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Silversea v. Seabourn comparison from 1st timer on SS

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Hello everyone... after receiving so much good information from these boards, I wanted to take a chance and write my first detailed review of our first Silversea voyage on the Silver Cloud – 10 days from Barcelona to London in May, 2010. Some background: we are two 48-year olds. Recent cruises have all been on the Seabourn Spirit (3 of them), and we have also sailed with HAL, Princess, Carnival, and many, many times with Celebrity. Decided to give Silversea a try as the price was right (well not really, but at least moderately acceptable) and the itinerary was great (got to visit Normandy France and Omaha Beach on the 66th Anniversary of D-Day... an utterly amazing experience!).

To keep things interesting, I will compare our Silversea experience with that of our recent Seabourn trips, giving each category of the review a rating factor to indicate how important that aspect of the cruise was to us (1 being least important and 5 being most important). Then I’ll rate each category in much the same way for each line (Silversea vs. Seabourn) to hopefully arrive at numerical score to see who wins. As I begin, I don’t really know who will come out on top. There were aspects of the Silversea and Seabourn experiences that we very much enjoyed. I will also cross-post this on both boards so both lines’ passengers can benefit from this information.

OK… here goes. First, the categories and their importance to us on a scale of 1 (least important) to 5 (most important). I may have missed a few, but these are what are important to us.

 

• Ship overall: 5

• Crew/service overall: 5

• Main Dining Room food: 5

• Alternative restaurant(s): 4

• Special Event dining: 3

• Room service: 4

• Outdoor pool/Jacuzzis: 5

• Pool/deck bar: 5

• Other bars/nightspots: 4

• Handling/Recognition of special milestones/birthdays: 3

• Self-service laundry facilities: 3

• Full-service/ship laundry & dry cleaning: 2

• Cabin design/layout: 5

• Cabin bathroom: 5

• Cabin balcony/veranda: 3 (on these small ships, it’s not as important as we thought)

• Spa: 2

• Ship-sponsored excursions: 4

• Gym/fitness facilities: 4

• On-board shopping: 1

• Casino: 2

• Shipboard entertainment: 2

• Overall feel of the cruise experience and camaraderie with like-minded travelers: 5

 

And now, some comments on each category along with a rating of 1-5, with 1 being OK and 5 being outstanding.

 

Ship overall (importance 5)

 

Both ships are lovely. Small, no lines anywhere, nice fixtures and finishes. I liked the extra space and additional bar and restaurant options on the Cloud vs. smaller Spirit, and the Cloud is also so beautiful to look at. Like a classic ocean liner trimmed down in size. Cabin interiors I liked better on Seabourn.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 5 = 25 points

Seabourn rating: 4 * 5 = 20 points

 

Crew/service overall (importance 5)

Silversea was good but Seabourn far better. By day two of our Seabourn voyages, we were being called by our first and/or last names. I can count on one hand how many Silversea crew called us by name throughout the voyage. It sounds corny, but it was amazing how much we missed that on Silversea and the difference it made. In terms of friendliness, promptness, attention to detail, and other service aspects, I’d say both lines are pretty competitive with one another. Maybe it was just the smaller size of the Seabourn ship that makes a difference, but I really felt more a part of the Seabourn family than I did apart of Silversea.

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 5 = 15 points

Seabourn: 5 * 5 = 25 points

 

Main Dining Room food and service (importance 5)

 

This was perhaps our biggest disappointment with Silversea. On our 10-day itinerary, we ate only 3 times in the MDR. The menus were generally boring, with only a few items that really peaked our interest. I can recall reading the menus on Seabourn and genuinely looking forward to the dining experience each night. Now don’t get me wrong, during the entire 10 days, we never had a bad meal anywhere on Silversea. We are not fussy eaters or high maintenance patrons when it comes to restaurants. And although we dine out frequently at home, we rarely go to the top-end/expensive restaurants in any particular city around the world. Also, the number of entrée choices was fairly limited, with three or sometimes four courses being the standard on Silversea vs. five on Seabourn. Service in the MDR on both lines was similarly excellent however as was the quality of flatware, plates, glasses etc.

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 5 = 10 points

Seabourn: 5 * 5 = 25 points

 

Alternative restaurant (importance 4)

 

As average as we thought the Silversea MDR experience was, La Terazza – one of three! alternative venues, the other being outdoors on deck under the stars and Le Champagne (more later on that) – was superb! We ate there 4 times on our 10 night voyage. The La Terazza menu was the same most nights, but that did not matter. Every item we ate there was mouth-watering delicious. On two occasions, and with 24 hours advanced notice, we asked the chef to prepare something special off the main menu. Both of these items were delivered and equally outstanding. Well done, La Terazza. We dined outdoors on deck once, with a basic menu of salads, fish, steak, prawns etc. It was very nice and the food was very good but not excellent. My steak was cooked medium rather than medium-well as ordered, but the Madagascar prawns were delicious. We did not try Le Champagne, the $200 per person with wine venue. There is just something wrong with charging that price on a luxury line where you’re already paying roughly $1,000 per night room and board. I know you can dine there for only $30 per person without wine, but the up-charge left such a sour taste in our mouths that we decided against it. I talked to several fellow cruisers who did opt to try it, and it received across the board “good” but not outstanding reviews.

 

Seabourn alternative dining options were limited to Restaurant 2, a tapas style concept with a changing menu each evening. While extremely enjoyable and a definite change of pace from most alternative restaurants at sea today, La Terazza on Silversea was superior in most every respect.

 

Silversea rating: 4 * 4 = 16 points (would have given this a 5 if it hadn’t been for the ridiculous up-charge of Le Champagne).

Seabourn rating: 3 * 4 = 12 points

 

Special Event Dining (importance 3)

 

Silversea, like Seabourn, offers a deck BBQ one evening and a galley lunch. Silversea’s BBQ was laid out in one long line, with a lot of food choices in terms of quantity, but nothing overtly special. It was one big buffet that reminded me of any gala buffet on a big-ship line. The wait in line was in excess of 15 minutes, and for the price I paid for the cruise, I was just underwhelmed. Seabourn’s on-deck BBQ extravaganza was set up in small stations to minimize lines and wait times, with food items that included as I recall grilled Lobster among other wonderful food items. Silversea’s experience was so average that we skipped the galley lunch entirely.

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 3 = 6 points

Seabourn rating: 5 * 3 = 15 points

 

Room service (importance 4)

 

Both lines did a good job with this. Table with linens always set for breakfast or dinner, great service provided with a smile, and the cabin layouts made for a very comfortable overall experience. When it comes to the menu, I believe Seabourn offered a more varied selection and better overall quality of ingredients. Again, the boring MDR menu (see above) limited our dinner choices to the likes of French Onion Soup and pizza one evening. A telephone call to the cabin was always made before each delivery on Seabourn (especially helpful on those early mornings). Not so on Silversea. A minor point for some, but another factor that makes Seabourn superior in this category.

