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Silver Moon

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Best for: Older couples and families who want beautiful, yet comfortable ship that gets them to out-of-the way destinations

Not for: Families with small children or those looking for bold luxury on action-packed ships

Bottom Line: Silver Moon offers a refined experience that delivers on destinations and cuisine onboard and ashore

If you like great food and being well cared for, Silver Moon is your ship. A sophisticated vessel that offers understated elegance at every turn, it provides decked-out suites and excellent, intuitive service. The ship is the first in the Silversea fleet to be fully integrated with the cruise line's SALT concept, designed to bring culture and connection to passengers through food. It's a simple concept, yet it touches all parts of the experience both onboard and ashore, with seamless integration. It's there as an option for guests, but it's not so in-your-face that you must take part in it. For those foodies, though, looking for deep exploration, it's a unique choice that is sure to satisfy. Even if you don't participate in the SALT programming, you're going to be happy with the food, which balances perfectly between traditional and contemporary. It's also a social experience, where you can enjoy meals with new friends in an intimate environment or find a quiet corner for two. Our only minor grievance is that we'd love another casual option at night, as many of the venues can veer into several-hour affairs. Silver Moon's suites offer serene comfort, and every cabin comes with a butler who will cater to your every whim. It's a nice touch and just another example of the warm, genuine service you'll find onboard. Suites are fairly large, even at the entry level, and most of them offer balconies -- and those that have verandas offer lots of outdoor space, making it enticing to spend time outside. A true luxury experience, Silver Moon has an international feel, in part because it appeals to passengers from all over the world, with a heavy dose of Americans, Brits and Europeans. Fellow passengers generally are well off, well-travelled and are accustomed to -- and expectant of -- excellent service. Décor onboard is understated, never veering into flashy. This isn't a ship loaded with crystal chandeliers or miles of marble, but it feels opulent yet relaxed at the same time. Public spaces are comfortable and enjoyable, and the pool area offers one of the biggest pools you'll find on a ship of this size. Overall, Silver Moon offers a joyful experience, one in which guests can expect to be delivered to ports, both large and small, in the ultimate comfort.

Daytime Fun Cruising on Silver Moon

The destination is the star, and the ship serves as a refined background. As such, most people spent their days ashore, often taking part in a Silversea shore excursion. Shore excursions run the gamut from historic walking tours to ATV excursions and SALT experiences. Most excursions are included in the price of your cruise, but you'll pay more for the premium experiences. Additionally, Silver Moon provides a shuttle into city centres when necessary, and passengers tend to spend time shopping and dining in ports. Onboard, the activities are more muted, with an array of port, food and cultural lectures as well as trivia events. Because most excursions are half-day tours, guests often venture off in the morning, then return in the afternoon for lunch and pool time. Silver Moon's pool, on Deck 10, is big and deep, with a large area for sitting in a few inches of water to cool off without taking the plunge. In the morning, ambitious guests can actually do laps (albeit short ones) as the sun rises. Lounge chairs surround the pool, and there's a sitting area to the back of the pool that includes cushioned chairs and sofas. At the edges, you'll find tables for dining; the port side is open to smokers, and smoke does carry some. There isn't a lot of lounging space in the shade, so if you would rather skip the sun, you'll likely have to sit at a table or in the chairs and sofa area. A deck up, guests have sunbeds and additional lounge chairs. SALT Lab offers several sessions a day. This is the ship's test kitchen/tasting experience, where chefs, SALT hosts and guest instructors guide passengers through meals. A number of stovetops and prep areas are available, though it's more a light cooking experience. Guests might chop and stir, following along as instructors tell the stories behind the food. You don't have to pay extra for the classes, but reservations are required because of limited space. On our sailing, classes were well-attended, and waitlists were full. Sessions changed daily, so many attended several, learning about making Mediterranean meze or traditional wedding rice from Crete.

