Photologue: The Debut of Silver Nova, Amazing Design, New Spaces

The new, 728-passenger Silver Nova, the 12th ultra-luxury ship in Silversea Cruises' fleet and first in its new Nova-class, debuted in the Mediterranean last week. Luxury Travel Advisor was aboard during a short architectural preview cruise with travel industry executives, advisors and media. Sailing from Trieste, Italy, to Fusina (Venice), Italy, we attended executive presentations and toured the 54,700-ton ship.

Here's our first story in a two-part series about the new ship. Be sure to click on our slide show of original photos above, showing many public spaces and our Deluxe Veranda Suite, No. 7026. Stay tuned for a second article focused solely on the suites. Silver Nova has 13 classes of suites, seven of them new categories.

First Full Collaboration

Speaking in the ship’s Venetian Lounge, Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group (RCL), Silversea's parent company, explained that Silver Nova represents the full vision of what the company desires for the ultra-luxury brand. “In 2017, our journey started with Silversea,” Liberty noted, adding that in 2018, RCL bought two-thirds of the ultra-luxury brand, which had “always been on our radar” for both luxury and expedition cruising. Today, the line owns the brand outright, and Liberty said the focus has been “to double the size of this business and really bring the full breath and expertise of the group to Silversea.

So, he noted that while the company delivered the Silver Muse, Silver Moon and Silver Dawn to the brand over the past few years, Silver Nova was really the first opportunity for Silversea to engage with the parent company’s design team, new build team and the shipyard collectively “to really go forward and try to design the very best ship in the segment.”

He equated the Silver Nova collaborative design effort to what the company previously achieved with Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis-class in the contemporary cruise segment, and with Celebrity Cruises’ Edge-class in the premium segment. With Silver Nova, the goal was “to sit down and design the very best ship in the segment,” he emphasized.

Sporting a totally new asymmetrical design and horizontal layout, Silver Nova offers 40 percent more exterior glass than any previous class of Silversea ship. In fact, it has more than 45,000 square feet of glass. So, more light flows into the ship, and guests have more options for viewing the outside world and destinations visited across the globe. .

Elevators with floor-to-ceiling windows face the ocean and a new multi-level atrium is filled with natural light. Even the line’s theater—the Venetian Lounge—has windows along one wall. In fact, 95 percent of Silver Nova’s public spaces have glass; only three public venues don’t have windows.

“We wanted to open up this ship to world, and as you see as you walk through it, the incredible connectivity to the outside,” Liberty said. “And you can see how we brought a lot of these spaces to be even better than what they were on our other ships.”

Corporate Support, New Design

“With Silver Nova, we managed to make magic happen,” said Barbara Muckermann, president, Silversea Cruises, during her keynote address in the ship’s theater. Talking about the change in ownership a few years back, “the reality,” she said, is that “it is much easier to be the president of the luxury brand [that’s] part of the most powerful corporation in cruising today versus being the leader of a small private brand."  

In designing and building the new ship, “I think we struck the perfect balance between the heritage of the brand…and the future and the evolution of luxury,” she stressed, adding that Silversea will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2024. Heritage aside, though, a brand needs to evolve, she said, so, "we are creating a new benchmark in ultra-luxury cruising.”

From Luxury Travel Advisor’s view in walking around Silver Nova, the asymmetrically designed pool deck and the outdoor level just above that (Decks 10 and 11) are probably the ship’s most notable change. “I was very early this morning up on the pool deck...and I was thinking that on a luxury resort on a cliff, you cannot find this view,” Muckermann emphasized, adding that "this view will change all the time.”

That pool deck offers the main pool area to one side, so it's much closer to the water than in a typical top-deck ship design with the pool in the center. Guests have a new perspective of the ocean and landscapes outside, plus much better views. “So, this is what the asymmetrical design gives us,” she said.

