At a time when any ship with a pool and a spa is being described as a “luxury” liner, the misrepresentation can create confusion for both travel advisors and consumers.
Several factors differentiate between a non-luxury cruise and a luxury one. After experiencing a voyage on board Silversea Cruises’ Silver Dawn, PAX can confirm that it fully qualifies as the latter.
Sister to Silver Muse and Silver Moon, Silver Dawn is the final ship in the Muse class. She was built in 2021 but finally launched in April 2022 in Europe.
Our 11-night itinerary sailed roundtrip from Barcelona to Valencia, Cartagena, Malaga, Cadiz, Gibraltar, and Tangier, Morocco, before ending with Mallorca and Menorca of Spain’s Balearic Islands.
After launching ten vessels, Silversea still pulls out all the stops in delivering a classic, luxurious experience to its discerning clientele, which hails from all over the world.
Although the highest percentage of the 485 guests on our cruise were North Americans (39 per cent), guests from 25 other countries across five continents made up the rest.
The client demographic is 60+, mostly retired couples and numerous solo travellers. As it was early summer, we also saw several families on board with children and teens.
The pillars of luxury cruising
While luxury can mean different things to different people, when it comes to cruising, the following standards are hallmarks:
Luxury ships are smaller and carry fewer guests – typically less than 750. Silver Dawn is 40,700 gross registered tons with a capacity for 596 guests.
Her small size enabled us to sail into the narrow harbour of Porto Mahon in Menorca that large ships can never do.
Another plus is the lack of crowds and line-ups anywhere. The only wait time we experienced was after an excursion bus returned and all guests were passing through security checks at the gangway.
With fewer guests, luxury ships can increase the size of their accommodations and public areas.
Silver Dawn is an all-suite ship, with the entry-level suite measuring 334 square feet (to put things into perspective, staterooms on non-luxury ships are typically under 200 square feet).
Top-level suites can be configured into two bedrooms, up to 1,970 square feet. Other than a handful of window suites, all other categories have private verandas.
All suites have a walk-in closet, a bath with tub and separate shower, and a spacious sitting area with seating that can accommodate room service meals.
Silver Dawn’s lounges provide ample space for guests’ enjoyment. Whether playing bingo at the Dolce Vita lounge, enjoying pre-dinner drinks at the Panorama Lounge, or reading in the quiet Observation Library (which was almost always deserted), one never feels crowded at any time.
Even during the headline shows at the Venetian Lounge during our cruise, there were still plenty of available seats.
Luxury ships always have a high crew-to-guest ratio – in the case of Silver Dawn, a crew of 411 looks after a maximum of 596 guests.
Not only does this result in prompt service in the restaurants, bars, and lounges, but also behind the scenes in terms of maintenance, repairs, and operations to ensure smooth sailing.
Silversea also goes one step beyond by providing butler service in every category. What do you use a butler for? To deliver room service, make or change your dining, spa, or excursion reservations, unpack and pack your luggage, and bring you champagne (or your preferred beverage) and munchies at any time.
Luxury cruises are always all-inclusive. Silversea’s “Door to Door” pricing takes care of roundtrip flights, a pre-cruise hotel (where required), all transfers, suite accommodations, all meals, premium beverages, standard wi-fi, shuttle service in ports, and crew gratuities.
As of this year, it now also includes private roundtrip transfers from the guest’s home to the airport (within 80 km/50 mi) and a complimentary excursion at every port of call.
The excursions are often in the form of guided walks (and a motor coach version for those with mobility issues) that showcase the port’s highlights, and jaunts to neighbouring attractions.
Active cruisers can choose from Segway, biking, and kayaking tours. Additional special interest tours and more extensive, full-day trips (such as to Seville, Cordoba, and Alhambra on our cruise) are available for purchase.
Fans of the Muse class will recognize familiar features of Silver Dawn as she is almost identical to her two sisters. The only difference we found is the removal of the whirlpool on Deck 6, the reason for which we’ll get into shortly.
Gastronomy remains a focal point on board Silver Dawn and she does not disappoint with eight dining venues.
Atlantide – the main dining room – has an expansive continental and international menu that will accommodate all tastes buds.