At Night

The bulk of the action onboard Silver Moon takes place before dinner, when passengers head to the various lounges for pre-dinner drinks with new friends made onboard. After dinner, guests might head to the show or back to the bars for live music. Lounges will stay open until passengers turn in for the night, which happens fairly early most nights, as excursions take place early the next day. **The Venetian Lounge** All of the ship's big entertainment takes place in the Venetian Lounge. Here, you'll catch the Voices of Silversea performing several shows per cruise. They're best when they're performing within their wheelhouse, which is opera. When the Voices of Silversea aren't performing, you can catch performances by comedians and magicians.

Casino: A small casino is located on Deck 6. Because the ship is in port most days and stays late into the evening, the casino's hours are fairly limited. (Casinos -- and boutiques -- generally aren't permitted to be open on ships when they're in ports.)

Bars & Nightlife

The choice for lounges on a ship so small is surprising. Silver Moon has taken a something-for-everyone approach, offering large spaces and intimate venues. We were impressed with the local spirits and beers available at all of the bars during our Greek cruise; these options allowed us to explore small batch and craft options.

Our Picks:

Heart of the Action: Panorama Lounge, on Deck 9, is bustling from just before dinner till late. You can grab a drink inside, sit at the bar or enjoy a libation outdoors. One quibble: Smoking is permitted outdoors, and it permeates.

For Live Music: Silver Note is mostly a dining venue, but it's also a great place to catch jazz each night. The bar has several signature cocktails worth trying. (Give the citrus-and-mint high note a shot.)

For a Casual Get Together: Dolce Vita sits in the middle of the ship on Deck X. It features a large central bar and lots of seating at small tables, and a pianist or musician performs in the evening. It's busiest in the hour or so before dinnertime.

For Something Different: For the latest in trendy cocktails that feature local spirits, SALT Bar is your spot. This tiny venue is popular right before and after dinner at SALT Kitchen or Atlantide.

For the Cognac Lover: Part bar, part cigar lounge, the Connoisseur's Corner offers up cognac and a casual club atmosphere for enjoying cigars. The best part is actually the outdoor venue, which includes a faux fireplace and lazy ceiling fan over intimate conversation areas.

Spa Zagara Spa is located on Deck 6. It has a modest footprint, offering treatment rooms and a beauty salon. Passengers can treat themselves to a range of facials, massages and medi-spa treatments, like Restylane filler and skin tightening. On the more "out there" end of the scale are sound treatment healing sessions. A tiny sauna and steam room are available to all passengers. Silver Moon also has a thermal suite, which includes padded lounge chairs and a small outdoor thalassotherapy pool. You can buy a weekly pass or one per day. You get a discount if you purchase a weekly couples pass.

Fitness

The ship's fitness centre is located on Deck 6, adjacent to the spa. Most of the space is taken up by cardiovascular machines, with a small area for free weights, benches and weight machines. There's also a studio where classes are held in the morning. A walking/running track is found on Deck 11. Personal training is available for a fee.

Virtually all dining is included in the price of your cruise on Silver Moon, and the means luxuries like caviar anywhere and everywhere you could want, snacks and canapes, tea time noshes and breakfast, lunch and dinner across multiple restaurants around the ship. It also includes an extensive in-suite menu, for those night when you just don't want to go out. Dining at every venue is done exceptionally well, with as much thought and care given to food at the casual pool grill as there is to dishes at the beautiful SALT Kitchen. We love the portion sizes, which are small enough for you to enjoy multiple courses without feeling overstuffed. But the biggest hit is the commitment to local ingredients and local dishes, thanks to Silver Moon's commitment to its SALT program. SALT is an immersive cultural and dining experience designed to give guests a fuller understanding of the food their eating and its relation to the culture of the places the ship visits. There are no set dining times on Silver Moon, though many of the restaurants require reservations. One of the things Silver Moon does very well is accommodate special dietary restrictions, from seafood allergies to low-sodium needs and vegan or vegetarian requirements. Passengers fill out their preferences online ahead of the sailing, and they meet with the chef on the first day onboard to go over their needs. In every restaurant, servers use tablets. When they ask for your suite number, it's linked to your dietary instructions, so they can advise you on what to eat (and avoid) based on your specific needs. Tip: Servers are well-versed in the menus, so ask for their favourites and recommendations; you won't be disappointed.

