So here we have it, coming to the end of 16 glorious nights at sea, and there were so many highlights.
Take the food on Silver Cloud. It was superb. Some people had beef every night as it was simply so good, and you had a variety of cuts and cooking methods.
The Hotel Director, the lovely Gianni Dotti, loved dining on deck, poolside, and there the menu was simple.
Your choice of salads. Your choice of grill, with automatic vegetables, and a small selection of desserts. Others liked the table d’hote Italian in the Terrazza, and I guess others opted to pay extra to dine in Champagne.
But the lovely thing about Silversea is that it is all-inclusive. Yes, you pay massively ahead but onboard everything can be free, apart from internet (costly, because of maritime satellites, and very slow) and spa-beauty treatments (though you can sauna-and-steam for free).
This means that you can have a glass, or more, of Heidsieck Monopole whenever you want, and some did. There are always choices of wine, at any time, and one barman seems to manage to fix martinis and other cocktails both hands simultaneously.
There is no tipping (you have paid gratuities ahead, remember) but staff are so motivated.
Maitre d’ Jorge, from Portugal, waiters Oscar (Colombia), Pyotr (Poland), Alex and Richard (Philippines) and the wine stewardess Hu (China), plus our butler Prabu (India) and cabin attendant Lorely (Philippines), oh so many… and the cruise director, Judie Abbott, whose own show was so riveting people could have listened for hours.
We love the don’t-talk-down-to-you enrichment lectures. We had Larry Rudner, a former NASA aerospace engineer turned navigator, showing how to read stars, use a sextant and understand water currents and wave types.
And we had Thomson Smillie, a Glaswegian who fell in love with opera via Gilbert & Sullivan and went on to head the Wexford Festival and then Kentucky Opera. He showed the gal, who knows nothing about opera, how today’s operatic greats can also be sensational actors and acrobats.
Smillie also did one presentation on operatic disasters. He showed an except from the Metropolitan Opera of Tosca leaping over the balustrade, away from the stage, to her supposed death. Essential to get on well with the stage hands, he said.
One diva was so loathed by her stage crew that one night they replaced the pillows on to which she was supposed gracefully to land, out of sight of the audience, by a trampoline, and up she bobbed, again and again.
In that same presentation he played a recording – OMG – of Florence Foster Jenkins, the New York ‘singer’ who had no idea of her appalling tone but somehow gained a following.
Look her up and you see Narcissa Florence Foster, as she was born in 1868, was to be known and ridiculed for lack of rhythm, pitch, tone and overall ability. (But poor lady, her Pennsylvania parents refused to pay for her to study opera so she eloped with a Dr Jenkins, whom she later divorced in favour of an actor, St Clair Bayfield, with whom she lived well on the money she inherited from daddy, which fortunately lasted until her death in 1944.)
Yes, this girl had a great time. She loved daily trivia quizzes, and making lots of new friends. She kept up her regime, of watching the dawn as she did her three miles around the deck, and working out in the gym early evening (always the same time as someone we called ‘Johnny Depp’ because he looked like him).
But then the final day dawned, we breakfasted as always outside on the terrace, and watched Fort Lauderdale’s imposing real apartment blocks and, that day, ten GHASTLY monstrosity-of-the-seas floating apartment blocks known as mass cruising for the thousands.
Stick with Silversea for style. I am already hooked-and-booked, both for Christmas 2012 and Christmas 2013. It is, meanwhile, time to get back to dry land and more sensational luxury hotels.