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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We wanted to go to Dubai and are experienced cruisers world wide. This is our 12 th cruise and it started in Mumbai. Mumbai should never be visited unless you like crazy traffic with shanties everywhere. Way way worse than the poorest ... Read More
We wanted to go to Dubai and are experienced cruisers world wide. This is our 12 th cruise and it started in Mumbai. Mumbai should never be visited unless you like crazy traffic with shanties everywhere. Way way worse than the poorest town in Mexico. The next 3 ports were literally gravel pits with commercial cranes and little access to leave the ship. At one port my wife and I barely made it back through port security. The 3 rd & 4 th port of Furjariah and Abu Dhabi were better with the last actually having easy on and off the ship access. Finally one UAE country figured how to cater to guests . Then we find out at 2 pm they cancelled our Qatar stop and have to spend another full day here. Not that much to do that one day doesn’t suffice, so we will sit by the very small pool and eat the fly invested food I guess! The staff were friendly but the food is a disaster , they don’t have .orange juice now two days in a row for breakfast! I am serious about the flies! We have a suite and have been awoken each night except last night with the cleaning crew on deck 8 around midnight. The ship is outdated and we heard is scheduled for a referb soon, can’t be soon enough. The captain has made 4 announcements and I didn’t understand a single word he said. He should not be allowed to use the PA. Besides the 4 out of 5 ports that literally are a shit hole, we paid $22,000 US and I cannot see any value. I would recommend Oceana or another line. I will not sail with these guys again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The Silversea expedition ship Silver Cloud may be old, but it’s totally modern, attractive and comfortable. My wife and I had a wonderful 34-day cruise in spring 2019 from Capetown to Lisbon, stopping at 17 places in western Africa. Our ... Read More
The Silversea expedition ship Silver Cloud may be old, but it’s totally modern, attractive and comfortable. My wife and I had a wonderful 34-day cruise in spring 2019 from Capetown to Lisbon, stopping at 17 places in western Africa. Our suite was great, as were the staff and the public areas. Food ranged from good to very good, sometimes excellent. There were shortcomings. Three scheduled ports were dropped before we left because of security issues. People booking this cruise in the future need to know they may not get all the ports they paid for. Also, not all the ship excursions were well-run and supervised. And the enrichment speakers could have been better. The Ship. Built in 1994 and heavily refurbished in 2017, the Cloud looks like a real ship. It’s almost perfectly maintained. Painters were frequently seen doing touch-ups, a sign of a well-run vessel. Suites have pleasant, usable balconies, two chairs, a sofa, a coffee table and a desk, and small but utilitarian bathrooms with a shower. Storage space was okay. We asked to have one chair removed, as it crowded the room and wasn’t needed, but the staff refused. Soundproofing between rooms was inadequate. Basic wifi was free and worked well most of the time. Air conditioning was okay. We had Room 622—a perfect location. The pool area had sufficient lounges, but one of the whirlpools was too cold and sometimes closed and complaints failed to correct the situation. The captain, Vincent Taillard, and the ship officers were cordial but standoffish. The social director, Moss Hills, was delightful. And quietly famous. Years ago, with another company, he helped lead the successful abandonment of a sinking cruise ship. The Food. We’re critical people, and we mostly enjoyed the meals. A few dishes seemed too edgy. The breakfast buffet could have used more variety. And, like seemingly all cruise ships, the Cloud featured awful frozen hash-brown potato patties. A reuben sandwich at lunch was terrible. How about some simple recognizable grilled sandwiches? Overall, we had good choices and found the food at least good and sometimes excellent. I had fillet mignon four times—really good each time. Wine and cocktails flowed freely. We enjoyed every glass of wine we drank, although we realize they don’t serve $40-a-bottle wine. Room service food was good. Waiters were good. The Restaurant, where you don’t need reservations, was the best. La Terrazza, which features Italian in the evening, lacked variety. The Grill, on the outdoor deck, features a grill-your-own meat on a hot volcanic rock. We went once. Never again. I guess some people like the concept. We don’t. Why not just have a good outdoor grill/barbecue? There is a specialty French restaurant that requires a steep extra charge. The Expedition. The Cloud fell short here. Admittedly the itinerary was ambitious, including places were many ships never go, in a difficult environment. We wanted to experience the sights and culture of west Africa first-hand. We did. Every port offered a least one shore excursion covered by the ship fare. Some were great. Some were okay. Some sadly lacking. Some didn’t deliver what was promised when we reserved. Guides were sometimes poor. Supervision from the ship expedition staff was too-frequently lacking. The expedition leader, Nicki D’Souza, was not up to the task. Silversea needs to hire people from Tauck to demonstrate how to run tours. We had one great speaker—a former top assistant to Nelson Mandela. But where were the black professors, journalists or politicians from west Africa? Not on our ship. Conclusion. We’re not sure we’d book the cruise again. It’s really expensive. The missed ports and the shaky shore excursions were irritating. We could and should have gotten more for our money. But we accomplished a lot of our goals and we learned and we had fun. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
This was our first Silversea cruise. We chose this cruise because of their unique destinations and excursions. Being a smaller ship was a plus too. First... the food was incredible; well seasoned, flavorful and well presented. So many ... Read More
This was our first Silversea cruise. We chose this cruise because of their unique destinations and excursions. Being a smaller ship was a plus too. First... the food was incredible; well seasoned, flavorful and well presented. So many choices and so many dining options that you never have to repeat yourself. Our butler was always on top of things and went the extra mile for us in locating non-alcoholic beverages for our suite or anything else we would enjoy. Our cabin was spacious, bright and airy. We never felt like we were on top of each other. The closet space was refreshingly large with ample hangars and drawers. The lectures were very interesting and there was something for everybody. Nice mix. We did not partake of many of the offered activities this time and the late night entertainment was too late night for us. We did attend the 6:15 opera and would like to see more entertainment during the matinee timeframe. Ports were fascinating and our tour guides were very knowledgeable and engaging. This was a very relaxing cruise for us where we could come away refreshed. I thoroughly appreciated the library on the 11th deck. My secret place. Professional staff from the cruise director to the room attendant. 6 stars. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise because of the unusual West African ports of destination. Also, Silverseas is supposed to be a "luxury cruise." What a disappointment! From our hotel in Ghana- where they were supposed to meet the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the unusual West African ports of destination. Also, Silverseas is supposed to be a "luxury cruise." What a disappointment! From our hotel in Ghana- where they were supposed to meet the passengers, throughout the cruise- one issue after another. In Ghana we were promised staff to help with getting on buses and to the port. The paperwork in our rooms wasn't correct- it even said "sample letter" on it..... total disorganization getting on the buses- we were left to our own devices. Our luggage was supposed to be picked up from our room. It never was. We heard later that passengers who trusted that to happen NEVER did see their luggage again.... on and on. The ship had problems throughout with both plumbing and AC issues. Our room was hotter than hell, literally. We moved rooms 3 times on the ship. I kept begging for them to just pick me up a fan when we were in port. Even asked the bus driver if he would just stop briefly for me to get a fan when we saw some.... nothing.... For 6 nights I suffered unable to sleep...... Doesn't seem particularly "luxury" to me. Hallways smelling like sewage, rooms without AC. We asked before booking if pirates were an issue in the areas we would be traveling. We were assured that there was no chance of pirates on the West Coast of Africa. Then, after we boarded and were out to sea, we had a letter put on our bed stating that we were in a high pirate caution area, and that we