What Makes Silver Nova, the ‘Ship of Light,’ So Innovative? My 7 Reasons

Silversea is on a roll. Despite pandemic challenges, the ultra-luxury cruise line has added an unprecedented five vessels to its fleet since 2020. The recent introduction of the Silver Nova means the operation has grown from seven ships to 12 in three years.

What makes Silver Nova a groundbreaker?

As cruising has bloomed as a vacation option in the last quarter-century, many cruise lines have looked inward to engage their guests. Shows staged on board rival what we can find on Broadway, casinos compete with the world’s gambling capitals, and thrill rides — including roller coasters and go-kart racetracks — are available to distract youngsters.

Contemporary cruising has missed the mark in an important way: It hasn’t focused on the essence of the journey and its destinations.

Silver Nova’s design brings you closer to the host of your experience: the ocean. /Photo by Teijo Niemela for Silversea

Silver Nova innovates by bringing the sea back into the cruise experience and by ensuring the ports of call stand front and center, wherever it sails. This is more than marketing mumbo jumbo: One look at Nova’s architectural blueprints and you’ll see two components that create this: an asymmetrical design and a horizontal layout. (More explanation on that below. )

Then, there’s glass — acres and acres of it that wrap the ship, creating “a ship of light.”

How does Silver Nova innovate? Let us count the ways.

Shifting the deck plan

The Venetian Lounge extends skyward, enhancing the feeling of roominess./Photo by David Swanson for Silversea

All of Silversea’s previous ships have a common layout: Suites occupy the forward part of the ship on nearly every deck; common areas such as restaurants and lounges sit aft. This has worked well for Silversea, ensuring that noise from the galley, for example, doesn’t drift into the sleeping areas. It also means ceiling height is consistent throughout the ship from front to back.

For Silver Nova, the architectural team filled Decks 6 to 9 with nothing but suites. This longitudinal distribution means you will not find common areas on these decks and that the ceiling height is what you would find elsewhere on Silversea ships.

Silver Nova’s atrium at night/Photo by Teijo Niemela for Silversea

That makes the ceiling height taller on the decks where people gather. For instance, Silversea’s theaters have been, for the most part, not taller than one deck. That limits staging and screen size. On Silver Nova, the Venetian Lounge is 2½ decks tall, so it has a proper stage and a giant screen for presentations. Other venues on the ship feel even airier. This also is the first Silversea ship with a true atrium.

She has curves

La Terrazza feels as though you are suspended above the ocean. /Photo by David Swanson for Silversea

Cruise ship design is typically an exercise in symmetry: Fore and aft, port to starboard, the layout can be one big mirror image. For Silver Nova, the architects embraced something daring: asymmetrical design.

This is more obvious on the top decks and aft because the pool, rather than being centered, as is traditional, is on the ship’s starboard side. The aft of the ship isn’t squared off like most current ships but instead boasts voluptuous curves and bulges. Indeed, one choice table at La Terrazza seems to hang over the water.

Silver Nova is 103 feet longer than the Muse class ships and carries 120 more guests than Silver Spirit’s. Many people overlook one important metric, though: the passenger space ratio – that is, the number of guests relative to the size of the ship (in tonnage). Here, Silver Nova comes out with more elbow room per passenger than almost any other cruise ship operating.

Although the suites line up conventionally on either side of the ship on their decks, elsewhere, you’ll discover one area after another that defies symmetry.

The Venetian Lounge — the ship’s largest venue by volume — is starboard; the Dusk Bar — a new offering — sits on the port side. The ship’s elevator shafts ride halfway outside the ship. The port side elevators are forward, and aft are to the rear. Not only does asymmetry offer a chance to maximize views, but it also produces a more organic and aesthetically pleasing vessel.