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 4 = 12 points

Seabourn rating: 5 * 4 = 20 points

 

Outdoor pool/Jacuzzis (importance 5)

 

As a swimmer and someone who uses both the pool and Jacuzzis 2, 3, 4 or more times daily, the Silversea pool area beats Seabourn without exception. Silversea’s pool was heated to an almost uncomfortable high temperature (90+ degrees) on 2 days, but it sure beats that tiny “pool” on Seabourn that’s barely big enough to cool off on a hot day. I missed Seabourn’s Jacuzzi far forward on the bow, but Silversea’s two Jacuzzis were lovely and afforded just as great a view.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 5 = 25 points

Seabourn rating: 3 * 5 = 15 points

 

Pool/deck bar (importance 5)

 

I know it may seem strange to call this out as its own separate category, but on these small ships it is a big aspect of afternoon shipboard life for us. Sitting around, chatting with fellow guests, observing and interacting with the bar staff and their cocktail-making abilities etc. Silversea was good (and their bar folks were the ones to call us by name most of the time) but Seabourn was a notch above. Silversea had the premium-brand liquors out of sight in a cabinet underneath the bar, although available if requested. A cost-cutting move I’m sure. Seabourn on the other hand presented all options to its guests within view. Want a peach Bellini or strawberry daiquiri? On Silversea, out came the fruit concentrate dispensed from large bottles. On Seabourn, fresh fruit went into the blender to make the drinks. How about a Bloody Mary in the Jacuzzi? On Silversea, it was promptly delivered without celery and olives. On Seabourn, those two side accompaniments were always present. Just a few examples… but little things like this mean a lot when paying these high-end prices, so Seabourn wins this category handily.

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 5 = 10 points

Seabourn rating: 5 * 5 = 25 points

 

Other bars/nightspots (importance 3)

 

Please see above for comments on premium liquors and cocktail ingredients. Because of the larger size of the Silver Cloud vs. Seabourn Spirit, I did appreciate the additional venues to enjoy pre-dinner drinks or post-dinner socializing. Not much else to say here, but Silversea’s sheer number of choices was welcome.

 

Silversea rating: 4 * 5 = 20 points

Seabourn rating: 3 * 5 = 15 points

 

Handling/Recognition of special milestones/birthdays (importance 3)

 

Both my partner and I have the same birthday (yes, it’s true) – and we celebrated it on this cruise. Last year we celebrated it on Seabourn. On Silversea, nothing was mentioned at the dinner table, and when we returned to the cabin, there were three balloons on the bed, a slice of chocolate cake with a generic Happy Birthday written on it, and a card addressed to just my partner. On Seabourn last year, at the conclusion of dinner in the MDR, my partner was presented with a personalized cake at the table with Happy Birthday XXX written on it. Yes, Seabourn forgot me to. I guess neither line gets too many travelers with identical birthdays. The difference is that on Seabourn, after bringing the mistake to the wait staff’s attention, a personalized Happy Belated Birthday XXX cake was brought out to me the following evening. After making a Silversea staff member aware of the mistake, absolutely nothing was done for the rest of the cruise. No biggie really… but the attention to detail on Silversea with these sorts of things is not at the level of Seabourn.

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 3 = 6

Seabourn rating: 4 * 3 = 12

 

Self-service laundry facilities (importance 3)

 

I love returning home with clean clothes, so I really enjoyed the launderette facilities on both Silversea and Seabourn. Both were clean and of good quality (machines, detergent), but Silversea’s laundry was bigger with an additional washer and dryer which made for a no-wait experience for me. Excellent. On Seabourn, it was a cramped space with a survival of the fittest mentality, and guests were lined up in the hallway to use it.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 3 = 15

Seabourn rating: 2 * 3 = 6

 

Full-service/ship laundry & dry cleaning (importance 2)

 

Both lines did an equally good job here with both laundry and dry cleaning. Not much else to say.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 2 = 10

Seabourn rating: 5 * 2 = 10

 

Cabin design/layout (importance 5)

 

In terms of the main cabin (we had a standard veranda on Deck 5), I have to say Silversea and Seabourn were pretty much on par with one another. Nice walk-in closets on both. No Bose radio on Silversea (although I understand they are coming soon), but I really liked the main cabins’ design and layout equally on both ships. Very, very comfortable for 10 days or more. The big differentiating factor was soundproofing between the suites. On Silversea, when it was quiet , you could literally hear the neighbors conversing next door in their room. It was a bit muffled, but if you tried and really listened, you could make out their sentences. Scary! Not the case on Seabourn with much better soundproofing – where you rarely heard your neighbors’ comings and goings.

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 5 = 25

Seabourn rating: 5 *5 = 25

 

Cabin bathroom (importance 5)

 

Silversea’s bathroom was no bigger than a bathroom on Celebrity or Holland America. Yes, it has a tiny bathtub which was actually quite nice, but only 1 sink and a toilet all jammed next to one another. It was fine and very functional, but far inferior to Seabourn Spirit’s bathroom with a larger and better arranged tub/shower combination and dual sinks. And although the Cloud is a newer ship, the bathroom looked shabbier than Seabourn’s for some reason. Must be the marble with the pink accents (not so attractive to begin with) that’s not wearing so well!

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 5 = 10 points

Seabourn rating: 4 * 5 = 20 points

 

Cabin balcony/veranda (importance 3)

 

This category is easy. Silversea had a comfortable private veranda with two chairs and a nice table. Seabourn has no true balconies except in their very high end (and priced!) suites. The importance of a private veranda on these small ships is less important than it would be on a larger vessel. You are literally 2-3 minutes to the open decks no matter where your cabin is on the ship.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 3 = 15

Seabourn rating: 0 * 3 = 0

 

Spa (importance 2)

 

Other than haircuts, we didn’t really utilize the spa services on either Silversea or Seabourn. I did look around however and would rate Silversea’s facilities a little higher just because of the larger footprint that the bigger ship affords. Both have separate steam/sauna rooms for men and women, massage treatment rooms, and hair/nail salon areas… but Silversea has a nice little outside deck to relax on outside the locker rooms where Seabourn does not.

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 2 = 6

Seabourn rating: 2 * 2 = 4

 

Ship-sponsored excursions (importance 4)

 

All excursions were good on both lines with no real disappointments. But there were no special “Welcome Home” receptions or in-cabin goodies on Silversea as there were on Seabourn. On Seabourn, for example, after an all-day outing, you may come back to the ship to find a staff of 10 or so crew members pier-side displaying a “Welcome Home” banner with waiters serving champagne before you even re-board the ship. Not so on Silversea. On another all-day excursion on Seabourn, you may return to the cabin to find a “Welcome Back” note from your room steward on the dining table complemented by Caviar, fixings, and a bottle of champagne. Not so on Silversea. I could list other examples where Seabourn far excels over Silversea in its attention to detail, but will instead switch to something that Silversea delivered on big time!

