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Silver Muse

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With its 2017 debut, Silver Muse became Silversea's flagship cruise vessel; with 596 passengers, it's the biggest in the fleet and provides a blueprint for how the Italian luxury cruise line plans to evolve. With a monochromatic yet elegant colour palette in brown, tan, beige and cream, Silver Muse personifies a "European luxury," which whispers rather than screams. And you'll see the same materials -- rich fabrics and gleaming marble -- used in your suite as you'll find in many of the lounges and restaurants. It's beautiful in its simplicity.

Silver Muse feels like a hotel, but in the right ways. It has a lovely central staircase that features two winding sets of stairs all the way from bottom to top, and wide corridors (though we wish there were more art along the hallways). The decor has a strong point of view in that it's so simple. You won't find anything that makes you stop and say, "Wow!", but you'll just genuinely appreciate that everything is comfortable and quietly elegant.

Suites onboard are a highlight, with even the smallest measuring almost 400 square feet, counting the veranda. All suites have lots of things the modern traveller loves: plenty of storage, gorgeous walk-in closets, more outlets than you need and high-end touches like ultra-high thread count sheets and towels. Cabins are personal, quiet and comfortable.

The pool area, too, is a big win. We love the long, wide pool, with space to lounge. Throw in some really excellent casual fare – pizza, salads and burgers -- and it's idyllic for a sea day.  In fact, Silver Muse has lots of open outdoor space; the back of Decks 7, 8 and 9 all feature casual outdoor seating.

Where Silver Muse comes up short is its spa, which feels cramped and lacks the luxury you will find in other spots on the ship. Its tiny (for-fee) thermal spa along with the narrow changing rooms, are a turnoff and don't appeal to those looking for a little relaxation. While there's a good selection of spa treatments, there's no incentive to want to spend more time in the spa complex. The fitness centre, too, feels cramped and on our voyage, people often had to wait for only four treadmills.

Silversea put a whopping eight restaurants on Silver Muse, eschewing the traditional main dining room. It's a controversial change that has gone through some tweaks since the ship launched. Originally, all dining was made by reservation, but the line changed Atlantide and Indochine to open seating due to passenger demand. (Dropped, too, was the concept of a dress code attached to each restaurant; attire for evenings is now standardized.) We found food in both venues to be outstanding; on this ship, it's some of the speciality restaurants that don't live up to their billing or extra fees.

Still, passengers who are looking for the outstanding service that's a hallmark of luxury cruising will be pleased on Silver Muse. Butlers take care of your reservations and appointments, wait staff learn your wine preferences, pool attendants suggest drinks and clean your sunglasses. Although it's larger than other Silversea vessels, Silver Muse still feels refined and relaxed -- and so will you during your voyage.

Silver Muse follows a casual dress code during the day, when passengers wear comfortable and weather/activity-appropriate clothing. Shorts, jeans and T-shirts are common around the ship and in port. Swimwear is de rigeur poolside, though not indoors. No jeans, shorts or flip flops are permitted in indoor venues after 6 p.m.

After 6 p.m., the ship has a dress code that changes daily: casual, informal or formal. Casual means women wear pants, blouses, skirts or casual dresses, while men wear open-neck shirts and slacks. Informal is still dressy on Silver Muse; women usually wear nice dresses or pants and blouses, and men wear dress shirts and slacks, often topped with jackets (though no tie). Formal night brings out evening or cocktail attire for women, while men wear suits or dinner jackets with ties; you'll see a few tuxedos.

(If you don't like formal dress, don't worry: on formal nights, you can schedule your meals in Spaccanapoli and Hot Rocks, which always accept casual wear. Just keep in mind that these are outdoors and if the weather's bad, they will be closed. On formal nights, La Terrazza, Kaiseki and Silver Note remain informal.)  


Silver Muse Inclusions

Cruises on Silver Muse include most meals (except for those in Kaiseki and La Dame), drinks (excluding beverages from the high-end Connoisseurs List), room service, gratuities, butler service and self-service laundry. Passengers in lower-level cabins get one hour of complimentary Wi-Fi each day; passengers in Silver Suites and beyond receive unlimited internet. Shore excursions are not included, though Silversea provides a complimentary shuttle to the centre of the cities Silver Muse visits. Spa treatments and fitness training are not included, either; laundry and dry cleaning services are only included for top-suite passengers. The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.

For passengers who book Grand Voyage/long World Cruise trips, the ship puts on complimentary special events, such as a visit to a Carnival samba club in Rio; other treats such as Silversea swag often show up in the cabin. Many of these longer trips also include value-adds such as onboard credit and free internet.

Shore Excursions

On shorter sailings of seven or eight days, Silver Muse probably will visit a port each day. Itineraries vary by destination, but, generally, you will spend fairly long days in port, with some overnights in places like Monte Carlo or Livorno. The most popular excursions on Silver Muse are the ones labelled "highlights" or "guided tour." These excursions tend to take place by coach in larger groups, and they involve minimal walking. They focus on at least three highlights of any of the cities Silver Muse visits.

