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On many cruises, embarkation day can be somewhat of a nightmare. Overwhelmed and over-tired after a long flight, the sight of a large shed with hundreds of people queuing up in front of dozens of check-in desks is not the most appealing start of a vacation. Once on board, there are people everywhere. Over-enthusiastic waiters try selling you bright pink souvenir drinks, table reservations for the dining room have to be made and there is always the vague fear that your luggage will not show up in the cabin. And with the Cruise Staff anxiously trying to get the guests to join a conga line on the Pool Deck, you might wonder if this is anything like the brochure promised you...

Enter Silver Wind! On Monday we say "ciao" to the kind reception staff at our hotel and take the train to the port city of Civitavecchia, a 45-minute ride that sets us back a mere 9 Euros per person. From the railway station in Civitavecchia it is only a few minutes by taxi to the port, where Silver Wind is waiting for us. As we are welcomed by uniformed ground staff, I get the distinct feeling we are the only guests as the dock is completely deserted. Our bags are taken away from us and our passports are checked. Then we climb the gangway and are welcomed on board by air-conditioning and a  glass of champagne. There is no waiting and no stress as we check in on board. And right after our security photo is taken, we are escorted to our suite.  

Typical Veranda Suite

Suite? Yes! Forget all about inside cabins or bunk beds  on the 296 guest Silver Wind. Each suite on board measures at least 22 sq m (240 sq ft) and comes equipped with all the comforts you can think of. Our suite 722 is a Midships Veranda Suite and features a nicely sized teak balcony with two chairs and a table. Inside, there is champagne waiting...

...and Adèle, our South African suite stewardess. She introduces herself and asks if she can do anything for us. When I mention that we like Diet Coke and champagne, we never have to ask again for any of the two during our entire voyage; Adèle makes sure our in-suite bar is always stocked up completely. She also changes the Frette bed linens every third day and makes sure we never use the same 100% Egyptian cotton towels. Oh, and she always rings the door bell before entering our suite!

Fresh flowers
Cocktail cabinet at an arm's length

As the champagne cork flies through our suite, I notice the fresh flowers with compliments of the Hotel Director, the set of binoculars, the TV and DVD player, the walk in closet with built-in safe, the umbrella, monogrammed bath robes and the marble-clad bathroom with full-sized bath tub and Bulgari toiletries. 

Later we sit outside sipping champagne. Our luggage is delivered and our watches reveal that it is time to head up to the Panorama Lounge for the mandatory boat drill and a proper look at our fellow passengers.  That night at 10 pm, Silver Wind quietly slips away from the quay and in a star studded night, we venture west to the island of Sardinia. Our adventure has now truly started. And that bed looks awfully inviting...!

A chilled bottle of champagne is waiting for us

Veranda Suite

Charming suite stewardesses

Welcome on board!

Veranda Suite

Teak veranda

Spacious sitting area

Bvlgari toiletries
Walk in closet

Lots to read!

Spacious marble bathroom
Ah... the joy of a private balcony!

 

All photos and text: © 2004 Bart de Boer - www.ShipParade.com

First published on September 5th, 2004. All rights reserved.