 

We were scheduled to be in Honfleur, France (the port for Normandy) on June 6, 2010. Yet there was no excursion available to Normandy or the landing beaches, due supposedly to our early 3pm departure. When other Silversea ships dock here with a later departure, Normandy tours are offered. It seemed that none of the senior crew members realized it was the anniversary of D-Day, so I approached the Cruise Director about it and explained the significance of the port stop, date, and that I’m sure when Silversea arranged this itinerary (probably 2 years ago) that they knew it was the 66th anniversary of that momentous day in history. Well, in a couple of days time, a flyer was delivered to all cabins announcing the Normandy tour offering. The captain had not only arranged an earlier than planned arrival in Honfleur, but a later departure time as well in order to allow this tour to be offered. Major kudos to the excursion staff and Cruise Director, Jimmy, for putting this together and pulling it off on such short notice! Bravo! It does make me wonder though about Silversea’s lack of attention to the finer details of this and other things (like the numerous grammatical and typographical errors in all the daily newsletters/bulletins). Oh well… let’s not get too off track.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 4 = 20 (rating this a 5 only because of the Normandy trip - would otherwise have been a 3)

Seabourn rating: 4 * 4 = 16

 

Gym/fitness facilities (importance 4)

 

This is another clear-cut category. The Silver Cloud’s size affords it a much nicer gym area with a great view forward across the oceans. Seabourn’s gym is small and from what I recall, had no view. Also no Elliptical machines on Seabourn which is a big deal to me as I really enjoy using them vs. the traditional treadmills.

 

Silversea rating: 4 * 4 = 16

Seabourn rating: 2 * 4 = 8

 

On-board shopping (importance 1)

 

As noted this is of not much importance to us, but the selection of merchandise was better on Silversea than on Seabourn. Although seeing an on-board H. Stern on Silversea was a real turnoff. What a tourist trap with a hard sell!

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 1 = 3

Seabourn rating: 2 * 1 = 2

 

Casino (importance 2)

 

I know this will sound familiar by now, but the larger Silver Cloud had a larger casino than Seabourn. About twice the number of slots and I believe an additional blackjack table, although I never saw both in use simultaneously. What was key here is that I thought the casino staff on Silversea were very professional and pushy/casino-like (fast dealing, made sure your drinks were always full etc.) - whereas on Seabourn the casino staff were much more conversational and leisurely which made for a much more relaxing gambling experience.

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 2 = 4

Seabourn rating: 3 * 2 = 6

 

Shipboard entertainment and Theater (importance 2)

 

I enjoyed the entertainment on both lines. Silversea had a professional production company/cast aboard that did 4 different shows in 10 days. Impressive for a small ship! Seabourn’s entertainment is mostly handled by its senior crew (cruise directors, asst CD, and others) – which was also good but different than a production show. Depends on what you like. Nicer theater by far on Silversea but I personally preferred the intimacy of the Seabourn crew entertainment. A draw for me in this category – but please note, don’t go on a small ship if big show, theatrical entertainment is a high priority.

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 2 = 6

Seabourn rating: 3 * 2 = 6

 

Overall feel of the cruise experience and camaraderie with like-minded travelers (importance 5)

 

This is an area where for us there was a huge difference. Please don’t flame me on this as my thoughts are difficult to convey in writing. At 48 years of age, we were among the 20 youngest passengers I would say on both Silversea and Seabourn. Not a big issue… we knew that would be the case going into both cruises. Let’s suffice it to say that Silversea just felt older to us than Seabourn all around. Seabourn’s passengers were all of similar age to Silversea, but definitely much more young at heart. I know what I’m about to write is a huge generality and in fact may not even be entirely true, but in order to simplify my feelings about our fellow travelers and to provide some background to other travelers considering Silversea vs. Seabourn… Silversea was very reserved and sometimes downright stoic while Seabourn was uplifting and sometimes rather raucous (and thus fun!). It was really quite different in terms of shipboard environments, attitudes, passenger interactions, and overall feel. Huge plus to Seabourn here for us.

 

Silversea rating: 1 * 5 = 5

Seabourn rating: 5 * 5 = 25

 

DRUM ROLL PLEASE… finally tally – and it’s very close much to my surprise:

 

Silversea rating: 280

Seabourn rating: 312

 

Concluding thoughts

 

Although we thoroughly enjoyed our Silversea experience (anyone who can’t have a good time on Silversea has got a problem in my opinion!), I am a little worried about the viability of Silversea long-term. It is just not in the same league overall as Seabourn with a focus on small details (not sure about how it compares to Regent or Crystal). In fact, Silversea does not distinguish itself enough from even the likes of Celebrity, IF you consider what Celebrity offers in their higher end suite categories at roughly the same price as you’d pay on Silversea their entry level veranda cabin. Yes, of course you don’t get the crowds as you encounter on a huge ship – and for some, I understand that is a deal breaker. But other than that, I don’t know what Silversea provides in a standard veranda cabin that Celebrity does not let’s say provide in one of their Celebrity or Royal Suites.

 

This was also the first time in a long time that we did not book another cruise while on-board. Instead… what did we do? Well, the weekend after our return from Silversea we booked another Seabourn voyage this August in the Med. Hmmmmm. What does that tell you?

 

I have provided a lot of information I know, but I do hope some of the readers find it helpful. Others of course will disagree with some of my comments. And I no doubt left some details out that others will be interested to know about. So questions and comments are welcome. Please feel free to post them here or email me directly.

And most importantly, THANK YOU to the Silver Cloud staff and crew for an excellent vacation. You worked very hard - and despite the occasional suggestions for improvement noted above, please know that we appreciated your efforts and you are to be commended for affording us a great time. Happy and safe journeys to all of us fellow CC’ers.

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THANKS for all of your details and info! You've done a very comprehensive report that show various plus and minus factors for both lines. We did Seabourn Spirit in June 2006 for the Greek Isles and Turkish Coast and Crystal Symphony in late July 2008 for the Baltics and Russia. Loved both. Each had their service differences and other factors. We are getting ready for our first trip on Silversea, doing the Silver Cloud from Copenhagen. We will sail along the Norway Coast, see the fjords, Arctic Circle, Land of the Midnight Sun, July 1-16, 2010. We are more focused on the ports and reaching where we want to go and what we want to see.

 

We will be able to report more in later July. We'll see how our impressions for the Silver Cloud match up to your comparisons. Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

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I just posted on the Seaborn board and want to also post the same comments on this board. As I had mentioned in the end what's most important is your own experiences and your own views. Some might see this differently but that is not key. What is key is your own thoughts.

 

This is an excellent way to share thoughts on both ships in a very logical and well thought out manner. In the end it is your opinion that counts the most including how you view the importance of each area, what your experiences were and your actual opinon of each area. Others may see this differently but that is of no importance.

 

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on this and I applaud you for the way you have organized this.

 

Keith

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Really? Not even the service or the food? Wow, I've been on a Celebrity cruise recently and I can't imagine that Silversea doesn't surpass it in the areas I just mentioned. Well, we're leaving for The Silver Spirit in a few weeks and keeping my fingers crossed that the level of service, food, etc. exceeds Celebrity by far.