Other options include Silver Shore Expeditions, which focus on adventure excursions, such as hikes or bike rides. Groups for these tend to be intimate. In some ports, passengers also can book Silver Shore Good Citizen excursions, which support local communities by visiting orphanages or preserving wildlife, for example. Some excursions require the use of the Silver Shore Sotto Voce, where guides speak into microphone transmitters while passengers listen through earpieces. This is common in churches or museums, where loud speaking is a no-no. A shore excursions concierge can arrange private or small group tours in virtually any port.

Passengers can book excursions online or with their travel agents from 90 days to a week before they sail, but they also can book onboard at the shore excursion desk or through their butlers. Paperwork explaining each excursion is left in your cabin or you can see it at the shore excursion desk. Symbols designate what type of activity you'll be doing -- Sotto Voce or Expedition, for example -- and they'll also let you know the activity level and whether wheelchairs are permitted. Not all excursions or coaches can accommodate wheelchairs, but passengers can work with a shore excursions concierge to book private wheelchair-accessible excursions. Silver Muse will provide an aide for solo wheelchair travellers, for a fee.

Daytime and Evening Entertainment

The ship's main entertainment venue is the Venetian Lounge located on Deck 5, a lovely space that includes a small stage and rippled fabric draped across the ceiling. Vocal music is the focus of production show entertainment on Silver Muse, and the line has put together shows that highlight great voices across several genres. (The performers actually are called the Voices of Silversea.) We loved the blues and jazz classics, big-band favourites, Sinatra hits and nods to Nina Simone; it's targeted to baby boomers and older. On select sailings, Silver Muse brings onboard guest entertainers, such as violinists and magicians; these can vary dramatically in quality. On our South America trip, a samba troupe got the audience up on its feet while a gaucho act sent people slipping out the side door.

The ship's small casino is located on Deck 7. It offers a variety of slot and table games and never seems crowded.

During the day, passengers can compete in trivia, attend destination lectures, participate in golf putting, pool volleyball and shuffleboard tournaments. There also are pop-up games, such as Name That Tune or Liars' Club. Occasionally, Silver Muse brings onboard gentleman hosts to offer dance classes; at other times, such classes might be led by the cruise director. Martini tasting and cocktail-making sessions are offered poolside. Bridge tournaments, which take place in the card room, might be organized during sailings. An occasional traditional English pub lunch might take place in one of the ship's bars on a sea day.

At night, there might be themed parties, such as a '60s party or black and white gala.

Enrichment

Lectures onboard Silver Muse focus on destinations -- specifically, the destinations you'll visit on your cruise. On longer voyages, the ship also brings on other lecturers; on our South America sailing, we had two -- one a celebrity biographer who talked about Hollywood glory days and another who spoke about South American politics. The onboard cruise consultant also will speak about Silversea's itineraries on both its luxury and expedition brands. International hostesses teach beginning language classes.


Silver Muse Bars and Lounges

Many of the restaurant venues have their own bars, and passengers generally meet there for cocktails before dining. After dinner and the production show, the party usually moves to the Panorama Lounge, which stays open as late as passengers want to hang out (how late depends on the demographics onboard).

Atlantide Bar (Deck 4): Open from about 6 p.m., Atlantide Bar is an actual room just off the main restaurant. It includes a small bar as well as a couple of tables with couches and chairs. Passengers meet here while waiting for dinner, but it's also a comfortable, quiet spot after as well.

Entoca (Deck 4): Really a spot for a pre-dinner drink if you're eating in Indochine and waiting for a table, Entoca offers Asian-inspired cocktails, such as Singapore Slings, and beers like Tsingtao and Sapporo.

Dolce Vita (Deck 5): By far the biggest lounge onboard, Dolce Vita is decorated in a monochromatic brown colour scheme, with leather and velvet chairs and couches, white lamps, low brown tables and marble-covered pillars. The lounge stretches from the reception and shore excursions desk at the back to a small bar at the front; a divider in the middle keeps it intimate. It includes a baby grand piano, and live music is performed at various times throughout the day and into the evenings. There's no dance floor. Dolce Vita and the Pool Bar are the only lounges regularly open during the day.

Silver Note Bar (Deck 7): Open roughly at 8 p.m. each night, the Silver Note Bar lets passengers hang out and listen to jazz, even if they've skipped dinner in the tapas restaurant. Performers sit on a small stage, which includes an even smaller dance floor. It closes late at night.

Arts Cafe (Deck 8): This little cafe is the best spot onboard to grab great coffee, lattes, cappuccinos and espressos. It also has lovely views, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. If you're feeling peckish, you can grab pastries in the morning or scones and biscotti in the afternoon. It's one of the more bustling areas onboard.

