Silver Spirit was built to accommodate 540 guests, but there are only 220 on board for this transatlantic repositioning cruise. It has been fun to get to know the other passengers and even some of the crew. I know all of the people on the entertainment staff and the staff handling shore excursions. 85% of the staff members are from the Philippines, while most of the bridge officers are Italian. That said, I have also met staff from Romania, England, Germany, Brazil, and Norway. All of the musicians are Pilipino, but the singers (with the exception of my friend Michele who has called me by name since the first day) are all young Americans.
The passengers are from 15 different countries, mostly American, but there are many from the United Kingdom as well. We were also pleasantly surprised by the spread in the age of the passengers; we expected to be 20-30 years younger than most. However, we have met couples in their 20s and 30s and many others closer to our age (meaning just “slightly” older than that.) Their backgrounds are varied and fascinating. There is the couple who we met in the airport before we even boarding the ship that are in their 30s or 40s and have already retired and do volunteer work as financial planners; there is the retired ballerina who studied with Ben Stevenson as a child in England; (Stevenson was the head of the Houston Ballet Company and brought it its world renown status.) There is the English couple that raises horses for competition. There is the yachtsman from Bermuda, a Harvard grad who is friends with the Mossbachers from Houston. There is a writer of cookbooks and two others who are travel writers. There is the couple who live in Texas, she is from Dallas and he is from Newcastle (England) who were married at the estate used for the Downton Abbey series. (She tells me the interior shots of the family quarters were done in the house itself-or at a faithful reconstruction. These were the rooms they used for the wedding ceremony and dinner.)
There are lots of food venues on board in spite of the fact that this is a small ship. There are two specialty restaurants that have a surcharge ($20 and $30, which is not out of line with other cruise ships), Seishin with Asian food and Le Champagne. Both have seating for only 24 patrons. There is also the main dining room with open seating called simply The Restaurant. They did a Gala Lunch today where the food was beautifully displayed in the Galley, a unique approach. La Terrazza has a buffet lunch (although you don’t even carry your own plate) and Italian food in the evening; you can sit inside or on the outside deck (see picture from previous post showing the view off the back of the ship). Stars restaurant is designed as a 40s supper club and they serve six tapas courses to each patron. With three tapas per course, it is a lot of food. You can also eat on the pool deck for breakfast or lunch. The menu is far more expensive than other ships. In the evening there is al fresco dining at The Grill, aka Hot Rocks, where you make a meat or seafood selection and cook it at your table on a preheated volcanic rock. It is a lovely seating and fun. This is Boris’ favorite spot (surprising because he does not like to eat outside as I do) and we made a return visit tonight. We saw the most beautiful sunset throughout our meal. There is no surcharge at La Terrazza, The Restaurant, Stars or Hot Rocks.
This is definitely a social cruise. They even give you a booklet with the names of all the passengers and their hometowns. While you could hide if you want to (your butler will serve you any meal or snack you want in your suite 24 hours a day-in fact he brought me tea so I could continue writing this blog post but not miss the finger sandwiches and scones), this is perfect for people like myself who love to meet new people. Two nights ago, dressed for the second formal night, we discovered the disco. We had heard about it from a young couple in their 20s we met at the pool. While they introduced us to their friends, some of the younger people on the ship, the dance floor was dominated by the 60+ crowd who put me to shame. All the young American singers on the entertainment staff were there dancing, as was the Gentleman Host. Needless to say, I returned last night and it is on the agenda for each of the coming evenings even if Boris doesn’t realize that yet.
In case you missed it, I did mention the gentleman host-abbreviated “gent host” on his name tag. This is the kind of thing you find in a movie (i.e. Out to Sea) or when reading about a by-gone era. I had no idea they still did that. Silversea determined how many singles were on the cruise and brought him aboard. Apparently, he meets with the singles for cocktails and then they go as a group to dinner. They were seated next to us the very first night. The second time we saw them in the dining room one of the male officers was also included. There is also an international hostess who joins them. Not all, but the majority of, the singles are women. On further research I found that this is even one of the things the cruise line advertises. You can read their brochures and find out when the gentlemen host(s) will be aboard. While Boris was in the restroom last night, my young female friend and I decided to go to the dance floor. Feeling we needed the partner, the gent host joined us. Boris immediately came to the dance floor as soon as he entered the room. Anyone who knows Boris knows dancing is not his preference. Priceless.