Wednesday 3rd October 2012
What would a going away day be without a bit of stress? No internet this morning! Of all the days to have no internet! I needed to do online check in for my BA flight to Barcelona tomorrow. Somehow through all the madness and mayhem of the morning I managed to relay a message to our travelling buddies and disaster averted. Although I did text the incorrect booking ref, which didn’t help lol.
Thankfully I had the hindsight to pack the cases last week, so at least that was done. But all sorts of mayhem seemed to surround me for the rest of the morning. 3.30pm and we were eventually in the car and enroute to Heathrow. Now, I thought I could leave this part to Mr C but I should have known better. He hadn’t set his beloved sat nav up. I swear he is having an affair with that woman in the sat nav box. He cant go anywhere without her. He takes her every word very literally. He knows where Heathrow is surely? Its at the end of the M40. And he knows his way to the M40 because we go to Southampton what seems like every other week. But no, he couldn’t even find his way across town without her. She states the directions and he follows. It wasn’t until I lost my temper and screamed at him where to go etc. So we are on the M40, I can relax now right? I don’t know he says, I will wait to see what she tells me to do! Then we reach the end of the M40, onto the M25 for a short while and unbeknown to me he sees a sign for airport and turns off. It was too late to stop him. We were heading for Terminals 1 and 2. We needed 5!! Give me strength. So a quick tour of the roads and hotels and back upto the M25 to take the next exit to T5. I had some directions in front of me for our hotel which couldn’t have been more precise. It was basically, left, left and hotel is on the right. But no, lets follow the silly moose that is SatNav woman. Lets go for an grand tour of T5 carparks, hotels, highways and byways, and then end up eventually on the right road going in the wrong direction! Somehow it had all become my fault and Mr C is demanding that I fire up ‘Maps’ on my new Iphone. I only just know how to make a call without firing up Maps. We turned round at least twice, causing mayhem as we did so. And then I can see Premier Inn T5 ahead and on my left. So what does he do? He gets in the right hand lane. I thought about just jumping out at this point and walking. Next thing I knew he was swerving onto a petrol station, nearly hitting a black cab in the process, and driving through the forecourt, into the back road to the hotel. There was clearly a Stop barrier at the entrance to the hotel, but satNav woman never told him to stop so he didn’t! He followed a van straight through the barrier just as it was closing down above our heads. Park the car and let me get out!!!
Premier Inn T5 is new and you could tell as soon as you entered. I had prepaid on a £39 deal so all I needed to do was enter my name on the touch screen, and the room key was issued. I quick chat with the receptionist to book a £22 meal deal, because the machine never asked me, and it was upto our room on the second floor. We had a room looking out over the central courtyard, and it all seemed very quiet and good.
Rendezvous at the bar. Let the holiday begin, and that it did with a few large southern comforts. A waiter seemed determined to feed us and kept trying to deliver plates of food. Mr C must have been overtired (or missing Satnav woman) because on about the 4th attempt he really snapped at the waiter ‘we haven’t ordered any food!’ time to go get washed and changed then and get to the restaurant. We were allocated the round table, because I didn’t like the oblong table lol. And what a jolly table it was. Even Nadine our waitress commented what a fun time we seemed to be having. Apparently we could be heard in the kitchen. We had far too much to eat, but it was all good. A couple of glasses of wine, and a hot chocolate to finish. I think it was about 11.30 when we headed for our rooms. We had an early start in the morning so I laid out the things for morning and turned out the light.
Thursday 4th October 2012
I will be honest I thought I hadn’t been to sleep. I thought I was tossing and turning for hours, but I guess I must have gone to sleep, because I flicked on my phone to look at the time, expecting it to be about 1.30 and it was 5.28am. Result!! The alarm was due to go off at 5.30am. I was straight into the shower, but oh boy it was noisy. It sounded like a cross between Tarzan and a herd of elephants. Breakfast is available from 5.30am so all was good. I had a quick reshuffle of the cases, checked the weight with the luggage scales and it was breakfast time. Breakfast is included in the meal deal and there was plenty of choice. But at 6.30 in the morning I cant really face food.
Mr C is one step ahead and has looked at maps on his phone. Our short stay car park at T5 is only 80 meters away. Mmm, why do I think getting to the other side of the fence isn’t going to be easy? Cases in the car and off we go.
Oh sat nav woman is on full form this morning, go left, go left, we are heading for Terminal 4 and we need T5! It was a pleasant enough tour of various parts of various airports on the South inner road or something. I had to look out for signs for T5 and direct him up the ramp, round the roundabout and into short stay adjacent to the terminal. Why couldn’t satnav woman do that?
Short stay car park was good, not the cheapest option, but also not the most expensive. We parked right opposite the lift on floor 2, so it was upto level 5, out the lift and over to bag drop off. 22.5kg and 17.5kg, ooh I could have packed more. Then it was the bit I don’t like about airports, queue to show passports, queue, to have bags scanned. Unload all laptops and ipads etc, queue to go through the scanner, clamber to get all possessions back. Aiprorts are alien to me. I’m not a fan. I needed a Boots chemist for some lippy, and everything seemed all over the place. Hoards of people everywhere. No, I’m not an airport person. We had no time for a drink in the bar and we went straight to gate and within 5 mins we were boarding our BA plane to Barcelona.
Flight time was shown at 2hrs 05 mins, but the pilot advised us it would be 1 hour 40 mins. Cool! Then I realised what used up the rest of the time. We joined a big queue of planes waiting to take off. It wasn’t until we turned to take up our position for takeoff on the runway that I realised how big the queue was. There must have been 16 other planes in various stages behind us. So we were up and off. Lovely clear blue sky morning so lovely views. We were soon flying over the coast of Brighton and across the sea to France. We are currently about two thirds of the way there and there are some nice snowy capped mountains below us. We got fed about 20 mins into the flight. A sausage and egg mayo breakfast roll, which was different, plus an orange juice and a cup of tea. A vodka and coke would have been nice but I don’t think that’s coming.
No the Vodka and coke never was offered. Maybe BA thought it a little too early in the day to partake in such things. The Captain, or is it a pilot, was soon on to tell us that it was 10 minutes to landing and sure enough we went over the sea, banked to the left, did a bit of a nifty turn and before we knew it the wheels were on the tarmac. The usual rush to clamber out of the aircraft followed, so we sat back and let them go. And then it began, the mighty trek through the airport. Why dont they just park the planes at the arrivals point and then go an park the dam thing, instead of them parking at the most Northerly point and then making us walk due south for 20 minutes. By the time we reached the relevant bag carousel our cases were just coming into view. Well, I hoped they were our cases because I didn’t have them labelled as belonging to me. I’m used to cruise travel, where my personalised luggage labels are on the case handles. I also thought that the airline barcoded label also had your name printed on it, but apparently not! And as I hadn’t got a barcode reader in my pocket, I had to guess that the matching purple trip luggage we had selected was ours. We did find a clue on one of the cases. It had my sons business card in the pocket, so chances are that one was mine lol.
