My 11 night sailing from Barcelona to Rome was blessed with the warm September sunshine that often bathes the Mediterranean, further enhancing the beautiful surroundings. It also enabled us to make full use of the relaxing pool deck and Jacuzzis, and although we didn't completely escape the rain, a handful of evening thunderstorms added a touch of drama as we watched them light up the sky on our night time departures.
I sailed on Silver Cloud, which will soon undergo a transformation as she is refurbished and ice-strengthened to join the Silversea Expeditions fleet. Accommodating just 296 guests, her intimate size makes her suitable for this type of exploration whilst in the Mediterranean, and ensures an exclusive feel. It's easy to move around the eight decks and you're never far from the excellent restaurants and lounges, giving the feeling that you're in a small hotel rather than on a cruise ship.
We found that the crew couldn't do enough for us, and the butler service was a dream come true. Many a morning we took advantage with an excellent breakfast to set us up for a day of exploring. Depending on your preferences, your butler is happy to unpack your suitcase upon arrival, shine your shoes for those grand formal evenings, and assist with any reservations, be it excursions or dining, throughout your voyage, although we were content with simply the odd mid-morning coffee and afternoon tea delivered to the room.
Our itinerary provided the chance to explore at leisure, and ample time to venture into the more secluded areas of each port. We visited old and new Monte Carlo and the cobbled streets of Palma, and discovered Florence and Pisa from our overnight stay in Livorno. For those that wished to relax onboard, quizzes, games of shuffleboard, and our personal favourite, golf putting in the lobby, were all available. Of course the spa, with its complimentary steam room and sauna, beckoned on many occasions.
In the evening we enjoyed the open seating dining and the choice of restaurants. In Le Champagne, the only Relais and Châteaux restaurant at sea, dishes were presented under glistening cloches to add a touch of theatre, and for something more contemporary and equally delicious, we headed to La Terrazza. This wonderful Italian restaurant was open for buffet breakfast and lunch before being turned into a warm, intimate and friendly dining experience in the evening. We sat al fresco on the aft of the ship and watched the bright orange sunsets melt into the horizon whilst sipping crisp, refreshing and full-bodied Italian wines, awaiting delicious courses of fine Italian cuisine to arrive at our table - heaven!
I especially enjoyed the Pool Grill, which serves wraps, burgers, pizzas and salads during the day, but in the evenings transforms into Hot Rock, where we had great fun cooking our own steaks and Madagascan prawns on a 200 degree hot lava rock.
For us, the whole experience was an excellent combination of relaxation and comfort with attention to detail, elegance and enjoyment, and there is no question that guests who cruise with Silversea will feel truly at home and at ease.