Silversea’s new, luxurious flagship Silver Muse recently set sail from Monaco to considerable fanfare. Brian Johnston was on board to see what the fuss was all about.
Silversea, an Italian family-owned company headquartered in Monaco, wants its latest ship – and first since 2009 – to make a bold statement about the future of luxury cruising.
So Silver Muse was christened in Monte Carlo and wished fair winds and seas by Prince Albert.
As befitting a Silversea vessel, the line’s new flagship isn’t brash and avoids bling. The decor is muted in its colour palette of browns, taupes and latte creams. The understatement provides a sense of spaciousness and refined elegance.
True, there’s a casino and theatre and a popular Silver Notes jazz bar. But Silver Muse is more about unhurried dining, long drinks in piano lounges, and relaxation around the swimming pool or in the very expansive spa which, as well as treatment rooms, has saunas, steam rooms and stylish outdoor loungers and hot tub facing the sea.
Silver Muse is Silversea’s ninth and largest ship, carrying 596 passengers. More passengers doesn’t equate to less space, however. In fact, the ship has more high-end suites than any other and an abundance of lounges and outdoor deck space, as well as very wide corridors. There’s never any sense of crowding.
All the cabins on this all-suite ship are large. I’m in a Veranda Suite (divided into classic, superior and deluxe categories only by their location in the ship). Two could tango from sleeping area to lounge without knocking anything over, and there’s a generous walk-in wardrobe and full bathroom with bath and shower. The ensuite is lovely in smoky-grey Italian marble, with only the narrow, moulded-plastic shower cubicle a letdown on a five-star vessel.
In the finer details, Silversea excels. Upmarket Italian companies have supplied the sheets and bathrobes, and you can choose between Ferragamo and Bulgari toiletries. All suites are serviced by butlers. My butler, Oscar, has worked at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai and is an efficient Jeeves seemingly unperturbed by any demand. He personalises the complimentary minibar, makes restaurant bookings and produces different, more suitable pillows.
If space and service are the two biggest luxuries on Silver Muse, then its dining choices are surely a close third. There are eight restaurants, an impressive number for a relatively small ship, and one that doesn’t tell the whole tale. Some restaurants offer different fare at different times: Kaiseki, for example, serves sushi and sashimi lunches, but converts to a teppanyaki grill in the evenings.
Then there’s the complimentary in-room dining from a menu that runs to seven dense pages and from which you could create entire meals, from penne all’arrabbiata with aged parmesan to fillet mignon and a cheesecake dessert, all served up on a starched tablecloth by your butler.
Several dining venues will be familiar to previous Silversea passengers, such as the Relais & Châteaux-branded French fine-dining venue (La Dame), the popular Hot Rocks lava-stone grill and the Italian venue La Terrazza for buffet lunches and à la carte dinners. But there are several new restaurants exclusive to Silver Muse, such as Asian-fusion Indochine, outdoor pizza eatery Spaccanapoli and the signature seafood and steak venue, Atlantide.
Only Kaiseki and La Dame have an additional charge. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to spend more money on this all-inclusive ship apart from on shore excursions or spa treatments, unless you ask your butler for Calvisius Classic Oscietra caviar at US$56 (“quite rich, with a hint of hazelnut and butter”) or buy a necklace at what might be the loveliest shop at sea.
In short, habitués of Silversea will find that Silver Muse wisely doesn’t veer too far from what its repeat passengers, of which there are many, expect.
Silver Muse will spend her first season in the Mediterranean before sailing to North and South America. After a second season in the Med, she will be heading our way, giving Australian passengers a chance to try out the silver service on a cruise from Bali to Sydney.
This is a ship for quiet socialising and relaxed downtime, lingering meals and a sense of pampering. At the same time, it moves on from previous ships enough to set a new bar in spaciousness, service and dining choices.
Smooth sailing, indeed.
Highs: Silver Muse doesn’t just provide a spanking-new ship but ups Silversea’s previous levels of dining with a fabulous choice of restaurants.
Lows: The decor is surprisingly bland, with little wow factor and a monochrome concentration on shades of brown nearly everywhere.
Best suited to: Affluent 50-plus passengers with a penchant for luxury, fine dining and attentive service.
LINE: Silversea Cruises
VESSEL: Silver Muse
PASSENGER CAPACITY: 596
TOTAL CREW: 411
PASSENGER DECKS: 8
ENTERED SERVICE: April 2017
FACILITIES: Sky deck with large swimming pool, two whirlpools, Venetian lounge, Connoisseur’s Corner to enjoy a whisky or cognac, eight dining options, casino, spa, beauty salon, gym, jogging track, children’s room and library.
BOOKINGS: 16-night cruise from Bali to Sydney, departing December, 2018, is priced from $14,040 per person twin share.