The end-all be-all pool deck

The snazzy pool deck surrounds visitors with the ocean./Photo by David Swanson for Silversea

The most dramatic feature aboard Silver Nova – and the one guests are already raving about – is its magnificent pool area (pictured across the top and above), positioned on the side of Deck 10. Not only does the pool embrace the view, but the seating area surrounding it, including on a narrow terrace that represents Deck 11, also creates an amphitheater-like setting, offering a CinemaScope panorama of whatever visage fills the scene to Silver Nova’s starboard side.

Don’t worry if your preferred vista pulls up opposite. The port side is open to the view as well (sans pool).

Why not give the Cliff a whirl on Deck 11 of Silver Nova?/Photo by David Swanson for Silversea

If a whirlpool is your fancy, you’ll find it perched on Deck 11 and named, appropriately enough, The Cliff.

You can see clearly now

Every suite – all accommodations are suites – comes with unimpeded balcony views, and by moving much of the ship’s heavy superstructure inside, Silver Nova gains more spaces fronted by glazing, in many cases, spanning floor to ceiling.

The three-story-tall Atrium, another first for Silversea, is framed in glass, the elevators are see-through, and even the Venetian Lounge has windows on one side to let the outside in.

Check out the snazzy tender boats. Besides offering comfortable, individual seats (rather than bench seating), the boats are ringed by windows, providing natural light and ample views for tender port transfers.

Yes, she’s big

The Arts Cafe becomes the fulcrum of activity on the Silver Nova./Photo by David Swanson for Silversea

When Silver Nova was announced, some expressed concern about the ship’s size. I sympathize: I love the intimacy and camaraderie built into the line’s smaller, expedition ships, but I also enjoy the additional dining options offered on the larger ships, especially the S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program.

Nova is 103 feet longer than the Muse class ships and carries 120 more guests than Silver Spirit’s. Many people overlook one important metric, though: the passenger space ratio – that is, the number of guests relative to the size of the ship (in tonnage). Here, Silver Nova comes out with more elbow room per passenger than almost any other cruise ship operating.

This is something you can feel throughout the ship. For instance, Arts Café now becomes the beating heart of the ship, but guest will find plenty of nooks secreted around the ship. You’ll find more loungers and chairs on the pool decks than passengers.

The best bunks

Silver Nova’s accommodations break the mold, introducing seven new categories of suites. There are, for example, two Otium Suites. These suites are in the aft starboard corner of the ship, one atop the other, another benefit of Nova’s horizontal layout.

Silversea has never had aft-facing accommodations, and because these are on a corner and they have a balcony that extends out a few feet farther, they afford 270-degree views of sea and sky. Sitting on this 431-square-foot veranda is a private hot tub, and the inside wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows allow you to enjoy the ocean.

Before disembarking,  I also peeked at one of Nova’s Master Suites, which are at the port aft corners. Although smaller, they still have that wraparound balcony.

Places, everyone

The al fresco Marquee provides an ocean backdrop for dining./Photo by David Swanson for Silversea

You’ll find new and noteworthy venues, starting with the Marquee, a glorious, pergola-topped al fresco dining room sitting atop Deck 10. On Nova this is a catchall name for The Grill and Spaccanapoli, which return Silversea guests will know. Whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner and no matter what menu you order from, the sea beckons from both sides of the room.

It’s all hands on deck as cooking demos proceed in the Nova’s S.A.L.T. Lab./Photo by David Swanson for Silversea

S.A.L.T. Lab, where guests partake in hands-on cooking demos, now has the most spectacular test kitchen aboard Nova, relocated to Deck 10 and with a raised ceiling plus a wall of windows for the view. The space has a second use, serving an 11-course S.A.L.T. Chef’s Table dining experience, focused even more tightly on cuisines of the sailing itinerary, procuring specialty items and sharing the stories behind them.

The Dusk Bar’s specialty is the unusual, both in spirits and in sunsets./Photo by David Swanson for Silversea

Aft, but not least, the Dusk Bar sits on Deck 10 and is loaded with Silversea’s usual stock of unusual spirits. This perch is a surefire sunset selfie setting. Fear not, though: Even when the sun sets, Nova remains luminous.