Several years ago I sailed on Silversea Cruises' SILVER CLOUD in the Mediterranean. I greatly enjoyed the experience but haven't found the time to return as quickly as I had hoped, until now.
My partner and I chose the SILVER SHADOW for a 9-night cruise beginning in Barbados on October 17, 2007 and ending in Ft. Lauderdale. We also spent two nights at Sandy Lane in Barbados prior to the cruise. For those that prefer to "cut to the chase" so to speak, I'll tell you upfront that Silversea lived up to all our expectations and even exceeded them. The reports I have read on various message boards about declining standards were not evident on my sailing. In fact I think some aspects of the cruise were upgraded upon reflection of my previous Silversea experience.
Pre-Cruise Special mention must be made of Silversea's pre-cruise documentation. They say first impressions are lasting impressions in this is certainly the case with Silversea. I don't think any Cruise Line or Tour Company has a better presentation. Your documents arrive in a silver box, and inside is a lovely black document holder embossed with the Silversealogo. The documents have the personal touch and the ticket is actually printed on Silversea letterhead rather than typical ticket stock. Also included is a leave at home itinerary, pre printed baggage tags, two Silversea permanent luggage tags, shore excursion booklet, question and answer book, a suite preference form, and a gift order form. It's this early indication of attention to detail that continued throughout the cruise and sets Silversea apart from other lines. [ http://public.fotki.com/eroller/silver-shadow---oct/silver-shadow---cor/img2624.html ]
Sandy Lane "Simply to die for." We flew from Atlanta to Barbados on American and the flight was average. Nothing to write home about but we (and our luggage) arrived safely and in tact. That alone is a good flight in my book. Once we cleared customs our private car (BMW 7-series) and driver were there to greet us. Round trip transfers are provided by Sandy Lane if you book through the American Express Fine Hotel and Resorts Program (Platinum and Centurion Card holders). It's a fairly long drive from the airport to Sandy Lane. I would say it took about 40 minutes and although we were tired, we quickly forgot about our fatigue once we pulled through the gates of Sandy Lane. "Stunning" is really the best word to describe the property. Flowers, fountains, a fresh fragrance, birds chirping, and the ocean lapping truly put us into sensory overload. A very warm welcome from the accommodating staff (kudos to Sandra, Sophia, and Walwen) immediately put us at ease. Ice-cold menthol towels were presented along with a delicious concoxion of fresh island juices. We were escorted to our suite in the Orchard Wing where the check-in formalities were conducted and an orientation of the suite was given. You might wonder why we would need an orientation, so please have a look at the pictures (see pictures link at the end of the review) and you will see why. The suite had soothing décor, traditional in style but high-tech at the same time. There were three flat-panel TV's where you could program music, watch TV, play DVD's, access hotel services, or surf the net (free of charge). In addition there were several control panels throughout the suite that controlled curtains, music, lights, air conditioning, fans, door locks, etc. Even the "do not disturb" sign was an electronic light controlled from the panel. In addition we enjoyed the high-tech espresso maker.
Our suite included a bedroom, walk in closet, marble bath, second half bath, dining area, parlor, and entry hall. In addition the patio was massive and also included it's own dining area and seating area. Please see the pictures, as words really can't describe this gorgeous room. [ http://public.fotki.com/eroller/silver-shadow---oct/sandy-lane---barbados/ ] We were only steps from the beach, which was an added plus.
That night we enjoyed the Manager's Cocktail reception in the main patio area and then a delicious tasting menu dinner at L'Acadou, the fine dining establishment. It was delicious and very expensive! While we dined we enjoyed entertainment from native Barbados dancers along with island music. The other backdrop was a beautiful starlit beach and a calm surf adding to the ambiance.
Sandy Lane offers an amazing spa, massive pool with waterfalls and swim up bar, country club with three golf courses, childcare center, and a beautiful beach. The entire nature of the resort is one of relaxation, indulgence, sport, and quiet reflection.
Notes and highlights include: amazing beach service and wonderful padded chairs; incredible spa; three championship golf courses with beautiful clubhouse; GPS navigation system in every golf cart; majority of British guests; wild monkeys roaming the property; stunning beach and pools; warm, friendly service from the heart.
I'm pretty much a ship fanatic and usually can't wait to get to the ship. Staying at Sandy Lane was the exception. I really didn't want to leave. It was simply that fantastic. We were given hugs from the staff as we left and another private car took us to the SILVER SHADOW, about a 20-minute drive away along the coast.
