Crossing On The SILVER SPIRIT, Part Six

Wine and dine in epicurean style for six leisurely Atlantic sea days with Peter Knego on the sixth leg of his latest Sea Trek aboard Silversea Cruises’ ultra-deluxe MV SILVER SPIRIT during the ship’s fifteen night voyage from Lisbon to Barbados.

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Silversea Cruises

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

At last — In over 200 cruises, my first Atlantic crossing! For this voyager, six days, not to mention the extra five hours gained by heading west, would pass all-too-quickly.

Espresso express.

After a luxuriant sleep-in, we prodded our in-cabin Illy espresso machine until it frothed up a proper morning’s dose of caffeine.

Olio y aceto.
Sun versus shade on La Terrazza terrace.

The 11:15 AM cooking demo, “Gnocchi al Pomodoro e Pecorino and Risotto alla Milanese”, in the Lounge was a perfect prelude to our lunch on the outdoor terrace of La Terrazza. As usual, it began with artisan breads and a salad drenched in a potent blend of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and ground salt crystals.  A following wind stayed the enchilada entrée that followed.

After lunch, for some cerebral nourishment in the Lounge, Andrew Johnson gave a lecture entitled “The Grand Tour” about the evolution of travel from the 19th Century to luxury cruising, Silversea style. Throughout the cruise, in tandem with fellow lecturers Philip Hurst and Dr. Roger Lederer, Johnson provided a wide ranging variety of topics from world politics to geography and ecology.

Tea time treats in Terrazza.

At tea in La Terrazza, the theme was Wiener Kaffee, with an assortment Viennese coffee house treats from sugar cookies and strudel to tarts, tortes and finger sandwiches. Resistance was senseless and futile.

MV SILVER SPIRIT Gym, facing starboard.

What with all the olive oil, artisan breads and cookies consumed, I was determined to get in a minimum of ninety minutes of daily elliptical and crunch time at the well-equipped gym on aft Deck 6. In addition to the aforementioned, it offers treadmills, several weight machines and a variety of free weights. Toned trainer Gareth also supervised a number of included classes, from Yoga to “Boot Camp” and “Legs, Bums and Tums”.

Veggie entrée in the Restaurant.

Formal night on SILVER SPIRIT was quite the gala affair with most ladies elegantly coiffed in flowing gowns and gents preening in tuxes and the occasional tail. For me, the highlight of this particular gourmet dinner in the Restaurant was the delicious Baby Vegetable Ragout with confied garlic and shallots, scallion sauce and beet oil.

The evening ended on a high note with a nightcap in the quiet, remote Observation Bar as the SILVER SPIRIT leisurely nosed through a Force Five swell.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ferdinand of 702.

Ferdinand (or, as he likes to be called, “Ferdi”) hails from Manila and has worked with Silversea for ten years on all of the line’s ships. This kind, poised, dedicated and ebullient room steward trained for six months aboard the MS PHILIPPINES, the former Italian liner AUGUSTUS, which had just arrived at Alang for scrapping when this SILVER SPIRIT voyage began.

Pizza margherita in La Terrazza.

For lunch in La Terrazza, in addition to a mountainous salad, I ordered a fresh pizza margherita.

Trivia quizzed...

We joined a wonderful group of fellow passengers in the Panorama Lounge for the team trivia quiz. Even though we stumbled through most of the 20 questions (Silversea has some of the toughest quizzes afloat), our team members were a lovely lot and would welcome us back on several occasions, much to their peril.

Laundry time on Deck 7.

There are seven free passenger laundries that come in especially handy on longer voyages in this era of tough airline luggage restrictions. Both Rob and I got lucky as there were available machines on Decks 6 and 7 to refresh a week’s worth of withered wardrobes.

Sunset and hot rocks.

Our Man Ari booked us for two nights in Hot Rocks, Silversea’s al fresco casual dining venue on the Deck 10 terrace overlooking the pool. I’m pretty new to this sort of dining experience but gourmand Rob was there to make sure I didn’t burn the goods!

Hot Rocks caesar salad.

It begins with a teaser of chips, guacamole and salsa and is followed by a choice between a crispy Caesar or a New York Salad. Wine (red or white), beer, sparkling water, soft drinks flow freely and would be replenished as twilight faded under a canopy of stars.

