My partner and I just got back from an 11-day Central America cruise on Silver Sea's Silver Whisper and I wanted to share with you our experience. In a nutshell, I don't see how cruising can be any better - we had an absolutely wonderful time! Silver Sea delivers an excellent product and really knows how to pamper and spoil its guests.
About us and our fellow passengers: We are in our mid-forties, male, and busy professionals that look to get away a couple times of year to a totally relaxing vacation. On this cruise, the ship was pretty full - about 340 guests - and most were repeat Silver Sea cruisers. 76% of the passengers had been on Silver Sea before. There were 30 or so gay men on board almost all in couples, but a few single gay travelers as well. This was our second Silver Sea cruise and from our observations, the percentages of repeat and gay passengers were about the same on both cruises. The ages of the passengers on this cruise tended to skew older than (average age perhaps in the mid-late 50's or early 60's) the first one we took. I think this may have had something to do with the length of the cruise, the time of year and the fact that it was one of their 10th Anniversary cruises. It seemed that everyone we talked to was well traveled and had great stories to tell over dinner or cocktails about their travels. About 40% of the passengers were from Europe - Great Britain and Germany primarily, with the rest being from North America. A nice international mixture.
Atmosphere towards gays on board: In a word great. The crew could not have been nicer or more accomodating. Our fellow passengers didn't seem to have an issue with us gay folks on board as everyone mixed and mingled quite well. The only comment we heard was on one formal night as my partner and I were walking throught the dining room to our table, we overheard a man at another table say to his wife "oh, they're gay." To which she replied "yes, but they look so nice." ! I don't think either one meant anything negative by it and we were amused by the whole thing. We felt equally comfortable on our first Silver Sea cruise as did other gay men and lesbians we met. While we didn't ask them, it was obvious to us that a good percentage of the crew were either gay or extremely gay friendly.
The Ship: The Silver Whisper is a beautiful smaller ship. She carries a maxium of 380 or so passengers and has tons of room in both the suites and public rooms. We had a mid-ship veranda suite that was roomy, elegant, and very comfortable. The only negative comment I have about the ship is that the carpeting in some of the stairways needs to be replaced. I understand from speaking with the Cruise Director Fernando (the absolute best CD I've ever seen!!) that Silver Sea is rotating their 4 ships in and out of minor and major refurbishments over the next year or so.
Food: Fabulous! There are multiple dining venues - the Restaurant, the Terrace Cafe, the Champagne Room, Room Service, and Pool Grill - all of which we found to be very good to excellent. We had dinner on several nights in the Champagne Room which is a small, elegant venue where the chef presents a set menu of french inspired dishes. The room only has 6 tables and on the nights we went only two or three of the tables were occupied. The service and food could not have been better. It was like having a private intimate restaurant to yourself. Like on all cruises, it was a challenge not to gain too much weight.
Bang for the buck: While Silver Sea cruises may seem expensive up front - and they are - they truely are all inclusive. Gratuities and all alcoholic drinks (with the exception of a few premium call brands and wine in the Champagne Room) are included in the price. If you are a drinker, you'll appreciate not having to sign those bar receipts. We have been on other upscale lines -Crystal - and when we priced on a per diem basis how much we would spend on Crystal for drinks, gratuities, etc., Silver Sea became quite comparable in price. As with any cruise line it helps to look for discounted cruises on their website and other places. We've found that there are a number of significantly discounted cruises on Silver Sea's website (www.silverseacruises.com) and if you can travel at the last minute, you can do pretty well. We're going on week-long San Juan round trip in February on the Silver Whisper and have two others booked for late 2005 and early 2006.
thanx for your review of the silver whisper. my partner and i have been on SS four times now including 24 days in april/may. i agree with everything you have said. they are totally gay friendly and we have made some wonderful friends aboard, straight as well as gay. as for value, i think SS gives you much more than crystal or the others (Seabourn being the only possible exception.) We recently (in october/november) did a round trip transtlantic crossing on the QM2 in grill class and paid much more on a daily basis and still had to shell out @1.50 for every coke, not to mention alcohol and tips. anyway, thanx again and maybe wel'll meet on a SS cruise sometime.