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4 Silversea San Francisco Cruise Reviews

We came on the ship as basically first time Cruisers for the World Cruise 2017. Jan 6 to May 3, San Francisco to Monte Carlo. We had no complaints about the cabin or the ship, it is a little dated. Many of the repeat cruisers were ... Read More
We came on the ship as basically first time Cruisers for the World Cruise 2017. Jan 6 to May 3, San Francisco to Monte Carlo. We had no complaints about the cabin or the ship, it is a little dated. Many of the repeat cruisers were very unhappy with the condition of the ship as most were led to believe the ship had gone under renovation before the cruise. It turned out only some internal things were redone. New carpet was installed. Getting into the restaurants was not a problem. We thought La Terraza, morning and afternoon buffet was very good even though it was pretty much the same everyday. It was the best food of 3 in the evening. Food was very good, most of the time, but most of the menus were repeats. There was lots to do with many days at sea. Lots of lectures, classes and entertainment.. The service was way beyond our expectations. The crew was outstanding and worked very hard to anticipate your every need. There was a bit of a language barrier at times but their smiles and happy attitudes made up for it all. Some of the ports were redundant, and some we wondered why we went there at all, as there was nothing to do, or it would be Sunday and everything was closed. The biggest disappointment was the shore excursions. Many of the tours did not fit the descriptions. Many of the tour guides had their own agenda, or could not speak good English, so you were basically riding around in a bus wondering what you saw. Complains to the Excursion Desk fell on deaf ears. Hard to believe they had done some of these in previous cruises. Book with a Travel Agent company who has a representative on board and includes some of the land tour. Someone that hears you and advises you on board. Private cars were some of the worst unless you know where you want to go and a little something about the port. Don't be afraid to complain and fill in your reviews. We did not and that was a mistake, as we were basically ignored, I suppose assuming we were happy. We are not complainers. Final, this is not a cruise for children, not even any of the legs. Not a fit for the World Cruisers and nothing to do on board. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Cruise Overview =============== This was a ten-day cruise on the Silver Shadow. The cruise began in San Francisco, California and ended in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Along the way there were stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, ... Read More
Cruise Overview =============== This was a ten-day cruise on the Silver Shadow. The cruise began in San Francisco, California and ended in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Along the way there were stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell and Victoria. There were four sea days including one day of cruising the Sawyer Glacier. The itinerary was perfect, whether this is your first time to Alaska or you have visited Alaska on other cruises. Summary ======= We enjoyed our first cruise with Silversea. We have cruised with many cruise lines across the Mass Market, Premium and Luxury Cruise Line categories. Since 2002 we have cruised almost exclusively on Luxury Cruise lines. This has included a significant number of cruises with Crystal Cruise Lines along with a few cruises with Seabourn. The luxury cruise lines do offer its passengers a luxurious cruising experience. For comparison, if these cruise lines were land-based hotels they would be comparable to luxury hotels such as Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons. There are similarities between our cruises with Crystal, Seabourn and Silversea as each of these cruise lines does, in fact, provide a luxurious cruising experience. As such, you can expect superb service, fine cuisine, not being charged for every little item, very few daily announcements, very seasoned passengers, a nice ambience on-board each ship, a greater space to passenger ratio so that one never feels too crowded, and an overall sophisticated cruising experience as compared to mass market or premium cruise lines. The major differences between our experiences on each of these three luxury cruise lines are mainly attributable to the size of the ships in their respective fleets. We have found that ship size will determine the type and depth of enrichment programs/activities and evening entertainment that can be offered by each cruise line and goes a long towards determining what areas of luxury cruising are emphasized by the respective cruise lines And, this is true even within a cruise line where their fleets include ships of varying sizes. For example, on the Seabourn triplets because these ships carry a maximum of 200 passengers they stress service and the overall dining experience. On Silversea with two of their current ships almost double the size of the Seabourn triplets they can offer a more diverse set of activities and other programs than those found on each of the Seabourn triplets. And on Crystal with its two medium size ships they can offer an even greater set of enrichment programs, and a more extensive and diverse set of entertainment program than either Seabourn or Silversea. The other major difference is that on Crystal they provide fixed early and late seating and the cruise fare does not include wine or mixed drinks whereas Seabourn and Silversea offer open seating and their cruise fare does include wine and mixed drinks. While tipping is not expected on Silversea nor on Seabourn the reality is that many of the guests do, in fact, provide a tip either to individuals, and/or