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|Silver Whisper |
The Ultimate in Luxury! She is the latest addition to the Silversea fleet and is the most elegant cruise ship afloat
Arturo Paniagua Mazorra (October 22, 2002)
Marzia Lefebvre, wife of the Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre, christened her on June 18th, 2001 in Genoa.
Between the christening events, a charity soccer match between F-1 drivers and Italian singers was held.
The ship began her first cruise, a voyage between Civitavecchia and London, on July 2nd, 2001.
She and her sister Silver Shadow, delivered one year before, were part of the development project of the Fort Lauderdale based owners, which increased the line's capacity by 130%.
Each ship was nearly twice the size of the Silversea's first vessels, the smaller and highly acclaimed Silver Cloud and Silver Wind.
A New Concept in Luxury
The Silver Whisper followed an industrywide trend (in the luxury end segment of the market) towards larger ships with more passenger capacity, and also, with the potential for more revenue due to scaled economies.
The other luxury operators, such as Radisson and Crystal, also ordered larger ships, plenty of suites with balconies, and that trend redefined the concept of the luxury segment, previously identified with yacht like ships, such as the Sea Goddess pair, or the Seabourn trio.
Today, the new generation luxury cruise ships are far more likely to carry between 400 to 1,000 passengers, featuring tonnage of around 40,000 tons G.R.T.
So, after much toing and froing, Silversea ordered two new ships on May 1998.
Measuring a comfortable 28,258 G.R.T., the 182 m long pair have a capacity for only 388 passengers, giving Silver Whisper and her sister Silver Shadow the highest passenger space ratio in the world. Also, this pair has the best guest to crew ratio (two crew for every three passengers).
The draught of only 6 metres enables them to navigate waterways and small ports.
Repeatedly voted the most luxurious cruise line, Silversea offers the better cruise experience today on their fleet of 4 small to mid-sized ships, in a yacht-like atmosphere.
The service on board is warm and friendly, the cuisine is superb, the ample suites have roomy teak balconies; and there is no tipping and no paying for drinks either.
The Silver Whisper also has a friendly atmosphere, and the other passengers also fit well into this ambience.
The service and atmosphere is such that most people felt comfortable on board. But Silversea cater for a relatively small slice of the world's cruising market, and the competition (except Seabourn) has made strong investments in new ships. So, there is one cloud on the horizon, and that is the over-capacity in the luxury market.
The Lay Out
As with all ultra luxury cruise ships designed by the Norwegian architects Yran & Strorbraaten, the Silver Whisper has a vertical layout, which means that all the ship's suite accommodation is located forward and all public rooms aft.
The advantage: a quiet forward section, where the passengers can sleep in a silent atmosphere.
But the disadvantage is of a long distance between the forward cabins and the public lounges, also a bigger use of both stairs and elevators over a ship with horizontal lay out, well balanced by the massive concentration of climbing devices (four lifts and four stairs) in the atrium zone.
Going from restaurant to theatre does include, for example, a two decks elevator (or climb the stairs).
The border between the forward and aft sections contains the atrium and elevator block.
The fact that the atrium hasn't glass integrated elevators is an example of the different concepts that guide the design of the Silversea's ships. I enjoyed the light of this space.
It has side windows in almost all decks, and is crowned by a skylight on the pool deck.
This fact, as well as the light brown, earth tone tapestry, creates an airy and open feel, which exudes elegance and spaciousness.
The atrium is crossed by the fore to aft corridor, and also has two open curved stairs on both port and starboard sides, which are reminiscent of the spiral staircase of the former Silversea's ships.
Stainless steel railings with wooden handrails, and the aluminum brushed artwork which spans all decks, gives the atrium a futuristic and sophisticated touch, helped by the well designed and discreet lighting.
The main corridors are wider aft of the atrium at all decks, and they never feel crowded, apart from at the theatre entrance at the start of the show.
Forward, this area houses the amidships stair and elevators block connecting all of Silver Whisper's major public areas.
