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Comparison of Royal Plantation and Silver Whisper

Author: Host DebbieH103
Date of Trip: June 2001

This is a comparison of our recent experience on Silversea Silver Whisper with our overall experiences at Royal Plantation. We’ve stayed at Royal Plantation 8 times and went another time on a day pass and have stayed in every category except the villa since 2001 when they opened as Royal Plantation. We plan a July, 2006 return. On Silversea, we stayed in a midship veranda suite. We plan a February, 2007 return to Silversea, this time sailing on Silver Wind. This is going to be difficult to write since not everything is apples to apples, but bear with me.

Venue Introduction
Royal Plantation is a Leading Small Hotel of the World and also a member of the Leading Spas of the World, the only hotel in Jamaica to receive such an award, and they are also 5-star Diamond AHSS recipients. They are now members of Elegant Resorts as well. The hotel is a boutique property with 77 suites situation near Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Staff to guest ratio is quite high, and personal attention is at a high level at almost all times. While the hotel has a lot of continental features, there is also Jamaican charm evident. Royal Plantation began as an all-inclusive property (I am, for this review ignoring all the years the property existed as the popular Plantation Inn). It now offers a choice of all-inclusive vs. European Plan. We stick with the all-inclusive (Royal) plan.

Silver Whisper is a small luxury ship that holds 382 passengers. The roots are Italian, and staff members were European and Asian, for the most part. Service was slanted toward European customs. Silversea scores very high in a number of surveys, notably Conde Naste. You will see higher scores in surveys for service (and also for other luxury lines) than you will for resorts with similar class and perhaps better service. It is just the way it is.

What is included
The Royal Plan at Royal Plantation includes transfers by private car. An in-room bar with a number of liquors, beers, wine and champagne, along with mixers is provided in every room category. Spa treatments are extra, but the steam rooms are complimentary.

The included liquor is premium brands. For beer, they have Red Stripe or Heinekin. The sparkling wine is either a local or a decent tasting French. They have several house wines — 4 to 6 white and 4 to 6 reds. They do have premium wines available, and at dinner, a wine list is usually provided. Vueve Cliquot, Mumms, etc. are not included in the cost. Caviar is available at the C bar in an elaborate setup or anywhere you choose, but this is not included. Also, a real pet peeve of mine is that they charge a $10 room service delivery charge per room meal. This really is my only thing I do not like about the property at all.

Tipping is included in the Royal Plan. You sign for items but never pay extra for them. You can add additional gratuities at that time or leave envelopes for staff at the end of your stay.

Silversea does not include the transfers. On our trip, they offered a transfer in private car for $55 per person with baggage handling and then $19.50 pp for van transfer on the return, plus additional cost per bags. They also offer options like shipping your bags from your house to the ship at a reasonable cost. We chose to do our own transfers and did pay $19.50 each way plus $2.50 for our bags, then we tipped driver and also tipped a guy at the pier to bring bags to the ship. It still did not add up to $110 but likely wasn’t the same level of service. Tipping is included. Champagne such as Mumms and Vueve Cliquot are included, as is caviar, though it is now from the Mississippi River due to some new import laws. Some people do tip, but it is suggested that you give to the staff fund instead, if you desire. There are never any room service charges on Silversea.

Check-in and Check-out Policies
I covered the transfers, so I will start with check-in.

At Royal Plantation, the official check-in is at 3 p.m. Your room may or may not be ready before that time. However, vacation at Royal starts the moment you step off the curb and are welcomed home, so you are free to dine or enjoy any other public areas of the property as soon as you arrive. There is no extra charge to arrive early. Upon departure, you will often need to vacate your room at the regular checkout time (11 or 12) but can sometimes extend an hour with a phone call if the resort is not too full. You can vacate your room and stay until your bus departure time (about 4 hours before your flight, at least) without an extra charge.

When you arrive, you are greeted by staff and whisked a few steps to the lobby where house champagne or any other cocktail is offered, along with an ice cold towel. Check-in is always personal and relaxing, and it is at this point I always get the feeling I am at home ready to just melt into my surroundings.

