We spent two nights at the Rosedale on Robson Hotel in Vancouver before embarking on the Silver Shadow. The hotel, and our visit to Vancouver, were both outstanding. This hotel has 21 floors, and our suite was on the 20th floor, so we had great views. The location was great and the staff was very helpful. The hotel is in Yaletown, a trendy area with numerous bars and restaurants. Vancouver is a wonderful city. Everyone we met was friendly and helpful.
Silversea and Seabourn are remarkably similar. Both are small ships, luxury, all inclusive, almost all suites with balconies and with outstanding service due to high crew to passengers ratios. The Silver Shadow had 348 passengers, the Seabourn Quest had 450.
Positives: Embarkation was slow getting through US customs, but after that, very smooth. Departure was scheduled for 6PM. We went right on the ship at 1:30PM, had lunch and our suite was ready by 2:30PM. Our cruise was 7-day in the Inside Passage, Vancouver to Seward, with port stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka. We were blessed by remarkable weather throughout the 7 days. Never really had to wear a jacket or sweater. The Silver Shadow is very similar in layout to the Seabourn Quest, including the suites with balconies. Our "butler", Roland, gave us excellent service, seemed always available and was proactive in anticipating our needs. Silversea did a much better job (versus Seabourn) promoting their activities and the activities were better. At the welcoming cocktail party the first night, Silversea trotted out all the entertainers, lecturers and department heads. As a result, we enjoyed the entertainers' shows at night and Professor Wolf's lecturers on Alaska history.
Negatives: In pre-cruise customer service, Silversea's agents were not friendly, short with us and insisted that we go through the booking agency. Seabourn representatives were friendly and helpful. Silversea allowed smoking and we saw smoking, including cigars, in several public areas Seabourn was very restrictive on smoking. Regarding the restaurants, twice in La Terrazza, once at breakfast and once at lunch, we were seated just before the "last seating" time, only to find half the buffet taken down. If they post a "last seating" time, it should be for the full buffet, not just half. The pool grill on Seabourn offered a full buffet every day, or you could order from the menu. The Silversea pool grill offered only a limited menu. Finally, like Seabourn, Silversea promotes "all inclusive" but charges extra for their gourmet restaurant, Le Champagne; and they charge extra for caviar. "All inclusive" should mean just that. Seabourn required reservations for their "gourmet" restaurant, but did not charge and did not charge for caviar.
Our two excursions, the floatplane ride out of Ketchikan to the Misty Fjords and a 33-ft. catamaran ride out of Juneau for close up whale watching, were both outstanding. We booked the excursions direct rather than through the cruise line, taking advantage of the reviews on the TripAdvisor website. Price was about the same, but we were insured of having the best companies.
The cruise ended at 7AM in Seward, and Silversea had a train take us to the Anchorage airport. The train ride, 3.5 hours, was pleasant and very scenic. The whole process was smooth and well organized.
We found Silversea and Seabourn to be about even in embarkation, disembarkation, suite accomodations, facilities, ship layout, overall service and quality of food & wine. Both are excellent, and we would recommend either cruise line and will probably take both in the future.