Silver Nova cruise ship review
Ilari Hyöty / Silversea

Silver Nova Cruise Ship Review: What Silversea's All-Inclusive Luxury Cruising Is Like

June 3, 2024

Compared to mainstream cruises with their upcharges and theme-park-esque gimmicks, all-inclusive luxury cruises definitely have their charms. The staff knows your name and preferred choice of water (sparkling) as well as your nightly choice of pre-dinner cocktail. There are very few times when you’ll have to charge anything to your room or have to pay for extras because pretty much everything is covered in the (high) price of the cruise, including a selection of excursions in every port. (Note that meals at specialty restaurants do cost extra.)

Plus, there are fewer passengers on a luxury cruise than on the monster megaships, so not only is the service more attentive but also you may have a better chance of getting to know your fellow passengers.

Needless to say, the prices reflect all this indulgence. 

As passengers have come to expect from ultra-luxury cruise line Silversea, the company’s 11th ship, Silver Nova, is an elegant ship with excellent food and wine as well as nearly flawless service. 

Nonetheless, there are notable changes aboard the first of Silversea’s Nova class vessels. Silver Nova, which debuted in August 2023, is billed as one of the most spacious cruise ships ever built due to a design meant to give more elbow room per passenger. The crew-to-guest ratio, meanwhile, is nearly one-to-one, with butler service in every suite underscoring the sense of luxe, attentive comfort. 

I sailed on Silver Nova’s weeklong inaugural voyage (at the invitation of the cruise line) from Vancouver, Canada, to Seward, Alaska, in early May 2024. 

Read on to find out whether the ship’s refined and modern approach to luxury cruising is worth the splurge. 

Silver Nova Quick Facts:

: August 2023
Passengers: 728
Crew: 544
Size: 54,700 gross tons, 801 feet long, 97 feet wide
Booking:, 888/978-4070

Silver Nova cruise ship review: pool deck
What We Love

The ship’s innovative design, open spaces, and unobstructed views

The uniquely outward-facing, asymmetrical design of Silver Nova creates abundant wide-open spaces indoors and outside on the expansive decks, including the pool deck (deck 10; pictured above), positioned on the ship’s starboard side (on your right when facing forward). The concept recalls a rooftop deck at an upscale hotel, with great destination views from the pool, pool bar, loungers, and cozy nooks.

The ship’s design situates all the suites on four decks (6–9) at the front of the vessel rather than the back, freeing up room for light-filled public spaces with higher ceilings and allowing for continuity with all the restaurants, bars, boutiques, and other venues, located on decks 3, 4, 5, and 10. (The sun deck and cliff whirlpool are on deck 11). 

Centered on the three-story atrium, which is the hub of the ship, are the Arts Café (deck 4), the Dolce Vita Lounge (deck 5), and the line’s new champagne bar, The Shelter, on deck 3. The two-story Venetian Lounge (decks 4 and 5) can seat 370 guests, and hosts live entertainment, enrichment programming, movies, and other activities.

The ship's layout and generous use of glass—more than 43,000 square feet of it, including floor-to-ceiling windows and glass-enclosed exterior elevators—make the ship feel airy and open, and bring guests closer to the sea and to the destinations the ship visits. All that glass doesn’t hurt when it comes to showing off the views, either. 

Even when I couldn’t be outside on the decks or on my veranda while we cruised along Hubbard Glacier in Alaska, I could see the scenery from the glass-enclosed space at S.A.L.T. Lab (deck 10) during my cooking class and when I was returning to my suite by way of the elevators. 

Silver Nova cruise ship review: Medallion Suite
Gwen Pratesi

Spacious suites with verandas and butler service

The interior décor in Silver Nova’s 364 all-suite staterooms (divided into 13 categories) channels quiet luxury with an understated color scheme of gray, cream, brown, and blue—though there are pops of color throughout, such as in the artwork and pillows.

Even the smallest accommodation, the classic Veranda Suite, is generous in size, with a total of 357 square feet large enough to encompass a queen-size bed and private teak veranda. Each of these suites has a walk-in closet and big marble bathroom; many units have full-size showers and tubs.

My accommodation for the sailing was a 527-square-foot Medallion Suite (pictured above). This lovely stateroom includes a separate living and sleeping area, a bathroom with a double vanity, a walk-in closet, a full-size shower and tub, and a large veranda.

My butler was exceptional during the cruise, offering the line’s Roman-inspired Otium spa and wellness products (such as aromatherapy bath salts) for relaxing evening baths and showers, complete with music and candles (battery-operated to reduce fire hazards at sea). She also delivered indulgent nightly canapes, coordinated my schedule by confirming dining reservations and excursions, brought room service nearly every morning, and even offered to unpack and pack my luggage.

For further relaxation at sea, the Otium sleep experience includes luxurious custom-made bedding, exclusive Egyptian cotton linens made by Rivolta Carmignani, and a pillow menu.

Silver Nova features several new suite categories made possible by the design of the ship, such as the 1,324-square-foot Otium Suites. The plush accommodations have 270-degree views from a prime corner aft location, a 431-square-foot balcony with a private whirlpool, a spacious living area, a generous walk-in closet, a large bedroom, a walk-in shower, and other included perks such as Otium spa treatments, a complimentary dinner at a specialty venue, and more. 

