The intimate ships of Silversea Cruises tend towards the contemporary, even Euro-trendy. So it was a surprise on a recent preview of the new Silver Spirit to find a more traditional, Art Deco-inspired elegance. But a very pleasant surprise, indeed. This is one pretty new ship for the ultraluxury crowd.

The 36,009-ton Silver Spirit is by far the line's largest ship, carrying 540 passengers. With the extra space designers created such new areas as The Bar, a large and lively social hub for drinks and coffee and afternoon tea served by white-gloved waiters.

Another stellar addition is Stars Supper Club, with décor inspired by the Rainbow Room in New York. Here, a set menu of 15 little "tastes" is presented to the accompaniment of live jazz. The dishes are breathtaking—a perfect spoon-size bite of foie gras, a tiny frog's leg, creamy crème brulee—as is the music.

Knowing its guests are into food, on Silver Spirit, Silversea introduces as well Asian-fusion and outdoor grill venues—the ship boasts six restaurants in all. Foodies will be delighted, though some may scoff at extra charges for some of the goodies on what's touted as an all-inclusive ship.

In the theater, a decent cast does its best with show productions, but do we really need to see "Born to be Wild" performed by a leather-clad dude while women in tight jumpsuits gyrate on chairs? I'd head to the intimate piano bar instead.

The spa has a private (for a fee) steam and sunning area, and unusually, a hammam. In the spacious, all-suite accommodations, TVs are hidden in bedroom mirrors (very cool) and all guests on Silver Spirit get butler service. This is democratic luxury at its finest.

The Silver Spirit embarked on its inaugural cruise on Dec. 23, and will be christened in Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 21. After, it begins a 91-day Grand Inaugural Voyage. The first 9-day segment from Fort Lauderdale to Bridgetown, Barbados, is priced from $5,747 to $17,447 per person.

Guest blogger Fran Golden is a cruise expert and frequent contributor to