Connoisseur's Corner (Deck 8): A quiet lounge, Connoisseur's Corner offers fine whiskey, wines and cognac as well as a selection of cigars. Prices are fairly consistent with what you'd find on land; it's nice to see Silver Muse eschew a high markup. It's the only indoor venue that permits smoking of any kind: cigars and cigarettes.

Panorama Lounge (Deck 9): Located at the back of the ship, the Panorama Lounge is decorated with fresh flowers and pops of muted green. It features a small bar with a handful of stools as well as ample seating for three or four around marble-topped tables. It opens to an outdoor seating area featuring white chairs with plush blue cushions. (This area also has a small smoking section.) During the day, the Panorama Lounge is quiet, but the open-air extension gets a bit of use when the weather is pleasant. At night, the lounge turns into a nightclub after dinner, with a DJ spinning dance hits. This is the most popular spot onboard for dancing and late-night drinks; on our South America sailing, this was full well after midnight.

Pool Bar (Deck 10): Open when the pool is open, the pool bar is little used by passengers except to get a drink while walking by. It allows smoking, so nonsmokers give it a wide berth.

Tor's Observation Library (Deck 11): Tor's is located at the front of the ship and has floor-to-ceiling windows and a station passengers can check out to see the ship's position and weather. The space, decked out in navy blue, features a small bar and is furnished with tables and leather and fabric chairs and couches. It also has a small library with a nice mix of titles. During the day, it serves coffee and tea as well as cocktails. At night, it has cocktails -- and a cheese buffet featuring a wide selection of imported cheeses.

Cruise geeks will note that the space is named after Torstein Hagen, Chairman and CEO of Viking Cruises. Hagen is friends with Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, executive chairman at Silversea. (Viking's ocean vessels feature an Italian restaurant, called Manfredi's -- named after Lefebvre d'Ovidio.) There's a photo of the two in the lounge.


Silver Muse Outside Recreation

The ship's only outdoor pool is located on Deck 10. (There's a thalassotherapy pool at the back of the Zagara Spa, but it's open to a limited number of passengers.) The large pool is surrounded by beige padded lounge chairs and small tables for cocktails. Two small hot tubs are located at the back of the pool. A third whirlpool is located at the back of the ship on Deck 10. With brilliant sea views, it might be the best spot to hang out in the evening, as the sun goes down.

On sea days, the pool remains pleasant, despite the influx of more people. Pool attendants bring drinks, cool towels and polish your sunglasses. You can even order items from The Grill, like a salad, at your lounge chair.

A sun deck, featuring additional lounge chairs and seating areas, is found on Deck 11. Decks 7, 8 and 9 have sitting areas at the back of the ship. There's a putting green outside the Panorama Lounge on Deck 9.


Silver Muse Services

Silver Muse has a solid selection of services, covering everything from shore excursions to laundry. The bulk of activity takes place on Deck 5, where you'll find the guest relations and shore excursions desks as well as a future cruise consultant, who can assist passengers with future cruise purchases. Passengers can book any of the cruise line's offered shore excursions ahead of time online or with a shore excursion concierge once onboard. A concierge also can arrange private tours either onboard or ahead of the cruise.

A card room, which doubles as a conference room, is on Deck 8. You'll also find the ship's boutique, which sells logo items, necessities, designer clothing and jewellery, on this deck. Complimentary self-service launderettes are located on decks 4 through 11. Passengers also can pay for laundry, pressing, dry cleaning and alteration services.

Passengers can read newspapers from around the world using PressReader, an app, on their tablets and smartphones; the service is complimentary onboard. Printed, condensed versions of newspapers are also available. Passengers also can have two visitors in ports of call, but requests (made through the reception desk) require at least five days' notice. A medical center is located on Deck 3.

Internet is complimentary to all passengers but is limited to 60 minutes per person per day, and you may access it via one device only per person. Passengers can also purchase additional packages. Standard access, which works for email and surfing, costs $25 per day if you buy it daily; you'll get 5 percent off if you purchase it for the full journey on the second day of your cruise. (Discount percentages increase the closer you get to the end of your cruise.) Premium access, which is fast enough for streaming and video chatting, is $39 per day; the same discount structure applies for cruise-long purchases. Passengers staying in Silver Suites and above are entitled to complimentary standard access throughout. There is no internet cafe, but an IT officer is available during limited hours via the reception desk to help with tech questions.

Those looking to relax can head over to the Zagara Spa on Deck 6. Decorated in soothing grey tones, the spa and adjacent beauty salon offer a range of treatments, including Swedish and deep tissue hot-stone massages, manicures and pedicures, hairstyling and medi-treatments, such as Restylane or Botox wrinkle treatments. Men's treatments, including haircuts, manicures and shaves are available, as are couples' massages. Treatments aren't cheap; you'll pay about what you would pay at a high-end resort on land. We found our deep tissue massage to be good but not necessarily worth the price. Silver Muse offers discounted treatments and specials each day; keep an eye on your cruise chronicle.

