To those who love luxury cruising, returning to the high seas in COVID’s aftermath has been both a palpable relief and a palliative pleasure. For those who love true luxury and travel, but have yet to try cruising, there is simply no better time to cruise. Whether you are a luxury cruising veteran or a first-time cruiser, Silversea is always a great option. Its newest ship, the Silver Dawn, with the debut of its decadently luxurious Otium Spa, takes the luxury cruising experience to new heights. Embarking in Portugal for its inaugural sailing week and naming ceremony in late March – its first guest cruise set sail April 1st – it became evident that Silversea had done it again: altered the current luxury cruising landscape by bringing the Otium concept to the high seas.
While the pandemic of course impacted many industries, Silversea has been an industry leader in the safe return of global cruising, including requiring that all crew and all passengers be fully vaccinated prior to sailing as well as pre-embarkation COVID testing. As a result, sailing onboard a Silversea vessel feels far safer than being inside an urban shopping mall.
The Silver Dawn is the 10th in Silversea’s fleet, and the sister ship to its Silver Muse and Silver Moon. And like its siblings’ highest-end features, the Silver Dawn provides 24/7 dedicated butler service to its 298 all-suite accommodations. Thus with 411 impeccably trained crew, waiting on the Silver Dawn isn’t on the menu for any of its fortunate 596 guests. Suites start at a spacious 387-square feet and include a private balcony. Larger Silver, Royal and Grand Suites are available in several one and two-bedroom configurations, and four Owner’s Suites range up to 1,389-square feet.
Say Ahhh to Otium Spa
Originating from Latin, Otium loosely means leisure time. The Silver Dawn has taken this concept one step further to provide indulgence, pampering, and pleasure over sacrifice, while weaving a tapestry of services delivering unprecedented comfort to guests while at the Otium Spa and extending to suites. Thirteen signature spa services debuted with experiences such as the Eternal Youth Facial, Apollonian Spirit, and especially for men, the Emperor’s Chair. Upon entering Otium, there is museum quality art while the relaxation area is a gorgeous, mood-altering space with more art, a massive tub of iced champagne and trays of delectable nibbles.
I selected the Otium Experience, a signature service using a combination of heated stones, bamboo elements and manual manipulation to exorcise stress and tension. This was followed by a selection of aromatic oils and salts scrub used in conjunction with steam, shower and sauna. Taking pleasure seriously, Otium’s signature services are 100-minutes of unadulterated heaven while still on earth; well, at sea anyway. It was so relaxing, I even dozed off for a bit in the treatment room. In the relaxation lounge, I toasted my inner Cleopatra with champagne and gourmet chocolates.
Happily, the Otium concept continues beyond the spa and alters suite life sweetly by adding blissful experiences. The “Comfort Food Experience,” where decadent items – think caviar and lobster brioche rolls, or a foie gras burger – are delivered to guest suites with creative cocktails or paired wines. The “Movie Experience” combines some of Hollywood’s greatest movies mated with gourmet snacks, such as truffle popcorn and sweet treats.
In the “Bathing Experience,” my favorite, the butler prepared my tub with back and neck pillows, bespoke bath salts, candles, low lighting, Otium music and two of life’s great pleasures: champagne and macarons. It was enjoyed so much, it became repeatedly requested. During the “Balcony Experience” – weather determinate – one can choose “Under the Sun” for a tanning extravaganza, or “Baby it’s Cold” to be enveloped in cashmere blankets and kept warm with artisan hot chocolates, spiked if desired.
The “Sleeping Experience” expands on Otium’s rest and rejuvenation hallmarks. I selected memory foam from Silversea’s extensive pillow menu and delighted in the 400-count Rivolta Carmignani Egyptian cotton sheets, and bespoke Otium mattress, all of which resulted in delightful repose.
Taking Food Seriously
The Silver Dawn has so many dining options that food boredom is impossible. La Terrazza serves homemade pastas and Italian specialties, while Arts Café has small bites and fantastic made-to-order coffees. At Kaiseki, sushi, ramens and other Japanese favorites impress, and at Atlantide, Continental fare. At The Grill, fresh sandwiches, wraps and salads are served near the pool at lunchtime becoming Hot Rocks at dinner for grilled steaks and seafood.
Silver Note, with its classy, jazz supper club atmosphere and live music, served delectable small plates with ocean, earthy, raw or cooked themes stunningly presented on museum worthy dinnerware. Here I devoured Maine lobster tail with Samphire butter, Yellowfin tuna with Aji sauce, and marinated octopus atop pumpkin purée. At La Dame, Silversea’s signature restaurant, traditional French cuisine is served in elegant surroundings. Guests can enjoy a six-course, wine-paired discovery tasting menu, or order favorites á la carte. A perfect foie gras en robe followed by Limousin grass-fed beef filet with Café de Paris butter and ending with a pistachio soufflé reminded me that diet is a nasty word.
Spaccanapoli’s pizza is so terrific, it had me dreaming of La Bella Italia. When so relaxed I couldn’t be bothered to leave my suite, I enjoyed Silversea’s 24-hour room service. Ordering caviar and champagne, both arrived on ice of course, accompanied by a piping hot, perfectly cooked, top sirloin.
Debuting on Silver Moon and continuing on Silver Dawn, Silversea’s SALT (Sand and Land Taste) Program, delves into local culture with food as its vehicle. At SALT Kitchen, guests explore destination specialities made with local ingredients. As we were traveling through Portugal, I enjoyed fresh fig and glazed goat cheese salad and Cataplana de Marisco – a colorful Portuguese stew of seafood, tomatoes, chili, and olive oil. SALT Bar prepares creative artisan cocktails likewise paying homage to voyage destinations.
Guests can also learn to prepare local specialities accompanied by cultural commentary in Silver Dawn’s SALT Lab led by chefs and local experts. However, this is no ordinary cooking class. As I thoroughly enjoyed the first one on traditional Portuguese soups, I attended a second, “In cod we trust,” learning to make various mainstay items of Portuguese cuisine. The state-of-the-art Lab is U-shaped with an overhead screen so the dozen participants all equally view presenters. All ingredients are pre-chopped – no onion-cutting or weeping guests here – and the recipes are easy to replicate once home. Perhaps most importantly, the experiences provide a strong sense of connection to and understanding of the destinations visited.
This sense of place is further enhanced by SALT lectures by local food experts and writers as well as curated experiences ashore for small groups. In the waterfront town of Portimao, a well-curated fish cannery museum showed the importance of the industry to the region. Later at a small, family run restaurant we sampled various specialty sardines and mackerel, accompanied by Portuguese wines. Another SALT experience ashore brought us to a typical Lisbon tasca – a small, neighborhood restaurant serving traditional local fare – where the chef owner and a Portuguese food writer regaled us with the cultural import of these small-scale eateries.
Guests on Silversea can of course participate as much or as little as desired. Whether guests opt to stay busy and delve into the sites, local culture, and destination food, or simply engage their inertia and take pleasure in the Otium Spa and lifestyle, disembarking is always difficult. It also usually results in an intense desire to book another Silversea cruise.
The Otium concept opens the gates to physical pleasure resulting in a profound sense of well-being, further embellishing the ideals of living well and being well. Silversea has successfully brought Otium’s original art of comfort to Silver Dawn. Guests now can engage in a heavenly state of enchantment on the high seas while traveling the world. Happy sailing!