My lifelong motto has been that I hate the idea of cruising. The hoards of people, the mass quantity of low quality food, the tiny rooms, and silly excursions. I’ve been on two short cruises to appease family before, and just didn’t like it. Well, when my other half suggested taking a luxury cruise through Alaska, I was not a fan of the idea. But, after watching a few videos, reading a few reviews and realizing he wasn’t kidding, we booked the Silversea’s Silver Muse 7 day Alaska cruise that started right before Labor Day weekend. The thought of the Butler Service, the suite with a bathtub and a balcony of our own, I had high hopes, but was very worried that my distaste for cruising would taint my experience. Spoiler Alert - I loved Silversea and would cruise with them again. This doesn’t feel like cruising - its luxury living.
We booked the train transfer from Anchorage to Seward, and when I learned about the timeline of this, I was not pleased. First, the train didn’t leave until noon or later, so you wouldn’t get on the boat until after 5pm. Luckily for me, there was flooding on the railway tracks so they shut down the train, and we were instead going by motor coach, which meant we’d get to the ship by 2pm. I was so glad, so in hindsight, I’d recommend the bus transfer (or getting to Seward on your own), just so you can have a light lunch after embarkation on board and spend time wandering around the boat, checking things out.
The boat is exactly as everyone else has described - contemporary, modern and new. The suite exceeded our expectations - I mean, who has a full size bath on a boat? The bed was extremely comfortable. I read that people didn’t like the way the TV worked. We loved it, because we could look at the restaurant menus, read about the next destination, watch videos of different cruises, and occasionally watch a movie or documentary. Why would anyone actually watch TV on vacation??
The butler service was outstanding. We became accustomed to breakfast in our room daily, along with a bottle of champagne waiting for us each afternoon. We were well taken care of, but it wasn’t intrusive at all.
We only used the gym twice during our cruise, I walked on a treadmill on the day at sea and did one of the exercise yoga classes. The gym was clean and the treadmill was new and worked great. I liked that you were watching out the back window of the boat, but the class was just okay. Don’t expect to come onboard and get fit. The yoga class I took was very basic and ended up being cut short due to the raffle that day. Also the room for group classes is tiny, maybe 8 people can attend each session.
Thank goodness for us, the cruise was mostly adults, and the ages varied. We are in our late 40’s and did not feel out of place. There were people of all ages, but there were definitely a lot of people well past 60, and everyone seemed to be retired. There were only about 3 babies/toddlers on the cruise, they were part of big family groups, so I don’t think it was a “choice” to be on this cruise with a child, since Silversea is definitely not designed for families or young ones. We seek out trips where kids are not allowed, so this was a plus in my book.
The enrichment sessions for the Alaska cruise were good. There were several sessions, one on Glaciers, one on Totem Poles, another on Bears, one on Alaskan Bush Pilots and I’m sure there were others, all by the same person. One thing we loved was that if you missed the session, they recorded it and put it on the TV!
We only attended one of the evening “shows” and it was fine. (but this is the part of cruising I hate, cheesy shows that are just embarrassing to watch). However, I will admit, the way Silversea did the show was classier than most, really just simplistic singing of songs from multiple eras. Also, the ladies that were singing in Silver Note were also very good. We sat at the bar twice and listened to them.
Others have mentioned that this boat did not feel crowded. They are absolutely correct. The way they manage the restaurants, the activities, and the fact that the boat is quite large, you never feel crowded. We ran into people here and there, but overall, it was so different from other cruises where you feel like herded cattle. The only time you really noticed large groups was during the safety briefing and the last day while you wait to exit the ship.
Now, onto the food onboard. My favorite dinners were at Kaiseki and Indochine - do not skip these!! Indochine had the most flavorful, unique food on the boat. I did enjoy La Terrazza, they had great house-made pasta. La Dame was very nice, but the food isn’t all that much different or better than Atlantide, which was great for formal night and the food was very nice. We ate at the pizza restaurant twice for lunch, and loved it. The Grill was a complete miss for me. I didn’t like the cook on a rock thing, and being pescatarian, my choices were limited. I opted for the shrimp, and it was gross. I couldn’t even eat them. The texture was awful. However, someone immediately noticed I was not eating them and offered me everything and anything to make up for it. We never dined at Silvernote, since we didn’t make a reservation early on, so we never got to dine there. Many people said it was great.
