Itinerary: Valletta, Taormina, Amalfi, Sorrento, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Villefranche, Villefranche
I remember the last time we sailed on a brand new Silversea flagship, Silver Spirit. At that time, Rickee and I agreed that there was little Silversea could do to improve upon that ship. And, while Silver Spirit is still one of our favorite Silversea ships, Silver Muse reflects a whole new direction for Silversea, one that the entire luxury segment may soon try to copy.
We boarded Silver Muse in Valletta, Malta, for the second half of a 14-night Inaugural sailing from Monte Carlo to Villefranche. The sailing was sold out, so the person occupying our suite (848) disembarked in Valletta the morning before we embarked. In fact, there were only five of us who embarked in Valletta, which made for an interesting embarkation process. When we arrived shoreside at 2:00pm, we were the only ones embarking. We walked up the gangway, showed the security officer our paperwork and, after a call to Reception, he directed us to Deck 5 where we could check in.
As soon as we stepped off the elevator on Deck 5, Marcus (one of the Reception staff) was there to greet us and escort us to the Reception Desk which is located at the back of the Dolce Vita lounge. In true Silversea fashion, Marcus quickly produced cool towels and glasses of chilled champagne for a proper Silversea welcome aboard. Check-in only took a few minutes and, after our photos were taken, we were given our suite keys and escorted to our Deluxe Veranda Suite on Deck 8.
We were pleasantly surprised to find our luggage had already been delivered to our suite and placed on two luggage racks (much nicer than throwing them on the bed). A butler soon arrived to greet us and inform us that our butler, Haley, was currently off duty but that he could take care of anything we needed until she was back on duty. As is customary on Silversea, a bottle of chilled prosecco was chilled and waiting for us on our coffee table.
This is one of the easiest embarkations we have ever experienced.
By the numbers, Silver Muse has a grt of 40,700 and can accommodate 596 guests. She is the largest ship in the Silversea fleet, edging out Silver Spirit's guest capacity by a mere 56. But, Silver Muse represents more revolution than evolution compared to other Silversea vessels. This manifests itself primarily in the area of dining. Silver Muse has eight dining venues compared to five for Silver Spirit. Because the ship is an all-suite, all-veranda design, there is only one main corridor through each deck. This allows for larger suites and wider hallways.
The ship is very easy to find your way around. This is, in part, because of its smaller size, but also because of its design. There are four elevators aft and two forward on every deck with the exception of Deck 11 which only has forward elevators. There are stairs near the elevator lobbies for those who prefer to walk off some of the additional weight they will no doubt be gaining in Silver Muse's restaurants.
Public areas are where you expect them to be on a Silversea ship. Reception and Shore Excursion desks are on Deck 5 at the rear of the Dolce Vita lounge. The Venetian Lounge is located on Deck 5 aft and is the ship's main theater for lectures and production shows.
Deck 4 is dedicated to four restaurants, which will be covered in more detail under Food and Dining.
Nearly a third of Deck 6 is taken up by the massive Zagara Spa and Fitness Center. The spa offers every imaginable massage treatment, facials, a nail and hair salon and even teeth-whitening! The well-equipped fitness center has top-of-the-line TechnoGym cardio and circuit-training equipment.
On Deck 7 aft you will find La Terrazza, the ship's breakfast and lunch buffet restaurant and evening Italian restaurant. Silver Note, a jazz supper club, is just forward of La Terrazza as is a very small Casino. The ship's boutiques are located on Deck 8 aft as is the Arts Cafe and Connoisseur's Corner (smoking lounge).
There is a handy (and elegant) spiral staircase at the back of Deck 8 that ends in Panorama Lounge on Deck 9 aft.
The Panorama Lounge is quite large and has both indoor and outdoor seating. Deck 10 is where you will find the ship's pool, lots of open deck space for lounging in the sun and the Pool Bar and Pool Grill. The pool itself is surprisingly large and will be loved by those who like to swim a few laps each day.
There is additional lounging available on Deck 11 overlooking the Pool Deck and this is also the location of the walking/jogging track.
