Originally, we were booked on a Holland America Line (HAL) Alaska cruise with a Denali land extension. We have sailed HAL twice and enjoyed them. We have sailed Oceania many times also. But, when I spotted a Travelzoo deal for the same itinerary on Silversea Silver Shadow, we rebooked. Basically paid the same price as HAL but had the benefit of Silversea figuring out the air, transfers, all excursions, drinks and tips were included in the price and we would be sailing with 380 people rather than 2000. In the midst of COVID, smaller seemed like the right move. Everyone had to be vaccinated to get on board. Silversea was a pain in the neck with over and over and over requiring the same information proving that you had been vaccinated. Even at embarkation, though we had registered everything months before online, and again filling out the information when we started the land tour in Denali, they asked for the vaccination forms another three times before boarding. Plus we needed a negative COVID test to get on board due to stopping in Vancouver. Silversea arranged for it since we were on the land package. No big deal. The guide estimated that over the course of the summer, about 5% of the people turned up positive and were sent home. The Denali land excursion was the highlight of the trip. Without it, this would not have been a successful cruise. The hotels for the Denali land tour are, as the guide admitted, not up to "Silversea standards" but are the best available. Our travel agent correctly recommended we do Denali on the front end of the trip not only to allow time for flight/luggage disasters, but to go from average hotels to the lap of luxury, rather than the reverse. Only the Alyeska hotel that we had one night in Girdwood prior to taking the scenic train down to Seward to board the ship was a nice hotel. The Captain Cook in Anchorage was lasted redone when The Brady Bunch was on t.v. and the hotel in Denali was less impressive than a Holiday Inn Express. But, Denali was splendid and well worth the extra time and expense.
Once we got to the ship, we had booked just a Veranda room since we had sailed in Alaska previously and knew that all it does is rain and the weather is consistently cold. Not a balcony destination. We saved that money and it was the right decision as we encountered very high winds and rough seas that resulted in our having to shelter in Glacier Bay overnight to avoid the Gulf of Alaska. It was too rough on the first day in the Bay to even get up to the Hubbard Glacier. That was accomplished the next morning when it was still too rough to go out into the Gulf. We had extended time having breakfast overlooking the Hubbard Glacier. Pretty darn neat, but the timing meant that we had to skip the port of Juneau. We sailed directly to Skagway where my husband booked a private fishing tour and I did the railroad trip into the canyon, which was nice. The third train ride of the trip since we had a train take us to Denali (spectacular) and then to Seward (also very pretty). Then we hit rough seas again and when we arrived in Ketchican we had a tug boat just holding the ship to the dock. The Captain, correctly, decided it was too dangerous to leave the ship so we sailed out and had yet another day at sea. Out of a 7 day cruise, we ended up with 4 sailing days. The irony of having to leave Ketchican was that when we sailed in, we were anchored directly behind the HAL Noordam, which we had sailed February 2020 in Australia and New Zealand. We were staring straight at the Aft-facing cabins we had booked on that trip. The HAL passengers and those on two enormous Royal Caribbean ships were all able to disemark the ship for their excursions (though I imagine many that were on the water were cancelled) or to see the town. At that moment, we had a glimpse of what might have been had we sailed HAL as originally planned. Being on a small ship in notoriously rough waters is something to be strongly considered. Our friend is subject to sea sickness and spent three days in her cabin. A bigger ship is the better place to be in that case. Plus, with the cancellation of two of four ports, Silversea really had nothing else for us to do on the ship. She is a very elegant ship, but there is not much scheduled in the way of daily events. Alot of people were just playing cards in the main lounge.
Overall, I think Silversea is best for people who do not want to leave their cabins. You have a butler to arrange in suite dining (I have no interest in that) and you can call anytime to have anything delivered to your cabin. I prefer just to sleep in my cabin and enjoy the ports and amenities of a ship. The personnel were all lovely. Service was great. Never a line for anything. Nothing was crowded (we sailed at 340 with a capacity of 380). One complaint was that there was no bar service in the Explorer's Lounge. Very weird since this is the one forward facing lounge at the very top of the ship that is the perfect place for arriving/leaving ports. People were just reading book there. Seems like a huge waste of space. We spent most of our time in the aft-facing Panorama Lounge that had wide open views and an expansive deck if you wanted to go outside. With the bad weather, the chairs were mostly tied up and unusable for our trip. Food was very good, but I would say that overall I prefer Oceania's food to Silversea, plus I like the specialty restaurants on Marina and Riviera especially. We went to La Dame and paid the $60 extra per person. Frankly, I thought the food in the main dining room was better and certainly the menu was more extensive in the main dining room. Our friends had great fun ordering champagne and cavier before every meal. Something Silversea makes a big deal about. In conclusion, I am glad we tried "luxury" cruising with Silversea but we will not return and will take our next trips with HAL or Oceania most likely.