On Silver Whisper, the suggested arrival time for embarkation was 3-5 p.m. on most cruises. Sometimes, they offer early embarkation or late debarkation (no late debarkation in U.S. ports) for $100 pp. We arrived at 11:25 and were allowed to pay $100 pp to board. This allowed us the opportunity to use public areas, get our suite before noon and have a 5 course lunch, along with cocktails or soft drinks.

We had to vacate our suite by 8:30 and debark the ship at 9:50 when our color was called.

This is a very difficult one. There is no doubt that dollar for dollar, the suites at RP would beat those on Silversea for size and features, but comparing Silversea to its competitors, it is the best in class. So, let’s talk more about features and amenities.

Every suite at Royal Plantation has either a French or “regular” balcony. The regular balconies start in the 4th category. All suites have a sitting area. They all have a stocked fridge that is much larger than those on Silversea. All have a table of some sort for in-room dining.

All suites at Royal Plantation have electronic safes. The closets are all different sizes, depending on the suite. They are never huge. The premiums do have a decent sized closet. The 3rd category and higher rooms have jet tubs and separate showers. The first two categories have a combo shower and tub. The beds are Sealy king (or you can get a luxury with two large twins) and are VERY comfortable, and they include very nice duvets. They also have a lovely pillow menu available in all rooms.

The rooms all have satellite television with a number of channels. They offer room service 24 hours with a variety of nice choices. They come with lovely, thick robes to use during the stay and slippers. Toiletries include shampoo and conditioner with a tropical scent and lemongrass body lotion, along with aloe vera gel. They also include French milled soap. All of these are the resort’s brand. Last stay, we were in the top suite and had bath salts. I don’t know if all rooms have this now or not. Rooms get larger and larger, and when they have a sale, these upper rooms are a very good value Like on Silversea, they book up way in advance.

Silversea has two class of ships — the 382 passenger Shadow and Whisper and the 295 passenger Wind and Cloud. On Whisper and Shadow, all suites have a separate shower and double marble sink. There is a separate sitting area with a coffee table that can be converted to a dining table easily, small stocked fridge, liquor cabinet, TV/VCR plus DVD player, daily fruit. The TV only gets news and ship channels, but they offer 4 channels with late run movies (free) and also a library of movies.

The bed can be queen or twin. They have nice duvets and also a pillow menu. They offer the Acqua di Palma toiletries from Milan. We were given shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, glycerin soap and milled soap. The former toiletries were Bvulgari, and our stewardess brought us a full set of these, as well.

All suites have at least a large picture window, and there is a curtain that can be drawn between the sitting area and the living area. Eighty percent of suites have balconies. The balconies have two adjustable lounges and a small end table. Those suites have glass floor to ceiling. Te Silver Wind and Cloud have a smaller bathroom with shower incorporated in the tub and a single marble sink. The Silversea suites have a large walk-in closet with electronic safe. Ours had built-in shoe and tie rack and a chest of drawers. Thick terry robes are provided, as are slippers. The Silversea suites come with fruit, replenished as needed. Room service with no fees is available 24 hours, and during meal hours, you can also get the restaurant menu ensuite. They are always willing to set it up beautifully, and you can get dinner served course by course at no additional charge.

Public Areas
This is tough to compare in a resort with approximately 160 guests maximum vs. a ship with 382 guest maximum.

Royal Plantation has a lovely gathering spot, the Appleton lounge. Here, you can sit in air conditioned comfort and order from the extensive martini menu or any other premium drink you want or from the house wines. They have peanuts or sometimes mixed nuts (should be all the time!). You can sit in the cushy chairs or hang up at the bar with the bartenders and chat. Sometimes, there is a pianist there.

Royal Plantation has a nice game room with billiards, board games, a nice TV/DVD player and a small honor system library. As late as December, they had pay as you go internet there, but now the rooms all offer high speed internet, so I don’t know if they kept this terminal or not.

Outside of the Appleton Lounge is the tea terrace. This is a lovely place. They have a nice tea time at 4 pm daily, included for even EP guests. They have scones, finger sandwiches, tarts, etc., along with a number of teas. You can always have sparkling wine or whatever else they offer. They usually have the manager’s cocktail party on the tea terrace, and the mento band will play there. We’ve seen other entertainers here, also. Lots of people sit out here and just chat, relax, etc. during the day or evening.

