirror opposite the bed, then the walk in wardrobe and then the bathroom. The two complimentary bathrobes (by ETIOS) can be seen hanging on the hooks.

We had cabin 829 on Deck 8, chosen as there were cabins below and above so no operational noise to deal with. Although with this ship design, first pioneered by Hapag Lloyd with their ms Europa in the 1980’s, you have all the public rooms near the stern, on top of each other and all the cabins in the midships and towards the bow. Only the Main lounge is amidships. Cabin 829 is a medium sized suite and by choosing it,  we would have a good idea of what the average product would be like. Double bed, sitting area with full curtain in between, bathroom with bath and separate shower and walk-in wardrobe with enough space for a 3 week cruise. There is a small self service laundry on each deck with one washer & dryer and an iron board.

Each deck has a small – free of charge- self service laundry. Opposite is a fold out ironing board,tucked away in a small locker

Coming to the cabin, the cabin stewardess was waiting and fussed over my last name, which nobody can pronounce unless you are Dutch; but they have to do so and more cabin stewards popped up and suddenly we had a whole choir in the hallway trying the Dutch soft SCH.   Then the butler popped up and as it is not written down exactly what they can do for you, it was an elaborate Q&A to see  what could be done; but now our fridge is stocked with high quality gin. vodka and soda’s and by 17.30 the caviar was there. Basically the Butler does breakfast, room service, looks after the fridge, and helps with making shore excursion arrangements and restaurant bookings if needed. He was supposed to offer unpacking our suitcases but did not. In our case that did not matter as we like to know where we can find our things when needed.

Balcony with seats for two.

A note about 6 star. This rates the quality of service and until some years ago, the most prevalent difference between 5 and 6 star was “Silver Service”. This meant that if you ordered steak, vegetables and potatoes, then a silver platter would pop up and the steak would be transferred to your plate; followed by the vegetables (other silver plate or salver) and same for the potatoes. I have been told that USPH requirements put a stop to that as it more difficult to maintain the required temperature with a open dish. So now it is plate service everywhere in the world where USPH rules are followed. Six Star is now all about the amount of EXTRA service.

Cabin 829 from the entrance door side.

The cabin was in good condition, apart from the skirting around the bed coming off off as the Velcro had had its day and this was never repaired during the cruise. Same with some screws in the wall of the shower that were rusting and for a 6 star ship that should be picked up by a Housekeeping supervisor. There is Still and Sparkling water   in the fridge and the ice bucket which is refilled twice a day by the Butler. You also can order Pellegrino sparkling water in the cabin but that is not advertised by the Butler. (One of the things you have to find out with Q&A) Same for that in the Restaurants, it is there but you have ask for it. Only regular still and sparking is directly offered. (This water comes out of a purifying machine on board and is very good)

The ship has an atrium which runs from Deck 10 down to Deck 4, the Pursers Lobby.

The ship public areas and corridors were in excellent condition, partly due to the fact that the crew does not have large trolleys but all is hand carried or by means of small box  trolleys.  So very few to no scratches on the bulkheads. Then it was 17.30 and time for boat drill.

This is the “La Dolce Vita” lounge seen from the midships towards the stern / pursers lobby

Boat drill is still old fashioned. You have to report to the muster station in our case the main day lounge, This is the “Dolce Vita Lounge”, the only public room in the midships and they check you off by means of a paper on a clipboard. Then you get the lifejacket show and then you do an informal conga line to have a look at the lifeboats just outside the door on the same deck with all the boat commanders lined up for a meet and great. This ships has gravity davits, e.g. no machinery informed for lowering so they always work without needing a hydraulic back up system.

Pursers Lobby. Towards the end, the Atrium, then to the left Shore excursion, to the right Guest services, then right back Art Director desk and left back the Future cruise consultant desk.

An important announcement was that they do not make announcements in the cabin. That is a big thing for me.  VERY HAPPY. The announcements are only in the public areas and for inside the cabins you go to TV channel two. So no Captain or Cruise Director wakes you up during your afternoon nap with some information about were we are supposed to go or what time the bingo is.

To my utter amazement 5 minutes later there was the captain with an announcement in the cabin. Not for a sail away story but for a bad weather announcement. There was a heavy storm rolling in from the Atlantic and that meant that we stayed either 3 days in Southampton or raced into the Irish Sea and went  to Liverppol. Cancelling Plymouth (anchor) and Fishguard (anchor). So now we have a day at sea tomorrow and then Liverpool. Some Americans (we have 300 on board out of 509 guests)  were disappointed by not going to Fishguard in Wales. But going to Fishguard is not being in Wales unless you take an indepth tour into the Black Mountains. At least that is my experience.

This is Deck 10 seen from the Scalanapoli Pizza place looking towards the aft staircase dome. As the Captain outran the storm and nice weather prevailed, until well into the Irish Sea, some guests questioned his decision. I never did as I know how horrible it can be near the Scilly Isles and by the time we reached Liverpool the rest on board was also convinced.

Then it was time for cocktails but we decided to stay in the cabin as we had a bottle of champagne to finish and we had the caviar. Again nothing is mentioned but we had found out from Facebook that caviar is a sort of standard thing that you can have any time and any day which was confirmed by the Butler after we asked.

La Terrazza Restaurant Entrance. A large seating area towards the stern and starboard side and a buffet on the port side

For dinner we had booked “La Terrazza” which during day time is a walk in buffet restaurant and in the evening becomes an Italian A La Carte restaurant. No extra cost, but they like a reservation for planning. Attentive service. The anti pasti starter is a large bread plank with enough meat, cheese and other Italian goodies to offer almost a full dinner. Main courses were good but nothing special. Portions are small but adequate and that saves on wastage. If you want more, you can always order another dish.

I am a poor photographer so my photos do not do the lay-out honor but it is quite impressive for the size ship.

House wine is incorporated but you can order  a higher quality for own account if you want to. Unless you are a connoisseur, (or think you are a connoisseur),  there is not much need. The house wines,   Savignon Blancs,  Sancerres, Cote du Rhone, Pinot Noir, and a whole string of Italian Wines are more then adequate. Again, you have to ask, there is no listing, unless you ask for the non- inclusive wine list. (Halfway through the cruise, we found out that “Gruner Veltliner”, an Austrian white wine, and my favourite, was also available and included.  So guess what we drank for the rest of the cruise)

And this is only the salad counter………….

Off we went to the show. Which was a most peculiar combination of a bit of singing by the cast, a few introductions, a bit of singing by the cast, etc. etc. all presented by the Cruise Director. With Silver Sea a Cruise Director wears a uniform with stripes. That is fine but then please ensure that the uniform is fitting properly, is well pressed and does not show the mobile/cell phone in the trouser pocket.

What was in our opinion un-forgivable (and Lesley as past world cruise hostess is an expert here) is that those to be introduced, cruise staff, lecturer, future cruise consultant, etc. were not called to step onto the stage to take a bow but were kept on deck level while the cruise director stood glorioulsy , in the spot lights above,  introducing them. So they were difficult to see for the guests in the back.  The cast (4 singers/dancers & two dedicated dancers) were very good and we are looking forward to their first show two days from now.

