Some feedback on the cruise experience on Silversea Silver Shadow, and our comparison experience with Seabourn & Regent.
We arrived back mid-March from our 19 nights on Silversea’s Silver Shadow, Singapore to Hong Kong via Vietnam, then back to Singapore via Manilla, Borneo & Brunei.
This was actually 2 back to back cruises that we merged into 1 cruise.
We chose the Silversea cruise because:
• The travel dates suited our calendar, and Seabourn had nothing that suited our calendar
• The destinations of Vietnam, Borneo & Brunei were places not visited before
• The pricing with Business Class airfares included made it look like good value when factored in.
• Some excursions were added free of charge
• Our expectation was that Silversea had a similar standard to Seabourn & Regent.
In the last 3 years we have sailed around the Mediterranean for 10 days on Regent, 21 days on Seabourn in South America to Antarctica (Quest), and 35 days Athens to Singapore (Seabourn Soujourn).
We had very high expectations of Silversea, since we expected little difference between the 3 cruise lines.
I will assume that the cruise standard set by Silver Shadow is typical of other Silversea ships:
Bags were mishandled. (I reported this to Silversea management).
I decided to check-in my backpack containing my camera equipment & computer, rather than carry it onto the ship.
A glasses case and electrical plug were damaged, as the bag (backpack) was either dropped or thrown to the ground.
My wife’s bag did not arrive at our suite. Several hours later we went to a lost baggage area, and retrieved the bag. The bag was there, and labelled with her name, and they had not looked properly.
Silver Shadow Ship.
Stepping on board was like stepping back in time.
Dated and worn, it took 48 hours to get used to it mentally.
The only refurbishment was apparently some new carpet in 2017 somewhere in the common area that was not obvious.
A smaller ship than either the Seabourn Quest or Regent Mariner, in all 3 ships you never feel crowded, as good space to passenger ratio.
Silver Shadow is overly formal in presentation, old fashioned, furniture is chunky and occupies a lot of space.
The Silver Shadow has a design issue, in that there is no informal area where you can get a coffee or pastry at any time, and have a casual chat with others.
Many people commented on this. If you wanted afternoon tea you have to wait until exactly 4 pm in the formal Panorama lounge on Deck 8.
I note that the new Silver Muse has an “Arts Café”, so I assume that Silversea has noted the demand, and incorporated into their new ship design.
The small forward observation deck lounge on deck was rarely used.
The gym was OK for me, as I used it 16 of the 19 days.
On the first leg of the trip there were major problems with the air conditioning, as it was very cold in most common areas. That appeared to be corrected in Hong Kong.
Twice daily cabin servicing we cannot fault.
For us, the Silversea personal butler service is overrated.
I did have my shoes cleaned once.
The butler gets involved with and overseas the room cleaning process, and will deliver room service if ordered, and set up the special room service tray table. He did his job very well.
Our time spent with the butler was mostly in the corridor where he would ask us about our day, and whether we needed anything done.
Many people onboard were over 70 years old, and possibly are a lot more demanding, and need help, but that was not us.
Shows & Entertainment:
The Silver Shadow had a cast of 6 singers, from ages say 25 to 35.
Just above average, they did everything, each with their own skills where they could do their own show, but often all together they did not harmonise very well.
Shows get repeated after 2 weeks, so we often didn’t bother going to many shows on the second leg of the trip.
Unlike Regent & Seabourn there were no special guests, so for us Silversea have restricted their entertainment budget.
The food was the big (biggest) disappointment, probably given my high expectation.
There were a few very good meals, but mostly average, and a few very bad.
Pasta with lobster was pasta with a thumbnail sized bit of lobster.
Pasta with shrimp was pasta with a single very small prawn.
Meat was typically overcooked.
We were tipped off by one of the staff that if you want steak, order the fillet mignon, and ask to be cooked no more than medium rare. That tip was very good.
I learnt to ask for it cooked rare, it work well.
I did ask for duck one night; cooked rare, and was served it well done and tough. I could not eat it.
I did ask for rare venison one night, and it was a very good dish as medallions; but venison on another night in La Terazza was served as a stew, and was overcooked and tough.
The rabbit on another night was a disaster.
So a lot of inconsistency.
Bread quality was a letdown: no warm bread or garlic bread offered.
Yogurt on breakfast buffet was terrible.
For room service one night I asked for garlic bread with my meal, and I was told they could not do it.
How I missed the Seabourn bread sticks, or the warm bread offerings from Regent.
Although we only have done 1 Regent cruise, we rated its food just better than Seabourn, in the restaurant areas (not pool deck).
Silversea had nothing memorable to take away with regards to food.
We did have some meals at La Terrazza, but found it overrated, and preferred the restaurant on Deck 4, with better food and service, plus no booking required.
