Impressions from Italy

Posted on Sep 2, 2011

Just returned from a cruise on the SilverSea Spirit from Rome to Venice!  These ideas might be helpful in case you are thinking about taking a cruise there.  This was my 24th cruise, and every cruise has been different which is fun and interesting.  Matching a cruise to a guest is very similar to dating.  The more specific you are, the better your chances of having a great time.

With airline mechanical issues and weather challenges, arriving the day prior to any sailing now is crucial.  Why stress if the flights are delayed?  This extra evening allowed for a dinner al fresco, followed by a Liszt piano concert next to the Forum outdoors, a fabulous way to start the trip.

The Spirit is the largest and newest ship in the SilverSea fleet with comfortable cabins well appointed.  The space between the bed and the wall is extremely tight.  There is no space for anyone to pass by if someone is at the mirror drying her hair.  As a solo guest, this was pointed out to me by the couples on board that found it very challenging.  Additional comments from previous guests included the lack of double sinks in the bathrooms unless you are booked in one of the largest suites.  They were disappointed that the laundry areas were smaller than on the other SilverSea ships and the area used to fold clothes had been eliminated.  Small points, however several loyal SilverSea passengers commented on it, which is very interesting.

The staff is very nice and friendly and remembers your name.  The constant clanging of the dishes in the dining rooms as they cleared and reset tables was very surprising.  The waiters pour the beverages by crossing from left to right so that their elbow is always in your nose!   Both of these service issues are correctable if someone chooses to train the staff.  This was true in all of the restaurants except the Le Champagne, which is the Relais and Chateaux venue that you can book for an additional $30 per person.  That menu changes daily, so choose the menu that you wish rather than a specific day.  Seating in that restaurant is very tiny.

The main restaurant menu offers complimentary wine each evening with your meal.  It was surprising to be offered a California chardonnay on the first night rather than offering wines that are local to each of the ports of call.  That would have been more interesting.

Stars Supper Club is a great venue for jazz.  An idea would be to place a note in each room stating that if you are a jazz lover, join them.  If you wish a chat, go to the bar!  The constant talking during the show was frustrating to be able to enjoy the talent on board.

The internet connection works better than one would hope, however less consistently than needed and expensive if you are on a “working vacation” which many people do these days.  Each cabin does have two American 110 outlets so that you can charge your iPhone on one and the iPad on the other at the same time.

Stops included Sorrento, Taormina & Castelmola, Dubrovnik, Hvar and then into Venice.  Great trip really.

The shore excursions were well organized with generally good guides.  Because the locations are so crowded and there are so many people per guide, the headsets would have been helpful.  The Royal Caribbean guests on their tours used them. 

There were three lectures on board during the cruise.  None of the topics included specific information about any of the ports that were visited.  They were historical overviews of the area, which is interesting; however a discussion about each port would have been extremely useful prior to landing there.  The shore excursions “sales” pitch did not discuss the city, just the tour.  I used to lecture on the QE II years ago providing detailed information to the guests about New York, its history and architecture and the specifics of how to maneuver around the town with public transportation so that the guests really felt comfortable from the minute they landed!  They knew where they wanted to go and how to get there based upon what they were willing to pay.

The stop for lunch in Positano at the San Pietro Hotel was amazing.  Fabulous views, wonderful service and delicious food.  Terry Beaty and Kevin Henson were the Virtuoso Hosts on board the SilverSea and did a lovely job of taking very good care of everyone’s clients on board.  The team from Fortuna Travel was wonderful to provide an exclusive shore excursion that allowed the Virtuoso guests to see the city from the hilltop, and then explore the old city by foot in Dubrovnik.  Lunch was included at a seaside restaurant.  The heat was incredible throughout the trip and the crowds from all the cruise ships are amazing in such a tiny city.

Sailing into Venice early in the morning with the sun rising is amazing.  Thinking about how many people have entered the city over the past and what life must have been like in those ships.  It was wonderful to have one night in Venice on the ship before transferring to a hotel for additional days.

I stayed at the Hotel Danieli which has an amazing rooftop terrace overlooking the canal near St. Marks Square.  Enjoy the buffet breakfast in the morning outside or in.  The hotel is part of the Starwood Luxury collection.  Allow plenty of time for anything that you need there from check in to check out.  Nothing moves quickly there. 

The number of huge cruise ships coming each day is simply astonishing for such a small population.  Tourism is alive and well.  Filippo Curinga from IDI was amazing with his gift of time and sense of humor to help me learn about the city.  I love Venice, the food and the architecture, the glass, masks and lace are simply amazing with the attention to details!

 Let us know your impressions of Italy and cruising along this route!

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