The Venetian lounge with 328 seats. It proved to be more than enough for a 604 capacity size ship.

About 10 minutes before the start of each show the beverage department shows up with drinks at the entrance to take in, plus there is also service inside the lounge. As the demographics of the guests are totally different to other company’s, the small Venetian Lounge was only half full. (and we would see that again during other shows and lectures). Enrichment lectures are on the TV as soon as they have taken place.

One of the Revue shows during the cruise.

12 June 2024  Now a sea day instead of Plymouth.


Breakfast in the cabin. Nicely laid out by our Butler. Champagne is added on request.

Butler service does include setting the table properly if you have breakfast in the cabin. For that a table cover/extender is hidden away in the walk-in wardrobe and then everything is nicely laid out. This the same for all the cabins, except that the large suites have proper dining tables in situ due to the size of the cabins.

A tea bag. This sort of mesmerized me as I had never seen one like it. A teabag with a hook. No longer the need to twist the label around the cup, just hook the tea bag around the cup handle and let it simmer . Never seen before.


Then it was time for another walk around to see what the “flow” of this ship was. With a size of 35000+ tons and 500 instead of 600 guests on board, it was very spacious with room to sit everywhere. But even with a six star product, there were still long lines at the Pursers / Guest Services desk. Half with guests who could not log in to their mobile phones for the on board App. and half with all sorts of booking problems.

The Jazz musicians corner of the “Silver Note” restaurant. The singer & piano player invite people to dance when there is a “romantic” request.

We joined in for that, as we had booked the verandah restaurant called the Silver Note for later in the cruise about a 100 days ago; with an 20.00 hrs. confirmation. Only to find out when coming on board that we had been bumped to 21.00 hrs. and that is a bit late. The Pursers desk could not explain why we got bumped to a later time as we had been confirmed a 100 days ago, except “scheduling challenges sometimes make changes necessary” but she was going to find out.  We never heard anything back from Guest Services or the Diningroom manager.

This is the portside aft part of the Observatory which doubles up as a library.

The rest of the afternoon we walked the ship, to see how the “flow” went. Amazing was the number of cabins with a Do Not Disturb sign. Either these people were still tired from flying, sick, or did not care for what was going on in the ship. We came to believe that it was the latter. There is no drive to join in with anything, it is mainly personal self indulgence.

The Panorama Lounge located near the stern. This is looking forward with the band stand on the sb. side.

We had a drink in the Panorama Lounge (at the stern), which is also a cocktail lounge  with music in the evening. There is another -Look out- lounge forward, which doubles as a library but only has bar service from 6pm tp 10pm.  But they have a self service coffee and tea and water station.

The outside part of the Panorama Lounge at the stern. The black oblong boxes under decks, are heaters for inclement weather.

Then  to “La Terrazza” for lunch to have a good look at the buffet system. And this was very impressive. Maybe more spacious because of the ship not being full but the offerings and variation were of a very high standard and again lots of staff available to help. I started to understand now that the serving staff simply moves with the flow of the guests, as we saw the same waiters, busboys and wine waiters popping up all over the place as soon as there was an increase in traffic.

One more from the buffet. Not a bad place if you like Sushi.

The afternoon we spent visiting all the Dining venues. We were going to the main dining room “L’Atlantide” in the evening, and  we wondered, if without reservations we would fit in. E.G  how many seats where there ?. It can seat about a 3rd. of the ships capacity and that was more than enough as the rest of the guests were in all the other restaurants.  This restaurant is mirrored by “Indochine” on the port side, which is roughly the same size and which turned out to be very popular during the cruise.

After lunch the availability of a small snack is limited (apart from an elaborate room service menu), but there is the Arts Cafe (so called as there are shelves with art books) which has rolls and related in the morning, then switches to Tea compliments (finger sandwiches etc. etc.) aft 1500 hrs. and then to chocolates etc. later on. This café is a bit on the small side, if there is inclement weather, as it really needs to over flow to the outside verandah as seating inside is limited. But for a bigger appetite, there is the pizza restaurant on Deck 10 which is open a day, until late evening..

Arts Cafe. This is the counter. I never counted less than 3 attendants at the counter to help serving and to make drinks. Never a long wait.

Then it was time to prepare for the captains cocktail party, at 18.30 hrs. in the  “Dolce Vita” lounge.  This day lounge is not that big, so we ensured to be on time to have a good seat as we were expecting a full house as there is not enough space for 500 guests. But more than half of the guests did not show up, so everybody could be seated if they wanted to.

A small card room is available. If you want a pack of cards you have to go and pick them up at Guest Services. I saw mainly family groups playing here.

This was a “formal optional” night. And it did not really work. About a 1/3 of  the gentlemen present were in a formal / bow tie option, nearly 1/3 in jacket and tie variation and then the rest in jacket without a tie or just a shirt and slacks. Nearly all the Ladies were dressed up, it was the men who were letting the scene down.

The phrasing in the daily program (Called “The Chronicles”) allows for it, but “style” goes out of the window.  (See Notes) We dressed up  as it is one of the nice things to do on a cruise.  Extensive drinks service in this lounge but nibbles/appetizers service was very slow rippling out from the bar area (portside aft) and never made it to the far side (sb side) of the lounge.

By 19.15 hrs. introductions started. The captain speaks only limited English and heavily accented as do most of the senior officers. All coming from different countries (Italy, Croatia, Greece, etc.). Because of this language challenge the captain heavily leaned on the cruise director, who gave the impression that it was very much his show.  The shocking bit was ,that he was not in a formal suit or uniform but wore some sort of light colored lounge suit; something that I would wear when going to a British Garden Party. Being used to Holland America, Cunard and other five star companies, where Cruise Directors wear formal, or nearly formal even on casual nights as they represent the product, I did not think this was very good. We saw him again later on in this same lounge suit on casual nights and it did not give a very professional impression, regardless of what the official dress code was.

L’Atlantide. The regular restaurant on board. E.G it does not specialize in something special. This place is really well laid out, as all the busboy stations are hidden behind the bulkheads in the sides.

We decided as it was a formal night, to go to L’Atlantide, which you can consider the main dining room., They ask you if you want a table for 2, or if you want to share. So we opted for a table for 2 and then waited and see how this “sharing” worked out by watching the large tables. Sharing is a nice way to meet new friends but what I was afraid of…….. happened, They let you wait until they have filled up the table.

It might not mean much for some guests, but I hate to look at used dishes or see stewards arranging the plates. This is much better.

In one way it is understandable as then everybody starts dinner together but if it takes a long time to fill the table (and that includes waiting for your glass of wine) then it becomes tedious.  We were opposite a table of 8 and exactly that was what happened. In the end it was filled with 6 ladies and 2 gents. One gentlemen felt that the only way it would work, was for him to take the lead in the conversation.

If you do not think that L’Atlantide is posh enough, then there is a small French Rest. called “La Dame”. With a (high) cover charge. Reports from other guests were mixed. In general they thought that the cover charge was too high for the “extra ” offered.

