Silver Dawn with the family

Silver Travel Advisor’s Head of Retail, Julie Crumpton, took a cruise with her husband and teenage daughter to experience the joy of small ship cruising. They all report on the experience.

Julie’s View

I have cruised many times on lots of different cruise lines, but never before on a smaller ship and so was intrigued to see the difference.

I have recommended Silversea to my customers many times, based on the fantastic ships and itineraries they have, and have many customers who won’t cruise with anyone else now, so I was excited to experience this for myself.

I chose just a six night cruise itinerary around Portugal and Spain, as my husband and daughter were a little sceptical whether they would like it. This was part of a two week itinerary doing a round trip back to Lisbon. Well I needn’t have worried because at the end of the 6 nights my family were begging me to see if we could stay on for the second week. Sadly we had to return to work and school so the answer was no, but we absolutely made the most of our amazing week on board.

I would describe the experience as understated luxury. From the moment you stepped on board and were welcomed by the cruise director and her team, you felt relaxed and special. By the end of the week you felt almost like a celebrity, so many of the crew knew your names and wanted to greet you and look after you.

I was worried that the high level of service might be a bit too much for me and my family and a bit over the top, but they looked after you in such a way that it was unobtrusive and discreet. From walking out on deck, to your favourite sun lounger and your pool attendant Jeffrey suddenly appearing from nowhere ready to lay fresh towels down for you, to the bar staff noticing your drink was empty while you’re in the hot tub and offering to replenish it for you with your favourite cocktail.

You also had your very own butler. Ours was a lovely gentleman from St Lucia called Hervey. He helped us with dinner reservations as we kept changing our minds on the times and kept our mini bar stocked up with our favourite spirits and wine. He bought canapés each evening while we were getting ready for dinner and even took our laundry and brought it back freshly ironed that same afternoon. We seriously wanted to take him home with us.

The ship itself, the Silver Dawn, was new this year and absolutely beautiful. Again, I would describe her as understated elegance. The calm colours of the comfortable furnishings in the lounges and suites, the amazing artwork all around and the very different restaurant, choices each with their own unique style.

Our favourite was the Italian restaurant. The food and service was amazing and the staff were so friendly, they really made you feel special. We ate there on my birthday and the whole team came to our table to sing to me with a cake and chocolates.

The other restaurant we particularly liked was Hit Rocks , where you got to cook your own steak and seafood on a hot stone. It was on deck, but had plenty of heaters around so was still lovely and warm, despite being November.

The pool was the nicest one I have ever swam in on board a ship. The water was lovely and warm and there was plenty of space to swim, as well as the two wonderful hot tubs and another at the back of the ship, where you could relax in the bubbles with a glass of fizz and watch the sunset.

The entertainment and activities were again very low key. We particularly enjoyed the crazy golf tournaments and trivia quizzes and our favourite was the cooking classes with the SALT chef. We made local dishes from the countries we were visiting and learned about the history of the cuisine as well as getting to try out our creations. My daughter especially loved this and felt so comfortable one day she attended in her own and made lots of new friends who all wanted to become her adopted grandma.

The evening entertainment was varied and the team were excellent. We were treated to a night with songs from the opera, a rock night with the music of Queen and then a comedy skit show. All delivered by the very talented voices of Silversea team who came from all across the globe.

Our suite was a lovely space , with its own verandah to sit out on and even have breakfast. The bathroom had a bath and shower, which was a real luxury and there was a walk in wardrobe, which had plenty of room for your clothes and a safe. The only thing missing for me was a kettle, as I like to make a cup of tea when I fancy one, but that’s just the Brit in me, who is fussy about my PG Tips and too impatient to wait for room service!

As for the small to large ship comparison, it was wonderful. So much space, no queuing for anything and fantastic personal service. The ship was full, but you wouldn’t have known it. Plus you got to see the same people out and about around the ship, so it seemed much friendlier too, with lots of interaction between guests.

I can now understand why customers return to travel with Silversea repeatedly. They offer fantastic destinations and itineraries, along with beautiful luxurious ships, with excellent personal service. What more could you ask for?

Husband John’s View

In the time it took England to beat Iran 6-2 (21st Nov 2022), my 14 year old daughter Isabelle had familiarised herself with the entire ship, and my wife with the SALT bar. I felt now it was the moment for some quality family time, so we started to unpack and were promptly greeted by our very own butler, Hervey, a proud gentleman from St Lucia, and believe me, nothing was too much trouble for him. He filled the minibar, bought us nuts and a million other tasks. We sampled fine food fine desserts and the type of wine I only normally drink if I win it in a raffle.

The Tuesday was my wife’s birthday (no pressure). I had arranged a surprise with Jules’ boss, and to cover all bases, spoke to Hervey about the possibility of balloons and flowers, Needless to say he didn’t disappoint. Going back a step, we were woken at what we thought was a ridiculous hour by room service providing a sumptuous breakfast of bacon, waffles, coffee etc. We also realised that we had thought we were heading west and had in fact lost an hour so that was entirely our fault.

My wife opened her cards and had an almost perfect birthday lounging by the pool, in the glorious sunshine, waited on hand and foot by the team by the pool bar, cocktails, snacks – nothing was too much trouble and all delivered straight to the sunbed. After a stroll around the ship, we headed back to our cabin. I noted how expertly tidied it was, it was almost embarrassing to mess it up in any way. So off we headed down to dinner. We dined in a lovely Italian restaurant, the food was top notch and my wine glass remained mysteriously full, despite how much I consumed. Then the exceptionally busy staff took time out to bring over a cake with a candle, and the whole restaurant joined us in a rousing rendition of ‘happy birthday’, then we staggered off to bed.

After a superb week on board, the last port was Barcelona, then we were off home. We awoke with a start as the alarm told us we must leave, we had breakfast in our room, said goodbye to Hervey. We headed down the gangplank feeling sad and we happened to look to our left to see some of the staff cleaning our room waving to us from the balcony – not the crowd ,not to the port, they waved to us! My opinion of cruises changed right there in that moment, and as I wrote this blog from my flight home, I realised that when I boarded Silver Dawn I had turned up embarrassed, overwhelmed and a fish out of water. However, I walked away hugely impressed but still humble and appreciative of the hard working staff on Silver Dawn and their amazing capability to make dreams come true.

Daughter Isabelle, aged 14

I loved the choices of food and also the S.A.L.T. cookery classes with the wonderful chef, who was brilliant. I enjoyed meeting lots of different people. Everyone was so friendly: the staff and the other guests. I loved the pool and jacuzzi, hardly anyone else went in it, so we had it to ourselves. The service was fantastic. I wanted to take Jeffrey home with me to make more virgin mojitos. I liked joining in the bingo, quizzes and especially the mini golf, collecting tokens that I traded in for a tee shirt at the end.

Next Steps

Find out more about Silversea cruises. Call our Silver Travel Advisors on 0800 412 5678 to discuss your cruise and to book – you could be talking to Julie!

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