The resort has a patio beyond the terrace where some people sit in the evening for cocktails or while the evening show is playing or just to rest and look at the pool or ocean. The pool and hot tub area is very nice. There is a two-level hot tub, one level flowing into the other. The pool may seem small, but it is large enough for the number of guests, you will never see more than 6 people there, and it was almost as large as the pool on Whisper, I think. It is the only heated pool in Jamaica, but they only heat it upon request. This came in handy a couple of times in December. They have a very nice drawing room with a grande piano. They use this sometimes for wedding receptions, repeat guest parties, tea with interesting local lecturers, and the like.

The gift shop offers local souvenirs and some nice things like scented candles, perfume, etc. They sell local rum and coffee and logo wear and beachwear. I’d like to see more jewelry and some other more upscale shopping offerings somewhere on the property. The gift shop doubles as the tour desk.

The concierge desk is off of the lobby and is a place where you can see the restaurant menus. You can make reservations if you desire. At the front desk, you can get a fax NY Times daily.

The spa and beauty salon offer a large variety of treatments, and they have extensive hours. It is fairly easy to get an appointment. They have lovely steam rooms and nice changing facilities. The services offered include hydrotherapy, and they have an emphasis on natural ingredients throughout the program. Service here is very good. They offer tea or water and will help you into the steam room, provide nice robes and slippers, lockers, etc.

The resort has a great conference center. We even got the GM to arrange an Easter service there a couple of years ago. The resort also has tennis courts lit for night play, and you can attend included lessons or engage the pro to play with you. There is a small fitness center with adequate equipment for the few guests that use it. If you want organized classes, you have the ability to go next door to Sandals Ocho Rios for some outstanding fitness classes that are offered a number of times each day. At Royal Plantation, they do have yoga on the pier, weather permitting.

Royal Plantation has two beaches, east and west. If you want a beach where you walk for miles, you will be disappointed, but at Royal, you will be offered mango mimosas in the morning, fruit will be brought around, you might get rose mist, and they will offer drink service at the beaches and the pool/hot tub.

You have to be down at one of the two piers at the property or one of the 3 rooms at the end of the west room block to see the sunset or out in the ocean. They are beautiful, but most already have gone to their room by then to get ready for dinner. You can see sunrise around most of the property part of the year, and at other times, it is too far east and behind things. When you do see it, it is over the water and very beautiful.

On the Whisper, there are a number of public areas besides the restaurants. They have self launderettes, which include the supplies needed. This is all complimentary. We did not use them on this 4 night trip but would likely use them even on a week-long cruise. On deck 5, they had a jewelry store and another boutique. These are not open while in port, so you have to make a conscious effort to go there when they are open. We did not do that, so I can only comment on what I saw through the window. It all looked inviting at least for a look. When I needed batteries, the concierge was able to get me some from her “stash” and charge to my room on a couple of minutes notice.

Deck 5 also has the casino. This also is not open when the ship is in port. We went there the two nights that the ship left port at 6. They have blackjack ($10 minimum), roulette ($2 minimum inside and $10 minimum outside) and a number of slots. We really enjoyed the table games tremendously. The nights we were there, everyone that wanted to play was able to get a spot. There were both high and low rollers there. They have a very nice small bar next to the casino, The Grappa, and the waitress there also services the tables in the casino. Also on 5 is the main bar. In the evenings, they have some of the entertainment there, even before dinner. The seating is very comfortable at tables or people can enjoy sitting up at the bar. They have some other things here, such as lectures and the main check-in.

The show lounge cascades down from deck 6 to deck 5 and has very nice chairs and tables. There isn’t a bad seat there. They do have drink service there, but it isn’t fast enough for the number of guests there, and in all 4 nights, we never got waited on, though most did. They have production shows here and also things like the lifeboat drill and check-out. On deck 7, there is a nice conference room and a nice card room. They had bridge get-togethers in the card room.