couldn't open our balcony door or curtains, and that the deck restaurant would be closed for the next 4 evenings. All of the other restaurant curtains were tightly closed, and windows and sliders to the deck were taped up with paper covering them. I felt like I was in England during the second world war bombings! They even told us that if pirates were to board the ship to come to the main lobby and lay in the middle covering our heads! For the love of Pete! This WASN'T what we signed up for! Many of the tours were disorganized. Rude tour leaders. It goes on and on and on..... We expected the excursions to have more explanation regarding the area we were going to see, some info on the demographics regarding the people, income, history, etc. We were, once again, disappointed. Days at sea were a total bore. There could have been many more activities offered than were. My husband found a shard of glass in his food one day at lunch. The food, at best, was adequate. No better than an NCL large ship would be, just FAR more expensive. They comped us a few free dinners at their upscale restaurant. I don't think this even begins to compensate for the total lack of "luxury" compared to the price of this cruise. I wrote a letter to Silverseas over 3 weeks ago. I never got any sort of response. Not even an auto-prompt type that said "thanks for your letter." I emailed again a week ago, asking if they received my original letter. Still nothing.... REALLY? I will say, their staff was amazing. They greeted you by name from the first day. They were wonderful. I'm generally very disappointed in Silverseas, and even MORE disappointed in their lack of follow up when there was a problem. I gave them time to address the issues, and make things right, but obviously, customer satisfaction is not important to them. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We have a preference for smaller ships and choose our holidays based on destinations. Because we have travelled to over 150 countries, a priority for us in choosing a cruise is whether there are any new, relatively unknown destinations on ... Read More
We have a preference for smaller ships and choose our holidays based on destinations. Because we have travelled to over 150 countries, a priority for us in choosing a cruise is whether there are any new, relatively unknown destinations on the itinerary. We chose this particular cruise because it was advertised as an expedition cruise with several new destinations for us. However, we got the impression that the Silver Cloud was having an identity crisis as it felt like it wasn't truly an expedition cruise but more like a classic cruise. Yes, there were expedition staff on board giving lectures but many of the staff were junior and relatively inexperienced. Recommendation: senior lecturers should mentor or offer 'dry runs' for the junior staff to help them develop a cadence and polish to their presentations. The size of the cabins were ideal, except that it felt cramped with the sofa and 2 chairs. Although dress code was advertised as casual on most nights, the majority of people dressed for dinner as if it were a classic style cruise. Entertainment was unexpected, but pleasant. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We've always thoroughly enjoyed our silversea cruises unfortunately not this time . From the moment we stepped onto the ship in Mahe the atmosphere felt different . Reception staff not friendly customer service sadly lacking ... Read More
We've always thoroughly enjoyed our silversea cruises unfortunately not this time . From the moment we stepped onto the ship in Mahe the atmosphere felt different . Reception staff not friendly customer service sadly lacking particularly from 2 people one male and one female who showed no interest at all in any query we made . In my mind first impressions are the most important and they certainly let the company down . Staff attitude in some areas was apathetic gave the impression they did not want to serve us , Service poor in lots of areas particularly Stars where after the food had been served the bar staff were nowhere to be seen . Face recognition sadly lacking this is something that Silverseas has excelled in there was a handful of staff that rembered us mainly because we'd sailed with them before . I have to say most of the staff were friendly and helpful unfortunately you need a few bad staff to lower the ships reputation . The food was very good with a nice choice on the menus . Very disappointing to have only one cooking demonstration . No tasting or drink offered . The Chef had nobody in attendance they all cleared off and he was left with difficulty using the cooker and no Salt and Pepper !!!! Most unimpressive . Entertainment was good We really enjoyed the singer in Stars Claudette had a good voice too . We were made aware countless times the ship was going into dry dock in March . That is no interest to us we spent a lot of money on this cruise and we expected full silversea service which was lacking in lots of ares . We had our photo taken at the Venetian society as we'd achieved 100 days which entitled us to free laundry !!! This photo was taken with the captain . We did not receive a copy of this photo until disembarkation day Adam sorted it out . Once again the reception were most unhelpful and the female hostess should have followed up who had their photo taken that night and dealt with it accordingly . I'm sorry to say that was the nature of most of the cruise . On the plus side we really enjoyed the Indian dancers and the Italian tenor not to mention Claudette and the singer in Stars .Suite was a bit tired mini bar well stocked . Free laundry was great . Butler and Room attendant helpful and pleasant . Pool area was very busy not enough sun beds put out and occupancy rules not adhered to . The Boutique was closed a lot of the time . Delightful girl working there . The merchandise needs addressing it's dowdy and old fashioned and more costume jewlellery should be available Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
After reading earlier reviews we specifically asked Silverseas Uk for reassurance that this ship was indeed up to scratch, they said yes we would receive the normal 5 star luxury cruise experience..... basically they didn't tell the ... Read More
After reading earlier reviews we specifically asked Silverseas Uk for reassurance that this ship was indeed up to scratch, they said yes we would receive the normal 5 star luxury cruise experience..... basically they didn't tell the truth as it was anything but. Our $1000 a night suite had worn out soft furnishings and a heavily stained carpet that we avoided walking on with bare feet, the public room soft furnings were also worn and drab, a bit like a care home lounge. The menu choice was restricted to items that had not run out as they reduced stock pre refit which is where the ship will spend the rest of Feb 2018 in a dry dock....they even started to dismantle the ship days before we disembarked....art was removed leaving near bare bulkheads throughout the ship. Food quality was especially poor more like a cross channel ferry than a 5 star lux ship. Entertainment was dire. Staff acted like it was the end of term...which it was for many of them. Needless to say its back to Oceania and we will never trust Silverseas again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We (just the two of us) love the size of this ship and that all the cabins are a comfortable size, though we did have a larger cabin on this particular cruise. The service was impeccable as usual and food was very good (and that is saying ... Read More
We (just the two of us) love the size of this ship and that all the cabins are a comfortable size, though we did have a larger cabin on this particular cruise. The service was impeccable as usual and food was very good (and that is saying a lot since I am a very picky eater). We always arrive a few days before our cruise since we know things can go astray (cancelled flights, delayed flights, etc) plus we enjoy resting up and exploring our departure city. We both love the all-inclusiveness of SilverSeas. There was plenty of good entertainment thru out our Cruise. Our room had so much storage space and the closet was very large for a ship. (Drawers and cabinets galore) The balcony was a nice size with a small table for eating, an adjustable lounge chair and a standard cushioned chair. The only negative was the limited movies as I do enjoy watching movies late at night. I'm glad to see this ship going into dry dock for refurbishments--It will be a great Enhancement. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Having just returned from a 12 day cruise on the Silver Spirit sailing from the Seychelles to Mumbai I have to report a faultless experience. From the moment we stepped on board, from the “nothing is too much trouble” from the ... Read More