The show, with about half the seats of the small “Venetian Theatre” filled (capacity 328)  was by a clarinet player. A bit of an usual act for a cruise ship, but he was good, very good, extremely good. Clarinet is not my favourite instrument but this was amazing to listen to. The butlers were outside the theatre again offering drinks to take in, but we had alcohol  so I went to the bar to get two cokes. This caused a stir with the waiters, as that was THEIR job. But I explained that although they were fast, I was simply faster, as in their case, they had to find somebody else to take their tray, then take the order, then walk to the bar, then come back to the theatre and find us. By that time the show might have been started and they would have had to grope around in the dark. They understood but it seemed that this was a point of view they had not considered yet, so a lively discussion ensued, in English, with a multitude of accents.

Everywhere in the ship there is art on the walls and in corner niches. Those with a tag next to it are for sale. See more at the end of this report.

Upon return to the cabin we found a nice little box with chocolates on the bed, instead of the normal good night chocolates which all company’s do.

Silver Sea also put two water bottles in your cabin, for use ashore, and then to take home. We saw people walking around with them and then after some investigation found out that our butler had forgotten to put them in our cabin, so we got them a day later.

13 June 2024, Liverpool instead of Fishguard. Not planned but appreciated.

Liverpool was the alternative to the two cancelled ports. We sailed in on the tail of the bad weather so the whole day it was rain on/rain off and strong winds. We had our tour in the afternoon and were planning to stay on board for the morning. However Lesley then realized she was running out of a vital condiment for her daily make-up causing the world to almost come to a grinding halt. But downtown Liverpool is only 20 minutes away from the Landing stage, so an expedition was mounted to Boots (The chemist Est.1882.) This is a national pharmacy chain in the UK, somewhat akin to CVS in the USA and ETOS in the Netherlands. So we marched to downtown and all was well in the world.

This is part of the offerings in the Arts Cafe in the morning until about 1500 hrs. when the Tea Time things come out.

A quick lunch was grabbed in the Arts Cafe as we did not have time, nor the appetite for a large lunch in one of the dining rooms.  And then it was time for our City Tour. That went very smoothly with a very posh coach and an extremely good Tour Guide.  Information was good and extensive and very patriotic. If we were to believe him a lot of the “firsts” in the world came from Liverpool. Including the first commercial rail road in the world, the man who really resurrected the olympic games. (not this French bloke we all know about but a real Liverpool scousser) and also the first public library in the world was founded in Liverpool.   The American revolution was financed by a Liverpool born banker. etc.etc.  At the end of this city tour (3.5 hours), we knew that the world would not have been what it was now, without Liverpool. (Oh yes, almost as an after thought, the Beatles also came from Liverpool but that was another tour…..)  The tour was concluded with a short stop at the Albert Port Cargo Docks, which are now part apartments (650 – 700k for a 3 bedroom with parking) and restaurants and shops. Most of the restaurants were full of young girls in cowboy outfits or glitter dresses as Taylor Swift was in town.

The Indo Cine restaurant. The menu changes every 4 days, so enough variation to go more than once a cruise.

We were back on board by 18.00 hrs. and had booked the Indo Chine restaurant. It is free of charge but they like a booking to make sure there is space. This cruise with 500 guests on board, there was room all the time but with a full ship it could be tight as this restaurant is very popular and very good. Waiters popped up from other locations to provide service and their menu knowledge was sufficient for it to work well.

We had a funny moment, when I asked my waiter for a second beer. They have  6 lager beers available in this restaurant (the others have less), although bottle only; there is no draft beer on board) He passed the order on and then went to serve another table. A 2nd waiter saw my empty glass and offered to get me another beer. Then a 3rd waiter offered to get me a beer.  We advised both that we had already ordered. But my beer did not come. I was about to call waiter nbr 1. to remind him, when a totally confused 4th. waiter walked by, stopping at all the tables asking if they had ordered a beer. Somehow the table number had been lost and he thought the best solution was to walk the whole dining room expecting to eventually be flagged down by a very thirsty guest.  But the food was very good. The menu changes every 4 days, so we will be back.

If you do not think IndoChine was good enough then there is “Seishin” which is a small Japanese Rest. and has a cover charge. Reports from other guests were very good.

This was followed by a show with a comedian called Steve Stevens. And he was very good. I always admire comedians who can make fun out of simple things, without having to be rude, blue, religious or political.  So his jokes were focused on situational humour relating to the age of the guests and that went down very well. It included a bit of trumpet play and ukulele play. Very good show and  we are looking forward to his next performance.

14 Dun Loaghaire, Ireland.

This is a small town outside Dublin which takes the overflow of cruise ships for Dublin. In the good old days cruise ships had preference over cargo ships so we all could dock but with the increase in the number of cruise ships including some of them mega ones, Dublin has now one dedicated cruise dock (close to town) and the rest has to go to anchor.  Downtown was taken by the ms Sirena from Oceana. (A direct competitor to Silver Sea) so we were the unlucky ones, The designated anchorage (pilot compulsory) is to the south of the port quite a distance away, but I assume that there are underwater obstructions that prevent coming closer as the sea is deep enough, even much closer to the harbour entrance.

Here comes my nautical expertise in swing. This is a 4 tender distance to provide a good service, especially with the low swell running which prevented the tenders from going at full speed. (So 4 tenders needed if you advertise a 6 star product) but I saw only 3 tenders lowered and only one platform lowered. That platform was on the lee side in the morning but not after the tide turned and the ship swung around on the anchor. So in the afternoon it was a wobbly affair. Rigging a second platform does not take too much time, so why not do it?  It is supposed to be a posh operation. Stepping onto the tender was all within the parameters of a safe operation but could have much been more comfortable with less delays in waiting.

So it created a long line of guests going ashore for the afternoon tours. Then by the time the tours came back, some bright spark on the bridge had decided to go down to two tenders, so security put as many guests on each tender as possible. And that slowed down the operation as the last 20 guests take more time to load than the first 60.  Based on my work as Fleet Master, which included examining tender drivers, it was interesting to observe the operation. When we went out in the afternoon, there was a driver change. There was no formal handover between the two (required with filling out a small hand-over-checklist) Not Good. But the new driver did check, the mornings checklist, the route, and rechecked if all equipment was working, so Very Good there. To know the route was less important today as the local Harbour Master had a patrol boat sailing in front of each tender going in and out. Not a bad idea as it stops the tenders from getting lost (especially in foggy weather) and to stop them from going too fast when inside the port.

We had gone for a quick lunch in “The Grill” on deck 09. Which does comfort food, in small or in large portions. We had a BBQ chicken wrap which was very good. Then ready for shore and having to wait 15 minutes for a tender to arrive and then boarded  with a moving/rolling/bumping tender along the platform. Then another 10 minutes wait in the tender as security tried to load all the tours on board, plus a gentleman in a scooter. Then a 10 minute tender ride so a total of 35 minutes to get  ashore. When we arrived there was a line of returning guests of well over a 100. You can take 80 in comfort on a 150 pax. tender / lifeboat  so the last in line would have to wait for the next tender, which was nowhere in sight.