Deck 11 is also home to Spaccanapoli, the ship's pizza restaurant which overlooks the swimming pool. Moving inside and forward, Thor's Observation Lounge becomes the highest point on Silver Muse where you can enjoy a cocktail, relax, and look out over the ocean ahead.
From top to bottom, Silver Muse is the most beautiful Silversea ship to date. As with all Silversea vessels, "understated elegance" can best describe the approach to decor. The whole ship has a quality feel that is hard to describe, but easy to get used to.
The ship is equipped with WiFi Internet service (for an additional fee). There are different service plans available for a "standard" Internet/WiFi. We opted for the Premium Internet Package which offers unlimited WiFi, presumably at a higher speed. The speed of the Premium package was reasonable, but it had an annoying characteristic of interrupting our service periodically, forcing us to have to log in again. This would frequently happen right in the middle of a work session. So, it is not as though it was timing out from lack of use. We overheard other guests complaining about the same experience with their Internet service. Another annoyance was the inability to connect more than one personal device simultaneously to the ship's WiFi. If I wanted to use my phone's WiFi, my laptop would automatically be disconnected from the service.
Every stateroom on Silver Muse is a "suite", each with its own private veranda and butler service. Our Deluxe Veranda Suite (848) was situated amidship on Deck 8 and was very conveniently located. At 387 sq. ft., it is among the smallest suites offered on this ship but is certainly not small.
As with all Silversea ships, the suite decor is muted with neutral tones and hints of blue. Once again, the feeling is one of understated elegance. The long desk/vanity in the living room has a very elegant marble surface instead of wood. No doubt it will hold up better over time. Above the desk is a large see-through mirror wall behind which you will find a flat screen television hiding.
Television programming is quite extensive with multiple international news channels and a closed-circuit, on-demand movie selection (complimentary). You can also pull up your account balance and charges through the television as well as restaurant menus and daily activity schedule. What you can't see are any future reservations you have made for restaurants or shore excursions. One of the first things we attempted to do when we got on board was use the interactive system on the television to confirm the restaurant reservations we had made online through the MySilversea website, but could not.
The desk is quite elegant and a great workspace. There are multiple electrical outlets and two USB charging ports (thank you). There are also two US-style 110 electrical outlets and at least two Euro-style 220 outlets (which will work with most phone/camera chargers).
A very nice iHome™ alarm clock is also placed on the desk and can easily be seen from the bed. The alarm clock is outfitted with a wireless charging surface for any cell phone that can be charged wirelessly. Very cool!
A mini-bar/fridge is located under the desk and is stocked with whatever beverages you request from your butler, all complimentary. A large oval stool provides a comfortable seat for working at the desk. Opposite the desk is a nice coffee table, small sofa and large leather chair. The coffee table can be converted into a large dining table with the addition of a folding tabletop stored in the closet. Your butler will set this up for you so you can have an elegant meal, complete with linen tablecloth, right in your suite. All furnishings were very comfortable.
The large walk-in closet is big enough for a 100+ day world cruise. There's a lot of hanging space and another large dresser with plenty of drawer space. An electronic safe sits behind a door. All cabinet drawers and doors in the closet, and throughout the suite, are dampened for soft, noise-free closing.
The bathroom is a nice-size and clad in beautiful marble. There is a full-sized bathtub and a separate shower stall. There are shelves on both sides of the mirror and a large open shelf underneath the single sink. Thankfully, Silversea has moved away from the stylish, but clumsy vessel sinks.
The shower is a fiberglass, prefab unit that is oddly-shaped to fit the space. It is larger than it looks and actually quite comfortable to use. However, we did experience a fair amount of hot/cold water fluctuation during showers, making it difficult to get a consistent temperature. A nice, large chrome basket can hold all of your shampoos, conditioners, soaps, etc. The rain shower head in the ceiling augments the handheld wand.
Our suite was outfitted with Bvlgari™ amenities, but your butler will offer you a choice of luxury-brand amenities. The bath towels are very high quality, soft and absorbent. For some reason, there were no hand towels provided, only bath towels and wash cloths.
