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Greetings from Montecarlo! We haven’t gotten off the ship yet this morning so all I can say about it so far is that it looks like you’d imagine and expect from postcards and movies. We’re docked literally in town with private yachts all around us. Truly magical so far and a big difference from the industrial feeling of yesterday’s Marseilles .
Today is a bit of a laid back later start for us as Mrs. K is off to the spa this morning so that gives me time to do some comparisons and impressions of Silversea versus Holland America. First off we’re on the Silver Wind, one of the original ships built for the line in 1995. That would make her roughly the age of the S class but I’d honestly have to say you’d never know that she’s that old. The level of maintenance is obviously very high and from talking to the staff they take their ships into wet and dry dock every couple of years to keep them in an almost new like condition. Cleaning, like on HAL, is continuous but not intrusive. The Wind is a small ship with a capacity of around 300 passengers and an equal number of crew. While we’ve never been on the Prinsendam I sense the Wind is more like her than say the Maasdam or Volendam. The main dining room, maybe not so creatively simply called The Restaurant, is just one level and is formal and intimate. I’ll do some other public room comparisons over the next few days…..even though there aren’t many of them we haven’t had a chance to visit or spend much time in them so far. I should mention the staff and level of service. The staff comes from all over the world, some 36 countries are represented on our cruise. The wait staff is from Malaysia and the Philippines and I think would make most HAL’ers feel very much at home. The level of service is friendly, efficient, prompt, and exact. It’s not stuffy or pretentious; it’s just very good and reminds me of my early cruises on Holland America back in the early 90’s. More later……
I may be jumping around here a bit but as I said earlier we really haven’t been able to see or experience all of even this relatively small ship so far so I’m sharing and comparing the parts of the ship we’ve become most familiar with in our three days on board. This is a very port intensive cruise with something like 10 ports in 14 days so we’ve been kind of on the run since we boarded. Anyhow, one of the comparisons I’d like to mention is the pool area, which is Deck 8 on the Wind, versus the Lido on HAL. Big props and a plus to HAL because I don’t think there’s any pool area as nice on any other cruise line I’ve been on including now Silversea. The pool area on the ship is what I guess you’d consider the more traditional open area with the pool and two “Jacuzzis”. There is also a very nice grill and bar at the pool but it doesn’t have that kind of in-door/out-door feeling of HAL. You might be asking or wondering where the Wind’s “Lido Café” is and the simple answer is that there isn’t one on the pool deck and I’ll explain that in another post. It’s been cool so far on the cruise with temperatures in the 50’s in the morning and not quite 70 during the day so a dome over the pool area would be very nice and would make the area more usable. Since our cabin is actually on the same deck, forward of the pool, we actually feel like we have our “own” snack and bar area some 40 feet away so it’s been kind of handy. With the cool weather it’s really been kind of ours without a lot of business. It’s not an entertainment like venue so we’re not bothered by noise or a lot of foot traffic. The four Medallion Suite cabins on this deck were added years ago in a major dry dock and from the looks of it they took probably senior staff quarters and maybe office space over. Medallion Suites on Silversea, or at least on this ship, are very comparable with HAL Deluxe Suites. No Neptune Lounge but there is a butler and unlike our Celebrity experience this one is very good and truly takes care of everything without being intrusive. You Deluxe Suite cruisers on HAL would feel very much at home. The Medallion is something like 20-25 square feet smaller than a Deluxe on an R or S class HAL ship but the space is very well designed and you really don’t notice the “smaller” room. With amenities like a coffee machine in the room, the all marble bathroom with tub and separate shower, large veranda, and the quality of the finishes in our cabin a bit higher than HAL I’d give maybe a little plus to Silversea over HAL.
I was invited to lunch on Silversea some years ago. I think it was a larger ship than yours and I toured the cabins. The ship is beautiful but I'm wondering......... do the cabin stewardesses still wear black dresses and white aprons? I still have that image in my mind.
Enjoy Monte Carlo..... we had fabulous time there and GREAT lunch ashore. Everything is immaculate and so beautiful. Have fun!
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Last edited by sail7seas; March 16th, 2012 at 12:48 PM.
I haven't forgotten you all but the last couple of days have been busy to the point of hectic. We docked in Livorno yesterday and it is the gateway port to Florence (AKA Firenze) and Pisa. We took the train into Florence yesterday morning at 9 AM and didn't get back to the ship until about 10:30 PM. Totally pooped but in a good sense and had a great day in Florence visiting some famous sites and doing a little shopping. Today was Pisa and we took a ship's tour to the Field of Miracles which of course features the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. All I can say is wow! You'll just have to wait a few weeks for the detailed tour report on our website.