So, now we needed to find our driver. I had left the booking of transfers to my trusty side kick, and what an excellent job she did too! There he was, an extremely smart and well groomed young Spaniard, holding up the plaque with her name. When we approached him though he looked a little worried, but he was a man of very little words so we could only guess that he was wondering where five people and all this luggage was going to fit into his vehicle. Now, as if I hadn’t seen enough of airports already today, we then went on a trek through Barcelona International. We seemed to walk a few more miles. At one point I saw a sign for Madrid and was beginning to think we were going to walk there on foot! Suddenly the lovely marble concourse of Barcelona airport turned into a multi storey car park. It was the swishiest car park I had ever seen. We needn’t have worried about the vehicle, it was a luxury people mover, leather seats and tinted windows. Luggage wasn’t my problem so I didn’t get involved, I went and took up my seat in the back of the vehicle and left that to the rest of them. I was looking forward to my ride into Barcelona. I was hoping he would go down the coast road and I would get my ship spotting fix for the day. But it wasn’t to be. We came through the town and it was stop start all the way at the various traffic lights and junctions.
And now we have reached our destination for the day. Grand Hotel Central Barcelona. Rodders suggested one of us got straight out to make sure robbers dint come and make off with the cases as they came out of the boot. But quicker than I could get out of the back, the porter was there and 2 cases were already whisked into the hotel foyer. A lovely reception area in this former old bank building. Its looking good. We were checked in at the same time and given our room keys. I had booked Superior King room as I knew these had the better views, but I also knew some didn’t, so I had requested a good view. Had I got a good view was my request to the receptionist? You are on the 7th floor was her response! So up in the ultra modern lift that was made to look oldy worldie to match the hotel and out at the 7th floor. Room 706, a room with a view! Yes I had the view of the cathedral that I wanted. I was happy with that. Rooms are very modern boutique style. Two big picture windows with privacy blinds and electronic, internal, black out blinds. A huge king bed, polished wooden floors, modern fitted bathroom with bath, shower and loo, and the wash basin was in the entrance to the bathroom. Open plan modern wardrobe, safe, fridge, hospitality tray. Flat screen TV, DVD player, ipod docking station. It’s a good choice of hotel. We then had to decide what we were going to do for the afternoon. Shopping was tempting as I had already remembered a couple of items I had forgotten, but we decided it was to be lazing about by the pool. Good choice! Infinity, roof top poo,l with views across Barcelona towards the sea. Sunbeds by the pool, and booths with sofas on two slightly raised areas. We chilled with sangria – well we were in Spain! Then we chilled with a rum and coke. Some sunbeds had been vacated so after a slight rearrangement of furniture we had a row of sunbeds by the pool. It was no good the pool was calling us. Rebs attempted it but she didn’t have any alcohol in her to keep her warm. Me and Lynn were able to get straight in. It was cold, but it was hot and sunny, so it somehow balanced it out. We had a right giggle in there. I honestly don’t know what about, but the foreign woman laid in the corner by the pool obviously thought she was in a library. She was utterly disgusted with our giggles and did a lot of disgusted tutting. Well red rag and bull comes to mind. The more she tutted the more we laughed. I so wanted to tell her to move away from the pool and get her ass downstairs to the library! When Rebs dared to go and stand on a bit of the decking that this woman clearly thought she had deeds too, I began to fear for Rebs life. But the woman must have known her book would have gone in the pool if she had started.
The sun was starting to go off the sun terrace and it was getting cold. Time to retreat to the room for a nice big bath of bubbles. Ooops, I fell asleep.
We had decided that we would eat out tonight but hadn’t decided where. We also decided that we would have a little wander around the shops, avoiding Las Ramblas, before we found somewhere to eat. Before we left the hotel we decided on a self guided tour of the place. It all looks very nice. Nice light airy restaurant on the lower floor, meeting and conference floor on the first floor, library to the side of reception, so it has everything you need for a city centre hotel.
Main shopping precinct was only the other side of the cathedral so we didn’t have far to walk. It was a lovely warm evening. The square in front of the cathedral was packed and we wandered through to the next square and bobbed in and out of a few shops as you do. Well, the girls did. The boys stood outside and mumbled a lot. Then I went in one shop too many and Mr C was non to impressed. Lets just say he put his foot down!
Right then, we retraced out path and were back at the other side of the cathedral opposite the hotel. There was a little outdoor restaurant that we had our eye on from the hotel window, but on arrival we decided it was maybe a bit too close to the road and not very relaxing. I was more or less thrown a challenge at that point to find Los Caracoles. Me and Mr C had been there before and we knew it wouldn’t disappoint, but as you know Mr C cant find his way out of a paper bag without his beloved sat nav so it was down to me. He did try and locate it on his phone but neither his Spanish or his spelling are upto much so that was a fail. I set off to find the restaurant from a totally different side of Barcelona to which I was used to. I sort of went in the general direction of Las Ramblas thinking that if I got to Las Ramblas, I could then start again and locate from an area I was familiar with. But the pressure was on. Mr C with an empty belly is not a happy man and he grumbles a lot at times like this. I was going as fast and as logically as I could, and as I looked to my left from a side street I spotted a square I recognised. Yes, I was at the correct square, and without going as far as Las Ramblas, but as I had approached the square from a different angle I didn’t know which corner to leave it from to locate the restaurant. I didn’t do too bad. I didn’t select the correct corner, but I took a left at the end of the alley and hey presto – Los Caracoles. We arrived just as, what seemed like, a bus load was going in. We stood outside for a few minutes looking at the menu and by the time we got inside the tiny bar area the big group of people had disappeared. A Japanese couple were infront of us and were just being turned away as they were full. I tried my luck and asked for a table for 5, only to be told by the Restaurant manager, the same that they were full!! Just at that moment a lady appeared and asked what the problem was. I repeated that we wanted a table for 5 and before I could blink we were whisked off through the mayhem of the working kitchen and instructed to follow her. I was right behind her, with my trusty party right behind me, but the next time I looked up I was following a waiter. Where did she go? She was very bossy, and certainly wore the trousers in that place! We were shown up the stairs to a very deserted first floor of the restaurant, and shown to a table tucked up in the corner by the window overlooking the banquet table below. We all fell about in fits of giggles! We thought they were full? That’s what the man down stairs said. We thought that we were on the naughty table for a while tucked up in the corner but the waiters were fab and we soon had wine infront of us – not the wine we ordered but it added to the fun. The chicken and chips were very yummy and Mr C satisfied his belly with paella, so he was happy. Upstairs soon filled up, it was packed by the time we left. We had a fab evening in there and it’s well worth a visit if you haven’t tried it. We were left to find our own way out, its like a tardis in there. Tiny from the outside, but massive inside. Back through the kitchens just as a chef was throwing some prawns across my path into a hot frying pan of oil. Through the tiny bar, and outside onto the street where the chickens were roasting on the spit behind the grills on the corner. Well worth a visit so go and find it next time you are in Barcelona. The square was bustling and would be a lovely place to sit and people watch, have a drink or a meal. But our next mission was the roof terrace by the pool back at the hotel. I was chief navigator again on the way back and we stopped off for a nice ice cream just around the corner from the Grand Hotel. I got them all back safe and sound, so then it was up in the lift and out to the roof terrace of Grand Hotel to see the skyline of Barcelona by night. It was idyllic out there. Soft relaxing music piped around the pool, a lovely warm breeze and we were far away from all the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Barcelona. It was a lovely way to end our busy day with a nice glass of Mojito. I seem to recall it was a special Mojito and it had a hint of aniseed, but it was delicious whatever it was. Perfect nightcap.