There are four elevators and two stairs located between the lifts and the ship's side.
The elevator doors are stainless steel with square adornments and glass lighting on decks 4,5 and 6 only.
Another discreet stair and lift, located forward on the port side, brings the passengers from their suites to the pool and the public spaces on deck ten.
Because the bow section only has cabins, a large staircase isn't necessary, but another lift would be a welcome addition.
The formal dining room is located traditionally amidships on deck four, the lower passenger deck. The galley is located aft.
This lay out means a change from the smaller pair of vessels, which have the dining room aft.
The dining room is called The Restaurant, and is located forward of the main staircase.
The passenger's access is through the atrium base, which has glass sculpture and design sofas on each side and a marble floor. The entrance has a triple glass door, with a wonderful wooden floor and two lateral cellars with wine storage.
Here, the French maitre'de receives all passengers and suggests a table, while guests enjoy a view of The Restaurant that extends forward to the glass artwork on the far wall.
The Restaurant works in the open seating mode: so you choose when, where and with whom you sit at tables seating two to ten people, enough to accommodate all dinner requests.
Later, the headwaiter escorts the ladies to the selected table, and then begins the most refined dining experience afloat.
The Restaurant has a capacity for 424 people (more than the nominal full capacity of the ship!) and never feels crowded.
The central section has a splendid parquet floor with geometric designs, with is also used some nights as a dance floor, and a square designed red carpeting surrounds the central section.
There are eight slender pillars, which reduce vibration, and two lateral panels on each side, which divide this immense space and provide a more intimate touch.
There are also ten big windows on each side, which offer a dramatic view of the sunset each evening.
The ceiling has several heights, which gives depth and greatness.
The central section is higher, and houses three big glass chandeliers.
The cherry wood chairs have high backs and arms, and are very comfortable, with a lot of room around each table to enjoy the meal, and make the waiter's work easier.
Now the wall has a neutral decoration and, with the wooden floor, gives the looks of an old style liner.
Only the artwork adds a modern touch here.
But the best of the restaurant was the meal and the service. Our waiter, Carlos, was excellent.
At the end of the cruise, he knew all the tastes of my wife and myself, and served us well in advance.
All our special requests (for example, a Spanish red wine) were quickly fulfilled.
But there was little else to request: six Epicurean courses, as well as vegetarian and low calories ones, were prepared each night and there were a lot of excellent white and red wines, all complimentary, to choose from.
We enjoyed also the refined ambience that exists in the Restaurant: white glove service, silver cutlery, the best china. But the atmosphere was also relaxed, apart from the formal nights.
Public Spaces on Deck 5
On deck 5, there are several public spaces forward of the atrium.
Aft of the cabins located on the port side is a compact casino, that some nights is crowded, with limited slot machines forward and three gaming tables (two black jack and a roulette).
It has a classical look, with a grand glass light in the ceiling's center.
Also a small red decorated club bar, called Grappa, with intimate seating for only 14 guests.
Opposite is located a small shopping arcade, around a marble-floored circular foyer, with only two boutiques: the Company's own "L" shaped Silversea's one, which offers the Company signature items (shirts, hats, china, etc), in an upmarket ambience, with a nicely decorated jewellery section.
The adjacent Bulgari boutique has the same beige decoration and furniture as the shore based ones of this Italian luxury maker. The items here are more expensive.
The Silversea' ships has the only sea based Bulgari shops, another exclusive feature.
Aft is located a nicely oval shaped lobby housing both Reception and Shore Excursion desks The Reception is open 24 hours a day and offers quality service.
The desks are wooden with marble tops.
There is also an oval shaped sofa in the center of the lobby, and above, a splendid (oval shaped, of course) glass light fitting. The decoration is in beige tones.
There are doors leading out from both sides to a small Promenade Deck, which only has teak aft, this also serves as a muster station.