Having just returned from a 12 day cruise on the Silver Spirit sailing from the Seychelles to Mumbai I have to report a faultless experience. From the moment we stepped on board, from the “nothing is too much trouble” from the team, from the most accommodating and genuinely nice butler Vipin and the best housekeeper Jacqui we were pampered and treated as real VIP’s. We were on deck 8 The Spa team are a delight ( go for the Thermal suite package ) if you can giving only 20 guests access to a lovely oasis of steam rooms, sauna, thermal beds, jacuzzi and private sun bathing area. The gym is well equipped although the individual treatments are expensive. The food was superb at every restaurant and Damian the restaurant manager runs a superb food and beverage operation. Our cruise was all inclusive, pre dinner cocktails in the bar in deck 5 became the 7.30pm norm ( try the Bermuda sidecars ) then to dinner in a choice of gastro delight restaurants. I advise to book a few ahead on the my Silverseas web portal you will get when you book - we opted for 2 nights in the Grill on deck 10 - steak on the stone style - 2 nights in Stars a tapas style 7 course taster menu with live singer - 1 night in the Sushi restaurant ( although we did do lunch in there a couple of times ), once in La Terraza on deck 7 and the remainder in the main restaurant on deck 4. Every meal was superb ( make sure you sign up for a galley tour with the head chef one day ). There’s as much or as little as you fancy on the entertainment side from bridge, indoor putting, afternoon quizzes, table tennis tournaments, yoga, Pilates etc - it’s there if you want it. A well stocked library and internet room ( you get 1 hour free Wi-fi a day ) even a connoisseur cigar and brandy bar plus a casino and shops. The daily chronicle let’s you know what’s on and where each day and the dress code for dinner - we had 2 formal nights with black tie, 4 informal nights with jackets and 6 casual nights trousers and shirt or polo shirt - no shorts after 6pm in public areas. There is a nightly show at 10 for an hour to an hour and a half and then your choice of disco with DJ Bart on deck 9 in the panorama lounge or jazz and swing in Stars on deck 7 until the early hours. Trips ashore are extra but are well organised again pre book once you get your log in details to your own mysilverseas account. Will we be back with Silverseas - you bet - we’re already looking for next year - we loved it - it was a total chill out for us - we are mid 50’s and still working so it was an absolute treat to just relax and be so well looked after - some retired guests found the days at Seas a little boring but a good book, a comfy sunbed and a team of friendly staff made our days at sea our favourite days. A brilliant time - thank you to all the team in Silverseas Silver Spirit Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Enjoy all inclusive smaller ships. Spirit going in for a face lift and expansion so will be even nicer ship when completed. Cabins are larger than most... dining experience at lunch is excellent... dinner choices are less appealing. ... Read More
Enjoy all inclusive smaller ships. Spirit going in for a face lift and expansion so will be even nicer ship when completed. Cabins are larger than most... dining experience at lunch is excellent... dinner choices are less appealing. Excellent entertainment. Overall service is outstanding. The ports on this itinerary were very disappointing...but sea days were excellent. Fitness center is very small and poorly laid out... equipment faces the wall...and the TV's and audio were not working. Not really a family cruise...mostly senior adults.. romantic atmosphere. Venetian Society has a couple advantages, discounts, cocktail reception... but given the fact liquor is included for the cruise ...cocktail reception isn't really a perk. As with other cruise lines, if you book another cruise while on board, there's an additional discount... which we wanted to take advantage of but we waited until the last day and the consultant on board was busy with other guests so we missed the opportunity for a 10% discount. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We have sailed with you for 21 consecutive years. We have always chosen Silversea because of the quality of both staff, the ships themselves and the crew. However, this is the first year that my husband and I have noticed there was a lack ... Read More
We have sailed with you for 21 consecutive years. We have always chosen Silversea because of the quality of both staff, the ships themselves and the crew. However, this is the first year that my husband and I have noticed there was a lack of staff people, not only in the cabins, although our butler was very nice (ALBERT), but in the dining areas as well. I can understand cost cutting to make a profit, but when the quality is sacrificed, I think you begin to have faithful passengers who become dissatisfied. That being said, we have rebooked another trip for next year, but might in the future, consider another line. Another unfortunate event was that your pre cruise safari was fully booked so we did a private safari which was really the highlight of the trip for us. As for the visual, I understand that the SPIRIT was due to go into dry dock to get a bit of refurbishing, shortly after we departed, so I can excuse the "tired" look to the ship. We have a special place in our hearts for Silversea and hopefully will continue to do so. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
This was first part of back to back. Capetown to Mumbai. Seemed like good ports. On second leg no outside entertainment. All we had was stable of singers on board. Did have local dancers at one port. A cheap way to stick it to passengers. ... Read More
This was first part of back to back. Capetown to Mumbai. Seemed like good ports. On second leg no outside entertainment. All we had was stable of singers on board. Did have local dancers at one port. A cheap way to stick it to passengers. Main and veranda dining rooms very limited selection. The main dining room had a hamburger every night that had texture of baby food. Salad selection just about same each night mesculan. Not much, not good. All dressings lacked flavor. For an Italian owned ship pasta was pasty and bread sticks on table were soggy half the time. The gelato they served was the worst ever had including all over Italy. Seemed to be water vs. cream. Fish burnt, soup tasteless, portions bigger on our flight home then in dining room. Waiters ability to help in choices non existent due to their lack of English skills. First cruise of 30 days that I lost weight on. Plenty of alcohol. In the cabins no mid sized towels. Only bath and hand. Overall color scheme dark and old. Low ceilings in public rooms. They are going into dry dock about a year late. Limited deck chairs with shade at pool. They increased pool dining area at expense of shade for chairs. No cushions on chairs. Had trouble getting a diet 7up or sprite. Not a US ship so guess not important to them. Balcony chairs have no cushions only straps. They were not comfortable. Entertainment with their singers at times recorded music, might as well have had a CD to listen to. Using their laundry service clothes returned all wet. This is not the way to spend your time or money. There are plenty of good cruise lines that you can travel on. Crystal, Regent, Seabourn and probably many others that provide a value for the money spent. I have had over 50 cruises since 1972 this rates as the worst. NEVER AGAIN Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
We had a pleasant and enlightening cruise on the Spirit from Cape Town to the Seychelles, with stops in southern and east Africa. We did experience some oddities and annoyances, most of them preventable by Silversea. But overall this was a ... Read More
We had a pleasant and enlightening cruise on the Spirit from Cape Town to the Seychelles, with stops in southern and east Africa. We did experience some oddities and annoyances, most of them preventable by Silversea. But overall this was a fun experience. Even the internet worked well. We found the ship well-maintained, and our suite in good condition, with traditional decor. The ship is being lengthened and is undergoing major change in drydock right now. Visiting places like Mombasa and Zanzibar was a major goal for us, and the itinerary delivered. The ports offered a fascinating look at the history, culture and beauty of Africa--just what we expected. Ship excursions were okay. We also booked several private excursions and had an excellent time. Free shuttle buses were provided in many ports. Unfortunately, they didn't always go where they should have. In one port they went to a suburban shopping mall. We had to hire a taxi to show us the center city, which was very interesting. But at another port, the shuttle went to the main center city hotel, exactly as it should have. Also unfortunately, the shore excursion desk sometimes didn't provide accurate or useful information. But you could usually count on fine food. We rated the food from good to excellent, sometimes superb. Four restaurants were available for dinner without extra charge. Three required advance reservations, which hampered your flexibility. Two of the four were odd: at one you cooked your meat on a hot stone, at the other you were served a tasting menu, with food coming in tiny cups. After trying each place, we never went back. The ship should rekindle the Lido Buffet concept, serving less