And so to bed. Mr C couldn’t wait. His eyes close just thinking about sleep. It was left to me to make sure the electronic blinds were down, the clock was on the lights were off etc. But I felt cheated by the huge kingsize bed. The duvet wasn’t a duvet, but a blanket between two crisp white cotton sheets. That took some getting used to.
Friday 5th October 2012
It’s lovely to wake up knowing that its warm and sunny outside, and even lovelier to know that you will be embarking Silver Cloud in a few hours. We rendezvoused for breakfast at 8.30, and a very nice breakfast it was too. There was even champagne on ice, but some may be surprised to learn I didn’t partake with a glass. I had things to do and I needed a clear head. Oooh the tickets, I haven’t told you about the tickets have I? These are no ordinary tickets, and certainly as far removed from E-tix as you are likely to get. Tickets arrived at home a few weeks ago. Delivered in a silver embossed box about 10 inches by 4 inches. Inside was a full set of ‘leave at home documents’ with everything anyone would need to know if they needed to get hold of you in an emergency. Our tickets were encased in black leather, zipped ticket wallet. Inside it contained 8 personalised luggage labels already printed with our details. We also had two leather hand luggage labels. A silver booklet containing all the shore excursions, and another silver booklet with our pre cruise information. Out actual tickets were printed on very good quality paper in scroll script and presented in a Silver wallet. They were the nicest of tickets that caused great excitment when they originally arrived.
Hotel reception had arranged for a taxi to pick us up at 11.30 and take us down to the port. Efficiency kicked in at reception and while I was checking out, my bags were making their way to the back of the taxi. We had booked a big one to accommodate 5 of us and all of the luggage, but the taxi driver was struggling. Mr was squashed into the back seat with cases piled up alongside him, and ontop of him, and the boot had to be strapped down to keep everything in. The port was only down the bottom of the street, but somehow clocked up nearly 30 euro!
But there she was, the stunningly beautiful and charming little Silver Cloud. She just glowed in the sunshine. The porters took our main cases but were quick to point out that we would have to take a seat and wait for check in to open at 1.00pm. Thats’s what my paperwork said too, but I never have been one to take much notice of paperwork. Just as we set foot inside the terminal, the checkin opened. We only had to fill in the medical questionnaire and hand over a ticket and we were through security and on our way to the ship. She was berthed a little way along the dock, so we had a walk. I was immediately met by a steward who took all our hand luggage and walked on ahead. What he hadn’t bargained for was the fact that we would stop for 20 photo opportunities. He kept stopping, looking behind and waiting. In the end he took the cases to the foot of the gangway and headed back in the other direction to assist other guests. We were greeted by another steward at the foot of the gangway who took the hand luggage up for us.
We were welcomed onboard with a refreshing towel. And several cheery ‘welcome onboard’s’ by various crew. Then I noticed that the steward with the bags was holding a lift for us, so in we all hopped, the cases were placed in with us by the steward and we thought that was the last we would see of him, but much to our amusement he had hot footed it up the stairs and as the lift doors opened, there he was, stood waiting to take the cases again. We were greeted by a tray full of champagne and invited to take a seat and complete check in. Hand luggage was labelled and taken directly to the suite and we were informed that all dining venues were open for us.
I gave the others a quick ships tour and pointed out The Bar, The Restaurant, La Champagne, The Shop etc and then we found a nice table by the pool and ordered cocktails of the day for the ladys and refreshing cold beers for the gents. Rebs had a coke, ice no lemon, thanks! Other cruiselines could learn a thing or two about drinks service from Silversea. On some ships a Cocktail of the day would be no more than some coloured liquid, with a dash of alcohol and a lot of ice. But cocktail of the day Silversea style is just perfection in a glass. We liked! The sun was beating down, the sky was blue and all was well with our Silversea world. The number 11 cable car kept passing over my head, and meeting cable car 1 going the otherway. It took a few hours to work out there is only a number I and a number II, thats that mystery solved then. We had classic burgers for lunch, but these were proper ground beef burgers, delicious. I washed mine down with a glass of fizz, as you do. Suites were ready but we were so laid back we were in no hurry.
So I know you are all keen to hear about the suite. We had a Verandah suite on deck 5. I chose deck 5 because I like to be near the sea. We were greeted by Bronwin our Butler. He isn’t welsh by the way. He is very dashing though! Especially in his tails! If I had a Butler at home, I would choose him! I think he is probably wondering what he has signed up for with us and the Walton suite opposite. He soon has us sussed and is probably relieved that we are about as normal as guests get lol. So yes, the suite – well there was champagne on ice, which is always a good sign and Mr C has a bottle of Goslings dark rum. Personally I have never heard of it, but we have tested it and its really very nice. I love my suite. I could live in here for a while quite easily. I wont pretend to know what wood the furnishings of the suite are but its a highly polished light coloured wood and the soft furnishings are lemon and salmon. All very light and airy. Good size three seater sofa and 2 easy chairs. Flat screen TV’s have been installed since I was last onboard, leaving the TV cabinets redundant. Glass cabinets house the glasses, and the fridge is stocked with water and soft drinks. The dressing table is at the foot of the bed with lots of fab lighting, a big mirror and a separate magnifying mirror. A neat little round stool fits under the dressing table, and large shallow draw glides out to accommodate make up etc. We also have 4 neat little shelves to the side with a shelved cupboard below. Either side of the king size bed is a small 2 drawer bedside cabinet. The bathroom is marble, nice sink unit with mirrored cabinets. I do love a bath in a suite and I think it’s a great shame that they intend to rip many of these lovely bathrooms out in the refit and replace them with shower units. Oh and then there is the dressing room. How many hanging rails, variations of coat hangers, and drawers can a girl need. I love it in here. This is what you call a walk in wardrobe. Loads of space, plenty of room to set out shoes, in pairs, for easy selection. One of the drawers has the hairdryer, sewing kit, shoe shine. Ooh Bronwin said he will shine shoes. It almost makes you want to find a pair just to have them shined!
