Aboard Silversea's New Silver Spirit: Discordant Design Ahoy
The Silver Spirit has a lot going for it, but as I reflect on my tour of the boat, I almost wonder whether there were two design philosophies battling for dominance during its planning phases, as I found the ship's feel puzzlingly discordant.
The interior, public areas of the boat have a dark and stuffy feeling that frankly seemed dated -- sort of amazing in a ship that was built in 2009. The plush seating in the reception area actually reminded me of the Holiday Inn, which can hardly be on the inspiration board for a ship designed with these sorts of fares had in mind. (Example: the lowest published fare for a ten day cruise Papeete to Auckland next year: $10,895.) The sitting are of the third-highest highest room category, the spacious Silver Suite, reminded me of a very nicely renovated Motel 6. (See gallery below.)
On the lighter side, literally: the Owner's Suite is a brighter, modern and airy take informed by deco. It's also huge, at 1,292 square feet, including 190 square foot veranda. The less-expensive "Midship Veranda" rooms are small but also aesthetically in line with the Owner's Suite.
The spa is expansive at more than 8,000 square feet, and well-outfitted (including medi-spa services like Botox). I really appreciated the thoughtfulness behind the outside relaxation area with a spa-dedicated soaking tub. The pool area also has a modern feel, supplied with teak chaise lounges that very cleverly were constructed with taller legs, eliminating the need for any unattractive squatting upon hoist or descent.
I'm flipping through the lavishly illustrated brochure for Silver Spirit's World Cruise 2011 tour, and I'm not entirely surprised to see that photos of the ship are de minimis, while photos of the destinations are emphasized. When I entered the surprisingly small theater on deck five, a woman from the sales staff defensively explained that many guests choose to spend time off the ship while in port. It's a pattern that I can imagine will continue, since it's hard to imagine wanting to spend an evening in the ship's small theater with its dark vintage-gone-wrong feel -- even though the chairs are double-wide and 2011 lecture guests include presentations by the likes of Dan Rather.