The spa also has a thermal suite with private sun deck, small thalassotherapy pool and steam rooms and saunas. The thermal suite carries an additional fee, starting at $99 per person for a weeklong cruise. Silver Muse does not offer a day pass. The thermal suite is not large; it lacks cohesion and is missing accoutrements we've seen on other ships, such as heated ceramic loungers.

The spa includes a "mood room," where passengers go to fill out their pre-treatment paperwork. The room has a couple of padded chairs and uses special lights to set the mood, although there are no juices or special teas available during your wait. Passengers can work with their therapist to pick out the oils and scents they prefer.

The spa also has men's and women's changing rooms, though they are tiny. It also has gender-specific steam rooms and saunas, which are complementary to all passengers (another reason that you might not need a thermal suite pass). Passengers don't actually need to use the changing rooms, though, as therapists take passengers, fully dressed, directly to the therapy rooms, where they can change out of their clothing. We just wish there was a place to hang or store our clothes, which we simply folded and put on a chair, which reminded us of a trip to the doctor.

The fitness centre is located behind the spa, all the way at the back of Deck 6. The gym includes cardiovascular equipment such as treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals as well as weight training machines and free weights. The space seemed small for the ship, and we often encountered waits for the treadmills. You'll find a small selection of barbells ranging from 1 to 18 kilograms. An adjacent aerobics studio is used for group exercise classes such as yoga and Pilates, which are complimentary and offered most days. The studio includes a 4K projector used to project soothing images during classes. Personal training also is available for a fee; save a little money by buying a package of three. Other for-fee services include a nutritional consultation, body composition analysis, results-based training and crystal sound group classes, which employ large crystal bowls for sound therapy. (Sound therapy also can be incorporated into spa treatments.)

The ship's jogging track, with a long and short option, is located on Deck 11. Eight laps equal 1 mile on the longer track, which goes around the funnel and the upper deck of the pool. The shorter route, only around the funnel, is 12 laps to a mile. Hit the track early, as lounge chairs and tables at the pizza restaurant encroach on the area as the day moves on.

Silver Muse has a unique dining concept, with eight designated restaurants but no main dining room, and other spots serve nibbles throughout the day. Passengers can eat at any restaurant they wish as often as they'd like, though reservations are encouraged at all venues except Atlantide and Indochine (because several of the restaurants are quite small). That said, the ship reserves a number of tables in each venue to be available for drop-in diners.

All restaurants follow the same approach, though the food from venue to venue is wildly different: Menus follow the slow food mentality, meaning food is produced in local culinary tradition, and ingredients are of high quality and are sourced locally. Food is also sustainable whenever possible, and chefs try to reduce the amount of frozen food (a necessity on any cruise) used in dishes. Passengers will notice the high-quality beef used, or special cheeses, like pico -- an Italian delicacy that has a five-day shelf life.

Waiters employ a remote ordering system, which means everything a passenger eats or drinks is recorded, helping staff better track preferences, special dietary needs and allergies. Passengers can flag restrictions ahead of the sailing but should follow up with the maitre d' once onboard. Chefs on Silver Muse can accommodate virtually any restriction, so ask; some menus aren't clearly marked to indicate vegetarian or low-sugar items, for example, so you'll need to chat with your waiters.

Menus in Atlantide and Indochine are fairly extensive and they change weekly; there's also a daily special offered in both that usually reflects the local port. The menus at the speciality restaurants are fixed. In general, we found the food in the de facto main dining rooms -- Atlantide and Indochine --- to be superior to the smaller and extra-fee restaurants. That's the opposite of what you see on most cruise ships and as a result, the ship has added more seats to Atlantide to keep up with demand.

Silver Muse has a great selection of complimentary house wines, with almost every varietal offered as an included option. Passengers who want something a little more upscale can order premium brands, for a fee that's comparable to what you'd pay on land, by the glass or bottle. The same wine menu is available in multiple restaurants, so if you don't like what the waiter is offering as the daily wine, you can request a glass of something you drank earlier or elsewhere.

Kaiseki (Deck 4); free for lunch, $60 for dinner: This Japanese restaurant is one of the smaller venues onboard. The focal point is the large sushi bar that takes up the middle of the restaurant. A number of small tables for two and four wrap the edges. During the day, sushi and sashimi are available. You'll find a variety of rolls, including standards like California and spicy tuna rolls, as well as more unusual options, like a surf and turf that combines filet mignon and lobster. Sashimi options include a mixed fish with scallop, tuna and salmon, as well as a sea urchin dish.

