Luxury means different things to different people. To me, it was going up to the bar on Silversea’s Silver Whisper, ordering a glass of Champagne and sitting down to enjoy it without a waiter hovering for my cabin number or signature.

Come dinner that evening with a group of people I had only just met, we were able to have drinks together without awkward questions about who was paying for what.

There are all sorts of touches that give Silversea its star quality. The all-inclusive drinks policy is one. The way the staff fetch and carry your food in La Terrazza, even though it is a self-service restaurant, is another.

By evening, La Terrazza transforms into a reservations-only Italian restaurant, which was always full. The food was excellent, but it was also good in The Restaurant, where there is open seating.

A special menu is served in Le Champagne, available for $30 per head with wine as an extra, or as a full degustation experience including fine wines for $200.

The cabins on Silversea are a good size – the cruiseline claims to offer the most cabin space per guest in the industry – and I loved the way I was offered alternative Acqua di Parma shampoos and lotions on a silver tray by my room stewardess.

However, I was disappointed to see an old-fashioned chunky TV sitting above the desk when so many non-luxury lines now have modern flat screens. But I was told they will soon be changed.


Silversea Silver Whisper fact sheet

Ship statistics: 28,258 tons, 194 outside suites, 157 of which have balconies. Holds 382 passengers.
Passenger crew ratio: 1.4:1.

On-board culture: Very American feel, quite relaxed, but fairly dressy in the evenings – smart casual with the emphasis on smart.

Facilities: La Terrazza self-service and Italian restaurant, The Restaurant dining room, theatre, spa and gym are all due to get a makeover in October. The gym will be expanded and the spa will become The Spa at Silversea, decked out in white and silver and designed to offer a more personal experience.

Cost of excursions: From $54 for a three-hour tour in Patmos, to $259 for a seven-hour drive along Italy’s Amalfi coast.

Sample package: A 12-day cruise from Athens to Rome in May 2008 costs from £4,331 per person cruise only.