Edited by cruzemaven

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Cruizemaven,

Don't get me wrong... Silversea was good. But if I had it do over... I would take a 10 night cruise in a Celebrity Royal Suite vs. a 10 night cruise in a standard Silversea veranda. Being a premium suite guest on Celebrity affords a lot of additional perks (private parties, butler etc.)... and Silversea did not offer any additional perks really... except that the size of the Cloud was MUCH smaller and thus no crowds, no lines anywhere. Being younger and mobile, that is not an issue for us. I can understand that if one if elderly or infirmed, a huge ship is cause for concern and a major challenge. Honestly, the food was about the same in quality between the two lines. Except for La Terazza on Silversea which my review pointed out was exceptional! Perhaps Silvesea's service was a notch above Celebrity, but the price point on Silversea vs. what I would have paid for a similar cabin on Celebrity did NOT compensate for the slightly better service. If VALUE for the dollar is important (perhaps that should have been one of my rating categories)... Celebrity wins hands-down. In fact, for value, they probably beat Seabourn as well. Cheers.

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no lines anywhere.

 

In fact, for value, they probably beat Seabourn as well. Cheers.

 

Except you say that the BBQ line was fifteen minutes.

 

 

not if you are paying for all of your drinks,wine,caviar and other extras that are not included with Celebrity.

Edited by lord of the seas

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I'm sure that many things differ from SS ship to another, but on our last cruise La Terrazza was MUCH less desirable for dinner than the MDR. We ate there twice and found it to be lackluster both times. We had both an anniversary and a birthday on board and while no mention was made in the dining room, each time we received an entire (small) cake in our suite and a bottle of champagne. Some people prefer that there is no type of presentation in the dining room to draw attention to themselves. I don't mind either way, but understand some people prefering it to be totally private. We were called by name many, many times in the MDR, La Terrazza and the bar, as well as when we encountered staff in other areas of the ship. Of course not everyone knew our names and I would not expect them to, but anyone we saw on multiple occasions recognized us. Smaller ships, lack of crowds and few or no children is very important to us, crowds being a "deal breaker" as you mentioned in your post.

 

We were on the Shadow and perhaps this made a difference? It was an 11 day cruise. So it seems that we had a very different experience than you in these aspects. That said, as we have all acknowledged - so many things are subjective and depend on one's personal preferences and opinions. I totally agree with you that anyone who can't have fun on SS (or practically any cruise for that matter) has a problem.:)

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Sorry... but disagree with Lord of the Seas. Even when paying for extras in a HIGH END suite on Celebrity - it would have been cheaper than what we paid on Silversea for the entry level veranda cabin. BTW, caviar is no longer free on SS. One of their caviar offerings was $500!!! Someone else just made a good point about the lack of kids. That is a huge plus for Silversea or Seabourn vs. Celebrity. I really did enjoy very few children on both lines. Silversea had 5 (well behaved mostly) kids on our voyage and Seabourn had zero.

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BTW, caviar is no longer free on SS. One of their caviar offerings was $500!!! Someone else just made a good point about the lack of kids. That is a huge plus for Silversea or Seabourn vs. Celebrity. I really did enjoy very few children on both lines. Silversea had 5 (well behaved mostly) kids on our voyage and Seabourn had zero.

 

Caviar is not that special or needed for our tastes and interests. Interesting point on the children angle or "absence". Different people have such a variety of interests that much of this is a highly "personal" decision for what fits best on these many issues.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

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I posted this on Seabourn...perhaps the Silverseas fans can also reply....Tho my partner & I have not sailed on either line I have been researching the 2 lines for a cruise in the near future....

 

Thanks to Martha here on this board seabourn is first on our list.

 

One thing you mentioned was the passengers & crew interaction - or lack thereof..

 

Could the difference be Silversea is more of an European Line & Seabourn more American?

Years ago sailingon the Italian or French Lines it was a more subdued atmosphere(nite time was fun) the American ships had a a friendlier atmosphere.....

 

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts.....

Edited by Rotterdam

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My husband and I (42 and 43 years old) have sailed both Seabourn(1x) Silversea (19 x) ( and Celebrity (1x).

 

Our first cruise was on Celebrity Millenium in 2001. We loved our first cruise experience on Celebrity but were convinced by my in laws that we would love Silversea and so our first SS cruise was in 2002. Our first Seabourn cruise was in 2004 and all other cruises thus far have been on SS.

 

I would absolutely sail both SS and SB. Silversea always beat out SB because of the itineraires we were interested in and honestly SS was a little less expensive than SB. To this day there are still aspects of our Seabourn cruise such as food and service that exceed Silversea - perhaps it just was a magical 14 day trip thru the Med - it is hard to say. But SS will always win on other factors such as intineraries and location of pool and rooms. And of course by now we have sailed with Silversea for over 19 cruises that we have come to know so many staff over the years it would be hard to leave SS.

 

As far as Celebrity - we are actually leaving in 2 weeks on the Solstice so that we may take my family on a holiday to celebrate my nephews graduations from High School and College. I dislike crowds very much and never ever would choose to steer away from SS but again I am choosing Celebrity because my family will be comfortable and truly enjoy Celebrity. I will be sailing with an open mind and knowledge that this cruise is not about me but my time spent with my family and on the other hand to be honest the Solstice really does look like a beautiful ship.

 

Now as far as the comment that a Royal Suite would be better than a Veranda on Silversea - I honestly cannot see this reasoning. As much as I look forward to this cruise with my family - I will dread the crowds, the signing for every single drink, long lines, chair hogs, children etc. I would not trade a Veranda suite for a Royal Suite for the same money. However 4 cabins on Celebrity would be the same as a 10 night stay on SS so for that reason alone I have chosen Celebrity. But come November its back on our beloved Silversea.

 

Cindy

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We've spent 7 days in the Penthouse on the Celebrity Millienium, and 14 days in a standard veranda cabin on the Shadow. We would (and have) booked SS again, yet would probably only ever book Celebrity again because of family. Not only was the price of the 14-day SS cruise in the veranda less expensive than the 7-day Celebrity cruise in the PH, the service, even in a veranda, was far superior.

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Thank you Stines for your review. We both really like SS but also considering Seabourn. May I ask about tables arrangements on Seabourn? Do they have open seating and lots of table for two like SS? We prefer to be on our own at dinner time. Thank you

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Hi Oceandream,

Yes, there are plenty of tables for 2 on Seabourn. Not a problem, ever. At least not in my 3 experiences. They are happy to even remove a 2-top from a 4-top to accommodate just 2 persons. Same goes on Silversea. Both lines very accommodating.

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Stines - wow! this was a most comprehensive report. Many thanks! We have avoided SB due to the lack of balconies, but may give it a try based on yr write-up.

