My latest trip abroad for the blog was unique for me in many ways. Not only was it the first time I’d ever stepped foot on a 6* Silversea cruise ship, it was the first time I’d managed to see so many Italian destinations in such a short space of time. Well, the first time since I went backpacking as a student ten years ago.
My backpacking trip was one to remember. I was in my second year of university, eager to see Europe and managed to cram in around 30 European cities in the space of around six weeks. Crossing Italy via night trains, slow trains, trains that stop at everybody’s back door (you get the idea) we managed to see Monaco, Rome, Naples (Sorrento and Capri), Florence, Venice, Bologne and Verona. Not to mention cities spanning across the South coast of France, plus Barcelona, Madrid and Paris. Yep, one epic trip.
Last weekend’s trip was onboard the Silverwind cruise ship – part of the Silversea cruise line.
After boarding the ship at the Civitavecchia port in Rome, we’d stop at Sorrento, Italy, and Trapani, Sicily, before ending our three day trip in Valetta, Malta.
Similar to my whistlestop backpacking tour ten years ago, we’d be visiting Capri via a boat from Sorrento.
But there were several difference between then and now:
1. I wouldn’t be heaving a great big packpack around with me and desperately seeking a new hostel bed to stay on each night.
2. I’d be staying in a 6* hotel on water. There’d be butlers (I know, amazing), endless supplies of top-notch food and drink, fancy dinners, a jacuzzi and pool, spa facilities and…. I think you get the picture. I was literally sailing the waves of luxury.
My preconceptions of going on a cruise were mixed. Many friends came out with the usual jokes about mixing with OAPs and spending all our spare time watching cabaret. But when Silversea couriered me a very special silver box containing a leather travel wallet and my travel documents, I knew this was going to be special.
Yes, cruise holidays certainly appeal to older age groups – partly due to the all inclusive lifestyle, and the price which younger folk often can’t afford.
But while you might have once associated cruise holidays with being onboard a colossal ship of around 3,000 other passengers and spending half the holiday queuing to get on and off the boat, the Silverwind ship was very different.
I mean it’s still big, but with less than 300 passengers, 222 crew, and some very classy lounges and restaurants to choose from, we’re talking about a slightly more personalised kind of cruise ship.
It’s pretty swanky too.
Think classic interiors decked out with lots of oak style wooden fittings, golden railings and bannisters and sparkling lights everywhere.
Even the lifts inside were gold.
Beautiful public areas to relax in included the library…
And of course, my favourite place, TOP DECK, where you find the swimming pool, sun loungers and a bar run by some brilliant bar staff. Pina colada anyone?
Then there were a number of restaurants to choose from. On board the Silverwind you have Le Champagne – the fanciest gourmet option – which is part of the Relais & Châteaux group and renowned for its exquisite wine.
The Silverwind boat also has three other places to eat: The Restaurant (below), La Terrazza, and the Pool Grill, which transforms into a more upmarket Grill by evening. (More on food later).
After a very lavish greeting by crew members and reception staff who indulged us with glasses of Prosecco and an introduction to our own private butlers (This is what makes it 6* service), we then a few hours to unpack and get settled, before the ship was set to leave Civitavechhia.
We were staying in the Midship Veranda Suites. The furnishings are quite traditional, with dark wood, terracotta furnishings, but with widescreen TVs, mini bar and essentials like crisp white sheets and a walk-in wardrobe.
Unlike rooms in the lower decks, they have teak verandas with your own sun loungers – perfect for chilling out at breakfast or watching the sunset in privacy. Their midship location means you feel less movement too. So you don’t have to worry about being seasick (not while sailing the calm waters of the Mediterranean anyway).
Shortly after unpacking, my room attendant Janice brought me a bottle of Prosecco to enjoy in my room. YES, a BOTTLE.
..And offered me a range of Bvlgari toiletries to choose from…
This was my bathroom
As far as first impressions go, I had the feeling I was going to be very well looked after. Nothing would be too much trouble on this cruise.
Life onboard the cruise ship was very different to how I imagined. Yes, we were in the minority age-wise – we were by far the youngest people on board and the entertainment is kind of steered towards the older generation.
However we spotted a couple of families with young children, a group of young American tourists and a couple of young couples during our trip too.
Plus, the Silversea style was very classy and this is the kind of trip that offers such amazing destinations, food and such a great lifestyle (did I mention the spa), believe me, this is a form of holidaying you can quickly get comfortable with.
The itinerary can be as busy or as laid back as you make it. The cruise ship’s director makes several announcements each day regarding destination times and the activities that are on that day. Some may not like his very early morning wake-ups and weather forecast announcements via in-room speakers. But, get into the swing of things and you’ll soon realise a cruise is what you make of it. If you’re into exploring, it’s a good idea to jump out of bed early and make the most of each stop off.
Head over to my next post to get the lowdown on Silverwind’s culinary scene.
But for now, picture yourself up on top deck, cocktail in hand, wind in your hair and the sounds of a jazz band by the pool and nothing but the Med in front of you.
This is how we began our Silverwind adventure.
Sounds good doesn’t it?
Silversea Cruises: www.silversea.com, 0844 251 0837