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Five Star Cruising


For the over 50s, who love five-star, luxury cruising, the ratio of staff to guests is the ingredient which ensures a sensational experience. After recently returning for a cruise on board Silver Spirit, sailing from Athens to Venice, along the Dalmatian Coast, the Silversea experience was outstanding, writes John Pond, editor at sea.


More than 85 per cent of suites on Silversea ships have private balconies and while their ships are small, for me that is a large part of their attraction. With only a few hundred passengers, boarding and getting off in ports is a breeze.

5 star cruising on the SILVER-SPIRIT cruiselineComplimentary beverages are provided in all cabins and throughout the ship, this includes select wines, Champagnes, premium spirits and specialty coffees, as well as bottled water, juices and soft drinks. Passengers’ minibars are stocked with their personal preferences and replenished each day.

Our balcony cabin was a delight, with a giant walk-in wardrobe that was much appreciated. Marlon, our Butler, unpacked and hung up our clothes then asked what our preferences were for the complimentary bottles of spirits. He was available 24/7. Marlon set up breakfast on the balcony each day, made dinner and alternate dining arrangements and much more.

The 24-hour room service is a great plus. Order from the room service menu, or during meal times you may choose selections from the dining room menu and meals are delivered to your cabin course by course.

I welcome the open seating dining where passengers choose their own times to eat.

Alternate dining in several other themed restaurants, is very popular, some of these have a small fee. As they are smaller venues, it’s wise to book in advance. These can be booked on-line to avoid disappointment, as they fill up fast. The main dining room changes its menu daily.

Entertainment is of a high standard. The main show is held each evening in the showroom and as well, there is virtually non-stop entertainment with other singers and musicians throughout the ship. Lunchtime entertainment on the pool deck was provided by a duo that did not blast everyone off their seats, as is the case with most other ships. All the usual shipboard activities, such as trivia, dance classes and games were available, make reading the daily program a must.

Gratuities are included in the fare price, so there’s no worry about what to tip at the end of the cruise. Spa treatments are an additional cost, as are Shore excursions, although free shuttle buses are usually provided to get to the town center of visited ports.

Silversea cruises are definitely at the top of the cruise ladder. I’m often asked if cruising five-star is worth the extra money. My answer is always – definitely. When you add up all the included extras and the fact that there is virtually nothing additional to pay for, the value becomes very obvious.

I believe there should be no compromise when it comes to choosing that never to be forgotten travel experience. When shopping for a cruise or any holiday don’t just look for the best price – look for the greatest experience and value.

LIKES

  • Great butler service
  • 5 star food
  • Cabin layout
  • Exotic toiletries
  • Complimentary beverages
  • Best on-ship made ice cream ever
  • Ports of Dubrovnik, Hvar and Kotor

DISLIKES

  •  7 nights cruise too short
  • 10 night minimum best

“I’m often asked if cruising five-star is worth the extra money. My answer is always – definitely.”


Hong Kong – An ideal stopover en route to your cruise


As is my usual practice, even when flying comfortable business class, I prefer to break long flights to Europe with a stopover. Our recent flight, Sydney/Hong Kong/Doha/Athens, made Hong Kong the obvious choice for a couple of night’s stopover, to recharge and take the next leg refreshed.


Although I have been to Hong Kong many times, I still enjoy all it has to offer – wonderful hotels, food, shopping and of course sightseeing. On our last trip my wife and I chose to stay at the Hyatt Regency in Kowloon and, as is our usual practice, stayed in a club floor room that for only a little extra cost, offers so much more. In my younger years I always looked for budget hotels, but as I have grown older, and perhaps wiser, I look for comfort, elegance, service and position.

John Pond - 5 star cruising in Kong KongI suggest you book a hotel with a club floor. We love club Floors with all the extras they have to offer. Complimentary breakfast, snacks throughout the day and a sensational evening happy hour with gourmet canapes and a large selection of complimentary alcoholic drinks makes it hard to leave.

After reluctantly pulling ourselves away from the Hyatt’s club lounge, we dined in several of the hotel’s elegant restaurants. I love Chinese food and the hotel’s restaurant specialising in Cantonese cuisine, was a favourite. For drinks and live entertainment the Chin Chin Bar excelled. Their European fine-dining restaurant, Hugo’s, is world class.

For dining, Hong Kong is extraordinary, all the five-star hotels offer outstanding fare. One can expect to pay pretty much the same as in superior Australian restaurants, but here the similarity ends; presentation, service and food quality is miles ahead.

Hong Kong is a truly international city with every brand name shop to be found.

Beware of most camera shops. When purchasing a camera, you could find yourself paying more than in Australia and possibly end up with a superseded model, without an international guarantee. Since GST, Australian camera prices are very competitive, shop in Oz just before going overseas and get a GST refund at the airport. Airport duty free shops pay enormous rents and their prices reflect this. Look up camera prices for the model you want so you have a reference price.

Buying watches in Hong Kong is a joy, due to the amazing selection. Always get a couple of prices from different stores and let them know you are doing this, then offer about 25% less and negotiate. Clothing shops don’t seem to offer larger sizes, but cater mostly for the smaller sized Asian customer.

If you’re after a low priced bargain, head for the many night markets. Check with your hotel’s concierge for locations close by.

Hong Kong is a shopper’s paradise. I love my food, particularly Chinese, so I always enjoy stopovers there. Consider flying to Hong Kong, then after shopping, board a cruise ship, returning to Australia with no overweight.

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