On deck 8, they have a nice library and internet center. They have about 6 internet machines or you can use your own wifi in a number of areas. They have VHS tapes that you can take right there on an honor basis, or you can get the DVD box and take it to reception. Also, daily, they have a soduko puzzle and crossword available here. They have chess and a group puzzle here. There are a number of books available and also scanned full versions of newspapers, not just the sample pages like hotels have. There were oceanviews from this room and plenty of places to sit. Deck 8 also had the panorama lounge. During the day, you can sit inside or outside and they have lots of places to sit. In the mornings, there is juice and pastries. During the day, there is full (elegant) bar service — walk-up and get nuts and wait for drink or sit in your seat and let the lovely waitress bring drinks from the menu or whatever you ask for. If you order wine here, they explain what it is. This is the location of the afternoon tea, which features scones, pastries and sandwiches. In the evening, they have dancing to different types of music, even if something is going on in the bar lounge. This is a lovely room, and I bet many never discover it.

Deck 8 has the pool. The pool is salt-water. It will be empty when you board the ship and filled that evening. They have two hot tubs there that are also filled the first evening. They were perfect temperatures the whole trip. Service is offered at all of these locations, and there are loungers all over. There are two showers, one at each hot tub, and they are an actual shower stall.

There are a lot of tables on either side of the pool, and you can get some shade there. This is part of the meal service I will discuss in another section. There is a very nice pool bar. Lots of people stop by here, but it is usually quiet and a good place to go for soft drinks, too. They have a nice setup and offer premium drinks, a selection of wine and also sparkling and regular water. They come around with service on this deck and deck 9 to offer drinks, water mist, and cold towels during the day. This area is also a place for sailing parties sometimes, and they have the pool bbq out here sometimes.

On deck 9, they have the jogging/walking track. They set out a cooler of water here. This is very popular. You can sun or shade lounge here, too. On this deck, they also have the golf cage for practice. Clubs and balls are provided. On deck 10, the spa is there. They have nice facilities, and they have tea and reading material if you wait. They also have the beauty salon. I think they have a sauna and steam room,

The fitness center on 10 has two sides, the room with machines and the room for classes. The room with machines had enough to offer for those in attendance, and they kept towels and bottled water. There were headsets provided for the TVs, and I saw an ipod and a few other gadgets laying around for guests. They offered yoga, pilates, weight toning, step, and wellness lectures during my stay, and the setup was very nice. Deck 10 has a large observation lounge. They had pastries and juices or coffee and tea here and a number of games and books. The view here was spectacular, and you could go to the deck outside for photo ops, also. Restaurants

Royal Plantation only serves 77 rooms, but they have several dining choices. You can dine for all 3 meals at Bayside. Sometimes, meals are inside, other times, they are on the restaurant’s covered patio, and others, they are out on the patio next to the entertainment gazebo. A flambé option is available most nights. Sometimes this is done indoors, other times it is outdoors. Bayside has a dress code, but it is never fancier than slacks or sundress type wear. Meals at Bayside are almost always a la carte except for a jazz brunch once a month and an elegant bbq once a week.

Le Papillon at Royal Plantation is a fancier option than Bayside, and meals may linger 2 ½ or 3 hours at times vs. 1 ½ to 2 at Bayside. This is dressier, and they have a jacket policy, but it is often relaxed due to the Caribbean heat, etc. There is a Caviar bar here, but it is not included in the all-inclusive plan. Royal Café is a beachside option. They have a la carte lunches for those that do not want to leave the beach. This is no beach grill. Food here is excellent quality. No need to get further than a beach coverup here, and you can get served in your beach chair or at the pool, too. No regular menu items have a surcharge at Royal Plantation, only the caviar bar does, and also, you can have a private dinner at the gazebo for an extra charge.

Silver Whisper has buffets offered for breakfast and lunch in La Terraza. At night, this is an Italian themed restaurant. Reservations are required, and seating is limited. We could not get in. Le Champagne on Silver Whisper costs $150 pp and offers multi-courses paired with premium wines. Royal Plantation offers something similar as an option to any guests that want it. I think this captains table option is still available.

The Restaurant offers a la carte meals at all three meals. Dress code varies on different nights and is posted the night before. Generally, there will be two formal nights a week and two casual nights and 3 informal nights. The informal night is more formal than any night at Royal Plantation. I’ll discuss the meals around the venues first and then mention room service as a separate item.