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Hello everyone... after receiving so much good information from these boards, I wanted to take a chance and write my first detailed review of our first Silversea voyage on the Silver Cloud – 10 days from Barcelona to London in May, 2010. Some background: we are two 48-year olds. Recent cruises have all been on the Seabourn Spirit (3 of them), and we have also sailed with HAL, Princess, Carnival, and many, many times with Celebrity. Decided to give Silversea a try as the price was right (well not really, but at least moderately acceptable) and the itinerary was great (got to visit Normandy France and Omaha Beach on the 66th Anniversary of D-Day... an utterly amazing experience!).

To keep things interesting, I will compare our Silversea experience with that of our recent Seabourn trips, giving each category of the review a rating factor to indicate how important that aspect of the cruise was to us (1 being least important and 5 being most important). Then I’ll rate each category in much the same way for each line (Silversea vs. Seabourn) to hopefully arrive at numerical score to see who wins. As I begin, I don’t really know who will come out on top. There were aspects of the Silversea and Seabourn experiences that we very much enjoyed. I will also cross-post this on both boards so both lines’ passengers can benefit from this information.

OK… here goes. First, the categories and their importance to us on a scale of 1 (least important) to 5 (most important). I may have missed a few, but these are what are important to us.

 

• Ship overall: 5

• Crew/service overall: 5

• Main Dining Room food: 5

• Alternative restaurant(s): 4

• Special Event dining: 3

• Room service: 4

• Outdoor pool/Jacuzzis: 5

• Pool/deck bar: 5

• Other bars/nightspots: 4

• Handling/Recognition of special milestones/birthdays: 3

• Self-service laundry facilities: 3

• Full-service/ship laundry & dry cleaning: 2

• Cabin design/layout: 5

• Cabin bathroom: 5

• Cabin balcony/veranda: 3 (on these small ships, it’s not as important as we thought)

• Spa: 2

• Ship-sponsored excursions: 4

• Gym/fitness facilities: 4

• On-board shopping: 1

• Casino: 2

• Shipboard entertainment: 2

• Overall feel of the cruise experience and camaraderie with like-minded travelers: 5

 

And now, some comments on each category along with a rating of 1-5, with 1 being OK and 5 being outstanding.

 

Ship overall (importance 5)

 

Both ships are lovely. Small, no lines anywhere, nice fixtures and finishes. I liked the extra space and additional bar and restaurant options on the Cloud vs. smaller Spirit, and the Cloud is also so beautiful to look at. Like a classic ocean liner trimmed down in size. Cabin interiors I liked better on Seabourn.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 5 = 25 points

Seabourn rating: 4 * 5 = 20 points

 

Crew/service overall (importance 5)

Silversea was good but Seabourn far better. By day two of our Seabourn voyages, we were being called by our first and/or last names. I can count on one hand how many Silversea crew called us by name throughout the voyage. It sounds corny, but it was amazing how much we missed that on Silversea and the difference it made. In terms of friendliness, promptness, attention to detail, and other service aspects, I’d say both lines are pretty competitive with one another. Maybe it was just the smaller size of the Seabourn ship that makes a difference, but I really felt more a part of the Seabourn family than I did apart of Silversea.

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 5 = 15 points

Seabourn: 5 * 5 = 25 points

 

Main Dining Room food and service (importance 5)

 

This was perhaps our biggest disappointment with Silversea. On our 10-day itinerary, we ate only 3 times in the MDR. The menus were generally boring, with only a few items that really peaked our interest. I can recall reading the menus on Seabourn and genuinely looking forward to the dining experience each night. Now don’t get me wrong, during the entire 10 days, we never had a bad meal anywhere on Silversea. We are not fussy eaters or high maintenance patrons when it comes to restaurants. And although we dine out frequently at home, we rarely go to the top-end/expensive restaurants in any particular city around the world. Also, the number of entrée choices was fairly limited, with three or sometimes four courses being the standard on Silversea vs. five on Seabourn. Service in the MDR on both lines was similarly excellent however as was the quality of flatware, plates, glasses etc.

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 5 = 10 points

Seabourn: 5 * 5 = 25 points

 

Alternative restaurant (importance 4)

 

As average as we thought the Silversea MDR experience was, La Terazza – one of three! alternative venues, the other being outdoors on deck under the stars and Le Champagne (more later on that) – was superb! We ate there 4 times on our 10 night voyage. The La Terazza menu was the same most nights, but that did not matter. Every item we ate there was mouth-watering delicious. On two occasions, and with 24 hours advanced notice, we asked the chef to prepare something special off the main menu. Both of these items were delivered and equally outstanding. Well done, La Terazza. We dined outdoors on deck once, with a basic menu of salads, fish, steak, prawns etc. It was very nice and the food was very good but not excellent. My steak was cooked medium rather than medium-well as ordered, but the Madagascar prawns were delicious. We did not try Le Champagne, the $200 per person with wine venue. There is just something wrong with charging that price on a luxury line where you’re already paying roughly $1,000 per night room and board. I know you can dine there for only $30 per person without wine, but the up-charge left such a sour taste in our mouths that we decided against it. I talked to several fellow cruisers who did opt to try it, and it received across the board “good” but not outstanding reviews.

 

Seabourn alternative dining options were limited to Restaurant 2, a tapas style concept with a changing menu each evening. While extremely enjoyable and a definite change of pace from most alternative restaurants at sea today, La Terazza on Silversea was superior in most every respect.

 

Silversea rating: 4 * 4 = 16 points (would have given this a 5 if it hadn’t been for the ridiculous up-charge of Le Champagne).

Seabourn rating: 3 * 4 = 12 points

 

Special Event Dining (importance 3)

 

Silversea, like Seabourn, offers a deck BBQ one evening and a galley lunch. Silversea’s BBQ was laid out in one long line, with a lot of food choices in terms of quantity, but nothing overtly special. It was one big buffet that reminded me of any gala buffet on a big-ship line. The wait in line was in excess of 15 minutes, and for the price I paid for the cruise, I was just underwhelmed. Seabourn’s on-deck BBQ extravaganza was set up in small stations to minimize lines and wait times, with food items that included as I recall grilled Lobster among other wonderful food items. Silversea’s experience was so average that we skipped the galley lunch entirely.

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 3 = 6 points

Seabourn rating: 5 * 3 = 15 points

 

Room service (importance 4)

 

Both lines did a good job with this. Table with linens always set for breakfast or dinner, great service provided with a smile, and the cabin layouts made for a very comfortable overall experience. When it comes to the menu, I believe Seabourn offered a more varied selection and better overall quality of ingredients. Again, the boring MDR menu (see above) limited our dinner choices to the likes of French Onion Soup and pizza one evening. A telephone call to the cabin was always made before each delivery on Seabourn (especially helpful on those early mornings). Not so on Silversea. A minor point for some, but another factor that makes Seabourn superior in this category.