Boarding Silver Shadow Boarding the SILVER SHADOW was impressive as ever. A group of about ten staff were pierside in white gloves to welcome you onboard. Once up the gangplank, Fernando the Cruise Director from Portugal was present to personally greet you. Champagne was offered and check-in formalities were conducted in the showlounge. Mission quickly accomplished, we were escorted to our suite, cabin 618, slightly forward on Deck 6 and what Silversea labels a Veranda Suite.
Suite 618 Renee, our cabin Stewardess from New Zealand quickly arrived and introduced herself. She pointed out all the features of the suite and made sure we knew how to contact her for anything we desired. She also asked what type of pillows we prefer, and how we would like the bar stocked. Amenities in the suite included binoculars; umbrella; sewing and shoe shine kit; extra blanket; slippers; robes; safe; clock; cosmetic mirror; stocked refrigerator; ice; glasses; and wonderful Bvlgari bath products. Of course a bottle of champagne awaited us along with the daily program (the Silversea Chronicles) and personalized stationary / welcome letters.
Service provided by Renee was exemplary and the cabin was kept spotless. Everything was like new and in perfect working order. This cabin was very quiet and we rarely heard noise from outside the cabin.
Special mention must be made of room service. It is truly exquisite. There is an extensive room service menu, but if there is something else you desire just ask and the staff will do their best to accommodate you. The breakfast menu is quite extensive and I enjoyed delicious blueberry pancakes most mornings. Lunch and dinner are also superb, and you are free to order off the dining room menu (included in the daily Silversea Chronicles) during normal lunch and dinner times. Room service is not just dropped off, but prepared on a special table that fits over the coffee table in your suite. Frette linens and fine china / silverware accompany the delicious cuisine. At dinner, you have the option of having your courses served course by course if you desire. The room service alone is reason enough to sail on Silversea!
The Ship SILVER SHADOW is typical of the Silversea fleet. Modern, clean, impeccably maintained, understated, comfortable, and well designed. I slightly prefer the SILVER SHADOW over the SILVER CLOUD for a few reasons. The gym and spa are larger, as is the pool deck. Also, the outdoor decks are more expansive and the cabin bathrooms are larger. SHADOW also had a newer feeling to her, which makes sense as she is a newer vessel. The differences are small enough that I would not hesitate to sail on the smaller Silversea vessels again if the opportunity arises.
Food and Service I felt both were impeccable. I never had a bad meal and the service received everywhere onboard was outstanding. The staff learned your name very quickly and called you by name whenever they had the opportunity.
The Restaurant was available for all three main meals, as was La Terrazza, which is the more casual venue. Breakfast and lunch in La Terrazza were buffet style although there was also a small menu at each table with daily selections. Plenty of staff are on hand to carry your plate and provide beverages. A lovely outdoor area with teak furniture is available at La Terrazza as well. For dinner, La Terrazza becomes a specialty restaurant, which I greatly enjoyed. I didn't feel the food and service were any better than The Restaurant, but it was a nice change of atmosphere. Reservations are required. The Restaurant had a four-piece band and dancing on certain evenings along with candlelit tables all adding to the ambiance. Many people danced between courses.
Le Champagne is an extra tariff restaurant and one of the few things you pay additional for on Silversea. I never tried it so I can't comment. It never seemed too busy but then again nothing seems too busy on Silversea. There is simply no waiting and no lines anywhere.
Finally there is the Poolside Grill. Beautiful teak tables and chairs are located in shaded areas poolside, and there is a special menu. Here they have burgers, hot dogs, fresh fish, chicken, salads, and wonderful deserts. Unlike poolside grills on most ships, this one is all waiter service. Everything is brought to you and made to order. If you want something off the menu, just ask. I really enjoyed the Poolside Grill, as I tend to spend a lot of time by the pool.
Something Silversea is well known for is an evening barbeque poolside. This is not a typical barbeque but truly a first class affair with dancing, entertainment, waiter service, real china, and linen covered tables. I greatly enjoyed this on SILVER CLOUD and was looking forward to it on the SHADOW as well. Unfortunately after the crew spent hours preparing, it had to be canceled due to showers. A disappointment for the passengers, but I felt more sorry for the crew who worked so hard to provide a truly memorable experience.
Entertainment Entertainment is very low key on Silversea. There are no art auctions, photographers, bingo, pool games (besides water volleyball) Vegas shows, or revenue producing announcements. Instead there are enrichment lectures and demonstrations during the day, with a small show (usually a vocalist or musician) at night along with dancing and music. Don't be fooled though, evenings can be lively on Silversea with dancing and conversation going into the wee hours. One set of lectures I enjoyed on this sailing were provided by the Cruise Director Fernando. It turns out he is a bit of a ship nut like I am. Just like I did as a child, he collected brochures, deck plans, and visited any ship possible while growing up in Lisbon. He is quite knowledgeable about ships and put on an entertaining lecture all with his own slides.
