Cruising: Silver Muse spoils guests with butlers and gourmet dining

By Diane Tierney

The phrase “The butler did it” can be said morning, noon and night when you cruise on Silversea’s newest ship, the luxurious 596-passenger Silver Muse. That’s because you’ll get a butler who will unpack your suitcase, run errands, have your laundry done, shine your shoes and much more. You’ll feel like royalty from the moment you step aboard and are handed a glass of champagne.

Our butler Mark greeted us wearing white gloves and a black tuxedo with tails. After an explanation of the suite features such as showing us how to operate the TVs that project through the mirrors, he presented us with Bvlgaria bathroom toiletries on a silver platter. He also showed us the “Pillow Menu”, which included nine heavenly choices from down-filled to memory foam.

He made notes in his black book about our dinner reservations and Caribbean shore excursions. We were cruising from Fort Lauderdale to Puerto Rico and stopping at many islands. Since we chose snorkelling, kayaking, SNUBA, ATVing, a submarine tour, beach days and more, he knew early breakfasts in our suite would be likely. He later unpacked for us, sent wrinkled items out for pressing, and had our shoes shined, which were wrapped in tissue paper when returned.

One morning when he arrived with our usual order of eggs Benedict, croissants and jam, fruit, yogurt, muffins, three kinds of bacon, juice and tea — and laid it out for us on fine linens — I asked his advice about wanting to change a shore excursion. Since I was still lounging in the suite’s luxurious bathrobe, he took the ticket to the Excursions desk for me, and made the change while I sipped tea in bed.

And it’s not just your butler who spoils you on the Silver Muse. There are 411 crew for the 596 guests so you get plenty of attention. Every day by the pool an attendant offers you cold cloths and asks to clean your sunglasses. Drinks are offered the moment you look like you want something.

In the restaurants, waiters learn your name, favourite drinks, how you like your food prepared and anticipate your every need. Silversea is well known for its gourmet dining due to its exclusive partnership with Relais & Chateaux, which is one of the many reasons why the line is rated six stars.

The ship is a floating culinary heaven. Each morsel of the multi-course meals from appetizers sprinkled with caviar, to buttery lobster and juicy New York steak, is sumptuous and so artistically presented you’ll want to take photos. The desserts are designed like sculptures and almost too pretty to eat.

There are eight restaurants such as the Atlantide (seafood/steaks), Indochine (Asian), La Terrazza (Italian) and Silver Note (jazz supper club). Outdoors you can enjoy the Hot Rocks Grill where food is cooked on a hot volcanic stone right at your table. Kaiseki (Japanese) and La Dame (French) are the ship’s formal and top specialty restaurants that require reservations.

However if you want something casual and quick, there’s custom-made pizza at Spaccanapoli by the pool, as well as ice cream. In-suite dining is also an option whether it’s breakfast in bed or a late-night balcony dinner.

As for the ship itself, its luxurious interior design sets a calm, serene tone of understated elegance and boutique hotel-style charm. The palette is warm beige and cream with touches of soothing sage green, muted turquoise and soft chartreuse.

Some areas such as the observation lounge with its panoramic views also mix navy blue with pops of deep orange for a nautical nod. Gleaming black, white, gold and grey marble are ever-present from the foyers to your suite’s bathroom. Hallways are extra wide and there are no lineups or crowds since the space ratio (passengers per square foot) on the Silver Muse is one of the highest in the industry.

The sparkling jewel of the ship is the blue mosaic-tile pool framed in gorgeous teak. There are two hot tubs nearby, with a third one at the stern. The pool loungers have thick plush pads, and upper decks also feature double loungers and round wicker pods for privacy. Potted plants add refreshing greenery and at night, coloured lanterns decorate the decks.

The entertainment on board is decidedly low-key with performances by a few singers and dancers in the small theatre. Piano and violin musicians, solo and duet singers, comedians, lecturers and a DJ perform in other lounges and poolside. There’s a small casino, and a variety of games and activities organized by the cruise director.

This type of small ship luxury cruising is less about sophisticated entertainment and more about casual socializing and a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. Passengers are generally well-heeled and well-travelled and meet up for card games, drinks and dinner. Conversations centre around the interesting destinations. The Silver Muse, at 40,700 tonnes, can access unique ports that many big ships can’t. Port stays are also longer than most cruises and sometimes include overnight stays.

Silversea is an all-inclusive cruise line where features such pre- and post-cruise hotel stays, ship transfers, all drinks (including premium alcohol), gratuities, Wi-Fi, port shuttles, some shore excursions — and butler service for all suites and not just high-end cabins like other lines — are included depending on the voyage.

Our last night was befitting of the six-star treatment. Mark had our clothes laundered (including ironed pyjamas and underwear) and offered to pack our suitcase while we went for dinner. I asked if he could also pack the telephone with the special “Butler” button on it because I had quickly adapted to being spoiled and calling him for every whim.