Silver Shadow excels at shore excursions with enthusiastic expert guides and as comfortable transportation (air-conditioned buses, minivans and private cars with drivers and guides) as a port allows. When we were on a mid-voyage land adventure in Bagan, Myanmar, Silversea chartered a plane last minute after our commercial flight returning to Yangon was delayed. Now that is luxury.
Silver Shadow offers a wide selection of shore excursions that are priced similarly to outings offered by other luxury lines. Extremely physical outings are rare; such excursions are saved for the Silversea expedition fleet. The level of physicality needed for each excursion is clarified and ranges from bus rides with photo stops to extensive walking tours with many hills and steps.
Silver Shadow runs a complimentary shuttle to a town or city center when possible. The shore excursion desk provides maps and tips for independent exploration. The ship sometimes offers "Good Citizen" excursions, where passengers explore philanthropic opportunities onshore, such as donating school supplies or preserving wildlife.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Many activities are scheduled throughout the day, particularly on sea days. Count on shuffleboard, table tennis tournaments, bingo, pool volleyball, golf putting challenges and trivia games. Most passengers participate in activities, with bridge and trivia ever-popular.
Nighttime entertainment is limited. Singers called Voices of Silversea entertain most evenings in the Athenian Lounge, a multi-leveled showroom decorated in burgundy and beige with chairs, couches and cocktail rounds, on Deck 6. They generally perform together, although some evenings, members perform solo shows, varying the musical content from country to opera. While probably not destined to become solo stars, they do sing reasonably well and with enthusiasm. They perform one show, either at 6:30 or 10 p.m., and it's popular.
A singer croons in The Bar on Deck 5 pre-and-post dinner. After dinner, many passengers head to the Panorama Lounge on Deck 8 where the Silver Shadow Quartet plays and passengers dance or just sip nightcaps. A DJ takes over when the quartet retires and spins late-night tunes –- although not too many passengers are still around then. By 10 or 11 p.m., the ship is quiet.
When out to sea, the small casino on Deck 5 is open for slot machines from 10 a.m. until all passengers leave. Roulette, poker and blackjack tables are open from 2:30 until 6 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. until the last passengers depart. This casino isn't the busiest, due to its small size. But if a group of passengers come in together to play poker or blackjack (which often happens), the room gets lively.
Many of Silversea's daytime activities fall under the enrichment tag, such as language and dance classes, fitness seminars, art lectures and bridge lessons.
Guest speakers, such as an eloquent physician from University of Miami discussing health care disparities, or an impassioned former diplomat on United States and Chinese relations, deliver enrichment lectures relating to visited ports. Lectures we've attended keep passengers' interests and provoke back-and-forth dialogue. A destination lecturer, usually jovial and outgoing, provides port information briefings with slideshows.
Silver Shadow Bars and Lounges
Teatime and post-dinner cocktails in the Panorama Lounge and pre-dinner drinks at The Bar are the most popular pastimes. If shore excursions begin early morning, few passengers stay late in bars and lounges.
The Bar (Deck 5): The Bar is particularly popular pre-dinner for pairing off with dinner companions while a vocalist sings. (She also sings after-dinner, but crowds are smaller then.) There are several cozy seating areas with leather couches and patterned upholstered chairs plus a handsome wood bar with leather stools. Servers circulate with nightly tapas such as mini-quiches. Hours are 6 p.m. until the last passenger leaves.
Connoisseurs Club (Deck 7): Passengers puff away on Davidoff cigars and sip fine brandies and other select spirits while relaxing in overstuffed leather chairs at this lounge. Asian rugs and glass-topped tables with ashtrays complete the clubby look. Bar hours are 9 p.m. until the last passenger leaves.
Panorama Lounge (Deck 8): Panorama Lounge is chock-full of cocktail rounds surrounded by velvety burgundy or cream-colored chairs. Softly striped curtains frame floor-to-ceiling windows. The bar serves from 10 a.m. until the last passenger leaves. On select voyages, onboard Gentleman Hosts may arrange cocktail get-togethers for solo passengers at 7:30 p.m. The Silver Shadow Quartet entertains from 9:30 p.m. until midnight while passengers twirl around the good-size dance floor. This lounge is much more popular in the evenings than during the daytime.
The Grill Bar (Deck 8): Open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., this small corner alfresco bar is always busy. Passengers move between poolside lounge chairs and the few stools to schmooze.
The Observation Lounge (Deck 10): This beige-hued lounge is a spacious quiet spot with jaw-dropping floor-to-ceiling window views –- it's all the way forward -- and 24-hour self-service coffee. Passengers come here to curl up with a book (wall cabinets are stocked with hard-covered tomes to borrow) or contemplate the sea on comfy chairs and couches. It's the most underused lounge onboard.
Silver Shadow Outside Recreation
The seawater swimming pool on Deck 8 is heated in cold weather and chilled when it's hot. Up to six passengers can soak in one of the two beige-and-brown-tiled Jacuzzis at a time, and these hot tubs stay busy with passengers chatting and sipping cocktails. There are also two rinse-off glass-encircled showers. Lounge chairs with striped or brown cushions flank the pool and always-popular covered daybeds edge the teak deck.
On Deck 10, the jogging track encircles the upper pool deck. Joggers may have to maneuver past some passengers sunning on lounge chairs but only if it's midday. Many couples walk the track at sunrise, sunset and after dinner.
Silver Shadow Services
There is a 24-hour staffed reception desk on Deck 5. The shore excursion desk is adjacent and posts its hours. The Medical Centre on Deck 3 is staffed with a doctor and a nurse and has clinic hours about two hours per day. Medical assistance is available 24 hours or by appointment.
The library and 24-hour Internet Cafe are on Deck 7, with eight computers spread between the two spaces. It's easy to hop on one any time; most passengers use their laptops, tablets and smartphones. Internet charges are not listed; many passengers rely on complimentary Wi-Fi time. Come here to read newspapers and the latest magazines, and browse many hardcover books to borrow. The Internet Cafe is open 24 hours, with personal assistance available one hour a day, usually from 5 to 6 p.m.
The spacious upscale boutique on Deck 5 sells designer clothes, pricy watches and fine jewelry. Friendly salespeople are low-key and happy to chat even if you're just browsing. Items like aspirin are tucked away in a closet. (Each suite has a list of toiletries and other essentials that your butler can procure.)
The Card Room on Deck 7 has wood tables with leather chairs, burgundy and cream-swirled carpeting and floor-to-ceiling windows. Cabinets are stocked with puzzles and board games like Scrabble. This venue is nearly always filled with enthusiastic bridge players; some games go on for hours.
Three complimentary self-service launderettes with Miele washers and dryers and ironing facilities are on decks 4, 6 and 8. Each has a flat-screen television, chair and laundry baskets to make laundry day a breeze.