As for the bed, this was the most comfortable Silversea bed on which we have ever slept. And, the linens are top of the line. A pillow menu allows you to choose from a variety of pillow firmness levels and materials. There are flexible reading lamps on each side of the bed. Nightstands have a small drawer and a cubby underneath for more storage. There are two US-style 110 outlets and one Euro-style 220 outlet on each night stand. What you won't find here are USB power ports. So, if you want to keep your phone charged overnight, you will have to leave it on the desk, or bring an AC/USB adapter with you.
The teak-deck veranda is compact but comfortable with nice furnishings including two chairs (with footrests) and a small table. Out butler said that the table can be expanded for al fresco breakfast service.
And, while we are on the subject of butlers, one of the unique features of a Silversea cruise is that ever suite has butler service. Our butler, Hayley, was excellent and always available to answer any questions. She made sure all of our dinner reservations and shore excursions were scheduled. If we needed anything, she was a phone call away.
The Deluxe Veranda Suite was extremely comfortable and well appointed.
Food and Dining
Where other areas of Silver Muse could be considered evolutionary in design and execution, when it comes to culinary pursuits, the ship is unquestionably revolutionary. There are more dining venues on Silver Muse than many ships three times her size, topping out at a total of eight! Each restaurant has its own unique menu, theme and evening dress code. That's right, there is no daily shipwide dress code on Silver Muse as with other Silversea ships. Every night is formal night when dining at Atlantide* or Le Dame*, and every night is casual night when dining at Hot Rocks Grill or Spaccanapoli. All other restaurants are informal*.
This new dress code system takes a little getting used to, especially for the Silversea faithful. Because there is no formal night, so to speak, and dining in Atlantide is formal every night, you could be having a drink in Panorama Lounge at 6:30pm dressed in a tuxedo while sitting next to someone in blue jeans who is planning to have dinner at Hot Rocks Grill that evening. It took a few days for us to figure out the system, but I think we like it!
This seafood-theme restaurant on Deck 4 is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. You can expect à la carte menu service here at every meal. In the evening, the dress code for Atlantide is formal. You can read our full review of Atlantide here.
Indochine is one of the largest restaurants on Silver Muse and can seat up to 180 guests. It also boasts the boldest menu of any restaurant on board. The choice of Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisine is the spiciest you will find in any restaurant at sea. My lamb curry had me perspiring from the heat, which is exactly how I asked for it to be prepared. Dress code for Indochine is informal. To read our full review on our Cruise Ship Dining blog, click here.
Kaiseki is open for lunch and dinner. At lunch, it is a sushi and sashimi restaurant (complimentary). In the evening, it is a full-blown Teppan grill with an incredible dègustation menu. The dress code is informal in the evening and there is a $60 per person charge to dine here. Reservations are recommended. Read our full review of Kaiseki here.
Also located on Deck 4, Le Dame is Silversea's Relais & Châteaux-inspired restaurant featuring French cuisine. This restaurant would be comparable to Le Champagne on other Silversea vessels. Dress code is formal. Reservations are required. And, there is a $60pp cover charge to dine here.
Silver Note is located on Deck 7, just forward from La Terrazza. This intimate jazz supper club is perhaps one of the most unique dining experiences at sea. The menu is over-the-top and borders on being quirky, but the food and entertainment are spot-on. You can read our full review of Silver Note here.
As on other Silversea vessels, La Terrazza offers buffet service for breakfast and lunch and is transformed into an Italian restaurant each evening. What differs on Silver Muse is that the evening menu never changes (menus rotate on other Silversea ships). That said, the menu is very well composed and quite comprehensive. You can read our full review of La Terrazza on the Cruise Ship Dining blog, click here.
The Arts Cafe
Think of a coffee shop, snack bar, cocktail lounge all rolled into one. The Arts Café on Deck 8 aft is a venue unique to Silver Muse and we found it to be quite a nice spot for a relaxing drink in the evening, or a mid-afternoon snack with tea. The snacks offered here change throughout the day. In the morning, you will find a selection of smoothies, pastries and other small plates. In the afternoon, a selection of snacks and delicious flavor-infused waters are available, as well as teas or any other beverage you might desire.
The Arts Café is a great place to curl up with a book, or bring your laptop to get some work done while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea.
