The Best of Both Worlds: A Glimpse of Silversea’s First European Grand Voyage
During Silversea’s 26 year history, the cruise line has made it a mission to push the boundaries of luxury travel. Whether that meant establishing a robust expedition portfolio that unveils the most remote corners of our planet, striking a unique partnership with renowned photographer Steve McCurry, or launching the most innovative immersive culinary program at sea, deep travel experiences are always the unflinching compass that chart the cruise line’s course.
Yet for all of its global appeal, Silversea relishes its Italian and European heritage, one that influences every aspect of the cruise line’s interpretation of travel and comfort. And no one embodies this heritage quite as well as Fernando Barroso de Oliveira, Silversea’s Senior Cruise Director and President’s Ambassador to the Venetian Society. Portuguese by birth but a veritable citizen of the world, Barroso de Oliveira has practically “grown up” with Silversea. “I joined the company 26 years… and one month ago,” said Barroso de Oliveira in November 2020. In this more than a quarter of a century of travels, he still identifies Europe and the Mediterranean as his favorite cruising ground. “So many things come originally from this part of the world that for me it’s just magnificent. Every day you are in a different port that brings centuries and centuries of civilization and history to life,” he says.
It stands to reason that, as part of the recently announced itineraries for 2022-2023, Silversea looks closer to home when charting new with its first-ever Grand European Voyage. The mesmerizing 91-day, 72-destination odyssey is in fact the combination of two Grand Voyages: the Mediterranean Grand Voyage, stretching from Athens to Lisbon, and the Northern European Grand Voyage, another first for Silversea that will take travelers from Lisbon to Stockholm. The massive trek is full of highlights, including overnight stays in iconic ports like Istanbul, Sorrento, Venice, Cádiz, Oslo, Bordeaux, Rouen and, more significantly, a two-night stay in St. Petersburg.
“I find the idea of combining the two grand voyages spectacular,” says Barroso de Oliveira “We’re giving you the entire Mediterranean at the right time of the year. You’ve got the Ottoman Empire, you’ve got Spain, you’ve got the history of the world right there. And then from Lisbon, why not stay for the continuation to Northern Europe? We’ll have the opportunity of seeing Russia at its best: St. Petersburg. To see Scandinavia and then of course, you’ve got the added beauty of Iceland.”
Shore excursions are another novelty of this itinerary, and include among other experiences a visit to St. Petersburg’s renowned Hermitage Museum and boat ride on the picturesque Boka Bay in the Montenegrin coastal jewel of Kotor. The Grand Voyage is also notable for providing a varied set of bespoke events that range from a dazzling equestrian show in Andalucía and an enchanting evening at a rustic Italian Masseria to a private cocktail party hosted by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool and a journey to a tiny Icelandic island populated by just 6 people. “These events enhance your experience” adds Barroso de Oliveira. “They represent the destination we are visiting and, most importantly, are especially and and exclusively for our guests.”
With such a comprehensive itinerary, Barroso de Oliveira concedes that it’s nearly impossible to select a favorite aspect of the journey. “It’s so hard to say: this is the iconic port for the entire place. I love Rhodes… but I love Santorini. Sailing into Istanbul is only compared to sailing into New York, or Sydney or Rio de Janeiro” says Barroso de Oliveira, highlighting the fact that this Grand Voyage will feature an especially curated event in the city’s iconic Cistern of Philoxenos, also known as the 1001 Columns. “Istanbul at night, when you are on deck, and you’re having your before dinner aperitif, and it’s sunset time, and they start lighting up the mosques and the palaces. It’s magnificent. And then going out to one of our events there will be the cherry on the cake.”
A 3-month-long voyage across Europe’s most exciting destinations is also the perfect opportunity to taste the continent’s tantalizing and varied cuisine. Appropriately, this unprecedented voyage for Silversea is also set to take place on an unprecedented vessel: the brand new Silver Moon, home to the innovative culinary program Sea and Land Taste (S.A.L.T.). Experiences ashore will provide a preamble to stories of the Europe’s most alluring culinary cultures, while the ship’s S.A.L.T. ecosystem will guide travelers through to their delicious conclusion on board.
In Silver Moon’s new S.A.L.T. Kitchen, diners will feast upon a regionally inspired menu that changes daily; the S.A.L.T. Bar will serve up mouthwatering drinks with an offering that adapts according to the region. And S.A.L.T. Lab, a hands-on test kitchen, will introduce travelers to each destination’s fresh ingredients through classes, demonstrations and talks.
“It will be something completely new to us. Onboard the ship, we’re going to have the possibility of tasting dishes from all the countries we’re visiting,” says Barroso de Oliveira, underscoring the perfect marriage between the Grand Voyage’s destinations and the S.A.L.T. program. ” The great thing about this itinerary is that you’ve got endless choices. You’re in Italy? Spectacular pasta, pizza… You go right across and you are in Valencia, where you’ve got the paella valenciana. So the entire itinerary offers different things, and important things.”