A friend told us of a "bargain" cruise on the Silver Wind sailing from San Juan. Therefore, we signed up for the cruise. The Silver Wind is an older ship which apparently is due for a makeover in 2020. Also, it is supposed to outfitted to sail to Norway and even the Arctic.
In any event, I had read reviews online about how it is an older ship. Indeed it is. There are a number of pluses about the Silver Wind. It is a small ship with not too many decks. Thus, it is easy to get around without thousands of people being on board.
The ship still has a nice design, and we were always able to find seating in the theater, unlike some larger ships on which we have traveled. There are basically 3 restaurants: the main restaurant, with open, anytime seating; La Dame, in which it is hard to get a reservation, and The Grill/Hot Rocks on deck 8 by the pool bar. For the most part, the food was good. The dinner at La Dame was excellent, as was the service. Dinner at Hot Rocks was also good; I like to choose the meat and cook it on the hot stone. Of course, others chose to have the chef cook their entrees. Lunch at The Grill, however, was hit or miss. My wife ordered a reuben. Anybody who knows what a real reuben sandwich is would be appalled. The sandwich had a few very thin slices of some processed meat, nothing like what a reuben is supposed to be. Even though my wife complained, the chef either didn't care or couldn't change it since the same lame sandwich was offered the whole cruise.
Service in the dining rooms was usually quite good. The sommeliers are excellent, and the ship has a decent wine list, although some of the wines are a little overpriced. The serving staff was quite friendly as well.
Generally, the bar drinks were good, though some were a little off.
The pool had a number of lounges. Usually some were available, at least in the morning, since the cruise had no sea days. The pool was closed once for "sanitation". It is a small pool not conducive to swimming.
The cruise director Colin is engaging and an extremely talented pianist. The singers were quite good; 2 of them had operatic voices. The shows were entertaining.
The lecturer was John Pennycate, who gave several interesting historical lectures, although he was not allowed to talk about the controversial subject of the use of nuclear bombs during World War II.
Our butler Ranni was hit or miss. For example, once we asked Ranni for a bottle of white wine, 2 diet Cokes and extra glasses. He didn't bring any of them. Other times, he brought ice as needed for me to ice my knee post surgery. Our room steward Karin was good, although she forgot to leave us wash clothes once.
The ports of call were often lesser known Caribbean islands. The most well known was St. Barths. The only ship shore excursion we took was to Belle Mont Farms for lunch and an island tour of St. Kitts. The lunch was good with many ingredients grown on the site, and there was more than enough to eat. The tour was all right, but not outstanding. Also, the tour seemed a little pricey for what we got. On Antigua we had booked a tour through Costco which was much cheaper, although the lunch there could not hold a candle to the one on St. Kitts. For the most part the excursions were for snorkeling, sailing, etc. The one to the Baths apparently was somewhat risky since some people slipped going down around or through the rocks.
The Silver Wind is not designed for children travelers, but several families brought children. There are not child activities on board.
That having been said, this was our last Silversea cruise. The people on our deck were notified that the hot water would be turned off from 2:30 PM to approximately 3:30 PM for maintenance. Nothing else was said, and no warnings were given. When my wife took a shower later that afternoon, she noticed that her white wash cloth turned rust colored. When she dried off, rust-colored spots dotted her bath towel. Obviously, there was a lot of rust in the line, but the ship's personnel did not warn anyone of that possibility. My wife called the butler, who said that he was sorry. Then he ran the cold water. After he left, I turned the temperature to all hot water and let it run a long time. The bathtub floor was filled with dirt, sand, rocks and rust. I went to the reception desk and complained that they could have waited until the ship docked at the end of the cruise to do the work. The receptionist claimed that it was an "emergency". If it was an emergency, the work should have been done immediately, not hours later. I told the receptionist that at least the ship should have warned passengers about the possibility of dirt, rust, etc coming out of the shower and faucet and told them to run the hot water for a long time. The receptionist claimed that rust and dirt had never come out of any faucets or showers before. I told her that was extremely difficult to believe given how old the ship was, the maintenance problems and the likely result. After all, a hot water line broke earlier in the cruise, requiring the ship to move the occupants of two suites to other accommodations. Furthermore, outside of a perfunctory "I'm sorry" initially from the reception, there was never any apology from the hotel manager or anyone from the cruise line. Apparently, they felt that it was not a problem. We have sailed many cruises. While maintenance issues can pop up from time to time, we have never experienced anything close to what occurred on this cruise. The water coming out of the tub faucet at times looked like sewer water, and it left enough residue for us to start our own dirt lot. To cover my wife in rusty, dirty water was truly appalling. Not to apologize formally for such a horrible incident, however, is inexcusable for any cruise line, much less a so-called luxury cruise line.
So I hope that Silversea enjoyed our dollars. They won't be getting any more from us ever again.
We were assigned to "Suite" 505. It has nice woodwork, but seemed a little on the small side. For example, there was only 6" between my side of the bed and the wall. The balcony is tiny. The door to the balcony wouldn't open. Finally, someone got it open. The next day it wouldn't open again. One of the ship's maintenance person worked on the door for an hour just to get it to open. Even after that the door still stuck.
What we should have been told -- and were not told -- is that 505 is near or above the thrusters when the ship comes into a port. If the ship is going to anchor, you are treated to the extremely loud sound of the anchor chain running out to drop the anchor. Also, tugs often push the ship near the cabin. These sounds often started around 6:00 to 6:30 A.M. If you ever plan on sleeping in, do NOT stay in this cabin. (Or in 503; it had the same noise.)
Furthermore, we could hear our neighbors on both sides talking in their cabins. While we could not hear what they said, it was distressing that there was little or no soundproofing in the walls.
The final straw was when the shower sprayed rusty, dirty water on my wife while she was taking a shower. (I went into detail above in the general review about the incident.) When I ran the hot water for a long time, sewer like water came out, covering the floor of the tub with dirt, sand, rocks and rust. Apparently, nothing of the sort happened to our neighbors. Why it happened was supposed due to maintenance work, but it affected no other cabin but ours. To add insult to injury, the cruise line never apologized, much less offered to try to make it up to us. If I want to bathe in filthy water, I can go to a flop house. I certainly would not go on a supposedly luxury cruise.
So be wise: do NOT stay in this cabin! And decide whether you really want to go on this ship at all.
San Juan has many fascinating sights: the fort, Old Town, etc.
People who went to the Baths said that it was slippery and difficult to get down to the water. Not recommended for people with mobility issues.
There were a few stalls along the waterfront where I walked on my own.
Jacqui gave a great tour of the island, including a visit to a couple's home to see artifacts, see their birds and have tea. The beach was lovely, but we didn't stay long enough to get into the water. The lunch was OK but not great.View All undefined undefined Reviews
The island tour was a little long and a little curvy. The guide was obviously proud of the accomplishments of his island. The lunch at Belle Mont Farms was delightful but too much food. It had a lovely view of the island and is a luxury resort.View All 19 Culinary Tour Reviews
Despite the many shops, bars and restaurants at St. Barts, we elected to rest on the ship since there were no sea days on the cruise. Our friends went into to town, shopped at the wine shop and bought Louis Vuitton purses, as well as had drinks and appetizers.
This poor, small island was devastated by a hurricane in September 2017. The famous Soggy Dollar Bar has completely rebuilt, along with other establishments. There are numerous tables with covers on the beach outside. The painkiller is the most famous of its drinks and only $7. Other things aren't nearly as cheap. But after a few painkillers, who cares? People bought Tshirts, hats and other souvenirs there.