So we unpacked, tidied up and nipped over the Walton suite because I heard Bronwin go in to pop open the champagne. I invited myself in for a glass and we stood on the balcony taking in the rays and looking across at all the big ships in the main cruise terminal on the other side of the bridge. We have said that we don’t ever want to go back on that side of the bridge again. We like it over the posh side.
Afternoon tea was calling in Panorama lounge. Ooh it got complicated. Tea is tea, but there is a complicated menu that goes with it. In the end I have no idea what tea I had but it was very nice. I had to jiggle the timer over again though because it didn’t seem brewed to me. I had a smoked salmon finger sandwich and red berry cookie, it all looked yummy but I wasn’t suffering from hunger pangs yet.
Muster drill was held in the panorama lounge. The lads were despatched for the life jackets and we were ticked off the list as in attendance and at the end of the drill we had to grab the right shoulder of the person infront and go out to our lifeboat. I know it’s essential but I was thankful when it was over.
While the lads took the lifejackets back we went to La Champagne to book a table. We had left it a little late as we only had the choice of first or last nights. We opted for the last evening. Might as well finish in style!
Sailaway was in full swing up by the pool. We were greeted by trays of Singapore slings and David the Cruise Director introduced the managers of all the main departments. The theatre company did a rendition of Stand by Me and the Captain made a sailaway announcement over the tannoy, but he was totally ignored and the show must go on as they say.
We had arranged to meet in The Bar pre dinner. Casual night, but we don’t do casual very well. David the Cruise Director came over and spoke and I thought he was going to do a bit of a walk around, but he just greeted us and was off to dinner with the port lecturer. We weren’t far behind him and table for 5 was instantly allocated. Oscar the waiter introduced himself and it became apparent that he was the poor fellow who had earlier trekked along the dock with my cases. He remembered. Well how could he forget! Menu was looking rather yummy, with always available, plus the al la carte and some daily specials. I had to do a bit of picking and choosing from each menu, and I had a daily special of lemon chicken. All of it was just divine.
There was a bit drama behind me as a woman stood up from her table and collapsed in a heap right behind my chair. I was unable to move. She had wedged me in. Medics were called, but I have to say that I found it a little odd that it took them a while to appear. I saw restaurant staff on the phone two or three times. A nurse came in carrying a neck brace, I’m non too sure where her resuss equipment was. The lady was dealt with. They tried to put her on a stretcher but she was having non of it, so she was given a wheelchair and wheeled out.
The Bar was calling. We had more of the drinks menu to investigate. We investigated some of it a bit too literally when a glass slipped out of the waitresses hand, thankfully the majority of it missed us.
Saturday 6th October 2012 – Sete
No chance of a lie in this morning. Captain was reversing into the port and we all had the benefit of some strange noise in the suite as he did so, sort of a bow thrusters noise but Im guessing she doesn’t have bow thrusters? Bronwin was soon a long with the full breakfast. Its a good job I was feeling socialable enough to hold a conversation at such an early hour. He wafted across the foot of my bed smelling divine. I need to know what that smell is. I’ve decided when I have my very own Downton Abbey I’m going to have a Bronwin. As lovely as Carson of Downton Abbey is, I think a Bronwin would be a lot more acceptable. So, yes, we had the full English breakfast and all the trimmings in the suite this morning. Bronwin laid the table with table cloth, everything in its place. Gave me a copy of Britain today while I lay in my bed and we chatted about our eventful night out last night. I managed to get up for breakfast, but it was handy being able to get back in bed.
Soon we had Rebs knocking at the door asking what the deal was today. That translated to get up! But where had the earlier sunshine disappeared to. I went across and observed Sete from their balcony. It was cold and dull. I hadn’t reckoned on ‘cold a dull’ when packing. It was supposed to just be hot and sunny. I managed to put together an outfit and off we set to discover the delights of Sete. I was expecting a French fishing village but it wasn’t shouting at me. Rodders, the tour guide, he has many uses, informed us that it was a fishing port with canals running through it. Go find us a canal then, and he did! It was ok, it did have a canal or river running through it, lots of boats, a couple of bridges, very clear water and lots of fish. We wandered along the front looking in shops and the lads wandered along the other side checking out fish, water and boats. They stopped to talk to a fisherman, well I say talk, it was more sign language. He was fishing with a bit of line and a stick. The girls crossed the road to see what was what, but the fisherman was less than impressed with our chatter. Scared the fish away apparently! Never mind all the traffic and the number 38 bus right behind him. After much observing of the water and fishes etc we headed up the street and walked back along the shopping street. The sun was back out and it was blazing. That deck was calling!
Back onboard I needed to change, but what bad luck. The suite attendant had just gone in to do his bit. I didn’t have the heart to kick him out for 5 minutes so we retreated to the deck. It was red hot though. Even the cosmo of the day did little to cool me. I retried my luck some 20 mins later and was able to go slip into a cossie and locate my shades.
It was hot on deck but glorious. We sat in the Jacuzzi and that was very hot. We dipped in the pool and that was comfortably warm. We had burgers on deck for lunch and we just chilled. Ooh and I had three kir royals. I blame those for making me snore on deck. I don’t usually manage fall asleep on deck, but I did today. I needed my bed, so I packed up and left. 3 hours sleep was obtained and I felt much more lively. A shower, with lots of Bvgarli products, and out and ready for 7.00pm. That was bit early for my liking but el Captain had invited all guests for drinks to meet his officers. Cruise Director David informed us that we were looking very elegant this evening which is more than our pair had managed to inform us. The Party was very civilised and brief so we were soon out of there. Canapés and rinks were very free flowing though. Too early for dinner so we headed for the Panorama lounge for pre dinner drinks. It was closed though until 9.30. Perhaps we should read Chronicles in future. The Bar it was then. We had a ‘Puttin on the Ritz martini’, but they nearly took our heads off. Jeeze they had a kick and half in them.
We had a little flyby of the shop this evening. It’s small and perfectly formed. It sells all the usual stuff and maybe a bit more. The lads were furnished with some Silversea logo’d polo shirts, Rebs got Swarovski but nobody asked if the ladys wanted anything. We arrived at dinner at just gone 8.30 and it was packed. No worries though we had a nice table for 8 allocated to us. Rebs was escorted to the table by the Maitre De and that made her day. I had the tomato veliut, the mushroom risotto and the fig sorbet, but I confess by the time by fillet mignon arrived I was stuffed. I couldn’t eat it but it was like velvet. We were the last to leave. The plan was to go to the show at 10.15 but that was long gone. We needed a comfort break at the suites and then we ventured to the Panorama lounge for drinks. Mario was at the piano playing anything from everything and converting from male voice to female at the flick of some internal button he must hide. He was very entertaining. He made several attempts to get out for a break but the guests had other ideas, he had requests to play. He did eventually get his break, but he was no sooner back and he was gone three songs later. The Bar it is then. We soon emptied that place. Even the DJ left in the end and left his tunes playing for us. Lynn had a nighcap of a tumbler full of cointreau. We did think at first the waitress had misheard and mixed it with lemonade or something, but no it was a very large cointreau. We put the world to rights for an hour or so and then we listened to the call of our beds a little further down the corridor.
