Cruise holidays have always struggled with a bit of an identity crisis. It’s as slow as train travel but not quite as romantic. There’s plenty of ocean but none of the excitement of a beach. The amenities, facilities and entertainment may rival those of top-tier hotels but you are stuck with them, until a new port is reached. But there are upsides to being “stuck”. It’s just a matter of choosing the right vessel to be stranded on. For those who crave space, highly personalised service, quality wining and dining and, most importantly, a chance at real human connection, the Silversea Cruises’ newest ship, the Silver Muse, is a compelling option.
The 40,700 ton ship, recently in Singapore as part of its maiden Asian voyage, is big enough for many more than its 596-guest capacity. This is to ensure the guest-to-crew ratio is almost 1:1, giving the latter ample opportunities to learn guests’ preferences. In-suite drinks, drinkware, pillows and even toiletries can be tailored to one’s inclinations. There are nine categories of rooms – all of them suites – and even the entry-level Vista Suite comes in at a generous 31 sq m. The most luxurious one, the Owner’s Suite, has a two- bedroom configuration that offers 98 sq m of space.
The Silver Muse is not the type of cruise that needs to keep 3,000 vacationers (with children) entertained, so facilities like casinos, ice-skating rinks and malls aren’t needed here. Silversea guests are the sort that are perfectly content roasting gently by the pool, sipping cocktails in the library, getting muscles unknotted in the spa or discussing the finer points of the Jazz Age over the roar of the wind and waves. Even though there’s Wi-Fi onboard, cellphones are a rare sight; no selfie sticks here, only self-introductions.
“We have so many instances of guests who meet interesting people on the cruise that they end up planning future cruises together, so they can meet again,” says Alfredo Spadon, managing director of Europe and Asia. “It’s like a family here.”
“LUXURY NOWADAYS IS ABOUT SPACE AND TIME, AND PEOPLE SAIL WITH US TO ENJOY AN ELEGANT AND RELAXED ATMOSPHERE.”
FERNANDO BARROSO DE OLIVEIRA, CHAIRMAN’S AMBASSADOR TO VENETIAN SOCIETY. SILVERSEA’S LOYALTY PROGRAMME
Fernando Barroso de Oliveira, chairman’s ambassador to Venetian Society, Silversea’s loyalty programme, says: “Many of Silversea’s first-timers have sailed with cruise lines that take on thousands of people and that offer big cabins at a lower price point. But they eventually want a higher level of cruising, because they don’t want to go down to the main dining hall for dinner only to find 2,500 other people in there with them. Luxury nowadays is about space and time, and people sail with us to enjoy an elegant and relaxed atmosphere.” Spadon jumps in: “They also book holidays with us because of Fernando.”
Expanding on Spadon’s point about the feeling of family and a close-knit community, Oliveira explains how he enjoys bringing different guests together. “I see what people have in common – maybe it’s their taste in jewellery – and I put them together and they click.”
But the charismatic Portuguese has his own magnetism that draws people to him. “I once posted some pictures of the view from my room at a Mandarin Oriental on Facebook, and I immediately got messages from Venetian Society members saying they were next door at The Ritz-Carlton and that we should grab dinner.”
Oliveira doesn’t have a monopoly on stories or charm here. Nearly everyone on board exudes hospitality. The butlers in particular are walking embodiments of earnestness. Likely having been taught that using someone’s name is courteous, expect to hear your name at least three times in one sentence. Unnecessary, but hopelessly endearing, like many encounters guests will find on the ship. Whether it’s getting a pair of custom sandals made by a shoemaker who will also proudly show off a 20-year-old Vogue Italia article about his former brand, or learning the perfect sun salutation from a former sniper for the Serbian military, there will be plenty of stories to take back to shore.
The Silver Muse’s 2019 itineraries include 14 countries that include regional ports in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, Oceanic ones in Australia and New Zealand, as well as Alaska and Canada.
Like any other cruise line, shore excursions are available for a separate fee and covers everything from famous tourist spots to more themed activities like bar hopping or a street food tour. Alternatively, you could just stay onboard and have another flute of champagne or tin of caviar in total peace and quiet. The crew will be more than happy to serve.