formal fare throughout the day in one restaurant. Dinner in the main restaurant and the Italian restaurant was frequently wonderful. After mentioning my love of steak to the waiter one night, he told me to order filet mignon, which wasn't on the menu. He brought two of them, perfectly prepared. The lunch buffets were very good, as was room service. The breakfast buffet was adequate but didn't stand out. The dress code differed from one night to the next, which was confusing. Nor was it enforced. While several formal nights are okay, it shouldn't be necessary on most nights to wear a sport coat to a restaurant in Africa. Restaurant service was sometimes slow, but overall much of the ship staff was great. Our butler and room steward did an excellent job. The captain and the chef were delightful to talk to when we took a bridge and a galley tour. The reception desk was a pain. Its personnel should be replaced. They were rude at times. They said they could not cash a travelers check, until I showed them their cruise booklet which said they could. They refused to exchange a $20 bill for smaller bills. Whoever was in charge of the ship television system should also be replaced. Timely programming was in short supply. Worse yet, the controls on our TV were so bad we had trouble turning it on and off and moving between channels. We asked for help, but got none. Despite the various Silversea shortcomings, we had an enjoyable cruise. I've noticed strong criticism of the ship in other internet reviews. I can be pretty critical myself, but I must say some of those reviews simply don't reflect reality. We'll always remember this cruise fondly. We got what we wanted: quality experiences aboard ship and on land. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
Wanted to explore South Africa. Cruise enabled us to see a good deal of this country. We were guided by the knowledge and wisdom of an outstanding lecturer, Rob Prescot and the kind and informative interraction with Ira Feldman.. ... Read More
Wanted to explore South Africa. Cruise enabled us to see a good deal of this country. We were guided by the knowledge and wisdom of an outstanding lecturer, Rob Prescot and the kind and informative interraction with Ira Feldman.. The ship staff was very professional. Excellent service without being overly solicitous. The dining experience was overall outstanding. Top cuisine choices from Japanese to French to Italian and to general cuisine. The entertainment under direction of Adam was outstanding. The young voices were first class. At least two singers were worthy of the Opera staage. The selection and presentation was very professional. The Silver suite was very spacious and the hotel services provided by Al and Niki were excellent. The ports of call were determined by the cruise itinerary and not the very best. Two days in Richards Bay was too much. Too bad you could not find a place to dock closer to Plettenberg Bay and George which is the heart of the Garden route. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
By comparison with 4.5 company such as Oceania and 4 star cruise company such as Princess or Holland, we do not consider silversea as a 5 Star cruising for the following reasons; - at least 50% of the staff are not easy to approach, ... Read More
By comparison with 4.5 company such as Oceania and 4 star cruise company such as Princess or Holland, we do not consider silversea as a 5 Star cruising for the following reasons; - at least 50% of the staff are not easy to approach, they are not smiling and it looks like we disturb them - the butler of our room was not proactive and the few request we made got poor reception - a lot of small details were not addressed properly: the public restrooms around the pool were dirty and hand soap as well as hand towels were missing, around 3 o’clock in the afternoon no towels were available around the pool, some of the cushion of chairs around nd the pool were dirty - the quality of food at the restaurant on deck4 was inconsistent at lunch as well as dinner time; it was very far from the quality of the meals served by Oceania and even by Princess - except for the speciality restaurant such as the Italian and the French relais&châteaux restaurant ( but we have to pay an additional 60$us for this one) where the meal were very tasty, the other restaurants meals suffer lack of nice presentation and or lack of flavors especially the fish and sea food plates that tasted barely nothing - unlike all other cruise lines that we experimented, there was no special of the day breakfast offered at breakfast time: the breakfast menu was always the same and was identical at the in room service Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
The ship was shabby- worn out dirty carpets, grubby and dirty upholstery in the public rooms. The staff were obviously demoralised and indifferent to the passengers. The worst feature was Silver Seas arrogance in taking us to horrible ... Read More
The ship was shabby- worn out dirty carpets, grubby and dirty upholstery in the public rooms. The staff were obviously demoralised and indifferent to the passengers. The worst feature was Silver Seas arrogance in taking us to horrible ports - 2 days in Richards Bay - a coal export port in South Africa. Fine if you enjoy coal dust with your meals on deck. Second class entertainers and a Cruise Director who seemed bored and was just going through his usual patter. Dirty sun loungers on the very small and crowded sun deck. Worn out, thin and torn deck towels Grossly overpriced tours arranged by the ship. Very poor meet and greet - mainly concerned with getting a swipe of your credit card ! No meaningful meet and greet after returning from shore visits. Food - good but not exceptional for a cruse line that pretends to be at the top of the cruising league. I am not alone in this view - it represents the view on many fellow passengers that I spoke to on the cruise that left Cape Town this January. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
It WAS going to Madagascar, but plague broke out there. They didn't compromise, we didnt for instance, call in at Zanzibar as last minute port space apparently unavailable. Just awful port of call at Mozambigue (an island, desperately ... Read More
It WAS going to Madagascar, but plague broke out there. They didn't compromise, we didnt for instance, call in at Zanzibar as last minute port space apparently unavailable. Just awful port of call at Mozambigue (an island, desperately poor) and 5 sea days, ugh!!! luckily calm seas... nothing to do all day. OK for those lounging x pool but hardly any activities and those there were, very uninteresting. One of the entertainers put on CRAFT, certainly the ship didn't bother unless he had. Days at sea extremely boring. A XMAS/New Year cruise. Hardly ANY decorations and the Xmas day fare was shocking, totally inappropriate. No turkey roast, no gravy, no Xmas pudding. A horrid, horrid menu. NYE not much better. There was a big gap between finishing dinner and when the festivities started around the pool, just sat and looked at each other. A dessert spread laid out, not really interesting. No flowers on tables in dining rooms (told, Xmas decorations took up all the room, WHAT decorations were those?!!) nor attempts to Christmasise the atmosphere, sad. Worst Season on a ship ever. Some years ago, SUN Princess whopped up its Xmas cruise, decs. at all cabin doors, everywhere else, dining tables, adorning steps down to foyer, wonderful NYE's celebrations with champers pyramid, carols, great Xmas music, etc. etc. Went to so much trouble. Hand hygiene NOT attended to, a few hand squirt machines at dining entries, but no attempt to ensure passengers used them. One lecturer who stuck to his boring subjects with heavy Germanic accent, hard to discern. Didn't attend any lectures in consequence... Horrid DARK chocolates in cabin at night. Naturally shore excursions pricey but overall quite good. My butler and cabin girl were good and got what I asked for without hesitation. Other passengers weren't so lucky, complaining bitterly about their cabin staff... LOVED 3 nights Seychelles prior embarkation, helped bond with other passengers and lovely location. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I went on this cruise with my family (five adults total). We are all experienced with cruises and given that this is a luxury line, we were very surprised at the service we received and the low quality of the food and entertainment. The ... Read More
I went on this cruise with my family (five adults total). We are all experienced with cruises and given that this is a luxury line, we were very surprised at the service we received and the low quality of the food and entertainment. The food was on par with cruise lines like Carnival and Celebrity. It was edible but not particularly good, very surprising for such an expensive line. The staff also had no idea how to handle food allergies. At one point, after repeatedly telling the waiter that a member of our party was deathly allergic to shellfish, he delivered soup to that person with crab in it. Luckily, we recognized it before they ate any. The shore excursions were lacking and the staff was difficult to work with and refused to even answer questions. The excursions manager was openly hostile, which is something we have never experienced on any other cruise line. We definitely wouldn't cruise with Silversea again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
