Just returned from our 2nd SS cruise - last was 4 years ago on the Silver Wind & was fabulous. I was a little nervous about trying to do it all over again, but had an absolutely incredible cruise and the Silver Whisper is even more gorgeous - and at 30% of, we were very happy!
Boarded in Barcelona (see my 'Barcelona Notes on Google Groups rec.travel.europe if you are going there). Shown immediately to our balcony suite - WOW!! We booked a reg. balcony suite - the mid-ship ones are more expensive, but we were only 2 doors away from the higher priced ones & I don't see any reason to pay more. Suite #641 - veranda had tons of privacy as bottom-to-top metal wall to the right between us & other cabin and no one in cabin on other side. Beautiful bathrooms - all marble, double sinks, separate shower & regular sized tub. Soft plush huge towels. And those fabulous Bulgari eau tea vert toiletries - it's been my fav spring/summer scent since the last cruise!
Large mirror with shelf in hall between bath & closet. Walk-in closets even larger - full wall & double rack for hanging clothes - my only complaint is that since there is a larger drawer built into the floor, there is no full length hanging space for formal gowns - almost, but about 4 inches too short. Shoe rack & 6 or 7 drawer cabinet with safe on top. Fluffy robes & full length mirror on door.
Cabin itself seemed pretty similiar to the Silver Wind - so well designed - comfy big bed, bedstands with drawers on either side, built in well-lit vanity & stool. Sitting area with loveseat, 2 chairs & table. Built-in fridge, desk & more shelves/drawers. TV on top on swivel platform & bar set-up in opposite shelf. Tons of storage space.
Veranda with sliding door, 2 chairs & footrests, table.
Our cabin girls came in & introduced themselves - Ulrike & Julia - just darling & so sweet. They were a big part of what made the cruise so special - so friendly & out-going. Asked us about any special requests & what we wanted bar stocked with - asked for vodka (they asked if Absolut ok - absolutely!), Pouilly Fuisse wine, cokes & tonic water. No problems! Also, wonderful fruit plate always filled in room.
Ship didn't sail til 11pm, so we got off & had another great dinner in Barcelona. 1st day sea day - had Balinese Bliss massages in lovely spa - got away with only buying some de-tox bath stuff! Very nice rooms & don't feel crowded at all. Were given our own email adresses, so spent some time in library on one of 8 computers contacting home. Formal night & sat with ship's doctor - very interesting - caviar & excellent poached lobster for dinner.
Casino is nice, but only other complaint is how unfriendly dealers were. They really don't need to be so stiff & cold. An English mother & daughter were cleaning up on the slots - all the time, but didn't see a whole lot of luck at any of the tables. Darling little 'Grappa Bar' off the casino turned out to be our hang-out.
Other guests were very friendly & fun - age group much younger than last SS cruise - probably partially due to fares coming down.
Docked in Malaga & took the tour to Granada & the Alhambra - excellent guides & a nice, but too long lunch afterwards (typical for Spain). Gibralter the next day, where I'd never been. We hired a local tour guide to take us over the Rock & to see the monkeys, absolutely amazing huge caves with stalagtites & -mites - so beautiful & the defense tunnels & caves - cute little town & wish we'd had a little more time there to shop as we heard the prices were great - unlike the rest of Europe!
Lisbon next - I hung out in the old town while hubby golfed with pro at what he said was a great course - $350, tho, which seemed rather steep. Some other guests did it on their own for much less. Next time! Oporto was a wonderful old town built on very steep cliffs & we enjoyed lunch at a charming cafe by the river, then did a port winery tour.
Next day, La Coruna, where we took the tour to Santiago de Compostela - would go back there in a heartbeat. Darling old town with teency cobblestone streets & great - looking seafood restaurants. Another excellent tour - SS even made a donation to the Cathedral so that the priests would perform aspecial ceremony - lighting a 6 ft tall silver oil lamp, pulling it up to the ceiling & then pushing it so it swung from ceiling to ceiling over our heads, controlled by 8 priests holding the rope - truly spectacular!
Sea day, then St. Malo. We decided to do Mont St. Michel on our own as hate the early departure times of tours. Had a terrible time finding a taxi - even the local port agent couldn't get one for us. Evidentally all 6 were already in Mont St. Michel. After 2 1/2 hours & total frustration - I've always wanted to go there & agent finally told us it wasn't going to happen, found a taxi & fought over it with a French woman & I finally just got in & the driver was more than happy to take us there & wait 2 hoursfor us. Boy, was it worth it - so glad we perservered!
Honfleur next, where we disembarked 3 days early to go to Paris. 9 nights was just perfect. SS staff did all kinds of amazing things for us - I consulted with the head chef re: a special birthday dinner served in the suite for us. Caviar, giant shrimp cocktail, Greek salad, broiled lobster tails & my husband's favorite, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce & Spanish peanuts. Champagne & a special Mersault ($48 additional) with dinner. They had already dropped off a beautiful chocolate ganache flourless cake for him earlier. Frangelico after-dinner drinks.
The galley tour was fabulous - at least 10 different stations - caviar, proscuitto, sushi, 30 kings of cheese, unbelievable desserts - kept going back for more. Only time we truly pigged out.
Our last night, one of our new friends, a couple from England arranged a special dinner with the Maitre D' for 6 of us - nothing on the regular menu, sauteed foie gras (my new addiction), roasted gambas shrimp, a delicious layered lamb dish, special wines, salads, can't remember dessert, but all wonderful. No problems at all arranging that morning evidentally.
We usually give shows a miss, but had 2 stand-out acts - "Space Violins" - 2 young gorgeous Polish sisters who play everything from bluegrass to rock on their plexiglass electric violins. They did their first show at the deck BBQ dinner & danced & played around the promenade on the deck above the pool, then had a too-brief part of another show. The other show we loved I can't remember the Italian name, but was a cross between Cirque de Soleil, amazing ballet & acrobatics - best show & most elegant I've ever seen on a ship. Definitely worthy of Vegas!
Gym was big enough & excellent equipment. Took several classes - a power pump, stretch & Pilates (only one with a charge - $10 additional, so is Yoga) to try & burn some calories.
If they didn't have the wine we wanted at a bar, they would go & get it - was never too much to ask for anything. Only somewhat weak spot it that this was supposed to be a wine education cruise - a class on champagne & several expensive private tours that we didn't do. Had a wine & cheese night on deck, but not the education/tastings I had been hoping for.
Although no tipping policy, gave the bartender we had spent a lot of time with & cabin girls nice tips - they were rather reluctant, but of course kept in the end!
All in all, the best cruise ever - we are already looking at next year's sailings to go again as soon as possible - due to children & work, need to put some time in between sailings, but would get on again tomorrow if I had the chance. It's so nice not to worry about charges, tipping, drinks costs, who buys, etc. So romantic, elegant without being stuffy & fun - was really hard to go to our hotel in Paris & have to pay for things - $20 for 2 teas & $9 for a 7 oz bottle of tonic (we'd brought the reminder of our 1.5 liter bottle provided by SS with us) - yikes! The Silver Whisper is an absolutely beautiful ship & you will be so pampered, reality is very hard to deal with!