We had the afternoon city tour and a whole of 5 minutes of St. Patrick’s cathedral as the tour guide did not know that it was Evensong at 17.30.  The tour guide, spoke non-stop, many times repeating himself. He just could not stop talking and just had to talk regardless whether it was appreciated by the audience or not. It did detract from watching what was there to be seen. Silver Seas puts escorts on most of the tours. I did not see her filling out a checklist but she said she did and that she had mentioned the non-stop nattering. On return there was a shore excursion lady waiting at the gangway for a meet and greet and altogether, -the Guide and the bad tender service,- the comments from the guests disembarking where not very favourable. But she just smiled and I have no idea if she took it on and would follow up.

Pizza at Scapppanapoli. Her Ladyship tucked in, in a blanket as it was cold and rainy.

For the evening we had booked the Scappanapoli restaurant on deck 10. This restaurant is open towards the stern as it overlooks the pool area one deck down. This can be a challenge in the British weather but it has ceiling heaters and wrap around blankets so it is still very nice. We enjoyed watching the rain poring down over Dublin. This is an Italian restaurant and they serve fresh pizza, made by very competent cooks from somewhere in Africa and Scandinavia.  We found that the pizza’s were great but the service mediocre. The menu, in the form of a plank  only lists pizza’s, so you have to quiz the waiter if you can get some sort of starter. Yes, one could, Caesar salad, but he had to go down the stairs (“The Grill” is on deck 9) to get it. As said the pizza was wonderful  and then how about dessert? We had to ask again and it turned out they could get ice cream and also cakes. No menu but we picked something  from the list recited by the waiter.  We were waiting for another offer of drinks but it seemed that if you have finished the food then also the drinks service stopped.

I do not have a photo of the wonderful Derek, so here the duo from the “Silver Note” who one day gave a performance in the day lounge as well. Please note the number of empty chairs. It was never busy anywhere, unless there was food involved.

No problem, there are plenty of other venues, so we went to the main – La Dolce Vita- lounge where a wonderful Irish pianist from Dublin, called Derek, tickled the ivories until late in the evening from 9 pm. onwards. The lounge was very sparsely populated, no more than a 10th. of the capacity filled, but it did not deter him from doing his best. As we were in Ireland, where were going to be Irish, Guinness for me and Irish Coffee for Lesley.

15 June 2024: Belfast, Northern Ireland.

We received a comment form card in the cabin with the request to advise any observations or concerns. That gave me the chance to comment about the bad tender service yesterday. Let’s see if we get a response.

Near the entrance of each lounge is a permanently installed hand sanitizer. A very nifty machine which sprays a watery substance over your hands, one by one. This is the first ship, where I never found an empty, or malfunctioning one. Very Good.

Breakfast in the cabin and then up to the Panorama lounge to do our emails and give the stewardess the chance to do the cabin. Wifi is good all over the ship even when you only use the price included basic package. (For streaming you need the bigger package. )Here we met a wonderful bar waiter / bar tender called Bruno, who would serve us for the next mornings, when we did the same thing to make room for the cabin stewardess. Very competent and as he had worked in the UK, was easy going in the conversation. Wonderful man, asset to the company.

Then running down to the Arts Cafe to grab a quick sandwich, as there is only so much food you can consume without feeling bloated. A full lunch, every day, is not what we can handle.

The ss Nomadic, White Star Line tender in Cherbourg and preserved here in Belfast. But we could not get on it. ………Maybe next time.

We have been to Belfast many times but I wanted to see the Nomadic, the White Star Tender from Cherbourg, that is preserved next to the Titanic museum and was not yet open during our last visit. So we signed up for the (cruise included) City &Titanic Tour. Good tour guide, although he  mixed up the various White Star Line ships. Then came the disappointment: our tour did not include the Nomadic. It turned out that the museum offers two sorts of tickets. A full ticket for £24.95, and a part ticket for £15.95. Our tour included the cheaper price version but we were not advised about that. The annoying thing was that the museum does not offer a separate ticket to visit the Nomadic. Not very nice and in my opinion not very professional.  So we were limited to the main museum/experience.

This shows the “cable car bucket” ahead of us, while it passed by a big screen which shows how the ship is riveted together. Very well done.

The Titanic museum is done very very well and amazingly they use photos from the engine room from our Nieuw Amsterdam (I) from 1906 to illustrate how the Titanic engine room looked like, There was also a section with photos of pianos in lounges from various ships from the same time period and again the NA I  popped up. Since our last visit they have added a cable car system which takes you on a 10 minute ride through a display with sounds and special effects to show you how a shipyard worked in those days. Then there is a very nice display which looks if you are rising up through the ship from the double bottom / engine room, to the top of the bridge. It takes a good 2 hours to do the tour properly and then you end up in a big souvenir shop which did a roaring trade. The “Titanic beer”, seen last time, had disappeared but was replaced by locally brewed “Titanic Whiskey”: which had the slogan “It goes down better with ice”.

Also very nice, if you have the patience, is to see this rotating model changing color from lit-up inside, to pitch dark and sinking. This photo shows the illumination just before it hits the iceberg.

Note: In Ireland whisky is spelled as Whiskey. In the UK whiskey is spelled as Whisky. I have no idea to which spelling Northern Ireland belongs as the place is part of both sides. But as our tour guide felt more Irish than British, I have used the ey.

Then there was a quick tour of downtown Belfast with a15 minute stop outside City Hall. We had to run around to find another Boots as her ladyship had run out of another vital part needed for daily living. Then we tried to find a fair size superstore to buy “Barry’s Gold Tea” which is something that is very big in Ireland but only there. This was for a Dutch friend (his father was captain with Holland America) and has taken a liking to the stuff. We found some, but extremely expensive (5 pounds against 3 euros normally) as it was sold in a convenience store in the heart of the City. So we let it go. We will get another chance.

Local Irish folklore show. Although Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, we did not see much “British” in this show.

Back home we had to hurry as there was a local Irish dance and music show. Local artists, father and a family of 2 daughters and a son and 5 dancers. All together they were called “Celtic Storm”. All claiming they were amateurs and only the choreographer being a professional; a lady who had danced with Michael Flatley’s show in the past. Amateur or not, it was very good and for once the show lounge was completely full. Well worthwhile to be in a hurry for. For the evening we went back to “La Terrazza”. the waiters had now figured out that I had been a captain, was approachable, did not bite, so they all came over one by one, to chat and ask questions. The good thing I saw here was, while they were talking, they kept scanning the room to see if they were needed somewhere else. Very Good.

16 June 2024. Greenock for Glasgow.

We had booked a full day tour – Glasgow on your own- but decided to stay on board as we felt “toured out”. So last night we handed our complimentary tour tickets back  so somebody else could use them. A good move we realized as it rained all day. I also wanted time to go around to take photos with an empty ship. And that resulted in the photos you see in this report.

The Conference room just outside the Theatre. According to the crew used for training.

Today was the Crew Emergency Drill at 10.15am and a nice lady from the bridge made announcements. Somewhat marred by the fact that she had a very heavy accent. So it took a while to realize out what “the Schicky Room” on deck one, zone 3 was the location of the fire. We settled on “Chiller Room”, which is a cold room often in use to let frozen meat thaw out, without getting warm. This was confirmed when another officer (staff captain ???) took over and was easier to understand.