So as to keep the notion of comparison between HAL and Silversea going I thought I'd quickly mention food. We're by no means food snobs and also realize food is a very subjective subject. Have to say our meals on Silversea, from breakfast to dinner, have been great to excellent. Breakfast and lunch has been way better and dinners have been at least equal to or better than our HAL cruises. Now before I get flamed have to say our dinners on the Maasdam last year were "home runs" and certainly as good as we've had on the Silver Wind so far. The Veendam before pales by comparison so cruise to cruise and ship to ship I've kind of accepted or expected some variation. Hard to say there's a "winner" between the two lines right now but Silversea might be slight overall winner this highly subjective comparison. Time to relax....tonight is formal night so going to rest. Later........
Realize this is the HAL board but this is where I "live and play" so I wanted to share that WE'RE OUT OF HERE! Leaving for the airport in a couple of hours and off to Barcelona to catch the Silver Wind. Yes, we're crossing the line and trying a different line. It was a matter of timing and itinerary, not any specific problem with HAL. Will fill you all in on the differences once we return. Take care, keep the faith, and by all means live long and prosper!
Randy, Cannot wait to read and see your cruise!! Saw a couple of the "Wind" and "Star" ships in ports and Loved their look. Now only need your reviews of a certain topic to tell me if this will be a nice fit for us.
Also, can you note any accessibility issues such as wheelchair or scooter users, elevators etc...
As an aside, for those nting my larger font size, I am not yelling, I am just trying to be more concious of those with vision problems and their wish to read what is said. I've been told a font side of 4 is better for them/us
Have a Safe and Happy Cruise Randy and wife!!
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Last edited by IRL_Joanie; March 18th, 2012 at 11:03 AM.
Good question Joanie! Obviously the Silver Wind is a smaller ship than anything HAL puts to sea. Even the Prinsendam is, at least by passenger count, considerably larger. Physical size aside I have tried to kind of look at things, the best I can, in terms of access. We actually have a number, maybe half a dozen or so, fellow passengers on scooters, in wheel chairs, or with other types of mobility assistance. While the elevators, etc., are smaller I'd say folks seem to be able and do move around without any difficulty. There are a few cabins that are equipped and provide facilities for passengers needing appropriate accommodation. The staff is what I'd call "Johnnie on the spot" and seem to be everywhere, and still kind of nowhere in the sense of "in your face", to assist and help. This particular ship is some 80 to 90% veranda cabins. The smaller ones seem to be very much like A or B categories on the R and S class ships or the VA to V??? whatever categories on the Vista and Signature class ships. From there on up the verandas just get bigger as they do on HAL. Tell you the truth I was actually very surprised to find our veranda on this ship to be as big as it is. Very, very close to the Deluxe suite size on HAL. Obviously we don't have a little ramp to get in and out but I'll bet they have that if we needed it. I'll ask.... We're about to leave Livorno, our next stop is Civitavecchia and Rome tomorrow.
I'm enjoying your comparison too, but from the reverse viewpoint. We now only cruise Silversea but it was Holland America that made cruising a possibility for us. After a disastrous first cruise, we swore we'd never cruise again. Then we were given a 10-day cruise on the Volendam and I would have signed on for another 10 days at the end of it.
Stuff went wrong on that cruise (including a rough day where some of our group were seasick and our cabins toilets weren't functioning - a bad combination!) but HA handled all problems with aplomb and attention, unlike our first cruise line who had no idea of how to handle bad weather and changes to the schedule.
It was still another 10 years before we had the money to cruise again and then it was Silversea's itinerary and timing that attracted us. We've cruising with them annually ever since and have tried 4/6 of the ships (only missing the Cloud which is the sister ship to the Wind and the Expedition ship.) The service, interesting fellow passengers and great itineraries keep drawing us back. Plus, now that we have over 100 days with them, we get free laundry too!
My question to you is how does the cost compare to HA?
What we like about Silversea is that we can book the cheapest cabin and still get the same service/amenities that the bigger suites get.
We always chose a Vista cabin (no veranda and SS lowest cabin offering) but still get everything that you get in your Medallion suite except the coffee maker (same butler service, same linens, same toiletries.) On the Wind you also have one of a few suites with a separate shower, but on the Shadow/Whisper/Spirit, all cabins have showers and bath tubs large enough for dh and I together (and we've returned from long days out to discover our cabin candlelit, rose petal adorned and with a steaming bubble bath just waiting for us.)
With only 280 passengers on board, the level of service on SS is comparable to that in the premium cabins on other lines (i.e. Queen/Princess Grill on Cunard) with open seating at dinner, afternoon tea, no long lines for anything because there simply aren't enough people to create a crowd.