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 4 = 12 points

Seabourn rating: 5 * 4 = 20 points

 

Outdoor pool/Jacuzzis (importance 5)

 

As a swimmer and someone who uses both the pool and Jacuzzis 2, 3, 4 or more times daily, the Silversea pool area beats Seabourn without exception. Silversea’s pool was heated to an almost uncomfortable high temperature (90+ degrees) on 2 days, but it sure beats that tiny “pool” on Seabourn that’s barely big enough to cool off on a hot day. I missed Seabourn’s Jacuzzi far forward on the bow, but Silversea’s two Jacuzzis were lovely and afforded just as great a view.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 5 = 25 points

Seabourn rating: 3 * 5 = 15 points

 

Pool/deck bar (importance 5)

 

I know it may seem strange to call this out as its own separate category, but on these small ships it is a big aspect of afternoon shipboard life for us. Sitting around, chatting with fellow guests, observing and interacting with the bar staff and their cocktail-making abilities etc. Silversea was good (and their bar folks were the ones to call us by name most of the time) but Seabourn was a notch above. Silversea had the premium-brand liquors out of sight in a cabinet underneath the bar, although available if requested. A cost-cutting move I’m sure. Seabourn on the other hand presented all options to its guests within view. Want a peach Bellini or strawberry daiquiri? On Silversea, out came the fruit concentrate dispensed from large bottles. On Seabourn, fresh fruit went into the blender to make the drinks. How about a Bloody Mary in the Jacuzzi? On Silversea, it was promptly delivered without celery and olives. On Seabourn, those two side accompaniments were always present. Just a few examples… but little things like this mean a lot when paying these high-end prices, so Seabourn wins this category handily.

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 5 = 10 points

Seabourn rating: 5 * 5 = 25 points

 

Other bars/nightspots (importance 3)

 

Please see above for comments on premium liquors and cocktail ingredients. Because of the larger size of the Silver Cloud vs. Seabourn Spirit, I did appreciate the additional venues to enjoy pre-dinner drinks or post-dinner socializing. Not much else to say here, but Silversea’s sheer number of choices was welcome.

 

Silversea rating: 4 * 5 = 20 points

Seabourn rating: 3 * 5 = 15 points

 

Handling/Recognition of special milestones/birthdays (importance 3)

 

Both my partner and I have the same birthday (yes, it’s true) – and we celebrated it on this cruise. Last year we celebrated it on Seabourn. On Silversea, nothing was mentioned at the dinner table, and when we returned to the cabin, there were three balloons on the bed, a slice of chocolate cake with a generic Happy Birthday written on it, and a card addressed to just my partner. On Seabourn last year, at the conclusion of dinner in the MDR, my partner was presented with a personalized cake at the table with Happy Birthday XXX written on it. Yes, Seabourn forgot me to. I guess neither line gets too many travelers with identical birthdays. The difference is that on Seabourn, after bringing the mistake to the wait staff’s attention, a personalized Happy Belated Birthday XXX cake was brought out to me the following evening. After making a Silversea staff member aware of the mistake, absolutely nothing was done for the rest of the cruise. No biggie really… but the attention to detail on Silversea with these sorts of things is not at the level of Seabourn.

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 3 = 6

Seabourn rating: 4 * 3 = 12

 

Self-service laundry facilities (importance 3)

 

I love returning home with clean clothes, so I really enjoyed the launderette facilities on both Silversea and Seabourn. Both were clean and of good quality (machines, detergent), but Silversea’s laundry was bigger with an additional washer and dryer which made for a no-wait experience for me. Excellent. On Seabourn, it was a cramped space with a survival of the fittest mentality, and guests were lined up in the hallway to use it.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 3 = 15

Seabourn rating: 2 * 3 = 6

 

Full-service/ship laundry & dry cleaning (importance 2)

 

Both lines did an equally good job here with both laundry and dry cleaning. Not much else to say.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 2 = 10

Seabourn rating: 5 * 2 = 10

 

Cabin design/layout (importance 5)

 

In terms of the main cabin (we had a standard veranda on Deck 5), I have to say Silversea and Seabourn were pretty much on par with one another. Nice walk-in closets on both. No Bose radio on Silversea (although I understand they are coming soon), but I really liked the main cabins’ design and layout equally on both ships. Very, very comfortable for 10 days or more. The big differentiating factor was soundproofing between the suites. On Silversea, when it was quiet , you could literally hear the neighbors conversing next door in their room. It was a bit muffled, but if you tried and really listened, you could make out their sentences. Scary! Not the case on Seabourn with much better soundproofing – where you rarely heard your neighbors’ comings and goings.

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 5 = 25

Seabourn rating: 5 *5 = 25

 

Cabin bathroom (importance 5)

 

Silversea’s bathroom was no bigger than a bathroom on Celebrity or Holland America. Yes, it has a tiny bathtub which was actually quite nice, but only 1 sink and a toilet all jammed next to one another. It was fine and very functional, but far inferior to Seabourn Spirit’s bathroom with a larger and better arranged tub/shower combination and dual sinks. And although the Cloud is a newer ship, the bathroom looked shabbier than Seabourn’s for some reason. Must be the marble with the pink accents (not so attractive to begin with) that’s not wearing so well!

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 5 = 10 points

Seabourn rating: 4 * 5 = 20 points

 

Cabin balcony/veranda (importance 3)

 

This category is easy. Silversea had a comfortable private veranda with two chairs and a nice table. Seabourn has no true balconies except in their very high end (and priced!) suites. The importance of a private veranda on these small ships is less important than it would be on a larger vessel. You are literally 2-3 minutes to the open decks no matter where your cabin is on the ship.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 3 = 15

Seabourn rating: 0 * 3 = 0

 

Spa (importance 2)

 

Other than haircuts, we didn’t really utilize the spa services on either Silversea or Seabourn. I did look around however and would rate Silversea’s facilities a little higher just because of the larger footprint that the bigger ship affords. Both have separate steam/sauna rooms for men and women, massage treatment rooms, and hair/nail salon areas… but Silversea has a nice little outside deck to relax on outside the locker rooms where Seabourn does not.

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 2 = 6

Seabourn rating: 2 * 2 = 4

 

Ship-sponsored excursions (importance 4)

 

All excursions were good on both lines with no real disappointments. But there were no special “Welcome Home” receptions or in-cabin goodies on Silversea as there were on Seabourn. On Seabourn, for example, after an all-day outing, you may come back to the ship to find a staff of 10 or so crew members pier-side displaying a “Welcome Home” banner with waiters serving champagne before you even re-board the ship. Not so on Silversea. On another all-day excursion on Seabourn, you may return to the cabin to find a “Welcome Back” note from your room steward on the dining table complemented by Caviar, fixings, and a bottle of champagne. Not so on Silversea. I could list other examples where Seabourn far excels over Silversea in its attention to detail, but will instead switch to something that Silversea delivered on big time!

