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"The Lap of Luxury" Column by Susan Young

6/12/2008
Lap of Luxury (01/08): Royal Suite Life

The Lap of Luxury: 

The Royal Suite Experience

Photo of Silver Shadow goes here.

The Silver Shadow's Royal Suites are at the bow of the ship. Our suite, number 602, is indicated by the blue arrow above.

Photo of Susan Young on the Royal Suite's balcony goes here.By Susan J. Young (photo at right taken on the Royal Suite balcony*)

Staying in the Silver Shadow’s  Royal Suite basically equates to having your own apartment on the high seas.

When disembarking the ship in Port Everglades last month after a two-week Panama Canal voyage we actually felt that we were “leaving” our home not “going home.” Well, at least one can dream.

Photo of butler opening champagne goes here.This spacious suite -- complete with a butler to cater to the guests' daily whims, such as opening the champagne (shown at left*) -- was just what we needed to relax and re-charge ourselves.  

Of course it doesn't come cheap. Yet, the cruise fare is highly inclusive (including liquor, soft drinks and gratuities) so in many ways a good value for the overall quality of the luxury experience. 

Still, the Royal Suite goes for about $9,000-$10,000 per person per week. (we were on a press inspection visit and upgraded from a veranda suite so "no" we didn't pay that kind of money - it's definitely out of the league for any journeyman writer including me!)

Photo of a portion of the main living area goes here.But if you're into luxurious pampering and want to splurge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it's worth it. Or if you're an existing Silversea or luxury customer who's got the bucks and the time, hey, it's a no brainer.

We sailed in this suite in a one-bedroom configuration. But if you’re bringing another couple or other family members, it can also convert into a two-bedroom configuration.

There is a connecting veranda suite next door – allowing for entry back and forth between the two adjoining suites when the far outer door is shut.

Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper have two Royal Suites each, as do Silver Cloud and Silver Wind.

The one-bedroom Royal suites range from 967 to 1,007 square feet with a veranda measuring from 110 to 116 square feet.

Flexibility and Space

In our case, my mother and I were traveling alone, so we enjoyed the Royal Suite, number 602 to be precise, in its one-bedroom configuration.

Just inside the door is a small foyer of sorts with a mirror and a half bath with plenty of marble.

Interestingly, the small entry area with a hardwood floor was the perfect place to store the transport wheelchair we had brought along for my mother; yes, she can walk fine, but she can’t walk far, so we took it ashore for touring.

Photo of the Royal Suite goes here.Then it was into the parlor, which was attractive and spacious to say the least.

It featured a pull-out couch (convertible to a sofa bed if you’re bringing kids or another couple), two newly upholstered chairs with a rich white fabric, and an upholstered chaise lounge.

Given that we were working from the suite multiple hours a day, we enjoyed the very nice writing desk with lamp.

In addition to a guide to cruise line services and the room service menu, we discovered personalized stationary on the desk that said “From the Suite of Susan J. Young…”

The Wi-Fi was easy to hook up – with just a quick visit to the Internet café – and for the first time on any cruise ship, I NEVER had a loss of a satellite feed during the entire two-week trip, really amazing.

Photo of entertainment area goes here.Entertainment-wise, we enjoyed a large flat-screen, wall-mounted plasma tv with DVD player and a high-tech CD system. The entertainment area is pictured at right.*

Channels included CNN, several movie channels – with recent first-run features, such as the "Bourne Ultimatum" and "Ratatouille" shown at multiple times throughout the day.  

Photo of the bar area goes here.

 

 

 

 

One sparkling showpiece within our parlor was the lovely large bar area with three high stools and a mini-fridge. 

The refrigerator was stocked with juice, sodas, wine, beer and whatever else you’d like to drink (included in the cruise fare). The bar area is shown above.*

It featured multiple storage cabinets, a marble countertop, bar accessories, and a stunning full-mirror backboard; the latter attractively displayed a selection of Reidel crystal glassware and a few bottles of liquor and wines.

Photo of dining area goes here.A bowl of fresh fruit – changed daily – was atop the bar. It was a cut above the norm – with a lot of variety and unusual fruits. We enjoyed wedges of oranges and grapefruits, a large chunk of a fully cut pineapple, and the more typical fare like apples, pears, grapes, kiwis and oranges.

For dining, we also had an attractive table with four chairs (shown at right*), perfect for dining en suite. Fresh flowers (including colorful, exotic bird-of-paradise blossoms) adorned the table.

Sweet Dreams

Photo of bedroom area goes here.

Our master bedroom was a king that our cabin stewardesses split into two large twin beds. See photo at left.*

The new Stearns & Foster Plush ultra-luxury beds were “to die for.” I slept better on this ship than at home. The mattresses offer 10% more sleep surface than a conventional mattress.

Since the new mattresses are of different dimensions than the former bedding, the line recently replaced all sheets as well. New linens include 100% Egyptian cotton linens with a 320 thread count, and new fluffy goose-down duvets.

