The Caribbean, Atlantic Ocean and Europe – Silversea Style

The beautiful and elegant Silver Spirit, tied up in Casablanca, Morocco. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

Our Silverse Shore Experience in Porto Novo. This Cape Verde Island port was the most surprising of all our itinerary stops. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

Ribeira Grande: desolate, deserted,and wonderfully engaging. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

Porto Novo and Santo Antao island inspired me like no other destination. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

A woman walks alone up a deserted street in Ribeira Grande, Cape Verde Islands. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean: five straight days of blue skies, warm temperatures and calm seas. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

Crossing the Atlantic with Silversea: sit back, relax, and enjoy the crossing. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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!

The Artists of Silversea perform aboard the Silver Spirit. New entertainment options are being rolled out across the fleet. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

With so many days at sea, outdoor dining is a must at The Grill, featuring the Hot Rocks Dining Experience. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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!

Kim cozies up in a deck chair during our transatlantic crossing. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

Looking ahead: more amazing sea days and ports of call were in store for us. This telescope is located in the Observation Lounge on Deck 11. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

Welcome Aboard! Silver Spirit's Reception area and Bar are decorated in beautiful Art Deco. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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?

The joy of being at sea, Silversea style. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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…

Relax on one of the heated ceramic loungers at The Spa at Silversea. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

Ports like Casablanca, with its Hassan II Mosque, showcased the diversity of the world to us. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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!

Caviar at Le Champagne: worth the price of admission alone! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

Dining at The Grill, featuring Hot Rocks, at night. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

The Spa at Silversea aboard Silver Spirit is the largest in the fleet. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

On the other side: Silver Spirit arrives in Lisbon, Portugal on Thursday, April 26 after her transatlantic crossing. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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.

The sun sets on our Live Voyage Report from aboard Silversea's Silver Spirit. Until next time! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

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!


10 Responses to Silver Spirit Live Voyage Report: Recapping Voyage 5210

  1. Patricia Millon says:

    Dear Mr Saunders,
    Thanks a lot for your live report. I’ll sail on the Silverspirit for the first time on the 5th of May, to the Greeks islands, and I followed your Atlantic crossing every day with a great interest. Living in France, I could read your daily report on the next morning, and it was my breakfast pleasure!
    Sorry for my bad English : I’m French.
    Thanks again,

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Hi Patricia – your English is much better than my French! I hope you will enjoy your first Silver Spirit saiing; she’s a wonderful ship with an excellent crew. And thank you for all your kind words; it is wonderfully touching to know that my daily posts made for good breakfast reading!

  2. Kent Tucker says:

    I followed your daily isights on your transatlantic cruise with great anticipation, as we are doing the reverse Silver Spirit
    cruise in November. I’ll admit to a little trepidation regarding an ocean crossing on a small ship, but after reading of your enjoyment, I am now looking forward to it. Our cruise begins in Las Palmas, with a 6 day crossing then, a four island carribbean tour, ending back in Ft. Lauderdale. After reading of your misadventures on the return flights, I will feel more comfortable leaving from Fla.on both travel legs. An overall beautiful presentation!

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Hi Kent – it really is a tremendous journey. You’re in for an amazing adventure aboard the Silver Spirit! Do let me know how you enjoyed it when you return.

    • Bjoern says:

      Greetings Aaron, I cannot say how much I have enjoyed reading your report again and again. Not to mention the great pictures from the ship. The Silversea staff and the service is for sure outstanding. You feel the the Italian heritage and the slow food idea behind the meals. I have to mention the penguin story to Paolo when I join the Silver Spirit on the 16th of November. I cannot believe I am doing the cruise the other way around. Only 8 days to go before we leave Las Palamas. Great to read that I can meet somebody on board also following this report. Greetings Kent, I hope you read this before the sailing. If not I will look out for you. Greetings from Germany.

      • Aaron Saunders says:

        Thanks Bjoern for the wonderful comments. You’ll have a tremendous time onboard the Silver Spirit; it’s a great ship, and the overall experience is unmatched in my opinion. Enjoy your warm-weather crossing!!

  3. Donna Milton says:

    I loved reading your blog every morning and your photographs were fantastic. We are on the Spirit for the first time on 30th November and you gave us a a real insight. Living in Scotland we fly via Heathrow and it has got to be the most unfriendly,disorganised airport I have ever been through. Look forward to your future travel blogs. Kind regards Donna

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Thank you, Donna, for your wonderfully kind comments – they’ve made my evening! I will be setting sail for your beautiful country on my next Live Voyage Report, starting Saturday May 19th! But yes, I’m headed back to Heathrow 🙁

  4. Wonderul, honest review that tells it as it is
    Im very interested in sailing on the Silver Spirit. My concer is I have never sailed on smaller vessel. I assume you feel more sea motion but jusy how much? Thats my only concern

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Hi Stuart,

      The Silver Spirit is large enough that she doesn’t get tossed around like some of the smaller vessels (think: Silver Wind/Cloud). But she’s small enough that she is still intimate and cozy.

      A lot depends, too, on where you’re cruising. Oceans can be unpredictable and rough weather can occur at any time, but I’ve been onboard the Spirit in heavy seas, and she handles like a ship twice her size – very, very well.

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