Sea bream in Hot Rocks.

In addition to a selection of prime cuts, the “catch” of the day was a sea bream, drenched in freshly-squeezed lemon, of course.

Fish is cooked in Hot Rocks.

Accompanied with a skewer of grilled veggies and a baked potato smothered in chives and sour cream…

Hot Rocks apple tart.

Our balmy night in Hot Rocks ended with a baked apple tart. Hats off to Mersun Nucup, SILVER SPIRIT’s baker with the golden touch.

English John on the grand.

In the Lounge, it was an evening of virtuoso piano playing from guest artist Jon England, who covered everything from Liberace to Lewis (Jerry Lee, that is) with a unique, invigorating flair.

Always a good sign....

So nice to find the second of five “turn the clocks back” signs atop our posh bedding. Westbound is the only way to cross….

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Midships Verandah Suite.

Since a few guests disembarked in the Canaries, I had a chance to photograph a couple of the suite categories that were fully booked when we boarded in Lisbon. The SILVER SPIRIT has 216 Veranda Suites that measure a total of 376 square feet.

Midships Verandah Suite balcony.

Veranda Suites are all the same in layout and size but the 166 Midship Suites are marketed at a slightly higher premium. Balconies measure 65 square feet.

MV SILVER SPIRIT pool area from Observation Deck 12.

Up atop the ship, I finally “discovered” the observation terrace on Deck 12. It is accessed via a remote staircase that leads up from the port side of the Observation Lounge on Deck 11.

Galley Lunch.

We went to the dining room and galley to merely photograph the gala Galley Lunch buffet. Our plans to dine in La Terrazza were soon aborted…

Caldera of eggs and grain in the Galley.

A wonderful array of fresh sea food, salads, pasta, fish, fowl and meats awaited. Once a plate was filled, an attending steward whisked it off to the guest’s table.

Chocolate dragon on Galley Lunch Day.

A spectacular chocolate dragon presided over the dessert display in the dining room.

Staff Engineer Gursel Ebit in the control room.

At 2:00 PM, I had the pleasure of visiting Romanian Staff Engineer Gursel Ebit in the control room. He explained the basics of SILVER SPIRIT’s machinery before leading me into the spotless cacophony of her engine room.

Wartsilla diesels.

The ship is powered by five sets of Wartsila diesels that can produce a maximum speed of 20.3 knots.

SILVER SPIRIT starboard shaft.

In lieu of often troublesome pods, the SILVER SPIRIT is propelled by twin screws.

Balcony blues.

Meanwhile, up on our balcony, another beautiful day at sea was breezing by.

The Bar, facing port/forward.

Prior to dinner, many of the SILVER SPIRIT’s guests congregate in the Bar on midships Deck 5. With 112 seats, the space has an Art Deco flourish and departs from the overall beige and brown color scheme of the other public areas by infusing turquoise and black enamel accents.

Red, red wine in the Restaurant.

At lunch and dinner in all of the ship’s dining venues, there is a red and white wine pairing.  Did I mention that already?

Always available pasta appetizing in the Restaurant.

There is no shortage of genuine, homemade Italian pasta on board the SILVER SPIRIT. It is on the Always Available side of the menu and can be ordered in appetizer or main course portions with gratuitous amounts of parmesan to accompany.

Blueberry sorbet in the Restaurant.

Each night, a new homemade sorbet is also available at dinner, either as a palate cleanser or a full-fledged dessert. Or both.

”Elton Ron” and the SILVER SPIRIT cast.

The SILVER SPIRIT Singers and Dancers performed “Rocketman”, a tribute to Elton John. Cast member Ron manned the keys and once again delivered a blockbuster performance.

Observation Lounge, facing starboard.

The Observation Lounge was quickly becoming our nightly “end up”. Bartenders Vishal and Russel made sure no glass went un replenished, be it  a mere soda with lime.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Captain Sangiacomo on the bridge.

At 10:00 AM, I had a chance to visit Captain Marco Sangiacomo in the SILVER SPIRIT’s bridge. Born in Santa Margherita de Ligure and trained at the Camogli Nautical School near Genoa, he began his career as a “cadet” in 1988 on the cargo ships of Italian Line. He joined Silversea in 2000 and attained captain’s status in 2004 on board the SILVER WIND.

