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LUXURY CRUISE: Silver Spirit
Style: Small-scale (540 passengers) super-luxe cruise ship.
Scene: Eagerly-awaited Silver Spirit, flagship of the widely-heralded Silversea Cruise Line is on her inaugural 119-day world voyage. Her itinerary included several port calls around Australia before she headed up through Asia bound for the northern hemisphere.
Seen on Deck: Happy faces, friendly good-natured banter between crew and passengers where staff anticipate requests before you ask. 'Si Signori' is the refrain - conservatively cosmopolitan and effortlessly Italian.

There is no denying that Silversea ships are addictive. Some say you are spoiled for life, and I am not going to argue. But how do you actually define the difference between Silversea and other top end competitors which are equal in every other sense? After much contemplation, I have concluded it is the easygoing nature of this essentially Italian ship, the crew, the fabulous food, those Italian flourishes that no-one else seems to be able to emulate. And I have put in plenty of research over the years (some would call it indulgence) on Silver Whisper on a Mediterranean cruise and Silver Shadow in Alaska. Other ships in the Silversea fleet are Silver Wind, Silver Cloud and the expedition ship Prince Albert.

silver spirit
silver spirit
silver spirit service
veranda suite
silver spirit dining
la terrazza
pool deck silver spirit

Would Silver Spirit live up to my exacting standards? No. She exceeded them! Built in Fincantieri's Ancona shipyards, she is all-white, with scrupulously maintained teak decks and deck furniture.

Inside, the focus is more on traditional elegance rather than 'daring to be different'. The Art Deco theme works a treat. Subtle, silvery blues alternate with dark blue stripes, and geometric prints. Frosted, scalloped glass panels are artfully used as conversation dividers in the main bar. This is the social hub of the ship, a bit like an Italian piazza - perfect for people-watching, espresso-sipping, and language lessons.

Silver Spirit has 270 ocean-view suites, 95 per cent with private teak balconies
Would Silver Spirit live up to my exacting standards? No. She exceeded them!

Suites have comfortable living areas with queen-size or twin single beds. Stylish bathrooms with separate bath and shower, Ferragamo, Bulgari or Neutrogena toiletries. As well, there are flat-screen TV, Wi-Fi access and mobile phone service at sea. Your in-suite refrigerator is stocked with your preferences, including champagne, beer, soft drinks and bottled water. Dinner wines and cocktails are also on the house. Gratuities are neither sought, nor expected.

There are four restaurants in all: The Restaurant which seats 456; La Terrazza, which serves authentic Italian cuisine and has an al fresco area for lunching and dining weather permitting - one of my favourite parts of the ship; Le Champagne a Wine Restaurant by Relais & Chateaux - small (24 guests) intimate and v. expensive - but the treat of a lifetime. Another highlight is Seishin - a fabulous Japanese restaurant where you can watch chef expertly sharpen his steel, sever ingredients into perfect slivers and serve with theatrical panache.

Another fun option is DIY Black Rock grilling at your table on deck. Fun, but you have no-one to blame if your steak is overdone.

Loved the outdoor lounge furniture - simulated cane - on Panorama deck. Such a lovely spot to sit and contemplate the weather patterns. For many guests however, the spa is the piece de resistance. It is a sanctuary of  pure indulgence with floor-to ceiling windows, nine treatment rooms and an outdoor whirlpool.

Ultimate Luxury:  Your very own 24 hour, white-gloved, butler service.

Most Indulgent Moment: Afternoon tea with a choice of eight different teas, properly brewed and comes with an individual tea timer (similar to an egg-timer) which tells you when to pour.  You get the works: dainty cucumber sandwiches, scones and shimmering petit fours.

Insider Secrets:  A private corner of the spa deck where you can relax totally undisturbed after your pilates workout, core strengthening or whatever. I was the only one there. Heaven.

The Little Things: The pillow menu with no fewer than 9 choices.

Junior Luxies: Not a lot on sea days. But depending on the ports/shore excursions, then plenty. It would be fine on cruises of shorter duration where hopefully there would be some younger ones.

Dress code: Comfortably casual but classily cut. Gentlemen a jacket for dinner, no ties necessary. Black-tie or dark lounge suit on formal nights. Ladies - chic, never goes out of fashion. Just wear it with fabulous jewellery even if it is fake.

Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Cruise Link: www.Silversea.com

  Maggy Oehlbeck 14/3/11

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