In my role as online marketer I have spent many years marketing cruise holidays for a range of luxury tour operators; advising on appropriate website copy, researching ‘cruisers’ and their interests, testing calls to action and deciding on ad imagery. However, I’m ashamed to admit that I’d never actually stepped foot on a cruise ship myself (terrible I know!). That is until last Wednesday evening when I was kindly invited aboard Silver Cloud; one of Silversea’s Classic Fleet ships.
The ship rarely presents the opportunity to invite press and media aboard in Edinburgh so I felt honoured to be attending this special evening with ten other guests.
Before I recount my wonderful, albeit stationary, cruise experience let me tell you a little about the Silver Cloud, just to help set the scene. Silver Cloud is in fact Siversea’s inaugural ship and celebrates her 20th birthday this year but despite her age she didn’t fail to impress me. As one of the smaller ships, hosting 296 guests, there was definitely a sense of intimacy aboard however there was still plenty of space to enjoy your own time or leisure pursuits.
My Cruise Experience
So my (stationary) cruise experience begins. Docked in Leith, Edinburgh, and armed with passport I made my way through the security checkpoints and was warmly greeted by a Silversea host who kindly directed me to the Le Terraza bar where drinks and canapés were served upon arrival. Luckily the rain had stopped falling and we were able to enjoy our pre-dinner refreshments al fresco.
After all guests had been officially introduced to one another we were then given a guided tour by Mike Bonner, General Manager of Silversea. Our first calling point was a curious little place; the Connoisseur Corner – a private little lounge where guests who enjoy a cigar or two can do so in comfort. It does not interfere with the other guests’ well-being as the room operates on an entirely separate air conditioning system.
We then made our way up to the top deck, just past the open air swimming pool to The Grill bar area. This restaurant is also informally known as ‘hot rocks’ as dishes are served on hot lava stones so guests can cook their meat to their own taste – a great interactive dining experience and one that is proving extremely popular as guests are advised to make reservations in advance to avoid disappointment. This restaurant is also a more casual dining option so if guests prefer to wear less formal attire this is the place for them – probably a good thing if cooking is involved!!
As we explored this area I definitely felt a sense of yacht life and having sailed quite a bit with my parents it really evoked memories of holidays gone by. This would definitely be the place on the ship that you’d find me hanging out with a glass of chilled white wine. Of course that is after I’d earned a treat or two in the gym.
The gym was located on top deck with a machines and equipment strategically located to ensure all sweaty bods work out to a sea view. Although the equipment was quite dated (she is 20 years old after all) it was still clean and good enough and Mike informed us that it will be undergoing a refit with the more modern Technogym equipment in the not so distant future.
If, however, a cruise holiday to you is more about relaxation and pampering then fear not there is a spa area and beauty salon using Elemis products. Small but perfectly formed.
I was also pleasantly surprised to be shown a casino; they operate a Monte Carlo style with the tables located towards the back of the ship nicely tucked away as opposed to the more aggressive thoroughfare Vegas style layout. If gambling is not your thing then there is an impressive auditorium where on select voyages concert style productions are performed or classic films shown on a rainy day. A well-stocked library is also for guests’ pleasure. There is Wi-Fi on board so books and films can be downloaded and if you forgot to bring your own then fear not as there a number of iPad’s available to borrow.
Silversea Cruises is a privately owned company run by one Italian family and are highly selective in the partners and suppliers they work with. As such all bed linen and bathroom toiletries are supplied by independent Italian firms. Another strong partnership Silversea has forged is with Relais & Chateaux; a company that epitomises the essence of luxury hospitality and on select voyages guests can partake in on on-board cookery school exclusively with this defining brand.
Before making our way to dinner we popped our heads into one of the suites. It was surprisingly spacious with a lounge area that looked out onto the small balcony offering a great sea view. Mike informed us that all suites on this ship are designed the same and are all located off the ‘trunk’ of the ship to avoid any suite envy amongst guests. This symmetrical layout also facilitates an easy way to keep your bearings whilst aboard.
Every guest is assigned their own butler who will look after you throughout the duration of your stay; stocking your bar, maintaining the fridge at the right temperature, running your bath….whatever floats your boat (pardon the pun!) There is also a concierge service to aid with any arrangements on-board or on land.
One of four restaurants on board, Le Champagne is the fine dining option and is the only wine restaurant by Relais & Chateaux at sea. The popularity of this six course dining experience, accompanied by a selection of complementary wines is high so guests are advised to make a reservation in advance. And it is here that we spent the remainder of our evening.
Although fine dining, the restaurant still has a lot of character which is enhanced by the pleasant and personable restaurant team. Presented with a menu that incorporates regionally inspired dishes there was just too much to choose from.
Luckily the ‘assiette d’Hors d’oeuvres’ was already decided upon; fois gras cone, king scallop, lobster with lime and mango and a porcini cappuccino. Much to my surprise, as I’m usually a scallop girl, the porcini cappuccino was my fave by a seaside mile!
A barrage of difficult decisions then ensued; difficult because EVERYTHING sounded so scrumptious. However I opted for;
- Entrée froide = Red tuna Carpaccio with three mustard flavours
- Entrée Chaude = Edible Gold Leaf Risotto
- Entre Deux = Lobster Tail Bisque (served at my table)
- Terre at Mer Course (I went terre) = Lattice of New England Venison, Marinated Red Cabbage and Port Wine Sauce.
- Doucers = Trilogy of Valrhona Chocolate Lava Cakes.
All accompanied with palate pleasing and perfectly matched wines.
And as if we weren’t all fit to burst at the seams, macaroons and truffles followed with coffee.
All of the dishes were presented and explained by the dedicated waiting staff who were highly knowledgeable and perfectly attentive.
I have enjoyed a few tasting menu experiences before, all at Michelin Star restaurants but I have to say this was by far the best. Not only was the quality and freshness of the food outstanding but another winning factor was the menu itself and the choices for each course. Often there will be one stand out option; however with tonight’s menu I could have devoured the lot!
I highly recommend that if enjoying a cruise holiday on Silver Cloud on board this is a priority on your to-do list.
At dinner I had the pleasure of sitting beside Natalie Sexton, the Marketing Manager of Silversea Cruises who shared with her guests some of her own cruise experiences. She had recently been on Silver Explorer on a voyage to the Antarctic. Wow (for the third time!) I was literally ready to run off and pack my woollies to set sail the next day.
With tales of penguins, a tiger seal, ice trekking, 12m high waves and homage to explorers of days gone by this expedition sounds right up my street (or sea!). It also supported some research I had recently read which clearly highlighted that the uptake in cruise holidays amongst the 30 year olds in the UK (pre-marriage, work hard, holiday harder) had increased significantly (I think at the time is which was showing YOY growth of 20% and expected to rise) and reaffirmed that cruises are not just for the 55years + anymore. With so much adventure, action and adrenaline as part of the all-inclusive cruise experience it is clear to see why the perception of cruises being exclusively for the ‘oldies’ is changing.
Not only this but the fact that the all-inclusive element nurtures a real social atmosphere as people are more inclined to get each other a drink and not worry if they don’t repay the favour appeals to the social side of the younger generation.
Although we didn’t set sail I had a great evening and was pleasantly surprised by the facilities and space available on board. As you know I like to be on the go and despite me marketing cruises to a younger generation I’ve never 100% been convinced that I’d enjoy this type of holiday, however my introduction to it bodes extremely well ……….watch this space!!!
If you’re interested in a luxury cruise holiday then you can learn more about it using the details below:
t: 0844 251 0837