Although the 36,000 ton Silver Spirit is considered mid-sized by today’s standards, it is by far the largest ship in the Silversea Cruises fleet. Silver Spirit was built by the Ancona-based yard of Italian state-controlled shipbuilding company, Fincantieri. Measuring 642-by-86 feet with a draft of 20.3 feet, the ship has eight passenger decks that are linked by five stairtowers and six elevators. Silver Spirit carries 540 guests and a crew of 376, providing a guest to crew ratio of 1.4 to 1, one of the highest in the industry. Silversea ships are manned by European officers and an international staff and crew. This is a view of the engine control room. Powered by five sets of Wartsila diesels that drive twin screws, the Silver Spirit has a maximum speed of 20.3 knots. One of the ship’s massive diesel engines is shown here. Silver Spirit was designed by Giacomo Mortola of GEM Associates, the Genoa-based firm behind the Sun, Grand and Crown class ships of Princess Cruises. Silver Spirit operates in the Mediterranean during the summer and sails throughout the Caribbean and South America in the winter. Atop the forward portion of the ship on Deck 12 is a platform that overlooks the bow. It is accessed from the port side of the Observation Lounge, just below. From Deck 12, there is also a nice view of the midships pool area and surrounding lido decks. At the base of the funnel, a skylight hovers over the main staircase foyer On Deck 11, there is an open terrace directly in front of the Observation Lounge. Seen from Deck 10, the teak-lined midships pool area features three whirlpools and rows of cushioned deck chairs. It is served by the casual, al fresco Pool Grill and Pool Bar on Deck 9. At night, the Deck 10 terrace overlooking the pool becomes Hot Rocks, a casual outdoor eatery where guests can cook their entrées on table-top black-rock grills. A selection of prime cuts, pork, salmon and a catch of the day (in this case, a fresh sea bream) are among the entrée choices at Hot Rocks. Sides include baked potatoes and grilled vegetables in addition to a choice of salads. The aft portion of Deck 10 is open sun deck with a jogging track that encircles the funnel casing. The Pool Grill on Deck 9, located on the starboard/forward side of the pool area, is a popular spot for breakfast and lunch buffets. On aft Deck 9, a sheltered teak terrace adjoins the Panorama Lounge. Overlooking the ship’s wake, it sports cushioned wicker settees and cabana-style love seats. On aft Deck 8, there is a terrace with cushioned deck chairs and a shuffleboard court. With their proximal vantage of the sea, two finite sheltered promenades line either side of Deck 5. The Observation Lounge on forward Deck 11 provides views from the highest enclosed passenger space on the ship. On its starboard side, there is a full-service bar. On the port side of the Observation Lounge, a recessed nook doubles as the ship’s reference library. The Silver Spirit has a vertical layout with accommodation situated forward and the lion’s share of public rooms (aside from the Observation Lounge) aft. The main stair-tower is topped with a dramatic skylight that infuses sunshine into the heart of the ship. A small card room on starboard Deck 9 is located near the entrance to the Panorama Lounge. The Panorama Lounge seats 74 guests in stylish comfort at the aft end of Deck 9. A bar on the port side, a large marble dance floor and a curved vista of full length windows make it one of the ship’s most popular spaces. By day, it hosts get-togethers, Bingo and quizzes and at night, it can function as a sultry cabaret or a dynamic disco. On Deck 8, there is a shopping arcade with three boutiques on the starboard side. On the port side of Deck 8, the Connoisseur’s Club is a favorite haunt for those seeking cigars and cognacs. The Casino follows the Connoisseur’s Club and offers blackjack, roulette, poker and a variety of slots. With its burled veneers, autumnal soft fittings and frosted glass art panels, Stars is one of the ship’s most alluring spaces. This Art Deco-infused, 58-seat venue is both a jazz and dinner club with a multi-course menu of tapas-style delicacies. There is no charge but reservations are required to dine in Stars. Those just wishing to come for a drink or to watch the performance are welcome until the club closes at midnight. At the 70-seat La Terrazza, a full-service menu is available in addition to buffet-style breakfast and lunch. Located