Aft of this, past the atrium and lift tower is located The Bar, a trademark of the Silversea fleet, situated at the base of the Show Lounge. It has an asymmetric lay out, almost "L" shaped.
Forward to starboard is located the dance floor and a small wooden stage where the Silver Whisper quintet plays every night. The beautiful, long, marble topped symmetric bar is located aft.
Circular tables are also of marble. Colours here are reds, on tapestries and curtains, and beige on front and aft walls, they enhance the Niels Klim inspired mosaic portraits, one of the better artworks on board, whereas the sofas are red and the chairs yellow ochre.
The Bar works as a meeting point for pre-dinner drinks, as well as for after dinner dancing. It connects both sides to the Viennese Lounge.
The Viennese show lounge has 356 seats and looks large for a ship with so few passengers (it is the only two deck high room on board). So it is never full and it is easy to find a table.
It has a multilevel lay out, with splendid sightlines in the front rows, but the seats both sides of the "U" shaped upper level have a limited view due to six pillars.
The show lounge has a stylish decoration, Moulin Rouge inspired, mainly in red tones (floor and walls), with golden details.
The ceiling is plain, and the only significant detail is the fibre optic lighting.
There are red high backed sofas forming the rows, and small wood tables for drinks during shows.
The high backed chairs are of the revolving type.
I enjoyed the brass railings and glass partitions, but was disappointed with the air conditioning system, which maintains a freezing temperature in the theater.
Unlike other Yran & Storbraaten luxury ships, the theater was window less, and looks "closed in" particularly during daytime activities, such as lectures, presentations, etc.
Also there is not a bar inside and the bar service is suspended during shows, so you get there early.
The Bar, located below the Theater, doesn't work properly during the show due to the difficult access.
The theater is connected to the main stair tower by means of a wide passageway that features glass cases, plenty of old theater memorabilia and art objects.
The stage has a raised pit and excellent light and sound systems.
The Jean Ann Ryan Co. productions surprised me for the quality of the shows, as well as the magician Russ Stevens and the singer Deborah Boily.
Several Intimate Rooms on Deck 7
The aft part of this deck has several intimate rooms.
On the starboard side, behind the lifts, is located the Card Room and Conference room. Both are excellent meeting places for small groups and contain audio-visual equipment.
They are connected through a glass door and can be used together for larger groups. Usually deserted in the evenings apart from the days at sea.
The Silver Whisper' splendid cabins means less social activity, and places such as the card room suffer from this fact.
The Humidor is the Cigar Club on board, sponsored by Davidoff.
This is the place for the guests who like to finish their meals enjoying a cigar, or drink a brandy, in a rich environment.
The decoration is in the style of a traditional British smoking club, with rich wooden floors and walls, real wool carpet, leather sofas and deep chairs, marble tables, etc. Only the ceiling was too neutral.
The ambience is very comfortable, with a special ventilation system constantly circulating clean air.
The good news is that the designer didn't fit this room with a false fireplace; as in similar locations on Renaissance and Celebrity cruise ships. A welcome choice.
The Champagne Bar is designed for tasting sessions
This is located aft of the Humidor, with a door which communicates with both spaces.
The guests sit at a long dark wooden table, whilst the sommelier serves their several bottles of Moet Chandon from the cellar.
But I think that both spaces aren't located in the best position.
This part of the ship is deserted during the evenings, and is far from The Restaurant.
Really, the passengers who opt for The Terraces are the only ones who can enjoy both places, but only at dinner times.
The Terrace Café is the second restaurant on board.
Most passengers opt to take lunch here in her impressive buffet, which has a tremendous choice.
Later, the white-gloved waiters carry the plates to the tables, laid with fine china and silverware.
There are large picture windows on three sides, well protected with curtains and blinds, and a circular lay out inside, around a multicoloured flower located on the ceiling.
The floor has a beige carpet inside a circular wood area used for circulation.
It looks airy and elegantly casual, far from the Lido areas usually on larger ships.