Then muster control took over (That is the Hotel Director and his team who are in charge of the complete emergency guest flow) and then we had a very polished lady on the P.A. Again the procedures are similar to Holland America with dedicated teams which are advised over the P.A system what to do and where to go. They had lost the Bottle Team (air bottles refill team for the fire fighters) somewhere and they had to be traced. I wonder why it is always the bottle team, that gets lost, as I had the same experience with HAL but also heard a similar announcement when on Saga.

Another lounge tucked away is the “Smoking Lounge”. Where cigars could be purchased and enjoyed. The most expensive one on the menu was “La Estancia Edicion Exclusiva 56” for US $ 71. Expensive brandies and whisky’s were also for sale. I saw quite often guests in there, but seldom with a glass, so I do not know if they brought their own cigars.

So we spent the rest of the morning taking photos. Then time for a drink in the Observation Lounge where her Ladyship expressed the wish for another of those good pizza’s in the Scalanapoli. Again the pizza’s were excellent, again no offer of a starter or dessert, but this time there was a little nibble before lunch with 3 little pots of olives, tomato’s and parmigiana cheese cubes.

Then the disembarkation flyer came in, with the request to advise the ship of how we were getting off. Simples for us, own local taxi to hotel to pick up the car. Ships transport could be arranged to Heathrow by taxi but as expected it was a lot dearer than when making one’s own arrangements.  After the crew in the dining room “La Terrazza” realized what I have been doing in real life, they must have shared that information at once below decks as today all the crew have started to call me captain. Not correct as I have retired but it makes me feel better than having to listen to “version 25” of having my last name mangled in the name of courtesy.

On deck 6 forward is the “Zagara Spa.” Not much different as on other ships with all the options including acupuncture. One free of charge and for the other you need a day pass. It also has 2 small fitness rooms,The photo above shows the “Wellness Suite”.

For those who had stayed on board, the high light of the day was, Bingo, followed by  “Team Trivia” at 16.45 in the “Dolce Vita lounge” with about 60 people in attendance.

We had received an invitation for “first time cruisers” to attend a party from Silver Sea. So we went and there were about 75 guests there. Plus the Hotel Director, hotel staff, the cruise staff and the cast. No captain, which I had expected as being the ship’s top host. The Cruise Director did introductions again, the cast sang 2 joint songs and then each an individual one and then we got the “sales spiel” from the Future Cruise Manager.  Even with the much dearer cruise per diem than other company’s…….  “Free Laundry” was mentioned several times, to great appreciation of the audience………and that while the ship has free laundry machines on each deck.

As a ship lover I was more interested in the advertisement photos that were hanging on the bulkheads, inside the Spa area, from the days of the Italian Ocean Liners. Looking at the funnel colors this poster is from post 1932 when Mussolini merged the Italian shipping companies into one “Italia Line”.

If you calculate the average per diem of Silver Sea ( $ 500 dollar x 100 days) =  $ 50,000.  HAL is 200 cruise days ( $300 x 200 days) = $60,000. So Silversea is in principle a better deal, if free laundry is your goal in life. But HAL also has cruise credits for on board purchases so the days accumulates faster.  Then Silver Sea gives discounts when reaching certain mile stones after certain days like 5% after 250 days on certain cruises but currently they are already running a program that if correctly applied would give us 15% discount accumulated. I would just wish that they would not unilaterally take away included shore tours  which were confirmed at the time of booking. Luckily Lesley had caught this so we cancelled and took another one. As we live in England we can see Hadrians Wall anytime, we just need to drive there. A lady we met had not paid attention so she was charged, and then they decided not to go but it was too late to cancel.

We had booked the Silver Note dining room for 20.00 hrs.  long time ago  but while on board it  was suddenly changed to 2100 hrs. According to the Pursers office for “operational reasons”, but they would contact the Maitre to see if anything could be done. We never heard anything anymore. When arriving at 21.00 hrs. there were quite a few tables for 2 empty so it remained a bit vague why it had been changed.

The “Silver Note” menu. It is divided in “OCEANS” = seafood, RAW = everything in a sort of Sushi style. COOKED = octopus, beef etc. EARTH = lamb, vegetables, duck. And then there are two desserts. Sugar Volcano and Berry Fantasia.

This is the smallest restaurant with a limited menu that does not change. The big attraction here, apart from the food that is really good, is a duo  who sing “soft Jazz” all evening, and do it very well. They took requests so we had a few couples on the dance floor, celebrating their wedding day and thus dancing to the song the got married with. The dinner cycle takes about  90 minutes but then you can stay as long as you want for the music. They have tables for 6, 4 and 2. so you can go with a group if wanted to. The night before, the wine steward in  “La Terazza” had told me (during another extensive Q&A) that they had Austrian “Vetliner” white wine on board, which is my favourite among the white wines and promised to send a bottle down for tonight. And it was there. Food was very good and served on piping hot plates.

Walking back through the corridors, you see apart from the Art for sale, also art from the newbuilding, such as Murano vases etc.

17 June 2024: At sea

Breakfast in the cabin, with an unhappy Butler as I had to remind him that he forgot the ice bucket last night. This morning I got a note from the Hotel Director, thanking me for my comment form (tender service in Dun Loaghaire) and that my comment was passed on to the Staff Captain. No idea if it will have some effect but I was impressed that we got an answer. That is far from normal with cruise companies nowadays. During our last cruise – Queen Anne maiden voyage we never got an answer/acknowledgement from the Cruise Director, and with a previous cruise on the Bolette (ex Amsterdam III) from Fred Olsen we never got an answer from the Managing Director and/or the VP Customer services when I approached them with a few things.  (I will publish that report in due course as I do not think that they will ever answer me.) So to receive  an acknowledgement, is appreciated. Compliments.

At 08.45 the Cruise Director came on line, with the request to collect passports from the Pursers Office. We had never turned ours in, so that was easy.

Another piece of art that I found quite fascinating is located in the aft staircase on deck 10. “Bronzed Hairdryers” made by an artist called AMEBE and installed in 2017. It is called WIND FORCE 6. There was another one at the other side which was called WIND FORCE 5.

This was a sea day with the ship sailing around the North Coast of Scotland.  This is June and it is supposed to be high summer but the weather is more like late September on a bad day. With rain squalls and temperatures around 56oF/12oC. Still with the amount of food and drink that comes our way, we needed to do some exercises and there is a jogging/walking track around the funnel housing, with 10 laps a mile. This ship does not have a walk around promenade deck, hence the only option is to go up top. Even with this inclement weather the two outside restaurants, the Scalanapoli and the Grill, were in good use, possible as they have heaters in the ceiling and blankets are available.

This was formal “optional” night again. Dress code was the same as the first formal night, with most guests in formal, or jacket and Tie, but there were still a number of jeans, T shirts and Polo shirts around.  Silver Sea itself does not help here as the text in the daily program is different from the text on their website. (see Notes).

