First Time’s the Charm: Becoming Part of the Silversea Family
“Would you like to join our team?”, asked a gentleman from an adjoining table. My mother and I had just arrived not 30 seconds ago to Silver Whisper’s cozy The Bar, just in time for a round of afternoon trivia. This was our first-ever cruise on Silversea, and the second day of 2-week eastern Caribbean itinerary, so we were still getting our “Silversea legs,” so to speak. Our 2-person team was an underwhelming force, and being firm believers in strength in numbers, we gladly accepted the invitation. Swift introductions were followed by getting down to business, as our cruise director Sandra started rattling off the first of 20 questions.
Luckily, we were able to prove our worth to the team in no time. My trivia-obsessed mother provided correct responses or at least educated guesses to questions about literature, art history, cinema and other miscellaneous categories. My turn to shine came when Sandra’s question 15 drew blank stares across our table: “What is the name of U2’s first album?”. “Boy!”, I blurted out, trying to stifle my enthusiasm in a hushed tone. My streak continued with the ensuing questions about sports and geography. We ended up securing a top-three finish and, more importantly, made our first friends on board as we all stayed behind to share anecdotes, drinks and trivia strategies. “Welcome to team Columbus!” said Steve, the gentleman who invited us over. “See you tomorrow: same time, same place,” he added with a bright smile.
Steve’s warm welcome encapsulated an unexpected yet thoroughly enjoyable aspect of our journey. I had planned this rare opportunity for a multigenerational holiday with my parents and wife as way to spend some quality time to connect with each other and to enjoy Silversea’s luxury, all-inclusive service and amenities. Participating in the trivia with my mother certainly fit the plan, as did indulging in fine dining, savoring our spacious ocean-view suites, learning about our destinations by attending enrichment lectures and embarking on adventures on and off the ship.
But I hadn’t factored in aspects like the Columbus camaraderie, which was quickly shaping up to become one of many unforgettable highlights of our voyage. To be fair, there was plenty to love about our experience. I could elaborate on the exemplary service we enjoyed throughout, from our attentive-to-a-fault butler to the similarly thoughtful wait staff in each of the ship’s open-seating dining areas. Or emphasize the spacious and amenity-rich accommodations, as well as the comfort and elegance of the ship’s public areas. Yet, in a way, all of these luxurious aspects merely help set the stage for like-minded travelers such as our dear Columbus teammates.
Leading up to my voyage, I had heard from multiple sources that Silver Whisper exudes a certain je ne sais quoi that affords it a unique charm. I wondered if this had to do with the fact that this vessel embarks on a 5-month world cruise every year. Or maybe it’s related to its 380-guest capacity, which creates an intimate atmosphere that’s hard to replicate in larger ships. In my search for answers, what I did find is a stout sense of belonging that extended from the crew to the guests.
I kept hearing it at the dining venues, on shore excursions, during tea time, in the pool deck, at the fitness center and, of course, during trivia: Silver Whisper is not “the ship.” It’s our ship. Sheila, one of our Columbus teammates, emphasized this notion as we were sharing canapes one evening. This was her first time in the Caribbean, but she had lost count of how many times she had sailed on Silver Whisper or its sister ship, Silver Shadow.” I got the distinct impression that for her, it was almost as if the destination didn’t matter. Almost; as Sheila was quick to point out how keenly she looked forward to explore the islands while miles away from the bitter cold of her native Scotland.
I was able to confirm this notion on the last full day of our cruise, when we called in Key West. Owing to the fact that we docked in Fort Zachary Cruise Pier, a naval base, we had to be ferried by bus to and from the ship. On my way back to Silver Whisper after exploring the city, our driver admitted that he knew very little about Silversea. But a full day of casually interacting with our ship’s guests left him with a distinct impression of the loyalty and fellowship that keeps bringing them back to Silversea. “Hardly anyone mentioned the destinations on the itinerary,” the driver recalled. “The only destination they kept talking about was the ship. They made it sound like it’s their second home.”
By now, I knew exactly what they meant. My first experience on Silversea brought me a great deal of wonderful memories: unforgettable destinations enhanced by the perk of traveling on a smaller ship. But I was surprised to find that what I enjoyed most was the conversations, companionship and shared experiences with fellow guests. In my experience, it’s what came to define the essence of Silversea more than words like “all-inclusive,” “fine dining” or “nearly 1:1 crew to guest ratio.” Completing our first sailing with Silversea makes us Venetian Society members by default. What I didn’t know is that it would also provide us with lasting friendships.