Silver Nova cruise ship review: Silver Note restaurant
Gwen Pratesi

Reimagined food-and-drink venues and a destination-specific culinary program

Silver Nova has an impressive number of indoor and outdoor dining venues, with three specialty options that come at an additional cost, including French and Japanese restaurants and an ambitious 11-course tasting menu at S.A.L.T. Chef’s Table on deck 10. On a 7-night cruise, you’ll have more restaurants to choose from than evenings to dine, especially if you opt for room service any night. Additionally, there are 10 bars and lounges.

For the classic cruise dining experience, head to Atlantide (deck 3) for signature dishes, an elegant ambience, and top-notch service. An evening at La Dame (deck 4) costs extra, but the price ($160 per person) seems reasonable, considering the French menu covers caviar, foie gras, lobster, Dover sole, a selection of fine cheeses, and wine pairings with every course (showcasing wines not available elsewhere on the ship).

Silver Note (deck 5; pictured above) offered another memorable evening. The swanky setting harks back to old-fashioned supper clubs with live music (a piano player and singer during my voyage). A tapas menu lets you sample perfect smaller dishes such as beautifully sautéed scallop medallions with champagne foam, citrus marinated lobster tail, and beef tenderloin tournedos. 

S.A.L.T., an acronym for Sea and Land Taste, is the line’s immersive culinary program, created in partnership with the award-winning culinary journalist and magazine editor, Adam Sachs. The idea is to give cruisers a chance to experience the food culture of the destination they're visiting, via menus as well as hands-on activities. 

S.A.L.T. Kitchen, which sits next to Atlantide on deck 3, is the ship’s other main restaurant, but instead of sticking to a set menu, dinner options change throughout the week, inspired by the cruise’s itinerary. The Voyage menu is based on the best culinary inspiration throughout the cruise, while the Terrain menu is more specific to individual ports. 

Silver Nova cruise ship review: S.A.L.T. Lab cooking classroom
Gwen Pratesi

Entertainment and activities

While the production shows can be hit or miss on a smaller ship like this, there are other appealing entertainment options such as stand-up comedy and live music. Team Trivia in the Panorama Lounge (deck 5) is a standing-room-only hit, and history buffs will enjoy the destination lectures.

I was also impressed with the hands-on, destination-focused cooking classes I took at the S.A.L.T. Lab. Host chef Drake Robertson has a great pedigree (including working with America’s Test Kitchen), and the classroom space is bright and open with floor-to-ceiling windows. It was one of the largest and most attractive cooking venues I’ve seen on a ship. (The view from the back of the classroom is pictured above.)

The well-appointed spa, located next to the Venetian Lounge on deck 5, has eight treatment rooms, experiential showers, a relaxation pool, a steam room and sauna, a relaxation space, and other amenities inspired by ancient Roman baths. I didn’t have time to book a treatment, but I was certainly intrigued. 

Silver Nova cruise ship review: The Marquee dining venue
Gwen Pratesi
What Needs Work

Not much is lacking on Silver Nova. However . . . 

I love the design of The Marquee (pictured above), the beautiful al fresco dining venue on deck 10 that features views of the ocean. The eatery serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and includes The Grill, where the Hot Rocks BBQ experience takes place in the evenings, and Spaccanapoli, where you’ll find freshly prepared Neapolitan pizza. As I quickly discovered, however, it was too chilly to dine outdoors during May in Alaska. 

Worse, The Marquee is the only place where you can get a late lunch after the other restaurants stop serving and the buffet closes at La Terrazza (deck 4). So if you come back on the ship later in the afternoon after an excursion or day in port and you're hungry for a full meal, eating outside or ordering room service are the only options. (Light snacks are available at the Arts Café until 6pm, but it’s not sit-down fare). 

Depending on the itinerary, having an open-air dining venue that relies on perfect weather to work well seems like an unwise choice.  

Unfortunately, due to the weather, I also missed dining at The Grill. I should have made reservations for the first night when we were leaving Vancouver and it was unseasonably warm. For most of the rest of the cruise, the wind, cool temperatures, and some rain dissuaded many of us from dining outdoors, even with blankets and overhead heaters.

When it’s warm and sunny and the ship is sailing in the Caribbean or Mediterranean, I’m sure this is a very popular spot. But there needs to be an alternative, preferably indoor dining venue for a late lunch when the weather isn’t cooperating. 

Silver Nova cruise ship review
The Takeaway

Silver Nova and its crew deliver a well-honed luxury product with excellent—but not obtrusive—service, top-notch food and beverages, entertaining performances, and the extras you’d expect from an all-inclusive ultra-luxury line. The ship is beautiful and unique and offers a refreshing and modern take on luxury cruising that doesn’t feel stuffy at all. (In fact, you can leave your extra-fancy duds at home; the ship eschews formal evenings on 7-night cruises, where the suggested attire is “elegant casual” for the entire week.)

The price may be high, but in this case you do indeed get what you pay for. 

After cruising in Alaska this summer, Silver Nova will set sail for Tokyo. The ship will offer itineraries in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand over the winter, before returning to Alaska for the spring and summer season in 2025. Go to for more information