First Look: Silver Muse
Come aboard Silversea’s newest beauty
BY JANICE WALD HENDERSON — Summer 2017
he had me at the gangway. Her sleek lines, rising gracefully from the water’s edge. That new luxury ship smell — intoxicating, like the scent of a showroom Ferrari. As I board the 596-passenger Silver Muse, Silversea’s gleaming new flagship, my hand glides smoothly up the wood railing and my heels clang comfortably against the metal stairs. On this sunny April morning, I’m more than ready for this ship’s maiden voyage from Genoa, Italy, to Barcelona, Spain.
Like other cruise enthusiasts, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this launch, the last of the three most highly anticipated ultraluxury ships to debut over the past year. First came Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer last July, then Seabourn’s Encore in December, and now I’m in the Mediterranean for the unveiling of the much-hyped Muse. Conservative Silversea, long known for preferring timeless elegance over trends, takes a giant leap forward with its newest pleasure boat, but how sweeping are the changes? After a long wait — Silversea announced its plans for the ship two years ago — I can finally sail on this new build and find out.
Onboard, I know the Silversea drill, having sailed its fleet of all-suite, all-inclusive ships several times. The waiting officers, dressed in crisply starched whites. The lineup of butlers and stewards. The welcoming glass of prosecco. A white-gloved attendant escorts me to my suite and I peek at public rooms along the way. My butler — every suite gets one — and stewardess introduce themselves. Are there special spirits I want in my private bar? Bulgari or Ferragamo toiletries?
Once alone, I muse over my first impressions of the Muse. Silversea’s eight older ships convey more generic understated elegance; number nine embraces the company’s Italian family-owned status with modern elegance. The Muse is also the fleet’s largest, with bigger suites and public spaces, and more outdoor seating.
My entry-level suite measures 387 square feet, including the private veranda. With its feel-good furniture, bold paintings, and artsy metal-framed mirrors, call it a design-devotee’s dream. Tech-freak me loves my two TVs, invisible inside huge wall mirrors until I click the remote. They deliver plenty besides live news and movies that I find useful throughout my sail, from onboard dining details to port information.
Silversea hallmarks, such as the European toiletries, baths with separate showers and full-size tubs, writing desks with personalized stationery, Pratesi linens — now with a noticeably higher thread count — and pillow menus with nine choices, are still de rigueur. But the new gold-veined gray marble is so highly polished, my face appears in its shine. Another Muse first: wall-mounted mobile device chargers, plus way more suite electrical outlets.
Bigger suites than mine deliver even more grandness — more marble, more granite, more furnishings. The grandest, yet most intimate one, particularly impresses me: the Balsorano Owner’s Suite, a 1,000-square-foot vision-come-to-life of Silversea’s chairman and owner, Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio. The many personal touches touch me: the executive’s family pictures, chairs from his former Rome residence, his favorite books, and vintage port personally selected by the chairman.
In the ship’s public areas, I soon find favorite hangouts, such as the Tor’s Observation Library at the ship’s top. Here, I borrow a Mediterranean travel book and curl up in a comfy chair in front of a floor-to-ceiling window with ocean views. Soon I drop the book and breathe in rhythm to the waves. I’m not sleeping, just being, for about 30 blissful minutes.
Another calming fave: the Arts Café, which serves up healthful eats and a coffee bar inside an art gallery. How whimsical, a word I haven’t associated with Silversea before. When I sink into one of the café’s ergonomically designed, curvaceous high-back chairs upholstered in alphabet-letter print, I lose all desire to get up. Why bother? Vibrant paintings and futuristic sculptures surround me. Nearby shelves teem with art-themed tomes curated by London’s Heywood Hill, a beloved Mayfair bookstore.
Beautifully displayed art catches my eye throughout the ship. Some pieces resemble Old World Italian countryside paintings, though on closer look I realize they’re needlepoint, sewn with teensy stitches. Edgy sculptures include one made from bronze-hued hair dryers.
On one day of the cruise, I make sure to carve out time for the Zàgara Spa. Silversea’s first full-service spa and most holistic one provides beauty and body therapy treatments, cosmetic enhancement services, and acupuncture. I opt for personalized body therapy. Sitting in a softly lit “mood room,” I sniff unlabeled essential oils and pick the one I find most appealing. My therapist enters and tells me I’ve chosen lavender. For my de-stressing treatment, she selects a custom massage oil, the lamp color to set the right mood, the appropriate New Age music, and even the tea to sip post-massage. Soon, I’m lying on a warm table on incredibly silky sheets, drifting away while she works her magic. Fifty minutes later, I’m sipping chamomile-infused herbal tea as I practically float out the spa door.
This is no girlie place; therapists pamper men with male-specific facial and shaving services, plus they can retreat to a private steam and sauna.
While Vegas-y shows don’t excite me, I see most audience members clapping enthusiastically in the jazzy Venetian Lounge on one of my party nights. Here, the showroom seating is now cabaret-style, with chairs and cocktail rounds rather than just banquettes. The undulating ceiling changes colors, and the stage backdrops flash in bright neon hues. Highly choreographed singers who belt out Motown, Sinatra, and other standards still star as the fleet’s primary entertainment. All that said, I prefer the Panorama Lounge, a buzzy bar with a more rocking band, the occasional DJ, and a nice dance floor.
“Wow” best describes Silversea’s new approach to dining on the Muse. Rather than relying on one primary purveyor, the chef employs several for authenticity and excellence of ingredients. The beef, for instance, checks the world’s best boxes — French Limousin, Japanese Wagyu, and Italian Piedmontese. I make another pleasant culinary discovery, as well: Silversea hit delete on the main dining room. Instead, for meals, I choose from eight compelling venues each day, the most on a Silversea ship. I’m able to satisfy every culinary whim onboard, from dim sum and sashimi to wild boar salami and Indian lamb curry, even foie gras and caviar.
How I love Spaccanapoli. At this unfussy outdoor eatery overlooking the pool, a Neapolitan chef works a fancy pizza oven. His ingredient choices, such as fior di latte (fresh cow’s milk mozzarella) and San Marzano tomatoes, deliver sublime results. Ditto for his techniques.
From Australia to Spain, Atlantide’s menu roams the globe for primo steak and seafood dishes. Its ornate recessed lighting, sparkly charger plates, and plush burgundy chairs ooze glam. I learn Atlas’ seven mythological nymph daughters, granted immortality as stars, inspired Atlantide’s name. As I bite into a luscious lobster salad adorned with caviar, I wonder if any mythological magic will rub off on me. I’d like to be a muse star in the sky — not yet, but one day. Meanwhile, I dine easy, knowing the Muse shines brightly, today and all the days of my sail.
Where It Sails: Cruises the Mediterranean through August, shifts to Northern Europe and the British Isles, then repositions to New England in mid-September before heading to Florida and South America in mid-October. Returns to the Med in mid-May. 888-978-4070; silversea.com