SILVER SHADOW TOUR/REVIEW
Last Sunday, October 15, my wife and I, past Silverseas passengers, had the opportunity to tour Silverseas new ship the magnificent SILVER SHADOW while the ship was in the Port of Philadelphia on it's third cruise.
This new build, the third ship in the award-winning Silverseas fleet takes the concept of elegant, all-suite, ultra-luxury cruising to the next level. This dramatic new ship incorporates technological innovations, suggestions from past Silverseas passengers and improved design concepts. The Shadow and its sister ship Silver Whisper, scheduled to enter service in July 2001, are designed to carry Silversea's tradition of all-inclusive luxury and style into the new millennium.
The Silver Shadow (And Silver Whisper) are larger then their flee mates the Silver Cloud and Silver Wind. Here is a comparison:
SILVER CLOUD SILVER SHADOW
SILVER WIND SILVER WHISPER
PASSENGERS 296 382
GROSS TONNAGE 16,800 28,258
LENGTH 514 Feet 610 Feet
WIDTH 60 Feet 81.8 Feet
PASSENGER DECKS 6 7
PASSENGER SPACE/RATIO 64 74
The Silver Shadow has the highest space to passenger ratio in the cruise industry at 74, providing more space per passenger than any other cruise ship. The space/ratio is arrived at by dividing a vessel's gross registered tonnage, which is a volume measurement of its interior space, not the ships "weight" by it's lower berth capacity.
The Shadow's hull was built at Italy's Franceso Visentini Shipyard near Trieste and the ship was outfitted at the T. Mariotti Shipyard in Genoa. My wife and I were aboard Sliver Cloud last October 9 when the Captain announced over the public address system that Silver Shadow had been floated at the Visentini yard and was enroute to the Mariotti yard. We had the special privilege to toast the "newborn" at Captain Russo's table that evening at dinner.
The Shadow is registered in the Bahamas. Designed by Petter Yran and Bjorn Storbraaten Architects of Oslo, the award-winning designers of the Silver Cloud and Silver Wind. The vessel has Italian Officers, European staff and an international crew totaling 295 and providing a passenger-to-crew ratio of 1.31 to 1.
Entering the ship you are normally in the Reception Foyer on Deck 5 (Due to the limitations of the dismal Port of Philadelphia the gangplank was on deck 4) a crystal chandelier casts a soft glow on the foyer's warm honey-spiced woods and chestnut, umber and ebony hued marbles. The area features groupings of snug and comfortable wing-backed chairs. This is the hub of the ships activity containing the Reception and Concierge and Shore Excursion desks and also the offices of the Hotel Director and Cruise Consultant. Every Silverseas cruise feature a cruise consultant offering the passengers advice on planning future Silverseas cruises. The line has an extremely high ratio of repeat passengers due in part to the unique way the cruise consultant operates with the passengers personal travel agents to book future cruises at savings of 2-4%.
Our tour progressed to the top Deck, deck 10. This deck houses the new and larger spa operated by the exclusive Mandara organization. The spa features an extensive menu of restorative body therapies combining exotic Balinese traditions with classic techniques. The spa feature numerous treatment rooms and a fully trained staff.
Also on this deck is the Beauty Salon and Fitness center. The Salon features, by appointment, coiffeurs, manicures and pedicures. The Fitness center is the place for fitness enthusiasts. Equipped with circuit weights, state-of-the-art treadmills, stair climbers and stationery bicycles as well as men's/women's steam rooms and dry saunas.
The crowning glory of Deck 10 is a completely redesigned Observation Lounge, perched on the deck above the bridge, this charming room seats 55. With a commanding view of the world, the room looks forward over the bow. Equipped with a radar screen, astronomical maps, binoculars and reference books, old salts and would-be-mariners can monitor the ships course and progress. During the day, a self-service water and juice bar provides refreshments to guests. At night, a full service bar makes this room a popular spot for private functions and cocktail parties.
The Observation Lounge on Shadow is a vast improvement from the Cloud/Wind. On the smaller ships the Observation lounge can only be reached by climbing a flight of steps and walking a good portion of the ship's length outside to reach the room. Shadow has an elevator to the deck and the route to the lounge is all inside climate controlled area.
