Food will likely be a big part of any holiday and may even be the deciding factor. Food tourism is gaining in popularity but even if we are not looking for a gastronomic trip garnished with tastings, visits to local producers and a sprinkling of artisan bakers, we still want good food when we return to our chosen accommodation. Silversea offers just that and much more!
Cruises have long been famed for providing meals at every hour of the day, snacks at a whim, and drinks metaphorically or literally on tap. Some of these cruises also have a reputation for quantity at the sacrifice of quality, so it’s important to make informed decisions.
Silver Wind is one of the Silverseas vessels (are they ships or are they boats?). It’s not a floating juggernaut and only carries a couple of hundred guests, in fact 296 when fully laden. That might sound a sizeable complement to the untutored but many a boat carries thousands.
Think of a 5* hotel and then add a star. That extra sparkle comes from personal butler service and it’s truly a pampering luxury. This uniformed treasure will serve you toast at any time, will fill your personal mini bar with your favourite gin (a full bottle rather than a skimpy miniature). They will ensure that you have a choice of bathroom toiletries, and, snacks aside, will offer you breakfast and any other meal in your room; and it’s all at no extra charge.
It’s the nature of modern cruises to be all-inclusive but that all-inclusiveness might include a bit more on Silversea ships than on other lines. Even sophisticated travellers will be impressed. The service isn’t stiff and starchy but is discreet and impeccably timed. Smiles are quick and warm from waiters who actually seem to enjoy their work. The ratio of staff to guests is high … or is that low? Suffice it to say that there seem to be as many crew members as guests – and that’s not far from the truth: for less than 300 guests there are 222 crew members.
So there will be no shortage of willing servers, but what of the restaurants? Will one be obliged to dress formally every evening? No. Will there be place-cards seating you between the First Officer and a 90-year-old vet from Iowa? No (but he might have been a charming vet). Seating is your choice and these cruises appeal to a much younger set. This cruise is all about casual luxury with a few formal options for those who enjoy black tie or sequins. It’s a cruise, but your way.
La Terrazza is a culinary retreat that leads something of a double life. It opens early in the morning with an extensive buffet-style breakfast. That’s the advantage of a cruise with a multi-national guest complement: there is always a vast array of dishes to tempt, and breakfast is no exception. If one hails from mainland Europe then cheese, cold meats and croissants might be the preferred morning plate. For Scandinavians the addition of fish will make for a traditional start to the day, and then North Americans and British will head for the cooked goods, and there is a wide selection that would more than constitute a Full English.
Lunch at La Terrazza has similarly generous proportions, with selections of cold dishes as well as a truly eclectic spread of hot dishes that range from comforting European slow-cooked favourites to some Asian specialities. Lighter fare is found in the guise of sushi and sashimi with authentic condiments and even chopsticks. It’s lunch after all, so a selection of fruits and desserts are also on display; but remember that afternoon tea and dinner will be putting in an appearance in your near future.
And talking of dinner, La Terrazza makes its final transformation in the evening to become an à la carte traditional Italian restaurant. Pasta is made fresh on board, and risotto is highly recommended. Save some space for the cheese selection as it is as good as one would find in any Michelin-star restaurant.
One restaurant not to be missed is the Grill by the Pool. During the day it serves those fast food classics like burgers, fries and pizza, but there are evenings when the moon shines from a black velvet sky, the lights shimmer on the now vacant pool and the sound of sizzling replaces splashing. It’s the hot rock speciality. Slabs of black volcanic stone are heated to frying temperature and your choice of steak, fish or shellfish is placed on top. The splattering starts with the application of a drizzle of oil and that’s when one realises the necessity for those rather stylish bibs. You will regret refusing such a thing for the sake of sartorial elegance (but there is an onboard laundry).
The Panorama Lounge is a marvellous spot for quiet relaxation with a book when one has had an elegant sufficiency of lounging by the aforementioned pool. It’s designed to provide the best view of the latest destination or romantic seascape. This is the spot for a spot of afternoon tea at just the time of day when one is comfortably over lunch and salivating at the prospect of dinner. A few delicate sweets and savouries fill that fleeting gap. As evening approaches the lounge changes persona and becomes a piano cocktail bar offering a vantage point from which to watch the setting sun. Drinks are mixed to order and canapés arrive with no order given.
Le Champagne is the smallest and most intimate of Silver Wind’s restaurants and is the only Wine Restaurant by Relais & Châteaux without an address on dry land. Le Champagne is an annex of The Restaurant, and this bijou dining room has well-spaced tables, low lights and romantically-inclined couples – although these change with each voyage.
The formal dress code adds to the impression that Le Champagne is special but the quality of food is the confirming factor. Relais & Châteaux is an organisation built on culinary excellence. Their restaurants guarantee outstanding dishes served with classic flair and paired with the finest of wines. An evening here should be on every guest’s itinerary.
The Restaurant is an animated salon with appropriate seating not only for couples but larger groups as well. This is the ideal restaurant for a family celebration accompanied by remarkable main dishes, and memorable and sophisticated desserts.
Silver Wind by Silversea offers educated palates the flavours of ports visited, casual dining for those who prefer simple fare, hearty plates to satisfy the most expansive of appetites, and there are swathes of salads to tempt those who seek healthful and light dishes. Younger travellers will rejoice in cakes, ice cream and pastries – and it would be rude to force them to eat alone.
Travel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018