Silver Shadow - Asia: Silver Shadow Cruise Review by CASHIPman
Overall Member Rating
Silver Shadow - Asia
Embarkation: Hong Kong
Itinerary: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shannon (Beijing), Pusan, Hiroshima, Kobe. (Kyoto), Tokyo Notes: The itinerary is an excellent way to see this part of the world without packing and unpacking.
Shanghai: The voyage allowed for an overnight in Shanghai and two nights/2.5 days in Beijing. Since Shanghai is a port city there is no need to worry about landside accommodation in order to get the best of the city. Shanghai is a bustling metropolis with all the trendy shops that you may find in any city.
Tianjin (Beijing): Tianjin is the port nearest to Beijing. Its about two hours by highway from Tianjin to Beijing. The ship spent two nights at Tianjin but that only equated to two and ½ days. It was necessary to spend one night in Beijing to see as much as you can, but to spend a second night is a waste, as youll need to get up early on the last day for the drive back to the ship. Beijing and its environs More offered some great historical sites including the Great Wall. What had to be the most incongruous event in the trip was the visit to the Great Wall. To get to the top we didnt climb steps&we took a roller coaster! It was great fun!! (though very odd!) Departing Tianjin was a challenge. Chinese immigration required all passengers disembark and go to the cruise terminal to exit the country. This entire process delayed the ships departure by 3 hours and was unexpected by the ships company. On the flip side, arriving into China in Shanghai was a breeze.
Pusan: This is South Koreas second largest city. nuf said. The Beomosa Buddhist Temple complex however was beautiful. Hiroshima: This is a city reborn. Beautiful in its simplicity; moving in its ways of honoring its past. The ships shuttle bus dropped us downtown and its an easy city to get around.
Kobe (Kyoto): The ship spent about 18 hours at the port of Kobe allowing passengers the ability to make their own way or take a ships tour to Kyoto. The shuttle dropped us off at the JR (Japan Rail) station and the limited express train takes less than an hour. You can take the Bullet Train from the Shin-Kobe station if you want the thrill of the ride. If you do Kyoto on your own, make sure you hit the tour of the Imperial Palace. They offered once or twice a day in English and you need to have permission from the Imperial Household Agency, which is granted upon showing your passport, or other government issued ID.
Tokyo: We disembarked at Tokyo and stayed one night at the Imperial Hotel. Tokyo was very nice and Im certain one day does not do it justice. Try Pachinko! Even if you dont understand whats going on, its great fun and you can win money!
Embarkation: The boarding time for the ship was between 3:00PM and 5:00PM. In order to maximize our time in Hong Kong and at the Peninsula Hotel, we elected to board as close to 5PM as possible. Imagine our surprise when we boarded and the lifeboat drill was already underway! Embarkation was smooth other than the companionways filled with lifejacket bedecked passengers. The lifeboat drill was conducted indoors after we were first shown the muster stations.
Disembarkation: As smooth as silk. The cabins had to be vacated by 8:30AM so we went to the Terrace Cafe to enjoy breakfast and relax until we were called to join the bus to the Imperial Hotel.
Stewardess service: Invisible! And thats a good thing. Other than the pleasant embarkation day introductions we didnt see the stewardess (es) who made up the cabin each morning and evening. We didnt need anything that wasnt provided as a matter of course so we didnt need to call the stewardess team.
The Restaurant Service: Excellent! All levels of service in the Restaurant from the assistant wait staff to the Maitre d met or exceeded our expectations and our past experiences on Silversea. My partner and I traveled with a case (12 bottles) of wine to be consumed during our voyage and we found that the head sommelier and his assistant were both extremely knowledgeable and yet had a thirst for knowledge for these wines that they had not experienced. We never felt rushed during the dinner service nor were we made to wait an extended period of time for the next course to come. One evening one of the folks we were dining with wasnt enjoying his main course. Even though the kitchen was virtually closed, the headwaiter went into the kitchen and returned with a rare piece of prime rib that was prepared to this guests liking&and he liked it!
Food: Consistently very good to excellent. A real treat was two nights of Kobe beef. Since Japan currently has an embargo on all USA provided beef, the usual meat was sealed in a freezer and Kobe beef brought aboard. Kobe appeared on the menu the evening we were in that port. We then special ordered a different cut of Kobe the next evening. Both were delicious! Another true highlight in The Restaurant is the pasta. It is superbly prepared and worthy of being special ordered as either an appetizer or main course. A personal favorite was the Pasta Carbonara.