We were were encouraged to continue our explorations along Africa's East Coast because of a very favorable experience with Silver Seas on the Silver Cloud, along Africa's West Coast, 2015, Accra to Capetown. As land/sea world ... Read More
We were were encouraged to continue our explorations along Africa's East Coast because of a very favorable experience with Silver Seas on the Silver Cloud, along Africa's West Coast, 2015, Accra to Capetown. As land/sea world travelers of over 50 years, our global adventures have included 93 cruises on all types of ships, from basic to luxury. Traveling has become increasingly difficult, expensive, and even dangerous. But even with lowered expectations, our voyage on the Silver Spirit was extremely disappointing. The ship is scheduled for dry-dock enlargement in Feb. 2018, and it seemed as though staff on board had already shut down. Entertainment on board was very average, gym poor, single lecturer not to my taste, shipboard activities practically non-existent. Food was uneven,- occasionally excellent and sometimes both poor and chaotic. Service often was patronizing. Madagascar was cancelled because of the plague, but Mozambique Island was a dismal substitute. Tours were overpriced, but necessary because of the danger. Certainly, overcharging for virtually everything does not automatically make for a "luxury" cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I chose this trip because of the itinerary and Sil Seas reputation. We went to Abu Dhabi where were were looking forward to seeing the new Louvre; t it was closed on Monday when we arrived!!! Why weren't we told so that we could ... Read More
I chose this trip because of the itinerary and Sil Seas reputation. We went to Abu Dhabi where were were looking forward to seeing the new Louvre; t it was closed on Monday when we arrived!!! Why weren't we told so that we could have gone there from Dubai where we had two days to spend? Two of the five Gulf States were not worth a visit. BTW, Silver Seas should have specified just how "long sleeves' and "appropriate attire" were defined by the mosques. Several women were not allowed in, and I managed to buy long wrap just in time. The food on board was poor!!! The breads were stale, un-warmed and the same old same old every single night. Same old desserts at night as well. Service poor on deck 4 restaurant; we came in at 8 and ended up being 20 minutes late for the ten pm show. Voices of Silver Seas were good only with soloists or duets. Hypnotist was an insult!!! Lectures were uneven: the Indian father and daughter, especially the former, were difficult to understand (accent). Maldives where we landed was a dump. Disembarking took two hours; checking into Seychelles another three. Too late to do anything there. We should have spent several days visiting the beaches and the Botanical Gardens and skipped the Maldives and two of the Emirates. Drill inadequate; our room with hundreds others sent to the theatre instead of muster station. What if theatre was on fire or flooded??? Exercise balls in gym filthy; no elastic stretch bands in sight. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We boarded the Silver Spirit in Dubai and sailed over to the Seychelles - lovely itinerary with some nice sea days as well. Getting onboard the ship was easy and very fast and just no Q's at all. The ship looked lovely and the ... Read More
We boarded the Silver Spirit in Dubai and sailed over to the Seychelles - lovely itinerary with some nice sea days as well. Getting onboard the ship was easy and very fast and just no Q's at all. The ship looked lovely and the staff were amazing. We ate in most restuarants my favourite been the main dining room and Hot rocks which is up on the pool deck - gorgeous when you are in port to dine up here. The suite was gorgeous lots of space and very nice furnished with a great dressing room area for your clothes and shoes so it keeps your suite tidy. The butler and room attendant looked after us very well and kept our bar and toiletries stocked up. I would bring the butler home if I could. The beauty of Silversea after the lovely ships, staff and food is the size of the ships you sail right into the ports and some destinations you actually over night in which is lovely to do. However if you don't over night they seem to spend a lot longer in port than other cruise ships and the fact you sail right into the port with out getting on the tender boats is a big plus. We did some of the ships excursions which were excellent in Cochin we went on the River Boat and in the Maldives we did the beach visit to a resort - for such a wonderful destination we really needed more time. In Mumbai we took the private car trip with guide which we enjoyed as we could determine how long we were going to stop. Guests onboard are a mix so you find you are not dominated by any nation and a real nice European feel onboard the ship. Entertainment - there is a show each evening and the performs sing extremely well - we liked sitting in the bar and listening to the piano player or the Jazz bar was just excellent. Also enjoy going up to the DJ and sitting on the terrace listening to the music after dinner. Totally recommend for people who like the nicer things in life and enjoy real quality. Not much activities for children so you don't find children onboard really. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
We travelled Barcelona to Rome in November on Silver Spirit we did this cruise to catch the last of sunshine in the med. We started in Barcelona and ended in Rome The embarkation in Barcelona was seamless a perfect start. The main ... Read More
We travelled Barcelona to Rome in November on Silver Spirit we did this cruise to catch the last of sunshine in the med. We started in Barcelona and ended in Rome The embarkation in Barcelona was seamless a perfect start. The main ports of interest were Malta (arriving by sea was majestic) and both sides of Siciily The ship we have sailed in before and were not disappointed. We had a Silver suite and were looked after so well by butler and steward. The food was excellent in main dining room and La Terazza and we loved Hot Rocks where you cook your own food on the deck, so entertaining even if if the weather is not so good! Having also recently travelled on Silver Muse who no longer have a main dining room, we prefer the dining arrangements on Silver Spirit The entertainment was really good especially a visit by Il Vollo which was turned into theatre plus gala dinner. The three singers gave a first class performance which brought the house down Will be booking another Silver Seas cruise soon Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We choose the the cruise because of the destination, Madagascar and it's lemurs. We had booked 2 previous cruises on the Discoverer. The first was for the inaugural cruise after purchase/refurbishing of the ship in 2014, to Indonesia, ... Read More
We choose the the cruise because of the destination, Madagascar and it's lemurs. We had booked 2 previous cruises on the Discoverer. The first was for the inaugural cruise after purchase/refurbishing of the ship in 2014, to Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. It was cancelled shortly before sailing as the ship was not ready. Strike one. We rebooked a similar cruise for 3 months later. There were many problems with the ship and staff knowledge of the itinerary. Strike two. To their credit, SilverSea did give financial compensation in both situations. An expedition on the Explorer in the summer of 2016 was picture perfect. The embarkation and disembarkation were smooth as silk. The ship looked the same with the exception of the old breakfast/lunch area had been nicely converted to a public lounge and the suite bathrooms had been remodeled. The expedition staff was outstanding and performed well. The cabin staff was excellent and the wait staff was above average. The food, however, was not up to SilverSea standards, despite having the same head chef that we had on the Explorer 7 months earlier. The wine selections were spot on. Now for the other side of the coin. Just after our return from our excursion at our first port, we were informed the power was out for the whole ship. After a couple of hours, they announced that we would all be bused to hotels for the night. Fair enough, stuff happens.The next morning we were all bused for a hastily arranged excursion. Upon returning to the ship, we were informed that a second night in a hotel was necessary. We finally sailed the next day after lunch. We had missed 2 days of ports in Madagascar, our primary reason for selecting the cruise. Throughout the cruise there were continuing problems with the plumbing in our cabin and several other cabins of our friends. The air conditioning in the cabins seemed to over preform at times and under preform at others, with no adjustment to the dial. The air conditioning in the restaurant and lounge could not handle the load when the rooms were moderately full. The expedition staff had to be reminded that they needed to have alternative activities for the large number of passengers that did not snorkel or dive on the last four days in the Seychelles. This is not a ship or itinerary for children. Teens maybe. We will sail with SilverSea again, but never again on the Discoverer. Strike three! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2017
