Annie Scrivanich is the Senior Vice President of Cruise Specialists. She has been in the travel industry 45 years and most of that has been as part of the cruise industry. One career highlight was helping to pioneer the Route of the Glaciers cruise itinerary along with the glass-domed rail route to Denali in Alaska.
In late March/early April 2022, Annie was invited to cruise on board Silversea’s brand new Silver Dawn for its shake-down/inaugural voyage. A shake-down cruise is a way to test out a new ship with highly experienced cruisers and industry veterans who serve as guests—and at the same time provide any critiques of the ship or experience prior to inviting on more guests. Annie has cruised on many cruise lines, including luxury lines of Silversea, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Seabourn. This was her second cruise on Silversea.
This voyage cruised roundtrip Lisbon for 7 days, with ports of call in Portimao and Leixoes (for Porto).
Silver Dawn, the newest 596-guest ship from Silversea, truly embraces a higher level of service and amenities, to the point where this ship can rightly be considered ultra luxury. Staff and crew are genuinely sincere and kind and reflect a level of service and attitude rarely seen elsewhere.
I’ll be happy to elaborate on that more, but first I will share some highlights of the ship and the experience both onboard and ashore.
A good place to start is with Silversea’s new Door-to-Door All-Inclusive Service. This new philosophy is designed to ensure your cruise journey is as seamless as possible, from the moment you leave your doorstep.
Here are the facets of the Door-to-Door All-Inclusive Service:
- Private chauffer service from home to airport*
- International flight
- Pre-Cruise hotel stay*
- Transfers and luggage handling
- Shore excursions for all voyages (Silversea already included shore experiences for Expedition cruises, but now they are included for Classic voyages as well)
- 24-hour gourmet dining
- Butler service
- Award-winning entertainment
- Premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Post-cruise hotel stay*
- Return flight
- Private chauffer service from airport to home*
This sets the tone for a relaxing journey and prepares you to truly relax and explore the world that unfolds around you.
On Board Silver Dawn
Silver Dawn is the third of Silversea’s three newest Classic cruise ships—following Silver Muse and Silver Moon. It is similar in terms of guests and number of dining options, yet with new features and programs. The innovative Sea and Land Taste (S.A.L.T.) program adds new elements. And the indulgent wellness program, Otium, also takes shape.
Otium is more than a place—it is a wellness concept focused on unprecedented moments of comfort. Kudos to Silversea for envisioning new places and ways to feel better via unique sensory journeys. For example, your butler can bring the spa to your suite by preparing a salt bath for you, complete with soothing music and candlelight! (All suites have a full bath including a stand-alone shower.) Or, imagine a unique cold weather or warm weather balcony experience on your private veranda. For example, in cold weather climates, your butler will prepare a cozy spot for you on your private veranda along with a Marzotto private label blanket and a warm drink to sip as you view the spectacular landscapes that drift by. Additional Otium private experiences include a sleeping experience with extensive pillow menu and Silversea’s new signature Otium sleeping aromatherapy; or the comfort food experience in your suite—settle in for a favorite movie along with popcorn with truffle oil, caviar or a favorite ice cream.
These in-suite experiences complement the Otium Spa, where luxury also awaits you. think blissful massages, facials and other sumptuous treatments (fee based), along with Yoga and Pilates.
Cuisine with Silversea
The aforementioned S.A.L.T. program is now well underway with Silver Dawn. Conceived by Adam Sachs, the former Editor-in-Chief of Saveur magazine, S.A.L.T. allows you to travel deeper through local food culture and engaging experiences. Elements include:
- S.A.L.T. onboard dining (including a dedicated dining venue meant to take your taste buds on a journey through the places you’re visiting, and a bar for regionally inspiring cocktails. I encourage you to be adventurous and try something new. One friend commented that he enjoyed one of the best cocktails of his life in the S.A.L.T. bar. (That is high praise from a cruise industry veteran who has been on dozens, if not a hundred-plus voyages!)
- S.A.L.T. onboard experiences, such as the S.A.L.T. Lab where you can receive hands-on experience of local recipes in a professional kitchen. Tip: this onboard venue is very popular; reserve your spot early in the cruise to ensure you don’t miss out.S.A.L.T. Shore Excursions. I experienced this firsthand on Day 1 of our cruise, when our tour took place en route to the ship from our pre-cruise hotel. We were escorted to Lisbon’s Time Out Market—a bustling collection of the city’s best restaurants and artists. We arrived early in the morning when it was very quiet, before the market vendors set up their gorgeous array of meat, fish, flowers and fruit. At their cooking academy, we prepared delightful Portuguese Pasteis de Nata custard tarts alongside the one and only Adam Sachs. As the morning evolved, we witnessed the bustling local lunch crowd and enjoyed our own traditional Portuguese lunch as the desserts were baking. This was a perfect melding of broadening our taste horizons, getting a sense of a true local life, and being guided along the way by the experts at Silversea.
