Travel: Six-star luxury and a butler on the Champions' League of voyages
When the first glass of champagne was delicately placed into my hand as we were escorted onto the Silver Spirit, I knew we were about to embark on something special.
‘Welcome to Silversea, Mr and Mrs Bailey’ … not a bad way to start.
Our nine-day luxury Mediterranean voyage began in Rome from the port of Civitavecchia and would visit some of Europe’s finest destinations including Monaco, Marseilles, Valencia and Barcelona – you might call it the Champions’ League of cruises.
I’ve sailed with other companies before, but none have matched the style, sophistication and pizazz of this one, for the Sliver Spirit is a floating advert for refinement and expensive tastes.
She’s paradise on the water, boasting all the hallmarks Silversea has built its reputation on over the years, which is fine dining, spacious accommodation and first class service.
And where else would you get your own personal butler? We met Pankaj before setting sail and he introduced himself with all the charm and friendliness you’d expect on a six-star luxury voyage.
Making us feel special from the outset, there was nothing off-limits. Whether it be a food request, hair-dryer or new battery for the TV remote, Pankaj was there to assist at the push of a button.
The mini-bar was always stocked up with drinks – in our case it was champagne – and we also enjoyed the luxuries of Bulgari toiletries, a marble bathroom, large walk-in wardrobe and even a choice of pillows. It’s treatment like this which separates Silversea from the rest.
After leaving Italy’s vibrant capital, we were off to Portofino, a quaint little town with beautifully-coloured hillside buildings surrounding the busy harbour, where, to our delight we found a souvenir shop selling Christmas decorations (another one for the collection).
Next it was on to Monte Carlo, where we woke up to a wonderful room service breakfast on our veranda with a spectacular panoramic view of the harbour and its glistening yachts, some of the most sought-after properties and of course, the world-famous Grand Prix circuit.
‘It doesn’t get much better than this’, I thought, and with the historic Monaco Grand Prix just over a week away, I couldn’t miss the opportunity of a stroll around the track, reminiscing about the famous races of the past involving the likes of Senna, Prost and Mansell.
Back on board the spoiling continued, particularly by the swimming pool where waiters were ready to serve drinks on demand whether you were lying on the sunbed or relaxing in one of the three bubbling whirlpools.
Next up Saint Tropez on the French Riviera, where, after a few hours on a lovely secluded beach, we watched a parade marking the town’s Le Bravades celebrations, held annually in honour of the patron saint Torpes of Pisa.
In Marseilles there was time for a morning peruse around the old town before an afternoon on Le Petit Train, a sightseeing tour which took us all the way up to the city’s best-known landmark, the Catholic bascilica Notre-Dame de la Garde.
Our final French destination was Sete, a picturesque fishing port and the gateway to Montpellier, but for a look at the real fisherman’s life, there’s no need to go anywhere else.
With a capacity for just 540 guests, Silver Spirit is much smaller than many other cruise ships, but what you get is a feeling of space and freedom, and once inside you wouldn’t know you were on a smaller vessel.
There’s six wonderful restaurants to choose from, each boasting its own unique style and cuisine. Whether it’s sushi, succulent steak cooked on volcanic rocks or the finest Italian pasta dishes, there’s something to suit all tastebuds.
Star of the show is Relais & Chateaux-designed La Champagne, where on our last night we had a magnificent six-course feast with wine pairings in an incredibly romantic atmosphere.
Each evening on board was aptly rounded off in the Show Lounge watching the fabulous Voices of Silversea or in the more intimate atmosphere of the Stars Supper Club, where we were entertained by talented singer/pianist jazz duo Arlee and Jon.
Wind and choppy waters denied us the chance of seeing Alcudia in Mallorca, but we were still able to enjoy another part of the Balearic island with a trip to its capital Palma.
It was then on towards the mainland and Valencia, a very proud city representing the essence of contemporary Spain,where we stopped for a few hours before making our way up the east coast to Barcelona.
And there was no better way of bringing the cruise to an end than with a helicopter flight over the famous city, giving us a birds-eye view of the all the great sights, including the enormous Nou Camp Stadium and spectacular Sagrada Familiar.
Sadly, our wonderful voyage had to come to its finale, but even if we were no longer able to be there in body, we certainly remained in spirit.
- Explore the elegant lifestyle of all-inclusive ultra-luxury cruising across 900-plus worldwide destinations by Silversea ultra-luxury cruises.
- A similar voyage on Silver Spirit departing Civitavecchia on 7th October 2017 can be purchased from £4,800 per person.
- Tel: 0844-2510837
- Web: https://www.silversea.com