Sunday December 17, 2006
How the other half sails
When the luxury cruiser Silver Whisper docked at Port Klang recently, ELIZABETH TAI went on board to have a look at the ship touted to be ‘as elegant and spacious as grand hotels’.
IT'S nice to be rich. If that's stating the obvious, the Silver Whisper made the point that much more obvious as I climbed aboard the luxury cruiser as it lay docked at West Port in Klang, Selangor.
The enthusiastic crew ushered us to the Panaroma Lounge where we were graciously welcomed with a flute of champagne. Yes, life's good, even if we were just visiting.
While sipping expensive bubbly and drinking in the view through the expansive glass doors of the lounge, we were told that the ship is like a “high-end Club Med” and “yes, it may be small, but big is not always better.”
Silver Whisper is part of Silversea, a company whose clientele comprises the discerning lot. The company’s mission is to make sure you’re treated like maharajahs as you sail to the destination of your dreams.
“A small ship has its advantages – it is cosy and more intimate,” our guide pointed out as he led us down the richly carpeted corridors shortly after our little welcome.
For a small ship, it is surprisingly spacious. The ship is designed to carry a low number of guests at a high level of luxury – it can accommodate 380 guests served by a crew of 290 – to ensure that they will not feel like sardines on a voyage.
There will be no mad rush of people towards the buffet table – not on this ship.
No effort has been spared to make it feel like a floating five-star hotel. The floors of the wide corridors are covered with plush beige carpets and there are hues of gold, cream and rich brown on its floors, walls and furniture.
There are generous public spaces located at the rear of the vessel, such as the observation deck, where guests can lounge around and watch the sea pass by. We soon discover that Silversea take their chairs very seriously, ensuring they are not just merely comfortable, but ridiculously so.
And there isn't just one but four “dining concepts” (restaurants to ordinary folk) where guests can dine and have a nice waiter with an exotic accent to personally attend to your table.
One can have a little wine-tasting session at the Le Champagne room or enjoy cigars and a glass of cognac while seated in sumptuous leather chairs at The Humidor, a cigar lounge.
Gold-plated, spiral staircases lead you to these diversions which are located on various levels of the ship’s 10 decks. However, if you’re not inclined to use the stairs, there are gleaming elevators.
The passenger suites are all located at the front, far from the ship’s engines, to ensure that guests can have a comfortable nap without being disturbed by vibrations.
The smallest suite – the 27sq m Vista Suite – has the amenities expected of a posh hotel room, such as the queen-sized bed, lavishly dressed with gold-coloured sheets, a sitting area, Italian marble bathroom with a double vanity and a large separate shower and bath, closet and entertainment units.
However, the winning feature of the room – and 80% of the suites on board – is that it opens out to a private teak veranda where you can step out and breathe in the scent of the ocean.
Despite fresh water being a precious commodity in the middle of an ocean, the Silver Whisper is quite generous with its supply. Tenants of the 112sq m Silver Suite get to enjoy a bathtub cum jacuzzi.
Then, just as we were getting used to, err, the swaying of the vessel, we were ushered off so that the passengers could sail off into the sunset.
Silver lining on the sea