Published on September 4th, 2013 | by Ann Rickard0
The fourth-largest diamond of its kind in the world – 86 pear-shaped carats of brilliance – sits in a glass case in one of many rooms filled with treasures in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.
Even though security restraints make it impossible to get too close to this beauty, it still takes the breath away. It is said it was found on a rubbish dump in 1669 by a peasant who bartered it to a spoon maker for three wooden spoons. You have to love that.
We’d been in Istanbul for a few heady days enjoying the long history and diverse culture. The glittering riches in the Topkapi Palace were the perfect prequel to a cruise of Turkey and the Greek Islands. If we couldn’t have a palace filled with priceless treasures, we could at least feel like royalty on board the floating palace that is Silver Spirit.
We knew things were going to be good when we were offered a glass of French bubbles during the on-board check-in.
When our personal butler knocked quietly on the door of our state-room moments after we’d settled and asked what we would like our mini bar stocked with, we said: “An endless supply of French champagne please.”
We felt no apprehension at this outrageous request. There was going to be no bar bill at the end of this cruise.
Silversea Cruise Line has an all-inclusive policy. Make new friends by the pool, arrange to meet at the bar for martinis in the evening and there is no stress about who will pick up the tab. Treat your new mates to an extravagant Italian dinner at La Terrazza restaurant and offer them late-night brandies in The Panorama Lounge without thought to cost. When Silversea says everything is included it means it: gourmet food and premium wines, 24-hour room service, Bulgari and Salvatore Ferragamo products in the marble bathroom, hourly lively activities, free state-room movies, and service that is as ubiquitous as it is friendly from a staff that almost outnumbers the passenger list. Rarely in life will you be so pampered.
Our cruise took us to Turkey (Kusadasi and Marmaris) and the Greek Islands (Santorini, Patmos, Mykonos), some of the most desirable ports in the world but Silver Spirit’s lure was so strong, we actually rushed our shore visits. There was the Turkish bath house in Marmaris. But as much as we loved being soaped and massaged by swarthy men wearing nothing but wet towels (just one shore excursion on offer), our thoughts kept straying back to the myriad indulgences waiting for us back on board Silver Spirit.
The only downside to such extravagance is that the cruise ends and you have to go home without a butler in sight.