Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Silversea Silver Spirit - Come On! You Have Got To Be Kidding! This Ain't Luxury!

You have got to be kidding me!  What I am reading makes the Silversea Silver Spirit a virtual joke if you are talking "luxury" and just OK if you are talking premium.

Let me explain:  One thing I hate is "dumbing down" people so they eventually believe that marginal is acceptable.  Silversea seems focused on abandoning its luxury product on its new ship...and duping the guests into thinking it is OK.  (I am not so sure that is really working for many based upon the reports of long lines of dissatisfied guests bending the ears of management, but for some it does.)  Examples:

1.  Charging for things that should not included and eliminating things that Silversea cannot get away with charging for -

*As I previously noted, charging for specialty dining, such as  $200 per person for Le Champagne is offensively unjustifiable as is $40 or $80 per person (with or without sake) in Sheishen (the new Japanese venue).  Saying it is intended to reduce demand due to the size of the venue is absurd.  Reservations takes care of that.  Jack the price up so that most guests cannot or will not use a venue?  Please.   

*Charging for access to basic spa facilities.  I can understand charging for most spa items, but it is getting to be a bit much.  Also, there are reports of the mass market approach of pushing overpriced products.  (To be fair, on the Seabourn Odyssey that was also attempted by the contractor...for about a day...and then Seabourn shut down that sales approach.)

*Absence or limitation of complimentary drinks  when boarding and in public areas, for example, in the Show Lounge and, it seems, in the suites as well.

2.  Lack of Training and Poor Service -

*It is one thing for there to be some rough edges in service when the main restaurant opens, but it is another when some of the waitstaff don't know the difference say between risotto and a meat dish.  It is one thing if one dish is delayed a few minutes after everyone else is served, but serving one person while the rest of the table waits for a significant time?  Seriously, how limited was the training of the Silver Spirit staff not to review what the dishes are that are being served that evening or to understand that you reject the one dish and have it come out with the others?  (See my post:  Seabourn Cuisine - Seeing is Believing). 

*I can understand the suites not being stocked with the preferred beverages at the beginning of the Maiden Voyage, but not a week into it...especially when the guest repeated asks multiple people.  Obviously if the provisions were not loaded (because of logistics or financial issues), the answer is to simply advise the guest of the lack of provisions and to explain the options (if any) available.  Days of chasing people down and increased frustration is inexcusable...even on a mass market line.

3.  Serving Marginal and Repetitive Food (I can't call it "Cuisine") -

*This one really blows my mind!  It makes my complaints about the Regent Seven Seas Prime 7 restaurant serving oversized portions not being luxury sort of "over the top".  There is presently one guest onboard the Silver Spirit that posts on her own blog, Cruise Critic and Luxury Cruise Talk message boards.  I appreciate Debbie's efforts and candor, but alas it is clear to me that we work/live in two totally different worlds.  Here is a link to her photo of the dinner served in the al fresco dining venue on Deck 10 (Beef on a Stone).  Seriously, the presentation, quality of vegetables and salad are shocking...even for a mid-range steakhouse.  But if you look at the other food (not "cuisine") photos Debbie has generously posted, you may come to the same conclusion I did:  It is NOT luxury...not even close.

*I have looked at some of the Silver Spirit menu offerings and it is just, plain and simple, the same dishes served over and over again.  Changing garnishes, side dishes and spices doesn't change the base offering.  Again, it may be an issue of lack of provisioning or finances, but don't just serve it...explain why!  Treating guests like lemmings rather than intelligent and understanding folks makes absolutely no sense...and it is not luxury.

4.  What About the Ship?  One thing I find absolutely of great concern is that other than the televisions being embedded in mirrors (which is, by the way, a typical Ritz Carlton and other high end hotel treatment; especially in bathrooms) not much else has really be raved about...or even commented on.  (It is being noted - now that the novelty for some has warn off - that in the sitting area of the suites, the television is not actually embedded in the mirror, but shows as a black rectangle in the wall when turned off.) 

Seriously is that all there is to talk about?  There have been no raves about the main restaurant or the other public spaces...other than some guests enjoying STARS Lounge (which doesn't open until 9:00 p.m. because it shares a galley - which is inexcusable on a new ship) despite its service misses.  OK, some like the bar in the reception area and other don't, calling it similar to a hotel lobby.  (Now remember when I blasted Ralph Grizzle,the Avid Cruiser, for asserting it was equal to the Seabourn Square?  Check that out here:  Stupid Comparisons.)

Give Silversea Some Time - I am very confident I am not the only one with so many concerns.  And, to be fair, we all must give Silversea time to make corrections and adjustments and to admit, "Oops, that was a bad idea"...and to actually train its staff. 

Please remember that if people like me do not criticize there is less chance of things being improved.  Cheerleading may make some feel better in the short term, and they are obviously entitled to do it, but that is not what I do for my clients.  I try my best to give unbiased and accurate information...which is proven time and time again on this blog. 

Remember my blasting so many things about the Regent Seven Seas Navigator and the cheerleaders attacking me and claiming I was pushing Seabourn?  Well, Prestige Cruise Holdings, Regent's owner, had the same assessment I did...and invested a fortune to make corrections.  In other words, what I told you was true...not a push toward Seabourn.  Similarly, here I have given you some comparisons to the new Seabourn Odyssey and the Silversea Silver Spirit; not to push anyone to Seabourn, but to give you valid comparisons.

Join the discussion at The Gold Standard Forum!