For dinner, the venue picks up a slightly theatrical vibe as it transforms into a teppanyaki restaurant. Start with a bowl of kikoyu monyou fish, then receive small plates of teppan grill items such as rock lobster, miso black cod and wagyu beef teriyaki. Finish with the signature tempura ice cream, served sizzling with spiced chocolate sauce. While the use of butter instead of oil may bother purists, we found the food to be delicious, and the sushi bar seats to be a convivial place to meet other cruisers.

Indochine (Deck 4): Perhaps the prettiest restaurant onboard, Indochine features black marble tables, white leather banquettes and seafoam green leather chairs. It's one of the bigger restaurants onboard, and it features a huge table that can accommodate more than a dozen passengers. Open only for dinner, Indochine is an Asian-fusion restaurant inspired by the 1,500 spices and flavours Marco Polo brought from Asia to Europe. Food is a modern take on dishes from places such as Mumbai, Thailand and Vietnam, and it's almost all fabulous. Starter selections include dim sum and satay platters, along with a variety of sauces. The restaurant offers soup and noodle bowls, like pho tom (prawns and glass noodles) and tom yum goong (seafood coconut broth). Main courses include a mustard seed-crusted chicken breast, rock lobster and aloo palak, an Indian dish served with potatoes and chili peppers. A chili pepper symbol on the menu designates which dishes are spicy (though we found everything pretty mild -- if you want more heat, you can ask the waiter). Portions are perfectly sized so you can try a little from each course. If you're going with a group, share a variety of appetizers.

Indochine also has a small bar, called Enoteca, which serves pre-dinner drinks and is open well into the evening.

Atlantide (Deck 4): Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Atlantide is a large venue that is decorated in black marble and maroon velvet and leather chairs. Tables for two, four and six are available. All meals are ordered from menus. For breakfast, the restaurant offers cold items, like cereal, yoghurt, fruit, smoked salmon, cheese and muesli. There's also a solid selection of freshly baked goods, like delicious, crisp croissants and Danishes. Hot options include omelettes, souffles, French toast, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, kippers and eggs Benedict. We liked the wide variety of juices and teas as well. The breakfast menu is the same each morning.

Lunch at Atlantide takes place within a 90 minute window. It offers a menu that changes each day, but you'll always have a choice of starters, soups, salads and pastas (made fresh onboard). Starter options include items like crab cakes or pan-fried cheese while soups might be prawn bisque or egg drop. Try a baby spinach salad or penne alla boscaiola. For the main course, passengers can choose from fish, like grilled baby squid, or meat, such as slow-braised ribs. Vegetarian options are highlighted as well and include options such as kale and mushroom quiche or butternut squash risotto. Dessert might be Greek yoghurt and honey or gelato.

For dinner, Atlantide becomes a European-style seafood grill that also serves juicy steaks. The selection is large -- we had a hard time choosing and almost everything we had was very good. Appetizer options include a wonderful beef and caviar tartare, served with a poached quail egg; king scallops with foie gras and strawberry salsa; and belly cuts of salmon. Vegetarians can choose from "My Little Vegetable Plot," a fun dish that includes buffalo mozzarella, cucumbers, carrots, beets, celeriac, asparagus and broccoli sprouts and vegetable vol au vent, served in a puff pastry with cream and peas, lettuce and asparagus tips. Soup and salad options include seafood chowder, lobster salad and cherry tomato and lemon salad. Mains include Chilean sea bass, Argentinian beef, Italian veal, American prime Angus and a vegetarian potato and zucchini dish. If you still have room for dessert, choose from lemon meringue pie, strawberry pavlova or the Ferrero Rocher chocolate cheesecake.

Because it's the busiest restaurant onboard most evenings, Atlantide is the only place where we received less-than-perfect service. But our issues -- failure by the wait staff to acknowledge us for 15 minutes one night, an ignored request for an extra side dish another -- were extremely small; it's that the service is so great elsewhere on the ship that these slips were even noticeable.

Atlantide also has a small bar, which opens just before dinner and stays open late into the evening.

La Dame by Relais & Chateaux (Deck 4); $60: Continuing Silversea's long-held partnership with the luxury collection of hotels and restaurants, La Dame is Silver Muse's exclusive Relais & Chateaux venue. It's an upscale classic French restaurant, with all ingredients sourced from France. Open only for dinner, it features unique food presentations. The venue is small, with an enormous glass-encased wine rack serving as the centrepiece.

Appetizers include classics such as foie gras served with a wine-poached pear, escargots de Bourgogne served with a crusty baguette, crispy fried frogs legs and bouillabaisse. Main course options include glazed duck breast, Burgundy-braised beef, lobster tail, and beef filet served with truffle jus. For dessert, pick from items such as an assortment of fruit, chocolate mousse with fruit coulis or Grand Marnier souffle.

While we enjoyed the presentation and menu in La Dame, we found that it wasn't that much different in quality from the fee-free venues onboard. A sommelier will pair wines with your meal, but since they are the same ones that you can get elsewhere on the ship, it's not a signature experience.