Atlantide: The closest thing Silver Moon has to a main dining room, Atlantide is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the ship's Continental restaurant, offering international favourites as well as some American standards. At breakfast, the menu is an exact replica of what you can order for room service. That means you can expect eggs and omelettes, muesli, toast, pancakes and French toast, cured fish and full English breakfast. At lunch, it's a multicourse affair, with starters like tuna tacos or cream of black mussel soup. You can order entrée or starter salads, as well as made-to-order pasta in a small or large portion. Entrees might include bouillabaisse or roasted pork loin, and sweets are always available for desserts. At dinner, the menu is surprisingly vast; we found we wanted to make a meal of starters alone. Which you absolutely can do, if you're so inclined. Appetizers might include a goat cheese salad or black angus carpaccio, while mains could include miso-glazed cod or delightful rack of lamb. Tip: Order the Oscietra caviar with traditional condiments at least once here; they're served with excellent homemade blinis.* Reservations aren't required at Atlantide.

SALT Kitchen: Silver Moon is the first ship to offer SALT Kitchen, a restaurant dedicated to giving guests a taste of the flavours of the region. This isn't a broad, bird's-eye-view approach; rather, it's an immersion into the history and culture of a region through food. The menu reflects the dishes of the region to which the ship is sailing, and several pages of it are devoted to the overall destination. If you're sailing an eastern Mediterranean cruise around Greece and Cyprus, for example, those options will broadly represent that region (think meze plates loaded with cheese and olives, fresh seafood and crispy baklava). But each night, another menu is added that represents specifically the port you visited that day. Dishes will reflect the ingredients that are important to that port. It's a lovely culinary journey that introduces guests to a region and allows them to learn along the way. SALT Kitchen is open only for dinner, and reservations aren't required.

La Terrazza: La Terrazza is the ship's hybrid buffet restaurant at breakfast and lunch. At breakfast, guests can order items like fresh-made eggs, any style, omelettes and smoothies, which waiters will deliver to your table. Additionally, the restaurant offers a number of buffet items to supplement your meal. Choose from items like sausages and cured fish, bacon and hash browns. The buffet is a "served" buffet, meaning crew will put your choices on your plate for you. You also can find some food packaged neatly in glass boxes. (Bagels and lox, along with all the fixings, are one pre-packaged grab-and-go option.) Tip: The smoothie bar doesn't offer protein mix-ins, but if you travel with protein powder, you can have it blended in to your custom order.

For lunch, La Terrazza takes the same approach as it does at breakfast, but this time, you have buffet options like a pasta station and a carving station. Rotating items might have a theme -- Mexican, for example -- and a salad bar offers plenty of options for those looking for something a little lighter. You will also find a good selection of sushi every day. We were impressed with waitstaff, who eagerly offered to carry our plates from the buffet to the table and overheard us talking about sushi so volunteered to put together a plate for us. The service there -- and everywhere -- is intuitive and friendly.

At night, La Terrazza transforms into an Italian restaurant, with an extensive menu that changes slightly each night; most of the entrees and all of the pastas stay the same, but you'll find different fish of the day selections as well as a few new mains tossed in. Pasta courses can be served as your main, but smaller portions can also be requested as appetisers. Carbs are king here, thanks to the pasta and some really excellent bread, but the menu has solid seafood and meat options as well. Reservations are required only for dinner at La Terrazza.

Kaiseki (Lunch): The ship's sushi bar during the day, Kaiseki offers a variety of sushi rolls and sashimi options. One of the smaller venues onboard, Kaiseki is a popular spot on sea days especially, when people are looking to explore something different. Diners can select tables or sit at the sushi bar while the chef makes rolls fresh to order. Reservations aren't required for Kaiseki at lunch. Tip: Rolls are small -- three per order -- so order a variety if you're unsure what you'd favour. You can also keep ordering if you're still hungry.

The Pool Grill: For casual dining, the Pool Grill is the best option onboard. Open for lunch, the Pool Grill offers standards like burgers, hot dogs and salads. It's a quick bite al fresco, for when you want something satisfying but not large. This restaurant is located right below pizza joint Spaccanapoli, so if you're craving pizza but your dining partner wants a veggie burger, eat at the Pool Grill. Tip: You won't see the poke bowl on the menu, but you should order it as an appetizer -- with tuna or chicken.