The excursions we took were overall outstanding, well organized and timed well. While we could have booked some of these things on our own, we liked the idea of being with the companies that the cruise ship hired, so we knew they’d get us back to the ship ontime. Here are reviews of the ones we did:
In Juneau, we did the Mendenhall Glacier Dog Sledding Trip. This was the highlight of the trip for me. From the thrilling helicopter transfer to the high country dogsled camp where you could see and hear over 300 dogs barking and getting excited to run, to the actual dog sled ride we took, and then we got to pet all the dogs and even held some 8 week old puppies. HIGHLY RECOMMEND this excursion.
In the afternoon in Juneau, we did the Whitewater Rafting trip, which was super fun. The “rapids” were very mild and easy to navigate, but it was a nice way to spend the afternoon. They give you rain boots and waders, so as long as you have a rain coat, you’ll stay dry. We did get a few fun splashes along the way, but there was never a fear of falling out.
In Skagway, we did the Chilkoot Lake Wildlife Quest. This was just okay. We took the public ferry to Haines, got in a small coach with 5 other couples and drove around looking for wildlife. We saw several bald eagles, but no bears. The lunch they served was nice, but overall, I would not choose this excursion again. Being active people in our 40’s, we would have liked a more adventurous back country experience. This would be a great experience for someone with mobility issues, but wants to see wildlife.
In Sitka, we opted to take the Indian Falls Waterfall Hike. This was a no joke, 10 mile hike. We walked 5 miles in, and 5 miles back and it took the full 6 hours to complete. It was gorgeous getting well into the rainforest and our guide was a fantastic 21 year old local who knew so much about the area, the flora and fauna, and just a very pleasant person to spend the day with. If you opt for this strenuous excursion, make sure you have a good raincoat, good sturdy shoes and water resistant pants. The last 30 minutes of the trail we got dumped on, and I learned that my older raincoat was no longer as effective against the elements......
In Ketchikan, we took the Alaska Bear Adventure, which meant we took a float plane to a remote part of the island, got on a bus drove a bit, and then walked down to the viewing platform over the river to see bears. This was an AMAZING experience. We saw several bears fishing for salmon in the quick hour we were on the viewing platform. HIGHLY RECOMMEND this excursion. Bring binoculars and a camera!
1. Book dinners for later than you think. We often opted for 6pm or 7pm reservations, and in hindsight, 8pm would have been much better. Time flies between returning from an excursion and going to dinner, so having an extra hour to take a bath, relax or use the steam room, and get dressed for dinner would have been nice. I feel like this was our ‘rookie’ mistake being less experienced cruisers.
2. Do all your research on excursions before the booking window opens up. Then, go online the day they open up and reserve the ones you want immediately. The smaller group and more exclusive excursions were full within 24 hours. We did this and got to do every excursion we wanted!
3. Make dinner reservations right away as well, La Dame and Kaiseki were both full immediately after the booking window opened.
4. Do dress up for Formal Night! We ate at Atlantide for the formal night and that appears to be where many people go for the formal night. How dressy should you go? Totally up to you, but I saw long gowns, short cocktail dresses, sparkly pant suits on women and the men were in dark suits or tuxedo’s.
5. Things to bring: bring bath bombs (or bubble bath) for your bathtub; Pack a outlet converter for the UK, (while they have both US and UK outlets in your suite, having the converter made my life easier) and make sure you have comfy lounge clothes for time in your suite.
If I decided to cruise again, I would definitely go with Silversea. This is a classy, upscale experience that offered great excursions, which is the only reason I would cruise, to see something, do something, or experience new places.
We loved our cabin, but it may not be for everyone. We were at the very front of the ship, so we had to walk far down the hall to get to the elevators, but it also meant nobody was walking by your door constantly. It was quiet! I also liked that we were on the same floor as the gym/spa.
The room itself is amazing. Compared to other cruise lines the room is HUGE. The bathroom is amazing and the walk in closet is unreal. The bed was super comfortable and we loved our balcony.