Silver Note (Deck 7): Silver Note is a jazz club that serves up tapas-style dishes during the evening hours. Musicians play jazz and blues while you eat. While the music could be obtrusive, it perfectly serves as a backdrop for conversation and a nice dinner. (We enjoyed a singer, who partnered with a pianist during our meal.) The venue is intimate, with banquettes that accommodate six as well as smaller tables for two or four. The menu features Peruvian fusion cuisine, and there's no order to ordering -- simply pick a variety of dishes that tickle your fancy. Pick from raw items, such as sea bass served ceviche style, or tuna and green quinoa. Or try the buttered lobster tail or roasted duck breast with plums and blueberry gastrique. Dessert options include a sugar volcano, with chocolate caramel fudge cheesecake, and a berry dish, served with blackberry sorbet. Portions are a bit larger than traditional tapas, so don't over-order.

Silver Note also has a good-sized bar that opens later in the evening and hosts passengers who want to listen to the music rather than eat dinner.

La Terrazza (Deck 7): This indoor/outdoor venue is a buffet for breakfast and lunch, then turns into an Italian restaurant at night. It's a fairly large restaurant, decorated in whites and creams, with tables for two, four or six. As a buffet, it features small stations, rather than long counters, and passengers on our sailing never had to wait in lines. The restaurant closes between meals and dishes are cleared promptly at 2 -- which can leave passengers coming back from morning shore excursions out of luck.

For breakfast, there's an egg station, where you can get made-to-order eggs, along with sausage, bacon and ham. There's also a smoothie station, where you can order fresh, blended drinks with add-ins like protein powder. Passengers can choose from other breakfast items, such as cereal, yogurt, fresh fruit, pancakes, waffles, smoked and pickled fish, bread, bagels and pastries.

At lunch we loved the charcuterie station, where we grabbed imported cheeses and meats such as prosciutto and Parma ham. La Terrazza also has a made-to-order pasta station, where chefs whip up fresh pasta dishes. Lunch also includes a salad bar with a second station just for toppings, a carving station, entrees such as shepherd's pie, fried chicken or broiled fish, a sushi and cold fish station, and an enormous dessert and bread bar. Options change on the buffet each day.

In the evening, La Terrazza is transformed into a by-reservation sit-down restaurant that features a mostly traditional Italian menu. Appetizers are available to share family style or order in single portions -- try the dalla salumeria, which includes duck salami, wild boar salami and Parma, or the veggie fried tris di bruschetta, with classic tomato, olive and caper, and zucchini and cheese bruschetta. Pasta courses come next: portions are large, so it's OK to split them, or ask for an appetizer size. Choose from gnocchi, pappardelle or penne, all made in-house. Entrees include fish, meat and vegetarian options. We liked the Mediterranean branzino. For dessert, you can order cheese, ice cream or Italian classics like tiramisu or panna cotta. The menu is the same for dinner each night.

Arts Cafe (Deck 8): Part cafe, part gathering spot for passengers looking to chat and read, the Arts Cafe features a small-but-cool collection of books cultivated by London bookshop Heywood Hill. It's the most colourful venue onboard, with a glass deli counter, small bar, comfortable leather couches, small tables and bright, cheerful art. The cafe serves food from early in the morning to late at night. In the morning, it offers items such as jars of fruit and oatmeal smoothies, croissants, muffins, yoghurt and sandwiches, along with fruit- or veggie-infused water. Late morning, it offers up consomme. Then, at lunch, you can pick from sandwiches and soup. Afternoon tea is served here each day at 4 p.m., and it's done in a free-form style -- you can order your tea from the deli counter and bar, or you can be served by waiters. Snacks include scones with clotted cream, finger sandwiches and pastries. Those looking for a pre-dinner snack can visit in the evening for canapes. Then, after dinner, the Arts Cafe serves petite fours and chocolates. The venue has an outdoor space off the back, which allows smoking.

The Grill/Hot Rocks (Deck 10): Located on the pool deck, this two-for-one dining area is The Grill at lunch, then becomes Hot Rocks at night. The outdoor space includes seating at tables near the pool, and waiters serve passengers at their tables. At lunch, passengers can pick from sandwiches, wraps, salads and burgers, as well as a daily fresh grilled fish, steak and rotisserie selection. It's open until later in the afternoon.

At night, the restaurant transforms into Hot Rocks, which gives passengers the chance to grill up their own food over a volcanic rock right at their tables. Meats include steaks, pork chops, veal, chicken, fish and prawns, and vegetarian options, such as stuffed portobello mushrooms, are available. Order sides such as salad, sweet potato fries, battered mushrooms or baked potatoes. Desserts include a lime and chilli cheesecake or apple crumble. Heat lamps keep the area warm and if it's windy, a waiter will bring a blanket.

