The only difference between the Silver Shadow and its two predecessors, Silver Cloud and Silver Wind, is its size. The line's reputation for quality and service, established with those two (which debuted in the mid 1990's), is carried on here. In shape and configuration the Silver Shadow (and its twin, Silver Whisper) is simply a bigger (by about 7,000 tons) and newer version of the first two.
Built under a cooperative agreement by two Italian shipyards (the hull was constructed at the Visentini yard near Trieste; final outfitting was done at the T. Mariotti yard in Genoa) the ship is an all-suite, all-inclusive, all-frills vessel, which carried its first guests in September 2000.
Its suites are bigger than the industry norm -- about as big, in fact, as you would expect from a ship with the Silversea logo on its stack. The ship's overall passenger space ratio -- an esoteric measurement to the layperson -- is a whopping 74. That's arrived at by dividing a vessel's gross tonnage (which, incidentally, is the volume measurement of its interior space, not literally its weight) by the lower-berth passenger capacity. That may seem complicated but, believe me: A passenger space ratio of 74 is HUGE! Its passenger to crew ratio isn't too shabby, either. Just fewer than 300 crew members means that there is one to every 1.3 passengers.
All in all, there's not much that can be said against the Silver Shadow. It was built and designed to cater to the carriage trade -- those who are rich and proud of it. And it does. If this ship were a movie, the appropriate star would be Jack Nicholson. And the title of the movie? "As Good As It Gets."
Silver Shadow Fellow Passengers
There were a number of youngish passengers -- maybe in their mid-40's. But, generally, the group was way north of 60 and one couple admitted to "coming up to 80." Silver Shadow guests tend to be well traveled, loyal to Silversea and well heeled. It was an international group. A Belgian couple traveled with their 14-year-old daughter. An Australian pair was approaching the end of a round-the world vacation which had seen them travel by plane, motor coach, train, and, now, before their return to Melbourne, cruise ship. British accents were everywhere, one of them belonging to a 70-something gentleman with a peculiar habit: On formal evenings he dressed in a tuxedo with all the trimmings, patent leather shoes -- and no socks. At first I thought maybe he had a skin problem that prevented him for wearing socks ... ever. But no -- by day, or on non-formal nights, his feet were always conventionally covered.
One guest who always seemed to draw a crowd before dinner appeared from a distance to be a spellbinder. I thought it was fitting when I found that he was a mid-Atlantic states attorney holding court in The Bar!
Silver Shadow Dress Code
There were two formal nights during the 10-day voyage, requiring tuxedo or dark business suit for men -- usually with socks. As is generally the case, though, there were men even on those evenings who wore slacks and jackets whose only nod to formality was to wear a tie. The rest of the time, the dress code called for semi-formal (jacket, please ... tie not required) or casual (slacks and sports shirt acceptable).
Silver Shadow Gratuity
None are required and none are expected. Silversea crews are paid above the industry average and seem content with that. Some guests choose to tip maitre d's and other dining room decision makers, it's true. A word to the wise here: If you're going to do that, do it early in the cruise rather than at the end! As proof of the crew's commitment to the Silversea no-tipping policy I offer this. I tried to reward my cabin attendant with a small gratuity for having exchanged the beer in my fridge for another brand. She politely declined, noting refreshingly, "It's my job to make sure you have the right kind of beer in your room."
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