Fellow Passengers In keeping tradition with my last Silversea Cruise, our fellow passengers were a diverse group. There were only three children onboard, with a nice mix of ages for the adults. I think something like 27 nationalities were represented among the passengers, which speaks volumes considering the ship had just under 300 passengers onboard. I think the majority of passengers were from the UK, with the US close behind. What I love about Silversea passengers is how well traveled they are. Most love to talk about travel and they have lots of interesting stories and antidotes to share. Many seem to know each other from past Silversea Cruises. It really felt like a big family and everyone seemed to get along famously. With only 300 passengers onboard, you always ran into a familiar face, which is a pleasant change from the mega-ships.
Weather The weather was simply marvelous from start to finish. We had short rain showers in St. Barts (between the sun and stars) and the rest of the time it was glorious sunshine. Our final morning pulling into Ft. Lauderdale we were met with overcast skies and rain, but at that point who cares?
Seas were calm and usually it was difficult to tell the ship was moving. There was a slight rocking on a few nights, just enough to lull you to sleep.
Ports Barbados; St Lucia; Guadeloupe; Antigua; St Bart's; St Kitts; Virgin Gorda; Prickly Pear.
I'm not going to write too much about the ports. We had been to most before and we really went on this cruise for the ship experience more than the ports. Barbados and St Barts were my favorites, and I would certainly return to either. I wasn't too thrilled with St Lucia or Guadeloupe. In fact Guadeloupe should have been skipped all together as far as I was concerned.
In St. Bart's we went to the lovely Guanahani Hotel and enjoyed an afternoon of sun on the beach. We were able to use all the facilities of the hotel and enjoyed a wonderful lunch poolside. The Guanahani is a first class resort, but personally I much preferred Sandy Lane on Barbados. The SILVER SHADOW actually arrived in St. Bart's at 11pm the night prior to our schedule arrival. We simply anchored off the island and spent the night in the shadow of the island. It was kind of magical with the ship being so quiet (no engines) and the shoreline being so close.
Silversea provided a lovely private beach barbeque on Prickly Pear Island. This island is next to the exclusive Necker Island owned by Richard Branson. Literally everything was brought ashore from the ship via tender and the crew did an amazing job. The only thing local was the music, which was great. Cocktails, champagne, beer, etc. were all included just as they are onboard ship. A special treat were the waiters who waded out into the ocean to serve guests champagne and beer (or anything else you wanted) from special floating trays. It was truly a sight to behold and I quite enjoyed the experience, decadent as it was! I think the waiters enjoyed it as much as the passengers. I know Seabourn Cruise Line had done this for years, and now it appears Silversea is getting into the act as well.
Disembarkation All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately this Silversea cruise was no exception. Debarkation was smooth and civilized. There are no announcements before 8am and I was even able to enjoy my blueberry pancakes via room service the last morning. We said our goodbyes and we were off the ship by 9am. The staff was lined up to say goodbye as you exit the ship and available to carry your hand luggage if you so desire. We took a cab to Miami where we caught an uneventful American flight back to Atlanta.
Final Thoughts I hope from this review you are able to determine how much I enjoyed this vacation. I truly feel Silversea is better than ever, as they continue to provide a first class cruising experience. The combination of newer small ships, larger cabins, balconies, spotless vessels, delicious cuisine, attention to detail, interesting itineraries, and excellent personal service truly places Silversea at the forefront of the luxury cruise industry. I did not witness any penny pinching or a decline in service as some have indicated on various message boards. In fact I felt many things were even better and more luxurious than my past Silversea cruise about six years ago. Some people just can't be pleased and seem to look for anything to nit pick at. I have sailed on over 60 cruises on many different cruise lines and I can tell you it would be difficult to surpass my experience on the SILVER SHADOW.
Just below is a link to pictures and my email address if you have any questions. I hope you enjoyed the review and pictures.
Note: The pictures are divided into several different folders (ports, cabin, ship, etc.).
Please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My wife and I boarded the Silver Shadow October 13th in Miami for an eight day cruise to Barbados, just as Ron (see his review) and his shipmates were heading home. At exactly 3 PM (unless you paid an extra $100 per person or have sailed for 250 days on Silversea) the passengers were herded aboard and offered a glass of Prosecco while waiting to have security pictures taken.
