Spirit of the eastern Mediterranean: History and culture all aboard a luxury cruise.
Updated: Sep 30
Our Head of Luxury - Dave Page, was invited on board the Silver Spirit with Silversea Cruises last week. Athens to Istanbul, taking in some amazing sights as well as an itinerary packed with history and culture. But it was on board that capped the experience -
" I've been fortunate to have stayed in a range of 5 star hotels across the world. But here on board the service was truly amazing, I can’t overplay this enough. "
On board the Silver Spirit:
With door-to-door service available, 11 decks on the ship, 411 crew and a maximum of 608 guests. It's never a guarantee to get amazing service, especially post pandemic era! But nothing had prepared me for just how good the service is aboard the ship. Rivalling, and even exceeding some of the most prestigious hotels in the world.
There are 8 restaurants to choose from, all exceptional food and service. The Grill was probably my favourite, purely for the theatre of being able to cook your own food on a lava stone, reaching a temperature of 400 degrees Celsius! Being outside also brought a little something to the whole experience.
This was closely followed by the Silver Note. A special dinner experience with a live pianist, then a jazz singer to follow. The food was spectacularly presented and amazing to eat.
A little inside tip - Try the room service for a breakfast, pre-ordered the night before. Delivered to your room at a time you set. The service and presentation of the table made up, and most importantly how it tasted. It felt like you very own personal dining experience and this was just breakfast. What a way to start your day!
A selection of facilities and entertaining things to do while onboard:
Butler service – This must come first as it was something very special. This was a personalised connection to the service that was available. So you always had someone to go to for any request or enquiry.
Spa – you can pre-book and have a multitude of treatments, or just relax with the other facilities there. I had the whole area to myself in the morning and spent a large amount of the time in the jacuzzi watching the sea and relaxing away.
Gym – there is a free weights room that has a multitude of different weights to choose from and benches to use. There is also a room with different exercise machines in, covering running machines, leg, back, chest and arm machines and the best part is access to an outside area of the rear of the ship that has exercise bikes, which really does make for a special view for any cyclist, or passenger that wants to burn off breakfast in luxury.
Pool deck – this area has relaxing feel to it, with great service you can enjoy a sunbathe with a cocktail of choice, or a dip in either the pool or one of the whirlpools.
Theatre – with such a breath-taking space. The Venetian Lounge is ideal for the various live productions and shows the entertainment team put on while at sea. Various talks, lectures and music presentations as well as cinema showings was on offer for passengers to enjoy.
Daily Entertainment – there are different things happening all over the ship and at different times, all of which are presented in the ships daily chronicles paper, delivered to your room the evening before. I did some of these, including a spot of table tennis, golf putting, Yoga, team trivia and some card games. The ships crew help to put on small various competitions for fun.
Casino – there is a casino on board for those that fancy a flutter while away.
Bars – Most popular are the Panorama Lounge and Dolce Vita where people like to convene. The Observation Library, overlooking the front of the ship was my personal favourite area of the ship for its calming effect and beauty.
Flight - Heathrow to Athens. The transfer seamless and the port entry onto the boat took less than 10 minutes. One form, they then swapped the passports for ship pass cards, took the cases and we went aboard. The room was fantastic, especially the spa bath (those that know me, know I love a bath!) I couldn't wait to try this! We had dinner in Indochine, an Asian themed restaurant. Then a few drinks in the Panorama Lounge as we set sail towards Thessaloniki to close out our first day.
Day at sea - I took the opportunity to try the spa and gym facilities. Cycling on one of the bikes facing the sea was a unique experience. But to top it off I spent quite a bit of time out there sitting in the relaxing jacuzzi looking out to sea. It was bliss.
Later in the afternoon I joined a wine tasting event. I was surprised to learn just how many Silversea had available. From this event, I favoured the 'horse wine' apparently named by folk due to the label, its real name Percheron Chenin Blanc Viognier, which wasn't the most expensive by far, but was a fresh, easy to drink white. I also enjoyed the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc called Ned, both of these I had throughout my trip.
Later, our great host gave a site visit around the ship, which had some beautiful places. My favourite being the Observation Library bar, overlooking the front of the ship. Mainly for its calming peacefulness and the overall sophistication and beauty of the room.
The Captain presented himself and the senior crew in the evening, so it was smart dress - black tie. Then on to dinner at the Atlantide restaurant.
Day 3 :
Thessaloniki - We docked at the Greek city of Thessaloniki and disembarked the boat to explore Thessaloniki by foot. After walking up the hills to see the view, it was time to head into the city and grab a coffee at one of the many cafes and restaurants before heading back on board. After a day of exploring it was time to relax on my the balcony with a glass of champagne as we left the port and headed out to sea.
Day at sea - The weather had all of a sudden turned for the worse, so our supposed stop at Myrina, Liminos, was unfortunately unable to happen. So I decided to join in with the morning table tennis competition. After knocking two balls over the edge of the bannister and down the stairs, and eventually came last. I was told they found one of the balls on level 4, which was quite a shock as we were playing on level 10!
We dined in the evening at the Silver Note restaurant. I was looking forward to this as I'd heard great things about the restaurant, and they also had a jazz singer. It didn't disappoint.
Arrive into Istanbul - We arrived early to a majestic sunrise. It was quite something to witness on the balcony, the morning sun shining off the buildings onto the sea. It is something I'll never forget.
After an easy morning and lunch we disembarked for a transfer bus organised by Silversea directly to the Grand Bazaar - one of the largest and oldest covered indoor markets in the world. A labyrinth of thousands of shops it was an experience to witness and listen to the banter of the shop keepers trying to get people in the shops to buy something.
Back on board for the evening and dinner at Hot Rocks. This was probably my favourite restaurant on board. The theatre of being able to cook your own food on a lava stone that reaches a temperature of 400 degrees Celsius. Being outside also brought a little something to the whole experience.
Port of Istanbul - It began with a coffee on the balcony with some gentle music playing in the background. Not a bad way to start the day. Our excursion today was a private yacht for 12 of us, followed with the spice markets afterwards. The boat was nice and pretty much everyone wanted to go to the top for a better view. The yacht trip lasted around 1 hour 30 minutes and took in some iconic buildings along the Bosphorus river. A 20 minute ride on the coach and we arrived at the spice market. It wasn't as manic as the Grand Bazaar, but more modern by comparison.
In the evening we had one final dinner as a group together before going back to my room to pack. Our suitcases were needed by 11pm due to an early departure time from the ship as we had another excursion booked for the morning.
Homeward bound - We sadly left the ship after breakfast to get our tour bus. The guide was one of the best I've had. Such immense knowledge and a good sense of humour as well as empathy. We firstly visited Topkapı Palace, the jewels and armoury building made the visit with among other items, a huge 86 carat diamond!
We walked around sight seeing for a while before joining the queue for the Hagia Sophia mosque. It didn't take too long at all considering the length of the queue. It certainly was an immense and beautiful structure with chandeliers hanging from the great dome ceilings very high up. We then had the bus take us all the way to the airport, which is brand new only opening this year, and very big indeed and said our goodbyes.
This really was an exceptional trip with the very best service. Which for me really stood out along with the amazing food and amount of choice available. Silversea Mediterranean cruise from Athens to Turkey is a great option for all level experiences of cruising. Even with some bad weather the sea was calm.
The Silversea hospitality all round is first class, you simply couldn't be looked after better in my opinion. This made the the trip such a treasured memory I will have forever and we will certainly be discussing the many options with our clients moving forward.
Thank you Silversea and crew, this really will take some beating!