to the crew fund. And, while tipping is not included on Crystal, many of the large travel consortiums do include tips which are actually provided by Crystal in recognition that these consortiums bring a large volume of business to Crystal. My wife and I are fine with both fixed and open seating. We think there are pros/cons to each. From our perspective, the main benefit of fixed seating is the fact that the wait staff quickly comes to know your dining preferences and if you are assigned to a table with others it provides a nice opportunity to get to know other passengers quite well. The pro for open seating is that you can dine with different people each evening or you can dine regularly with others or if you would like by yourself and you can come to the dining room anytime you please during the hours the restaurant(s) operate. Of course, the reality is that with open seating the majority of passengers arrive to the dining room for dinner around 7:30 to 7:45 PM. And for us the same is true for the wine and mixed drinks. We are fine whether or not they are included in the cruise fare. It is certainly not a deal breaker for us and we really don't care whether or not we have to sign a bar check. For those who do not consume much alcohol they may be better off if the alcohol is not included in the cruise fare. Yes, our observation is that it seems that more drinking does take place when it is included in the cruise fare. We also do think that ship size has advantages/disadvantages depending on the particular itinerary and length of voyage. So, to us one size does not fit all situations. We realize that there are some passengers who might prefer only small ships such as one of the Seabourn triplets, or the Silversea Cloud and Wind. At the same time others may prefer ships such as the new Seabourn Odyssey, which carries up to 450 passengers or the Silversea ships Shadow or Whisper, which carry up to 380 passengers or even the new Silversea Spirit which will carry up to around 550 passengers. Still others will prefer the two medium size ships of the Crystal Fleet, which carry around 900 passengers. Like so many other things in life what one person likes, another person might not care for. It all depends on what you enjoy and what you want your overall on board experience to be all about. So, I will not make any recommendations in this review because we know each person has different tastes. From time to time there are various threads where people ask which cruise line is best for them. Well there is not always an answer to this question as I think it is impossible to give advice to someone on these boards that one has never met before. As such, my recommendation to others is fairly consistent; (1) read many of the posts on the cruise line boards to see what the majority of passengers seem to like and dislike about a cruise line. (2) Study the ship layout to be sure you will be pleased with the amenities offered and that the ship you are considering will meet your needs. (3) Read through the cruise line brochure. While this is a marketing tool, you'll find that the brochures do highlight those areas emphasized by each cruise line. Even the pictures can be telling about the features of each cruise line. (4) Go to the Internet sites for each cruise line as there is lots of information readily available. (5) Pick up a copy of the most recent book on cruising by Douglas Ward and published by Berlitz. Don't get hung up on the ratings given to each ship. Rather you can learn a great deal about each ship/cruise line by reading the two-to-three page narrative. (6) Finally, talk with knowledgeable travel specialists who have sailed on each line and have first hand knowledge and talk with those who you respect who may also have first hand knowledge. Pre Cruise ======== We enjoyed a wonderful pre-cruise in San Francisco and the Bay Area. We spent time with friends, visited the town in which we lived for four years before we moved away from California eighteen years ago and we enjoyed time in downtown San Francisco. The weather was lovely. The town where we used to live looked more beautiful than ever. For the last two days prior to embarking the ship we stayed at the San Francisco Ritz Carlton. We walked quite a bit and visited China Town, the Italian District, Fisherman's Wharf, the Ferry Building, Union Square and a few other areas several times during the course of our stay as we enjoy taking nice long walks. Our only other cruise to/from the Port of San Francisco was in 2002 on-board the former Crystal Harmony which offered 12 day cruises of Alaska during the summer months. This was our first sailing with Crystal. I would love to see San Francisco position itself to offer more cruises. While there has been talk about building a new cruise ship terminal I don't think that is necessary. Rather, I wish the city would consider enhancing the cruise terminals. Embarkation ========= Embarkation was very smooth and was by far the easiest we have ever experienced on any cruise line/ship. We requested early embarkation. Normally, embarkation begins at 3:00 PM. An additional fee of $100.00 per passenger is charged to the shipboard account for early embarkation and we were advised that we would be able to board the ship at approximately 10:30 AM and that every effort would be made to have the cabin ready as close to that time as possible. Since this was our first time sailing with Silversea we decided it made sense for us to board the ship early so that we could have extra time to explore the ship and get settled prior to the departure of the ship. We arrived at Pier 35 at 10:15 AM and proceeded through a few security checkpoints. At precisely 10:30 AM the embarkation process began. They took eight guests at a time and we were the first two in the very first group. The check in process took just two minutes. They