La Terrazza is open for buffet breakfast and lunch with a full spread, plus omelette and pasta stations (all food and beverages are still served to guests by crew members).
The intimate Japanese venue Kaiseki has expanded its complimentary sushi lunch menu to include ramen bowls. It has a US$40 per person charge for dinner, featuring delectable items such as lobster tempura and Wagyu beef.
The cozy Silver Note supper club offers live music during dinner, and La Dame is perfect for a formal dinner featuring haute French cuisine (US$60 per person charge).
Casual eateries include Spaccanapoli which serves pizzas all day, the poolside grill (which offers cooking on hot rocks in the evenings), the Arts Café with coffees, teas, and small bites, and 24-hour room service. The quality, presentation, and taste of food from all venues are exceptional.
The S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program launched on board Silver Moon also returns on the Dawn, showcasing cuisine, wines, and spirits from the region the ship is sailing through.
In the S.A.L.T. Kitchen restaurant, menus on our voyage featured courses from the Iberian Peninsula, with a fresh sheet that changed daily depending on the port of call. We enjoyed paella the day we were in Valencia, seared tuna in Cadiz, and lobster stew in Menorca.
Over at the S.A.L.T. Bar, the menu includes signature cocktails crafted with fortified wines, local gins, and a selection of wines and spirits, all from the Iberian Peninsula.
The S.A.L.T. Lab offered cooking classes that included Spanish street snacks, paella, and flatbreads.
Debuting on board Silver Dawn is Otivm. Inspired by the Romans who excelled in leading a lifestyle of wellness and leisure, Otivm is a myriad of indulgences designed to ensconce guests in a complete state of blissful relaxation.
Otivm begins in one’s suite, where an exclusively-designed mattress, Egyptian linens, and a pillow menu foster restful sleep. For a pampering treat, the butler will draw a hot bubble bath filled with bath salts from the Sicilian Sea, accompanied by classical music, a chilled glass of champagne, and a sweet treat.
After a delightful soak, a room service dinner is a logical next step. The expanded menu now includes Otivm indulgences like foie gras burgers, truffle fries, caviar, and lobster.
Otivm also extends into one’s veranda, with gourmet hot chocolate and cashmere blankets in cold destinations, and sunbathing with champagne and snacks in hot climes.
The spa – aptly named Otivm Spa – has been enlarged to dedicate more space to Otivm experiences (thus taking the space of the aforementioned whirlpool).
In addition to regular spa and salon services, the menu now includes decadent Otivm body therapies and facials that clock in at 100 minutes.
After every treatment, guests are led to the peaceful relaxation room to enjoy a choice of refreshing cocktails and gourmet nibbles specially created for the Otivm Spa.
The Romans called Otivm the original art of comfort, but perhaps a more appropriate name is the “art of doing nothing,” which one will perfect on board Silver Dawn.
Know before you go
At press time, Silversea requires guests to be fully vaccinated including applicable boosters, and present a negative antigen test result administered within 72 hours before embarkation. A daily temperature check is still in place for all guests.
Onboard protocols have been greatly relaxed. Masks are optional except in the show lounge and inside tour buses if they are required by the local health authorities.
Masks are still mandatory for all crew members, and we observed that they were diligently and properly worn at all times.
Social distancing is no longer required in restaurants or lounges. However, requests for a secluded table are always granted if available.
A mid-cruise COVID test for guests is no longer administered, although the crew continues to be tested every seven days.
Evenings on board Silversea are dressy – out of 11 nights on our itinerary, there were two formal nights (where tuxedos were prevalent) and six semi-formal nights, requiring gentlemen to wear a jacket (tie optional).
Part of the Silversea experience is its formality, guests who come on board anticipate and fully participate in the elegant evenings. But despite the formal air – including crew members always addressing guests by their last name – the ambiance on board remains relaxed and not uppity.
Silver Dawn will complete her inaugural summer in Europe before repositioning to the Caribbean for the fall and winter months.
Reach out to your dedicated Canadian sales team to grow your Silversea business:
Chaz Dunwoody (firstname.lastname@example.org) area sales director, Pacific Northwest and Western Canada;
Markian (Mark) Dzerowycz (email@example.com) regional sales director, Eastern Canada;
Karl Kannstadter (firstname.lastname@example.org), director, expedition sales.