Next stop on the tour was Deck 9 featuring 18 Veranda Suites and the ship's jogging track overlooking the pool area. The aft section of deck 9 features a delightful small deck area for relaxation, with lounge chairs and tables.
Deck 8 features the new Poolside Grille and Bar. The full service bar was featured on the Cloud and Wind. New to the Shadow is the Grille provides barbecue facilities for poolside lunch under the shade of the deck above. The Poolside Grille is sure to be a hub of activity during days at sea. At least once during each cruise Silverseas plans to offer a poolside dinner barbecue featuring Lobster, Swordfish and Steak. The area also features a teak deck for dancing to the band perched on a "stage" on deck above.
This area is forward of the large (for a ship of this size) pool and dual whirlpools and twin showers, the entire pool area is surrounded by teak decking.
Aft on this deck passengers will find the Library, a quiet enclave where guests may borrow from a wide variety of videos to watch in their suites, hundreds of books, from classics to bestsellers. A complete collection of National Geographic magazines is also available on CD-ROM.
The Computer Center, which seats 5, offers four computer stations and one laptop station with Internet access available to guests anytime day or night. A trained staff member is available to assist in the use of the computer equipment aboard.
The rear of the deck contains the Panorama Lounge, a signature feature on the Silverseas ships. Seating from 162-170 guests the room is designed to reflect the curves of an elegant nautilus shell. The Lounge features a sweeping curved wall of glass that looks out to the sea. In this room guests may enjoy a light continental breakfast by dawn's early light. Afternoon tea is served here with tempting pastries and piano accompaniment. By night the Panorama Lounge becomes a nightclub….the perfect venue for that after-dinner drink and dancing to piano renderings. During our cruise on the Cloud last year we spent at least two hours each evening in this pleasant piano bar.
Deck 8 also features 2 Grand Suites (953 square feet) and 28 Veranda Suites. Two of the 28 Veranda suites can be combined with the 2 grand suites to create two bedroom accommodations.
Moving down to deck 7 we toured the first of several suites. We toured Royal suite 702 and the connecting Veranda Suite 704. The Royal suite Measures 901 square feet and features forward facing windows, a guest powder room, flat screen televisions and Bang and Olfeson Entertainment centers and a Jacuzzi massage bathtub in the newly designed bathroom. The suite can be reserved as either a one or two bedroom configuration. The "master" bedroom, of the suite, features a walk-in closet rivaling some Royal Caribbean cabins in size.
Connecting to the Royal Suite we toured suite 704 a traditional Veranda Suite. There are a total of 134 veranda Suites on Silver Shadow. These 345 square feet suites feature a sizable private balcony with two lounge chairs and table, floor to ceiling windows and door leading to the living area which features a couch, cocktail table, three side chairs, a desk area, stocked bar, refrigerator and storage. The living area can be separated from the sleeping area by a curtain. The sleeping area features twin beds, which can be configured as a queen bed and a vanity area with comfortable chair, twin bed stands and reading lights. The sleeping and living areas mirror the same areas on Silver Cloud and Silver Wind which measure 295 square feet.
New are an enlarged and much better designed walk-in closet and a vastly enlarged and improved bath now featuring a separate shower and tub and twin basins. The hallmark accommodations on Silversea ships, the veranda suites provide guests with immediate access to the sights and sounds of the sea and ports-of-call. The veranda is perfect for enjoying a good book, an early morning breakfast or watching a magnificent sunset.
Deck 7 also features 1 Grand Suite which was not open for inspection, 12 Veranda Suites, 2 of which can be combined with a Royal or Grand suite to create 2 bedroom accommodations. This deck also features 13 Silver Suites, 2 Owner Suites and 2 Medallion Suites (A new category on Silver Shadow).
Available for inspection was one of the Silver suites. The Silver Cloud and Silver Wind each featured 3 Silver Suites, the new builds feature 13 Silver Suites each because of the popularity of these accommodations. The Silver Suite measure a generous 701 square feet and offer larger, separate living room for entering guests and a more spacious veranda. The suites also feature a full-size Jacuzzi tub.