At night, the space is transformed into The Grill. (On other ships, this venue is called Hot Rocks, but on Silver Moon, they’ve simplified the name.) This spot is a joy for dining, giving guests the opportunity to cook meats of their choice right at their tables. If your steak is overcooked, blame the chef. The atmosphere is casual; it's one of the few spots where you can skip dressing up for dinner. Waiters will help you navigate the menu, and they'll cover your duds in an oversized bib, designed to protect you from the splattering of juice bits.

Spaccanapoli: If you're craving some Napolese pizza, it doesn't get much better than Spaccanopoli. Open for lunch and dinner, this outdoor restaurant offers up a great selection of pies. Choose from the menu, or custom make your own. Our favourites onboard were the Margherita and the cheesy bianca regina. Tip: Pizzas are designed to be single serve, but if you don't have a huge appetite, ask for a small. (It's not on the menu, but chefs will accommodate.) Another tip: Pizzas are served European style, meaning not cut into slices. If you'd rather grab a slice and eat with your hands, ask for it to be cut for you.

Arts Café: One of the prettiest venues onboard, thanks to its light and bright décor, sophisticated artwork and floor-to-ceiling windows. Not really a restaurant, the Arts Café is more a snack spot that changes throughout the day. In the morning, you can find yoghurt parfaits, small egg or lox sandwiches and detox waters. For lunch, you'll get sandwiches and the like. Later in the day, its canapes and sweets.

Silver Note: If you're looking for something truly different, look no further than Silver Note, which offers South American and Japanese fusion food. It's a menu of light bites, so diners usually select between two to four dishes; the waiters will make suggestions for the order in which you eat them. Silver Note also is a jazz club, so one night you might hear a trio, another a pianist. Regardless, the music is a lovely complement to the meal, serving as a pleasant backdrop but still entertaining. Reservations are required at Silver Note, where dinner isn't served until after 8 p.m.

All-Around Dining: On those occasions when you just don't want to go out, All-Around Dining is your option. Silver Moon's room service menu is excellent, giving guests the extensive choices so they don't feel like they're missing something by not visiting a restaurant. Food is available 24/7, and it features many of the items you can find at Atlantide. Tip: You don't actually have to eat room service in your room. All-Around Dining allows you to order food to any location, any time that the restaurants aren't open.*

For Fee

La Dame by Relais & Chateaux $$: In partnership with the luxury collection of hotels and restaurants, La Dame is Silver Moon's upscale French restaurant, offering classic dishes with the occasional contemporary twist. A light meal, this is not. You'll dine on items like foie gras, escargot and caviar, along with filet of beef, lobster tail or Chilean sea bass. For dessert, souffle and a beautiful cheese plate are on offer. This was a favourite for many people on our sailing, who dubbed it "something special." A sommelier will pair wines specifically to your menu, but be aware that wines are available in all other venues, so don't feel obligated to go just for the pairings.

Kaiseki (Dinner) $$: At dinner, Kaiseki offers an elevated Asian menu, with items such as surf and turf featuring a buttery lobster tail and Wagyu beef, chicken thigh skewers and marinated raw tuna. Tip: If you don't know where to start, try the chef's Omakase suggestions.

Our Pick: SALT Kitchen is a winner for its rotating menu that places guests squarely in the heart of the destinations through food. For the sheer fun factor, visit The Grill. And grab a pizza at least once.

