It’s an old saying, but true — you only get one chance to make a first impression — so, not having cruised on Silversea before, or any other cruise line, I was not completely sure what I was in for as I boarded the vessel in Singapore. However, from the moment I stepped aboard Silver Muse I was impressed by the first-class service and sincere friendliness of the crew.
I had no sooner arrived at hotel reception than I was greeted by no less than five smiling crew members. My luggage was calmly whisked away to my suite and hey presto, I had a glass of champagne in my hand. Any fears that I might have had evaporated and I realised that I had been transported to another world. This was going to be the ultimate bucket list cruise for me. Welcome to Silver Muse, possibly the happiest ship on the seas.
Silver Muse is the largest ship in the Silversea fleet at 40,000 tonnes and the current flagship. In 2021 Silver Muse will be joined by a new sister ship of the same size, Silver Moon, and then another sister ship, Silver Dawn, in 2022. This fleet expansion demonstrates Silversea’s confidence in the future and the growing demand for ultra-luxury cruising of the standard they offer.
Constructed in 2017 in Genova, Italy by the shipbuilder Fincantieri, the design of Silver Muse is undeniably Italian. Fincantieri is one of the world’s largest shipbuilding groups with more than 230 years of history and more than 7,000 vessels built. This shipbuilding heritage has delivered a very stylish ship in Silver Muse. The design exudes a sense of refined elegance in every detail. Far from being opulent, the design is clean, modern and timeless, whilst at the same time reflecting some features from earlier periods such as the beautiful teak decks, timber railings and stretched awnings over external dining terraces. Silver Muse engineering is state of the art and so smooth and quiet that I did not realise we had departed port on two occasions.
Despite the fact that there were 1,000 people on board (only 560 passengers), no part of the ship was ever crowded. This is in part due to the clever design and the spatial separation of activity centres such as the spa, gym, swimming pool, restaurants, five lounge areas and casino from the accommodation suites. Silver Muse is an all-suite floating paradise with 298 ‘cabins’ that are really 6-star hotel suites. All suites are quiet, spacious, tastefully furnished and decorated and all face outward to take advantage of the sea view with 97 per cent having a very private balcony.
I was very spoilt and had a luxurious, meticulously clean Superior Verandah Suite with my own butler, Francis, and suite attendant, Murli. These gents attended to my every need and ensured I wanted for nothing — I could really get used to that. The bed was so comfortable that I slept soundly every night totally unaware that I was at sea. It was a real struggle to leave this plush comfort each day, but breakfast and that endless, calm sea view beckoned.
Silver Muse features nine wonderful restaurants offering different cuisine interspersed over six decks ranging from the casual charm of the Arts Café to the refined sophistication of the French-inspired, La Dame. One is so spoilt for choice that I was not able to dine at every restaurant in my week-long cruise, although I gave it a red hot go. In addition to the numerous restaurant options, you can always dine in if you like. I opted to dine out as I loved the variety of restaurant ambience and relished the opportunity to meet new and interesting fellow guests. In doing so, I learned that I was indeed a rare passenger. I was the new guy, the uninitiated newbie, whereas nearly all the guests I met were long-time repeat customers of Silversea and members of their Venetian Society loyalty programme. Some were on their fourth or fifth Silversea cruise and one was on their seventh.
Undoubtedly one of the things that make Silver Muse ultra-luxury is the high staff to passenger ratio with 45 per cent of all persons on board being crew. Fellow travellers often commented that the personal and attentive crew was why so many are repeat customers. Admittedly not all crew are front of house but back of house crew are just as friendly and professional. Quite simply it is a case of a happy crew equals a happy cruise. No point having a luxury ship if the crew are not happy.
Flavio Gioia, hotel director, informed me that Silversea has the enviable reputation for the highest number of repeat customers in the cruise industry with almost 70 per cent of all guests choosing another Silversea cruise, often before completing their current cruise. He believes it’s because Silversea treats their crew like family that they are so contented. Contented indeed, it was often that I found crew members singing as they went about their business and always, they were only too happy to chat to passengers — some were long-time acquaintances from many prior Silversea cruises.
Days at sea are full of activity options as detailed in the daily Chronicle. These include various quizzes, bridge lessons, informative classes about the next destination, language and dance classes, or simply chilling by the pool or expanding your mind at one of many informative lectures. I chose to expand my knowledge of wine (no, not at the bar) at a series of excellent lectures. In this all-inclusive cruise, Silversea offers a very extensive range of complimentary wines from numerous continents. However, if you desire a specific vintage, it is highly likely that they will have that within their premium wines. Premium wines, dinner bookings at the La Dame and the Japanese Kaiseki restaurant plus excursions and sundry charges for laundry and the like fall outside the all-inclusive package.
During port calls Silversea offers a wide range of excursions that are very well priced for what is involved. I discovered that logistics in Indonesia are not as straight forward as we are used to in Australia and traffic can really spoil your day if not managed correctly. I did excursions at both Semarang and Bali and on both occasions, we had a police escort just to get us through the traffic. Thank goodness we did, otherwise, we would have missed the ship for sure. Like everything on Silver Muse disembarking the ship and joining an excursion could not be simpler. Silversea staff take care of everything including all immigration matters. It’s just too easy — so enjoy. I certainly did!
Silversea cruises, and Silver Muse, in particular, are ideal for the Baby Boomer generation. The ship is intimate, despite being 200 metres long and very easy to get around with an elevator core at midship and another in the stern quarter as well as numerous stairwells for the more active. Having mobility issues presents no problems for passengers and staff are always attentive to any passenger with special needs.
This is certainly no Contiki cruise as the ambience and style suits a more discerning traveller. Silversea operates an onboard dress code after 6pm. While during the day casual wear is appropriate, evening wear is either casual, informal or formal. On informal evenings, women wear dresses or pantsuits; men wear jackets (tie is optional). For formal evenings, there was only one on my week-long cruise, women wear an evening gown or cocktail dress; men wear tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits with tie — very stylish.
Entertainment onboard is, quite simply, first class. The Voices of Silver Muse are a sextet of three young women and three men. They are all amazingly talented, trained singers who perform a variety of cabaret themes and genres most nights in the Venetian Lounge, with its tiered auditorium. They are indeed very versatile and entertaining, and I thoroughly enjoyed every performance. However, the highlight of my cruise was on the last night when soprano, Ashley Marie Slater, and tenor, Luperci De Souza, performed songs from several operas including Carmen, La Boheme and Rigoletto. It was a spine-tingling, magical performance with their perfectly matched timbres and musical sensitivity. Both Ashley and Luperci have beautiful, powerful and obviously trained operatic voices and harmonise exceedingly well. They are members of the operatic duo ‘Classique’ and not to be missed if you get the opportunity to see them.
All too soon we arrived in Darwin and my bucket list cruise had come to an end. How sad! I left the ship a little cuddlier than when I joined, the meals were splendid, but also with a new circle of friends and unforgettable memories. If you are planning a cruise, then you really owe it to yourself to consider Silversea. After all, as I found, when you have had the best, you can forget the rest, as so many members of Silversea’s Venetian Society do time and again.