looked at our passports and our cruise documents and had us fill out a form about the swine flu. After check in we were escorted up to the area where we could board the ship. Along the way we were stopped three times and each time we were asked our names and our room number. We hadn't bothered to learn our room number ahead of time so this was a good way for us to learn it and we were experts by the time we boarded the ship. Once on board the ship we were escorted to a lounge where drinks were offered and where we completed the check-in process by turning in our passports, and having our pictures taken. We were told we would remain in this area until our room was ready. This was our lucky day. About fifteen minutes later we were the first passengers to be called and a member of the staff escorted us to our room. In no time we were in our room, unpacked our carry on luggage, and proceeded to the reception area to take care of a few items. We then proceeded to explore the ship and in no time we learned where most areas are located. We easily found the fitness center and the jogging track as part of our self guided tour. At 12:00 Noon we enjoyed our first meal on board the ship and thought the food was very well prepared and we enjoyed the service in the dining room. After lunch we went back to the room and a few minutes later our luggage showed up. We unpacked, spoke to our daughter and to our son, and then continued to explore the ship. We also stopped by La Terrazzo to make a reservation for dinner at this specialty restaurant for the second formal night. NOTE: We learned later that one of the advantages of boarding early was the ability to make reservations before the majority of passengers boarded the ship. Afterwards, we continued to walk around the ship, stopped by the shore excursion desk, watched as the majority of passenger's embarked the ship starting at 3:00 PM, met our Stewardess, and enjoyed a very leisurely afternoon on the ship. Later in the afternoon we attended the Lifeboat Drill, the Sail Away Party held on the Pool Deck and before dinner we attended the first event with the Cruise Director, David Lawton. The Ship ======= The ship is around nine years old or nine years young depending on your perspective. It carries up to 382 passengers assuming double occupancy per cabin. It has a very logical layout with many of the public rooms located towards the aft on many decks and the cabins located toward the bow of the ship. The public areas are nicely decorated and designed. Given the size of the ship it is very easy to get around.. There are plenty of elevators and stairways between floors. We used the stairways exclusively. We especially enjoyed the decor of the dining rooms and of many of the public rooms. They are tastefully decorated. As is the case with the other luxury cruise lines, the ship never felt crowded at all even though the ship was sold our for this specific voyage. Like any ship there are probably a few areas showing some wear and tear but these items are normally addressed in dry-dock. Accommodations ============== Our room (they are all called suites and are of differing sizes to choose from) was a nice size for this length voyage. It was configured fairly similar to the rooms that we have had on the Seabourn Triplets except this room also included a Verandah. We were happy that we had selected a room that was mid deck which we prefer. The room had a nice desk area, with plenty of room on top of it. On one shelf above the left side of the desk was a flat screen television and above the right hand side is a bar. Below the right hand side of the desk was a refrigerator. There was a couch and one desk chair along with another chair and a coffee table and a couple of end tables and lamps. Likewise on each side of the bed is an end table and a lamp. There is also a small vanity makeup table. We thought there were only two negatives to the room. First, is that the end tables are rather light weight and relatively small so when you open the door you really need to use two hands; one to open the door and the other to keep the table from moving. Second is that the small alarm clock makes a relatively loud ticking noise. We brought our own alarm clock which we put out and put the one from the room in the bathroom. Overhead lighting in the room was excellent which is not always the case on many cruise lines and the buttons were easy to use. The safe was good and actually has a digital display that shows whether or not it is locked. The storage space was decent. The bathroom worked well and the bath products were very nice. The closet was a decent size. The one challenge that we did have with this room was the use of the Internet because unless we left the door open a crack or more we had difficulty getting a strong internet signal. It took a day or so to get used to keeping the door open a little bit but after that we were fine. Our suggestion would that a note be provided on the desk about this. A couple of times even the solution of keeping the door open did not work and I took the computer to a public room where it worked. Our Room Stewardess, Evelyn, and the Assistant Stewardess, Sonja, were very efficient and professional. The first day we asked for some specific items, and they made sure that they were available each and every day. We did not see them very often and they worked their magic as the made up the room in the morning and in the evening hours. They were wonderful. The television stations were fine. We don't watch much television and certainly not on a cruise. We do like to keep up with the news and there were three news stations (two USA based). I believe there were about three stations showing movies. Dining & Cuisine ================ There are two main dining room; the Restaurant where you order from the restaurant menu and La Terrazzi, which provides a breakfast