Breakfast at Royal Plantation takes place in the Bayside, either on the terrace overlooking the ocean or inside, as you choose. Menus are always a la carte except for a monthly Sunday Jazz Brunch that is quite extensive. The menu features many items. You can get eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, omelets, potatoes, eggs benedict, steak and eggs, smoked salmon, papaya, pineapple, grapefruit. You can also get blueberry pancakes, French toast, waffles. There are Jamaican specialties, also. Daily there is a resort breakfast special. I’ve often had either shrimp or lobster scrambled eggs on a toasted bagel. There is a variety of juices, champagne and mimosas. They also have coffee and a variety of teas. They have wonderful pastries, including chocolate croissants. They offer cereal and yogurt.

On Silver Whisper, we only had breakfast in the room or at the buffet. They offer a la carte breakfast, which would have been my preference. The buffet was somewhat small but very good. They had lunchmeat and cheeses, fruits (including berries), scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, Canadian bacon, ham, Dutch ham, Belgian waffles, potatoes, bagels, muffins, Danishes. They also had hot and cold cereal and eggs to order. They offer fresh squeezed juices. Juices and pastries are also available in the lounges. I particularly enjoyed the fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.

Royal Plantation’s lunches are a highlight of the day.

Many guests choose to dine at Royal Café for lunch. This restaurant is usually open from 11-4, and they have great dishes either at tables by the beach or from your chair. Every day, they start your meal with homemade chips and salsa. There is always a special of the day and always a soup of the day. Soups are usually just great. We’ve had pumpkin, red pea, broccoli, conch, pepperpot, crème crey, gazpacho and many others. They have great stuff here — lobster blts, market salads with fabulous mango dressing, seafood in papaya, jerk quesadillas, jerk ribs, salmon croissant. Often they have mussels. Sometimes it is oysters. They have prime beef burgers with a lot of toppings. They also offer things like crab cakes, coconut shrimp, and Jamaican patties. On our last visit, I had them making a lobster Greek salad every day that I’d discovered at the other restaurant. They also have an ice cream menu.

Up at Bayside, we always have a feast for lunch. Sometimes, they have had a fetuccini alfredo with chicken as a special, and most stays, Todd asks for this even though it isn’t on the menu. He has been known to order it several days. The menu is multi-course. We usually have most courses. They have gazpacho every day and wonderful soups of the day. They have bruschetta , melon cocktail in port, papaya with seafood, and fried calamari as appetizers. These change from time to time, but you will get the idea. Salad might be smoked marlin with greens, Caesar, greens with mango dressing, Greek with lobster, conch salad, or fruit and cheese. You can get sandwiches such as shaved turkey on Kaiser or crab salad on wheat or a burger. Most will have the entrée type items like English fish and chips, mixed seafood grill (usually salmon, lobster, scallops and shrimp with wonderful veggies and rice or something equally as good), Weinerschnitzel, sirloin steak, a pasta special, seafood crepes (lobster, scallops, salmon, etc), grilled mahi mahi, lamb curry, filet mignon benedict, chicken breast. I left out the soups, which are high caliber, similar to at the beach but not always the same, usually not and always wonderful. Dessert is things like sorbet of the day, key lime pie, almond tulip with rum and pineapple cream, white chocolate cheesecake. Difference in this and the cruise, is most things are offered daily, and then they add specials. There were vegetarian dishes, also.

On Silver Whisper, lunch can be had a la carte at the restaurant or by buffet at La Terraza or burgers and such at the poolside. The a la carte lunch was great. We had salad-Caesar for Todd and field greens with balsamic for me. The soup was cauliflower, I think. Very good. I had grilled flounder, while Todd had a filet. For dessert, I had crème brulee and a cup of fresh mixed berries, while Todd had ice cream. This was one of our best meals of the cruise. Lunch at the buffet was better one day than the other day. This tended to feature some of the a la carte lunch items. They had a small salad bar daily or some beautifully done salads, lunchmeats, beautiful cheeses. They also served smoked salmon and sushi. They had items such as lasagna, beef schezwan style (great), lemon fish, grilled vegetables, gazpacho, pumpkin soup, raspberry chilled soup, carved chicken, crisp and delicious pizzas,. The pool offered things like burgers and hot dogs, onion rings, etc. and some wraps. I thought some more upscale items were needed.

