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The Caribbean, Atlantic Ocean and Europe – Silversea Style
After having spent the weekend reflecting on our recent transatlantic crossing aboard Silversea’s beautiful and elegant Silver Spirit, I am amazed at the sheer amount of experiences we had, and the style in which we had them. Few voyages can compare with the alluring mix of diversity and relaxation offered by a transatlantic crossing, and Silversea delivered the entire experience in a package that remained first-class all the way.
Perhaps the biggest surprise port of the entire voyage was Porto Novo. Located on the island of Santo Antao in the remote Cape Verde Islands, this wind-swept Atlantic destination offered a surprising mix of landscapes and weather conditions, from the searing heat of Porto Novo’s seaport to the frigid chill of the island’s highest elevations.
During our full-day excursion around Santo Antao Island offered by Silversea, we were treated to a traditional lunch at a home in the town of Ribeira Grande. Our gracious hosts trotted out a veritable feast of food accompanied by the Island’s local specialty (Glogg) and local music. And as delicious as the lunch was, it was what existed outside the restaurant that interested me.
The streets of Ribeira Grande exist in a state of frozen existence; abandoned mechanical and engine parts sit rusting on the sides of streets, waiting for cleaning teams that will never come.
A pervasive sense of abandonment hangs over the entire town, while locals would peer out of their homes and then abruptly hide. The image of a single lone woman walking up a deserted street in Ribeira Grande will remain with me for ever.
But it was the allure of the crossing from Barbados to Portugal that appealed to my deepest senses, and the ability to undertake such a momentous journey aboard the Silver Spirit was the icing on the cake. The ability to cross the ocean by ship is quickly becoming the domain of a small set of travellers who are attracted by the “old world”-style experience of the transatlantic crossing, particularly in this age where Airbus 380’s and Boeing 777’s criss-cross the skies over the Atlantic Ocean on a regular basis.
By day, the transatlantic crossing was a restful, rejuvenating experience, with nothing but open ocean visible for miles. During our five-days of continuous Atlantic Ocean cruising, I saw one container ship, two birds, and hundreds of flying fish (which, incidentally, are the craziest thing I have ever seen) – but nothing else. And it was totally relaxing.
At first, I’d rise around 6am, as per my usual shipboard routine. But after about two days at sea, I was sleeping in until nine and even ten am, which for me never, ever, happens. I wasn’t alone; some good friends of ours we met onboard took to opting out of room service so the sound of the door buzzer wouldn’t wake them up, and instead just proceeded straight to lunch. Very smart!
That, in essence, was the brilliance of the transatlantic crossing: you could do as much or as little as you wanted. I know many people are leery about crossing the ocean via ship, from concerns about the weather to the vast openness of the sea. To these people particularly I’d like to say that, out of the 26 voyages and well over 150 days I’ve spent at sea, these last 14 days were some of the most adventurous and rejuvenating, all wrapped up in one convenient package called a Transatlantic Crossing.
How much of an effect did this journey have on me? I’m already trying to find a transatlantic crossing to do a Live Voyage Report on this fall. I can’t get enough of them! In a future article here on From the Deck Chair, we’ll be exploring a whole host of options available to cruisers for the fall months, so if you found yourself with a twinge of interest at our Live Voyage Report aboard the Silver Spirit, you’ll want to see these exciting itineraries we’ve found!
Many have asked if Kim is hooked on transatlantic cruising. She entered into this entire voyage very hesitantly, and it took the supreme efforts of many of the wonderful crew onboard to reassure her that all would be well on our voyage to the Old World. I could understand her concerns, particularly as she found the vastness of the open Atlantic unnerving.
Glad she completed the transatlantic crossing, Kim said she can cross it off her list and didn’t feel compelled to do it again. But I caught her looking at next spring’s Silver Spirit crossing yesterday; proof that, despite her protestations, the experience had a profound effect on her, too.
But the greatest joy of all was just being able to spend 14 days aboard the beautiful and elegant Silver Spirit. You may have noticed I always use the words “beautiful” and “elegant” to describe Silversea’s flagship, and there’s good reason for that. While the line’s entire fleet of vessels are remarkably well-designed, there’s something about this 36,000-ton ship that has always appealed to me.
It starts the second you board the Silver Spirit: entering into the Art Deco reception area, you immediately get a sense of what Silversea is all about. With its dark wooden accents and tri-tone green and blue furniture, the Reception Area and adjacent bar aren’t designed to wow you on first sight, or make you gasp in amazement like so many other ships. Instead, they are designed to lure you, almost seductively, into relaxing in one of the comfortable chairs. Maybe you’d like to sit down and have a martini (or my favorite, the Fruit of the Glen) while you listen to pianist Eric O’Bach?
Or perhaps you’d prefer to walk a few feet aft into the Theatre, where Guest Lecturer Ambassador Adrian Sindall is giving a talk on some of his fascinating experiences in world politics?
Or maybe it’s time to ascend one deck to The Spa at Silversea to book that long-deserved massage or indulge in the ship’s expansive Thermal Suite? Or time to head up to the Panorama Lounge for the music of Alfredo and the friendly service of Bass, Ronz, Peter, and Henry. Or dinner in Le Champagne, or La Terrazza, or Hot Rocks…
Before long, these comfortable public areas will become your home, not merely just pretty places to pass through, but lounges with friendly staff that truly know your name before you’ve even met them. And if you have sailed with them before, they come forward to greet you by name, with a hearty handshake, and ask how you’re doing, and can they bring you your favorite drink? Yes, they remember what it is – even after months or even years.
Silversea is a luxury product, and if you’ll pardon my language, a damn good one at that. That’s not me being overly complimentary – that’s just how it is. I can still happily sail mainstream lines in inside cabins on ships that hold thousands of passengers, but it is a different experience altogether. A Silversea voyage is as much about relaxation as it is about having fun – and Silversea passengers do have fun!
Inasmuch as there’s a misconception about Carnival being nothing but a drunken booze-fest overrun by frat kids, there’s a misconception that all luxury lines are staid, stuffy and boring.
The Silversea experience couldn’t be further from any of those.
If you’ve never sailed with a luxury line before, come and see why Silversea draws so many repeat passengers. Just once – one trip is all it will take. You don’t have to be a CEO to afford it; in fact, many of Silversea’s passengers are hard-working people just like you and me. These are people who could sail with mainstream lines two or three times a year, but instead choose to sail once a year with Silversea. Because it’s not just a vacation; it’s an investment – an experience to always remember fondly.
Finally, on a related note, I wanted to thank everyone who wrote in to ask questions, compliment my writing and photography, and to just share their love of cruising too. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that this Live Voyage Report helped people look at Silversea, the Silver Spirit, and the very idea of a transatlantic crossing in a different light.
As I discovered last week, there’s nothing quite like staring out at the blackness of the Atlantic Ocean as you speed along at 16 knots. It makes you realize how much larger than us this world really is, and how amazing it is that we are able to traverse an entire ocean by ship, much less a few hours by airplane.
Many a traveller and explorer have gazed out over this same vast expanse of darkness in centuries past. Christopher Columbus did in 1492. Charles Dickens did in 1842. And hundreds of thousands of immigrants did in the early part of the last century. Each of them saw and heard exactly what we saw and heard last week.
But none could have envisioned the comfort, luxury, and genuinely friendly atmosphere we experienced aboard the Silver Spirit. And that accomplishment will stay with me forever.
Our Live Voyage Report from aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Spirit has come to a close, but tomorrow we’ll have full details of two upcoming Live Voyage Reports! Where will our travels take all of us? Tune in tomorrow to find out!
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