 

We were scheduled to be in Honfleur, France (the port for Normandy) on June 6, 2010. Yet there was no excursion available to Normandy or the landing beaches, due supposedly to our early 3pm departure. When other Silversea ships dock here with a later departure, Normandy tours are offered. It seemed that none of the senior crew members realized it was the anniversary of D-Day, so I approached the Cruise Director about it and explained the significance of the port stop, date, and that I’m sure when Silversea arranged this itinerary (probably 2 years ago) that they knew it was the 66th anniversary of that momentous day in history. Well, in a couple of days time, a flyer was delivered to all cabins announcing the Normandy tour offering. The captain had not only arranged an earlier than planned arrival in Honfleur, but a later departure time as well in order to allow this tour to be offered. Major kudos to the excursion staff and Cruise Director, Jimmy, for putting this together and pulling it off on such short notice! Bravo! It does make me wonder though about Silversea’s lack of attention to the finer details of this and other things (like the numerous grammatical and typographical errors in all the daily newsletters/bulletins). Oh well… let’s not get too off track.

 

Silversea rating: 5 * 4 = 20 (rating this a 5 only because of the Normandy trip - would otherwise have been a 3)

Seabourn rating: 4 * 4 = 16

 

Gym/fitness facilities (importance 4)

 

This is another clear-cut category. The Silver Cloud’s size affords it a much nicer gym area with a great view forward across the oceans. Seabourn’s gym is small and from what I recall, had no view. Also no Elliptical machines on Seabourn which is a big deal to me as I really enjoy using them vs. the traditional treadmills.

 

Silversea rating: 4 * 4 = 16

Seabourn rating: 2 * 4 = 8

 

On-board shopping (importance 1)

 

As noted this is of not much importance to us, but the selection of merchandise was better on Silversea than on Seabourn. Although seeing an on-board H. Stern on Silversea was a real turnoff. What a tourist trap with a hard sell!

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 1 = 3

Seabourn rating: 2 * 1 = 2

 

Casino (importance 2)

 

I know this will sound familiar by now, but the larger Silver Cloud had a larger casino than Seabourn. About twice the number of slots and I believe an additional blackjack table, although I never saw both in use simultaneously. What was key here is that I thought the casino staff on Silversea were very professional and pushy/casino-like (fast dealing, made sure your drinks were always full etc.) - whereas on Seabourn the casino staff were much more conversational and leisurely which made for a much more relaxing gambling experience.

 

Silversea rating: 2 * 2 = 4

Seabourn rating: 3 * 2 = 6

 

Shipboard entertainment and Theater (importance 2)

 

I enjoyed the entertainment on both lines. Silversea had a professional production company/cast aboard that did 4 different shows in 10 days. Impressive for a small ship! Seabourn’s entertainment is mostly handled by its senior crew (cruise directors, asst CD, and others) – which was also good but different than a production show. Depends on what you like. Nicer theater by far on Silversea but I personally preferred the intimacy of the Seabourn crew entertainment. A draw for me in this category – but please note, don’t go on a small ship if big show, theatrical entertainment is a high priority.

 

Silversea rating: 3 * 2 = 6

Seabourn rating: 3 * 2 = 6

 

Overall feel of the cruise experience and camaraderie with like-minded travelers (importance 5)

 

This is an area where for us there was a huge difference. Please don’t flame me on this as my thoughts are difficult to convey in writing. At 48 years of age, we were among the 20 youngest passengers I would say on both Silversea and Seabourn. Not a big issue… we knew that would be the case going into both cruises. Let’s suffice it to say that Silversea just felt older to us than Seabourn all around. Seabourn’s passengers were all of similar age to Silversea, but definitely much more young at heart. I know what I’m about to write is a huge generality and in fact may not even be entirely true, but in order to simplify my feelings about our fellow travelers and to provide some background to other travelers considering Silversea vs. Seabourn… Silversea was very reserved and sometimes downright stoic while Seabourn was uplifting and sometimes rather raucous (and thus fun!). It was really quite different in terms of shipboard environments, attitudes, passenger interactions, and overall feel. Huge plus to Seabourn here for us.

 

Silversea rating: 1 * 5 = 5

Seabourn rating: 5 * 5 = 25

 

DRUM ROLL PLEASE… finally tally – and it’s very close much to my surprise:

 

Silversea rating: 280

Seabourn rating: 312

 

Concluding thoughts

 

Although we thoroughly enjoyed our Silversea experience (anyone who can’t have a good time on Silversea has got a problem in my opinion!), I am a little worried about the viability of Silversea long-term. It is just not in the same league overall as Seabourn with a focus on small details (not sure about how it compares to Regent or Crystal). In fact, Silversea does not distinguish itself enough from even the likes of Celebrity, IF you consider what Celebrity offers in their higher end suite categories at roughly the same price as you’d pay on Silversea their entry level veranda cabin. Yes, of course you don’t get the crowds as you encounter on a huge ship – and for some, I understand that is a deal breaker. But other than that, I don’t know what Silversea provides in a standard veranda cabin that Celebrity does not let’s say provide in one of their Celebrity or Royal Suites.

 

This was also the first time in a long time that we did not book another cruise while on-board. Instead… what did we do? Well, the weekend after our return from Silversea we booked another Seabourn voyage this August in the Med. Hmmmmm. What does that tell you?

 

I have provided a lot of information I know, but I do hope some of the readers find it helpful. Others of course will disagree with some of my comments. And I no doubt left some details out that others will be interested to know about. So questions and comments are welcome. Please feel free to post them here or email me directly.

And most importantly, THANK YOU to the Silver Cloud staff and crew for an excellent vacation. You worked very hard - and despite the occasional suggestions for improvement noted above, please know that we appreciated your efforts and you are to be commended for affording us a great time. Happy and safe journeys to all of us fellow CC’ers.

 

 

We just returned from Silver Spirit for our 5 year anniversary. Not only was it acknowledged by mulitple staff members, but a cake was presented and when we returned to our suite there was a bath drawn with rose petals and multiple small trears. It was truely memorable. As for bloody mary. Everytime we ordered one it came with olive and celery. You can always find reason to complain and be critical. People should read all these posts with both eyes open. To each his own......

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I beg your pardon, Neilio. Those points were merely two examples of the details that Silversea did NOT deliver on while Seabourn did. I was not complaining, but rather offering some suggestions for improvement should any of the Silversea folks read this post. I provided many positive comments regarding our Silversea experience (and some negative ones about Seabourn) and truly appreciated the hard work of the SS staff and crew. It was a very memorable cruise and we had a GREAT time! I'm glad that you enjoyed too. However, it was the lack of attention to some of the finer details that, in my opinion, makes Seabourn a notch above Silversea at these price points. That is what I hoped a more thorough and detailed review whould illustrate.

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Stines - wow! this was a most comprehensive report. Many thanks! We have avoided SB due to the lack of balconies, but may give it a try based on yr write-up.