The 48 seat outside section has a "horse shoe" form and a nice teak deck.
Eating outside is a pleasure, because this area is well sheltered to wind and sun, and gives splendid views.
All furniture is teak made, with cushions.
The Terraces café also works as an alternative restaurant for some nights on every cruise, when it is used to feature gastronomic specialities and wines of the cruising region. Reservation is required due to the limited space, so the passengers plan their evenings here early.
The Panorama Lounge
Aft on deck 8 is located the Panorama Lounge.
The layout of the Panorama Lounge reflects the curves of a nautilus shell. This nautical theme is repeated in several adornments: the entrance is decorated with a big shell glass sculpture, the very large wooden dance floor has nautilus form, the mirrors behind the counter, and the counter itself, has etched glass nautilus, etc.
The decoration is cool, but the neutral walls, green carpet, white and green furniture and floor to ceiling windows aft gives it an open and spacious atmosphere.
I enjoyed mainly the design of the beautiful bar counter, and the indirect lighting of the pillars.
In fact, this is the largest bar on board, with 162 seats.
In daytime this area serves as a play room, and the afternoon tea and pastries are served here.
At night, it becomes a nightclub, with an excellent pianist. Also, private parties are held here.
There is also an excellent "U" shaped outside section, with teak deck and good teak furniture.
Forward from the Panorama Lounge is located to starboard a small Library and Internet Café, newly decorated in neutral beige carpet and wall.
It has seven pc's and was one of the most frequented places on board.
The charges for using the Internet access were really affordable, and extremely fast.
The adjacent library works in fact as an extension of the Internet Café, with two pc's.
There are a good number of books and videotapes that can be used on a loan system.
Amidships on deck 8 is located the sheltered Pool Deck, featuring a nicely-sized central swimming pool with twin elevated whirlpools aft and showers, surrounded by teak-covered decking.
The padded pool chairs are metallic and also teak made, and there is ample space to enjoy the sun.
On this deck, and also on the deck above, there is a jogging track.
Food is also available here from the Pool Grill, located forward on the port side, with some teak tables with canvas umbrellas and chairs.
The Pool Bar is located opposite, and has the same rounded wooden counter.
The Observation Lounge
The crowning glory of the Silver Whisper, the Observation Lounge spans the bow of the superstructure.
A curved wall of glass surrounds the room and offers nice views over land and sea, while a radar screen in the middle of the Observation Lounge provides a commanding view of the ships, as well as the course and speed.
Inside, as in almost all places with the same role, there is a nautical atmosphere, with a dark blue carpet, broad white chairs and extensive wood panelling, and the room looks agreeable.
There are here more nautical details: a map table starboard, which doubles as a writing area, binoculars, nautical reference books, blue curtains with anchors, etc. The newly decorated ceiling is too cold.
Also, the room doubles as a card room, and there are a lot of games and puzzles here.
There is no bar here, but a tiny self-service to starboard, which mainly works in the morning, offering coffee, juice, tea, sandwiches, etc.
Some private parties are held here, but this place is used to simply relax and watch the sea.
I found the Observation lounge to exude a pleasant ambience, and I used it to read my travel book.
Aft of the Observation Lounge is located The Spa, operated by Mandara.
It features all the usual treatments in a compact environment, far from the spaciousness that prevails on board.
The massage and steam rooms are not very spacious, but the catalogue of services is ample.
The Spa also features a small workout area to starboard, crowded with equipment, and a dark aerobics room located on the port side.
Spa treatments are not included in the cruise fare and are very popular, mainly with American guests.
Silversea is justifiably proud of the elaborate accommodation on Silver Whisper.
All 196 suites offer a sea view, and 80 % of them have a private balcony.
The passengers can choose between nine different types of suites, range from the 26,66 m2 Vista Suites (without balcony) to four immense 133,31 m2 Grand Suites.
The standard Vista Suites, located on decks 4 feature large windows, a spacious sitting area, twin or queen sized beds, and a bathroom with bath and separate shower.
