Posted August 5th, 2009, 04:27 PM
I'll also be aboard SeaDream I on the 10 October sailing from Piraeus to Barcelona and look forward to meeting you. I sailed on Silver Whisper from Dublin to Philadelphia in 2001, and as this was only her sixth cruise, she was far from ready for prime time (particularly her crew). Add to that the fact that on heading to the docks in Dublin, we, the mostly American passengers, were getting the first word of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, so that black cloud hovered over the whole 16-day crossing (which was to end in New York). In sum, my Silversea experience was not a great one, but other veteran cruisers whom I know have been aboard Silver Whisper since and been very pleased with their sailings. Indeed, under certain circumstances, I would sail with Silversea again, as I would with Seabourn, with which I had a much more delightful experience.
I've only sailed with SeaDream once so far (SeaDream II in late January 2003 in the Caribbean), but it was the finest cruise I've had -- and one that I expect will be matched or even exceeded in October (more interesting ports).
Which is better? I'd give Silversea the edge in cabins (but not by much), onboard entertainment (which isn't important to me and wasn't very good anyway, but it was abundant), and variety of itineraries (which are important to me). In virtually every other aspect, I'm with SeaDream. Service, personal attention, cuisine, ambiance, selection of ports, and Gemütlichkeit are all more refined, less "by the book" on SeaDream. If you're familiar with hotels, I would compare Silversea with Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton, which are fine, high-level properties that strike me as just a little too regimented and soulless. They have a proven routine that they stick to, but it leaves little flexibility for dealing with individual wants or needs. SeaDream seems to me more like The Oriental in Bangkok or Ritz in Paris, where pleasing the guest is paramount, and on the briny, no line works harder to please the guest than SeaDream. You'll see in October.
Once we're on board, I'd love to hear from you about Hurtigruten in winter. That remains on my to-do list.