All in all, we found Hot Rocks rather gimmicky, with large margins for error; the rocks are really hot and while the waiter ties on bibs to protect you from hot oil, you need to make sure you don't accidentally put your hand or arm on the rock. You also need to know how long it takes to cook something -- fish and prawns take much less time than veal or steak. (We had our waiter help us so we could avoid undercooking.)

Spaccanapoli (Deck 11): Spaccanapoli serves fresh-made pizza in an open-air environment from lunchtime until late. The restaurant overlooks the pool space below. Grab a seat and get table service from waiters who will deliver pizza or calzones. Pick from pies such as diavola (with spicy salami) or bufalina (with buffalo mozzarella and basil). Pizza here is good -- flaky yet chewy crusts and fresh ingredients -- and the menu is large, although it lacks salad. (If you want one, they'll bring you one from The Grill downstairs.) Finish off with a pistachio gelato.

Room Service: Room service is available 24 hours a day and comes with a white tablecloth flourish either in your room or set up on the balcony. For breakfast, passengers can leave a card with their choices outside of their room at night, then wake up to enjoy en suite dining. Options for breakfast include eggs prepared any way you'd like, cereal, breads, pastries, yoghurt, juice, tea and coffee. We also found we could write in options. (For example, we wrote in "avocado" when we were craving avocado toast, and it showed up, just as we asked.)

Beyond breakfast, the room service menu is extensive and includes a huge variety of appetizers, first courses, soups, pastas, salads and meats. You can also opt for wraps, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and desserts. There's even a cheese menu. Caviar is available at a per-tin cost starting at $40 for a 20-gram serving.

One dining "wow" factor: Silver Muse offers All Around Dining, a service that allows passengers to order food from the room service menu from any spot on the ship when restaurants aren't open. So, if you want that grilled New York sirloin at 1 a.m. in the Panorama Lounge, you can go for it (although we never saw anyone doing this).

All cabins on Silver Muse are suites, and all but six include fairly spacious balconies. They're decorated in shades of brown, grey and cream, with thick fabric curtains and soft throw pillows. All suites include bedrooms with twin beds that can be combined to create queen- or king-sized beds and Matermoll mattresses, Pratesi linens, down duvets and a choice of pillows. Separate sitting areas vary by category, but all include at least a couch, writing desk, marble table and chair. Suites also include a refrigerated mini-bar, stocked with your favourites (just tell your butler and he (or occasionally she) will adjust it to your liking), and bathrobes, slippers, binoculars, lint brushes and umbrellas for use during your cruise. Cabins feature lots of drawer space, walk-in closets with personal safes and under-bed storage.

There are also plenty of outlets, including U.S., European and universal, and USB ports for charging. Beds are flanked by two marble night tables, which also feature outlets, though no USB ports. Telephones, hair dryers and at least two flat-screen HD TVs -- with interactive media libraries -- are included in each suite. TVs are embedded in mirrors, which looks cool but cause some issues with viewing; it can be difficult to see the TV when lights are on in the cabin, as they create significant glare (and it's also strange to look at yourself while you watch TV). You can also sometimes hear your neighbours' TV through the wall. All cabins include complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, though restrictions vary depending on the category.

Bathrooms are filled with marble, and they include full-sized bathtubs, separate showers and vanities. We especially like the thick-piled bathmats and water controls at the end where you'd sit in the tub, a smart feature that makes so much sense, we wonder why this isn't standard on all ships. Showers feature rainfall showerheads as well as adjustable handheld sprayers. Passengers can choose bath amenities from Bulgari as well as Ortigia.

Teak balconies include patio furniture, which varies by category, as well as floor-to-ceiling glass doors.

Every suite comes with butler service; your butler will perform a variety of tasks, including helping you choose bathroom amenities, pack and unpack your luggage, make dinner or spa reservations, polish your shoes and set up your mini-bar, which is replenished daily. They also will take requests for fresh fruit, replenished daily. (You can ask for whole pieces or fresh-sliced fruit.) On the day before disembarkation, he cleans your suitcase for the trip home.

Silver Muse has seven accessible cabins: three of them are Vista Suites on Deck 4, each of which are connecting to a regular Vista Suite for a carer; three are Classic Veranda Suites; the other is a Silver Suite. It also has 58 connecting cabins, and 77 suites have capacity for third berths. A number of cabins across multiple categories offer two-bedroom configurations; these are achieved by combining two separate suites, some of which are not sold separately.

Vista Suite: There are just six of these entry-level suites, all of which are located on Deck 4 and three of which are accessible. All three pairs are inter-connected, should the wheelchair user require a carer. They are exactly the same layout, size (387 square feet) and configuration as Balcony Suites -- minus the balcony. Instead, there is a good-sized picture window, oblong in shape rather than porthole style. Everything else, including a tub in the bathroom (except for the three accessibles), walk-in wardrobe and living room area with a curtain dividing the two spaces, are the same. A note: These suites are behind the restaurants and near the crew quarters, and there is a pervasive smell of smoke in the adjoining corridors. They are accessible via the forward elevator, or by walking all the way along Deck 5 and down, rather than through Indochine.