The ship developed a serious electrical failure on the second day in Reunion Island. We were advised that it was unsafe to remain on board - and bussed off to local hotels for the night. The next day we were told that the ship was still ... Read More
The ship developed a serious electrical failure on the second day in Reunion Island. We were advised that it was unsafe to remain on board - and bussed off to local hotels for the night. The next day we were told that the ship was still unable to sail and we would be spending a second night in Reunion hotels. Not a good start to our first experience of Silverseas explorer travel. At a briefing chaired by the Captain and Expedition Leader, it was suggested by one of the guests that maybe the ship was showing signs of age and maintenance parts were not readily available. There had been similar breakdowns recorded in 2014. Finally, we set sail after a two-day delay. This, however, had major implications to the original itinerary. We missed two full days in Madagascar – instead visiting briefly two destinations where we spent hours instead of whole days. Notwithstanding all the problems at the start of the cruise, it must be said that the staff on Discoverer were outstanding. The bar staff were particularly impressive, but I wish I could say the same for the food. No doubt the restrictions of a small galley mean you cannot compare the food to the offering on other Silverseas ships. Whilst all the trappings of ‘fine dining’ were there, I found the food only average in its appeal. Why waste the precious outside dining area around the pool (The Grill) with ‘hot rocks’ in such high temperatures night after night? Also, the lunches here were very poor – burgers and chips – and not very nice either. The Expedition Staff were very knowledgeable and were very helpful. Malcolm Turner, the birder and all-rounder was especially entertaining. Personally, I wouldn’t book a cruise on Discoverer again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
SILVER WIND– CRUISES 2406, 2407 AND 2408 CAPE TOWN TO BARCELONA, 27 FEBRUARY TO 5 APRIL 2014 PART 2 AMAZING AFRICAN ADVENTURE Review of the ports visited during Cruise 2407 from Tema, Ghana to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary ... Read More
SILVER WIND– CRUISES 2406, 2407 AND 2408 CAPE TOWN TO BARCELONA, 27 FEBRUARY TO 5 APRIL 2014 PART 2 AMAZING AFRICAN ADVENTURE Review of the ports visited during Cruise 2407 from Tema, Ghana to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands The review of the cruise on Silver Wind can be found under our posting entitled “West African Wanderings”. What follows is a review of the ports visited on the subsequent cruise from Tema to Las Palmas. TAKORADI, GHANA 14 MARCH 2014 We had to pay $50 for the privilege of a visa to enter Ghana, but the greedy so and so's charged us this amount twice, once each for the two ports, Tema and Takoradi! Takoradi is half of a twin city, the other being Sekondi. It is in fact famous for being Ghana's first deepwater harbour, built in 1928, and is the region's largest city, Takoradi being the smaller. The twin towns of Sekondi-Takoradi are together known as the Twin City. In reality they should be known as the triplets, as Takoradi is split into two separate areas, a beachside area with hotels and restaurants, and a couple of miles inland the hub of city life, with its dominant centrepiece, the noisy and bustling Circular Market. Fortunately once again, Silversea provided us with a complimentary shuttle bus service which dropped us only yards away from this market. Despite the 8.00 am arrival at the container port, we did not rush ashore, and we arrived at the Circular Market around 10.00 am. Takoradi is very similar to the port of Tema we had left yesterday, a higgledy piggledy jumble of small dwellings, interspersed with small shops and potholed streets. The market was incredible, completely circular, with shops on the outside facing the road, and a maze of stalls on the inside. The stall holders were predominately female, ranging in age from old ladies to young girls, with many women feeding their infants sitting on tiny stools, with only a small minority of men fronting some stalls. Once inside this maze of alleyways, all sense of direction is lost, and it appears that the alleys are getting narrower, and it becomes a real labyrinth. The merchandise seems to overflow onto the paths, and the further into the heart of this teeming mass you venture, the corrugated iron roofs seem to become more oppressive and no daylight penetrated into this area at all. To offset this, many had kerosene lamps hanging from the roof. The goods on sale were so diverse, ranging from food, chicken, fish, both fresh and smoked, almost completely covered with flies, to herbs and spices, both fresh and dried, and clothes, from bras to football shirts and hats! We remarked that their constitution must be so good, if they eat all this produce, after all the flies had sampled it first! Exterior of the Takoradi Central (Circular) market on the left; note the businesses on the upper floor. Running through this market, were deep drain-like channels, some of which carried water as well as all sorts of flotsam and jetsam. Indeed outside the market maze, but within the circle, was a huge three foot wide drain, much deeper than that on the inside, which seemed to be used as a general garbage dumping ground, and you can imagine the smells which emanated from this area! On the perimeter were various trucks, one of which was crammed full of boxes of tomatoes, around which were a throng of both sexes bidding for the fruit. These looked really ripe and by the crowds massing around, they thought so too. However, we were not tempted to buy anything from the market, and we decided to get a taxi to visit Sekondi. The setup was very efficient. Next to the shuttle bus was a guy named Elvis (yes really) who appeared to "run" the taxis. He asked you where you wanted to go, and for how long. He then called over waiting taxis from the other side of the road, took their name, their registration number and their cell phone number, all of which he wrote down, and off we went. By this means I think they got far more custom, as passengers felt it was regulated and therefore safer. We wanted to see two things for which Sekondi is known. One was the fishing village and the other was the colonial-era railway station building. The journey with John, our taxi driver, in a car which though not pristine, was in not too bad a shape, took only about 15 minutes. Arriving in Sekondi, with the ocean on our right, after a drive through lush greenery it was pretty evident that this was the older town. Nearly all the buildings were run down, in a very bad state of disrepair and along the oceanside were little stalls and wooden shacks that had such an air of desolation and poverty, it was quite depressing. Turning off this road, we drove inland, through equally dismal buildings until we came to the fishing village. This was incredible as we drove through a parking area, with many trucks and old vehicles, the former obviously used to transport the fish to market. Getting out, we were led down to the waters edge where there must have been over 50 battered fishing boats, not much more than canoes, as far as the eye could see, some of which were beached. Many had planks of wood missing, and one wondered if indeed they were seaworthy! This area was very muddy, presumably as the tide was out. There were several women selling the fish, surprisingly enough, some of the fish were alive, and there were a few crabs trying to make a bolt for freedom out of the bowl in which they had been placed. One lady motioned to her purse round her waist and wanted to sell me a fish, which was the size of a sprat. We were surprised that she obviously spoke no English, hence the sign language. It was also a surprise to note that there were no big fish on sale, and we wondered if those had already been sold or taken to market. Just above the water level were many tiny shacks, one of which said "Sea View Cafe" whose owner was a very large lady with tinted red hair, she spoke to us and hoped we would partake of whatever drinks she sold. However John asked her where the railway station was, and a guy appeared and got into our taxi, presumably to direct our taxi driver. Sekondi Fishing fleet We left the fish market area and drove round a few side streets, but it was plain that neither knew where this building was. Jessie - the "invited" guide then said he would take us on foot. We came to a clearing with the Ghanaian flag flying on a small flagpole, and facing what looked like a freshly constructed ramp and newly placed ballast. To the left on a raised platform