I always thought a cruise holiday would never be for me, but the chance to experience a voyage on one of the premium ultra-luxury small ship cruise lines such as Silversea certainly changed my mind. I was lucky enough to be given the chance to travel on their newest ship, the Silver Moon, for six nights touring the Greek Islands. Even the cruise stops were amazing – calling at Rhodes, Crete, Cyprus, Mykonos and Athens.
During these uncertain times with Covid I was concerned about all the testing involved, but as soon as I touched down from my flights, my fears were allayed by the efficient service the ship provided in transporting me to a clinic for an antigen test before boarding. Fortunately, I was given the all-clear and was able to board this stunning ship. Strict covid protocols on board ensured this standard was maintained with hand sanitisers available everywhere on the ship, with masks needing to be worn in all public areas unless sat down to eat or having a drink, to regular temperature checks by my lovely butler ever morning before leaving my cabin. I never felt so safe.
My cabin was amazing too. I stayed in a Classic Veranda Suite, which had a very spacious bedroom, lounge area and stunning marble bathroom, which provided me with all the comforts you would expect from a cruise line such as this. My private balcony enabled me to spend many hours overlooking the amazing ports of calls, whilst sipping champagne, courtesy of my cabin butler and taking in the wonderful Greek sunsets every day. It was certainly the way to sail.
The restaurants on board are so varied that there is something for everyone, with choices from all over the world. But it was the unique concept known as S.A.L.T (Sea and Land Taste) programme that really interested me. As a guest I was able immerse myself into the gastronomic experiences of Greece at the S.A.L.T Kitchen, where all the menus were based around that day’s port of call. The menu changed every day. This also extended to excursions on the land.
I got to spend a day in Crete at farm, where I had to pick my own vegetables and prepare a culinary delight with a renowned Cretan chef and farm owner known as Panos. He was so friendly and proud of his farm and was more than happy to share his knowledge with everyone. We prepared everything from scratch and enjoyed a three-course meal at the end, with some nice Cretan wine included. It was an experience not to be missed, as it was a chance to sit down with a Greek family and learn all about them and their culture, as well as eat nice food.
This programme was extended on the ship where I again had a chance to cook some traditional Greek food in the S.A.L.T Lab. Here I was guided by a resident chef on board in to making Spanakopita, which is a lovely savoury spinach pie, with feta cheese in filo pastry. It was very straightforward to prepare, and I was very impressed with my attempt, as it was very tasty. Even dabbled in some Baklava making too. This concept even has bar on board, where the bartenders were able to concoct unique cocktails from local ingredients. These were very nice too and I visited this place several times.
I managed to tear myself away from the pure luxury of Silver Moon and venture off the ship to sample some of the land excursions provided. I always find these are great ways to immerse myself in the culture of the islands. In Rhodes I toured the UNESCO World heritage site of the old town, walking around the cobbled streets of this medieval Ottoman walled city, picking up a bargain or two. I also got to sample a Silversea organised excursion in Cyprus into the Troodos Mountains, visiting the local churches and villages and seeing how life is away from the bustling crowds on the coast and seeing the traditional Cypriot way of life. The scenery was stunning, as were the churches.
On Mykonos I got to wander around the whitewash buildings and narrow alleyways to enjoy some much need retail therapy. It is a shopper’s paradise and has something for everyone. Checked out the famous windmills in Mykonos Town and explored Little Venice. Felt like Shirley Valentine enjoying some fabulous Greek fare of tzatziki and calamari on the waterfront at a traditional taverna. It was idyllic. In Athens I also got to revisit a place I visited in my childhood, and it still amazed me – the Acropolis.
I would certainly recommend Silversea for people who are looked for the ultimate small luxury ship experience, where they have everything, they need at their fingertips to enjoy their voyage, where they can concentrate on making some wonderful holiday memories and finding new friends.