Yacht-like intimacy, ocean liner elegance and six-star all-inclusive service are the hallmarks of a Silversea voyage and Silver Wind is just what Dubai needs to blow the cobwebs away, even if she is approaching old-age by cruise ship standards.
Launched in 1995 in Italy, the 514 foot (156 metre), 16,800 gross ton Silver Wind is the second ship launched by this luxury cruise line. Refurbished in 2002, her 212 international crew members offer her 296 guests the very best in Italian hospitality and refinement, providing what Silversea like to call their signature “six-star” personalised service. Silver Wind is pushing 17 years old, making her old by luxury liner standards, but she isn’t showing it.
Built by the Mariotti shipyard in Italy, Silver Wind, like all vessels in the line’s fleet, provides a unique yacht-like cruise experience, which has become all the more rare in today’s world of floating mega-resorts. Despite her small size, Silver Wind has no cabins, every stateroom is a suite and 80% of them come complete with ocean views from private teak balconies. Her design and crew-to-guest ratio are reflected in the way in which Silversea CEO Albert Peter sees the line when he says that “Silversea has always considered our competition to be leading luxury hotels” rather than just other cruise lines.
Because of this, Silversea has some of the largest staterooms found afloat.
There are eight different suite categories aboard Silver Wind, although in reality there are seven noticeably different kinds of suite, with the Veranda Suite and Midships Veranda Suite distinguished only by their location aboard ship. This is a feature common to all cruise lines, which treat space aboard their ships in much the same way as real estate in a city, the closer a suite is to the public rooms, restaurants or amenities, the more expensive it will be, generally speaking.
Silver Wind is like other ships in the Silversea fleet in that she offers the highest space-to-guest ratio in its suites of any other ship that is not a part of the Silversea brand. An example of this is the entry-level 240 square foot Vista Suite, which has no balcony, but is lit up during the day by a large picture window (not a porthole!) and is larger or the same size as the so-called ‘suites’ on many mass-market cruise ships. Although all Silver Wind’s suites are very tastefully appointed, we do think the pink carpeting in many of the staterooms looks dated and a little too utilitarian.
All suites aboard Silver Wind have minibars that are kept stocked up throughout your voyage, at no extra cost. One sees Silversea’s attention to little details here – the minibar is not called a minibar by the line, as that’s just a touch too…middle-class…instead, it is a cocktail cabinet, which is just a bit more appropriate for a ship of this calibre. If hitting the ‘cocktail cabinet’ everyday isn’t enough for you, there’s also an entertainment centre with a full complement of satellite channels, as well as a DVD player.
In the bathroom itself, surfaces are covered in marble and this is indeed a proper ‘bathroom’ as a full-size bath is available in every en-suite in every stateroom. During your bath you can make use of the extensive selection of designer bath-time amenities, but not before you have a glass of champers from the complimentary bottle offered upon arrival. After your bath, wrap up in a plush bath robe, slip on the complimentary slippers and literally smell the roses…well, not the roses, but fresh flowers and fruit are also set out every day, along with a daily newspaper.
And this is all before you leave your suite!
For a 514 foot cruise liner, Silver Wind is literally packed with places to explore. There are 19 separate passenger areas, but at the same time, the ship is not crowded and does not feel crammed, despite nearly all public rooms being located aft on deck 4 to 9. With its muted cream and beige colours and warm ambiance, the ship’s bar – logically called The Bar – extends Silversea’s famed hospitality with complimentary cocktails and is the heart of the ship’s social scene, for Silversea are big on encouraging passengers to mingle. After all, making friends on extended voyages is one of the primary joys of cruising.
Out on the ocean, cruising at 18 knots in fair seas, many nautical miles from the pressures of land, it becomes much easier to let go of shore-based shyness and inhibitions and meet new people in a relaxed nature that is impossible at any hotel. At night, the bar also features live music and a dance floor for when your favourite song is, inevitably, played. Located just aft of the boutiques and casino on Deck 5, directly above The Restaurant, The Bar is also a convenient spot for a pre-dinner drink or after dinner coffee.
Silver Wind’s Card Room, forward of the Show Lounge on Deck 6, doubles as a conference room for those in need of meeting space for their group, with audio-visual equipment available free of charge. During days at sea, the Card Room is used for Bridge games and tournaments, which is perhaps indicative of the average age of most Silversea cruisers. For those voyaging from Dubai, however, there are plenty of additional diversions, such as Connoisseur’s Corner, to starboard, forward of the Panorama Lounge on Deck 8, with its complimentary cognacs and selection of cigars (for smokers, this lounge will be particularly popular), and the Show Lounge, where intimate, up-close concerts and variety performances take place on Deck 6 at the very back of the ship.
On Deck 9, at the bow of the ship (the front for first-time cruisers), the Observation Lounge joins the Panorama Lounge as one of the ship’s primary ‘sit and chill’ areas, but they are unique from one another. The Panorama Lounge is a great vantage point from which to enjoy a beverage while leaving port or looking back over miles of endless ocean and the ship’s ever-diminishing wake. It is also the home of afternoon tea aboard Silver Wind, enjoyed against the audio backdrop of a pianist, making it the most popular location onboard for sundowners. The Observation Lounge, as the name suggests, is designed as a passengers’ extension of the navigation bridge, with a radar screen, astronomical maps, reference books and binoculars and great view forward.