The accessible Vista Suites are almost double the size of the regular Vista Suites, coming in at the size of a Silver Suite at 786 square feet. As well as a wide door for wheelchair access that opens and closes electronically, there is also an accessible bathroom with shower and rails, but no tub. Inside, everything is at waist level in the wardrobes for easy access and the corridor is also lined with additional wardrobes. There is a large living room with a dining table, couch and chairs and two picture windows. The bedroom has wide spaces either side of the bed for a wheelchair. There is an additional toilet in a small cloakroom adjoining the main bathroom.

Balcony: There are three categories of veranda suites, all measuring 387 square feet (including a 64-square-foot private balcony), with the only difference being location. The Classic Veranda Suites are located on Decks 5 and 6, at the front of the ship; Superior Veranda Suites are on Decks 7, 8 and 9, at the front of the ship; and Deluxe Veranda Suites are located midship on Decks 6, 7 and 8. The sitting area can be separated from the bedroom by closing it off with curtains. Each balcony features two mesh lounge chairs, two mesh ottomans and a table large enough to use for meals. Passengers in these cabins get one hour of complimentary internet per person per day.

Silver Suite: There are more Silver Suites (786 square feet) on Silver Muse than on the line's other vessels, with 34 spread across Decks 9, 10 and 11. Two Silver Suites have two-bedroom configurations, designed to appeal to families and groups of friends travelling together, and they measure 1,119 square feet. All Silver Suites have convertible sofas to accommodate another passenger.

The one-bedroom configuration includes a separate bedroom, large living area with couch, plush leather chairs, a fixed desk and a dining table with four chairs. Silver Suites and above include Illy coffee machines and a Bose Bluetooth-enabled speaker system. The bathrooms have a whirlpool bath, a separate shower room with oversized shower, dual sinks and a separate room for the toilet which is also accessible from the entranceway.

The two-bedroom configuration includes a second full bathroom with a separate shower and tub, another small seating area and a walk-in closet. Balconies (129 square feet) are the same for one- and two-bedroom suites, and each includes one lounge chair, two chairs and two large tables. Passengers in Silver Suites and higher get unlimited complimentary internet; complimentary laundry, dry cleaning and pressing service; and afternoon canapes served by their butler.

Royal Suite: Passengers have a one- or two-bedroom option when it comes to each of the ship's two Royal Suites. One-bedroom suites measure 1,130 square feet, while the two-bedroom version comes in at 1,528 square feet. Each of the two suites, regardless of configuration, includes a full bathroom with double vanity plus a powder room. There's also a separate dining area and Illy espresso machine. The two-bedroom version has an additional veranda, full bathroom and a second sitting area with convertible sofa. Balconies for the one-bedroom configuration are 129 square feet and include two chairs and a table, while the two-bedroom configuration adjoins a second balcony, bringing the square footage to 194, and adds a second table and two more chairs.

Passengers staying in the Royal Suites and above get all the amenities of Silver Suites plus complimentary dinner for two in La Dame and two hours of satellite phone calls worldwide. Butlers with this level and higher can coordinate shoreside activities, make shoreside dining reservations, organize in-suite parties and draw baths for passengers.

Grand Suite: Silver Muse offers four Grand Suites, located on Decks 8 and 9. Grand Suites can be configured as one- or two-bedroom spaces. The suites on Deck 8 (1,572 square feet with 570 square-foot veranda for one bedroom; 1,970 square feet with 635 square-foot veranda for two) are slightly larger than those on Deck 9 (1,475 square feet with 474 square-foot veranda for one bedroom; 1,873 square feet with 538 square-foot veranda for two). All Grand Suites have a living room with convertible sofa, a sitting area, separate dining area, a full bathroom with double vanity and a powder room. When configured as a two-bedroom suite by connecting to an adjoining cabin, suites also include a second full bathroom and sitting area.

Balconies include two tables, four chairs and two lounge chairs. Two-bedroom suite verandas come with an addition large table and two chairs on the connecting balcony.

Owner's Suite: Silver Muse has four apartment-style Owner's Suites that can be configured with one (947 to 1,055 square feet with 129-square-foot verandas) or two bedrooms (1,281 to 1,389 square feet with 129-square foot verandas) by connecting to adjacent cabins. All configurations include a living room with sitting area, separate dining area, full bathroom with double vanity and a powder room. When configured with two bedrooms, Owner's Suites have an additional sitting area and bathroom. Verandas include two chairs, two tables and a lounge chair; the two-bedroom configuration doesn't offer additional veranda space.

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