Pool Grill/Hot Rocks
The Pool Grill (daytime) is your basic burger, hot dog and sandwich spot located poolside on Deck 10. The menu includes a variety of wraps and salads and some of the best French fries you will find on a ship. I am pleased to report that the Silversea Signature Burger is MUCH improved over past experiences. My burger was cooked to order (medium) and was quite tasty. Even the bun appears to have been improved upon.
In the evening, the Pool Grill becomes Hot Rocks, Silversea's signature "cook-it-yourself" concept where thick steaks, lobster, shrimp or seafood can be prepared right at your table on a searing hot rock exactly to your level of doneness, since you are doing the cooking! With only seven nights on board Silver Muse, and eight restaurants to try, Hot Rocks is one we had to skip on this sailing. We will catch it next time!
Located just one deck above the Pool Grill on Deck 11, Spaccanapoli is Silver Muse's pizza restaurant. This restaurant is open from 11am until 11pm every day, making it a great place for those of us who like to go to lunch early. The menu here is pizza and, well, more pizza. There are no salads, no pasta dishes, nothing but pizza. All seating is outdoors and the dress code here is always casual.
The pizza here is thin crust, neopolitan-style pizza. Every pie is made to order in the nearby pizza kitchen. The ingredients are fresh and the pizzas are perhaps the best you will find on any cruise ship anywhere.
Of course, we can't fail to mention that Silversea offers guests an unmatched level of room service. There is a room service menu in each suite with items that are available 24 hours a day. However, during dinner hours, you can order any item from Atlantide, Indochine, Spaccanapoli, or La Terrazza, delivered to your suite.
You can order just about anything and have it delivered anywhere on the ship. Let's say you would like to enjoy a cheese platter while sitting poolside. How about a burger and fries delivered to Panorama Lounge aft deck? Just call 404 (room service) and place your order. We love it!
I used this service each morning at 5:30am in Panorama Lounge. I would order a pot of hot water and a coffee cup for my coffee (I use a French press) and have it delivered to Panaorama where I settled in for my morning blog sessions. Wonderful!
I can't recall sailing on any cruise ship, of any size, that offered as many dining options as Silver Muse. What's missing is the traditional cruise dining restaurant with a menu that changes every evening. Instead of guests going to one place to experience a different menu each night, guests can go to a different restaurant each night. Since each restaurant has the same menu every day, logic would dictate that execution of that menu would be much improved. As I stated earlier, this new way of dining takes a little getting used to, but after seven days, we loved it! I suspect many Silversea guests are going to feel the same way.
* The exception to this rule is embarkation and disembarkation day when every dining venue is casual.
Bars and Lounges
Bar service has always been excellent on Silversea, and this has not changed with Silver Muse. All beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks are complimentary on Silversea cruises. This not only adds to the value of a Silversea cruise, it eliminates the hassle of having to sign for drinks every time you place an order.
During the day, one of the busiest bars on the ship is no doubt the Pool Bar. Waiters are circulating around the pool area to make sure guests' thirsts are adequately quenched. The largest lounge on the ship is Dolce Vita on Deck 5. Comparable to The Bar on other Silversea ships, Dolce Vita also offers piano music in the evenings.
We only visited Dolce Vita one evening for pre-dinner cocktails. We preferred the smaller, more intimate feel of Panorama Lounge on Deck 9 aft. We also enjoyed the music of the Silver Muse Contemporary Trio. Panorama Lounge has the advantage of outdoor seating making it a great place to enjoy warm-weather sunsets while sipping champagne.
If you prefer a smaller, quieter spot to enjoy conversation while sipping your favorite beverage, The Arts Café on Deck 8 aft is a great choice, as is Thor's Observation Lounge on Deck 11 forward. If you have dinner reservations in one of the restaurants on Deck 4 (Indochine, Atlantide, Le Dame or Kaiseki), you can enjoy a drink in the Atlantide Bar or Enoteca (located inside Indochine).
No matter where you are on Silver Muse, a watering hole is nearby. Bar service was excellent throughout the ship.
