Monday, January 18, 2010

Silversea Silver Spirit - Laying It On, But Only For A Chosen Few - For The Others: Watch Out!

What has caused me to write this entry is a very rude slap one Cruise Critic poster made toward a guest that was not given the royal treatment by Silversea, but was - instead - treated as a "normal" passenger.

This is, nonetheless, sort of a tough post because its intent is not to rain on anyone's parade (er, umm, cruise), but there needs to be sense of reality to the reviews and posts of that are being treated differently than the majority of the guests.  I say this because if you don't know there is a difference, then you might believe that all is well.
 
First, some perspective:  There are four people on the Silver Spirit Maiden Transatlantic that are being wined and dined by Silversea.  The reason is, to me, obvious:  They frequently post their thoughts on two or three message boards, have a pretty regular line of communication with the cruise line and...this is actually quite relevant...apparently have a historical relationship (either directly or indirectly) with two of Silversea's top executives from their time at Regent Seven Seas. As such, Marketing 101 kicks in:  Make it wildly fantastic or hear the rath all over the internet.

For example, how many times does the ordinary passenger personally speak with the Captain no less dine with him?  When did Silversea start making caviar complimentary again?  (I mean it ain't Seabourn and the complaints about this change are more than a year old.) Renewal of Vows ceremony?  (Reportedly never before done on Silversea.) Special Order Dinners?  (Not just a single course, but entire meals!)  And the list goes on...and on...and on.

Now, while I am absolutely thrilled that these folks have been treated so well, and truly give a nod to Silversea for doing an exemplary job, the fact of the matter is that while most of us truly enjoy the voyeuristic aspects of reading about another person's cruise, our primary interest is "What can we expect on our cruise?"

And then a poster who did not receive the same level of service wrote (which I have gently edited as to form and some spelling):

Unfortunately, the Spirit does not live up to its billing. We knew that we could not expect too much from a second cruise as we got on in Lisbon, but it has been disappointing. The crew attitude is the only thing making this cruise for us; all are smiling and pleasant and willing to learn. Once our gang finally realized that we were sailing on Faulty Towers, a la Monty Python. John Cleese's wacky hotel, we then took it all as a laugh!

This appears to be the Silver Spirit "throwaway" cruise to get it across the pond, and they are saving all stops for the inaugural next week. No doubt the next cruise will find a very different ship and we wish them well. Some cruise critic regulars on board are having a good cruise; but perhaps they have not

- had to have their TV changed three times;
- a ships hairdryer that blows the fuse every time it is turned on;
- all the 110 plugs in the suite not operational;
- shower doors that have to be kept open with our bathrobe belts so they do not break in rough seas,
- a stereo that only a midget can reach etc, etc,

.... and we are in one of the Grand Suites!


On all lines we have taken there are usually special small attentions offered to passengers in the large suites over and above what is advertised. Guess we are spoiled and have grown to expect these small attentions. Do not expect any attentions on this ship if you book a large suite as none are given. And do not expect a DVD in each suite as advertised in their brochure, no cabin has a DVD. We book large suites specifically for a DVD for subtitles as my husband does not hear well. We were provided a DVD for this reason when we asked for one; but had to rush out to buy our own DVD's in the first port of call, Las Palmas, since there are none on board.


The staff and amenity matters can be fixed; the staff smiles are genuine and they can be trained with time, and the amenities can be brought up to standard, particularly for the large suites.

Unfortunately, the design issues cannot be fixed so easily.

- You are not able to close your sink in your bathroom, no washing out of unmentionables ladies;
- Be prepared to get very friendly with the stinky bodies around you in the gym, it is tiny;
- The hairdressing section is tiny, but lots of rooms for treatments, all empty for the most part;
- Manicure table not under lights;
- The Silver Suites elevators at the front of the ship did not operate in the first two very rough seas days so the wheelchair passengers were marooned on their floors for two days;
-The Observation Level has no washrooms, so its down two floors and along a long hall if you need to go.

Hopefully at some point all these design issues will be addressed.

So as Faulty Towers is now nearing land, two days out of Fort Lauderdale, we hear that many passengers have booked future cruises, many on the other Silversea ships. We too have loved Silversea in the past. We will happily return to the other Silversea ships. As far as this one is concerned, perhaps in a couple of years when this ship can properly be called a Silversea Ship.

Well, when one of the royally treated posters personally attacked this person (Doug Burns)...who apparently spent about $20,000 for the experience...I thought "What a set of *%^$ this guys has! He is nothing other than a bully.  And, possibly more importantly, he well and truly has no appreciation for the extent to which Silversea has gone so far above and beyond for him."
 
And then I thought:  "You know, those guys at Silversea (and formerly of Regent Seven Seas) Christian Sauleau and Ken Watson, were no fools.  This Burns guy would have been all over Silversea and the posts would have been absolute nightmares."
 
Well, folks, there have been some nightmare posts which have been overwhelmed by the postings of the rather unique experiences of the chosen few. I am not talking about whether "meat on a stone" is a luxury experience or whether the vanity basins are too large and dysfunctional.   I am talking about serious omissions, errors and absurd cost-cutting measures that have degraded what could have been a top quality product.  I have posted them in this post, on this blog and on The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum.  
 
DidI expect some of the problems the less complimentary posters have written?  Of course.  Are many of them fixable?  Of course.  But some important flaws are not.  One of the flaws that Silversea better fix is treating the chosen ones as "guests" and the others as "passengers".
 
Just some objective observations.