This was our 20th cruise together, but our first on Silversea, and I had high expectations. Our Veranda cabin ("suite" in luxury cruise parlance) on Deck 6 met these expectations. I feel odd waxing eloquent about a bathroom and closet, but hey, they were the best we've had at sea. There was a chilled bottle of champagne waiting, and our stewardess arrived to be sure we had what we wanted in our in-room refrigerator—a good start.
Perhaps the Prosecco for champagne substitution on boarding should have been a clue, but it was downhill from there. Dinner in the Restaurant was memorable only for courses that were mediocre (Caesar salad) or forgotten (coffee and dessert). The best food we had on board was theelegant hors d'oeurvres served in the Bar before dinner (some on bent spoons and forks—very clever). When we were seated at La Terrazza for breakfast the next day, a waiter came up and told us "buffet." We learned from watching more experienced passengers that eggs, other than the scrambled variety on the buffet, can be ordered.
For a "nominal" (by Silversea's standards) fee of $300 a couple, it is possible to have dinner in the small Le Champagne restaurant. This was the only menu where I saw escargot during the cruise. We passed. Two evening meals at La Terrazza (Italian regional cuisine changing every two days, by reservation only) were excellent.
After two or three days we began to hear of other passengers getting ill, and five days into the cruise my wife was up all night vomiting—very likely a Norovirus. This was never acknowledged by the staff, and no attempts (other than asking passengers to disinfect their hands on reboarding) were made to control the outbreak. The CDC site lists two prior episodes on the Silver Shadow, and I am curious to see if this one is reported.
Wine and liquor flow freely, although the bartender trying to serve guests at the sail away looked like the proverbial one-armed paperhanger. There weren't enough deck chairs for everyone on the days at sea, and the bartender wasn't the only server who seemed overwhelmed by the crowd. The team trivia contests were clever (Do you know whose grave is visited most often in the United States?), the library is well stocked, and individual crew members were attentive and pleasant, but Silversea is far from "the Ritz at sea."
My wife and I went on a 7 day cruise to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Started in San Francisco and went to Monterrey, Catalina Island, Long Beach, San Diego and Ensenada Mexico then back to San Fran. If you want luxery and pampering, this is a great cruise line. If you're after action and alot to do, I'de look elsewhere. It was perfect for what we wanted. We usually travel with our teenagers but this was about us. We're 46 and felt young as there were no kids and ave. age was probably 50-60. The ship was beautiful and very nicely done.
We stayed in a Silver Suite. We've stayed in several suites on many different cruise lines, but this was the best. The service was great. Anytime we asked for anything-we got it in a timely fashion. The food was great and was so nice not to have any time constraints. After all was said and done with all the drinks, wine, no tipping, etc include I felt it was a good value for what you get. You pay more up front, but it wasn't all that much morethan lesser cruise lines when the final bill came in. The ship, service, etc made it worth it.
We had signed up for our first cruise ever, Ft Lauderdale to Barbados, on the Silver Shadow months ago and had no idea what to expect. In an effort to learn as much as possible we did a lot of reading and surfing the net that is where we read John and Ron's recent reviews of the Silver Shadow. "Down hill from there" and "no Ritz on the sea" gave us some mild apprehension prior to departure and certainly had our antenna up for the negatives they reported.
While we were first timers on the sea (not counting a Greek Isles cruise back in college) we are not unfamiliar with luxury or first class service which I am happy to report the Silver Shadow met or exceeded. We met numerous other passengers who have sailed every luxury line out there and some who had as many as 500 days of voyages under their belts. They were all unanimous in their praise of the food, staff and quality of the Silversea's ships. Maybe, to their credit, Silversea Lines reads the reviews but none of John or Ron's problems reared their head onour 9-day cruise through The Caribbean. Both embarking and disembarking were very easy. We took the advice of embarking one hour after the prescribed time and walked right into our first of many glasses of champagne and caviar. It was up hill from there!
While we had two excellent meals in La Terrazza (the Italian flare) restaurant we found the most enjoyable meal experiences in the main dinning room for lunch and dinner. I would highly recommend breakfast in La Terrazza. As the ship usually moors stern end towards town you are sitting on the 9th deck looking into some exotic port. I ordered Eggs Benedict every morning and loved them. I would agree whole heatedly that more information on the islands (pots of call) for non-tour participants would help. The tour desk was putting out 8X10 copies of the island map on one side and the main town on the other. But it would have been nice to know that renting scooters on St. Kitts was not for the faint of heart and conversely everyone should rent and enjoy a scooter on Isle de Saint.
