After an unusually long, Montana winter filled with snow, sub-zero temperatures and lots of wind, Alan and I are more than ready to celebrate spring. So we’re spending April traveling from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome, Italy, on two segments of a spring cruise with Silver Wind.
We’ll be cruising on one of Silversea’s smallest ships. Silver Wind is the sister to Silver Cloud, which we rode from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale on a Panama Canal cruise several years ago. Recently, Silver Cloud has been refurbished into a Silversea expedition ship.
With only 296 guests, a spring cruise with Silver Wind is definitely small ship cruising at its luxurious best. And because of the particularly good buy on this cruise, Alan and I splurged by moving up to a Medallion Suite. We’re especially excited about the larger balcony, which will be put to good use in the Mediterranean.
Since all of the restaurants on Silver Wind require a reservation, with the exception of the main dining room, The Restaurant, Alan and I have already booked our choices online. How do we decide where to eat so far ahead of time? If it’s formal night, we choose The Restaurant. If the ship has a late departure from a port, we book a Grill reservation, the outdoor dining venue. And there are reservations for La Terrazza, the Italian Restaurant, interspersed throughout the trip. Some bookings are for just the two of us, while reservations later in the cruise are for four—we’re hoping to make friends. Of course it’s easy to cancel reservations onboard, which gives us flexibility to join other groups or change dining venues if they’re available.
The spring cruise with Silver Wind is actually two segments combined into a month-long adventure. We’ve already booked cruise excursions online through Silversea as well. Yes, there are probably less expensive independent cruise excursions to be found, but the convenience of booking a ship’s cruise excursion has pluses for us. If the ship doesn’t make it to port, we’re not on the hook to pay for an excursion we couldn’t make. And a 24 to 48-hour cancellation policy allows us to change our minds about an activity or switch to a different one. Being spontaneous is part of relaxation on a cruise for us.
Spring Cruise With Silver Wind First Segment: Cruising the Atlantic
Following our policy of never flying to a port on the day of a cruise—just in case travel delays happen—we ‘ll arrive in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the afternoon before embarkation. This gives us time to visit a store to make last-minute toiletry purchases rather than stuffing them into a checked bag.
The boarding process on Silversea is a breeze, especially on the smaller ships. By mid-afternoon Alan and I will be enjoying a late lunch out on deck, where I’m sure a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc is waiting for me. And then Silver Wind will set sail on a segment that includes 8 sea days and 8 ports:
Hamilton, Bermuda: On our last Silver Spirit cruise, Alan and I explored the historic Georgetown area of Bermuda on our own. When Silver Wind calls on Hamilton, we’re skipping an excursion in lieu of getting off the ship for lots of walking before the next six days at sea.
Funchal, Madeira: Funchal is a common port on most Atlantic crossing itineraries. On our last visit, Alan and I took a four-wheel-drive cruise excursion in Funchal. This time we’ve signed up for Walking Madeira’s Trails.
Cadiz, Spain: A walking tour of Old Town Cadiz is on the agenda in a cruise excursion named Viva La Pepa. We’re excited to be visiting Cadiz for the first time.
Gibraltar: Alan and I have seen the apes of Gibraltar and visited the WWII sites. This is another do-what-we-feel-like port.
Cartagena, Spain: Cartagena is easy to explore independently, as we did on our last visit. This time, the tapas and paella cooking lessons caught our eye on a Culinary Stroll Through Cartagena.
Port Mahon, Menorca: On our last visit to Port Mahon, Alan did his own thing and I took the Menorca highlights tour. This is another port where we’re waiting to see what we feel like doing.
Marseilles, France: Finally! We’re going to visit Aix-en-Provence. The historical French city has long been on my to see list.
Monte Carlo: Eze and Villa de Rothschild on the Cote d’Azur? Been there done that. I’m not sure what’s on the agenda for Monte Carlo. We’ll come up with something.
Spring Cruise With Silver Wind Second Segment: Exploring Mediterranean Islands
The second segment is a 10-day busy, busy itinerary that starts in Monte Carlo before cruising new-to-us islands in the Mediterranean. Alan and I are not fans of port intensive itineraries so we’ll be turning a couple of repeat ports into sea days. Have you ever stayed on a ship when the rest of the guests are touring? It’s divine.
Livorno, Italy: It’s possible to visit Florence on a cruise excursion from Livorno but the 9-hour day holds no appeal for us. Our experience on long bus tours has not been good so we’re opting to see what’s interesting near the port of Livorno. And if Alan and I aren’t wined out, there’s a super-Tuscan wine tour that might be a worthy addition to our fun.
Ajaccio, Corsica: We’re visiting the Prunelli Gorges on our first ever trip to the French island of Corsica.
Cagliari, Sardinia: The Archaeological site of Nora is on the itinerary for Cagliari. The Italian island is another first-time visit for us.
Trapani, Sicily: In Trapani, a new port to us, we’ve chosen a cruise excursion that visits the Ancient Greek Ruins of Selinunte.
Valletta, Malta: On a half-day walking tour, Alan and I will discover Valletta’s Hidden Gems as we explore the the island-state on our initial visit.
Siracusa, Sicily: Since this is our first experience in Siracusa, it’s a must to see the archaeological ruins on a cruise excursion named Classical Siracusa.
Amalfi, Italy: By now, we’ll be ready for a break from cruise excursions. Strolling aimlessly in Amalfi will be a delightful change of pace.
Sorrento, Italy: Since Alan and I explored Pompeii and the Amalfi coast several years ago, we’re declaring this stop as a sea day. Besides it will be time to pack.
Civitavecchia: The end of a month-long good time. After overnighting at a hotel at the Rome airport, the long journey to the U.S. begins. Because our international booking is separate from our domestic ticket, there isn’t enough time between flights to collect luggage, check it again and return through security to catch the last plane of the day to Missoula. So we’ll overnight at a hotel near the Minneapolis airport before finally arriving home the next day.
If you fly out of a smaller airport, it’s cheaper to book international flights in and out of major airports, with a separate ticket for the domestic portion of the trip.
We consider cruises to be experiences rather than a mode of transportation, which means that dressing up is part of the fun. Are you curious about the dress code? The combined segments include 4 formal nights, 14 informal nights and 8 casual nights. Alan and I aren’t interested in carry-on only travel on a journey like this. However packing efficiently is our goal, so look for a future article on how I mix and match clothing on a cruise. Although, after wintering in sweatpants, turtlenecks and sweatshirts, I may have gone slightly overboard, pardon the pun, for outfits on this cruise.
Do you have questions about transoceanic cruising, Silversea or our itinerary? Or would you like to add your cruise tips to the discussion? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email to ask a question or share your experience.