Silver Moon sat patiently in Piraeus port, shining bright white in the hot Greek sunshine, ready to welcome us back to cruising after what felt like a lifetime away from my biggest passion. After a very well organised embarkation, we were whisked away to our gorgeous Deluxe Veranda Suite to get ready for dinner at the S.A.L.T Kitchen, Silversea's brand new food and drink concept.
There are four experiences you can have with the S.A.L.T (Sea And Land Taste) programme; first up was a four-course meal in the beautifully decorated S.A.L.T Kitchen, where you can choose from two menus. One menu features dishes based on the countries you're visiting throughout that cruise; since we were cruising around Greece, this menu had the same Greek-inspired dishes and wines available throughout the voyage.
The second menu features dishes based specifically on the port of call you've visited that day, so in Piraeus we were treated to freshly caught fish, locally sourced vegetables, meats and marinades, and locally made fresh honey, fruits and pastries. All dishes on both menus are accompanied by specially selected wines from the country or port of call you're in too - all cooked and served to a delectable standard, with the option to order as many or as few dishes as you wish to try.
The second experience is the S.A.L.T Bar, which offers locally-inspired cocktails in an American-style club lounge setting, while the third is the S.A.L.T Lab, which brought out our inner MasterChef. Here we learned how to cook two dishes with locally sourced figs, cheeses and honey to make one savoury and one sweet meal.
The venue is an intimate kitchen that resembles a science lab, where your ingredients are set out in front of you with all the equipment needed whilst the chef walks you through the recipe. It's a fun and interactive cooking experience. The proof is in the pudding though, so if it didn't taste nice, we could only blame ourselves!
Last but by no means least are the S.A.L.T excursions. I cannot recommend these highly enough! These excursions are truly unique to Silversea and fully immerse you in the cuisine of the port you're visiting.
Our excursion took place in Santorini at the exquisite Vezene restaurant. Not only was the setting stunning as we dined looking out on the panorama of the glistening caldera, but the food was exceptional. This Greek-inspired bistro served us six courses of some of the best food I've ever eaten - light, fresh, flavourful, picture-perfect; this is an experience for all of your senses. These special excursions aren't offered in every port, but will certainly be a highlight of your cruise.
Whilst Silver Moon is one of the largest ships in Silversea's fleet (accommodating 596 guests), you really don't notice this on board. All public areas are located at the aft with suites situated between the forward and mid-ship, so getting around this bigger vessel is very easy indeed.
The variety of lounges on board means you'll always find somewhere to suit your every need. Dolce Vita is the place to relax during the day with a speciality coffee or tea whilst the resident pianist tickles the ivories in the background.
In the evening head up to the Panorama Lounge for pre- and post-dinner drinks accompanied by the house band, and stay there into the night with the fabulous resident DJ and like-minded guests to kick off your Sunday shoes and dance into the early hours. For a more low-key venue, you could pop along to the Observation Library for a night cap whilst enjoying panoramic views over the bow of the ship.
When it comes to dining on the Moon, you're certainly spoilt for choice. For this new ship, French restaurant La Dame has grown in size at the aft of Deck 8, as has the excellent Italian restaurant La Terrazza on Deck 7, and Asian-inspired venue Kaiseki offers Japanese cuisine with a sushi bar in beautifully decorated surroundings, complete with authentic costume artwork on the walls. Atlantide remains for guests who prefer a surf 'n' turf style menu of the highest order and Silver Note combines tapas-style dishes with jazz and blues in a very stylish and bright bistro.
For a more casual dining experience you can head along to the pool deck for Silversea's renowned Hot Rocks experience, where you cook up your own seafood and steaks on a 300-degree heated stone under the stunning and romantic lights that twinkle off the ripples of the pool; or you can look down on this setting from Spaccanapoli with a juicy, hearty Italian pizza.
As always with Silversea, butler service is included with any grade of suite. These people are wonderful, and nothing is ever too much trouble - they'll greet you warmly and informatively on arrival, and you can contact them as and when you need to throughout the voyage. Our Deluxe Veranda Suite was lovely and spacious, featuring a good size bathroom with separate bath and shower, and we thoroughly enjoyed catching the sunsets from the chairs on our balcony. In-suite dining, particularly for breakfast on our early starts, was perfectly set up and very efficient.
When you're not in your suite or out on an excursion you can opt to burn off a few cruise calories in the spacious gym and large jogging track, or book yourself for a pampering session in the well-appointed Zagara Spa. The spa features nine treatment rooms, a dedicated outdoor whirlpool and Hammam room, plus floor-to-ceiling windows for sweeping views of that tranquil blue sea to relax you even further.
For the ultimate chill out spot, the pool has been brilliantly designed for those who either want to swim, just go for a dip, bathe in the shallows around the edge of the pool or simply sit and dip your toes in whilst you catch up with friends and fellow guests. It's the perfect social hub in the sunshine during the day.
We visited Nafplion during our cruise and took an excursion out to the Corinth Canal, which is a spectacle in itself, especially as it's now shut for a few years while repairs are made to a collapse of the wall, visible from the western entrance of the canal. We finished our short trip in Crete and were certainly brought back down to earth when heading back to the airport.
With Silver Moon, Silversea have not only maintained their Italian family-inspired feel, they've enhanced it too. You might say it's one small step for Silversea, one giant leap for luxury cruising!