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Cruisers’ paradise

rhondathompson, [email protected]

Cruisers’ paradise

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The Captain’s welcoming letter began “As Master of the Silver Spirit, I extend a warm greeting to you on behalf of Silver Sea as well as the ship’s entire staff and crew. We have eagerly anticipated the arrival of our beautiful new flagship and are so pleased to have you aboard for this holiday voyage . . . .”
The welcome letter was but a mere introduction to the world of luxurious living aboard a cruise liner on which even Captain Angelo Corsaro himself admitted one becomes oblivious to time.
I had the good fortune to enjoy that luxury for seven days aboard the Silver Spirit, the newest ship in the Silver Sea line, whose ships are designed for the more discerning cruise lover, who prefers the high-end market where there are no lines, and luxurious living is the norm.
The seven-day voyage from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Barbados was in accommodations that equalled any world class five-star hotel, with exquisite service from a personal butler and maid, to which I had become
so accustomed in the short time that I almost summoned Abraham the day I stepped back into my home in Barbados.
From the minute I boarded, my butler Abraham and maid Diana announced their personal service was at my disposal, both bearing an affability that sometimes made me feel somewhat guilty calling on them. Theirs was the Rolls Royce of service, the kind enjoyed by every passenger who voyages on the Silver Spirit.
Drawn bath; rose petals
The press of a button on the phone and there was an immediate reponse form Abraham, ever ready to make reservations; he was there at the crack of dawn, well-laden breakfast tray held high, broad handsome smile, to deliver and serve breakfast ordered through room service the night before. He kept the refrigerator in the suite well stocked, while Diana provided daily suite service with turn down service and a chocolate in the evening.
She ensured that the bathroom was always stocked with the complimentary Salvatore Ferragamo, Bvlgari and Neutrogena toiletries.
A drawn bath complete with rose petals was not too much to ask of the butler.
My Midship Verandah Suite 629 on Deck 6 of the ten-deck liner was well appointed with tastefully decorated sitting room, the two-toned wooden furnishings complemented by gold and burnished red bed linens and drapes. The fresh, fully blooming cataleya orchid on the coffee table added a touch of nature.
I discovered a new version of “flat screen” television in the two large screen sets that were actually a part of the mirror in the sitting room and the bedroom. A flick of the remote control brought them to life and I was even able to check my on-board account.
The queen-sized bed was a dreamer’s paradise and a spacious bedroom outfitted with  goose-feathered pillows, and if I needed a change in pillow, the pillow doctor neatly displayed on the bedside table was my guide to the request from Abraham or Diana.
Designed for such service
 As the captain explained, the Silver Sea line was desisgned by a man whose intention was to provide exactly the kind of service I enjoyed. Silver Spirit has 270 suites with ocean views with even more grand accommodation on higher decks where Silver, Grand and Owner’s Suites are located.
We set sail from Puerto Rico on a Sunday evening, arriving in Tortola, the first port, early the next morning. After breakfast, opting not to take a sightseeing tour, I disembarked for a stroll through Road Town, the capital, where I knew my friend, former CBC?television anchor Sandra Walters-Malone is a priest at the St George’s Anglican Church.
I found former Barbados Dance Theatre dancer Heather Forde was at the church office where she has been secretary for over ten years. When Sandra turned up, she took me to the St George’s Secondary School  where the former Garrison Secondary School head Myrna Belgrave is now principal.
A quick drive around Tortola, a brief stop at the business offices of Sandra’s husband, Tortolian accountant Meade Malone, and I was driven back to the port to reboard the ship for departure to the exotic St?Barts.
Dining is a gastronomic adventure on the Silver Spirit. The cuisine is diverse, as are the five restaurants, and in stark contrast to the larger cruise ships, where there are people everywhere, there is never crowding. Back on board, I decided on dinner at The Restaurant, the traditional dining room which offered specialties from the French Relais and Chateaux Grand Chef Jacques Thorel. With open  seating, guests decided when and with whom to dine, and though diners there were mainly couples and seemingly friends, the welcoming warmth of the staff, who were alert to your every need, constantly enquiring whether everything was alright, made dining a pleasure.
More on the cruise next Friday.