I sailed on the Silver Shadow from Vancouver to Tokyo in September 2012. The ship was not full - 189 passengers to Kodiak, then 139 to Tokyo.
The ship looked great and I really liked it's size. I had an issue with the air conditioning especially in the Athenian Lounge. It was so cold during lectures that many of us had to use blankets. I mentioned this in my mid-cruise comments and although I received a prompt letter from the HD, it didn't seem to get any better. There were also two occasions where a strong smell of sewage pervaded the ship. Not sure what happened but they opened a lot of doors to let the fresh (very cold) air in to get rid of the smell.
Terrace 533. It was a very good location and very quiet but was wasted due to the cold weather. I think I went out on it four times during the whole trip but on one of those occasions, in Petropavlovsk, I saw a seal swim right up to the ship and it was barking at us! That was special.
MDR - I ate lunch and dinner here on many occasions. The service was excellent (should be with the ship half full). I particularly enjoyed the soups. Just a note, if you like your veggies, you need to order them as a side dish.
Buffet at lunchtime and I always enjoyed the freshly made quiche of the day m,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,. I like being able to serve myself plenty of salad and there were some lovely seafood salads as well. I also had a seafood pizza freshly made for me. I had one dinner at LT and whilst I enjoyed it, the pasta was a little bit firm and I preferred the pasta that was served in the MDR.
In a word, wow...I was the only diner there so what service! It was a spectacular meal and well worth the additional $30. I'm not a wine drinker but I was able to have my cocktails during this meal. I really like the new system here, i.e. you order off the menu. They have done away with the 'themes'.
It was too cold for me to eat at this venue, although I did see some very hardy souls under blankets.
I had one meal here and it was on the last sea day before Tokyo. The weather had warmed up a bit. Service was good.
I ate breakfast in my room every morning. I had granola, yoghurt, mango and mixed berries every morning. And what was really good, we didn't run out. On previous cruises, these items have always run - too popular I guess.
Food is so subjective but I was surprised when a passenger told me she hated the food because it was so bland. I don't know what she expected but I certainly didn't find it so.
Allan from the Philippines was very attentive and on this cruise I used him more than I normally would have. I also bumped into my butler from my Cloud cruise in 2010 and it turned out that he and Allan were roommates on the Shadow. It was really lovely to see Ray again and we had a nice chat about the Panama Canal. I got the hang of using the butler on this trip and really liked having him look after me. I now like the whole butler concept. Patricia, my room cleaner, has worked with SS for 12 years, 9 of those on the Silver Shadow. SS must be doing something right for their crew.
There were two Professors that spoke about whales and glaciers. I found them interesting but Dr Herb, he's been on SS before and I'm not a big fan. I liked a couple of his lectures, but he was always trying to canvas his book and I found it annoying. At one lecture, he spoke about the life and music of Judy Garland but at the start, he sang 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'...it made me cringe, I didn't want to hear him sing it.
I really enjoyed Hyperion Knight's shows. He was another entertainer that I'd seen on a previous cruise.
I never miss Liars' Club and it didn't disappoint. Some of Jimmy Kovel's (CD) explanations were hilarious.
The cooking demonstrations were interesting and entertaining especially when one of the chefs was trying to cook 'healthy' and the other cooked up a lemon butter sauce with what looked like a kilo of butter.
I played Bingo and even won a few. I would have liked more Bingo but it was only played on sea days. I only play Bingo on cruises and I always enjoy it.
I actually was a part of two trivia teams. My first team left in Kodiak so I had to join another and my new team was great. We won three nights running and Mr & Mrs Silver Spectre from Cruise Critic were excellent participants. It was a pleasure meeting them. Jimmy Kovel did a fantastic job, giving little hints that really mixed up the play. He gave a great new spin to trivia that I haven't encountered before and you really needed to be on your toes to get the hints. Kudos to Jimmy.
Ports & Excursions
Ketchikan - I did the Misty Fjords by floatplane. This was fabulous and we managed to have the sun shining for awhile.
Juneau - I did the Tracey Arm fjord and glacier by boat. This was great although very cold but I saw lots of icebergs and saw the glacier calve...excellent! I'm glad I did this excursion because the ship had a problem and missed the fjord altogether.
Skagway - I did the White Pass Railway and Mushers Dog Camp. The railway is very scenic. Now the Dog Camp - well if you are expecting to see blue eyed Siberian Husky dogs then you are sadly mistaken and they tell you this on the bus on the way to the camp. These dogs are the sled dogs that run in the Iditarod and Yukon Quest and they are bitsa dogs bred for endurance - they are called Alaskan Huskies - so I guess that's where the confusion is. They are extremely hardy and gorgeous but they aren't the Huskies that some of us were expecting. The dog sled ride was also a bit lame. The 'sled' is like a large golf cart and the dogs pull it around a loop...probably 10 minutes if that. Seeing and petting the puppies was lovely.
Kodiak - I had to cancel my walk in the Fort Abercrombie park so I got the shuttle bus into town and wandered around myself.
Petropavlovsk - I did the ATV volcano trip. This was great, although extremely bumpy, because the weather was perfect and it was a really pretty port surrounded by lots of active volcanoes (29 of them to be precise).
Hakodate - I did the highlights tour because this was the only tour on offer due to low numbers. Hakodate was a very pretty city and the view from the top of the mountain was spectacular.
Tokyo - I did the city tour and transfer to Narita. This would have been great but it was raining too heavily to do any sightseeing and most of us stayed on the bus.
SS provided shuttles in Kodiak and Hakodate as the ship was a fair way from town. All of the other ports were walking distance if you wanted to pop into town on your own. Petropavlovsk was a tender port but only took 10 minutes (if that).
I found the weather very cold in Alaska, especially Kodiak. The Bering Sea crossing was brutal at times for me. Not being able to get on deck and four days of 75kph winds started to get to me. One night I nearly fell out of my chair whilst typing on my computer. Some people thought this was mild, I'm just not a good sailor.
Many people on the message boards have said that SS has lost its edge. I did not find this although I did notice a few little things that have changed. No welcome champagne, no fruit bowl, no next day's menu in The Chronicles - although I rectified this by requesting it at Reception. Caraffes of water in the bar fridge instead of bottled water. The silver cardboard breakfast menu is now on photocopy paper and alas, the passenger list is no more. Of course, you need to opt out of the charity charge, but that's easy to do.
This was cruise number 5 on Silversea and I've booked another for next year. I enjoyed the cruise and was happy with the level of service that I received.
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