was a length of rails laid on ballast, which had obviously been preserved for posterity, but there was no sign of any railway building, so it must have been demolished. The clearance of the site must have been recent because no vegetation had yet started to grow. The railway station is a well-known feature in Sekondi and all ship's tours were taken to this location, so it was evident that the ship's agents were unaware of its recent demolition and the abandonment of passenger services to the town. Sadly this was not the only colonial building whose use had come to an end, because we drove past the former post office which had clearly been out of use for some time and was derelict. ABIDJAN COTE D'IVOIRE 15 MARCH 2014 Abidjan is the former capital city of the Ivory Coast, and currently the economic capital. it is the largest city in the nation and is the third largest French speaking city in the world after Paris and Kinshasa. It is a unique city in West Africa and its nicknames, Manhattan of the Tropics, Small Manhattan, or Pearl of the Lagoons, explains the city's topography. It also has lovely beaches around the lagoon. Docking promptly at 8.00 am, we aimed to do the one and only trip offered by Silversea. This was a full day tour incorporating lunch at a local hotel in Grand Bassam. We left the port in convoy of four coaches preceded by an official port authority vehicle, with four uniformed men. We were not only in the leading coach, but also sitting in the front seat and therefore had a marvellous view of what was going on. Probably because there were three other coaches behind us, we left at a snail's pace, which was actually helpful for taking photos. The streets were wide, with very much of a French influence, and the road out of the port led up a fairly steep hill. We continued at this snail's pace until both our guide and the driver gestured to the port authority guys, to "plus vite", in other words, get a move on, which they did, but only marginally! One wonders how well they knew their town, as driving down a dual carriageway; we suddenly crossed the road and returned the way we had just come! Finally on the outskirts of town, we actually drove at probably the speed limit. The scenery as we passed became less town and more little individual clusters of habitation, little more than small shacks, interspersed with shops selling a variety of different goods and offering many different services from tyres and car components to clothes. Passing a large group of people all milling round, our guide told us that this was virtually a refugee area, where many people who had come from Niger, Mali, and many other neighbouring countries, lived apparently reasonably harmoniously and that they all managed to scratch a living. Turning off the highway by what appeared to be an unorthodox route as the surface of the road was unmetalled we were confronted by two obstacles. First a funeral cortege was heading along the narrow road that we needed to traverse, with all the mourners, about 50, walking on foot at a slow pace. Once they had passed, there was a low hanging telegraph cable which was too low for our coach to pass under. Eventually someone found a pole long enough to raise the cable, so the coaches could pass underneath! Our first stop was at the centre “Artisanal de Abidjan”, a small cooperative which was housed in a very small clearing by the side of the river, covered with bits of corrugated roofing. There were a few workers showing how they made the metalwork, and various men actually carving objects. All very fundamental, but on sale at quite inflated prices, but a few passengers did buy the various items on offer. Arriving in Grand Bassam, the old French colonial capital city from 1893 to 1896, we stopped for a visit at the National Costume Museum. This was packed with several groups of children in school uniform, early teens, who were obviously on a school visit, and many of them were kneeling on the floor in front of the exhibits making notes. They were quite boisterous and friendly and answered our greetings in French both verbally and with big grins. Some of them were lined up outside in the grounds, obviously taking it in turns to gain entry into the building. Inside the unlit rooms were various figures of the inhabitants of the past centuries wearing the costumes of the period. These also included fetishes and masks. In the grounds behind the building there was a ”sales opportunity” with a variety of objects, some of which included extremely large carvings of elephants and other animals which no passenger could possibly hope to transport abroad unless by sea. After a stop of about half an hour here, we drove through the town of Grand Bassam which runs parallel to the ocean, to our hotel for lunch, the Etoile du Sud. They had set out tables on a terrace, with the overload seated on chairs on the sand covered by an awning literally yards from the beach, which was pristine, with beautiful surf rolling in. There were quite a few locals swimming, surfing and walking along the beach. We suspect that many were staying in the hotel. The lunch consisted of various dishes both hot and cold, from beef, chicken to salads and vegetables. It was very well organised and we thoroughly enjoyed it. As usual, some passengers moaned that wine was not included with the lunch and that the food was not ready and waiting for them, as if they had not eaten for weeks! In view of the number for which the hotel had to cater, we felt they did a brilliant job. The planned shopping stop at the market on the way back was cancelled on a majority vote. Abidjan outer suburban market and basic housing seen from a highly-congested principal highway The highlight of the return journey was the amazing traffic which had built up in the intervening hours - it was only about 3.00 pm, but it was virtually nose to tail. Once again our port authority vehicle, with its four occupants headed the convoy. As the traffic increased, one of them, kept shooting his arm out of the window and gesticulated at the car drivers to move out of our way - indeed throughout the whole journey, should any car get in front of us, the police gestured frantically for them to get out of our path. Finally the traffic ground to a complete halt, so two of them got out and told whoever the driver was, be it car or truck to move. Finding it virtually impossible to move the traffic which surrounded us, they decided to drive onto the other carriage way facing the fast driving oncoming traffic, thinking this would be the solution!! When it became completely gridlocked, the remaining two occupants of our port authority vehicle, carrying AK 47s, got out and waved their weapons at the oncoming traffic!! Miraculously the traffic melted away and we drove off at a merry pace. As the guide said - we were VIPs’ and were treated royally. We all remarked that we wished we could do the same back home! With their help we finally arrived back at the port and home. We had thoroughly enjoyed our day, and not least the hair-raising journey home!! BANJUL, GAMBIA 18 MARCH 2014 This country was made well-known to the world thanks to Alex Haley and his book “Roots” which was made into a television series, and tells the story of a native of The Gambia who is captured as a slave and sent to Virginia in the USA and the trials and tribulations of his life. Gambia which is only 4,360 square miles is the smallest country on the continent, and has a cooperative relationship with its neighbour Senegal, despite having separated from the federation of Senegambia in the early 1990's. Its first historical accounts come from the Arab traders in the 9th and 10th centuries, it was then taken over by the Portuguese who subsequently sold the trade rights to the British, becoming a colony in 1899, before finally becoming independent in February 1965. We didn’t dock until around 11.00 am, so had a leisurely breakfast and a good sail in up The Gambia river. The shuttle bus service dropped us off in the city centre, at the Albert Market, where we went inside the market itself. This was almost a repeat of the other markets we had seen, particularly in Takoradi, and had the same produce as in Ghana. We then decided to stroll around the surrounding streets and we very shortly gained a "minder", who started to point out various buildings, as I was photographing. We had been warned by the ship that informal guides known as "bumsters" abound. Initially we ignored him, but when it became too problematic, I told him to go away in Arabic, which not only surprised him, but also did the trick, and he melted away into the crowd. We then picked up yet another, who purported to be from "the security" force (which he wasn’t); he had a badge round his neck to confirm it! He also proved a pain, and we stopped at some genuine police in the streets to ask the location of the internet café for which we were looking. Having made certain we were on the right track, we tried to ignore Mr. minder No. 2 only to find the original guy several paces ahead. So we then had two “minders” to ignore! Off the main thoroughfare, the streets were rubbish-strewn and potholed. Even though we were the only white people, we did not feel threatened