Has Silversea lost its way?
15 of 16 people found this review informative
|Reviewed By: Shilton-Brown, Brentwood on 27th Mar 2012|
|Cruise Line: Silversea||Times cruised before: 10+|
|Cruise Ship: Silver Spirit||Sailed: March, 2012|
|Destination: Caribbean||Age: 56-65|
We have just returned from our second Silversea cruise - this time to Central America. We travelled on the largest Silversea ship, the Silver Spirit. The itinerary included Fort Lauderdale, Progresso (Mexico), Cozumel (Mexico), Costa Maya (Mexico), Belize, Santo Tomas (Guatemala), Roatan (Honduras) and Key West.
We booked a Vista suite - one of very few cabins without balconies since we prefer to spend our time in the public areas rather than sitting in our cabin. The suite was huge with a spacious bathroom including a full sized bath as well as a large separate shower compartment. The fridge was stocked with beverages of our choice and kept stocked throughout the voyage. Our butler met all of our requests although we did not use his services as fully as some of our fellow guests as we prefer to unpack and pack our own bags and to eat in the restaurants rather than have meals served by the butler in our suite.
There were some difference between our experience on this trip and our previous cruise with Silversea.
Firstly we found that the increase in size (over 500 passengers compared to Silver Cloud with around 250) had a significant effect on the feel of the ship. This ship felt more like a large cruise liner and much less like a private club. Secondly we found that the standard of service appeared to be lower than last time. The advertised benefits of travelling with Silversea were sometimes conspicuous by their absence. One night we waited over an hour between our first course and the arrival of the second course at dinner. The included wines were limited in range and not particularly good. Even the wine to buy was restricted in range as well as being expensive. Thirdly, it is of little benefit to run excursions for those with less physical ability if it is impossible to get off the ship. At most ports the only way off was down a step staircase from 2 decks above the dock. For the less able this was difficult and for the wheelchair users on board it was impossible.
However despite the complaints, Silversea remains one of the best cruise lines afloat in our opinion. It may be that the recently introduced fare reductions has led to the need to lower on board costs. If services are lowered then no one is going to want to pay the full cost. At the reduced fares sometimes available, this cruise line offers exception value.
We took several of the Silversea excursions. Sometimes we felt that the descriptions did not prepare one for the experience. For instance we visited Belize City and took the Lamanai river trip. Forget any images of lazily floating down a tropical river watching the wildlife. The river portion of this trip is a hair-raising 30 mph trip with the scenery barely noticeable as one tries to hang on and prevent the effect of the apparent wind from damaging ones eye sight. This may be advertised as exciting or be regarded as somewhat of a waste of an experience since for many of us this will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip up a crcodile infested river with an astonishing range of birds - if only one could see them. We also took the two reef boat snorkel in Cozumel. It was difficult to see anything that looked like a reef - at both sites there was just a flat bottom, about 7 feet deep with the occasional boulder. The two sites were a mere few hundred yards apart which made the effort of getting into and off the boat rather a waste of time and both sites were just yards from the shore.
On the positive, the ruins at Uxmal (from Progresso) were truely astonishing as well as being quieter than Chichen Itza. The barrier reef at Roatan was also magnificent although the snorkel at this site was challenging for many less experienced snorkellers.
Our overall opinion was that this cruise did not reach our expectations - perhaps because our last cruise on Silver Cloud was so exceptional. Would we go with Silversea again? Possibly although we might consider trying one of the other cruise lines offering similar small luxury cruise ships.
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