I came to realize that much of this adventure was a live and learn experience. That would explain why some of the seasoned vets would take up a position by the pool while many of us ran around islands and counted the minutes until we could return to our oasis, The Silver Shadow. We never had trouble finding deck loungers and always received drinks before the DT's set in. The one price covers all should become the norm as it makes for a wonderful cruise experience. Put your wallet in the in-room safe and forget it. No tipping and getting nickel and dimmed every time you turn around. A business associate recently cruised on another line. He was presented with a welcome drink and several minutes later a bill to sign. I could go on for pages but suffice it to say all 8 in our group had a fabulous experience and can't wait to go again and that trip will be with Silversea. I would very respectfully suggest that if Ron and John had a less than satisfactory experience they should team up and lease their own private yacht because I don't see how cruising could get any better.Ward
My wife and I sailed on the Silver Shadow December 3-12 from Fort Lauderdale to Bridgetown, Barbados. We are both in our early 50s and are experienced world travelers. We have cruised on many different lines, all in the luxury class.
This was our first cruise with Silversea. Our overall impression was that the Silver Shadow is the ultimate in sophistication -- a cruise ship for every other luxury vessel to try to equal.
Negative aspects and experiences: There were none.
We arrived in Miami a day before departure, because of personal experience with consistent luggage problems at the Miami airport. Warning: If you are going through Miami and you need your luggage to be with you, always arrive a day early.
Boarding Embarkation went perfectly. We arrived half way through the embarkation hours and walked straight onto the ship after they took our passports and took a quick photo of us. Total embarkation time was less than two minutes -- there was no waiting, delays or lines. We came by early and dropped off our luggage, then went to a fabulous Italian restaurant and had a leisurely lunch before arriving for boarding.When we stepped onto the ship, the staff gave us each a glass of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut Champagne, and for nine days it never stopped flowing.
Disembarkation was also fast and efficient. We had a leisurely breakfast in the Terrace Cafe as we did every day. We had settled our accounts and picked up our passports the day before disembarkation, and were off the ship in less than one minute.
Positive aspects The Silver Shadow provided an expert to give a detailed talk about every port we visited, early in the morning as we were arriving. Our expert had been an Associated Press reporter all over the world for 30 years and then a CIA analyst for another 20 years. He was very knowledgeable about each port and knew the complete history of each island.
The Silver Shadow also provided a walking map of the dock area and a map of the town at every stop, as well as a local tourist guide at each port who was at the information desk every morning. Every port was in the middle of the largest town on each island, so we did not need ground transportation to see the local sights.
Food The food was a gourmand’s feast. We have not had better food on any other ship. My wife and I are professional food and wine people; we both trained at a professional chef’s college, as did others in our group. Normally we are not too impressed with food anywhere, but that changed with the Silver Shadow. It was incredible. The sauces were rich and the flavors were intense. Some dishes were a little low sodium but the seasonings were powerful. (Many people get salt confused with flavor and seasoning.)
All food service was first-class and unobtrusive. Water, bread, wine, butter and utensils all appeared and disappeared like magic. There were never any interruptions from when our orders were taken until the dessert menu was presented.
At breakfast in the Terrace Cafe, the wait staff always offered to prepare any special breakfast we wanted, like eggs Benedict, French toast or any kind of omelet. Many mornings we were offered any of these special meals two, three or even four times. Most mornings we just enjoyed cruising through the cafe's bountiful breakfast buffet. It was fabulous!
The service personnel were excellent. The maitre d's in The Restaurant were outstanding. There were eight of us, and every night we invited another couple as our guests -- so every night we were a party of 10. We never had any problems with seating or service. Our wine steward was especially good. She memorized what every person liked and brought us appropriate selections at every meal.
We really liked not being nickeled-and-dimed to death for every drink. My wife and I figured that our bar bill for the nine days would have run to several thousand dollars on any other ship.
The ship had a special dining room called Le Champagne, where one could pay an extra $150 for world class wines specially selected by the ship’s master sommelier with each course. You could drink as much of these very expensive wines as you wanted. Our four friends who dined in Le Champagne claimed that they drank more than $4,000 worth of wine at each dinner. That would be more than $1,000 worth of wine for each person, for a surcharge of only $150 -- not a bad deal. Next time, we will be in Le Champagne for several meals ourselves.
Staterooms Our stateroom was the best we have seen on any vessel; we had the smallest cabin on the ship, but it was huge. The bathroom was easily large enough for two people. It had two sinks and plenty of shelving space for our toiletries. There was a nice-sized shower and a bathtub. The large walk-in closet had a safe along with drawers, hanging racks and a tie rack sufficient for our four suitcases of clothes. The bed was excellent. Set up for a meal or wine-tasting was excellent. There was plenty of room for everything.