My wife and I like to dress for formal, and to see others “slopping” around takes much of the fun away.  So my point to Silver Sea is, When you do not want to do it one way or the other completely, then why do not do as Seabourn, Regent & Oceana and go completely Elegantly casual ????

The table setup at L’Atlantide. The glass (or something that feels close to it) chargers are taken away before service starts.

After cocktails we went again to the “l’Atlantique” – read main dining room – for dinner and on the way there, we saw a whole parade of Butlers lined up outside the Show lounge indicating a party for the Venetian Society repeat guests.  We had a table for 2 and this time the large round table next to us, was changed into a Captains table. Who showed up with the Hotel Director as his table companion.

When I held my Captains tables I preferred to have a gracious lady at the other side of the table. But here the Captain had to look at an old bloke with a moustache. Guests trickled in for this table, so obviously they had not been asked to assemble together and then to be escorted to the table. It seemed that the steward for the table had not been informed that it would be a Captains table as a sort of controlled panic broke out and also the Head Sommelier had to be chased up with the special wines.  It was interesting watching. It almost affected the service to our table but a junior Mait’re saw what was going on and scrambled waiters from another section  of the dining room.

The Venetian Lounge now seen from the Stage. The elevation is quite good, provided the person in front of you is not too tall. Most chairs have drink holders at the arm rest.

The show was the 2nd performance of Steve Stevens, comedian and trumpeter / banjo player. Again a great performance  with simple observational humour but brought with great timing. WONDERFULL.

Tomorrow we are in Kirkwall, the Captain announced during the voice from the bridge that we are docking. According to the Cruise Director we are anchoring and there is a tender schedule on the Guest Services desk.  I looked at the Kirkwall cruise schedule and there are 4 ships in, with 2 docked, one somewhere anchored in another location and us at the main anchorage. So maybe the Captain knows something nobody else knows.

18 June 2024. Kirkwall, Orkney Islands.

This is a 3 tender distance, with the ship about a 10 minute ride away,  They had 3 tenders in the water so it all worked. Every 30 minutes a departure and one tender in between to catch the rest of the guests if there are too many for one tender.

We dropped anchor in the morning so the Captain either did not know what he was saying or he was just reading out a piece of paper that is standard and or given to him by somebody else.  There were indeed three other ships in port: A Viking cruise ship (being bigger so it docked); a Iles de Ponant cruise ship (staying longer thus also docking) and the Hebridean Princess docked further away in Stromness.  We were thus assigned to the anchorage. This is a mixed blessing here. The plus is that you tender into downtown, the minus is that the tender ride can be very rocky. Docking in Kirkwall  has the plus that you just walk off the ship but the minus that you need the shuttle bus to get to down town.

After our regular breakfast in the cabin, we went ashore as her ladyship wanted to visit a local jewelery designer called Sheila Fields, who designs jewelery with a Nordic twist to it. We were only going “to have a look” but ended up with a new ring in the same design as the jewelery she has bought here in the past So I felt compelled to support the local economy as well and invested in a pint of Cliff Edge IPA from the local Orkney Brewery. Good brew, nice and smooth.

Some people like a hot coffee when it miserable outside, to warm up. For me a well rounded beer can do the same. (But then Real Ale in the UK is not cold but served at room temperature)

The afternoon was taken up with an included tour around the South Islands of Orkney. There are about 70 islands of which 20 are inhabited. Kirkwall is on the biggest island, what they locally call the “Main land”. The smallest inhabited island  hosts around 20 “Orkadians”. In the 2nd world war, a number of the islands were connected which each other by putting a solid barrier in between, in 1942, to keep the German U-boats out. One had sneaked through before and managed to sink a British warship called the Royal Oak which sank with great loss of life. Those barriers, made up of big concrete blocks were left behind and much later they put a road over it. No doubt with the far-seeing idea that it could be usedone day  by the coaches from the cruise ships……………………… The Orkneys, technically belong to Scotland but before 1469 they were part of Norway and many people on the Orkneys, and on surrounding clusters of islands, still feel a close kinship to the Nordic countries.

The tour stopped in a little town called St. Margarets Hope and this was the first time I saw a “waiting room” inside communal toilets. The toilets could do with a lot of TLC but at least you could wait in comfort away from the bad weather.

Tender service was a lot better today. It was a 3 tender distance and (I think) that not too many guests went ashore as the weather was not that great but the service ran on schedule with reasonable waiting times. They kept three tenders going while the tours were returning, so no bottle neck.

Her Ladyship Lesley with our sommelier Yuri. He was the first crewmember who actively tried to find out what our preferences were, beyond just offering Red or White. Mr. Yuri could go very far, if he stays the course.

Back on board, we had ordered caviar for cocktails in the cabin and then went to “La Terrazza” for dinner at 19.30 Lesley wanted to see the show by the “Silver Spirit Singers and Dancers” in the Venetian lounge so  we could not be too late.  The show was very good, with excellent singers and a dancing duo that was in every song and dance routine. Very impressive.  The 6 of them filled the stage and that was good as it being  a smaller ship and with the focus on food, there is no stage crew and thus no stage props to “enhance” the show. But it was not needed, the cast itself was enough with their multiple costume changes and a bit of light effects and smoke.

19 June 2024. Newhaven for Edinburgh, Scotland.

The weather gods finally consented to give Scotland a dry and sunny day and the lunch time temperature reached an apocalyptical high of 18oC or 66oF.  Having been to Edinburgh many a time, we did not have a tour but took the ships shuttle bus into town from Newhaven. Edinburgh does not have a port, so ships dock to the West at Rosyth or anchor at South Queens Ferry (Nieuw Statendam was here at anchor); or to the East dock at  Leith if shorter than 200 meters and can go through the locks or anchor at New Haven near Leith.

It were only 3 pipers and a drummer, but for a small show lounge it was more than enough. Really impressive.

Tender service was very smooth today with the wind only breezing up in the late afternoon. Two tenders operating and a 3rd one standby for rush hour. Their arrival linked in with the complimentary bus shuttle into downtown Edinburgh which takes 20 minutes. There is also a local bus, right opposite the dock (Bus nbr 10) which takes longer but is much more scenic as it goes through the suburbs.

Apart from pipes and drums, there was a piano player and an accordion player who provided the music for the 3 dancers. Then a guy singing Scottish songs and a Lady who played the Scottish Fiddle. (Which is very different from the Irish fiddle, we were advised)

We just had a look to see if Edinburgh was still there; it was, and so we took the shuttle home again. The ship had organised  a local company to perform Scottish music and dance and it was very good. 3 bagpipes & a drummer (more than enough “noise” for this small theatre), a singer, piano player, accordion player and three Scottish ladies dancing. Very good and most enjoyable.

Then there was a “Chocolate Delights” in the “La Dolce Vita” day lounge which had been repeatedly announced with great Aplomb. So we thought it might be a buffet, like a sort of chocolate extravaganza,  with the Chefs handing out chocolates but we really did not know what to expect.

