With over 30 years in the incentive travel space, every trip I take, business or personal, is viewed through the lens of how it could work for incentive groups. This post is a snapshot of what we experienced on an 11-day sail aboard the Silversea Silver Moon. A 2020 addition to the Silversea fleet, the Silver Moon carries 596 passengers and a crew of 400+ and defines luxury and service at sea— delivering the perfect combination for a successful incentive reward. It also confirmed my feelings about our experience on a 2018 9-day Mediterranean sail aboard the Silversea Silver Muse, celebrating the 20th anniversary of a close industry friend, Jonathan Richards, with Maui Jim and his wife, Susann. Michele and I loved it, and our 2023 sailing only reinforced that feeling.
We boarded in Lisbon on October 6, 2023, and disembarked 11 days later, on October 17, in Barcelona. In-between were ports of call of Cadiz, Spain; Gibraltar; Tangier, Morocco; Casablanca, Morocco; Malaga, Spain; Cartagena, Spain; Valencia, Spain; Porto Mahon (on the Spanish island of Menorca, part of the Balearic Islands); and ultimately Barcelona, Spain.
A quick side note – Lisbon was amazing! We'd not been before but will be returning in the future. Charming and friendly, we loved the destination and our hotel, Le Consulat. Housed in a 300+-year-old building that once was the home of the Brazilian Embassy, it sits at the top of one of the city's squares with the most fantastic seafood restaurant, Sea Me, just around the corner. Ask for Claudia as your server, you won't be disappointed. And make a point to extend a day or so once you arrive in Barcelona. We stayed at the ME Barcelona. A hip and well-located hotel with retail, restaurants and more, just out the door. Memories from both cities will linger.
Every port of call had its personality and delivered a memorable experience. As part of the cruise, there were a host of complimentary excursions to participate in, with activity levels ranging from very low to very active. It was up to the guests to decide what was best for them.
What became one of the highlights of each day was the 4:30 PM trivia contest. The lounge was full of individual teams, some sailing together and some just meeting the day before and marching together for the next few days to test their knowledge against the rest. I have to say; while my team – all friends and longtime clients that we'd traveled with many times in the past – had good answers for every trivia question, they tended not to be the correct answer. Disappointing on one level but great fun on another. It didn't stop us from returning for another round each day. Of course, sipping complimentary wine, champagne, and cocktails took the sting out of not winning. Our disappointment was short-lived, as raising our class for a refill made us forget our performance in the contest, and the conversation quickly turned to our dinner plans for the evening.
Food outlets were plentiful and varied, with a total of 9 options. Upscale French/fine dining, Italian, Mediterranean, Asian, tapas, hot-rocks cook your own steaks and seafood, pizza, steakhouse, sushi, and sashimi. Something for everyone, and all of it done well, delivering exceptional food and over-the-top service. There was no wrong choice, just which option suited your palate that evening. Decisions, Decisions.
And what can I say about our cabin? Whether turning in for a good night's sleep, sitting on our balcony enjoying some quiet time, or marveling at the size of our bathroom with a separate tub and shower, it always got better with a knock at our door. It was almost always our butler, Rigil (pronounced like Nigel), checking in to see if we needed anything. Also notable was our housekeeper, Jennifer. A few days into the cruise, Michele, my wife, got bronchitis and spent the next couple of days taking it easy in the cabin. Michele had everything she needed between Rigil and Jennifer and never once had to ask. They anticipated everything. That is 5-star service.
I think the day we boarded and immediately went to lunch set the tone for service on the cruise. The maitre'd was an engaging fellow from Galway, Ireland – Ronan. He set the tone for what was to come. Then the following day, I went to the coffee shop for our morning lattes and met Yulia, a young woman from Ukraine. Friendly, with a bit of a no-nonsense manner, she made things happen. The servers responded to her directions, and the guests were happy. I know I was. Her smile and daily greeting made my day. And then there was Jovi (not Bon Jovi, like the rock star, she told us with a smile), the sommelier. Always smiling, making you glad you came across her.
There is so much more to say, but I think the best way to understand and appreciate what I'm talking about is to experience it yourself.
Don't be put off by the notion that a cruise can't deliver a unique experience and create treasured memories. Let me assure you, you would be wrong. And while I'm specifically talking about one ship and one cruise line in this post, you should know that I've experienced all levels of cruising, from the mega-ships to the smaller and more personal ones. Each has a place in your conversations, depending on your group's size, budget, and expectations. And depending on group size, with a buyout, your itineraries and days at sea can be adjusted. Regular sailings are as short as seven days.
Want to know more? I'm always happy to share my experiences, so don't hesitate to contact me with questions.
And don't forget that the team at GlobauxSource and our cruise partner, Karen Devine, and 3D Destinations stand ready to help you make an informed decision and work to ensure your and your group's satisfaction.