The Silver Shadow, much larger than many other luxury ships, was very stable and barely rocked. The stabilizers worked great and there was never any lateral rocking. The ship did move up and down like every ship does.
Some other reviewers have mentioned that there was a smell of raw sewage at varying times and places. We experienced none of this.
Overall The Silver Shadow is truly a “best of class” ship. The ship was huge for the number of passengers. We never saw a crowd anywhere at any time. The entire staff is among the best, from all over the world. I cannot speak of how the Silver Shadow has been in the past, but as of December 2006, our impression is that it is the ultimate in sophistication.
My wife and I sailed on the Silverseas Shadow on September 26 to October 13, 2006 from Los Angeles California through the Panama Canal to Miami, Florida. We are 68 years young and experienced world travelers. We have also cruised on a number of different cruise lines tending heavily toward the luxury class.
This was our first cruise with Silverseas. Our overall impression of the Shadow is that it is a smallish pleasant cruise ship. It is definitely not a luxury class ship when compared to Crystal, Seabourn, and Regent Seven Seas.
Poor or minor negative aspects: Embarkation starts exactly when stated in the information packet. At the LA pier this resulted in the majority of passengers whose flights arrived early to sit in a large room and wait. Most cruise lines at a minimum set up an orderly process to embark based on a first come first to embark. Silverseas passed out group boarding colored cards that results in a "European ski lift line" approach to boarding when your color is called. Silversea did not serve any refreshments. To avoid this poor initial impression it is better to arrive at leastone hour after the start of boarding.
My wife was bothered by the smoking in the bars and other public areas. Since the public areas are small it only takes a couple smokers to permeate the area.
The Shadow, being small, constantly rocks and this could be a problem for passengers subject to motion sickness. However, we considered this a positive aspect as it rocked us to sleep (for naps) and at night.
The Shadow, also mentioned by other reviewers, still suffers from the smell of raw sewage at varying times and places. Our suite bathroom had a very pronounced raw sewage smell. I found the smell could be eliminated by closing all bathroom drains. The same smell occurred once near the main elevators.
Major negatives that occurred on our cruise: Disembarkation was a nightmare. The Shadow tries to disembark the same way of all other cruises. They distribute colored tags based on your need to disembark early or later. For our cruise the written instructions were not only poor they were wrong. Whoever, wrote the instructions did not seem to realize there would be US and non-US citizens on board. The first step required guests to retrieve their passports from "The Bar". The next step was to watch the crew members run around telling non-US citizens to go one place and the US citizens to wait for disembarkation announcements. Disembarkation was to start at 8:30 AM but I overheard one of the immigration officers call his office and say the Shadow had not prepared any agricultural papers, "They don't even know what they are." Disembarkation started at 9:45 AM. I suspect that many passengers missed their Miami flights as we saw heavy rush hour traffic going to the Miami airport while we raced to the Ft. Lauderdale airport to just make our 12:05 PM flight.
The Shadow provides no port talks or useful information for guests who are not taking one of the shore excursions. All other cruises that we have been on provided detailed port talks, a walking map of the dock area and town, and a free or minor cost to ride a shuttle bus to and from the town if it is located any distance from the dock. The Shadow did provide a shuttle from Puerto Caldera to Puntarenas but for all other ports they just said, "There are taxis at the end of the pier."
At all dining venues it was possible to order items not on the menu. It appeared almost like a game to have new cruisers guess what to order. One simple example was the breakfast menu in "The Restaurant" was very limited. After several days of ordering from the limited menu I finally asked the wait staff "Is it possible to get Eggs Benedict?" She answered, "But of course." To this day I wonder what else they could make for breakfast and other meals. We also observed other diners for lunch and dinner having selections not on either menu. The evening meals in "The Restaurant" are hit or miss. "Fresh Whole Main Lobster with Drawn Butter" consisted of lobster meat removed from the shell and arranged on the plate. It consisted of two pieces of claw meat each the size of a small thumb nail and a meat piece smaller than an average size prawn. The beef selections were for the most part very good to excellent. Fish on average were the poorest selections. Since the majority of guests were somewhat older than us I believe the chef avoided richer sauces and/or seasoning.
At each meal there is an initial place setting for each seat location. After you order the wait staff removes and replaces silver and glasses for each course of the meal. The wait staff also selects a bread piece based on your request, tells you about the wine, asks each diner if they want water, or more water, or more wine, or more ketchup, or more syrup, or more etc. This works OK during breakfast and lunch in "The Restaurant" where there are few guests. For dinner this is pandemonium for the waiters and guests. We found it mostly impossible to have a conversation at our table as the wait staff must keep interrupting to maintain their schedule.