Ship Details and Onboard Experience
I stayed in a Deluxe Veranda Suite, a private sanctuary of 387 square feet (including the 64 square foot veranda). The suite features a queen size bed or can be reconfigured to two twins, a sitting area, marble bathroom with vanity, full-sized tub and a separate shower. The walk-in wardrobe is nice for longer voyages. There is also a writing desk, a 40” flat screen HD TV, interactive media library and Unlimited Standard Wifi.
This suite, situated on Deck 9, is one I would recommend (followed by Decks 8 or 7) but there really is not a bad location on this intimate ship!
Top Three Features
My top three features of the ship included the variety of dining venues, the Otium Spa, and the Arts Café—a new-to-Silversea space that showcases paintings and sculptures, and which offers comfortable seating to enjoy a beverage or watch the world go by.
To have eight dining options on board a ship of this size is quite remarkable. Six of them are always complimentary, leaving only two to have a fee. All feature unique and thoughtfully presented table settings that go well with the ambiance and cuisine; and of course, each has its own, unique menu.
My favorite dining experience was at Silver Note, which had an intimate nightclub feel with live music and a tapas-style menu. This restaurant was new to Silversea a few years ago and is available on Silver Dawn, Silver Moon, Silver Muse and Silver Spirit.
I recommend making all dinner reservations in advance so you can take advantage of the many different offerings you desire to try. If you enjoy dining al fresco, you may wish to try The Grill, where you can cook your own food directly at your table on a hot cooking stone. However, if you wish to simply revel in the conversation, the staff is also readily available to do the cooking for you.
I went to only one show—The British Revival—featuring the music of The Beatles, Elton John and others. It was very well done and fun, with people singing and dancing in their seats and having a great time. Silversea’s entertainment has recently been enhanced across its fleet in partnership with a renowned production company. The entertainment is befitting Silversea’s guests and ranges from opera-themed shows with world-class arrangements to classic interpretations of music from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, and more.
A Little About Portugal
Based on the three ports we spent time in, I would highly recommend incorporating Portugal into your future travel experiences. We felt genuinely welcomed by the local population in each place we visited. As a whole, the destinations were clean, easy to get around and understand (English is widely spoken and understood). You can easily embrace the European lifestyle here at a fraction of the cost of other more popular countries.
My favorite shore excursion was a Lisbon tuk-tuk tour. Here, we had a fabulous and knowledgeable guide. We experienced narrow streets and neighborhoods that a motorcoach would not be able to navigate. It was easy to interact with our driver-guide throughout the tour.
Silversea continues to remain on the forefront of safety considerations while also balancing the enjoyment and comfort of its guests. Departing in late March 2022, this was a reduced-capacity and fully-vaccinated sailing, with both doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, plus booster, required. To enter Portugal, a passenger information form was submitted within 72 hours of arrival that included a negative antigen test. Masks were required in the cruise terminal at all times, along with on all tours, transfers and coaches, plus in the show lounge and casino. They were optional in other on-board venues. As with any other safety rules and guidelines, COVID-19 considerations are subject to change at any time. Silversea also provided a lovely satchel in our suite containing disposable face masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers with small holders to attach to your purse or other buckle, and Bulgari hand lotion.
It’s the Little Things
One of my favorite treats of cruising is to have coffee and breakfast on the private balcony. One morning it was a bit chilly, and as my butler was setting up the breakfast (complete with white tablecloth) he folded up the bathmat and set it on the floor of the balcony so it didn’t feel quite so chilly on my feet. This was a discreet but simple touch that seems to describe the dedication of Silversea’s entire staff and crew. If you value this type of attention to detail along with the all-inclusive benefits that Silversea provides, then I highly recommend Silversea.
Many of our Cruise Consultants have also cruised on Silversea—aboard both the classic ocean-going and expedition vessels—and have in-depth experience with Silversea. Contact us today for a complimentary cruise planning process that will complement the elevated levels of service found with Silversea.
* Inclusions are as of April 2022. Private chauffer service is via luxury vehicle within 50 miles of domestic airport. Available for an additional cost for longer distances. Pre-cruise hotel stay is depending on the Silversea air program flight schedule.