and luncheon, buffet and at night is a specialty restaurant where you order from a menu. We enjoyed both the cuisine and the overall dining experience in these two venues. We dined in the Restaurant frequently for dinner. Overtime, we found an area of the dining room that we preferred both in terms of its location and the waiter. The quality of the cuisine along with its preparation was quite nice and overall the service was professional. Most on the wait staff spoke good English but a few of the assistant waiters did not always understand what we said. We also appreciated that those items that were considered wellness options on the menu provided the calories, carbohydrates and fat for the appetizers, salad, entrée and desserts that fell into this category. We do like to eat healthy and appreciated the additional information. Often at dinner we tried a variety of seafood entrees and found them to be very pleasing. We could order some items that were not on the menu and there were some standard items available to choose from if we didn't care for the entrees on the menu. For breakfast we mainly dined at La Terrazzi. The buffet items were extensive including cold and hot items. They also offered made to order eggs and they also had someone making waffles. Waiters were available near the buffet area to carry the items back the table for you. At the same time, you could order certain hot items from the wait staff and they would bring these items out to you. They would also take you hot and cold drink items and serve them to you. As we prefer breakfast items such as cereal, fruit, yogurts and other related items this restaurant was perfect for us. Our routine was to come to this venue for breakfast following our daily exercise. Our only criticism is that some of the cereal bowls did not seem fully cleaned and we noticed this on more than one occasion. For lunch, we dined at the Restaurant a couple of times but we mainly at La Terrazzi. We would often make up our own salad entrée with mixed greens, raw and steamed vegetables and usually a hot seafood item. On certain days there would be a luncheon theme and there were lots of hot and cold items to choose from. There was even a nice variety of sushi. While we didn't have this, you could order a made to order pizza from the wait staff. For those passengers who wanted to order their entire meal from the waiters in La Terrazzi for breakfast and lunch the waiters would be more than happy to serve these passengers their meals. La Terrazzi offered indoor and outdoor dining. The indoor tables had tablecloths and offered a variety of table sizes. On most days we ate at one of the two person tables near a window to enjoy a beautiful view of all that was around us. During dinner, we primarily dined at the Restaurant where the menu typically featured three appetizers, intermezzo's (eg., soup, salad, etc.), and four entrées available. There was also three standard fare items (salmon, chicken, beef) to choose from. A special dessert menu was available each evening with a variety of desserts to choose from and also the option of the cheese trolley. In the evening, La Terrazzi becomes a specialty restaurant featuring different menus each evening of Italian Cuisine from various regions of Italy and the meal is served by the wait staff. We ate there on the second of the three Formal nights. On the formal nights you could dine in informal attire at this venue but we chose to dine in formal attire on the evening that we had dinner there. The evening we dined there featured a seafood menu. We enjoyed the meal, particularly the Halibut Entrée that was very moist as it was prepared in a thin paper wrap. We appreciated the fact that each dining room had a very nice selection of table sizes. Most times we would dine by ourselves either at a two or four person table and they were located throughout the dining room. A few other times we dined with one or a couple of people. If a passenger preferred a particular table in the dining room and/or waiter and arrived early they could request that table and/or waiter and the Maitre d' would easily accommodate that request. We had certain favorite waiters but also tried to sit in different areas ot the dining room, particularly at two person tables by the window. The last few nights we did settle on one area of the dining room and a particular waiter who we enjoyed. We did not dine at Le Champagne, which offers a wine pairing meal at $200.00 per passenger or for those who do not want the special wines they can dine for $30.00 per passenger. None of the complimentary wine is provided in this restaurant so for those who do not want the wine pairing but want to order a bottle of wine they can order from a menu of wines with bottles starting at $50.00. Wine was served for lunch and dinner in the restaurants. We are not big drinkers so we did not have wine for lunch. We enjoyed many of the wines that were served in the evening and appreciated the diversity of the vineyards which included several wines from Napa Valley along with wines from other regions around the world including South America, Australia, France and Spain along with a few other regions around the world. For lunch and for dinner two different complimentary wines were poured; one white and one red wine. We learned mid-way through the cruise that if you enjoyed a particular wine you could see if it was available on the other nights when other wines were featured. When we dined at La Terazzi they featured a sparkling wine along with a white and red wine from Italy. We would also have a pre dinner drink in one of the lounges and would also listen to live music. Many of the passengers would enjoy a pre-dinner mixed drink. The menus also included some wines for purchase in addition to the complimentary wines. We did not order any special items, nor was it mentioned to us that this