Owner suites measure 903 square feet and feature a guest powder room, flat screen TV's in both the bedroom and living room, Jacuzzi tub, B & O Stereo and double long veranda. Owner suite can be reserved as one or two bedroom configurations. The new suites on the Shadow--Medallion Suites measure 521 square feet are larger than the veranda suites and feature a larger living room and veranda which contains two lounges and two chairs and a table.
The aft section of deck 7 includes the Conference room--new space on the Shadow, seating 36 and available for groups, clubs and private parties by reservation. The room contains audio-visual equipment including a roll-down screen, flip charts and white boards for conference use. Also available are a television, video player and a small refrigerator for convenient refreshments.
In front of the Conference Room is the 22 passenger capacity Card Room. Featuring felt covered tables and an entertainment cabinet with television and video player and a small refreshments refrigerator. Connecting to the conference center by a movable wall the Card room may be joined to form a conference room seating 58.
New to the Shadow are the Humidor a 20 passenger capacity Cigar club. Passing through decorative doors you enter this club-like space presented by Davidoff. From the walk-in humidor built under the direction of the legendary Davidoff company, guests may select a fine cigar from an extensive collection of Davidoff and other premium brands. Deep and very comfy gallery chairs and soft settees are the perfect place to savor a fine cigar and a cognac from the trolley. The air in the room is constantly circulated via a special ventilation system.
Connecting to the Humidor is Le Champagne, presented by Moet & Chandon, Silverseas official champagne. On the port side of the Terrace Café Silversea's new wine bar, Le Champagne offering a genteel retreat designed for tastings and social gatherings. Featuring the cuvee of Moet & Chandon, this intimate space--new on the Shadow--also offers a generous selection of wines from the Silverseas extensive wine list.
Filling the aft section of deck 7 is the popular Terrace Café which seats 162 guests indoor and 64 on teak decks surrounding the room. Allowing a 180-degree view of the horizon, the Terrace Café's floor to ceiling windows provide a panoramic view of the sea and ports-of-call. For breakfast and lunch, diners may chose from a generous buffet. In this newly designed room the buffet area is glassed-off from the dining room. On Cloud and Wind the area is separated only by a curtain.
This casual restaurant features grilled fare and freshly prepared pasta. Guests can enjoy the view from inside or in the fresh air under a shady canvas awning.
In the evening the mood of the room is transformed and the Terrace Café becomes a specialty venue featuring Italian, French or Asian cuisine. This alternative dining is by reservation only and the gourmet dining experience is extremely popular among Silversea passengers. On our Silver Cloud cruise last year my wife and I were invited to a very special dinner in the Terrace Café for passengers that were staying on board, we combined two cruises. This dinner started with cocktails, caviar and jumbo shrimp, and a multi-course French Menu that was beyond belief. On a par with meals we have been fortunate to have in the best restaurants on land in the world.
The tour moved to deck 6 featuring 52 Veranda suites, 1 Royal suite and 1 Grand Suite. Two of the veranda suites can be combined with the Grand and Royal suite to form two bedroom accommodations.
Aft on deck six, down an attractive entrance way is the upper deck of the two deck Athenian Show Lounge. Seating 356 guests this multi-tiered show lounge is cleverly designed to afford each guest an unobstructed view of the stage. This enlarged show lounge--due to the increased width of the Shadow features full production shows (Silverseas recently changed production companies), first run movies and concerts.
During the daytime this lounge offers informative port lectures and featured speakers to enlighten and entertain in this multi-purpose venue. On this particular Colonial America cruise astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the featured lecturer.
Arriving back on deck 5 we were unable to tour the casino due to port regulations, but his enlarged casino draws it's inspiration from the Grand Casino of Monte Carlo. With bold winning tones the casino offers Blackjack, Roulette and new to Silverseas, Craps. Electronic gaming machines are thoughtfully tucked into alcoves to soften the lights and noise.
Off the casino is a delightful new bar Lampadina, named for the popular Italian drink. This cozy bar sports ultra comfortable chairs and smart Italian designed sofas, with ebony leather stools circling the handsome handmade cherry wood bar. Day or night. This bar, welcomes shoppers and browsers from the nearby Shopping Arcade, or Piazza.