because there were plenty of locals around. Banjul’s market on right We eventually came to the Internet cafe and ascertained it would be US$1 for an hour. As the internet speed was really slow, and after checking there were no urgent emails, we left after 20 minutes, thereby fooling our two minders who may have been waiting outside when the hour had elapsed. On arrival back at the ship there were many stall holders displaying their wares on the quayside and I was tempted and bought a scarf. At 5.30pm in the evening the ship recorded the shade temperature as 99.7 F, - 38C. However several hours later for deck barbecue, many people repaired to the dining room because of the very cold wind across the open decks, and the residual dining room staff had to be augmented by pool deck staff. DAKAR, SENEGAL 19 MARCH 2014 Senegal is the western most nation in Africa, which stretches out into the Atlantic and is bordered to the north by Mauretania, Mali to the East, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south. We docked early at 7.00 am and got the shuttle bus into the main square. We were looking for artisanal shops, but most of the buildings nearby were office and banks. As we had visited Dakar previously and didn’t feel like wandering too far without a good map, we just walked round the square and then returned to the ship. Unfortunately as we were leaving at 1.00 pm, this didn’t give us very long to go further afield. Docking as one seems to do everywhere these days, despite the size of your ship, in a large container port, facilities for merchants to display their wares are minimal on the quayside and here was no exception. We were looking for a postcard for our butler, which we had been doing in all ports where we could find any, and the few stalls that had been set up were uninteresting and not one offered postcards. When we arrived Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner was in the dock across from ours, and we guessed there would be more local vendors in view of the size of their ship. Despite being so near us, by the time we had negotiated round the many wharves and cranes, it was just over a ten minute walk away. We were correct in our assumption, with not only many more vendors, but a postcard seller too, who was asking for one US dollar per postcard which included a stamp. I picked up two cards and gave him one dollar and said I didn’t need the stamp, he didn’t demur! We learned that Ray Solaire, a cruise director ex Silversea and Oceania, was now with Regent on its Seven Seas Navigator. Dakar central square Having completed our mission, we walked back round to the Silver Wind and back on board before sailing. On leaving Dakar, the wind which had started when we left Gambia, increased and this was to dog us and cause a problem until we arrived in Barcelona on 5 April. PRAIA, CAPE VERDE 20 MARCH 2014 In common with nearly all the West African countries visited so far, who charged for visas, Praia is no exception. We felt that it was exorbitant to charge a visa fee of 32 Euros, should one wish to go ashore. Based on reports we had found on the internet that were uncomplimentary about Praia, we were unsure whether to bother but we were glad that we did. The shuttle bus dropped us off only yards from the main square, which was very pretty, clean and so reminiscent of rural Portugal. Praia central square We wanted to go to the island’s Cidade Velha which is the old city and about a 20 minute drive away and a tour which was offered by the ship, but we felt that we would be able to do it more cheaply, without all the extra entrances into museums etc. It was only a few minutes walk to pick up a taxi by the church, and we negotiated a lower price to that for which we were asked, but it was slightly easier for us with our basic Portuguese. We agreed 30 Euros, which we thought was quite expensive, but felt that there were not many taxis available and if we went to find someone else the price could well be the same. The journey across the island, which was quite undulating and barren with few trees, also ran close to the ocean and we could see little coves. The road was wide with a good surface, with not much traffic. Eventually the road dropped down through very narrow streets and we knew we had finally arrived at Cidade Velha. Parking in a small car park, we got out and walked to the little beach with very black sand and some bathers. Fronting this little cove which was quite rocky, with only a small expanse of sand, was a couple of little cafe/restaurants, and the smell of cooking was quite tantalising. Although the dilapidated typically Portuguese barbecue stood on the beach waiting for the sardines to be brought out of the sea and cooked, there was no sign of it happening anytime soon, otherwise we might have been tempted to stay. One of the restaurants appeared to have been built on the old wall ramparts and there were many diners, and people sitting having drinks, most appeared to be tourists, possibly off the AidaVita which was also docked in Praia. In the middle of the town was a little square with the pelourinho - originally a whipping post, and a few street vendors selling a variety of different items together with a few paintings and postcards. This was very picturesque and we could have wandered back up towards the town and the fort which towered over this little village, but as the 30 Euros we had paid for the taxi was only for an hour's duration, we got back into the taxi and returned to the modern town of Praia from where we had left. Despite the cost of the visas, we were pleased we had ventured to this island stuck out in the middle of the Atlantic. The Cidade Velha on Praia SANTA CRUZ, TENERIFE, CANARY ISLANDS, 23 MARCH We arrived around 08.00, about an hour ahead of HAL’s Noordam docking close to the inter-island ferry terminal. The ship’s shuttle dropped us close to Fundación tram (trolley) stop on the Tranvia metro Tenerife system. Being quite early on a Sunday, everywhere was closed and there was little traffic, though there were maybe 15 other locals waiting for the next outbound tram. Our destination was La Laguna, conveniently located close to the end of one of the Tranvia’s line at Trinidad. The one-way fare was Euro1.35 and we had taken the precaution of having sufficient coins, judging correctly that the self-service ticket machine would not accept euro notes, although it did give change, so there is no necessity to have the correct amount. La Laguna claims to be Tenerife’s second most important city, its first capital until 1723 and, from 1999, a UNESCO world heritage site. Its full name is Ciudad de San Cristóbal de la Laguna, which is Saint Christopher's city. It sits at 1,600 feet above sea level but only about five miles from Santa Cruz and the principal streets are largely traffic-free. By virtue of it being Sunday, the main street of La Laguna was virtually dead, with most shops closed. Many of the buildings on the main street date back several hundred years. At the top end lies the cathedral, outside of which were several cafes, which seemed to burst into life once the service in the cathedral was over and people streamed out of the main entrance. San Cristóbal cathedral and plaza, la Laguna The weather was cold here, not least because of the height above sea level, rain clouds threatened and, after exploring a few streets off the cathedral square, we patronised a café in the square for two reasonably-priced hot chocolates and an hour’s worth of Wi-Fi. Then we retraced our steps back down the main street to the Trinidad tram terminus and then back to the ship. Even now, retail outlets in Santa Cruz were virtually all still closed. Considering this port is very tourist orientated, it was very surprising that most places, not only in La Laguna, but also in Santa Cruz resembled a ghost town because it was Sunday. Seemingly gone are the days, when if a cruise ship was in port, shopkeepers would stay open until the ship departed! LAS PALMAS, GRAN CANARIA, CANARY ISLANDS 24 MARCH 2014 Las Palmas was the end port for cruise 2407 and the start of cruise 2408 and roughly 220 passengers disembarked, whilst 200 embarked. AidaCara was docked on the opposite side of the cruise ship quay and we were told that an Aida ship uses this as its home port to offer sailings round the Canaries. Main shopping street in Las Palmas old town We walked to the entrance to the dedicated cruise facility and paid Euro 6.50 for a cab to the old town and walked along the pedestrianised main street, soaking up the atmosphere and admiring the architecture of some of the older buildings. Of note was that maybe 25% of the properties were empty, whilst those still trading offered a wide range of retail outlets, but no food in the remainder; in fact, there were surprisingly few cafes. Roughly a third of the people in this area were clearly tourists. All this provided an interesting insight into this part of Las Palmas, away from the holiday resorts, and after a few hours browsing the area we got a cab to return to the ship. Part 3 – Las Palmas to Barcelona can be found under a separate posting entitled “The Wind Blown Wind”.   Read Less
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