We also admired the infinity Cliffside Whirlpool on Deck 11 above the pool area. One can get right up against the ship's side to gaze across the water. Both areas also offer plenty of loungers or casual furniture with soft cushions.

Muckermann noted that the asymmetrical design concept wasn’t easy nor cheap to build. From our perspective, invited guests across the board seemed impressed. 

New Horizontal Layout

Another new Silver Nova design element is its horizontal layout. “While is very traditional for contemporary cruising, it’s the first-time for the Silversea brand," Muckermann explained. What's the big deal? She pointed to the Venetian Lounge’s ceiling height as just one example, allowing Silversea "for the first time, to have a proper theater, where we will be able to offer real entertainment.”

The multi-level atrium is another way the horizontal layout has changed the interior space. “Our fleet is fantastic, but we never really had the most ambitious atriums because the moment when you have the suites in the public areas on the same deck, you cannot really afford that ceiling height,” she explained.  

But on Silver Nova, four decks (6, 7, 8 and 9) are completely dedicated to suites. That, in turn, allows for public spaces on other decks (3, 4 and 5, and 10 and 11 atop the ship). So, in those public spaces, the ceiling height can be extended upward, such as for the atrium or theater.

Silver Nova carries 726 guests, while the fleet's next largest ship, Silver Dawn, carries 596 guests. But Silver Nova's space equates to 75 GRTs (gross registered tonnage) per passenger, according to Muckermann. "It's the most spacious of the ships that Silversea has ever built," she says, so "even when she is full…you don’t feel it.”

Most suites on our cruise were occupied, she said. From our perspective, Luxury Travel Advisor never felt the ship was crowded. Instead, we felt it had plenty of nooks, crannies and venues, not that many people milling about, and, overall, a light, airy feel. 

The new ship’s added amenities or public spaces include The Shelter, a new lounge with a Champagne Bar; that's on the atrium area's lower level. Most notable, “the S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) eco-system is brought to a completely new level,” stresses Muckermann. Now positioned on Deck 10, the larger, redesigned S.A.L.T. Bar now has 42 seats and an expanse of windows. The S.A.L.T. Bar, while beautiful on the Muse-class ships, is much smaller, Muckermann acknowledged.

The S.A.L.T. Lab, a hands-on test kitchen with cooking classes, also has been redesigned and expanded. In addition to a new outdoor space, it has a new signature experience, The Chef’s Table. It’s a two-to-three-hour dinner, “with the whole dinner unfolding in front of you with a complete narration around the ingredients, the techniques and the dishes of the region,” she noted. “So for the culinary buff, it’s really the ultimate, the pinnacle of the S.A.L.T. experience.”

Otium Spa has been totally redesigned too. For the first time, guests will discover a modestly-sized interior pool. What hasn’t changed is the Otium Spa’s concept that fosters Roman-style indulgence rather than deprivation. “So, you’re still allowed to have both Champagne and chocolate in the spa, which is a signature of Silversea as nobody ever lost weight on our ships,” Muckermann quipped, causing laughter from the audience. 

Talking about the onboard art collection, she says it reflects what a sophisticated, world traveler would perhaps buy for their home or collect in their travels. “It’s not about how much each piece costs," but rather "how interesting these pieces are and what kind of memories they really represent for the travelers. And I really think we achieved that. They’re quirky. They’re interesting. They’re weird and they’re just sublime.”

Those who sail in the next few months may not see the complete art collection. Muckermann said many pieces were still due to arrive, given global supply chain issues. But those pieces are coming. 

Silver Nova debuts in Trieste, Italy, in mid-August 2023. Photo by Susan J. Young.

Suites and "Included" Dining

When it comes to suites, there are many differences. “Of course, the fact that it’s a horizontal layout, opens up the aft part of the ship for the first time in our history,” Muckermann said. “And that opens up the possibility of torturing our guests with new creature comforts that they didn’t even think about before." So, for the first time, Silversea is offering a private pool in the ship's top Otium Suite. 