on aft Deck 9, it is also a reservations-required, non-tariff Italian specialty dinner venue that seats 70. In a following wind, the terrace adjoining La Terrazza is a favorite spot for breakfast, lunch or tea. When combined with the indoor space, it accommodates 204 guests. In La Terrazza, genuine Neapolitan-style pizzas are cooked to order. In La Terrazza, as well as the main Restaurant, bottles of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar are provided along with ground salt and pepper at every table. Specialty Illy brand coffees and a variety of fresh tea leaves are available at tea time. Timers are provided so no tea goes “over” or “under” steeped. Tea in La Terrazza includes a variety of freshly baked cookies, tarts and cakes as well as sandwiches made with artisan breads. On aft Deck 6, there is a Spa, Fitness Center and Beauty Salon. A thermal suite is available to guests booking a treatment or a day pass. In addition to heated ceramic loungers, there is a whirlpool, as well as steam and sauna rooms. The thermal suite also has its own Hamam or Turkish Bath. Nine therapy rooms are available for teeth-whitening, skin and/or massage treatments. The spa has an indoor relaxation room that is available before and after treatments. In addition, on the adjoining deck, spa guests can unwind in an array of cushioned deck chairs and a whirlpool with a view of the Silver Spirit’s wake. The fully-equipped Beauty Salon offers everything from haircuts and hair coloring to shaves for men. There is even a manicure and pedicure area in the Spa. Near the entrance to the Fitness Center, there is a dry sauna with view of the sea. The Fitness Center has four multi-purpose exercise machines, three elliptical cross-trainers, four treadmills, a recumbent bike, free weights and assorted multi-purpose weight/resistance-training equipment. There is also an aerobics studio with a menu of included and extra-tariff exercise and yoga classes to choose from. On midships Deck 5, the Bar spans the width of the ship and seats 112 guests. A bar on the starboard side and a bandstand with dance floor on the port side make this a favorite gathering place before and after dinner. The Reception adjoins the Bar on Deck 5. A desk for shore tours is on the starboard side and guest relations is on the port side. A small conference room seating eight guests is located off the starboard entrance to the Lounge on aft Deck 5. The terraced Lounge accommodates 320 guests. Cushioned settees for two feature drink holders and extra leg room. In addition to being the Silver Spirit’s main showroom and venue for enrichment lectures, the Lounge is also equipped for cooking demos and classes. The Silver Spirit has a cast that performs Broadway-style revues and pop-music tributes, such as the Elton John-themed “Rocket man.” In 2012, Silversea will be adding a new series of shows, including the classically-themed “High C’s,” the Motown tribute “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” and an ABBA-fest entitled “Fabbalicious.”. Seishin, which means “spirit” in Japanese, is an extra-tariff, 24-seat sushi restaurant near the port-side entrance of the Restaurant on Deck 4. Its offerings are freshly prepared at an octagonal chef’s station in the middle of the room. Priced at $30 per person and reservations are required. Off the starboard entrance to the Restaurant is the Relaix & Chateaux-sponsored, 24-seat Le Champagne. It features a select wine-pairing menu for $200 per person or just dinner (with house wines provided) for $30 per person. Each of the dining venues on the Silver Spirit feature their own unique table settings with fine china or Murano glass chargers. This is a table for two at Le Champagne. Spanning the width of midships Deck 4, the Restaurant is the Silver Spirit’s main dining venue. Special menus are created here on a daily basis, often revolving around a gastronomic theme or the cuisine of regions the ship visits. Although the 457-seat Restaurant is located in the heart of the ship, views of the sea are a mere picture window away. In all venues, for lunch and dinner aboard the Silver Spirit, a quality white or red wine is included along with a choice of sparkling or still water, beer, cocktails, iced tea and soft drinks. At all meals, the freshly baked artisan breads are among the best afloat. In the Restaurant, light and vegetarian options are available in addition to a selection of appetizers, soups, a