In January, I started off my cruising year by sailing aboard Silversea’s intimate Silver Wind for the first time, on a voyage through South Africa that was nothing short of inspiring. Now, I’m preparing to set out aboard the 296-guest Silver Wind again – this time on an itinerary that will take her through the heart of the Mediterranean.

Silversea's stunning Silver Wind may have been built in 1995, but she looks fantastic both inside and out. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Silversea’s stunning Silver Wind may have been built in 1995, but she looks fantastic both inside and out. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Our report begins on Monday from the historic city of Rome, where we’ll spend an evening at the Hotel Bernini Bristol before transferring to Civitavecchia, Italy the next morning to embark the Silver Wind.  Then, it’s off to ports in Italy, Sicily, Tunisia and Spain before arriving in Malaga on Tuesday the 26th.

Night falls in Rome on Friday, August 9, 2013. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report begins in the historic city of Rome. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The full itinerary:

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Silver Wind voyage 2334, Rome to Malaga. Illustration courtesy of Silversea.

Silver Wind voyage 2334, Rome to Malaga. Illustration courtesy of Silversea.

Aside from Rome and Sorrento, these ports of call are all brand-new to me, and I look forward to exploring each of them in the comfort of the “off-season”, without the searing heat and crowds that can sometimes characterize the Mediterranean during the busy summer months.

The second ship to enter service for Silversea, getting acquainted with the Silver Wind takes no time at all, particularly for guests that have sailed aboard any of the line’s other luxury vessels. Suites are all located forward half of the ship and come in anywhere between 240 and 1,314 square feet in size. Each and every one offers the line’s signature Butler service, which sounds stuffy but isn’t. Instead, your butler is there to help with anything you might need, from dinner reservations to shore excursions to assistance packing and unpacking.

Silver Wind anchored off Portofino, Italy this past August. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Silver Wind anchored off Portofino, Italy this past August. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

They’re also tremendously talented folks, and I am proud to call many of them my friends. In fact, it’s difficult to not become that by the time the voyage has ended; I have personally witnessed guests select their chosen ship and voyage based on their Butler!

Public rooms are all conveniently located at the stern of the ship, spread across Decks 4 to 8. The only exception to this is the striking Observation Lounge that was added to the forward portion of Deck 9 aboard the Silver Wind during a massive refurbishment in the fall of 2008. In addition to being wonderfully reminiscent of the space of the same name aboard the larger Silver Spirit, this glass-walled lounge is one of Silver Wind’s most recognizable differences from her earlier sister-ship, the 1994-built Silver Cloud.

An Observation Lounge was added to Deck 9 aboard the Silver Wind during a refit a few years back. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

An Observation Lounge was added to Deck 9 aboard the Silver Wind during a refit a few years back. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

One of the things I love about the Silver Wind is how intimate and easy-to-navigate she is. It takes no time at all to feel completely at home, or to make your way around her decks with total confidence. The end result is that I can slip into “vacation” mode within minutes of embarkation. Well, as much as I can ever slip into “vacation” mode in this line of work!

There are also two signature experiences present on every mainline Silversea vessel that I am truly looking forward to. One is The Black Rock Grill experience that takes place poolside each evening. Guests are invited to dine outdoors, under the stars, while they cook their choice of steaks, fish or seafood to their liking atop a pre-heated slab of volcanic rock. It’s tremendously fun, and the Apple Crisp that’s served for dessert is still the best I’ve personally ever tasted anywhere.

Dinner poolside at The Grill, featuring Silversea's fun Hot Rocks dining concept; a "must-do" feature. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Dinner poolside at The Grill, featuring Silversea’s fun Hot Rocks dining concept; a “must-do” feature. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The other is Le Champagne, which carries a very modest surcharge but is well worth it for the kind of food you’ll get in this specialty dining venue operated in conjunction with Relais & Chateaux.

Of course, that’s in addition to the myriad of dining options available onboard that even include white-gloved 24-hour room service. There’s also plenty of entertainment choices on each sailing, with full-scale production numbers each evening. My sailing, Voyage 2334, also includes two special enrichment guests: David Bilsland, Silversea’s Culinary Trainer; and Destination Consultant Dr. Lew Deitch.

Decks are connected via two spiral staircases located amidships. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Decks aboard the Silver Wind are connected via two spiral staircases located amidships. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

But perhaps more importantly, Silver Wind will be arriving in Civitavecchia fresh from a two-week drydock that should leave this 1995-built luxury vessel looking better than ever. We’re told that the refurbishments should be fairly extensive, so in order to best report on them, we’re going to structure this Live Report a little differently than most.

To make sure that the ports of call don’t get neglected, we’re going to take the time to do a thorough inspection of the ship and then devote an entire series of posts to these refurbishments later on in the week.  Photographing interiors is never an easy task, and I want to ensure I take the time to shoot the best photos of each public space to display here.

An operational overnight in London, England post-cruise will give us the chance to extend our Live Voyage Report by a day - and visit a few Christmas Markets, too! Photo courtesy of Winter Wonderland Hyde Park.

An operational overnight in London, England post-cruise will give us the chance to extend our Live Voyage Report by a day – and visit a few Christmas Markets, too! Photo courtesy of Winter Wonderland Hyde Park.

There’s also going to be a bit of an added bonus to this report. Coming home, I have an operational layover for one night in London, England due to the fact British Airways flies to Gatwick and not Heathrow from Malaga, Spain. While I’ve been through Heathrow more times than I can count in the past few years, I haven’t been into London proper in nearly 13 years. Because of that, I’ll take this opportunity to keep the blog going for a few extra days post-cruise as I try to hit some of central London’s most popular sights – not to mention the Christmas Markets at Hyde Park.

So join me as I rediscover the newly-refurbished Silver Wind and the Mediterranean all at once!

Our Live Voyage Report through the Mediterranean aboard Silversea’s Silver Wind will continue next week as we report from the Italian city of Rome! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

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