Sunday 7th October 2012 – St Tropez
I couldn’t face Bronwin this morning (sorry Bronwin) I had to hide under the duvet this morning while he did his Buttling bit. There was a lot of whisperings between him and Mr C while he buttled in the dark. It was 7.00am and quite why Mr C had ordered his attendance was beyond me. We had arranged to meet for breakfast at 9.00am so why did Mr C feel the need for a bit of a light breakfast? To keep him going apparently!
I decided if I was going ashore with the beautiful people of St Tropez I needed to dress accordingly. Rebs, however looked at me like I had totally lost the plot and suggested that I was not suitably attired for going ashore. Even Bronwin choked at her honesty as he was passing. Breakfast in La Terrazza for a change but Mrs W was struggling. I think her tumbler of cointreau was a step too far last night lol
St Tropez was nothing like I expected. Other than it had a lot of yachts. We passed some stunningly amazing yachts in the harbour as we went out on the tender. More like mini cruise ships than yachts. The tender took us to a car park so we had to walk into the town and harbour area. It was absolutely rammed due to a regatta. Hoards and hoards of people just standing gazing at all sorts of yachts. I was all yachted out pretty quickly. Mrs W was still trying to cope with the world and the boys were in their element taking photos of boats they will never afford. We walked to the end of the harbour and out into a little inlet. Lovely views of Silver Cloud, and then up onto the wall for more views of the harbour, and Silver Cloud. We headed back to the tender across the carpark but the fire brigade were in attendance. A big yacht had docked where our tender should have been and it was on fire. Lets hope he was insured. Fire engines and water boat in attendance. Tender operations had to be delayed for a short while whilst the reallocated everything. At one point Rebs got a little worried when a rubber dingy tied up and some ladys started to get in with their shopping. Clearly Rebs thought that they were Silversea guests and the dingy was the new tender!
We arrived back at around lunchtime, so we decided on a bit of in suite dining. In suite dining is on a totally different level on Silversea. We could select from the main restaurant dining menu or the very extensive list in the folder in the suite. We both had tomato soup, Mr C had ravioli followed by club sandwich. I had the tuna wrap. I had white wine, he had beer. It arrived on the big silver trays, the dining table was laid and we both agreed it was a very civilised way to lunch.
We really should have gone out on deck after lunch, but we were suffering from sleep deprivation so we slipped under the feather duvet, put out the lights and indulged in the deepest of sleeps. It was bliss!
7.00pm rendevouz for drinks this evening in The Bar. We had a seat opposite the pianist and St Tropez was still outside as we don’t sail until 11.00pm. Canapes, nibbles and a choice of superb cocktails and martinis. Oh what more could a girl want?!
The boys were on form at dinner again. They giggle like naughty school boys when they start. I had the most delightful starter which looked like a smoked salmon and asparagus vanilla slice. It was divine. Then I had tomato and something soup, followed by apple sorbet, and then dover sole. Finished it off with a very yummy strawberry ice cream. I must tell you about the sorbet. Other cruise lines seem to get away with serving some defrosted, watery substance that is supposed to pass as sorbet. Silversea sorbet is amazing, and it always tastes of what it is supposed to, tonights being apple. Petit fours arrived but I think the waiter totally forgot the coffees. We were in no rush. We sat in a totally empty restaurant until some coffee was produced. We always seem to be the last to leave, but its making me very laid back on here. I did make a discovery as I left the restaurant. On the table of mints and ginger etc was a big wooden box, which I felt obliged to open. It was a box full of reading glasses all labelled accordingly. How many times have you gone to dinner and forgotten your glasses?
Panorama lounge and the many voices of Mario the pianist. A passenger thought he would turn it into piano karaoke, and lets just say it was entertaining! Several dinks from the menu were sampled, and the usual banter and laughter followed.
We really should have ventured down to the bar to finish off our evening, but all the time I was thinking it wont be worth the hang over in the morning. Monte Carlo will be waiting for us in the morning so it was time to be semi sensible for once and go to bed. We stopped by the pool to dip our feet in. It was lovely!
Monday 8th October 2012 – Monaco
Having a lie in on Silver Cloud is not an option when the Captain is doing his berthing bit, but its nice of him to wake us because it meant we could see Monaco all lit up at dawn. What a stunning view we have from the balcony today up to the casino of Monte Carlo. I don’t really want to be bothered with going ashore today but its calling me! I would like to go and see the changing of the guard, but at the same time I can’t come to Monte Carlo without going up to the Casino and Cafe De Paris. We shall see!
We had breakfast in La Terrazza. I am yet to be lucky enough to be allocated a table outside on the aft terrace. It would have been very nice to get out there this morning with these stunning views but it wasn’t to be. I didn’t get my breakfast quit right this morning, I just don’t think I am cut out for self service, I end up mixing weird combinations and making incorrect selections.
Seeing as its not every Monday that you find yourself in Monaco I did go ashore a little bit reluctantly. More yachts! Very big luxurious yachts. Some of the little motor launches would do me! It was very hot and the palace seemed like a massive effort, so instead we walked all the way around the harbour and up the hill to the casino. We usually take the lift in the wall so quite where I found my energy from this morning I dont know. It was so hot, and very sunny. We sat and people watched at Cafe De Paris and sipped on our two small beers – I don’t drink beer but always seem to when I go there for some reason. Oh, and it was 15 euro for two small beers just incase you are wondering! Had to be done though! We walked up through the gardens infront of the casino, round the street full of shops that I couldn’t even affords to look in the window of, and back down the hill. We turned it into a bit of a route march. It was hot, I didn’t want to be walking, so the faster we got down that hill and around the harbour to Silver Cloud the better.
I decided to attempt lunch in La Terrazza again, just to see if I could get out n that aft terrace. No was the answer to that, but we had a table for two in the window and It was all very civilised with a glass of chilled white wine.
A quick change in the suite to some swimwear and I was soon out by the pool sipping a glass of cosmopolitan. But oh it was hot!! October and its hot. We have actually found a bit of the summer!! We had to dip in the pool, then the Jacuzzi and then sip on another drink. Oh yes, its a hard hard life on Silver Cloud.
