Silver Spirit

It has always been easy to become enamored of Silversea’s all-suite ships long before setting foot in their ultra-luxurious environs. How could an anticipated cruise promise anything less than palpable romance via vessels bearing such beckoning, seductive names as Silver Whisper, Silver Shadow, Silver Wind, Silver Cloud?

Now comes the line’s newest and largest-ever entry, christened Silver Spirit. Which seems similarly apt because Spirit is more, well, spirited than its smaller siblings. Rest assured there’s no loss of the line’s famously intimate atmosphere, distinctive Italian-accented design and airy stairways, or celebrated space ratio. With one of the highest space-to-guest ratios in the industry, Silversea claims a signature attribute that allows for abundant breathing room and a singular serenity, either of which can be hard to come by on board your average bustling cruise ship.

What’s particularly newsy about the 540-passenger beauty, sailing its second year after a maiden voyage on Dec. 23, 2009: the ship’s expanded passenger-pleasing dining options, and the additional entertainment venues that add up to noticeably livelier evenings. As in, more music flowing from more inviting doorways, more brio from stem to stern.

Among the six dining settings, it’s hard to top the main dining room called The Restaurant on Deck 4, where the cuisine and service are both excellent and the breakfast, lunch and dinner pace is relaxed. Passengers can arrive when they’re ready and sit where they wish (tables for two are plentiful).

But the daily popularity award goes to Deck 7’s La Terrazza and its bountiful breakfast and lunch buffets—quite possibly because its expansive windows serve up sweeping sea vistas, and cruisers may choose to take their meals either inside or on the sunny deck. Come evening, La Terrazza morphs into a deliciously themed, table-service Italian restaurant. There’s no charge, but do advise clients to make reservations early.

Then there’s Seishin and Le Champagne—both small, both elegant, both open for dinner only with reservations required. Seishin’s specialty is Asian fusion cuisine, either a la carte or with a 9-course degustation menu ($200 with wine pairing, $80 with sake, $40 with complimentary wine and beer). Le Champagne, centered by an eye-catching wine tower—the only Relais & Chateaux Wine Restaurant at sea—is a 6-course epicurean treat that pairs exceptional wines with regionally inspired cuisine ($200 with wine pairing, $30 with complimentary wine and beer). Neither venue disappoints.

There’s also the innovative Stars Supper Club (no charge; reservations required), a chic time-trip that combines food and fun in Art Deco surroundings inspired by New York’s beloved Rainbow Room. Think Mad Men martinis. Tasty small-plate selections (lobster avocado, quail breast, tiger prawns) are accompanied by a jazz duo or a velvet-voiced cabaret singer.

Poolside fare by day transforms into The Grill under the stars, where fresh seafood and prime meats are grilled tableside on a heated volcanic rock plate (no charge; reservations required).

Along with the handsome Show Lounge and its high-energy song-and-dance productions—and, of course, the larger-than-ever casino— is a spread of nightlife bars and lounges, some with dance floors. Often overlooked by cruisers is that these same lounge areas, all sexy sizzle by night, can provide peaceful retreats for daytime reading, conversation, and clearing the head. Another area that benefits from Spirit’s extra space is the Library, also home to the Internet Cafe.

On Deck 6 awaits arguably the most blissful asset to fill new Spirit space: The Spa’s 8,300 sq. ft. of rooms for sauna, steam and treatments (including one for couple’s massage)—handy to a private deck area with lounge chairs, a beauty salon, an aerobics studio and a well-equipped, always-active fitness center. The Spa’s services range from deep-tissue massage to acupuncture to teeth whitening, and the facility’s CruiseLite dining selections appear on menus daily.

Ah…the heavenly suites. First-class all the way and the fleet’s largest (85 percent boast private teak balconies). They come complete with butler service (more about that later); a marble bathroom with separate tub and shower, and Bvlgari or Ferragamo bath amenities; a walk-in closet with safe plus robe and slippers; two flat-screen TVs cleverly concealed in the bedroom and sitting room mirrors; upscale bed linens with down duvet, plush mattress and choice of nine pillow types; a cozy sitting area with coffee table that converts for dining; and ample storage units. Clients will be welcomed with chilled champagne, to be replaced as they wish. A refrigerator and bar are replenished regularly with water, soft drinks, wines and spirits.

As for the aforementioned butler, no small measure of credit for the heavenly designation is due the white-gloved wizard who comes with every suite. Formally dressed with manners to match, your client’s solicitous personal butler will appear with genie-like magic to unpack clothes and polish shoes, sew up spa appointments and shore excursions, and arrange their dinner reservations of choice. And to anticipate needs and comforts perhaps before a tired traveler has thought of them. The word “chocolate” comes to mind.