palate-cleansing sorbet and entrées that can range from venison sweetbreads to this beautifully prepared salmon. On the left side of the menu, there is a selection of popular “Always Available” options, which includes penne pasta in homemade tomato sauce, New York steak, grilled pork chops, French onion soup and this masterful char-grilled chicken breast in pan gravy. The Silver Spirit boasts a 67 space-to-guest ratio, one of the highest in the cruise world. The figure is obtained by dividing the gross tonnage (36,000) by lower berth capacity (520) and the result is a ship with few crowds and lofty spaces, such as the grand staircase, shown facing up from its base on Deck 4. There are six accommodation tiers on the Silver Spirit, ranging from 312-square-feet Vista Suites to the 1,292 square-foot Owners Suites. The two Owners Suites are located on midships Deck 8. Here is the living room of the starboard Owners Suite. Owners Suites also have a dining nook with a table that seats six along with a separate bar. Owners Suite bedrooms can be configured with twin beds or a queen-sized bed. A second bedroom, bathroom, balcony and sitting area are also available when combined with neighboring Veranda Suite for a grand total of 1,668 square feet of space. Marbled master baths in the Owners Suites feature a whirlpool tub, twin sinks, commode area with toilet and bidet and a separate rainforest shower. Owners Suite walk-in closets, like those in all categories, are furnished with wooden and padded coat hangers, plush Egyptian cotton bathrobes, slippers and a personal safe. Owners Suite balconies are lined in teak and measure 190 square feet. Owners Suites also have separate marble half-baths, which are especially convenient for visiting guests. Four Grand and two Royal Suites are essentially the same, except Grand Suites have a wrap-around balcony versus a side balcony on Royal Suites. Here is the living room of a Royal Suite, which features a dining nook and a sofa that converts to an additional bed. Located in the forward portion of the ship, Grand and Royal Suites have bedrooms with a curved wall and forward-facing window. In addition to Egyptian cotton-topped bedding, there is a menu of pillow choices. In addition to large walk-in closets, Grand and Royal Suites have a dressing area with vanity and additional storage space. Here is the balcony in a Royal Suite. Grand and Royal Suites can also be adjoined with neighboring Veranda Suites. Twenty-four Silver Suites on Decks 11 and 12 measure 742 square feet. Their living areas have a writing desk, dining nook and convertible sofa. This the bedroom of a typical Silver Suite. Silver Suites also have a substantial walk-in closet. Marble Silver Suite bathrooms are fitted with twin sinks, whirlpool tubs, separate rainforest showers and commode areas. Silver Suite balconies measure 118 square feet. Silver Suites also have a half-bath in addition to the master bathroom. 216 Veranda Suites are all identical in layout and measure 376 square feet but the 166 Midships Veranda Suites are sold at a slightly higher premium. All suites on Silver Spirit come with butler service, dressing tables, hairdryer, pillow menu, robes and slippers. Veranda Suite balconies measure 65 square feet. Veranda and Vista Suite bathrooms feature separate showers and full baths (except for those that are specially equipped with facilities for the disabled). Walk-in closets in Veranda and Vista Suites have personal safes, wooden and padded hangars, bathrobes and slippers. Four handicap-access Veranda Suites on midships Deck 5 are lift adjacent. They are slightly shorter in overall length but wider to accommodate wheelchairs, have modified doors and ramps and wheelchair-access bathrooms with shower only. In addition to modified controls, handicap-access Veranda Suites have ramps surrounding the balcony sills. Twelve Vista Suites on forward Deck 4 measure 312 square feet and have virtually the same amenities of the Veranda Suites but with picture windows in lieu of balconies. All Silver Spirit cabins are stocked with chilled Drapier Champagne upon arrival. In addition to fresh fruit and flowers, a refrigerator is replenished with preferred liquors and drinking water. Bath amenities on Silversea ships come in a choice of Ferragamo, Bvlgari (shown) or Neutrogena and include soap, moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner and bath gel in addition to cotton balls and swabs.