The elegant Silver Muse whispers luxury
By Fran Golden
Aboard the brand-new Silver Muse, my tuxedo-clad butler was concerned about a rubbed-out spot on my black suede boots. Jithin, from Mumbai, had already offered to unpack my bags, encouraged me to choose a designer soap, and brought the alternative-down pillows I had selected from the pillow menu. Every time I thanked him he responded, “a pleasure.”
“No worries, Jithin,” I said as he turned his focus to the task at hand. “Those boots are super old. And by the way, am I pronouncing your name correctly?”
“I don’t care what you call me. Just call me when you need something,” he responded with a warm smile.
This is the type of pampering that sets an ultra-luxury cruise apart, and it was evident, even on a 4-day, pre-christening sampler cruise aboard Silversea Cruises’ new flagship straight out of the shipyard.
Silver Muse: A Subtle Design
Silversea set out to do things different with this 596-guest ship, the line’s largest and first newbuild in eight years. While some competitors are going all Carrara marble, crystal chandeliers, and gold-plated glitz, Silver Muse is designed, in the words of the line’s officials, to “whisper luxury.”
With its subtle décor, the ship delivers an intangible sense of familiarity — you aren’t in a palace, but rather free to relax in what feels like someone’s very nice and spacious contemporary home.
The entire color scheme is calm (lots of taupe, cream, and seafoam green), the halls are wide, the woodwork light, and some spaces are downright vast — emphasizing that having room to spread out is itself a luxury.
Where there is drama in the décor is in the travel-inspired art collection. The 600 works are all by contemporary Italian artists. There are colorful splashes of paint (a la Jackson Pollock), pop art portraits of notables such as Frida Kahlo, tapestries of Italian landmarks, and sculptures made of plastic hairdryers. Some may find it weird; I thought it wonderful.
“This ship is pretty much made what would be my taste,” said Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Silversea chairman and head of the Italian family that owns the line. “It’s a warm ship. You feel part of the family.”
As if to drive home that point, d’Ovidio’s teenage daughter, Costanza, served as the ship’s godmother — though officials were quick to point out that it’s not youngsters but affluent, age 55-plus baby boomers who are the target market.
Perfect Pool Deck
Silver Muse’s most impressive space is its pool deck, one of the prettiest at sea. Choose to relax in sun or shade; on a cushy lounger, sunbed, or sectional sofa; and all around a long shimmering blue pool with swimming and wading areas, whirlpools, and glass showers.
It’s an oasis that inspires an “ahhh” moment, as pretty as you’d find on, say, Italy’s treasured Amalfi Coast. Further to that, a deck above the pool is Spaccanapoli, named for the famous street in Naples and serving up delicious Neapolitan-style pies with toppings such as 26-month-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, and San Marzano tomatoes.
The Dining Difference
Those familiar with Silversea will appreciate that the breakfast and lunch buffets at La Terrazza are still as lavish as always (and with the addition of a juice bar). But there’s also a big change: Silver Muse was designed without a main dining room. Guests instead choose among eight distinct restaurants with dress codes to match (some resort casual, others dress up). The idea is to make dinner reservations as you would in any resort town.
The choices are impressive include funky small plates served in a supper club with live jazz, homemade pasta, and other Italian favorites, steak, or seafood you cook yourself on hot rocks outdoors. For something completely different, two new venues are Atlantide, a formal steakhouse and seafood restaurant (don’t miss pre-dinner drinks in the sexy bar) and Indochine, serving dishes influenced by Marco Polo’s spice route.
Drinks and gratuities are included in your cruise fare as are wines from around the world, with the option to splurge on premium selections. The Japanese teppanyaki restaurant, Kaiseki, and the fine French tasting menu restaurant, La Dame by Relais & Châteaux, both come with a charge of $60 per person.
Those who are still hungry later in the evening can enjoy options such as a late-night cheese trolley in Tor’s Observation Library, named for Viking Cruises chairman, Torstein Hagen, a close friend of d’Ovidio. You can also take a break from the dance floor to dine, with room service now deliverable anywhere you like.
The Arts Café is a new concept that combines art, books, coffee, smoothies, and snacks. Here, you’ll find a barista making illy coffee, a bespoke book collection organized by London’s Heywood Hill, treats such as mushroom pâté creatively served in little glass jars, couches you can curl up on, and plush wicker seating outdoors. I couldn’t stop going back.
The Zàgara Beauty Spa debuts a new concept developed for Silversea by Steiner. The idea is to create your own sensory spa experience by selecting your preferred scents, lighting, music, and, with select treatments, video. The spa’s Thermal Suite includes an outdoor whirlpool (and involves an extra fee).
The Panorama Lounge attracts a lively late-night crowd dancing to a DJ or live band. Handcrafted cocktails such as a Mandarin Cosmo or Basil Gimlet are reasons to visit the main Dolce Vita lounge.
The Venetian Lounge theater has tiered rows of chairs and banquettes, the perfect venue to showcase the singing talents of six performers who belted their way through a show focused on blues and soul and another on swing music. And while the activity roster is kept slim, fans of Silversea’s popular trivia contests will be happy to know there is nothing subtle about the onboard competitive spirit.
On an ultra-luxury ship, it’s only natural that everyone stays in a spacious suite with a veranda and enjoys such niceties as Etro robes, fine Pratesi linens, and Bvlgari bath products. State-of-the-art TVs hidden in wall mirrors take some getting used to, but your butler delivering room service on a silver tray, raising your coffee table to dining height, and presenting your spread on a white tablecloth does not.
Upgrade to a Silver, Royal, Grand, or Owner’s suite and you’ll get additional space and amenities — the largest suites are apartment-sized and have the option of adding a second bedroom. The one-of-a-kind Balsorano Owner’s Suite is dedicated to d’Ovidio and is stocked with his favorite personal items including family photos, vintage port, and a Chesterfield chair from his home. Have a seat, you’re part of the family.
Photo: Silversea Cruises