Entertainment and Activities
As with most cruise ships, when the sun is shining and the weather is warm, the Pool Deck is where you will find many Silver Muse guests. On our sailing, it was a little too cool for all but the true sun-worshippers to sit poolside. No problem, Silver Muse's entertainment staff offer a variety of activities to keep guests occupied. Team Trivia is always popular on Silversea and offered every day, even when the ship is in port. Golf Putting is another Silversea signature activity that we have always enjoyed. Guests who participate accumulate Silversea Points during the cruise that can be redeemed for Silversea logo prizes at the end of the cruise.
A protected section of Deck 9 portside has been set aside for table tennis and shuffleboard. This is the nicest setup we have seen for table tennis as it is protected from the wind and other elements.
For the little kiddos, an Activities Room is equipped with televisions and areas for playing a variety of games and other activities. We did not have any cooking demonstrations on our sailing, but this is probably due to the fact that there were no days at sea.
On most days, we enjoyed a lecture series conducted by Dr. Mark Elovitz on a variety of geopolitical topics. Silversea always has excellent lecturers.
In the evenings, guests migrate to the Venetian Lounge (Deck 5 aft) for the nightly performance. The Venetian Lounge is the main theater and is the venue for all lectures and evening performances. The lounge has comfortable seating and good sight lines to the stage. Acoustics are also very good.
The Silver Muse Contemporary Trio provided background music in Panorama Lounge each evening during cocktail hour.
The Silver Muse Singers, a group of three male and three female singers, performed a variety of production shows during our cruise. The quality of vocals, costumes and set design is much improved over what we have experienced previously on Silversea.
All of the entertainment is under the direction of Cruise Director Jimmy Kovel.
In addition to the cast of resident singers, Silversea has guest performances on some evenings. There were also a couple of "big screen movie nights" held in the Venetian Lounge, showing new-release movies.
Overall, we felt the entertainment on board Silver Muse was some of the best we have ever experienced on Silversea, certainly worthy of their new flagship!
Silversea guests tend to be very well-traveled, experienced world explorers. Silversea knows how to cater to this elite group of guests by offering high-quality excursions that also happen to be a very good value. During our cruise, we joined three different Silversea excursions and each one was unique and very well executed, and each one was a good value.
Silversea always tries to keep tour groups smaller, which makes for a much more pleasant experience. Have you tried visiting Florence with a group of 80 others? It's not fun.
For those who enjoy exploring on their own, Silversea arranges for complimentary shuttle services is most ports. Shuttle schedules are always available at the Shore Excursion desk on Deck 5.
When disembarking Silver Muse on one of the ship's tenders, or using the gangway to go ashore, complimentary bottles of water are always available for the taking.
When tendering was required, Silversea ran tenders to and from shore on a regular basis. Tender service was unusually "rough" on this cruise for some reason. Perhaps a new style of tender boat was the reason, but we noticed much more pitching and rolling of the tender boats, especially when attempting to pull alongside the ship. Even in relatively calm seas, the tender boats seemed to bob up and down in the water more than we have experienced in the past.
We have always been impressed with Silversea's Shore excursion operations. We still are.
The Silver Muse Experience
For now, at least, the Silver Muse experience is slightly different that the Silversea Experience. The lack of a daily shipwide dress code will no doubt be praised by many, and scorned by some traditionalists. The evening dress code is now determined by where you choose to dine. If you are dining in one of the formal restaurants (Atlantide or La Dame), you can enjoy cocktails with like-clad diners at Atlantide Bar. Informal diners (Indochine, Kaiseki, La Terrazza, Silver Note) can retreat to Enoteca on Deck 4 or The Panorama Lounge, where we found most guests tend to adhere to informal attire. Casual diners will feel more comfortable enjoying a drink at the Pool Bar or The Arts Cafe in the evenings.
Silversea has taken a very bold step to revolutionize the cruise ship dining experience. This is the first ship on which we have sailed that does not have a traditional "cruise ship restaurant" dining venue. We, too, were a little hesitant for the first few days. But, after seven days, we are huge fans of this new paradigm. Each restaurant has its own unique theme and menu, each executed very well.
The one thing that has not changed on Silver Muse is the excellent Silversea service and attention to detail. It is hard to declare a favorite Silversea ship, but I think we may have give a slight edge to Silver Muse. This may be the most luxurious, decadent way to see the world.