The main restaurant at Royal Plantation is Bayside. Nightly, dinner will either be outside or inside, depending on the entertainment or the weather. Everything here is a la carte and in courses. The menu is extensive, and there are chef specials of the day. We have been through 4 chefs there, and I think they are on the 5th now. Dishes have always been wonderful. Here are some examples. For appetizer, dishes such as smoked salmon and crab timbale, satay trio, melon cocktail with port, shrimp cocktail, proscuitto with tropical fruits, frog legs, pot stickers, duck terrine with tropical fruit salad. For soups, they bring a nice silver terrine. They have gazpacho and conch chowder every day and lovely soups of the day that are thick but not rich, the way I like. Pumpkin is our favorite. You can always get a market salad or a Caesar, and they have had others such as goat cheese salad, etc. The entrees are extensive. I love the veal dishes, with veal marsala being my favorite when they have it. They have tenderloin, lamb dishes, chicken dishes, broiled mahi mahi, grilled tiger shrimp, duck, ostrich, etc. at times. Presentation is excellent. For dessert, there are always several choices.

An often overlooked dining option at Royal Plantation is the Flambé restaurant. This must be reserved in advance but is fairly easy to get into. When you reserve, you pick what you are going to have. It is all show cooking. When we dined there last year, they had beef carpaccio or crab salad for the first course. We had the crab salad. Next, they made a flamed seafood bisque that was very good. The salad was a classic Caesar prepared tableside. For dinner, the choices were shrimp, lamb or beef mignons. We tried the beef and shrimp. The beef was just excellent. For dessert, they offered Italian eggs with marsala mousse, crepe Grande Marnier with vanilla ice cream, bananas foster with coconut ice cream, and very popular flamed coffees.

Le Papillon is the more formal restaurant at Royal Plantation. They have often been jackets required, but sometimes this is relaxed due to the Caribbean heat. A meal here can be had indoors or outside overlooking the Bayside terrace where you can view the show if one is going on. A meal here will take 2-3 ½ hours. Different chefs have had a different emphasis the last 5 years. They have had continental, seafood or French. All are always on the menu, and some chefs feature more of one than the other. Here are some things we’ve seen for appetizers: Caribbean crab cakes, marinated princess conch, peppered tuna sashimi with papaya salad, smoked salmon in puff pastry, shrimp and saffron risotto, marinated octopus, steamed mussels, frogs legs, shrimp cocktail, escargot. For soup, we’ve seen Bermuda fish chowder, hot and sour with wontons and shrimp, crayfish bisque, bouillabaisse, gazpacho of ox heart tomato. For salads, we’ve seen dishes such as Royal Caesar with jerk conch, ahi tuna nicoise. Organic salad with beets and goat cheese, tomato Napoleon wth bammies and mozzarella, baby spinach Caesar with king crab meat, organic greens with walnuts, bacon and boiled egg in red wine vinaigrette. For the entrée, there are things such as roast Caribbean lobster, tiger shrimps grilled Atlantic Salmon with baby asparagus, Dover sole with baby shrimp and asparagus, blackened swordfish with garbanzo beans and citrus butter, medallions of veal, broiled lamb chops with mint jelly, pan seared scallops with capers, pan seared chicken, venison, pan fried black grouper with white truffle sauce, grilled Black Angus sirloin with Café de Paris butter and Portobello mushrooms, Mexican style red snapper, pan seared grouper, and marinated wild pheasant. Dessert is things like Baileys cheese cake, chocolate parfait with fruit, trio of banana with banana mousse, raspberry mouse, banana crème brulee with carmelized banana, liquid center chocolate cake with Appleton rum ice crème, lemon tart with raspberry sauce, poached peach with vanilla ice cream, and also they have petite fours.

Dinner on Silver Whisper is available in The Restaurant a la carte without reservations. You can dine on gourmet Italian regional delights at La Terraza. They have limited seating nightly, and we could not get in during our entire cruise. Le Champagne offers multi-course dining with premium wine pairings per course. This is $150 per guest.