This evening was the official ‘gocruisewithjane’ cocktail party. Location – balcony of suite 512 overlooking Monaco harbour. Our guests were a tad early, which is not like them. Bronwin wasn’t far behind them with his big silver tray. He is an absolute star. He had bought additional champagne flutes and canapés. Bronwin, you were looking good again tonight in those tails, lol. Bless, I’m not too sure if he knows what to make of us. What I do know is that he is extremely professional. Champagne was poured, he ensured that Rebs had her cola, posed for a photo on the balcony and wanted to make sure that we were attending the ‘Dining under the Stars’ this evening. All cruise it has been referred to as a barbeque, but looking at the webcam we can see its all laid out with tables and chairs etc. Monaco by night is just stunning. And we were so close. It was a lovely warm, balmy evening. We could have stayed on the balcony for much longer but feared that we might not get seated up on deck. Don’t know why we worried, the lower deck was busy but we could still have found seats down there. Instead we ventured to the upper deck and headed for some round tables over on the starboard side. We were met by Oscar, the waiter who first took by hand luggage from me in Barcelona and served us on the first evening, another star of Silversea. Oscar said he had a much better table for us and walked us over to the port side and offered us the best table on the ship – overlooking the stage to one side, and the lights of Monaco harbour to the other. We had already been greeted by a tray full of cocktails, and now the waiter was along with the selection of wines for the evening.
So was this a Barbeque, or was this dining under the stars? Well if it was a bbq it was the poshest one I have ever attended. We were in cocktail dresses for a start. The tables were laid just as if we were in the dining room, silver cutlery, tablecloths etc. Mr C went down to the deck below to take some photos of the food for me before it got too busy and the photos speak for themselves. Absolutely amazing selection of beautifully prepared food. Rebs wasn’t too impressed with the full suckling pig and the fish with heads on but I’ve never seen anything like it on a ship. We have all been to the gala buffets etc where it is polystyrene or butter and lard carvings, but this was real and all edible. As well as the hog roast there were freshly carved turkey, freshly prepared paella, kebabs, sausages, steaks, all the cold meats and fish. The sweet display was stunning and I had to stay away. Mr C came back with no less than five pudds on his plate – clearly unable to reach a decision. The setting could not have been more perfect, the night air was warm and balmy, the food and service was superb.
9.30pm was the main event, David our lovely Cruise Director was introducing the evenings proceedings. We had a little sketch from La Terrazza which I admit went straight over my head, but most comedy does lol. Then we had a parade of the ships crew. Suite attendants, bar stewards, deck hands, waiters and big Yay for the Butlers. Bronwin kept his promise and gave us a wave. They all stood around the pool and sang us a song and waived the flag of Silversea. The Silver Cloud singers and dancers performed songs through the decades, inviting passengers to dance as they sang. And then we had a very special guest artist flown in to join the ship. Well, I wasn’t expecting that! It was Shirley Bassey in drag!! Jeeze she was fabulous, and absolutely bought the house down. ‘Lets Get this Party Started..’ is certainly what she did!! The DJ music kicked and before I had chance to look round all the waiters were up around the pool doing YMCA!!! The music and dancing continued for a couple of hours, the waiters continued to sing and jig around as they cleared tables and moved furniture. We made our own dance floor up on top deck and boggied away. But oh dear when we pulled away from Monaco there were teary eyes between me and Mrs W. It had been the best of days and we didn’t want it to end. Eventually we moved down to the pool deck to allow the stewards to pack our table away. The barman was in a very jolly mood and pulled some entertaining stunts whist mixing the drinks.
Time for a nightcap down in The Bar and then a short stroll down the corridor to the suite.
Tuesday 9th October 2012 – Livorno
We have berthed much closer to the town than I have ever berthed in Livorno, but then we are a fraction of the size. Anyone that has ever berthed in Livorno on one of the big cruise liners will know that its a busy working dockside and its quite a shuttle bus ride to get into town. Not this time. I have a lovely view of terracotta buildings and boats in the harbour. Only problem is its not looking too bright out there this morning. I had been in charge of ordering breakfast in bed last night and had spotted toasted bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese. Yum, it was the best breakfast ever. Bronwin is a star, but I think I told you that. While he is laying the table, and I am laid in bed, I can ask him all sorts of questions re disembarkation, cases etc. All the types of things that I would normally need to go to the reception desk for. But Bronwin is like my own little reception desk. Any forms that have needed completing etc have been delivered by Bronwin. He knows all the answers to my questions, and like I say I can tick loads off my ‘to do’ list from the comfort of my bed.
By the time we are up and dressed, its raining. We never intended to go ashore, we just wanted a lazy last day in the sunshine out on deck. I dropped by the Walton Suite and Rodders set me the challenge of naming the ship what was tucked behind the grain stores. I could literally see her nose and a bit of the forward section at the top. I was confident it was a ‘something of the Seas’ but I wasnt that good to know what. We decided we would go for coffee in Panorama lounge to give the suite attendant to make the beds etc so we could pack. Coffee, tea and continental breakfast is served in Panorama Lounge until late morning, and then it becomes ‘crackers and bullion’ which always makes me giggle. I spied a bottle of sherry too! I was also able to get out on the back deck to reveal a bit more of the ‘something of the Seas’ yes I was right ‘something of the Seas was now revealed on the upper name plate. Think it was Liberty. Jeeze Im more of a ship spotter than I give myself credit for. How did I identify a ship from its nose. I impress myself sometimes.
We arrived back at the suite around noon and the cases were out on the stands ready for us to pack. Ontop of them was a little note informing us that cases had been cleaned and a little Silversea ribbon had been neatly tied to the front of each one. Mr C’s camera case/backpack was looking like new. He was impressed! Packing was easy. The little case stands helped. All cases could be opened at once and it was easier to see where everything went.
Rendezvous for lunch in La Terrazza and I was determined to get a table outside on the terrace for once. Yay! Mission successful! The sun was back out, it was warm and we had the longest and lovliest relaxed lunch of the entire cruise. I had a very nice wrap and a bit of fragrant rice to start me off and then I had a freshly prepared pizza, which I shared with Mr C. The wine was very free flowing, and Mr C couldn’t get to the bottom of his glass again without it being refilled, in the end he seemed to make it a challenge! The waiter won!! We were the last to leave, nothing new there. We always seem to be the last to leave everywhere lol.
Cossies on and out on deck. The sun was blazing. It was glorious! At 3.20 we had to go down to the internet cafe and log into BA.com for online check in. We didn’t have to, but we prefer to know where we are going to sit etc. I hadn’t been in here before during this cruise. I was impressed to see flasks of hot tea and coffee and a range of soft drinks available.
Back outside to catch the last of those rays. The sun was slowly moving over the deck. We didn’t want it to end but knew it had to. Me and Mr C went for a lap of the top deck and then it was back to the suite for one final soak in my Bvlgari bath. I eased the pain of sailing from our final port of Livorno with a glass or two of rum and coke.
