Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

On paper Silversea Cruises 14-day cruise from Auckland to Melbourne on the Silver Muse looked an appealing itinerary.

The Silver Muse in Hobart.

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t read the same paper!  A forecast of extreme weather conditions forced some major changes to the itinerary.

As a result, a cruise which originally encompassed visits to nine New Zealand ports including Auckland and three days at sea morphed into visits to five NZ ports and six days at sea. Missing from the original itinerary were stops at Gisborne, Napier, Kaikoura, Dunedin and Buff. Added to the itinerary were an extra day at Wellington and Picton.

The Bay of Islands was the first stop on the itinerary.

Furthermore, threatening winds associated with a major storm meant instead of heading for Hobart from the southernmost tip of New Zealand’s South Island, we headed from Picton further north resulting in four straight days at sea, instead of the planned, two before arriving in Hobart.  Needless to say the change in itinerary received a mixed response from passengers.

For some of the 496 passengers on board visiting New Zealand and especially the South Island was the dream of a lifetime. A visit to the Bay of Islands and Tauranga had whetted their appetites for what was to come and they were extremely disappointed in the changes.   Although after a rather rough night at sea more became accepting of the captain decision!

A few rough days at sea wasn’t enough to deter some passengers from enjoying the pool deck!

Others, who were mostly keen Silversea fans, were more philosophical accepting that no cruise liner can control the weather. You also had a feeling the Silver Muse was as much an attraction as the ports on the itinerary.

Recognising regular Silversea passengers didn’t take long.   They were the ones praising the smaller ships the cruise company operates (the largest of the ships features 350 suites), the inclusion of all drinks, wi fi, gratuities many shore excursions and a butler service.  They were also the ones who had already nabbed the prime dinner times at the ship’s restaurants requiring reservations!

By the time I had investigated the Muse’s eight restaurants and decided where I wanted to dine all those requiring bookings were booked out for my preferred time of around 7pm.

The buffet breakfast at La Terrazza.

Fortunately, two of the restaurants, the Atlantide and Indochine which didn’t require reservations together with a couple of nights of room service (which was available 24 hours  a day) ensured I could have a different meal every evening.  No bookings were required for the six eating areas which provided lunch while two of those areas were open for much of the day including The Arts Cafe which served teas, coffees, pastries and light meals from 6.30am to 11pm.  Meals  in all but two of the restaurants – Kaiseki and La Dame – were included in the cost of the cruise.

The buffet breakfast served in La Terrazza provided an impressive selection of food plus plenty of entertainment.  Given the many different staff and passenger nationalities on board, communications were sometimes a little fraught. One couple from America, for example, were surprised to be served a big bowl of grapes rather than the crepes they had ordered!

While everyone involved could see the funny side, unfortunately some passengers were not so understanding and weren’t particularly polite to the wait staff.  Such attitudes were disappointing for, as far as I could see, all 411 crew on board went out of their way to be friendly, polite and helpful.

My butler Carren and room attendant Biplau.

This was particularly the case with my butler Carren and room attendant Biplau. On meeting Caren soon after boarding my superior veranda suite she explained she could help me with unpacking (and packing when leaving the ship), making any reservations I required on board, restocking my mini bar or bringing any drinks I wanted.

She would search out anything I needed and arrange services such as laundry and dry cleaning. Within the cabin she was responsible for looking after my living area while Biplau was responsible for the bedroom and bathroom.

Each morning and early evening both would appear ensuring my suite was sparkling clean and fully restocked with any provisions needed. At times I almost felt guilty having so little for Caren to do however that didn’t stop her taking the initiative including cleaning my shoes and spectacles. Any clothes left unhung were quickly returned to my rather large walk-in wardrobe.

My suite.

She was also good at problem solving.  The first was how I could have a hot cup of coffee in the morning.  Without a kettle or a coffee maker in my suite, and not being fit to face the world without a morning coffee, the only option was room service. Given how many passengers chose to have breakfast in their rooms there was, however,  often a long delay. A thermos at night ensured a fairly hot coffee in the morning.

The other more serious issues related to my cabin or more specifically a banging balcony door and ceiling tiles.  Both problems became issues during the night, ensuring two rather rough night’s sleep. But thanks to Caren’s actions and efficient onboard maintenance men both issues were solved the following mornings.

Apart from banging associated with both issues my suite (709 on deck seven) was relatively quiet and on most nights falling and staying asleep wasn’t an issue. Helping with this was an extremely comfortable bed. The bed added to the appeal of my suite where I spent more time than originally planned.

My suite included a very comfortable couch

While there were plenty of activities on board such as morning fitness classes, board and card games, including bridge lessons, outdoor games (when the weather allowed) and numerous talks, my very comfortable suite proved irresistible.  Thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass doors which led to the balcony and the sofa bed style couch in the sitting area it had everything I needed to bunker down.

The ship’s library contained a good selection of books while there were also the new release movies and television to watch on my two interactive televisions (which doubled as mirrors).

Then there was the full-length stand-alone bath and the accompanying Bvlgari toiletries which proved hard to resist around 5pm!

My bath

I did make it to a couple of the evening shows however given these didn’t start until at least 9.30 the pull of my bed was stronger. Those who regularly attended the shows, were complimentary about the enthusiasm of the Silver Muse singers and dancers who staged several shows.

Similarly, the work of jazz duo Sharon and pianist Aleksey, guitarist Diego, piano entertainer Slava and the Silver Muse Trio who performed in public areas including the Panorama Lounge and Dolce Vita were also well received.

The Panorama lounge is one of several live music venues on the Silver Muse.

The ship’s casino and Connoisseur’s Corner complete with renowned cognac and whisky and a choice of cigars also had their fans while a totally different ‘group’ could be found in the fitness centre especially first thing in the morning.

Fortunately, by late morning there was a lull meaning minimal waiting time for treadmills, exercise bikes, Technogym equipment and free weights that seemed to be in great demand early morning and late afternoon.

Many of the gym users could also be found attending the numerous spa seminars which covered such topics as natural relief for arthritic pain and acupuncture.

The fitness centre.

Also popular were the ‘beauty based’ seminars on such topics as wrinkle remedies, thermage, and non-surgical facelifts given by those working in the medi-spa located within the Zagara Beauty Spa. Passengers who were inspired by the seminars could then book in for such treatments.

The spa also offered a range of more traditional pampering options together with a beauty salon.  The facial and massage treatments I experienced were excellent; however the pricing of such services was a little difficult to understand.  Dynamic pricing seemingly abounded and was probably impacted by the number of unexpected days spent on the ship.

Given the weather conditions the number of passengers found on the pool deck was also a little surprising. But as a few explained, the New Zealand weather was far warmer than ‘back home’ in Europe and North America. At the same time finding a seat to soak up a few of the sun’s rays and enjoy a drink when the weather was calmer wasn’t an issue.  All agreed it was just a shame that the weather hadn’t been a little more co-operative over the 14 days!

* Jenny Burns cruised on the Silver Muse from February 1 to February 15 2024.

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28 days ago

Really enjoyed reading the review of Silver Seas Muse. I felt like I was there.

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