Peering through my binoculars at a flooded caldera, I study anchored catamarans and motorboats skimming across the surface. Star of the show is Silversea’s new ship Silver Muse, looking sleek, modern and majestic.
With 400 staff and crew for its 596 passengers, nine dining venues and all-butler suites, I’m expecting a very different cruise experience for my holiday ahead.
I am joining a 10-day voyage through Greece (Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes) and Turkey (for the ancient ruins of Ephesus and Pergamon). Right now, I’m on the Greek island of Santorini, a photographer’s gift with its ancient whitewashed, one-storey buildings and red-streaked volcanic cliffs.
I flew in a day early with my mum Sonia to enjoy the croissant-shaped island’s beauty, staying at Canaves Oia Suites in the picture-perfect town of Oia on the northern tip. Part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection, they’ve played host to actress Jennifer Lawrence in the past.
We have enough time to explore the stylish shopping of Oia’s car-free lanes (I should have packed less and bought more), before taking a taxi ride to the old port and a cable car down over the cliffs to the old quay.
We speed across the caldera to our waiting ship, eager to explore the passenger decks (floors five to 11). Launched in April in Italy (Silversea is Italian), Silver Muse is the largest in the company’s fleet. Silversea ships are comparatively small-scale, uber-luxury experiences, either expedition ships for nature lovers, or cruise ships for eating, drinking, being entertained, relaxing by the pool and seeing the daily-changing sights ashore.
Our Superior Veranda Suite is gorgeous - marble bathroom (with bath and separate shower), dressing room, sitting room and bedroom with blackout curtains. Every suite has butler service, turndown and a terrace.
Early morning arrivals in port are a highlight of my day. Sliding open the patio doors, I’m greeted with soft morning light, islands on the horizon and a pilot boat from our destination port skimming up alongside to bring us in. A call to my butler, Pedro, brings a fresh pot of tea - no fiddling with kettles here.
The ship’s decor is a triumph. With nods to the golden age of the cruise liner, the central staircase is curved and sensual. Woods give warmth and tones throughout are whispers of champagne, caramel, whipped cream, chocolate and oatmeal, with a dash of lime.
Modern artworks add colour and personality, and a glittering azure pool (flanked by two Jacuzzis) is a perfect match for the sea. An attentive waiter makes sure you are NEVER without a drink. Pommery is the house champagne, or choose anything from the cocktail list - a tome so inviting you could start upon arrival and just keep going.
Despite the overflowing alcohol, everyone is well behaved. The emphasis with Silver Muse is on the genteel gourmet experience. Nine dining rooms all have their own ambience and menus, and guests are invited to experiment. After dinner, a first-rate song-and-dance troupe provide entertainment, enhanced by state-of-the-art sound and lighting.
For five glorious days, we eat and drink like queens, laze on sun-loungers, giggle in Jacuzzis, and dress up in our glad rags to be serenaded by jazz. We’re pampered in the spa, take turns around the jogging track, and even find time to soak up the Aegean’s rich ancient culture on guided tours - all without lifting a finger. I could easily get used to this way of life.