We embarked Silver Shadow in Singapore on 25 February 2016, the registration process being as faultless as expected. The ship has been waitlisted in all cabin categories for months with 370 passengers sailing, comprising 107 British, 82 American and a veritable League of Nations beyond that.
The senior team comprised Captain Marco, HD, Lester and CD Kirk, with RM Antonio. It was good to renew acquaintances amongst the above and reminisce about old times. Inevitably, there were some old and some new faces amongst the staff and crew, Rosie having been our butler on a previous sailing.
After a rainy spell in Singapore, the first day - at sea, was fine and sunny and the pool deck crowded. The lunch time buffet proved very popular and Rommel and his team worked extremely hard and efficiently in very hot conditions; we told Lester how pleased we were at these efforts.
That night was formal and we dined with the GRM, Alix and the future cruise consultant, Charmaine together with two other couples in the MDR. Service was very slow and we did not finish our meal until 10.30 pm, too late, unfortunately, to go to the show.
Generally speaking the Shadow is in pretty good condition considering her age. One can always find fault with anything, but we haven't found any aspect that has made us raise our eyebrows. The swimming pool has now "sprouted" two additional steps and the mosaic tiling has been changed from blue to brown/cream, although evidence of the old blue surround is visible at the edge, and some of the tiles are lifting. As usual, painting of the outside was in progress on our return from ashore in Kuching, although she had not looked in need of any on our embarkation in Singapore.
Following SS's acquisition of the "cobblers" sandals business, passengers can now buy this footwear not only in the Caribbean, but also in the Far East.
The Shadow appears to be at present the vanguard ship for "art". We had an art director on-board, and various pieces of art with labels and prices, were hung around the ship. It is obviously going to be a “sales opportunity”, but the positioning of these art works along the corridors are incompatible and unsuitable, and unlike in a gallery where they are placed to the best effect, these are just an unattractive jumble. Apparently this has been in the planning for four years and we must wait and see if and how it develops. Needless to say our lack of knowledge indicates our degree of interest!
Trivia has shown a solid turnout with five teams of eight or nine. Kirk has clearly worked hard in devising the questions and there was no acrimony. Unfortunately, not up to our past record, we only came joint third!
We felt so sorry for the Voices of Silversea who were struggling with technical sound problems. This was most disconcerting for the artistes who were trying very hard to deliver an excellent standard as they did on the Whisper last November on the Amazon cruise. We seriously hope that these defective sound problems will not impact on the singers' ratings
One night in the MDR produced shortcomings in our main courses. Madame's leg of lamb was completely red raw, whilst Sir's partridge appeared to have been a victim of a nuclear attack. Otherwise food and service were excellent in all venues. Dover sole and crepe suzette were excellent.
In conclusion the staff and crew were as hard working and obliging as usual on SS. By the end of the cruise, a very high proportion of them had bothered to learn Sir and Madame's names. Overall, we felt that the food was a bit hit and miss, but mainly the former.
One point of particular note concerns the currency devaluation which has occurred since our Whisper cruise last Nov/Dec!! Then, an SS visor cost 90 prize points, but now it has increased to 110!!
This cabin is a standard veranda suite on deck 8, pool deck. It offers a good amount of living space for two adults who spend only a limited amount of time there. The bathroom is a very good size, with two sinks and separate shower enclosure, also with a large bath.
The main disadvantage is the very narrow balcony which offers limited space to position the two metal chairs, whilst the small table is too low to make dining on the veranda a practical proposition.
We know Singapore extremely well, and this little island has a lot to offer, particularly in the shopping stakes, with possibly more malls per head of population, than anywhere else in the world. There are also a myriad of hotels, and before booking a particular hotel, one needs to decide what you wish to do with your stay in Singapore, and then choose accordingly.
Manila Intramuros - old town
We were berthed at the usual Pier No 15 and planned to visit Intramuros, the oldest part of Manila, allegedly ten to fifteen minutes’ walk from the port. We decided to take a taxi instead and were quoted 700 PHP each, say £20 or $US 28!! We politely declined this generous offer, and walked outside the dock gates, and were accosted by a guy saying taxi? Exchanges were made and a fare of 200 PHP for both of us - £3 or US$4.20 was agreed.
We were dropped outside the Cathedral, and being Sunday, morning Mass was in full flow - surprisingly in English. We were told that the Tagalog (the language of the Philippines) service is held at a different time. Although we are Anglicans, we did not need the screen prompts to guide the relevant responses during the service. When it came to "peace of the Lord", whereas we either shake hands, hug or kiss depending on the degree of familiarity, here the congregation signalled the V peace sign to one another.
Unsurprisingly there were quite a few hawkers, and peddle cycle carts outside. Surprisingly, the owner of one of the latter - Andy, spoke the best English of anyone we encountered in Manila. His cycle had pictures of the main sights in Intramuros and we agreed his quoted 300 PHP for a half hour tour. Whilst this was "overpriced" he had charmed us by his humour. He told us that he came from the USA, which he expanded as The United Squatters Association! He pointed out his "residence" area during the tour, though did not suggest we paid a visit. This resembled a jumble of higgedly-piggedly narrow alleys, and little shack-like shops, with an air of dilapidation yet a bustle of activity.
Sweat dripped from the slightly built Andy, continually wiping his face with an old towel, but running down his arms, showed the amount of exertion he expended to pedal our combined 18 stones around the streets, and we felt we should get off and walk!! We paid a visit to Fort Augusta, which Andy was not allowed to enter, so he did have a short respite. Interestingly horse drawn carriages were allowed access on a one way system driving around the perimeter of the gardens. By the time we returned to the cyclo, Andy pointed out that we had gone past the 30 minutes, (actually by only five minutes) and did we want to make it an hour all told, however not asking for more money, but the inference was obvious. Declining this, we asked to be returned to the Cathedral, which was only just round the corner.
Deciding to give him 400 PHP, rather than the agreed 300, he was extremely grateful, and said that he would now be able, not only to buy food, but also milk for his daughter who was two years old!
We then hailed a cab for another 200 PHP to go back to the ship.