“We could never do that on the rest of the fleet, because of course, most of our bigger suites were in the front of the ship, and you don’t really want to have a pool in the front of the ship while she’s sailing,” said Muckermann. Luxury Travel Advisor will cover all the new suite categories in our second story later this week.

As for dining, Silver Nova has six restaurants at which dining is included in the cruise fare. First, there's the 340-seat La Terrazza, the casual buffet restaurant for lunch and dinner; which transforms into a fine Italian restaurant nightly. The attractive main dining room is the 270-seat Atlantide, which sports rich, red décor. Plus, there's the 170-seat S.A.L.T. Kitchen; which serves both a regional menu focused on the itinerary plus an even more immersive option—dishes from the port visited that specific day.

Other included dining venues are the 54-seat Silver Note, which has live evening entertainment; it has a supper club feel. The new 220-passenger Marquee encompasses two specific venues—The Grill and Spaccanapoli. 

“This is offering the highest ratio of ‘included restaurants’ per passenger of the industry,” Muckermann told the audience. Plus, there is 24-hour room service dining and a favorite spot of many passengers, the reception area's Arts Cafe with light snacks, sandwiches, fruit and sweet treats..

Three Specialty Restaurants

On top of that, Silver Nova has three completely revisited specialty dining venues. First, there's the 40-seat Kaiseki, a Japanese and sushi eatery; it's complimentary at lunchtime. At dinner, the $80 per person charge includes dining plus an exclusive selection of sakes, Japanese whiskeys, tea cocktails and a tea selection.

The new S.A.L.T. Chef's Table specialty dining experience unfolds at the S.A.L.T. Lab. It's only in the evening and the $180 per person charge includes a fixed tasting menu with included wine and cocktail pairings. 

The third specialty venue is the popular French fine dining restaurant, the 70-seat La Dame. Much has been recently posted—some negative comments on consumer boards—about the increased cost of Silver Nova’s specialty dining, especially at La Dame. Dinner now costs $160 per person and includes an exclusive selection of wines. But in addition to that, there are two other add-on options that create a higher priced specialty dining experience.

For an extra $90 per person, guests also will receive a connoisseur wine collection. Muckermann described that as a new “wine journey” designed by the line’s wine ambassador. It covers the main wine regions of France and with more pricey vintages. And for an additional $140 per person, guests can also opt for a vintage Champagne experience by Moet Hennessey. 

Originally, Silversea charged for the specialty dining because of capacity of the seating; that's still the case to some extent. It helps control demand. When asked about La Dame’s specialty dining pricing, Muckermann says that Venetian Society past guests now receive their first reservation at their choice of any of the specialty restaurants at no added cost. So, while overall the specialty dining prices are higher, loyal past guests will get that one freebie.

And Silverseaa stressed that the pricing run-down mentioned above only applies to Silver Nova. 

Parting Thoughts

On board Silver Nova, we found the crew exceptional in terms of ultra-luxury service and attention to detail. Keeping crew members happy is important to delivery of the guest experience. So, the line enhanced the crew areas. For example, there is a crew spa and much larger crew gym. “The crew gym on this ship is bigger than the passenger gym of some of other ships,” noted Muckermann.

Overall, Luxury Travel Advisor's view is that Silver Nova offers the best of both worlds. It's bigger than the line's other ships, but it's also not humongous. It delivers the highest guest-to-space ratio of any ship in Silversea's fleet. Yet, it also delivers more venues and public spaces. Plus, as Muckermann noted, it has a open, airy interior design that creates the "whisper of Italian luxury" and ambience. Best of all, it still offers that small-ship intimacy, high-end service and style that Silversea’s guests have come to expect.  

Related Articles

Mind, Body, Soul: Spas at Sea

The Best December Voyages for Holiday Travel

Silversea Gains Environmental Certification in the Galapagos

Polar Journeys: Sailings to the Ends of the Earth