Wine Dinner: On every cruise we bring a selection of wines from our cellar to be consumed aboard ship in concert with the food on board ship. A special treat for us is when we get the sommelier and the chef to create a menu that pairs well with some of the wines weve brought along. Heres a link to a report on the wine dinner and how well the chef and sommelier captured the spirit of the wines and found the perfect dishes to enhance them: http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/showthread.php?t=93698&highlight=Silversea. One minor disappointment was that they didnt print up the menu. On past cruises this was done without us requesting it. La Terrazza This was a true disappointment. We ate there once toward the beginning of the cruise and never darkened their doorway again! The service was lacking and the food completely uninspired. One main course that was offered was Branzino. When it arrived, the folks at the table who ordered it were surprised to see that it was not branzino at all but Chilean Sea Bass. Its poor form to put something on the menu and then do a bait and switch at tableside. The sommelier assigned to La Terrazza was very polite but lacked any skill and knowledge in his assigned tasks.
La Champagne We did not eat in La Champagne and the general uptake on that restaurant was low during the cruise. Some nights they had no patrons at all. I think the concept of La Champagne is a good one but the execution may be lacking. The wines that were shown on the menus that would be included in the USD150.00 supplement were not of such extremely high quality as to warrant the cost vs. purchasing wines from the premium wine list or just enjoying the complimentary wines.
Bar service Excellent! No matter where I went on the ship, be it The Bar, Panorama Lounge, or The Humidor, the service was outstanding. The team on the Silver Shadow quickly picked up on peoples preferences and anticipated requests in advance. Strong kudos go to the bar staff that uphold the lines dress code. One evening we lingered in The Bar after trivia. Our daywear (shorts) did not meet the dress code for the evening. We lingered so long in the Bar that it reopened at 6PM for the evening and when I went to get a drink the bartender politely reminded me of the dress code after 6PM. Some folks might take offense at this but I applauded it. There was no disdain in the bartenders voice, as a matter of fact just the opposite. He handled this beautifully. I hadnt realized that so much time had passed. I went to the stateroom, changed and came back and passed muster. The Humidor is a wonderful place to relax after dinner. The atmosphere there seems to foster more interesting conversations than you may find in other venues aboard ship. I dont smoke but always looked forward to a port wine or caipirinha in the Humidor.
Pool Grille I dont know why, but I just love sitting poolside for lunch and this cruise was no exception. The weather was not always exactly pool weather but that didnt stop me. The pizzas they serve are outstanding.
Ships tours: The only ship offered tour we took was in Pusan. We saw the Beomosa Temple and city highlights. We left the tour early and headed back to the ship on our own. There wasnt too much that I found of interest in Pusan other than the temple. We did privately arranged tours in Shanghai and Beijing, and made our own way around Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo. Generally speaking Ive found that privately arranged tours to be better and less costly than the ships tours. The one caveat is that, with a privately arranged tour, if you dont get back to the ship on time shell sail without you.
Trivia: The ship offered a team trivia game on sea days. As much as I love trivia it seems to become a blood sport (the cruise directors term!) on ship. Im amazed that a group of players whose combined net worth probably rivals that of many nations can devolve into a screaming match all over a bookmark! It was interesting to watch but, for me not fun to partake in. This isnt peculiar to Silversea though.
Reception Desk: The ladies that staffed the reception desk, while professional, did not seem to be as pleasant as the remainder of the crew on the ship. They were appropriate but dour. We asked them to arrange to send invitations to our Wine Dinner to the invitees but managed to send some of the invites to the wrong people. We breathed a sigh of relief when the erroneous invitees called the morning of the dinner to RSVP that they couldnt make it. I brought this error to the attention of the Reception Desk and there wasnt much in the way of an apology.
Physical plant: The ship appeared to be very well maintained. I took the galley tour, which brought us below decks to the stores of the ship, and everything seemed very orderly.
Stateroom: We had a verandah stateroom that was perfectly comfortable. The ship now has DVD players in the staterooms. Internet connection: We brought our own laptop as well as used the Internet portals in the computer center. The cost for 250 minutes was USD100.00 (0.40/minute). The library, computer center and Panorama are all wireless, which was convenient. Apparently some passengers had troubles in the computer center so much of the computer charges were refunded.
Overall impression: This was our fourth Silversea cruise and, as always, we enjoyed it tremendously. The level of service was up to Silverseas usual high standards and the itinerary was fascinating. We look forward to sailing with Silversea again in December and in May of next year. Less