CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Silversea Cruises Silver Wind Eastern Mediterranean June 8, 2003

I had an enjoyable, and in some ways memorable, cruise on the Silver Wind from Villefranche to Piraeus, June 8 to 15, 2003. The food was usually good and some was excellent, the wines and wine stewards were an education, and the Silver Wind's people were top notch, but the organization of the service let me down. I found I had to make allowances for overworked room stewardesses and there were failures in the embarkation/debarkation.

Embarkation and debarkation.

This was the weakest area of the cruise. About three or four days before the start of the voyage the port authorities in Nice declared that dock space would not be available for the Silver Wind. Silversea shifted the port of embarkation to Villefranche, but I and most passengers traveling independently did not find out about the change and went to the Quai du Commerce Cruise Terminal in Nice. Silversea ran a bus from another part of the port to Villefranche, and a number of passengers had problems getting from the Quai du Commerce to the Silversea bus. There was no assistance from Silversea in getting to the bus, and even at the site where the bus would stop there was only an awning and chairs. The temperature was in the upper 80s, there was nothing to drink, and there was and no help with the baggage until the bus pulled into Villefranche. The passengers banded together to assist one of our number who was recovering from a stroke.

After arriving in Villefranche (where Silversea personnel worked full time, one-on-one, with the passenger who was recovering from a stroke) we left our luggage on the bus and walked with our hand baggage to the cruise terminal. Passengers who knew of the change in port and went to Villefranche directly told me there was no one from Silversea to help them with luggage on their arrival. We sat in Villefranche without refreshments until being loaded on tenders. Silversea took our luggage from the bus and sent it out to the Silver Wind by tender. On the Silver Wind, and after a long pause, champagne and snacks appeared in the Terrace Cafe, but there were far too few staff to serve efficiently. A senior staff person on the Silver Wind described the embarkation as a "nightmare," and he enlightened a group of us to another problem the Silver Wind had to contend with: Unloading previous cruise passengers and luggage by tenders.

The disembarkation procedures were the normal ones. Passengers were asked to wait in the public rooms until their groups were called. But the public address system did not function in one of the public rooms, the 5th deck bar. The passengers there did not find out that some of their groups had been called until one of the passengers inquired at the disembarkation desk, which was aware there were problems with the public address system in the bar and at other locations. Once ashore things went smoothly..

I attribute the embarkation/disembarkation problems to a crew unused to working together. I believe that the next time something like this happens someone will think of getting more people in the cruise terminals to redirect passengers and to handle their luggage. Someone will think of providing refreshments - at least water and juice - at the terminals and possibly on the bus. And the crew will have food and drink ready when the passengers arrive aboard.

The Silver Wind

The Silver Wind is a lovely ship. It is small enough to get around in easily. There is only one bank of elevators and the ship doesn't need more. Furnishings, rugs, curtains and so forth were not replaced during the dry dock period that ended earlier this year, but they are all well-maintained. There are signs at the free self-service laundry asking passengers not to loiter there or be noisy out of respect to fellow passengers in neighboring cabins. I did not notice a problem, but I would try to avoid a cabin in this area since I assume there have been complaints in the past. The gym has been relocated to deluxe accommodations on the 8th deck facing a bank of floor to ceiling windows. There are three treadmills, three traditional stationary bicycles, two reclining bicycles, and a full range of free weights, but only one fixed-weight machine for upper and lower body workouts. I would like to see more machines for arms, legs, abs, and pectorals.

by my standards the Vista cabins are spacious, with a walk-in closet, a bathroom with full bath, a sitting area with a desk, sofa, table and chairs, and a sleeping area with a vanity, end tables, and beds. There is fresh fruit in the room every day, and the mini-bar is stocked any way you want it. The corridors in the cabin areas have been planned to avoid the perspective-monotony of large ships, where the view is of converging corridor angles and rows of diminishing doors. Putting the doors at an angle to the corridor helps avoid the institutional view. The public rooms are tastefully done. The Restaurant is pleasant and welcoming, the Terrace is well laid-out, and the 5th deck bar has the right atmosphere and music for the pre-dinner drinks I appreciate.

Food and drink

Before sailing on the Silver Wind I spent four days in Nice, dining at well-recommended restaurants, two of which have a single star from Michelin. On some nights dinner aboard the Silver Wind beat the best of those restaurants. On two nights it was not as good. From what I had, or could cadge off other's plates, I would rate the quail, wild boar, and swordfish as excellent, with the roast veal only a little behind them. The duck did not work; either the sauce or attempted glaze was poor in my opinion (and that of other diners). One night I had lobster and it was tough. The soups, and particularly the creamed soups, compared well with anything on land as did the bread and baked goods. Possibly the desserts lagged in comparison with the Nice restaurants I ate at, but I can see that persons with slightly different tastes might well disagree with me and, in any case, I had cheese and port two or three times.

