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Cruise controlled luxury
HOBART has turned on a chilly morning for the newly arrived visitors aboard the Silver Spirit.
Many of them would be happy to be on solid ground after a rocky crossing from New Zealand. Funny summer weather, though, with 8 degrees and a dusting of snow on the flanks of cloud-shrouded Mount Wellington.
Guests have taken off for excursions when I board to meet my contact, Sue Marsh, of Ink Publicity. Tourism Minister Michelle O'Byrne is due to exchange plaques with the ship's captain Marco Sangiacomo about now but the ceremony is delayed so we set off on a tour of Silversea's shiny new flagship.
Silver Spirit joined the fleet just over a year ago and is on her inaugural 119-day world cruise.
When fully booked with 540 guests, the 376 staff give Silver Spirit a guest-to-crew ratio of 1.4:1. It docked in Hobart at about 80 per cent capacity, so the ratio was closer to one staff member for each guest. Each of the 270 suites is assigned a butler and wherever a guest wanders on the ship, they are never far from a cafe, restaurant or attraction. The art-deco inspired Silver Spirit pushes luxury into uncharted waters.
We snoop at several restaurants _ there's the Italian La Terrazza, which transforms from a busy 204-seat indoor or outdoor daytime buffet to a more intimate 70-seat a la carte restaurant for evening diners. There's Le Champagne wine restaurant for 24 diners, Seishin for fusion Asian cuisine off a round chef's table, Black Rock grill by the pool, Stars Supper Club with nightclub entertainment. It all leads me to suspect that a cruise like this would appeal to anyone good on the tooth.
The bow Observation Lounge is way up on deck 11, and at the moment, is offering superb, elevated views of Hobart. At the stern, Mrs Marsh introduces the Panorama Lounge on deck 9 as a ``lovely place for evening cocktails''.
Describing the contents of this ship is a little like describing a luxury city for the time-rich, which is exactly what it is. The pool is surrounded by whirlpool tubs, there's a casino, a bar for connoisseurs of cigars and cognac, a gym, a spa with nine massage rooms, saunas, steam rooms, libraries, jewellery stores, a beauty salon ... On a tour of this ship, the theatre, known as the show lounge, is the surprise packet. It's a vast cavern deep in the belly of the Spirit with 320 spacious seats and a substantial program of theatre productions.
Guest lecturers are a crucial part of the cruise ship package _ the "enrichment program'' on Silver Spirit's current world cruise includes Terry Waite, the envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury who negotiated hostage releases in the Middle East and was himself taken hostage for 1763 days; US broadcast journalist Dan Rather; Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey.
One of the measures the cruise ship industry uses for luxury is the space-per-guest ratio. The Queen Mary II's ratio is 57.25, meaning 5725 cubic feet per passenger. Silver Spirit's ratio is even more spacious at 67.
Nearly all of the suites have a private teak veranda. We have a look at one, with its queen bed and separate sitting area; Italian marble bathroom with separate bath and shower; mirror-inset flat-screen televisions; stocked beverage chiller.
Selecting a restaurant for lunch, we dine on a tower of marinated crabmeat, char-grilled swordfish, beef tenderloin on mascarpone polenta and forest berry basket; there's Chilean chardonnay, Victorian shiraz and talk of wonderful past voyages.
It's enough to conjure up thoughts of life aboard this luxury cruise ship and dream a little of the suite life on the beautiful briny, shimmery shiny, sea.