Aboard the Silver Spirit, Day 3: Monday, November 15
Formal Night last evening was uneventful. Captain’s cocktail reception, followed by lobster dinner, followed by the Silver Spirit Singers and Dancers performing in Rocketman, a tribute to Elton John. This was a virtual all-tux and long gown crowd, and the cocktail hour was quite festive. At dinner I was joined by a contigent of Brits– the aforementioned Mary (talk, talk, talk) and the very nice Rachel, and a newcomer, Scottie*, a late-seventies Scotsman who is in the midst of a back-to-back-to-back-to-back 28-day cruise on the Spirit. In a Silver Suite, no less. Nice gentleman, except we had to repeat every morsel of the conversation twice. (Liz and Karen, whom we saw during the afternoon at Team Trivia…we’re “The Soloists” and came in 3rd…and Bingo…I was never in any of the games, but the good news is that they don’t charge for Bingo, unlike the Solstice…opted for Le Champagne, the $200/person surcharge restaurant.) The theatrical performance was fine—a bunch of young twenties wannabes singing and dancing their hearts out before a largely sexagenarian and septuagenarian audience nodding off at the end of a long day. I felt for them.
Another thing I did yesterday was attend the shore shopping seminar given by Philip, a slick, self-assured San Franciscan who assures us that we will find miraculous bargains on jewels and jewelry and watches in some of the upcoming islands by religiously following the “maps” of each island that he has handed out with the aid of his assistant Jolie (later to be seen as the lead jazz dancer in Rocketman). He gave example after example of previous passengers saving $1,000, $10,000, $30,000, etc. on purchases, and I have to admit he was doing a fabulous job of reeling the crowd in. The whole time I kept wondering: how is this guy compensated for directing patrons to all of these astounding bargains? Nobody asked during Q&A, so I went up to him after the presentation and posed the question, which he sluffed off, his glare saying “Just follow the maps, bud.”
As noted earlier, all or most of Martinique was closed on Sunday and I didn’t bother to go into town or do the island. So no rating given.
Now it’s Monday.
We’re at Roseau, Domenica (accent on the third syllable), self-proclaimed “Nature Island of the Caribbean.” Well, there’s plenty of nature, that’s for sure. The island is a plentiful collection of towering verdant mountains, with numerous scraggly settlements scattered around. The main burg, Roseau, is a forlorn, beat-up place with obviously a quite lax zoning code, as evidenced by the variety of colors the houses and buildings are painted—canary yellow, lime green, bubble-gum pink, fire engine red (or is that fuschia?). It was worth a half-hour.
My scheduled activity for the day—whale watching—was cancelled (apparently the last two groups on the ship went out for hours and didn’t see a whale and demanded refunds). I thought about replacing it with the “Volcano Tour”, until I learned that it entailed an actual mud bath in volcanic goo, and the other “garden/waterfall/fort” tours didn’t interest me.
What did interest me was the presence in port of another Silversea liner, the flagship Silver Cloud, 16 years old and only one-third the size of the Spirit. I signed up to be a Visitor on the Cloud (Silversea veterans call all of the ships by their last name—the Cloud, the Whisper, the Wind, the Shadow, etc.). What a disappointment. Our Spirit visitor group was given a complete tour of the ship, only to witness grungy old bathrooms (e.g., shower in tub, single sinks), tired old staterooms (ironically, the ones on the Cloud are actually larger than the ones on the Spirit…go figure…whereas the ones on the Cloud a shorter and wider, the ones on the Spirit are long and narrow, which has prompted lots of complaints from couples whose husbands can’t squeeze by the wives at the make-up table), and a cacophony of bilious colors and styles that look like something out of Vegas in the 50’s. Yeccchhh. I would caution anyone about signing up for an expensive cruise on that thing. (Special note to AW: because the Cloud is only a third the size of the Spirit, and thus about a tenth the size of the Solstice ships, there was a very noticeable “roll and sway” all during our tour—and this was when the ship was tied up at port on a reasonably calm day. Definitely not the vessel for you.) The positive side is that I met a vanful of nice people, all couples, mostly English, and we’re all getting together for a group dinner tonight.**
Now a word about the food on the Spirit. I thought I’d wait a few days before opining on the subject so that I would have a chance to sample the various offerings. I’ve tried The Restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, La Terrazza (Italian) for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the Pool Deck Grill for lunch. I’ll give them credit: they’re trying hard, offering an amazing variety of dishes at every meal, most of which sound very appealing and make for hard choices. Aside from the snail- slow service that everybody is complaining about, it’s basically banquet quality food…not really all that surprising since they are feeding 450 people at a crack. That being said, I have found the food to be very good. The liquor selection is top notch, with all premium brands (except no Chopin, Alison) available; ditto with the wine selections, all very tasty, with lots of alternatives if you don’t love the selection of the day/evening. And it’s a true delight to step up to any bar and order whatever you want and not have to wait for a check or have ticky-tacky service charges assessed. Now THAT is a feature that gives this cruise line a thumbs-up in comparison to the next tier. No tabs. No tips. As General Patton said about war, “Oh, how I love it so.”
More Trivia and Bingo this afternoon, then Informal (coat, no tie) Night in the restaurants, then those Silver Spirit Singers and Dancers are at it again in Jazz a la Carte.
You’ll hear all about it.
- CORRECTIONS: Had a drink with Scottie at the bar and it turns out he’s Australian, not Scottish. Also, his trip on the Spirit is for 65 days, not 28. (Last year he did 70.)
- AM I CRAZY OR ARE THEY DEPT. Almost everybody I’ve talked with about the Silver Cloud say they LOVED it…”so intimate…”, “very nice…”, etc.