Final evening pre dinner drinks in the bar. David, cruise Director, came over to chat to us as he has done every evening onboard. Once again he complemented us on our dresses. He has been an absolute fab host. It’s clear that he likes to keep a happy ship, and he does it extremely well.
We were dining in La Champagne this evening, which is the Relais & Chateaux restaurant. I had dined in here before during my last Silversea voyage so I knew what to expect. Maybe because I knew what to expect I had set my expectations too high. Don’t get me wrong, everything was wonderful, it just didn’t have the edge on it as it had during my past experience. The lighting was too bright and the service didn’t seem quite as attentive as last time. It also didn’t help that we were sat opposite the open door and half the ships furnishings seemed to be being wheeled past the door to be stored in the restaurant for off loading in the morning prior to the ship moving onto dry dock in Palermo for her refit. Food was very good, beautifully presented and as per usual a good time was had by all.
We headed for the bar after dinner and reflected on our long break in the med. It seemed like it started a month ago in Barcelona. Was it really only 6 days ago? I ordered my final Martini cocktail of the cruise, but the belly couldn’t take anymore. It was the one and only drink that I didn’t finish on the entire holiday
Wednesday 10th October 2012 Civitavecchia
Oh it’s not a good morning at all. Ive been awake all night with crippling tummy pains. I knew I wasn’t right when I left that drink! Not like me to leave a drink! And Civitavecchia was outside – how much pain can be inflicted on me this morning? I managed to get up and dressed but admit it was a struggle. By the time Bronwin came in with the breakfast I was laid back on the bed, fully dressed with the quilt back ontop of me. Bronwin knew something wasn’t right and took to whispering with Mr C. I watched Bronwin lay the table in silence so as not to disturb me. He didn’t even let the cutlery clash together. I had ordered smoked salmon and bagel, but as soon as I got a whiff of it my tummy churned and I retreated to the bathroom. No breakfast for me this morning then.
I went for a stroll along to the gangway to see how disembarkation was going and on the way back I bumped into Bronwin and excused my lack of communication this morning and told him I wasn’t feeling too well and joked that someone had tried to poison me, lol. Wrong thing to say, he wanted to know if I wished to discuss it with his supervisor. While I was down the corridor I had a look in one of the larger suites. Ooh, I like! Separate bedroom and large L shaped sitting room and dining room. Double length balcony, coffee maker, oh yes, I approve of all Silversea accommodation.
Now, we had to do the painful bit. We had to disembark. It really was painful, I was unwell and I was sad. We had such an amazing time on Silver Cloud and now we had to face the reality that it was over. The Silversea service continued right to the end. My card was swiped at the top of the gangway and handed back to me with a smile. A steward picked up my bag and walked infront of me down the gangway. That was it. I was on dry land and I didn’t want to be. Silver Cloud was preparing to go to refit in Palermo, so needed all passengers off as soon as possible. Luggage was easily located in the marquee. Someone tried to usher us onto a coach, but we had a private transfer and tour booked. Crew were disembarking and leaving at the end of their contracts so it was very busy on the dockside with taxis and coaches coming and going. Each time we looked to see if our name was displayed. But we were a little early disembarking so stood patiently in the sunshine, not really saying a lot because we were all too sad.
Eventually a nice people mover pulled up from Rome Airport Transfers and a smart driver jumped out displaying our name on his ipad. I still wasn’t feeling my best so I just got straight into the back and left the supervision of luggage loading to everyone else. We all waved bye bye to Silver cloud, but something tells me I will be back sometime soon, I hope!
We pulled out of the dock area and drove along the seafront, passing the lovely statue of the sailor and the nurse on the new promenade. But oh dear, my poorliness was kicking in and I felt sick, very sick. I don’t do sick, so there was a lot of talking to myself going on. I hadn’t eaten and that wasn’t helping, I hadn’t slept. Why today!! I pacified myself by sucking on a mint and hoping that Rome really wasn’t that far away. We had booked a tour of the main sights of Rome enroute to the airport for our afternoon flight. He liked driving fast did our Italian driver, and it was all very weird with it being the wrong lane on the wrong side of the motorway – if you get my drift. Eventually he spoke, but only to tell us that his English wasn’t very good! This is going to go well them. To be fair he wasn’t that bad. I wasnt really in the mood for listening but the others were doing a good job of nodding and smiling in the right places. The first thing he pointed out was some domed building. We were still on the slip road from the motorway and I have no idea what it was. Then we passed a pyramid! Yes, I was confused at that point too!! You have to bear in mind that in all my 47 years of cruising, and all my visits to Italy, I have never ever taken a trip into Rome. I was keen to see the sights, Trevi Fountain being the main one for me, but I have no idea where a pyramid fits into the grand scheme of things. But again you need to remember that I’m not firing on all cylinders. I’m feeling a bit poorly and broken this morning and am still trying to deal with the world in general. Our first stop was somewhere up a hill, and something about ‘this side being Malta, and this side Italy’ I was beyond confused. There was a small group of people looking through a keyhole in a massive green door in a boundary wall. We were told to go look through the keyhole, but keep it quiet what we saw. It was pretty magical, even I was impressed. Mr C did get a photo thorough the keyhole if you are curious? So, back in the people mover and next we passed a big falling down place on a hill. Ive just had the bright idea of looking that place up on the itinerary and apparently it was Capitoline Hill. But around the next corner, hooray, something I recognised – the Coloseum. The driver did his best to tell us about it, and I caught the bit about the top corner was falling off but he said nobody seemed to care. Shame really because it is pretty spectacular when you think about it in the grand scheme of things. I’m not going to lie, I thought the next place we drove around was the Wedding Cake building, but it turns out I was misinformed. It was infact The Pantheon. It was pretty impressive I have to say. We were in a right old jam of traffic too. There were sirens going and horns blasting and it was pretty much every man for himself. Then I spotted the policeman on the little stand in the road directing the traffic – that made my day! Little things and all that! Then we went along and drove past the Spanish Steps. Yes, they were just a flight of steps! And now the bit I was waiting for. The bit I had wanted to come to Rome for so long for – The Trevi Fountain. The driver dropped us off and said he may need to drive around the block while we walked to the fountain. There seemed to be some sort of protest rally on. But a few minutes down the lane and there it was The Trevi Fountain. I had waited a long time to see it for myself and now I was there. You do have to push your way in for a little bit of space to do the coin throwing though dont you. I had saved my coins especially and the deed was done. I felt a bit better now.
So back to the waiting driver. The brains of the party had remembered his number plate so at least we knew what we were looking for. Eventually he returned from his trip around the block and we were back onboard. He pointed out all sorts of stuff on the way to the Basilica of St Peter, one of them being a wall that the pope could use to get from A to B I think? I really should pay attention! We drove slowly past the St Peters but it was crowded and we didn’t get out. I saw the window where the Pope stands, I didn’t see the guards though in their bright stripy uniforms, but then again I forgot to look. Then we drove up into the hills to get an ariel view of the Vatican city. It was a glorious day and the views were spectacular. The driver had done well. I had ticked some boxes on my ‘places to go, places to see’ list. And so it was down the hill again and along to the airport. As soon as he hit the motorway I started to feel sick again. Oh it wasn’t good. I thought it had passed.