 

From our late June 2006 experience on the Seabourn Spirit, I would not let the lack of balconies hold you back. This ship is so "compact" and easy to move around on that you can get quickly up to the top deck and other places for great views, etc. The port stops or itinerary were key for us in picking this specific cruise, combined with the cost factors at the time being offered. Like many of today’s consumers, our “loyalities” are more floating and flexible. We want it to be good, but fitting our budget and “what-we-haven’t-seen-or-done” needs are also very important factors to us. Don't let that balcony question hold you back from having a great time on Seabourn.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

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Stines-thanks for the detailed review. Other SS veterans-we are taking our first SS cruise on 12/11/10 Barbados-FLL on Spirit and getting a little nervous after reading some recent reviews and need a little reassurance. We have taken quite a few cruises (Princess, RCCL, NCL, etc.) and wanted to move up from the lines, noisy kids, rude people, mediocre food, etc. We realize that two people on the same ship at the same time will probably have different views of the ship, but recent posts at first glance seem to indicate a decline in service, food, etc. Are we just paranoid and reading too much into this? Actually, one of our least impressive cruises we've been on was Celebrity (primarily because of the people and food). Also, I like the methodology stines used to compare SS -vs- SB. As with each of you, I'm sure your scale of importance would differ. We personally would avoid any cruise, no matter how wonderful, without a balcony. And, we have great concerns about the smoking issue since we are both allergic to smoke.

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Rickroen1,

Smoking was something I did not comment on... and was worried about based on some reports. However, it was not really an issue. Yes, there were some folks in the cigar lounge, and when the door opened into the bar, it was not very nice. But upon closing the door, the smell generally went away pretty quickly. One side of the "Bar" was also smoking on the Cloud, and that did get a little unpleasant some of the time (as a non-smoker). But we just left and returned at a later point and there was no strong smell. Smoking is a HUGE issue for us, but based on my SS experience, I would not let that be too much cause for concern. If you want to "move up" lines, I'd say you're best bet, based on my SS and Seabourn experiences on your balcony requirement, is to go with a newer Seabourn ship like Odyssey or Sojourn. While SS will undoubtedly deliver a 4.5 star experience, I think Seabourn will deliver 5. Of course itinerary and pricing are HUGE factors to also consider. Also if you want a more lively and congenial crowd, I'd go with Seabourn. If you want a more subdued and private experience, SS is the better choice. Whatever you decide, I'm confident you'll have a great time on either though.

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Stines-thanks for the detailed review. Other SS veterans-we are taking our first SS cruise on 12/11/10 Barbados-FLL on Spirit and getting a little nervous after reading some recent reviews and need a little reassurance. We have taken quite a few cruises (Princess, RCCL, NCL, etc.) and wanted to move up from the lines, noisy kids, rude people, mediocre food, etc. We realize that two people on the same ship at the same time will probably have different views of the ship, but recent posts at first glance seem to indicate a decline in service, food, etc. Are we just paranoid and reading too much into this? Actually, one of our least impressive cruises we've been on was Celebrity (primarily because of the people and food). Also, I like the methodology stines used to compare SS -vs- SB. As with each of you, I'm sure your scale of importance would differ. We personally would avoid any cruise, no matter how wonderful, without a balcony. And, we have great concerns about the smoking issue since we are both allergic to smoke.

 

Don't worry, it will all work out fine. We did Seabourn in June 2006 for the Greek Isles and Turkish Coast and Crystal in late July 2008 for the Baltics and Russia. Loved both. Each had their service differences and other factors. Each had little "slips" or less than perfect "things", but in the big picture, it was nothing.

 

We are getting ready for our first trip on Silversea, doing the Silver Cloud from Copenhagen. We will sail along the Norway Coast, see the fjords, Arctic Circle, Land of the Midnight Sun, July 1-16, 2010. We are more focused on the ports and reaching where we want to go and what we want to see. Worrying too much about some details is not our focus. Most who are satisfied never post on these boards. The "little" problems will seem bigger because the "happy" people are too busy to do such postings after they have had successful cruises. The "negatives" tend to get a larger reporting, in proportion to the overall group of all travelers. We will be able to report more in later July after our first SS cruise. This cruise will give us an opportunity to compare and contrast three of the top luxury lines, Crystal, Seabourn and Silversea. Each has its differences in style, philosophy, size and approach, but they are all much, much more similar than that different. None is a “mega” ship in size/mass market and the service was highly personalized.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

Edited by TLCOhio

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Stines-thanks for the detailed review. Other SS veterans-we are taking our first SS cruise on 12/11/10 Barbados-FLL on Spirit and getting a little nervous after reading some recent reviews and need a little reassurance. We have taken quite a few cruises (Princess, RCCL, NCL, etc.) and wanted to move up from the lines, noisy kids, rude people, mediocre food, etc. We realize that two people on the same ship at the same time will probably have different views of the ship, but recent posts at first glance seem to indicate a decline in service, food, etc. Are we just paranoid and reading too much into this? Actually, one of our least impressive cruises we've been on was Celebrity (primarily because of the people and food). Also, I like the methodology stines used to compare SS -vs- SB. As with each of you, I'm sure your scale of importance would differ. We personally would avoid any cruise, no matter how wonderful, without a balcony. And, we have great concerns about the smoking issue since we are both allergic to smoke.

 

I just want to make a couple of comments.

 

I am one who applauded the writeup that Stines did. I did so not because I agree or disagree with each and every comment but I thought the layout of the review and the way that Stines ranked each item based on his view of each items relative level of importance was very well done.

 

To those who have a difference of opinon with him on one or more items that is fine but they have to remember that this is his view and like most other opinions there is no right or wrong to this. If Stines feels that a suite on Celebrity is a better value than his accomodation on Silversea then for him that is the correct view. It is just no necesary for one to convince the other that he/she is right or wrong.

 

On the other hand if you have not taken Silversea before then I would not let one persons review either persuade you or make you fearful of sailing with Silversea because in the end you may have a totally different experience. Some items that Stines ranked high you may rank lower and other items he ranked low you may rank higher.

 

I also want to point out one other item based on my experiences. No two cruises are the same because there are so many different factors that can influcence the cruise from the itinerary to the weather to the staff to your own cabin stewardess to the passenger mix.

 

And in this case there is another big factor. The review that Stines wrote is about the Silver Cloud and you are going on the Silver Spririt. You are talking about two completely different ships not only in their size but in the era they were built along with the many other differences including the entire crew.

 

The same would be true of Seabourn where the feel of the triplets is certainly going to be different than than the feel of the newer fleet of Seabourn ships.

 

In the end, I would not read too much into one review or even a handful of reviews because your own experience and the views you may have might be quite different.

 

I usually take the 90/10 rule. If 90% of the people feel strongly about something I accept that as fact until I experience it myself but again that is not the case here.

 

I applaud Stines as I said from the beginning for pulling togethe a wonderful format for his review that allowed him to evaluate and share his own experience from the cruise to his experience with Seabourn. But with that said I would not start worrying about a booking I have because of anything I have read along with my own experience.

 

Keith

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As far as Celebrity -

- I will dread the crowds, the signing for every single drink, long lines, chair hogs, children etc. Cindy

 

Celebrity has various types of drink packages available ...

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