SILVER SPIRIT Wheelhouse, facing starboard.

The SILVER SPIRIT has an impressive bridge that despite the console and all of its modern equipment, gives a nod or two to traditional Italian ocean liner heritage:  spotless blue linoleum decking…

SILVER SPIRIT wing at sea.

….and open bridge wings! Many captains prefer a bridge with open wings so they can gauge the elements while navigating.

Toda forca.

After my visit, I raced to the opposite end of the ship.

Andrew Johnson at the podium.

Alas, I only caught the tail of guest lecturer Andrew Johnson’s “Blue Riband” presentation in the Lounge but fortunately, as with all of the enrichment lectures, it would be broadcast on the cabin television throughout the day.

Susan Woods shares.

At 11:15 in the Panorama Lounge, we sipped Virgin Marys and listened to Susan Woods’ captivating tales of her “Life At Sea”. With hints of Lynne Redgrave and perhaps a even a little Julie Andrews in her demeanor, Susan’s tag line is a chirpy “toodle-loo”.

Toodle-loo on the pool grill terrace.

Susan retired in 2009 after a long career that included teaching dance aboard the ships of much lamented Sitmar Cruises and a twenty year stint as a cruise director with Holland America. Cooking and housework were not nearly as satisfying as being at sea, so she returned with a flourish to the ships of Silversea.

Balmy balcony.

Although the temperature and humidity had been gradually increasing as the SILVER SPIRIT continued westward, today, the difference was palpable and our balcony was bare.

Silver seas ahead.

I opted for a relatively “low key tea” in the Observation Lounge with some aromatic jasmine green tea and a panorama of endless sea.

SILVER SPIRIT face.

That following wind on the fo’c’sle made photographing the SILVER SPIRIT’s forward superstructure ever so easy in the golden afternoon light.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Window seat in the Restaurant.

Yet another glorious day at sea. Our routine was pretty much set with mornings in the cabin catching up on work and news, editing photos and trying to post portions of this rather epic blog. Today, instead of heading to La Terrazza for lunch, we went to the Restaurant and got a fantastic table for two by a picture window on the port side.

Terrazza tea

In La Terrazza at tea time, another chance to choose between twelve fresh leaf brews in addition to a myriad of bags.

Tea time in La Terrazza.

Little blue timers are provided but we tended to prefer ours “over steeped”.

High caloric view in La Terrazza.

And the sweet temptations were merciless.

Double rainbow astern.

Cloudbursts on either side of us produced a maze of rainbows.  At one point, there was a double.

Halloween in the Restaurant.

Somehow, the joy of being at home for Halloween was not missed for even the slightest moment. It was nice to let Silversea do the pumpkin carving and provide the requisite tricks and treats.

Angela sings the blues.

How we never made it to the ship’s jazz nightclub Stars up to this point completely baffles me. We joined friends for a post dinner listen to the silvery vocals of singer Angela Clark and the bluesy tinkling of pianist Michelle Yap Wei Mien until the clock struck twelve.

Wednesday, November 1, 2011

Blue seas astern.

Was this really our last day at sea? Where on earth did all that time go? More food, tea, sunshine, a work out and a metaphoric Philip Hurst lecture, this one entitled “How to Get a Military Coup”.  Anarchy meets irony.

Suite party in 702!

With everyone lulled into a comfortable existence on board the SILVER SPIRIT, new friendships had been forged. We decided to hold an informal get-together in our suite and let Our Man Ari know that, finally, we might be ordering some canapés for the evening. Soon, our little get-together had become a bona fide event — tended by no less than four butlers and fortified with bubbly, wine, beer, soda…

Canapes for days.

…and canapes!

Pool net nocturnal.

As the safety net was unfurled over the pool sometime in the wee hours, the utter dread of encroaching land had finally sunk in.  Contrary to Columbus, I was not ready for the New World.

End Of Sixth Post: Much More To Come…

Special thanks: Brad Ball, Martin Cox, Rob Di Stefano, Gina Finocchiaro, Paolo Percivale

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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