We arrived at the airport in plenty of time, checked the cases in and then went in search of food. It didn’t appear to be the most exciting of airports with little or no choice of places to eat. We had to eat something, or at least I did, so we sat at one of only two cafes and I had a dry ham roll and a cola. Not the best, and certainly a contrast to Silversea dining! We headed for the gate, only to discover that there was a whole new retail outlet up there. Stupid Fiumicino airport, some signs would have been good. I got changed into something more suitable to hit the British October weather in and went in search of some more food. Result, I got some French fries for 2 euro. They were nice!
Our flight was a little late being called and the queue was getting a little edgy. There was even a bit of queue rage. Ooh dear, BA flight too! We got on the plane, found our seats which were pretty close to the front, and just about found enough space to fit the hand luggage in the overhead lockers. I thought there was going to be a bit of locker rage. People that were getting on after us were having difficulty finding a place to put their bags. Mind you, some of the bags seemed huge. I knew if I tried my luck with a bag that big I would get turned away.
I had coughing man infront of me. His mum had clearly never taught him to put his hand over his mouth when he coughed and sneezed. I presume he had blocked sinuses too as his wife kept massaging his temples. Ooh he was making me cross with his coughing and spluttering. Yes you have guessed it. I no sooner seemed to be home than I was full of cold and have been for the past 10 days. I laughed at a woman once for wearing a mask on a flight, now I think it isn’t such a crazy idea.
We hadn’t been in the air long and it was announced that refreshments would be coming round. I didn’t want tea or coffee, I wanted vodka. I felt I missed out on the way out and I want missing out now. Result, the very nice flight attendant granted my wish and a vodka and coke was produced. I wasn’t very impressed with the egg mayo roll that accompanied it, but beggers can’t be choosers I suppose. I impressed myself with my navigational skills. I knew roughly where the airport was in relation to the port, so I was on the lookout for the ships in the dock. Yes, I spotted them. Of course Silver Cloud was already enroute to Palermo by this time but I could clearly see the row of ships in port. I guess that means thats it, the holiday is officially over.
Back at Heathrow it was more walking and queuing and by the time we got to the baggage reclaim the cases were there. It was a tearful goodbye at the lifts, and the fellas did a lot of tutting at us. We opted for separate lifts so as not to prolong the pain. Out of the lift at level two and there was the car, right infront of us, couldn’t have been easier.
So what did I really think of my Silversea experience? Well, if you haven’t realised by now I did have the very best of cruises. My best cruise experience in a very long time! I will confess, that pre cruise I was a little concerned knowing that this was the ships last voyage before a major refit. I thought I was going to be embarking on a shabby, tired ship that would be looking a little unloved. I could not have been more wrong. She was looking pristine. She had received a little upgrade since I was last on her and she was looking good everywhere. But they have plans for her during her refit and I really do hope that I get to see her post refit in the not too distant future.
I really did enjoy every aspect about the Silversea experience. Everything just seemed so effortless. I didn’t feel the need to rush for anything, everything was just so relaxed. The food was superb, and as you know I am not a big foodie. But the meals did not disappoint. Always beautifully presented, and delicious. It didn’t matter whether you were having room service or dining in The Restaurant, everything was presented in a first class way. Poolside dining was a treat, not a plastic plate or tray in sight. They didn’t just put a burger in a bun and throw a handful of fries next to it as they handed it to you(unlike some!). No, this was full on waiter service. You placed your order from the comfort of your sunlounger, or at one of the dining tables, and the waiter served you just as you would be served in any restaurant. Nice glass of chilled wine, glass of fizz, cocktail of the day while you wait. Prime beef burgers, salad and fries served on china plates. Starters of prawns etc to start, and ice creams, cookies and fruits to finish. Oh yes, a fine way to take lunch.
I think I have mentioned that the cocktails were divine. They were real cocktails, all mixed to perfection, and so much choice!
Our Butler was a star. We all liked Bronwin. Not as obtrusive as some of the Butlers we have experienced on other ships. They often seem to be of the variety of ‘you have booked a suite, Im the Butler, Im coming in’ Bronwin was completely unobtrusive, always available if we needed him for anything and totally discreet and professional in everything he did. I know he was due to change into a boiler suit for the refit and get his hands dirty, doing what was needed during the refit, so I hope he survived lol.
It did make us smile that some of the crew seemed to turn their hands to many tasks. It was the waiters who did the meeting and greeting dockside at embarkation and carried the hand luggage. We were checked in shoreside by one of the performers and greeted at the top of the gangway by another performer. The Restaurant waiters had to lay all the tables out for the dining under the start, assist with serving the food and drinks and then clear away all the tables and re store them again at the end of the evening. The Restaurant staff was also about late at night on the last evening collecting all the cases for off loading the following morning. It all made it very friendly ship.
The mix of passengers was fairly international with more Bits than I thought there would be. English was the first language spoken onboard and the only time I ever heard an announcement repeated in another language was the safety announcement.
Silversea is luxury all inclusive. She can take upto 296 guests and on ours I think there were 248 guests. She is only 16 800 tonnes, which is approximately 100 tonnes lighter than what I am used to, but she never once felt small or crowded. Plenty of space. Yes I agree she looked small. She looked lovely! But as I say very spacious. We never struggled to find sunloungers together, or seats in the bar. We never queued for the Dining Room or queued to get off or on at any of the ports or for the tenders. It all just happens effortlessly!
We found it to be excellent value for money. I do usually have high onboard spends, but of course this time it was all inclusive. Silversea often also include some onboard credit and or some excursions, as well as Free air. So don’t dismiss the premium brands as being too expensive. I certainly didn’t find it to be.
I will be very interested to see what Silver Cloud is like after her refit. I confess to becoming very fond of her, just the way she was, after my two voyages on her. She is due to go back into service early November 2012 with a fresh new decor and a number of structural enhancements. New furnishings and floorings throughout. Upgraded wall treatments and artwork. A modern colour palette. Pool Bar and Grill expansion. A complete redesign for La Champagne. New equipment in the fitness centre. New rainforest showers replacing bathtubs in many suites.
I know I always seem to have a new favourite but I have loved Silver Cloud from the first time I set foot on her in 2008 and always vowed I would return. I’m so glad I did and I know it won’t be the last time. My mainstream cruising days may be nearing an end. My last couple have cruises have left me with one or two little niggles. I can honestly say that my Silversea experience was the opposite.
I might have to test out all the other luxury brands before my mind is totally made up though!
To view the full set of Silver Cloud photos Click HERE