The 138 Verandah suites, located on decks 5, 6, 7 and 8, are the nucleus of the Silver Whisper's offer and are more like a small apartment than a cruise ship cabin.
Each contains a teak decked balcony with comfortable metallic chairs.
The sitting area contains a sofa with end tables with lamps, a coffee table, chairs, and opposite is a complete writing desk, with some shelves and a drawer above, with television and VCR, and a small refrigerator (this was restocked daily) and more shelves below.
This space is perfect to sit and chat and enjoy a breakfast or a dinner.
The bedroom is spacious, and walking around the bed is easy. A curtain separates the bed from the sitting area.
The bed is very comfortable, and I thought some times that I was sleeping home. The closet space is ample, with walk-in closet and a safe available in all suites.
The marble bathroom is to die for: the best afloat: marble everywhere, full size bathtub, separate shower, double vanity unit, Bulgari toiletries, etc.
Colours are pastel and the atmosphere is very pleasing, with hardwood cabinets and mouldings.
The mirrors make it larger than it is.
An excellent detail was the suite entrances, set at an angle from the cabin corridor.
The most luxurious suites on board were the four Grand Suites, located well forward on decks 6, 7 and 8, with excellent views of the bow of the ship.
These are the ultimate in luxury and each has two teak balconies, two bathrooms (one with Jacuzzi), a marble foyer, drinks bar, two wardrobes, artworks and a flat screen plasma display television and a guest bathroom with shower.
Also, the Silver Whisper has the best-designed suites for physically challenged guests afloat.
I was only disappointed with the insulation between cabins.
The TV of the neighbouring suite only disrupted the silence of the quiet forward section.
On the Technical Side
One of the most important characteristics of the Silver Whisper is her anti-noise and anti-vibration feature.
Care has been taken in order to ensure a relaxing atmosphere and so obtain the comfort class released by RINa.
The propulsion systems consist of two Wartsila 8R46 engines of 7.850 kW each.
The engines are connected to variable pitch propellers and to shaft generators capable of producing sufficient electrical energy to operate the two bow thrusters.
The electrical energy, other than from the shaft generators, is supplied by three Wartsila 6R32 generator sets of 2.340 kW each.
The Ultimate in Luxury
Silversea offers a totally different cruise experience, based over all in the application of the concept "all inclusive", with a generosity exceeding that in the remainder of the industry.
Everything on board: drinks, champagne, minibar, are complimentary; all meals served in the suite without charge; to enjoy an alternative restaurant one only need to reserve, etc.
Furthermore, all transfers (before, during and after the cruise) and the port charges are inclusive. No need to tip.
Passenger discretion and the freedom to tip or not to whom you prefer are also part of the Silversea attitude.
The logical consequence is success without precedent, and the enlargement of the fleet.
The Silver Whisper and her sister Silver Shadow constitute without doubt the culmination of the Silversea concept afloat, and are the current reference point in the ultra de luxe market.
Also, a larger fleet means the opportunity to open new markets such as South America or the Far East.
Only the consequence of September 11 has obliged Silversea to lay up the Silver Wind this year thus avoiding the falling prices, which would have complicated matters.
Silversea has been able to remain above the other luxury lines and maintain the most consistent pricing of any cruise operator in the industry, with no regional discounts and no last minute sales.
Also, her cancellation policy is the most liberal.
So, the voyages on board Silver Whisper are expensive, but the experiences on board are unforgettable.
The line follows an innovative policy: the latest product is the freedom of choice of the embarkation and disembarkation port, applicable next year on some cruises.
Certainly Silversea has managed to design a ship that feels intimate and inviting.
The Silver Whisper has a personality that balances a luxury atmosphere and elegance without pretension.
Every small piece on board exudes a feeling of class, and any critic could use the six star classifications to define this fact.
In conclusion, I think Silversea is safe in naming themselves "The Ultimate Luxury"!
For further information: Silversea Cruises