My Silver Whisper dinner review will be all about The Restaurant. Some of the seafood items were cut during our cruise even though menus were placed in our suite. This didn’t make me happy, but there were many good things to eat. For appetizers, there were items such as king prawns with Indian spices, melon and pear timbale, fresh berries in Blue Curacao, pan-fried goose liver with poached plum, always a pasta dish a Greek salad inside a tomato, seared salmon with avocado salsa, mango, papaya and pineapple medley, goat cheese ravioli, gnocci, asparagus ravioli. My favorite soup was a celeriac apple soup. We had a celery one, a cauliflower one, pumpkin and carrot, and cauliflower that were fabulous. I had a great gazpacho, and Todd had a couple of the consommés that he liked. I had a red onion and ginger one that was just fantastic. I didnt try the chilled fruit soups, but I hear they are great. They always had mixed greens with balsamic and Caesar with anchovies. There were others, but we stuck with these two. For entrees, I always had fish, and Todd always had a beef dish. Some dishes included beef tenderloin with cilantro dressing, Weiner schnitzel, grilled sirloin steak, poached Atlantic salmon, broiled halibut with red wine reduction, leg of lamb, charred chicken breast, lobster thermidor, pan fried sea bass, roasted prime rib, crispy roasted duck, pork chop in herb butter, poached izumi dai, beef bourgninne, pan fried pompano, beef fillet, veal osco busso. They had a cheese a fruit cart nightly, homemade ice cream, sorbet, various cakes and other desserts and always petit fours.

Wine is always available at meals at both resort and ship, as are premium other drinks. You’ll sample a wider variety of included wines on Silversea, but at RP, you will at least get a menu! Both have premium wines for sale. Silversea has a sommelier on board.

Royal Plantation’s 24 hour room service is extensive. You can get omelets 24 hours a day, as well as many other classic fare items. From lunch until late evening, you can get multi-course meals. We’ve ordered steaks, lobster, shrimp cocktail, soups, salads, etc.

Silver Whisper had a nice menu. They had the room service breakfast cards, as does Royal Plantation, but like Royal you can just call also. They have extensive choices that are offered served course by course,and during restaurant hours, you can order off their menu (previewed in your suite each day). We used this for breakfast two days and I used it for lunch one day. The pizza margherita was the best pizza I have ever had at a vacation venue. I also had double shrimp cocktail and a marvelous salad.

At meals at Bayside, you will see women in capris, pant suits and dresses. Men will be in khakis and either polo or button down shirts with usually deck shoes. At Le Papillon, a few men will wear ties. Some wear jackets (sometimes required, but loaners are available). Women will wear dresses or slacks but nobody wears formal wear.

On Silver Whisper, casual nights involve slacks or dresses for women, khakis with polo or button down shirts for men or casual jackets. On informal nights, men wear jackets, tie optional. Women wear pant suits and dresses, smart resort wear. On formal nights, women wear cocktail dresses or evening gowns or nicer dresses with accessories or fancy pantsuits. Men wear dark suits and ties, dark dinner jackets or tuxedos. On formal nights, you can dine at La Terazza if you can get in or in your suite, and you can wear informal wear in public areas that night if it meets the informal dress code I described. Generally at 6 or 7 on formal night, you should not be running around in your resort casual wear.

Comparisons of the bbqs
Royal Plantation’s bbq usually has Caribbean lobster on the grill, in season, shrimp, grilled fish, grilled steak, a carved meat, salads, including seafood, soup, and desserts such as strawberry mousse, crème brulee, and bananas foster.

The Silversea buffet was small and not my favorite. They had appetizers at each table-pizza, canapés, etc. The buffet had make your own tacos, a carved pig, lobster claw paella, ribs, chicken and steak. Ice cream was available, with a number of toppings. They had fruits and cheeses and a number of desserts.

Royal Plantation has a Sunday Jazz brunch once a month that is very nice, and Silversea sometimes has a galley brunch where they open the kitchen and serve items around there in a buffet fashion.

Activities and Entertainment
The activities at Royal Plantation are light. They have a cooking demo, a cigar rolling, hot cocoa demo, yoga, tennis, a fitness center (for organized classes, go next door to Sandals), billiards, afternoon tea. Golf with green fees and transportation and a local waterfall tour are included. They have a pianist or the mento band at their activites such as afternoon tea and weekly manager’s cocktail party. The mento band plays at lunch and at the weekly bbq. They often have a flutist, steel band, singers that do jazz, adult contemporary or local favorites. They sometimes have costumed dancers in a local theme. Tennis is available with the pro, and the courts are available at night. They have glass-bottom boat tours and snorkeling included, as well as diving included. You can take hobie cats out or kayaks or sunfish. Instruction is included.

