YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Cruise Views

Sterling Sailing on New Silversea Ships

November 25, 2001|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH

Silversea's new 28,258-ton Silver Whisper, which debuted in July, is scheduled to make its maiden call in Los Angeles on Thursday, a day before departing on the first leg of its winter South America sailings.

The 382-passenger Silver Whisper and its sister ship, Silver Shadow, are larger than the luxury line's first two ships, the 16,800-ton, 296-passenger Silver Cloud and Silver Wind. But they are considerably smaller than competing luxury vessels like the 50,000-ton Radisson Seven Seas Mariner, which carries 700 passengers.

Compared with 2,600-passenger mega-ships like the Carnival Victory or Golden Princess or Royal Caribbean's 3,114-passenger Explorer of the Seas, Silversea's Silver Whisper and Silver Shadow are intimate.

The additional passenger space makes the Silver Whisper roomy and comfortable. On a recent transatlantic crossing, we luxuriated in a standard veranda suite that was 345 square feet. The Vista Suite, with a picture window instead of a private veranda, is the smallest on board at 287 square feet. Compare this with a standard cruise ship cabin's size of 150 to 185 square feet.

Every suite has queen or twin beds, a sitting area with sofa, chairs and coffee table, an entertainment center with TV and VCR, a mini-refrigerator, a cocktail cabinet stocked with free beverages, a walk-in closet, a writing desk and a large marble bathroom with tub, stall shower and twin sinks.

For big spenders, suites go up to 1,435 square feet with two bedrooms, 21/2 baths and two verandas, a living room, a dining room and a wet bar.

Besides the main dining room with restaurant-style seating (passengers can arrive when they wish and sit where they please), the Silver Whisper has the Terrace Cafe on the top deck, which serves buffet breakfasts, lunches and nightly sit-down, candlelight dinners for the first 50 passengers to make reservations.

One night on a sailing from Dublin to New York, the theme of the Terrace Cafe dinner was French. The seven-course menu began with snails in pastry with pesto hollandaise and progressed to a terrine of foie gras in Sauternes jelly, then filet of sole in mushroom sauce garnished with crayfish, lemon sorbet, saddle of veal in salt crust with black truffle and morel sauce, a warm apple tart with Calvados and a plate of petits fours and chocolate truffles made on board. The house champagne, Mot & Chandon, was served as an aperitif, and the free wines with the dinner were a white Bordeaux and a Cote de Beaune from Burgundy.

Throughout the cruise, each dish at most meals was ambitiously conceived and beautifully executed, with alternative menus offering vegetarian, low-calorie or simple home-style specialties.

When the weather permitted, casual meals were served on the deck: grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken breasts, along with salads and sandwiches.

The entertainment on our sailing was surprisingly sophisticated for the ship's size, because vessels of less than 30,000 tons often have lounge dance floors that double as stages.

The Silver Whisper presented musical productions with a cast of eight on a stage that is raised and lowered hydraulically in the two-deck Viennese Show Lounge.

There are also a casino that is set discreetly apart from the main traffic areas, a large card room, a 24-hour library with books, videotapes and games, a computer center with easy e-mail access, and even free self-service laundry rooms if you want to wash your clothes yourself.

The spa is operated by Mandara, which offers a range of European-and Asian-style massage and beauty treatments.

Even on our six-day transatlantic crossing, we never ran out of things to do.

We spent lazy mornings in the nonsmoking observation lounge atop the ship and forward, attended entertaining lectures and cooking demonstrations in the theater, enjoyed afternoon tea and team trivia quizzes in the Panorama Lounge, soaked in a heated pool and two whirlpool spas on deck and exercised on a jogging track around the top of the ship or in the large gym and aerobics room.

From Los Angeles, the ship will visit ports in Mexico--Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco--and Puntarenas, Costa Rica, during the 10-day sailing.

With many cabins going empty after the Sept. 11 attacks, some cruise lines are offering discounts and incentives to fill ships. Silversea is no exception, offering a 10% discount from the published fare beginning at $7,545 per person, double occupancy, plus $1,000 discount per couple for first-time Silversea passengers. There's an additional 10% discount for repeat Silversea passengers. For a cruise-only fare without air transportation and overnight hotel stay, you can subtract $850 more.

A travel agent may be able to negotiate a still lower fare, since cabins are available in most categories.

Silversea fares include all on-board gratuities, beverages, port charges and air transportation and transfers. Special free shore excursions and a stay in a luxury hotel before boarding the ship are also a part of the package for most sailings. In Los Angeles, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel is the line's lodging of choice.

For more information, see a travel agent, call (800) 722-9955 or visit the cruise line's Web site at


Shirley Slater and Harry Basch travel as guests of the cruise lines. Cruise Views appears twice a month.

Los Angeles Times Articles