Carrying 596 guests, the Muse is Silversea's biggest ship to date, but she still feels small and intimate. A great deal of thought has gone into the design of this ship; the décor is luxurious and rich with fine detail, but always understated. A colour palette of calming taupes, warm browns and charcoal greys lends the ship a modern elegance, and many of the public areas are flooded with natural light in a manner reminiscent of the Seabourn ships. I loved the amount of outdoor space, with al fresco areas enhancing many of the daytime dining venues and lounges.
This emphasis on light and space is also apparent in the generously apportioned accommodation, and every suite has a private veranda, walk-in wardrobe and butler service. The layout of the lead-in Classic, Superior and Deluxe Veranda Suites is exactly the same, and the only difference is your location with the ship. Our Deluxe Veranda Suite was mid-ship on Deck 6, perfectly positioned next to the main staircase. The ever-popular Silver Suites are located on the upper decks, and the expansive Owner's Suites offer the option of a second adjoining bedroom. The Grand Suites were my favourite category, however, right at the front of the ship with a huge veranda, big enough for four sun loungers and a table and chairs.
The big talking point in the run-up to the launch of Silver Muse has been the dining, and in particular the decision to eschew the traditional main dining room in favour of several smaller restaurants, with dress codes on a restaurant-specific basis rather than ship-wide. In essence, the space that would normally house the main dining room has been split in two, with a choice of the Asian fusion Indochine or the superb steak and seafood of Atlantide.
There are six smaller restaurants, ranging from the casual poolside pizza restaurant, Spaccanapoli, to the Relais & Châteaux dining of La Dame. There is an additional cover charge for both La Dame and Kaiseki, the Japanese restaurant, with reservations essential, although you can enjoy a more casual lunch in Kaiseki without these restrictions. Other options include The Grill, which becomes Silversea favourite Hot Rocks after dark, and the atmospheric Silver Note, which serves up tapas-style fare and live music.
A shakedown cruise is very much conceived as a dress rehearsal for the ship's crew, so it was difficult to judge how well this new dining concept will pan out once guests are on board. There are bound to be a few teething problems, but my feeling is that, if Silversea get this right, it could be a real game changer. Having so many different dining venues on such a small ship is a real selling point, and I would have loved a little more time on board to try them all out!
Entertainment on board Silver Muse is low key but well executed, and facilities include a café, observation lounge, casino, cards room and a good-sized fitness room and expansive spa. The pool deck was a great place to be in the early spring sunshine, and it didn't feel too enclosed compared to some other ships I've seen, with plenty of sun loungers on both the upper and lower deck. In the evenings the Panorama Lounge was a lively spot for cocktails, again with ample outdoor space, and we enjoyed a particularly memorable sunset over the French Riviera on our final night.
In summary, Silver Muse represents a thoughtful evolution of the Silversea experience, with the same intimacy and personal service that our clients know and love. The décor has been brought up to date with a characteristically Italian flair; there is nothing brash or blingy about this ship. Silversea are now looking at refurbishing the rest of the fleet to the same standard, and chairman Manfredi LeFebvre has alluded to more new builds on the horizon; his late father told him, shortly before he passed away, that his dream was to one day own a fleet of 12 ships!
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