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The Adventure Begins: sailing across the Atlantic Ocean
Here onboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Spirit, I awoke just before 7 am to the realization that today wouldn’t be your average Saturday morning as we are primed to spend the first of five straight days crossing the Atlantic Ocean en-route to Porto Novo, Cape Verde. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to do a transatlantic crossing, and my first day on the vast Atlantic didn’t disappoint. Charles Dickens may not have loved his first crossing in the mid 1800’s, but he might have been persuaded otherwise if he had sailed aboard the Silver Spirit.
Some quick facts for those of you who (like me) love as much detail as possible: the depth under our keel is, at the moment, just over 17,000 feet. We’re sailing at a speed of 16.8 knots and have roughly 1,900 nautical miles to cover before our arrival in Porto Novo next Thursday. The outside temperature at the time of Captain Pontillo’s Noon address was 26 degrees Celsius, with an ocean temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. Seas are calm with a few moderate swells, and our evening forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a chance of showers.
So how can you spend your first day crossing the Atlantic aboard the luxurious Silver Spirit? Here’s just a few of the diverse offerings on tap for Saturday, April 14, 2012:
- 7:00 – Morning Walk with Personal Trainer Rikus – Jogging Track (10)
- 9:00 – Sign up for the boat building competition – Main Lobby (5)
- 9:30 – Bridge Lessons for Beginners with Bridge Instructors George and Sally King – Observation Lounge (11)
- 10:00 – “The Coral Reef” with Guest Lecturer, Biologist Dr. George Losey – Show Lounge (5)
- 10:15 – Easy Spanish Language Class with International Hostess Priscilla – Panorama Lounge (9)
- 11:00 – Bella Mare Sea Glass Jewelry Exhibition – Pool Deck (9)
- 11:15 – Interactive Cooking Demonstration – Pool Deck (9)
- 12:15 – Bar Tricks with Bartender Verlin – Pool Bar (9)
- 2:30 – Ballroom Dance Class with Silversea Artist Dian Meechai – Panorama Lounge (9)
- 3:00 – Wine Package Presentation with Head Sommelier Norman Lucas – Panorama Lounge (9)
- 3:30 – Enrichment Lecture with Guest Lecturer, Ambassador Adrian Sindall – Show Lounge (5)
- 5:30 – Sundowner Cocktails with DJ Oskar – Pool Deck (9)
- 5:45 – Golf Putting Competition with an Artist of Silversea – Deck 10 Midship
- 6:00 – Pre-dinner music by Eric O’Bach – The Bar (5)
- 7:00 – Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Reception – The Bar (5)
- 9:00 – Jazz Duo Seandrea Earls and Michelle Yap entertain until midnight – Stars (7)
- 9:30 – Alfredo delights you with unforgettable melodies – Panorama Lounge (9)
- 10:15 – Silversea Showtime proudly presents International Violinist Ralph Allen – The Show Lounge (5)
- 11:00 – Disco – DJ Oskar takes your requests – Panorama Lounge (9)
- 11:00 – Dance the night away to the great sounds of the Silver Spirit Trio – The Bar (5)
But although Silversea offers more numerous and diverse activities than you might expect from a luxury line, half of the reason to sail with them is to enjoy the spectacular service and culinary options onboard. One of the most exciting recent changes here onboard the Silver Spirit is the fact that Seishin, Silver Spirit’s Japanese specialty restaurant, is now open for lunch. Also open for lunch are The Restaurant on Deck 4, La Terrazza on Deck 7, the Pool Grill on Deck 9, and of course, room service. Five different lunch options for a ship that holds just 540 passengers is mighty good!
This being my first transoceanic crossing, a number of things surprised and impressed me. To start with, I was shocked (shocked!) at how quickly the weather changes. For anyone who thinks five days at sea will be boring, I have news: the clouds and seas change like the wind, creating a seemingly endless combination of conditions that have ranged from clear and smooth seas to lurching swells and light showers.
The other thing that made an impression on me was how everyone approaches their time aboard this crossing. Some passengers have camped out on the pool deck, while others are content to spend their time inside, away from the heat of the equatorial sun. And the elegant Silver Spirit offers a little slice of heaven for everyone.
Today I read, made notes, took photographs, ate, laughed, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Kim lounged around the pool deck, surrounded by every comfort before heading off to the Spa at Silversea on Deck 6 for a well-deserved manicure. And I have great news: any anxieties she may have felt about spending five days at sea crossing the Atlantic have all but disappeared, helped largely by the amazing and thoughtful actions of Silver Spirit’s crew, led by Hotel Director Paolo Percivale. We’ve sailed with Paolo three times now, and it’s clear he’s popular with both his staff and passengers alike, and I owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for always stopping to inquire about Kim. He seemed genuinely thrilled to learn she was enjoying herself today.
Ever since my first cruise in 1998, I swore that someday I would do a trans-oceanic crossing. Now that that time is here, I’ve found myself very grateful for all that I have here aboard the magnificent Silver Spirit. To my mind, the first few days of this voyage have cemented what I’ve always personally thought: that this ship is the crown jewel of the Silversea fleet.
Earlier, I wrote that Silver Spirit is my home away from home, but in many ways, it’s more than that. The Silver Spirit, and indeed the entire Silversea product, are crafted in such a way that you feel instantly at home. I still have new staff members coming up and introducing themselves to Kim and I, and inquiring if our voyage is going according to plan. If you’ve sailed with Silversea before, chances are you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve never had the pleasure, know this: you’re in for a real treat in terms of service.
Tonight, I realized that my fantasies about transatlantic crossings are largely true: there really is something magical about “the only way to cross.” For many of us, it doesn’t just represent a vacation; a transoceanic crossing is a chance to rediscover yourself, away from the trappings and speed of modern-day life. Silversea’s 2012 brochure states that a transoceanic cruise is the perfect complement to the line’s Slow Food initiative, allowing guests the time they need to fully enjoy each and every onboard amenity. A transoceanic crossing aboard a Silversea ship also functions as a window into the past, giving cruisers a newfound appreciation for the hardships endured by their ancestors.
This evening, I stepped out of the Panorama Lounge on Deck 9 just before midnight and stood at the aft railing of the Silver Spirit, marvelling that an experience like this really does exist in this day and age. A transoceanic crossing is such a departure from the everyday that I had to pinch myself several times throughout the day. Like my very first voyage aboard the Silver Spirit, the same thought flittered through my head: surely this can’t be real. The night sky is jet black, without the slightest trace of a horizon, and broken up only by the multitude of stars that light up the night sky in a way that is rarely seen and even more difficult to put into words. It’s like an endless painting that your eyes continually try to focus on, without ever really understanding the meaning.
For the 15 year-old who stood at the railing of the Norwegian Wind in Alaska some fourteen years ago and whispered silently that someday he would sail across the oceans of the world, today hasn’t just been an ordinary Saturday; instead, it has been the very definition of a dream come true, and the genesis of an experience that really has to be experienced firsthand.
Today has been a day that, without a doubt, I will remember for the rest of my life.
Our Live Voyage Report from aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Spirit continues tomorrow, as we sail the Atlantic Ocean, bound for Porto Novo, Cape Verde. Our days at sea will give us more time to report on Silver Spirit’s public spaces, with new rooms and decks highlighted each day!
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