Pool deck Patio Grill area for lunch:
No pizza---- on Seabourn their pool deck pizza was very enjoyable.
Regent pool deck lunch was very average, as basically American only food.
On occasions some of the food was good, especially when offering Asian food when we were off the coast of Vietnam.
Pool deck Patio Grill area for dinner:
A different concept, where you cook your own dinner on a hot stone (they call it Hot Rock).
My wife did not like the concept, I didn’t mind, as I am fussy about how I like meat cooked.
I did enjoy mixing meat and prawns.
Wine was OK, but below the standard of Regent and Seabourn
Beer was below standard, as very little choice. Typically, either Becks or Heineken.
On Seabourn there was plenty of choice e.g German Warsteiner
Dinner bookings are required for La Terazza restaurant (deck 7), Pool deck dinner, and La Dame (6 tables only, and you pay US$60 per head).
Why La Terazza requires booking is a bit strange, as it is overrated and often not full. We cancelled our last La Terazza dinner booking, and went to the Level 4 restaurant instead, as we preferred it there, with in our opinion better food and service.
Having to book dining before you leave on the cruise is difficult, as you don’t know how you’ll feel when the time arrives, as you may be too tired and just want room service.
On Seabourn, their Restaurant 2 is free, and food just as good as La Dame.
We chose mainly basic excursions, and these were generally Ok.
Organisation getting off and on the ship was done well, as you’d expect when you have only around 350 passengers on board.
Future tour lectures prior to tours were done well.
Food & Beverage Service:
Again, service was good overall, but variable and inconsistent.
Sometimes you would be offered parmesan cheese on pasta, sometimes not.
Once both my wife and I ordered an omelette for breakfast, with ham and other fillings. Both came without ham.
Once we had room service and a bottle of Cab sav was ordered. We were delivered a bottle of Malbec.
Usually we would be offered a wine with dinner; often they incorrectly described the grapes varieties in the wine.
We believe this is an issue with training, and they do not set high enough standards.
On the pool deck it depended on where you sat… some places over serviced and some places under serviced.
On 1 instance people sat down next to us on the pool deck for lunch, then gave up waiting after 15 minutes, as no-one attended to them.
Inclusiveness & Special Events.
Seabourn had special events where they go beyond the call of duty.
For example, a day at Sir Bani Yas island, where they offloaded a huge amount of seafood and meat for arguably the best bbq I’ve ever had, then top it off delivering caviar & champagne to us on the beach. Or a pool deck dinner where different nationalities presented food from their own home countries.
Or a meet your neighbour designated 30 minutes near the start of the tour with a neighbour “meet-and-greet” with champagne and hors d’oeuvres and various staff.
I get the impression that Silversea are just going the minimum effort to get by, whereas Seabourn try to make it special.
Excellent. Well presented, knowledgeable & pertinent.
Overall, if I rate Seabourn a 9, Regent an 8 , then Silversea would be a 6-7, in terms of the overall experience.
Silversea tries to be formal and give a good experience, but their execution is lacking in quality and consistency.
They boast the highest guess to passenger ratio, but it doesn’t translate into better service.
The Silver Shadow needs refurbishment, which will no doubt happen in time, or sold off.
If I was to travel with Silversea again, I suspect it would only be on the Silver Muse.
However, I still have reservations about the Silversea food & beverage quality and service, which I expected to be much higher.
I would have to look carefully at Silver Muse customer feedback.
In July we are doing an Alaskan trip in July with Scenic, which incorporates 7 days on the large Star Princess, and in November 11 nights to Vanuatu on the huge Explorer of the Seas. It will be interesting noting the experience of small ship vs large ship.
Our next small-ship cruise is on a Ponant expedition cruises in May 2019, then possibly also wilh Seabourn, as our preference, most likely also in 2019.
Given the competition for getting people’s money the cruise lines need to be on the ball, and maintain or improve standards.
It is not just good enough to have sweeteners like air fares or free excursions thrown in but cut corners elsewhere.
I get the feeling Silversea rely heavily on discounts for locking in future holidays whilst onboard, as that was pushed very heavily whilst on the cruise.
Most people on board appeared to be repeat customers, and due to loyalty will continue travelling on Silversea.
Cabin is old & dated compared with Seabourn & Regent ships.
We had a shower that leaked water under the shower glass door, and we had to put a small towel onto the floor to stop water running.
A minor inconvenience, and we reported it for correction.
An old DVD player was there, but we never used it.
The old sofa was frayed and well past its use by date.
Our Seabourn Quest cabin was a step-up from our Regent Mariner cabin, which is a step-up from the Silver Shadow suite.
The Quest was built in 2011, the Silver Shadow in 2000, so quite a difference in age, and it was very obvious. So don’t expect the latest & greatest on Silver Shadow.
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