We found those duvets precisely the right weight for our comfort; they were surprisingly light and airy, yet with the proper level of warmth and cushioning.

When you book your Silversea cruise, you should order your “pillows,” although the crew happily provided more pillows or will change out pillows if you get aboard and prefer something other than what you picked initially.

We opted for the soft goose down and feather blend, but you might also choose synthetic hypoallergenic pillows or contoured pillows of therapeutic foam.

Photo of master bedroom goes here.Our master bedroom also featured a long, low and wide shelf (hard to describe but it's beneath the tv in the photo at right*). Beneath were storage drawers. We also had one upholstered chair in the bedroom. 

A large lighted dressing table area with stool and drawers was perfect for make-up, curling iron use and so on.

Two high, slanted windows bathed the suite with light. Both had sheers to pull to keep the intense sun out. Or, one could simply pull the light blocking drapes for use while sleeping. 

Photo of armoire goes here.The walk-in closet was nearly as big as my mother’s bedroom at home. The closet armoire featured multiple drawers, a powerful hair dryer, lint brush and safe (see photo at left*)

Fluffy spa robes were provided for our use onboard. Slippers too were provided for guest use.

Photo of window in the closet with skyline view goes here.

 

 

And, now I can honestly say I’ve seen everything on a cruise ship.

Yes, the roomy closet had a high-positioned window that bathed the area in light. See photo at right with a city skyline view from the window.*

Who would have ever dreamed you’d have a window in your closet on a cruise ship?!

Bath and Balcony

Having sailed on Silver Shadow in the past and on many other luxury ships as well, I must say the bathrooms are stunning. They’re wall-to-wall marble.

Photo of bathroom goes here. This suite had double sinks, accented with fresh orchids. It's very difficult to depict this in a photo, particularly as we don't have the proper camera equipment to get the full perspective. But at right is one shot of the dual sinks as taken from "inside" the master suite but "outside" the bath itself.

We’re pleased to see the Bvlgari bath amenities are back, as we weren’t big fans of the Aqua di Parma toiletries that the line offered a year or so ago.

As for the bathing facilities, we easily envisioned being Cleopatra and eating grapes while enjoying the inviting deep whirlpool tub. But, amazingly, we just seemed too busy to get to that. We also enjoyed lounging in our suite and utilizing the separate marble shower with glass door.

The toilet, bidet and a third sink were in a separate, adjacent compartment. We liked the availability of both normal size bath towels and bath sheets.

Photo of balcony with canapes and wine goes here.As if the spaciousness of the Royal Suite wasn’t enough, we also had a bigger than usual balcony (essentially the length of two regular balconies) with new outdoor furniture.

Balcony furniture included two regular chairs, a high-back chair that was lower. At left, mother is seen enjoying a glass of wine and our 5 p.m. canapes on the balcony after our return from a shore excursion.

Photo of balcony goes here.

 

We noticed that this new furniture (shown at right*) quickly dried out after a rainstorm. It was specially made for Silversea by Indecasa (www.indecasa.com), a Spanish company.  The furniture is from their Lucca line

Nicely folded blue beach towels were left on two outdoor chairs throughout our cruise, a nice touch. Yet, it seemed a bit odd because they were out there day and night.

On two occasions we had to retrieve them and bring them back inside as they blew around the balcony's teak floor during bad weather. Fortunately, we didn't have to yell: "Towel Overboard"

The Suite Life

Most of all, we relished the service that came with our suite. Gregarious and friendly, our butler Nalin Ratnayake from Sri Lanka was always at hand to bring more bottled water, deliver a plate of canapés or fruit, or uncork the wine or champagne. 

Photo of Nalin goes here.Crewmembers work on contracts so he works several months and then is off for awhile and then back on for months on end. So, you may not encounter him specifically on your cruise (but we hope you do!)

And if not, we found Silversea’s entire crew to be more than gracious and professional – particularly on the service side in the suites.

Upon our arrival, Nalin showed up promptly to make us aware that he would assist us with a range of services. He made our life onboard a breeze by returning shore trips mistakenly delivered to my suite, explaining laundry services, securing my preferences for a daily newspaper, and even checking for the availability of camera batteries in the gift shop and delivering several packs to me.

Nalin also dutifully showed up each morning to restock our mini-bar and deliver fresh fruit. He also brought our daily canapés at about 5 p.m., never ceasing to be absolutely sure each day that we got what we wanted.

If we indicated we’d like something different the next day, it was a done deal. If we said we wanted fresh berries in addition to the regular canapes, we got them.

Photo of butler serving in the suite goes here. Nalin was professional, gregarious and, most appreciated, highly proactive. After chowing down on a lovely plate of prawns as our daily fix of canapés, we remarked how much we loved the gorgonzola cheese the night before and so we asked for that as our canapes the following day.

We were confident our request would be honored the next evening. But a half hour later, the doorbell rang and there was Nalin again (shown at right*) – the cheese plate in hand just because we had talked so enthusiastically about our favorite cheese. Okay, let's just say it was gone in a flash...