The cognac served after dinner was Courvosier VSOP, and the port was Sandeman's tawny and ruby red. Sherry was Harvey's, and included Bistol Cream. Other cognacs, ports and sherries were available for a fee. I am not much of a champagne drinker, but what I had of the Philippnnat Royal Reserve seemed good enough. Other passengers I spoke with were indifferent to the recent change in champagnes by Silversea since their preferences were for yet other champagnes such as Krug or Piper-Heidsieck, or for a line of Moet other than the one formerly served free on Silversea. No one suggested Philipponnat Royal Reserve was inferior champagne.

The wines served with dinner were for the most part new to me, and I profited from the experimentation. Of even greater benefit to me, however, were the comments from the wine stewards. They were uniformly well informed, and the cruise's Dutch sommelier was awesomely knowledgeable. He could match the best of the sommeliers I have spoken with ashore.

The best coffee and espresso aboard was served in the restaurant in my opinion. I thought the Terrace Café coffee was weak enough that I drank tea when I was at the Café for breakfast. I had espresso at the Terrace Café once and one in the bar, and as far as I was concerned once was enough in either location. The espresso was one of the reasons I did not go back to the Terrace Café, the other being that I thought the food in the Restaurant was as good as the theme food in the Café.


The level of service on the Silver Wind was high, but not better than I have received on other lines. The major lapse in service involved organization of the embarkation/disembarkation and was noted above. Due to the number of cabins the room stewardesses had to handle, they did not usually get around to my room until after 11:00AM. The stewardesses were hard working and, I felt, possibly overworked.

The bridge tour by Captain Gennaro Arma is not to be missed. This is for the captain's delightful personality as much as the tour. Colin Brown is a standout as a Cruise Director. He is always around, always available, always informative. Antonio, the Maitre d'Hotel, recalled the tables I preferred and saw that I got them. How he did that for an entire ship I don't know. Our dining room stewards were excellent, and other stewards were efficient in giving away drinks at the pool, the bar, and the theatre.


Every cabin was taken on this cruise, but not every bed, and there were about 250 to 260 passengers aboard. I liked my fellow-passengers. They ranged in age from minus a few months (we had at least one pregnant passenger) to around 80. We had about half a dozen teenagers and so far as I could see they were well behaved. There were plenty of 20- and 30-somethings, but the typical passenger was in the late 50s or around 60 I would guess. A plurality of passengers came from the United States, but not, I think, a majority. The United Kingdom had the next largest share of passengers. There were many from Australia, and lesser numbers from Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, and Switzerland. I was surprised as how few Canadians were aboard.

Women dressed pretty much the same on casual and informal nights: dresses, blouses and slacks, and some pantsuits. On informal nights men wore jackets but most did not wear ties. On formal nights about ninety percent of the men were in dinner clothes, and the rest were in dark business suits. Most women wore cocktail dresses on formal nights but there were plenty of dressy pantsuits balanced by evening gowns.


I don't expect much in entertainment on cruises. On this cruise I found Colin Brown to be the entertainment highlight. He put on a one-hour program of piano music by Beethoven, Schumann, and other composers. It was a comfortable time, like listening to an old friend who is also a fine pianist. On one piece, I think it was by Grieg, Colin was accompanied by a guitar player who appeared solo on other nights. The piano and guitar combination was terrific. I think it was a mistake to squeeze Colin's program into the beginning of the dinner hour on the last night of the cruise. He should get prime time on a better night.

I walked out on dance duo called the Argentinian Devils.

Katakolon Misinformation

The cruise was originally scheduled to stop at Katakolon, the port for Olympia, but we were told the historic sites in Greece were closed for a few days by a guides' strike. Katakolon is an uninteresting destination in itself, and I was hoping we would get an extra day in Sorrento instead of a stop in Katakolon. The Captain told me there was some concern the passengers would be bored by another day in Sorrento (possibly the first time that bored and Sorrento have appeared in the same sentence). Silversea redirected the Wind to Pylos, Greece which has some interest, including an old fort. It was a good effort by Silversea to make the best of a situation beyond its control, but in Athens the next day all the sites were open except for the National Archeological Museum, which was in the midst of being refurbished for the 2004 Olympics. No one I spoke with had heard of a guides' strike or of the historic sites being closed. I think someone misinformed the staff on the Silver Wind, which dutifully misinformed the passengers.

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