All of Silver Moons cabins are suites, offering a wide range of luxurious accommodations. And every one of them comes with butler service, which is universally top-drawer. Only a dozen cabins don't include balconies; the rest come with well-sized verandas that guests actually can use for things like dining al fresco or just reading and enjoying the sounds of the sea. The entry-level suite, the Vista Suite, is 334 square feet, and suites sizes range all the way to 1,970 for a two-bedroom Grand Suite. Regardless of suite category, you'll get a bevy of included amenities. All suites include at least a sitting area, twin beds that can be combined to create a queen-sized bed, luxury linens, walk-in closets, writing desks, personal safes, unlimited standard wi-fi, flat-screen HD TVs, and personal safes. Bathrooms feature marble vanities, full-sized baths (which is an unusual but much-appreciated feature on cruise ships), separate showers and an interactive media library, featuring on-demand movies and TV. Toiletries are from Bulgari (passengers can choose their favourite scents) or Ortigia; butlers will bring samples so guests can give their preferences. Likewise, passengers can choose their pillow type, from down to memory foam and hypoallergenic. You can even feel the samples to help you make a decision. Butlers are an invaluable part of the cruise experience on Silver Moon, making comforts feel easy and guests feel special. On our cruise, I twisted an ankle in port, and our butler ensured I had fresh ice packs for the week. He also made (and cancelled) dinner reservations, coordinating with new friends we met onboard, assured our favourite drinks were always stocked in the minibar and laid out beautiful breakfast spreads (complete with white tablecloth) for us in our suite.  Larger suites are designed for families or for those who want to entertain, and include separate living and sleeping spaces, separate powder rooms and tables for dining; these can be extended to accommodate more than four. While Silver Moon's itineraries are designed to give guests a chance to explore ports most days, staying late into the night, we found ourselves spending our down time in our suite, as we found it so comfortable and relaxing. We dined on our balcony, picking room service for dinner rather than going out, and in-cabin breakfast was a great way to start our days. We appreciated how well-thought-out the little details were, designed for comfort and convenience. (For example, bedside light switches control all the lights in the suite, so you don't have to get out of bed when you're ready to call it a night. The interactive TV offered all the menus for the restaurants, and it served as a delivery system for messages on everything from restaurant reservations to reminders of shore tours.) Suites feel luxurious without being ostentatious. It felt like a (VERY nice) home away from home. Silver Moon offers four accessible cabins: three in the Vista Suite category, one Silver Suite. Fifty-two cabins have a connecting option. All Silver Suites and offer accommodations for a third passenger; a handful of suites in other categories have a third-berth option.

Our picks

Solos: The Deluxe Veranda Suite is a solid pick for single travellers looking for a balcony and space to sprawl. At 387 square feet, there's plenty of room for one. Cruises on Silver Moon tend to be longer, so you're going to love having private access to outdoor space. 

Our Favourite: The Silver Suite offers the best of all worlds in the midlevel cabin category. These come with large (129 square-foot) balconies, and plenty of space indoors. There's a separate living and dining area, and thick sliding doors separate the bedroom from those spaces. This cabin features a separate powder room in case you're entertaining, and beautiful walk-in closet with more space than you can fill in a cruise. It's also the first cabin category that offers some pleasant upgrades, including unlimited premium Wi-Fi, an Illy espresso machine en suite, included laundry and pressing and a Bose sound system with Bluetooth connectivity. (All categories above the Silver Suite also get these amenities.)

Family: While families aren't common on Silver Moon, the ship offers some good variety for those travelling with kids and nannies. Our pick is the Royal Suite, with the two-bedroom configuration. These offer 1,582 square feet of space, combining a Royal Suite with adjacent Veranda Suite. It offers privacy for parents in a serene space while providing a bright and lively living and dining room setting for family time. There are only two Royal Suites, so these do book quickly. Worth noting: The Vista Suite is a popular add-on for families travelling with nannies or other care staff.

Splash: Our favourite cabins on Silver Moon are the Grand Suites. These four cabins, each of which can be connected to adjacent Veranda Suites, are located all the way at the front of the ship and feature massive wraparound balconies. The biggest of these suites are on Deck 8. In the two-bedroom configuration, the largest Grand Suites measure 1,970 square feet, including a 635-square-foot balcony. The balconies are perfect for entertaining, and you're seeing the same views the captain has.

Splurge: The Owner's Suite is the top cabin on Silver Moon, and there are four of them. Like Royal and Grand suites, these can be combined with Suites (Panorama, in this instance) for a two-bedroom configuration. This is the best cabin for those who prefer space inside, rather than outside. Ranging from 947 to 1,389 square feet, depending on the configuration and location, these suites have 127 square feet of outdoor space.

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