Aaron Saunders, Avid Cruiser
The Mediterranean is one of those areas of the world that’s so diverse, it’s a shame that it has to be lumped into a single category of cruise. It’s a region that is filled with deep-blue seas and sandy beaches, to be sure. But it is also teeming with history, culture and the arts.
Later this month, I’ll get the chance to experience all of these facets aboard Silversea’s elegant, 540-guest Silver Spirit as she sails from the picturesque city of Venice, Italy and winds her way through some of the most beautiful – and historic – ports of Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Greece.
Road-Testing Silversea’s New Enrichment Voyages
Our full itinerary:
Silver Spirit 5624 – Venice to Athens
|Monday, August 22, 2016||Venice, Italy||Embark Silver Spirit||11:00 PM|
|Tuesday, August 23||Koper, Slovenia||8:00 AM||6:00 PM|
|Wednesday, August 24||Hvar, Croatia||1:00 PM||10:00 PM|
|Thursday August 25||Kotor, Montenegro||8:00 AM||6:00 PM|
|Friday, August 26||Corfu, Greece||1:00 PM||10:00 PM|
|Saturday, August 27||Zakinthos, Greece||8:00 AM||2:00 PM|
|Sunday, August 28||Nafpilon, Greece||8:00 AM||5:00 PM|
|Monday, August 29||Santorini, Greece||8:00 AM||7:00 PM|
|Tuesday, August 30||Agios Nikolaos, Greece||8:00 AM||6:00 PM|
|Wednesday, August 31||Piraeus (Athens), Greece||8:00 AM||Disembark Silver Spirit|
It’s no secret that Silver Spirit is one of my favorite ships. I’ve been sailing her for the past six years now. She’s taken me around the Mediterranean, through the Caribbean, and across the mighty Atlantic Ocean. But it is the Greek Isles that I feel she’ll be best suited to. Any ship with thousands of guests can drop anchor off Santorini; few will provide the kind of relaxed flexibility and opportunities for exploration that Silversea will. After all, why see these intimate islands with thousands of your best friends when you can do it with just a few hundred?
Since I was just aboard the Silver Spirit a few months ago, you might wonder why I’m back so soon. There’s a number of reasons. First, I love the ship – it’s hard not to. Silver Spirit isn’t flashy, and it most certainly isn’t trendy or cutting-edge in any way. What she is, though, is comfortable. Cozy. Relaxing. I like that in a ship: flashy new décor and gizmos are only cool if they add to the overall cruise experience; otherwise, it’s just extraneous window dressing.
The other thing I love about Silversea are the crew who are, in my opinion, the line’s greatest asset – even beyond the Pratesi linens and the Bulgari toiletries and the Relais & Chateaux-inspired cuisine.
Of course, the itinerary is another huge draw. On a personal note, I’ve been trying to get back to this part of the world for nearly 17 years, when a storm foiled plans for us to anchor off Crete and Santorini.
But more than anything, I’m primarily stepping back onboard Silver Spirit to see Silversea’s newest onboard programming: specially-designed enrichment voyages known as Exclusively Yours – Enriched Voyages.
Quietly announced back in March (and, sadly, still without a dedicated landing page on the Silversea website), Silversea has designated a small selection of its European voyages this fall to feature this new programming, which includes special culinary and wine appreciation voyages; bridge-themed cruises; ballet cruises featuring performers from Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre; and operatic-themed cruises featuring artists from the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan.
My Silversea voyage will be the first Exclusively Yours enrichment voyage to set sail, with soloists from Milan’s Teatro Alla Scala theatre academy, who will perform selections from some of opera’s most beautiful librettos.
I’m a huge fan of enrichment experiences on cruise ships, be it guest lecturers or specialized onboard entertainment. I think it adds an enhanced dimension to the overall cruise experience, particularly in a part of the world such as the Mediterranean. After all, what could be better than exploring the history and culture of these ports of call, only to come back onboard and hear some of the region’s most timeless and classic music performed in an intimate, small-group environment?
Mark Conroy, Silversea’s managing director for the Americas, remarked that Silversea’s thinking behind this new programming was to provide guests with authentic cultural experiences while onboard. “We’re attentive to our guests and believe they will find these voyages are perfectly attuned to their varied interests and pastimes. We’re extremely honoured to present this unique collection of cruises designed to showcase extraordinary talent in the performing arts and gastronomy.”
There are two other Silver Spirit voyages that currently feature soloists from the Teatro Alla Scala: Voyage 5629 from Monte Carlo to Venice (9 Sept 2016), and Voyage 5630 from Athens to Venice (10 Oct 2016). Performers from the Bolshoi Academy will be sailing aboard Silver Spirit as I disembark, on her August 31 return Voyage 5625 from Athens to Monte Carlo.
Also, don’t be shy: if you’ve got questions about Silversea, the Silver Spirit or these new enrichment voyages, let me know and I’ll do my best to get the answers for you while I’m onboard.
So come along and experience Silversea’s new onboard enrichment voyages featuring performers from the the Teatro Alla Scala with me and sail the Mediterranean – virtually – at the same time.
An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at www.avidcruiser.com.