A shining star in the world of luxury cruises

Pool deck

Silversea’s first Nova Class ship showcases an all-new asymmetrical design. Jeannine Williamson was aboard one of the first sailings to find out more.

“There is also a macaron for you to enjoy madam Jeannine,” says butler Justin as he points out the glass dish on the rack above the steaming fig scented water. It’s as well he said as I thought the round dainty pink treat nestling inside was a bath bomb.

Butler Justin with bath salts
Butler Justin with bath salts

Whether he is being diplomatic I’ll never know, but it seems he is reading my mind and tactfully averting a potentially sticky bathing situation. Whatever the prompt, it’s yet another example of the intuitive service I’m experiencing on Silversea Cruise’s first Nova Class vessel.

Already Justin has calibrated my in-room bar with a large bottle of gin (no fiddly or environmentally unfriendly plastic encased miniatures here), after discovering my favourite tipple. These perceptive and seemingly instinctive touches are evident throughout the ship. On my first afternoon aboard Silver Nova I hesitate while I’m out exploring the nine decks. A passing crew member stops to ask if I need help finding my way around.

All-new asymmetrical design

I take him up on the offer as while Silver Nova has all the trademarks associated with the luxury line – plush suites with butler service for every passenger and top notch dining – the 12th ship in the fleet is distinctly different from the rest. The 728-passenger vessel showcases an asymmetrical design, which means both sides of the ship are not mirror images and it takes a day or so to work it out.

The innovative layout is geared to bring guests closer to the sea and make the best use of light. One of the most obvious examples is the sun deck. Instead of having the swimming pool in the middle, which is the norm on most ships, it’s been relocated on the starboard side with unobstructed views of the ocean and passing sights. There’s also a ‘cliff whirlpool’ hot tub clinging to the edge. It’s all a breath of fresh air in every sense. Elsewhere, there are different levels for sunbathing, and back inside there are tucked away corners to relax and curl up with a book.

Individual bars

Indeed, one of the most secret hideaways is The Shelter. The Champagne bar is an all-new venue on Silver Nova, so much so that many passengers didn’t seem to discover it down on deck 3. I’m glad I did. Only open in the evening, it’s a lovely spot for a bubbly aperitif, one of the special Champagnes on offer, against a musical backdrop.

Aside from the excellent house fizz, it’s one of the few bars where premium drinks cost extra. Silversea specialises in all-inclusive cruise holidays with almost everything, including 70 different wines and most restaurants, covered in the fare. I really like the fact that the bars have different menus, giving them all an individual character and the chance to hunt down different cocktails. One of the most spectacular I tried was the Celestial Nova in the S.A.L.T bar. Combing rhubarb gin and Champagne, it arrived with a large gravity-defying bubble on the top of the glass which popped a few seconds later.

Small group shore excursions

My Mediterranean sailing included headline ports of call such as Barcelona and Palma. As well as big cities, Silver Nova is small enough to get to lesser-known ports inaccessible to larger cruises ships. It was my first visit to Sete in southern France, a fishing port dubbed the Venice of Languedoc due to its network of canals and evidenced when our coach stops at the swing bridge dissecting the town. Once underway, we headed to the top of Mont St Clair for panoramic views across the salty lagoon that’s prized for its oysters.

Next up is a wine tasting at the charming family-owned Chateau de L’Engarran where our delightful host described one of the wines as a ‘friendly’ wine. At €6 a bottle it certainly is. I wish I’d bought a larger suitcase but manage to squeeze in a couple of bottles to bring home.

Numbers are restricted on shore excursion and this adds to the personal touch. We never feel part of a huge crowed following a distant lollipop waving guide. In addition to paid for tours, Silversea includes at least one complimentary excursion in every port plus a free shuttle into the town or city centre for travellers that want explore independently.

Solos welcome

Although I was sailing with a friend, Silversea offers welcoming cruises for singles over 50. One night I dined alone at the al fresco Marquee grill. It’s an included restaurant, but was fully booked for several nights in a row when we tried to get a slot. When I go along by myself on the off chance the restaurant manager offers me a place, saying they will always try and accommodate solo guests without a booking. Result!

Invariably the food is delicious; from the destination-themed menus in S.A.L.T. to the Mediterranean flavours of the Marquee. I often end up in, La Terrazza, with its expansive ever-tempting buffet. If you want to push the gastronomic boat out there’s the fine dining French-inspired La Dame or more casual Japanese restaurant Kaiseki, which both carry a surcharge.

On my penultimate night I take the plunge and request the Otium spa bathing experience. When I arrive in my suite the bath is waiting with a neck pillow, faux candles, soothing music and the aforementioned macaron. As I’m a few minutes late Justin has made an executive decision and picked one of the three bath salts set out on a salver. It certainly takes silver service to a new level.

Silver Nova Junior Grand Suite
Silver Nova Junior Grand Suite

Find out more

During 2024 Silver Nova will sail in the Caribbean, Alaska, Asia, New Zealand and Australia.  Fares include all onboard meals, drinks, selected shore excursions, Wi-Fi, flights, transfers and tips, with the option of booking door-to-door chauffeur service to the airport and back.

To book a voyage with Silversea and get further information from our Silver Travel Advisors, call 0800 412 5678.


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Jeannine Williamson

Award-winning travel writer

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