Cruising: When Small is Much Better

By Bonnie Baker Cowan

For Zoomers who think cruising is for very old, sedentary people on huge, lumbering ships that accommodate thousands of people, it’s time to dispel the myth.

First of all, cruising these days is for active, discerning travelers who are looking for adventure, cultural experiences and stimulating company. Secondly, while there’s nothing wrong with big ships, there’s something intimate and personal about smaller ships. And, they can often sneak into ports inaccessible to larger ships.

Cruise lines such as Silversea offer the kind of elegance and personal service that makes a guest feel exclusive and special. The capacity of the Silver Wind for example is 296 and with a staff guest ratio of 1:1, it’s only a few hours on board before staff members know everyone’s names. Not only does the passenger list represent several nationalities, but the crew is comprised of 36 different nationalities. That in itself is a wonderful cultural experience.

When we boarded The Silver Wind in Dubai a few weeks ago for a cruise that gave us insight into the mysteries of the United Arab Emirates, Oman and finally Mumbai, we were welcomed in our suite by our own personal butler, Morgan, a native of Mumbai. The pampering began immediately. Not only were we feted with the usual champagne and a stock of the wines and spirits of our choice as well as a choice of high-quality bath products, but he unpacked our bags, arranged for our favorite daily Canadian newspaper to be delivered and polished our travel-dusty shoes. He sent out our laundry and dry cleaning as needed and returned it in the evening on padded hangers or neatly folded in tissue paper. He even had our luggage cleaned the day before we departed from the ship to come home.

While the Silver Wind has four different restaurants for dining, Le Champagne requires a dinner reservation for its intimate room and six-course special menu which is accompanied by different wines from the world’s most renowned regions. La Terrazza, which is open for casual breakfasts and lunches, also transforms into an Italian restaurant at night focusing on Italian dishes from different regions and requiring a reservation. And, the Silver Wind also offered Dining under the Stars on the pool deck, which again required reservations for the intimate seating plan. Morgan made all our reservations, recommending various themed evenings we would enjoy.

Morgan also set up a small cocktail party in our suite and we entertained a few other Canadians and a family from California, which included parents in their early 60s and their two grown children with spouses. The family spends every December on a Silversea cruise. “I cancelled Christmas years ago when my kids were in their late teens,” says Callie. What she appreciated most was that once the cruise was paid for, there was nothing more to pay. “ It was especially great that everything was included when the kids were in their early twenties and spent a lot of time in the bar,” she says , laughing and rolling her eyes.

Every morning, we were greeted with tea and cappuccino to enjoy while we dressed and read the paper before breakfast. Each day at 5 o’clock, Morgan delivered a tray of canapés, a bucket of ice and a small bowl of lime slices for our cocktail hour. One day, after a long tour of the Grand Mosque in Muscat and the Nakhi Fort, we arrived home to a hot bath Morgan had drawn and sprinkled with rose petals.

Now that’s how every day should end for a Zoomer!

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Sailing the world in style

Silversea Cruises, a luxury cruise line, offers all the amenities of a large ship with the intimate atmosphere of its five, all-suite vessels: Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit. Along with the new expedition ship, Prince Albert 11, itineraries include all seven continents to 400 destinations, including both polar regions.

Among its many awards, Silversea has been voted “world’s best” by readers of Conde Nast Traveler nine times and Travel + Leisure seven times.

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