Silversea Cruises, a luxury cruise line that has been making waves in the high-end travel market since 1994, is no stranger to leading smaller vessels on big adventures. But what it’s doing with 2020’s Legends of Cruising expedition takes things to another level — for 140 days (January 6 to May 25), Silver Whisper will travel from Fort Lauderdale to Amsterdam, docking in 62 ports across all seven continents, making it the first world cruise to achieve such a feat.
We don’t have anywhere close to the vacation days needed to be away for almost five months, so we won’t be able to chronicle that journey. What we were able to do, however, was join the cruise line’s Silver Spirit on a 10-day jaunt through eastern Canada (starting in Montreal) and the northeast corner of the United States (ending in New York City). We ate a lot. We were pampered. We did our share of excursions. We’re confident that if Legends of Cruising can replicate the experience we had, travelers are in for 20 unforgettable weeks.
(Editor’s note: The itinerary discussed below will change from Silver Spirit to Silver Whisper in September 2020.)
With capacity for 608 guests, Silver Spirit sits at the top of the company’s nine-member fleet in terms of sheer size. (For comparison’s sake, Silver Explorer, the line’s smallest vessel at the moment, has a 144-person limit.) But even with that distinction, things never feel cavernous on a ship that underwent a large-scale refurbishment in 2018. At the same time, though, there’s enough space so you won’t have to see the same people every day at lunch — unless you want to, of course.
Rooms range from the 312-square-foot Vista Suite to the 1,668-square-foot, two-bedroom Owner’s Suite. You’ll find the Classic Veranda to be your sweet spot. The 376-square-foot unit overflows with high-end touches like a marble bathroom, pillow menu, floor-to-ceiling windows and a spacious veranda you’ll call home when the ship passes through postcard-perfect Nova Scotia.
The Venetian Lounge is a great illustration of the boat’s fascinating proportions. During the Blues Brother, Soul Sister show, when performers start bellowing familiar Motown hits in the intimate theater, it’ll almost feel like they’re singing directly to you — even though the room will be filled with a couple hundred other guests. (Oh, and don’t worry if you’re not into The Supremes; jazz soloists and the opera will have their nights, too.)
In addition to polished stage productions, there are eight dining options, a spacious pool deck, the nine-room Zagara Beauty Spa (treatments like the Elemis Biotec Facial make it clear that this sanctuary means business), a game room and a casino. If you want to see a few dollars float away, the latter is the place for a post-dinner visit. But remember, it’s still cozy enough for someone to hear you shout if you win big at blackjack.
While some other cruise lines we’ve traveled with have struggled with unevenness in the kitchen, Silver Spirit’s restaurants felt like they had a coherent culinary story to tell. Even at the buffet, a place where good meals have been known to get lost at sea, things feel a bit more elevated. Yes, that really was a whole roasted guinea fowl you just passed.
The mood at mealtime can go from boat-shorts chic (La Terrazza buffet) to suit-and-tie suggested (Atlantide). The latter is an elegant address that serves red snapper and blue crab in a traditional setting reminiscent of a formal hotel’s signature restaurant. It makes sense that you’d press your pants for an evening out here.
Other eateries, like the Asian-flavored Indochine (the spicy lamb curry was tremendous) and Japanese-tinged Seishin, fall somewhere comfortably in between on the formality scale. But no matter which outfit you decide on for the night, the restaurants’ philosophies remain the same: deliver quality dishes with premium ingredients in sophisticated (but unstuffy) surroundings.
As is the case with many high-end cruise lines, the audience on Silver Spirit skews a bit older. But if you think that stops people from having a good time, you’ve got another thing coming. Halifax cycling tours and downtown walks where you accrue 10,000-plus steps are not only available, they’re usually packed.
One of the top stops on the itinerary is Quebec City, a charming destination you’ll get to explore on your own (or as a part of an organized tour) for a few hours. The views from Fairmont Le Château Frontenac are unforgettable. The duck wing drumettes at Cochon Dingue are fantastic. The drinks at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Auberge Saint-Antoine’s Bar Artefact are fabulous.
Another winner is Bar Harbor, Maine, a corner of quintessential New England worth exploring any time of year. But in the fall, the changing foliage, quilted vests and lobster rolls all flourish with a bit more zest. When it comes to the popular sandwich, make sure to try one at Galyn’s, a neighborhood institution just a short walk from where the tender dropped you off.
Newport, Rhode Island, is also a coastal delight. If you have time to stop by the International Tennis Hall of Fame (a five-minute drive from debarkation), you’ll love the detour. But if your tight schedule only permits one activity, splurge on lunch at Four-Star The Chanler at Cliff Walk’s Café. The waterfront views are nearly as delicious as the phyllo-crusted fish and chips.
Other stops include Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (home to the world’s largest fiddle) and Boston (home to Harvard and the phenomenal John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum).
We can tell you now that you’re going to be torn about these destinations. Sure, the attractions will be deserving of a visit. But another part of you will deviously think that, if everyone else is off the boat with tours for a few hours that means the ship will be relatively empty, giving a certain you-know-who a chance to stretch out even more.