The Observation Lounge
Unlike many smaller ships that have a cursory library, which usually constitutes a single shelf tucked away in one of the public rooms, the library aboard Silver Wind, forward of the internet cafe on Deck 4, is a fully-equipped haven of literary and film exploration. There is a vast selection of DVDs for use in your suite, as well as magazines, books and newspapers, as well as audio listening stations near the windows, so you can listen to your favourite book while watching the gliding ocean. Plush sofas also make for comfortable spots to sit and read in, but the library does lack in reference material relevant to upcoming destinations.
While limited space prevents us being able to detail every public area aboard Silver Wind (a remarkable feat on the part of Silversea, considering her smallish size), it remains to be said that the exploration of the ship is far from over. She is equipped with a self-service laundry on Deck 4 for longer voyages and the internet cafe allows guests to stay in touch with land 24/7, although considering the high calibre of all services aboard Silver Wind, it is disappointing that internet access comes with a fee, while wireless internet is not available ship-wide. Silver Wind’s boutique shopping area on Deck 5 near the casino, is sizeable for a 514-foot vessel and is jam-packed with a selection of jewellery, fashion labels and perfumes. Silversea branded items are also sold, which we think is a touch tacky.
When the ship is sailing in international waters, the casino is open for a flirt with financial ruin or restoration, but for some the beauty salon, with its male and female treatment options, may prove a more relaxing way to spend the afternoon. A rather nice touch in the Fitness Centre is the complimentary classes in aerobics, yoga, Pilates and circuit training. And, of course, the range of equipment here is free of charge as well. After working out, the onboard spa will prove a nice way to prepare for dinner as professional masseurs work out all the tension you’ve carried aboard. The ship’s spa, beauty salon and Fitness Centre are all clustered together on Deck 9, just behind the Observation Lounge.
The idea of all-inclusive cruising was one pioneered by Silversea when they launched their first ship, the Silver Cloud, sister ship to Silver Wind, back in 1994. Services and products inclusive of the cruise fare, such as accommodation, entertainment, travel and food, are part of what make cruising so popular, but Silversea take it to another level. “Sophisticated, affluent travellers consider freedom and convenience among the most important components in the luxury travel equation,” says Albert Peter. Therefore, not only are the vast majority of services inclusive of your fare, but guests options aboard ship are also expanded, with one able to select their own dining time and sit where they like in the dining room on any given day.
Silver Wind has four dining rooms onboard, all satisfying guests’ various needs and preferences. The Restaurant to aft on Deck 4 is the ship’s main dining room where breakfast lunch and dinner is served and, according to Silversea’s promotional material, this dining room “encircles” you in elegance and sophistication. Indeed, we can attest to the truth of this, although The Restaurant is unobtrusive in its refinement and won’t make the more casual UAE passenger feel uncomfortable. For those looking for something even more casual, the Pool Bar and Grill on Deck 9 forward of the pool and whirpools, is the perfect place to eat in an indoor/outdoor setting where shorts and flip-flops won’t be frowned upon – the menu reflects this too, with pizzas and grilled meat on offer, as well as Silversea’s signature CruieLite fare during the day. The Pool Bar and Grill is also a great place to listen to music and sip a cocktail as the sun sinks in the west.
La Terrazza and Le Champagne are Silver Wind’s two high-end restaurants if you have a special occasion to celebrate, a special lady to impress, or indeed if you simply prefer to eat in surrounding even more exceptional than The Restaurant. Le Champagne, exclusive to Silversea, is the only Wine Restaurant by Relais & Châteaux on the high seas and is especially delightful because regionally-inspired dishes are paired to various wines, providing great talking points and a unique experience. This restaurant, tucked to starboard in front of The Restaurant on Deck 4, is also the smallest of the ship’s dining areas. La Terrazza to aft on Deck 7 is an à la carte yet chic dining room for those who like cooking done with an Italian flare. It should be noted that these ‘specialist’ restaurants do not offer a menu as extensive as The Restaurant, a reality that catches many guests off guard.
Guests that require a regular cigarette will find the smoking area in The Bar, as well as the Connoisseur Club and certain areas on Deck 9 to be particularly popular. Like most ships with balconies, Silversea does not allow veranda smoking for safety reasons…fire being the greatest fear aboard any ship.
Sailing out of Dubai on November 27th last year on a seven night round trip, Silver Wind is a beautiful yacht-like addition to the Dubai-based offerings this cruise season and will prove popular for older passengers and those who like to voyage with old-school elegance. She had a 79% approval rating on leading review Web site CruiseCritic at the time of writing. Silver Wind’s seven night Dubai to Dubai cruise offering is also convenient for those with limited time due to work commitments as it requires no flight-time. The cruise includes port calls in Abu Dhabi, Khasab, Muscat and Doha, as well as several relaxing days at sea…our favourite types of days at Cruise Arabia.
The Good –
– Butler service in every suite
– Even entry-level suites (Vista Suite) provides immense space, such as an entirely separate seating area
– Near-universally praised service
The Bad –
– Shore excursions can tend to turn into ‘tourist traps’, with several hours dedicated to exploring a particular shop or shopping area
– There is a distinct lack of reference material in the library focusing on upcoming ports
There are eight types of suite aboard Silver Wind, although the Veranda Suites and Midships Veranda Suites are distinguished only by their location aboard ship.
Deck Plan (click to enlarge)
Silver Wind at a glance:
Refurbished (most recent): 2008
Length: 514’ 1’’ (156.7m)
Beam: 70’ 6’’ (21.5m)
Capacity (double occupancy): 296