In Silversea’s suites, if you have a butler, he or she also delivers your room service for breakfast and dinner; regular room service staff deliver it during lunchtime or during the butler's "off hours." All folks in the room service department that delivered our food were very personable and professional.

But it’s a nice touch to have the same person deliver it on a regular basis. Dressed professionally in daytime, in tails at night, Nalin called us by our names, smiled and knew our dining style and preferences. He seemed a part of our family.

Special services? When I casually remarked that the cuisine onboard was excellent, but that I wish they had some “extra hot and spicy” Asian food on the en-suite dinner menu, he explained that he’d be happy to take a special order with 24 hours advance notice. (yes, there were a few Asian items – like savory spring rolls – on the menu, but usually the fare on any ship is a bit mild for me; my taste runs more toward the Thai rather than the American palate for spiciness). 

Unfortunately, I had a bit of a queasy tummy on the evening the order was set to be delivered (Murphy’s Law) so I had to forego that special treat. Still, it’s nice to know the galley is able to accommodate special orders with just a bit of notice.

Keeping the Suite Ship Shape

Photo of beds goes here.If cleanliness is next to godliness, this ship was in good stead. We felt our suite was probably the “cleanest” we’ve ever had on a cruise. My mother is 82 and is very picky about cleaning and how it's done.

Maybe you'll be lucky enough to encounter Renee Perry, our cabin stewardess, from New Zealand, assisted by Gemma Palabasan from the Philippines.

On other ships, I usually can’t wait to get out of the suite or cabin while it’s being cleaned. It’s hard not to feel “under foot”.

Yes, this Royal Suite was bigger, admittedly. But it’s more a case of this cleaning duo being lightning fast, and very unobtrusive. Sometimes I didn’t even know they finished and had departed.

Speaking of being proactive, my mother noticed one day that the shower door didn’t fit tightly, but we forgot to mention it to anyone. But soon after, presto, a maintenance man showed up at our door to fix it – sent by my cabin stewardesses who HAD noticed it.

We should also state that every housekeeper on Deck 6 greeted us with a friendly smile and a “good morning” or “good evening.”

The positive service attitude shined brightly. We know because we’ve been on other ships where that simply wasn’t the case or was inconsistent from one crew member to the next.

Could Be Improved

Overall the Royal Suite experience was superb. Still, as with any cruise experience, we had a few "could be improved” items . 

  • Interestingly, our number one beef is about a pretty small item -- the all-in-one remote for the living room entertainment system. While the tv was terrific, I wanted to throw that remote control overboard on multiple occasions. Of course I didn't but it was tempting, believe me.

The remote was confusing, frustrating to operate (with the channel ups and downs responding easily to our touch but the sound unresponsive much of the time). Don't even get me started on trying to play a DVD, which I do at home with my own tv and DVD player with no problem.

The butler assisted us once, and the second time, even he couldn't get it going. A deck crew member arrived and, of course, it worked for him (Murphy's Law) but he acknowledged "guests dislike it" and soon after it stopped working again. The written instructions also were confusing and not detailed enough.

UPDATE! We just checked with Silversea and we're pleased to report that the Operations Department plans for a "more user-friendly and less-complicated remote control" to be onboard the ship soon. 

  • That said, we also would have liked to see more satellite television channels for a luxury line experience. We know the line recently added more channels, and guests may borrow movies from the library, but we still felt there wasn't enough diversity in tv channels – particularly on sea days.

  • One small thing that also needs addressing is the positioning of the small reading lamps over the bedding. These tiny lights were rigid in design and attached to the wall on either side of the king headboard.

While they were perfectly positioned when the bed was a king configuration, when the beds were split into a twin configuration, those fixed-position reading lights were immediately overhead.

Translation? It was easy to knock yourself in the head when getting up. Our cabin stewardess cautioned us about this, but we had already noticed the problem.

We asked for one of our small end tables to be completely moved out of the room in order to move the beds closer together so this wouldn’t be quite as problematic. Still, we had to be careful.

While we realize most people staying in the suite undoubtedly do use the king bed configuration, it still would be a nice service for guests who ask for the beds to be split to remove/replace those lights with another reading light solution.

  • Photo of tv goes here.We felt the entertainment system in the bedroom also needed to be upgraded. See photo at right.

UPDATE! In subsequent talks with Silversea officials, we were pleased to hear that new flat-screen tvs were added to the Royal Suite's master bedroom during the Silver Shadow’s early 2008 drydock (shortly after our cruise). Case closed on this one.

All in all, the Royal Suite was everything we anticipated before boarding.

The accommodations were spacious, the suite had both clean lines and a comfortable ambience, and the service by the housekeepers and butler was outstanding.

Let’s just say we were treated royally. Coming home has been a tough adjustment.

For More Information

Silversea Cruises

www.silversea.com

*All photos are owned, copyrighted and used courtesy of Susan J. Young, SouthernCruising.com™. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.


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