The smallest cabins on the Wind are still 240 square feet so I have a hard time figuring out what is comparable to HA, since, on the Volendam for instance, the large ocean-view ranges from 140 to 319 sq ft, so how to I compare apples to apples? And space only tells part of the story for value.
What we like about Silversea is the lowest category (and thus lowest in the ship and midship so least amount of motion) includes as standard things like binoculars and umbrellas, fridges stocked with our requested drinks, and personalized stationery. To get that on the Volendam would
require me to book a cabin twice as large. Yet for our 29 day cruise that ended just as you boarded, we found the 240 square feet more than enough room so have no interest in paying for the larger suites.
My only complaint about the Wind is the bathtub. We got used to the smaller bathroom but the tub was a daily annoyance, and something that isn't a problem on the Shadow/Whisper with their double sinks, separate shower and oversized tub with it's own hand held shower attachment, great for washing off feet after a hot day of touring.
One other difference between Silversea's small ships and mainline cruise lines is the shows. For that, you need a larger ship. Silversea offers lovely experiences with musicians and informative lectures (and lots of chances to dine or just chat with these people around the ship and in Africa I ended up spending the day ashore with two of the lecturers as we wandered around the city on foot) but if you go to sea for big entertainment extravaganzas you'll need to choose another line.
I'm glad you're enjoying your Silversea cruise. Now, I don't know if this is possible on HAL but it is on SS...if you want a special meal, (say, Dover Sole) for dinner tomorrow you can ask for it tonight and the SS kitchen will prepare it for you. So, if there's something special that you want for dinner...ask!
Also, pizza by the pool grill is delightful for lunch!
I am very interested in your report of your cruise on the Silver Wind and the Medallion suites. We are on the Wind in July and are trying a medallion suite. Which one are you in ?
We have had two Silverseas cruises and are hooked , just loved the service, staff, food ... everything.
Continue to have a great time.
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Celebrity Solstice, Cruise to nowhere, 3 days - January 2014 (see my review)
Crystal Symphony, Reykjavik to Southampton, 11 days - June 2013 (see my review)
Crystal Symphony, New York to Reykjavik, 12 days - May 2013 (see my review)
Silver Shadow, Vancouver to Tokyo, 16 days - September 2012 (see my review)
Yacht La Pinta, Galapagos, 7 days - April 2012 (see my review)
Silver Cloud, Bridgetown to Los Angeles, 17 days - November 2010 (see my review)
Silver Spirit, Bridgetown to Bridgetown, 7 days - November 2010 (see my review)
Silver Spirit, Lisbon to Bridgetown, 14 days - October 2010 (see my review)
Pacific Dawn, Tahiti to Sydney, 17 days - June 2009 (see my review)
Silver Whisper, Singapore to Sydney, 16 days - December 2008 (see my review)
Superstar Gemini, Hong Kong to Singapore, 11 days - June 2008 (my review has been archived)
Norwegian Dream, Buenos Aires to Santiago, 14 days - December 2007 (my review has been archived)
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Empress of Australia, Devonport to Melbourne, 1 day - July 1973
Finally have time to sit down and type out a few notes. Last few days have been major ports for us and we’ve have a great time visiting Florence, Pisa, Rome, and Naples. The Wind actually docked in Livorno for two days which gave us enough time to jump on a train and head into Florence on our own the first day. I’m really not going to go into a lot of details on the ports, you’ll have to wait until we update our website for that, but I mention Florence because we did it on our own and almost had an adventure. I had mentioned here that the last time I was on an Italian train that the crew had gone on strike and had stopped the train in a farm field half way between Florence and Vicenza. Somebody said that doesn’t happen much anymore so we’d be fine…..guess what…..they went on strike but this time the strike started after they got us back to Livorno. Kind of knew something was up as they pulled into Livorno and literally shut the train down and walked away. The terminal was deserted so obviously the word had gotten out about no more trains that night. Not sure of the count but several passengers and crew members were stranded in Florence pretty much overnight until the strike was over the next morning. Luckily we’d kind of run out of steam in Florence after being on our feet almost all day and had opted for dinner in town and then took an earlier train back to Livorno. If we’d gone with our original plan we’d been stuck too.
