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Cruise Views

Swedish Architects Massage the Silver Wind

June 18, 1995|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH | Slater and Basch travel as guests of the cruise lines. Cruise Views appears the first and third week of every month.

There are a pair of ship architects in Oslo who must be mighty proud of themselves as the eighth of the competing, super-deluxe small ships they designed joins the other seven in cruising Europe and the Mediterranean this summer.

Petter Yran and Bjorn Storbraaten are responsible for the Silver Wind, the second new vessel for Silversea Cruises, which made its debut this winter in the Indian Ocean. Its sister ship, Silver Cloud, came into service last year.

Previously, the pair had designed the Sea Goddess I and II (1984-'85), Seabourn Pride and Spirit (1988-'89) and Queen Odyssey, the former Royal Viking Queen (1992), as well as creating the upscale interiors for Radisson Seven Seas' elegant Song of Flower (1990). The architects can rest assured that whichever of the eight becomes the most popular, it will bear their personal stamp.

But there is a difference between the Silversea ships and the others: size. At 16,927 gross registry tons and carrying 296 passengers, the pair are considerably bigger than the 10,000-ton, 204-passenger Seabourn ships, the 8,300-ton, 172-passenger Song of Flower and the 4,250-ton, 116-passenger Sea Goddesses.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 25, 1995 Home Edition Travel Part L Page 6 Travel Desk 1 inches; 24 words Type of Material: Correction
Cruise Views--Due to an editing error, the headline on the June 18 cruise column incorrectly identified the architects of the Silver Wind as Swedish. They are Norwegian.

The extra space allows room for a large show lounge with tiered audience seats, a sizable swimming pool, spa, jogging track and sunning deck and private verandas, the newest hot item for cruisers, in 75% of the cabins.

Big also means a passenger-space ratio of 57.18, one of the most spacious in the industry. (That figure is determined by dividing gross registry tonnage, a cubic space measurement rather than a weight measurement, by the number of passengers.) Luxury travelers want--and are willing to pay for--plenty of cabin, deck and public area space.

Despite the fine hardware, the Silver Cloud disappointed with its uneven service and food during its debut season. But its early problems have been ironed out by a cadre of service and kitchen personnel drawn largely from the former Royal Viking Line, which went out of service at the end of 1994. Perhaps the greatest compliment is that many of the well-traveled passengers stayed aboard the ship sunbathing and reading rather than going into such attractive ports as Sorrento, Taormina and Corfu.

Cabins are suite-like and measure 295 square feet with veranda, 240 square feet without. Fares start at about $500 a day per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare, tips, wine with meals, a stocked in-cabin bar, transfers and a special shore excursion.

The cuisine from Silver Wind's chef Karl Muhlberger is cooked to order, and there are occasional alternative dining opportunities with evening deck buffets and special regional menus from the various ports of call in the casual Terrace Cafe.

The entertainment, while hardly cutting edge, is sprightly and professional. Social hosts are on hand to dance with single women, and lecture programs, bridge classes, shopping, exercise programs and spa and beauty options round out the activities on a day at sea. The casino is also somewhat larger than most upper-end small luxury ships, with 22 slot machines, two blackjack tables and a roulette table.

Passengers aboard the ship during its Mediterranean sailings were a mix of Americans and Europeans, with the largest contingent of the latter from Great Britain. Most were couples over 40, but there were also quite a few singles in their 20s and 30s traveling with family groups. Although formal attire is requested only two nights a week, the passengers, particularly the Europeans, were always fashionably attired day and night, making it a dressier-than-usual cruise.

Attention to detail is apparent throughout the ship--fresh flowers in the cabins and all the public areas, fresh-squeezed fruit juices at the early-riser breakfast buffet, live music at afternoon tea, and waiters bringing silver trays of finger sandwiches and pastries, a well-stocked library and video area with books and tapes neatly arranged in alphabetical order, and quick and alert room service. A concierge is on duty throughout the day to handle passenger requests.

Both vista and veranda standard cabins provide marble bathroom with full-size tub/shower combination, twin beds that convert to queen-size, sitting area with sofa, two built-in desk/dresser cabinets, TV and VCR, two chairs and a coffee table that can be converted for in-cabin dining. There's also a big walk-in closet with safe, mini-refrigerator and bar stocked with both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages of the passenger's request.

The most popular accommodations for longer cruises are the three Silver Suites, 541 square feet, each with a separate bedroom and L-shaped living room with full dining table and entertainment center with CD player. The sofa can accommodate an additional cabin occupant. Silver Suites cost about $800-$900 a day per person, double occupancy. There are also much larger Owner's, Royal and Grand suites.

Overall, with the ships' extra space, those alluring private verandas and the management's attention to detail, Silversea would seem poised to seriously challenge the established leaders in the $500-plus-a-day range, especially when you consider how much you're getting for your money.

Both Silver Cloud and Silver Wind will be sailing in the Mediterranean and northern Europe this summer, followed by Mombasa-to-Bombay sailings to the Seychelles this fall and winter aboard the Silver Cloud, and New England/Canada, Caribbean and Amazon itineraries aboard the Silver Wind.

To get a brochure, contact a travel agent or call the line at (800) 722-6655.

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