A Pampered Setting For A First-Time Visit To South America Seven months in, Silver Muse is in full stride
by Vanessa Lee
Vanessa in Rio,Copacabana beach from the old fort
Vanessa with Lynn Elmhirst, CEO, BestTrip.TV
The streets of Paraty
Vanessa on Ipanema beach
I am in Brazil, which is either my 94th or 95th country (I have lost track!), on a wonderful Silversea cruise on the Silver Muse travelling from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro. I am happy to say I have now travelled to my sixth continent and am enjoying a too-brief taste of South America.
On Wednesday, we spent the day in Paraty -- pronounced PARA–CHEE -- which is a UNESCO World Heritage site on Brazil’s Costa Verde a few hours south of Rio. I am ashamed to say I had never heard of it but I am so glad to have seen it. Paraty is the most charming and delightful 16th-century colonial town with beautifully restored buildings and cobblestone streets.
There’s no vehicular traffic allowed in the historic part of the town, so one is able to stroll along, marvel at the quaint old buildings and immerse in galleries, shops, bars and restaurants. I loved it.
So here I am, cruising and travelling yet again; checking out cities, hotels and cruise ships. I’d like to offer special thanks to Globus Family of Brands and its excellent Monograms program which we enjoyed in Buenos Aires and will also take advantage of in Rio.
Monograms offers an independent experience with quality city hotels, sightseeing tours and special events such as the fabulous Tango show and dinner we enjoyed in an intimate setting in the truly lovely city of Buenos Aires.
At times, one can become a little jaded by travel, but South America has reawakened the traveller in me. The experience is different and new, but also ‘familiar’ in the reminiscent sense of Spain and Portugal and other parts of the Old World. And, of course, we have our ‘Simply Divine’ ship and its wonderful staff to comfort, care for and pamper us along the way.
I sailed on the Silver Muse when she was on her very first cruise -- a shakedown voyage straight out of the yard back in the early spring. I was keen to see how the ship was doing some seven months later.
I am happy to report that she looks lovely, is buttoned-up, ship-shape and the service is polished. The staff are eager to please, charming, considerate and helpful. And they have come together as a brigade determined to provide the guests with the best experience possible. I am called by name often and my preferences are noted.
The ship is elegant and tastefully designed. She is not glitzy or over-the-top glamorous. The Silver Muse offers a more subdued décor which I find particularly appealing in the suites. I am personally ensconced in a large and comfortable superior verandah suite.
I love my bathroom with both shower and tub and of course, I love my butler, Rahul. He is like the Energizer bunny -- available, helpful and just around the corner most of the time. He brings me breakfast, snacks and anything else I may need. He walks me to dinner and runs ahead of me in the corridor to open my door when he sees me returning to my calm sanctuary.
The bed is comfy, there is a pillow menu with 8 choices and an array of delightful toiletry amenities including Bvlgari. My bar is stocked with my choice of vodka – Ketel One and Schweppes tonic with slices of lime. There is always ice. And I can order just about anything else I want 24-hours a day. I am happy.
The one tiny blip – just some of the time – is the cuisine. Sometimes it is fabulous and sometimes not so much. We are dining in just about every location – of which there are eight to choose from -- from the casual Hot Rocks at the Grill by the pool to the small and elegant La Dame, the Relais et Châteaux restaurant, and everything in between.
The dining has evolved on the ship since she launched in April. Now both Atlantide and Indochine (the two largest dining spots) are available every evening and without a reservation. Consider these the ‘main dining rooms.’
Kaisecki offers Teppanyaki-style dining and seats about 36 guests at capacity. There is a dinner charge of $60 per person. At lunch, Kaisecki serves sushi and sashimi and there is no extra fee. For La Dame the cost is slightly higher – as it should be. Reservations are required for these two venues along with the aforementioned Hot Rocks, perennial favourite La Terrazza and Silver Note the Supper Club. The pizza at Spaccanapoli on Deck 11 is fabulous – as is the gelato.
Just show up, weather permitting for lunch or dinner and enjoy.
On our one-week cruise the dress code is mostly informal, with one formal evening and two casual nights. Guests can also dine casually if preferred at certain venues each night. For my next column, I will dive into more of the Silversea experience and why your guests will enjoy their time onboard.