Many positive aspects However, there are many positive aspects of a Shadow cruise. Our standard suite was the best we have seen of all luxury cruise lines. The bath room is easily large enough for two people to use as it has double sinks and sufficient shelving space for all toiletries. The nice sized shower has a tempered glass door so there is no shower curtain trying to perform questionable acts on you as you shower. The walk-in closet has a regular mirrored door that opens into the closet not out into the room or sliding doors. The closet drawers, hanging racks, tie rack, and safe were sufficient for all of our three suit cases of clothes. The suite does not contain all those little drawers to stuff some clothes into as they are not needed. Best bed we have ever slept in compared to other cruise lines and many hotels. There is excellent service and set up to have a meal in your suite.
The service personnel are excellent. The maitre d' in "The Restaurant" is outstanding. He easily fulfilled our dining seating requests as well as our last minute request to get us into "The Terrace Cafe". One evening they ran out of "The Perfect Martini" glasses in the Panorama lounge and the waitress apologized as she brought the drink in regular martini glass. A few minutes later the bartender came over and explained why they were out of the glasses and also apologized.
We really appreciate cruise lines, like Silverseas, that includes everything in the initial price. It is nice not having to pull your card out and sign for drinks or take part in the very distasteful task of putting money in envelopes and passing them out at the end of the cruise.
Another great highlight was meeting and talking with so many interesting people. We did notice that the guests were very well mannered, friendly, and dressed appropriately for each meal. There were only a few women who took their shoes off and put their feet on the seat in front at the evening shows.
Itinerary: Vancouver, Ketchikan, Haines, Wrangell, Sitka, Metlakatla, Vancouver
If you're one for nature and scenery, then Alaska is for you. The sight of the Sawyer Glacier up close, the snow-capped mountains, the whales, the bears, the bald eagles are truly spectacular. SilverSea even provides binoculars in each suite. I cruised through the tranquility of the Misty Fjords. But I must say that as spectacularly beautiful as Alaska is, for me nine days of this was a bit repetitive.
Our cabin was Vista (439), a mid-ship, no-balcony cabin. We thought we wouldn't get much use of a balcony on an Alaskan cruise. For our particular trip I think I was right. However, the cruise that sailed the week before ours encountered temperatures in the mid- to high 80s with blazing sun. On our cruise, the temperature maxed out at about 72, and that was rare. The cabin was spacious and comfortable. The bathroom had dual sinks, a separate bath and shower. The Bulgari amenities were nice and were replaced twice during the cruise. There was a walk-in closet with a safe, which worked intermittently. The refrigerator was well stocked, and I was asked what twospirits I'd like brought to us. Oddly enough, when the spirits were brought to the stateroom, one had been opened already. It was returned and replaced after a lengthy conversation with room service. They apparently didn't understand why I might not want an already opened bottle.
There really wasn't a bad meal to be had aboard the Silver Shadow: The food ranged from very good to outstanding. The cuisine in the ship's main dining room, The Restaurant, was superbly prepared. On most of our previous cruises, I would elect to order something off the menu, but the food was so good on the Silver Shadow that I didn't choose this option.
The ship offers two alternate dining venues: La Champagne and The Terrace Café. Both require reservations, but there is no supplemental charge to dine in either restaurant. However, no wines in La Champagne are complimentary; they must be purchased from the premium wine list. La Champagne offers a menu with few choices -- not quite a set menu, but given that it's a very small room the options are limited. The menu changes every two or three days in La Champagne. The ambiance was that of an intimate restaurant. The food was very, very good. The Terrace Café is adjacent to La Champagne but is a much larger room. This venue offers different themes each night. I went for the Mediterranean evening. Here you can choose between the complimentary wines and the premium wine list. Again, the food was deliciously prepared.
There seemed to be a dichotomy in service aboard the Silver Shadow. Certainly the service throughout the ship was impeccable and efficient; yet it was strangely impersonal. Service wasn't overly friendly. I think only one staff member ever asked our names, or what we liked/disliked. That one staff member was the Cruise Consultant, and he needed the info to book our next SilverSea cruise. This was a marked difference from Seabourn, Radisson or even Queens Grill on Cunard.