Silversea has daily activities such as group trivia, golf putting contests, a golf putting cage, a walking/running track Fitness classes such as Pilates, yoga, body toning, and step are offered every day, and there is a cardio room with machines. There are also fitness lectures. Needlepoint was offered during afternoon tea. They also had shuffleboard contests and table tennis tournaments. Some of the activities gave points. We claimed two money clips and a memo holder. These activities are quiet and not loud or annoying. They also have dancing in the lounges — sometimes it is 60s music to an electric piano or it might be ballroom tunes or disco dancing. The pool bbq had salsa and party dance tunes. Nightly there was a production show with costumed dancers. Some cruises have a magician, and they always have lectures. There is also a casino that is open at night when not in port that offers black jack, roulette, and slot machines. They have an excellent golf program where you can play with the pro. This costs extra, as do the shore excursions offered in port. They had a sailing party one night with a few appetizers and a welcome cocktail party.

Both resort and ship have board games available and videos and books for loan. This is much more extensive on Silversea. Silversea also has an outstanding program where they show movies in room that probably are not even on DVD yet. These are at no charge, and a schedule is given. TV channels are much more extensive at Royal Plantation, but you can get news channels on Silversea and watch the ship’s navigation. You might even get to go on a bridge tour.

At the resort and on Silversea, you will get a daily information sheet about weather and activities and will get nightly turndown service and daily maid service.

The staff at Royal Plantation will easily get to know your name and preferences and will be informative but not intrusive as you wish. Personal attention and requests can often be accommodated, and no is not uttered on reasonable requests within the parameters of the program. Most are Jamaicans and from the island, while others have been all around the world in many areas of the hospitality industry.

The staff on Silver Whisper was mostly European and Asian. We found service to be good but not particularly personal, though we have heard a lot about personal service on longer cruises than the one we were on. The cabin stewardesses never once were annoying. Since each were assigned so many cabins, they seemed to watch for when people were leaving or when they put out the service requested card. They seem to have thought of every request and were ready right away with whatever was needed.

Royal Plantation allows adults only, and you will find people from 20s to 80s with most being 40s to 60s. You will find people from all walks of life here, and lots of people visit, meet, etc. since it is so small, but you don’t ever have to join others if you don’t want to.

On Silver Whisper, they allow children but have no organized programs. There was one baby and maybe 7 or 8 other kids, mostly teens. All wore the appropriate dinner attire and were quite well behaved. Guests were from all over the world, and there were two large groups that did seem to get preferential treatment, and some of their guests were not exactly exemplary, but this was a small lot. Since this was the Caribbean and a shorter cruise, there were a number of guests in their late 30s to 50, but guests went up to their 80s. Normal would be 50s to 70s as the majority.

Overall Opinions
Royal Plantation meals offer much more variety even though they have at most half the guests even of Silversea’s smallest ships. However, they aren’t floating in the ocean carrying all of that around. Quality is about as good on Silversea, but the variety on a specific day is not even close. Over a trip, though, you can sample some nice cuisine and have good experiences.

Dollar for dollar, you will have a much larger room at Royal Plantation, but both resort and ship have great accommodations. Entertainment is more extensive on Silversea as far as shows, dancing, and gambling, but both have a variety of activities to do overall. You can meet other interesting people that are likely to be like-minded or at least worth chatting with either place. The charm at Royal Plantation is unparalleled, but there is nothing like being on a ship watching the scenery go by or to see what is next. Silversea is going to take you to some exotic places in luxury. Entertainment is more extensive on Silversea as far as shows, dancing, and gambling, but both have a variety of activities to do overall. You can meet other interesting people that are likely to be like-minded or at least worth chatting with either place. The charm at Royal Plantation is unparalleled, but there is nothing like being on a ship watching the scenery go by or to see what is next. Silversea is going to take you to some exotic places in luxury.

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