I thought I might say a bit more about the staff. I think I’d mentioned before that some 30+ countries are represented on the ship. It feels very much like HAL though with obviously more Italian officers and managers, it is an Italian cruise line owned and operated by an Italian family. Anyhow, we’re sitting in the main bar, also aptly called The Bar, a couple of nights ago and one of the beverage managers stops by to visit. She looked awfully familiar and we quickly discovered that Myra had been with us on the Oosterdam years and years ago. Myra was part of the start-up team that HAL had to bring new ships on line and train the regular staff. She’d been part of the Vista class team and had gone from ship to ship as HAL brought them on line. Myra worked mostly in the Ocean and Piano Bars and she sends out a big “hell-o” to any of you who remember her. She left HAL a few years ago as she really wanted to settle down on one ship for awhile and HAL wanted her to bring the Eurodam staff up to speed. She also mentioned Silversea offers six month contracts with two months off in between versus the one year contract on HAL and that works better for her. I haven’t met them yet but Myra says there are several ex-HAL staff throughout the crew. Apparently there’s actually more movement among cruise lines by staff than I knew as we’ve talked to people who have worked for Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Seaborne to mention a few. I wouldn’t expect they’d say anything else but they say that Silversea is great to work for and they actually had to apply and wait to get a vacancy.
I almost hesitate to mention this but the subject has to come up sooner or later so I’ll cover the dress code on the Wind. They have formal, informal, and casual nights. Formal means at least coat and tie and I’ll say that there is a large of number, like 70-80%, of men wearing tuxes. Women wear gowns or cocktail dresses on formal nights. Informal nights require at least a shirt and coat for men and so far I’d say the majority also wear a tie. Casual is what I’d call business casual and while I’ve seen some jeans are not frequently worn. It’s been cool on the cruise so short sleeves and shorts are not in abundance. The dress code is gently but firmly enforced and you will be asked to leave a bar or restaurant if you’re not dressed appropriately. That’s not to say you’re out of luck if you don’t have or don’t want to comply as there is at least one dining venue and the pool bar that permits more liberal or relaxed dress.
Oh yes, somebody asked what Medallion Suite we’re in. We’ve got cabin 804 on the port side and our friends and cruising partners are in 802 just next to us. Sorry if I don't address each and every question as I do my writing off line and then cut and paste here to save Internet time.
Thank you for your ongoing reports, Randy. I'm finding them to be an interesting read.
I'm especially happy to read that Myra is well, and happy. And so accomplished! She's done well getting a position of importance.
I remember her fondly from a couple of cruises on the Rotterdam and Maasdam.
This might be a good time to talk about the Wind layout versus HAL’s S class ships. Having never been on the Prinsendam, which is atypical from the rest of the HAL fleet, I can’t draw comparisons on what I perceive would be the closest so I’ll do my best comparing the Maasdam to the Wind. First of all this is a lot smaller ship at just 514 feet in length and 71 feet in width. It obviously doesn’t take long to get anywhere on the ship but that’s not to say it feels cramped or crowded. Passenger capacity is around 296 and 222 staff so just a bit over 500 souls on board. There are eight passenger decks (4 through 9). There are only eight cabin categories on the Wind with the vast majority being Veranda or Midship Veranda Suites. Mrs. K and I have not been in one but just by walking by an open cabin door when it’s being cleaned we’d say that they are very much like the Category A or B cabins on the HAL S class ships. There are no interior cabins on the Wind and a couple dozen Vista Suites which would be comparable to Ocean View Staterooms on HAL. Should say here that I was pleasantly surprised to see our veranda in our Medallion Suite is right up there was a Deluxe Suite and my impression is that the other veranda cabins have verandas very close to if not even a bit larger than an A or B Category cabin.
One thing that is strikingly different between the Wind and the Maasdam is the arrangement and location of the public spaces. Most public spaces are located aft of midships on the Wind. Instead of being all, or mostly, on one deck they’re actually stacked vertically with some venue on decks 4 through 8. The main dining room (The Restaurant) is on Deck 4, the main bar (The Bar) is just above on Deck 5 as are the casino and shops. The Show Lounge is on Decks 5 and 6 and is surprisingly large for the size of the ship. We’ve actually gone to two shows in eight nights which is highly unusual for us but the entertainment has been great….more about that in another post. The La Terraza that compares to HAL’s “Lido Café” is on Deck 7. I’ll say more about La Terraza later but suffice to say it’s a blend between a full service restaurant and a buffet so you can both serve yourself, order, or a combination of both. At night it becomes the Italian restaurant on the ship and there is no buffet. On Deck 8 you have the Panorama Lounge. The Wind actually has an equivalent of the Crow’s Nest called the Observation Lounge. It’s not a bar and serves only coffee and tea but it’s the library for the ship. You’ll have to wait for the pictures but it’s a great, cozy space forward and only than location is very different than the Crow’s Nest. I guess that the best thing to say is that it’s all there just in slightly different locations and scaled down to fit the size of the ship and the passenger capacity. All spaces are elegantly decorated though in a slightly understated way and very well maintained.
Your review of Silversea sounds wonderful & very much like our Oceania cruise with the exception of formal nites. Loved the atmosphere, food, service & just about everything on Oceania. We felt the general atmosphere to be very different than HAL though in many ways.