A cart showed up with several trays of chocolate and then a waiter went around handing them out, accompanied by a 2nd waiter with serving plates to put them on. If you were a couple you had to share a plate. These were large chocolates ,like  small cakes.  And then it stopped. Some time later we found out that there was also a 2nd option available, with chocolates of =petit fours= size.  That serving never made it around the lounge to our side. In the mean time, the Hotel director, the Food Manager, the Asst. food manager, the Chief Butler, the Beverage manager where all supervising but none ensured that all tables/ sitting area’s were equally served.  It looked like a 1 to 1 ratio of “Chiefs and Indians” with the Chiefs not doing much,

After the first round, two waiters continued marching up and down the centre of the room, where the Asst. food manager was standing, but the side paths were not visited anymore. The problem for me was all “The Brass” was here but were not seeing that both sides of the lounge were less frequented than then centre. So the whole thing was a bit underwhelming to say the least.

A nice thing was, done by the waiters, (so no supervision involved) and all corners of the lounge visited, was going around with little glasses of either a chocolate drink based on  Baileys or a Creme the Menthe option. Quite strong but very good. And they came around with 2nd helpings if wanted. In the mean time the Cast gave another 45 minute show and that was good as usual.

Then the  Cruise Director popped up (In his beige lounge suit) to do  a thank you to the Exe. Chef standing at the end of the lounge. He then announced that it was the Pastry Chef who had done all the work and (as the C.D assumed that he was not there) announced “he was too shy”. Only for the Pastry Chef to appear from behind the Hotel Director. After taking a bow and shaking the hand of the cruise director, the latter turned his back on him and continued waffling on about something else, leaving the Pastry Chef sort of forlorn on the corner of the dance floor. Most guests might not have noticed it, but for me, who throughout his life has tried to push  to crew into the spot light it was quite glaring. No Respect. Why not have the EXE. Chef and the Pastry Chef come on the floor together, let them take their bow and show them the respect they deserve by building in a small moment of silence (filled by the clapping of the guests) and watch them making their exit from the dancefloor.  Having the Exe Chef there as well, would certainly have ensured that the pastry chef “would not be too shy”. Thank God that most of the guests did not notice it. But this really annoyed me.

20 June 2024. New Castle Upon Tyne.

After our included tour to Hadrians Wall had been unilaterally cancelled by Silver Sea, we decided to stay on board for the morning and only do an afternoon tour.  There was a complimentary shuttle bus  available going to Tynemouth, on the North Side of the river. That is a nice little place, but I wonder how many  (American) guests will have been confused because they did not end up in Newcastle itself. The crew was certainly confused.

Part of the problem is that the shore excursion information consists out of a silent power point presentation running on the TV with only the barest of information. And the Cruise Director did not point it out it all.

I could not get a good photo of all these sheep roaming freely over the street. So a thank you to an unknown photographer on the internet who captured the daily scene.

We did the afternoon tour into the Pennines a hilly area just south west New Castle in County Durham. As the sun came out we feasted on very beautiful scenery with the coach dodging sheep who had the free run of the hills and thus also the road. At night this means very slow driving on these roads as the sheep like to sleep on the tarmac  which retains the heat from the day. Today it was a hot day for the area with 19oC / 68oF. so the sheep would have been happy during the coming night. The tour stopped in a small village called Stanhope for afternoon tea and then drove the same way back as there is simply no other -scenic-way to go. Our dinner was again in the Indo-Chine restaurant which had changed their menu, so there was sufficient choice to generate another good dining experience. Other guests must have thought the same as the restaurant was more than half full.  Tomorrow is the last day, so it is time to start planning the packing.

21 June 2024. At sea.

We woke up to a flat sea, sunny skies, and no wind, with the ship sailing just off the coast of Cromer, where we live. With a warm day in the UK and no wind, a haze developed over the sea, leaving 3 to 4 miles of visibility. “Just off” is a bit of understatement as we were more than 12 miles offshore. A requirement otherwise they cannot open the casino under British Laws. So we had a good look at all the oil platforms that we passed. The North Sea oil campaign is slowly getting less, after its heyday in the last century, but the oil wells have not been depleted yet so the platforms are still there and operational.

Today we visited all the Concessionaires:

The “High End” jewelry shop. Not many guests seen here, but the Shop manager did a lot of one on one viewings.

Shops: very expensive  with mainly jewelry and hand bags. They also run a “brand recycle” program so you can buy a 2nd hand Gucci or Rolex, still in perfect condition, to add to your collection. Logo wear was limited, to a ships model, a few sun visors, mugs and not much more.  I think that they missed a chance here as I overheard guests complaining there were no Wind breakers for sale, either to take ashore or to wear at home to go golfing.  I saw a guest who still had his baseball cap from a previous cruise so once in the past they did sell some stuff.

The “bit of everything” shop. Clothing, accessories, a very small amount of logo wear etc. The impression it left with me was :”did the space pays it way”. Hopefully it did.

Casino: Small with 2 tables and some slot machines. Due to our cruise schedule  the opening times were limited but there were guests going in and out.

A small casino with 2 tables and some slot machines.

Art. This is a big thing on board, at least as far as the amount of art hanging everywhere in the ship that is available for sale. Next to each piece of art is a small description and if you turn the card around you can see the price. The Art Director has a permanent desk opposite Guest Services. He had opening hours, but if I had been him, I would have been there each time when the guests came out of the show lounge and lingered around in the foyer.   I do not know if many people bought anything but the prices were comparable to Cunard.

Any of the readers have an answer for this? This is a “Self Portrait in a velvet cap with plume” by Rembrandt van Rijn and hangs in the MET in New York. But is here on board for sale for $ 5980. Am I missing something ???

The ship has some standard art on the walls as well and (glass) sculptures in niches on the decks. What was missing were little name tags describing the art on display. I know what Murano glass is but not what the specific design might be.

This is the full cast: two male singers and two female singers and a dance team (located in the centre). The small stage did not give much option for elaborate stage props but if you have talent on the stage then a few banners is enough.

We decided not to do dinner but went for a pizza at 16.00 as Lesley did not want to miss the last Cast show, with Motown songs, which was at 18.30 this evening, so very early. But the suitcases have to be out of the cabin by 22.30 and that does not work if the show is at the normal time of 21.30.

Our favourite star, Beatrice. Apart from being a VERY good performer, she was also a VERY good tour escort.

It was announced by the CD that after the show, we would have a cocktail party with a crew farewell and maybe a  special guest. The show was very good, excellent. What the cocktail party was about, I do not know as I never saw a drink, but then from each department a section of the crew was called on the stage, lead by the Sr. Officer of the department. This was very much appreciated by the audience of course as their service has been excellent during the cruise. The special guest turned out to be the Captain (shadowed by the Hotel Director)  who said a few wise words before everybody ran off to dinner.  We had, had. our pizza earlier, so we went for our own cocktail party.

Farewell by the crew. For a small ship, with such an intensive focus on service, I was quite impressed by the number of crew they were able to send on the stage.

22 June 2024. Southampton.

Yesterday we had received our landing information and we were scheduled for 08.15, which turned out to be group number 3. The ship was docked at 06.45 with the luggage starting to go off at 07.00. Silver Sea starts disembarkation while luggage is still being off-loaded. As long as the landing of the various groups of guests runs a bit behind the landing of the connected luggage (numbers)  this can work very well.