The shopping arcade features a well-stocked ship's Boutique and the Silversea signature elegant Bvlgari shop. Bvlgari toiletries are featured in each Silverseas suite. This luxury Italian jeweler formed an alliance with Silversea and a well-stocked Bvlgari shop is featured on each of the Silversea ships. Gentlemen beware this shop features beautiful and elegant goods and can be very hazardous to your wallet. I was lucky to escape my last Silverseas cruise by buying my bride a much reduced, due to the duty free nature of on board shopping, Bvlgari scarf. This special gift still set me back nearly $300 dollars--a considerable savings over the $495 list on land. This shop features items from a few hundred dollars to over a quarter of a million dollars. As the clerk told me last year "you can save nearly $60,000 by buying the necklace on board, it's only $197,500!"
Passing through the reception area you will enter a hallway leading to The Bar. Seating 109 guests, The Bar is another Silverseas signature area. This handsome gathering place fosters a spirit of conviviality. It is the gathering place prior to dinner and features a quartet playing music for dancing. It's also a perfect place for an after show cordial. Access to the lower deck of the Anthenian Show Lounge is through The Bar.
Deck 5 also features 24 Veranda Suite and 8 Vista Suites and 2 Handicap Suites. The 2 handicap suites (535 and 537) measure 415 square feet and are Handicap friendly.
The Vista suites on Deck 5 (521,523,525,527,529,531,533,535 and 537) share a common unfurnished veranda. These suites will probably be the first to book as they offer a veranda for the lower price of a window. These suites would be perfect for families and small travel groups.
Moving down to Deck 4 we find 26 Vista Suites measuring 287 square feet. These suites are identical in layout to the Veranda Suites but without the veranda. These suites feature a five-foot panoramic window framing the view of the sea. Living, Sleeping, Bath and Closet areas are identical in layout to the Veranda Suites.
The public area on Deck 4 is The Restaurant, you have to love Silverseas simplistic approach to naming their public rooms, The Bar, The Restaurant etc. This attractive room seats 424 guests in a variety of table configurations from 2 tops to 8 tops. The added width of the Shadow allows for an additional row of tables on each side of the dining room.
You enter The Restaurant through a formal hall you have a wonderful view over the dance floor to the dramatic glasswork on the far wall. In a much different design than the Cloud and Wind, three grand crystal chandeliers crown the center of the room. The size of the dining room allows Silverseas to offer single seating dining, dining when you want and with who you want during an extended dinner period. This elegant room features high-backed cherry wood chairs.
So there's the tour--they treated us to cocktails and finger foods in the Bar after the tour.
The new ship is magnificent, a new level of elegance in the ultra-luxury cruise market. Silverseas continues to include the most inclusive pricing in the industry. The cruise pricing includes, your suite, all food and drink, including premium wines and spirits (top vintage wines and champagnes are available at an extra cost), all tips (Silversea employees are not allowed to accept tips), a pre-cruise night at a luxury hotel, your connecting flights (frequently offering low cost Business or First class upgrades), transfers, portage, and port charges.
In addition Silverseas offers 15% discounts for prepayment 6 months prior to the cruise and 10% for 90 day prepay. It's hard to get 30% interest on your money these days!
The fares on Silverseas are above average but for my money they represent real value for the dollar. Last year on our Silver Cloud cruise service was outstanding, the entertainment above expectations, the food on a par with the very best land based restaurants and the atmosphere as close to perfect as possible.
Taking a tour makes it impossible to judge service, entertainment and food. But as luck we have it during the tour we met a passenger who was on board with my wife and I on our Silver Cloud cruise last year. He and his wife were passengers on this cruise so we had the opportunity to talk about the food, the service and the entertainment.
Their assessment: the food was as good or better; the service, which was excellent last year maintained the same flawless quality and the entertainment, which was also topnotch last year was even better.
So there you have it Silverseas has a new winner in it's fleet! My wife and I are saving our money so that we can experience a cruise on the Shadow or the Whisper in 2002.
Bill in Harrisburg