This was very poor. We were given key cards on the pier, then were told to board the ship. Once we were in the lobby there was no guidance or assistance. There were crowds of people at both the reception desk and the shore excursion desk but I didn't know why. We couldn't believe that we had to make our own way to the stateroom -- on other high-end lines you're escorted -- so I asked a staff member. Only then did we learn that we needed to go to the reception desk or shore excursion desk to have our photograph taken for security. Embarkation really seemed disorganized.
This was similarly disorganized. People were given color-coded tags that indicated when and in what order they would disembark the ship. For example, passengers with earlier flights would disembark prior to people with later flights. When it came time to disembark, the order in which the colors were paged was wrong, which had many people concerned. The later-flight people disembarked before the passengers with earlier flights.
The décor of the Silver Shadow is very attractive, very light, and not at all glitzy. She's an easy, comfortable vessel to get around, with all staterooms forward and most public rooms aft. The Observation Lounge, which overlooks the bow, was packed while we cruised the Misty Fjords and the Sawyer Glacier. This lounge is really for relaxing. It offers coffee and tea, but isn't really a bar setting. The more social locations on the ship were the Panorama Lounge and The Bar. It was in these lounges that people congregate for cocktails and conversation. One caveat for you ship lovers: If you're looking for a nautical experience, you won't find it on this ship. The Silver Shadow is more like a floating Ritz-Carlton than a seafaring vessel.
We didn't opt for any of the ship's offerings, so I can't comment on that. We arranged our own excursions and enjoyed them quite a bit. These included two floatplane adventures (Ketchikan and Sitka) and a two-hour ground tour of Sitka.
The ship had three entertainers on board -- a singer, a magician/comedian, and a banjo player. I only saw a snippet of the comedian/magician. He was fine. Other passengers commented on how good the singer was.
Why I took this cruise: I had business in Portland and saw a good deal on this cruise that was leaving just two days later from nearby Vancouver, so we booked and sailed.
We will be back on SilverSea in November for a South America cruise. I enjoyed this cruise and the SilverSea experience. I personally would give Seabourn the edge on service but SilverSea's ships are more modern.
Previous cruises: QE2 - transatlantic '95 QE2 - transatlantic '01 QM2 - maiden voyage Seabourn Sun - Capetown - Las Palmas Seabourn Spirit - Southeast Asia Radisson Mariner - Baltics Radisson Voyager - Bermuda..no, wait..we ended up in Canada!
My daughter and I cruised on the Silver Shadow from Barcelona to Lisbon in September. From embarkation to debarkation it was an experience of excellence! We arrived early at the pier and were welcomed aboard even though we hadn't opted for the 'early embarkation' extra. We were greeted by servers with trays of champagne and escorted to the Panorama lounge for a brief wait before being escorted to our lovely cabin. The staterooms have been repeatedly reviewed, so I will not duplicate that effort, but I have to comment on the lovely soft linens, down pillows and the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in onboard a cruise ship!
The main restaurant had very good food and an outstanding maitre d' and wait staff. When we requested a certain type of wine, our server searched it down and had it available each night of the cruise. The maitre d' was very sensitive to two women traveling together and provided us with excellent dining companions as well as a table for two when we requested it. He even arranged a dinner with the Chief Engineer. Lunch in this dining room is thebest-kept secret on board! Most people have lunch at the Terrace, which is buffet service, but the Restaurant has few guests, which leads to remarkable service and really outstanding food.
Room service was incredibly prompt and the food was always hot! We challenged the staff each day with requests not on the menu, and every request from eggs benedict to certain fruit compotes was met with aplomb and accuracy.
Shore excursions were truly exemplary. Lunch at one shore call was really a treat: We were met back at the ship by servers on the pier holding trays of rum punches with the tiny umbrellas, trays of snacks, and of course cool, damp towels! After walking onboard, we were greeted by a three-piece musical group and more canapes. Now THAT's class!
When the ship called at Casablanca, my daughter took the 12-hour excursion to Marrakesh. I opted to stay on board. When she returned she said the bus trip wasn't long at all, as they had frequent stops and a fabulous lunch. Other guests hired private guides or took the train; one even chartered a plane to Marrakesh! The next day we toured Casablanca and the Blue Mosque with a wonderful guide who provided a wealth of information about Muslim beliefs and customs. All excursions had very comfortable motor coaches with knowledgeable guides and frequent stops. In Spain, we visited Grenada and the Alhambra and stopped to smell the lovely olive trees along the way. We went to a sherry winery, sampled the wine and had a very enjoyable time. In Jerez, we saw a wonderful performance by the Andalusian horses in a very new, clean (and air-conditioned) arena.
Debarkation was so easy and seamless, but we really did not want to leave our lovely stateroom. To be sure, Silversea will be our choice in the future for cruising.