So we had our last Breakfast in the cabin, and we were not the only ones, as our Butler was somewhat harried. We waited in the cabin for the announcements which were made by the Cruise Director , in the public areas and on Channel 2 of the TV. I checked if staying in the cabin was a problem for Housekeeping. It was not; as on each deck there were sufficient cabins emptying out before 08.00 so that those who stayed in, were not hampering the change over operation. More guests had figured this out, so by no means were all cabins empty by 08.00. but then it was not necessary.

Our announcement came at 08.20 and as there are 6 lifts, we did not have to wait. There was wheel chair assistance available for those less ambulant.  Arriving in the baggage area showed one glaring problem with “still off-loading  luggage”, there were no longshore men/porters to help with the luggage trolleys. They were all still busy with getting the luggage off. So some poor old souls had to load their heavy suitcases on their luggage trolleys themselves and push them to the outside.

Our pre-booked taxi arrived within 10 minutes after having been called and 20 minutes later we were back at our hotel to collect our car. 5 minutes later we were back on England roads and during the 5 hour drive we only had a 30 minute delay on the M3 and the M 25, and although it being a Saturday, that is nowadays not bad going.

Now looking forward to several days of washing and ironing………………

Next  cruise is near the end of July on a Celebrity ship.

4. Notes

Shore Excursions:

We had a number of free tours as part of our cruise booking but  one suddenly disappeared from our account on the website, only to return as having now to pay for. We kept an eye on what was going on, so we cancelled on time but some guests were not that lucky. Accordingly to the internet gossip, this is all caused by RCI (the mother company) who is trying to squeeze more revenue out of Silver Sea. Who knows…..

With the 2 port cancellations, the challenge was about what would happen with the new shore excursions, if any. Part included in the fare, part extra. The cruise director had announced that by 9 am. this morning (12 June), the new excursions would be in our cabin but there was nothing in the mail box. Only by 1 pm. the new flyer popped up. Giving the option of two free and 5 paid for trips in Liverpool. We hoped that we would get an included one as we had lost two more because of the port cancellations. So a total of 3 that ahd been promised as part of the booking.

As far as nbr 3 went, while at home we had signed up, and it was confirmed that we had an included tour in Newcastle to Hadrians Wall. That suddenly disappeared from our listing, well before boarding.. So  we lost $145 of what you could call on board credit. I do not see how they can do that as they basically reduce your cruise in value.

The Plymouth – included tour and Fishguard- included tour, cancelled because of the weather, another $ 200  of value not received, so you would think that it would be compensated by at least one other tour. Not so, the Shorex person even had the audacity to say, “well for Liverpool it is not problem as we are docked in downtown”.

So on the evening of the 12th. we went back to the front desk and ask for our tour status:: for your “free” tour you are waitlisted and will get a seat on the bus if somebody hands in their tickets”.  Well who was going to do that ??. Then Liverpool morning  we found tickets outside our door after breakfast.Good job it was in the afternoon oterwise we would have missed it. Once on the bus we saw another 30 odd guests going with us. So Silversea must have ordered another bus because with 500 guests on board, so many tickets would never have been returned. They were just trying to fob you off when you inquire. Bad customer services and it does not help to create more repeater guests.


As mentioned on boarding day, they wanted to take our passports to facilitate immigration in Dublin when the ship entered Europe. (Since Brexit, the UK has turned away from their nearest friends and is now a 3rd world country as far as the European  Union is concerned. Thus there is no open travel anymore to anything outside Great Britain)

Taking away a passport is a no no for a Dutch person who knows & obeys the law;  as the Dutch law stipulates (for Dutch readers see the inside  back cover page  of your passport)  that only an official authority is allowed to take your passport away. The ships purser is not such an authority so they need to hand out a receipt on behalf of such an authority. With the advantage if they would loose your passport (and it does happen on cruise ships occasionally)  you have the receipt and that provides proof for the Dutch Embassy to give you a new passport and without the cruise company having the chance to deny that they lost it.

So I asked for a receipt, and yes they could do that but also I was twice advised that we could be called “in the middle of the night” to attend immigration. Not a nice welcome remark for people expecting to enjoy a six star cruise experience.  Later in the afternoon  I went to to desk to turn in my passport for a receipt. Nothing had been passed on but shortly after I was called in the cabin and advised that we could keep our passports but that we might be called for immigration in Dublin at 0800 hrs.  so what was this passport collection business all about then?  Many people will say “what is the fuss about” but if you have been involved with complying with the law for most of your life, you do not change your tune quickly.

On the 13th, at 6 pm. we were called in the cabin by the pursers office with the message:” there are two options, either  you hand in your passport, or you have to attend in person at 8 am. Dublin tomorrow morning at the Frone desk office . So from my side, “how about option 3, give me a receipt and you will have our passports in 5 minutes”?, but that was not possible. It seemed that they simply did not want to take any responsibility for looking after one’s passport.  Later on that evening there was a voice mail reminding us for 08.00 Dublin morning.  Dublin morning we were at the Front desk at 08.00 only to find out that immigration was not yet on board.  So off we went for Butler breakfast in the cabin, waiting to be called. In the meantime tender service was started, but even with a 08.00 arrival, independent travellers had to wait until 10 am. for tender service. Tours go first and two hours were needed for the long tender distance. By 09.10 the call arrived and we went to the Indo-Chine restaurant to show our face for 30 seconds to an Irish immigration officer and then all was well in the world.

So what should they have done, as other companies do, sometimes automatically, sometimes if you ask for it. Each cabin has  a card with the cabin number on it. Attached to it is a little receipt which says something like: “the company is collecting your passport of behalf of local authorities to facilitate the ships clearance. Please keep your receipt safe and, when we advise you, present this receipt to collect you passport”. Then the collected passports go in a Fire proof cabinet, (often together with the crew passports, crew seamans books and officer licenses). The cabinet is then locked, with the key kept by the purser or the crew purser. Safe at all times and with respect for guests, crew  and  law.

Formal nights:

From the Silver Sea website:

Formal: May choose a more formal attire, such as an evening gown or cocktail dress for ladies and a tuxedo, dinner jacket, dark suit with tie gentlemen. Alternatively, adhering to Elegantly Casual dress code is welcomed, but a jacket is still required for gentlemen in all indoor spaces.

From their daily program:

Formal Nights:




After 6.00 pm. Indoor spaces  prohibit jeans, shorts, sneakers, or flip-flop type foot wear.

But where is the jacket…………………………………………….

Why am I so concerned / pre-occupied with this ? I like formals, but if it is all casual, (such as with Seabourn) then this is fine, but trying to do both things at the same time, creates confusion. One sees ladies in high glitter, sitting next to a bloke in a T shirt and jeans.   It sort of spoils a 6 star experience. But maybe by being so ambiguous they manage to optimise sales. Who knows.

End of Report.

Note: If you haven’t given up half way through, then I thank you for your perseverance and offer my apologies that there is no button below to push to offer you a free drink.