Cruising in luxury is attainable. But be warned, once experienced . . . you can never go back .
To experience a small ship, elegant surroundings, gourmet bespoke restaurants, places to visit that only small ships can snuggle into and . . . to have a butler on hand is something to save and strive for.
OK, this takes money but so do other cruises that aren’t so exclusive . . . so pick your luxury cruise and work towards it. This will be an incredible experience, and quite likely ruin you for any mega ship trips.
Silversea Cruises was, and is my company of choice for the ultimate ‘spoil yourself rotten’ experience. Our ship from the fleet is Silver Muse.
Sliversea Cruises has itineraries that will take you to ply the waters of many countries and continents across the world.
My cruise was from Singapore to Bali. We overnighted at the elegant Shangri-La in Singapore and took off the next morning for a luxurious, soft cruisy adventure.
We were welcomed onboard warmly by white-gloved staff and promptly escorted to our suite. A large suite opened up with fresh flowers on the table, a bottle of bubbly on ice, a large balcony and two tricky TV’s that were really mirrors that were also TV’s. (I suddenly became technically challenged re the mirrored tv – one in front of the bed and one in the ‘living’ room.) Our butler smoothly fixed it all – with no judgement.
Around the world and around the clock, every suite comes with a dedicated butler to pamper you with personalised attention and take care of every detail of the voyage
As the ship departed Singapore my sense of well-being was at an all-time high and my sense of adventure on alert!
We explored the ship to scope out where all the restaurants were located and planned to try all of them before the cruise ended. The main restaurant, The Restaurant is where our first meal was tasted and we ate outside with new friends. From that night on whether at breakfast, lunch or dinner – the staff remembered how I like my coffee and which brand of tea I preferred. From the first meal, gastronomic excellence was on the menu – and we tried and tested every meal – and could not find fault. As if.
After a gentle sleep out first day was at sea. A day to be pampered at the Zagara Spa – nothing like a good massage to get the endorphins into shape.
We checked out the boutique, small with selective items, the theatre, the intimate nooks to read and relax and enjoyed lunch on the pool deck – a casual plate of curry with a cold beer set the tone for the afternoon.
Jakarta hadn’t made my ‘must visit’ travel list so the excursion on the second day was a dive into the sprawling, traffic-crazed place that was a frenetic introduction to a city swelling with 18 million inhabitants.
The city displays the richness of the new buildings, malls, business centres and fancy hotels alongside rows of shanty homes and evidence of entrenched poverty.
No apologies for anything in Jakarta and best way to enjoy is to take in the museums, central Jakarta’s towering National Monument or somewhere more my speed, Jalan Surabaya’s gaggle of shops and kiosks where there is eclectic items for sale. Retro rules here and you can pick up old Elvis records, vintage handbags or curious art pieces.
My favourite stop in Jakarta was in the Old Town, where all of life is seen in Fatahilla Square. This is where the famous Wayang Museum (founded in 1975) houses exquisite puppets from all regions of Indonesia and neighbouring countries. The museum is built on a site that dates back to 1640.
But we almost missed the highlight of the square, Café Batavia. We had been looking for love in all the wrong places! This divine café hails from the 1830s and oozes character. Colonial style furniture in dark wood and tall slatted windows, Dutch-era food blended with the spices of Indonesia, invite you in. We missed what was coming in the evening though – live music on stage every night.
Out of the steamy heat of the spice islands and onboard the Silver Muse for the promise of a grand evening ahead in the prettiest restaurant on the ship – Indochine – for an elegant array of tastings from the Asian region reflected in the name.
Next day after breakfast in bed (ooooh the luxury of this), thank you our fave butler. And today was freewheeling on an island by ourselves. A quick tender trip to Karimunjawa, a tropical hideaway where the Silver Muse staff had set up food and drinks while us spoilt passengers swam and lazed about. A grand day indeed.
After such a big day out – it was pizzas on deck and a movie afterwards.
And the exploration continues. Next day we berth in the intriguing port of Semarang, with its network of narrow canals. The city is a mix of various times in history Chinese, Dutch, Javanese influences are seen in temples, mosques and lattice-fronted cottages. Then a drive to the mother load – Borobudur – one of the most photographed Buddhist shrines on the world.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, this massive complex is the ultimate guide to enlightenment. Surrounded by lush scenic forests and trimmed gardens the mountainous structure sprawls and invites the hardy to climb, and climb and climb. I didn’t quite reach Nirvana (it was too hot) but got a few spiritual stamps for my effort.
It was built around 780-850AD and wasn’t exposed to western eyes until 1814 when Thomas Stamford Raffles stumbled up it (he really got around didn’t he?).
After our architectural, spiritual and physical exertions we were lead to a covered annex, where lunch was and were entertained by a local traditional dance troupe.
Another long day and time to try the Atlantide restaurant which is so popular that we had to book the day before.
What a gloriously luxurious cruise this has been. And not a stuffy note on any given day.
And towards the end of the journey we counted our ship experiences against the excursions – it was a tie! Well, maybe except for the trivia afternoons – it got pretty damn competitive, but fun.
Sad to leave the stunning Silver Muse to re-join the real life but as we left we gave a list of our favourite places to our butler and his mate our room attendant who were going to have a couple of days off in Sydney soon. Sharing the love. It’s all relative isn’t it.