Butler extraordinaire Janaka serving up my breakfast
The reception & bar area on Silver Spirit
Silver Spirit’s pool deck
Mark Conroy with Vanessa at the gala dinner
Silver Spirit in Monte Carlo
Sanary-sur-Mer is a small, picturesque Provençal village situated on the sunny shores of the Mediterranean and has been one of the ports on my Silversea cruise on their flag ship, Silver Spirit. It is also a prime example of the ability of a smaller ship (just over 500 guests) to visit such charming, local spots in the Med. Sailing from Barcelona, hugging the coastline of this most scenic area, we have also visited Sète, a small fishing town, and are now in glam Monte Carlo before sailing on to Italy and then Sardinia.
Small ships are very much my thing for obvious reasons. The atmosphere and camaraderie on board are primary, along with the attention to detail and the attentive, practically one-to-one service from the staff. It's just so delightful and one truly does feel more special and pampered. And having an all-inclusive concept is really what it’s all about – house wines, all liquor, a stocked fridge in one’s suite and gratuities too, of course. And more recently certain shore excursions were added for their guests’ enjoyment - along with free Wi-Fi (for Verandah suites up to 360 free minutes) – a real bonus.
I love my very comfy and spacious suite and my butler, Janaka is a very efficient chap, eager to assist and virtually at my beck and call. He is aware, pays attention to my small needs and preferences and was a huge help the other day by offering me his UBS stick when mine broke. As they say, it’s the little things that count. He also cleaned my glasses for me and left a cloth by the bedside, found a screw loose (yes I do have a few of those) in my sunglasses and fixed it for me. I do rather like a little bit of above and beyond. And he is a true Butler unlike some who are simply glorified stateroom or suite attendants.
All the serving staff on board, mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines, with some from Eastern Europe, are engaged, smiling and happy to please. This always makes such a difference – it truly goes a long way. And the dining is far ranging and eclectic - which is great. We dined in La Terrazza on the 1st night – Italian as the name indicates, with fabulous house-made pasta and a menu focused on the slow food movement. This is also the spot at the aft of the ship for al fresco lunches in the sunshine. It has always been one of my preferred choices on every Silversea ship and still charms.
Last night, for the most “formal” night of the cruise we were in the main Restaurant but times change and many guests opted for a more casual choice of dress although there were a few gowns and tuxedos. And the guests dined all over the ship too – which is good to see as that means they could choose exactly the kind of evening they wanted. And it should always be “all about the guest”.
There are 6 dining options on the ship, 2 of which I have mentioned. We have also dined in Seishin the Asian-fusion 24 seat restaurant (reservations a must and ideally done on-line well before the cruise) which has a charge of USD 40 per guest and then there’s the Relais & Châteaux spot, the gorgeous Le Champagne which is fully booked this cruise and also is a must-do with advance reservations. It also carries the USD 40 surcharge. Wines paired with the menu are an extra charge.
Stars Supper Club with entertainment and a limited small plate menu, is another favourite venue of mine. Stars will host us on the last night of this cruise as we prepare to sail into Rome and on Friday night in Monaco we will enjoy outdoor dining around the pool deck at Hot Rocks which is the daytime grill but at night turns into a casual, steak and seafood place. We think sitting on deck in the unfolding, lazy evening, watching the sun set as we gaze on this beautiful port will be the ideal way to enjoy a relaxed dinner.
Mark Conroy, recently appointed Managing Director for the Americas for Silversea, is on this voyage for just a few days and as we dined together we discussed the new Silver Muse coming in 2017. She will have 8 dining choices and the fleet chefs, including Executive Chef Rudi, have an impressive pedigree with more than 90 years of combined experience which includes working in restaurants that have garnered 30 Michelin stars overall. So the service and food on the Muse will be wide-ranging and extensive with 18 different styles of food in those 8 restaurants - and delicious as well as beautifully prepared no doubt.
Much more to come on this Silversea cruise and more about the Muse in a future column too.