was possible, but we didn't ask either. On occasion we would change up something already on the menu but these requests were very minor in nature. Twenty-four hour room service is also available with an extensive menu. You can order a course-by-course dinner in the evening featuring items from the Restaurant. We ordered breakfast only once during the morning of disembarkation. We also ordered some fruit from room service a couple of times during the course of the cruise. There was a special caviar menu available in the suites and the items offered were not complimentary and the prices were duly noted. We only ate in our room one time and that was on the morning of disembarkation. The night before we had filled out the breakfast menu. The times to request it on the form were in 30-minute increments so in our case it was 6:00 AM to 6:30 AM. We left a note with the stewardess asking if she could request that our breakfast would be delivered at 6:00 AM and sure enough it arrived precisely at 6:00 AM. The order was exactly what we asked for. The Crew ======= In general, we found the crew to be quite professional and efficient and pleasant. As mentioned we thought highly of our cabin stewardess, Evelyn, and the assistant cabin stewardess, Sonja. They worked tirelessly and we appreciated all of their efforts. We never had to ask for the same item twice. During the evening the waiter and assistant waiters assigned to your table was pretty much on their own. However similar to what we experienced with Seabourn, on busy formal nights and at the larger tables the wait staff assisted one another. There were also times when the headwaiters would assist and they could be spotted walking around the dining room often. We had some favorite waiter and headwaiters in both restaurants. Many of the wait staff in both these restaurants learned our names and some learned our preferences. The bar staff was very friendly and provided nice service. After each day on the ship we found that more and more members of the bar staff learned our names as well. We had some interaction with other members of the staff from the two social hosts who are on board mainly to provide company for the solo women passengers to others such as the shopping consultant and the entertainers. In general, we found the crew members to be very helpful and professional. There was never a line at the reception/concierge desk and just a short line from time to time at the shore excursion desk. The entertainers such as the dancers, and singers helped during the daytime with the other activities. We found them to be very nice. Typically their contracts ranged from nine to twelve months and most of these entertainers seemed to indicate that this was a one-time contract for them as they were relatively young and wanted to establish themselves with a land career. Most of the waiters and assistant waiters we talked with have worked a couple of contracts with Silversea. In general the headwaiters have been with Silversea for quite a bit longer. The Maitre d'Hotel has been with Silversea since 1994 and was quite friendly. The majority of the waiter and bar staff was from Asia with others from various places around the world including South America, and Europe. In general, the room stewardess and assistant stewardess, wait staff and bar staff performed flawlessly. The only problem that we encountered was with the reception desk on the next to last day of the voyage. We tried on and off in the afternoon to reach the receptionist personnel by telephone to inquire about the weather for one of the ports of call but no one picked up. Right before dinner my wife stopped by the desk to inquire about the weather and because the person at the desk was having problems with her computer, she asked for our stateroom number and said she would leave a message for us on the phone. A few hours later when we got back to the room there was no message. My wife tried to call the reception desk as well as the operator again with no success. I also tried to cal and still no answer on either line after letting it ring countless times. I had already changed or otherwise I would have just gone down to the desk. Finally, I called the emergency number and someone answered and then called me right back on the regular phone. I never got a solid explanation as to why no one picked up the other phone lines nor why the person my wife spoke with never left a message for us. This was not a major issue relative to the entire cruise but I just wanted to balance many of the positive comments that I have provided with an item that was not up to the same standards as we had experienced throughout much of the cruise. The Passengers =========== The ship was sold out. Many of the passenger's were seasoned cruisers but like us there were several passengers who were sailing with Silversea for the very first time. There were about twenty children on board who ranged from infants to college-aged students, some traveling with parents and others with parents and/or grandparents. There was a children's program for the children. In general, the children were very well behaved. There was one rather large extended family with three relatively young children and I am sorry to say that to me it was the parents who were not well behaved and who did not set a good example for their children to follow in my humble opinion. This became obvious to not only us, but to others, at lunch on the day before we arrived at Wrangell. Ironically, when we disembarked the ship part of the family was in front of us and the rest were behind us. Once again, we observed another situation where the parents were not setting the right example for their children to follow. This was the most children that have been on board the ship during its Alaska Sailings according to the crew we spoke with. One factor is likely that this is the height of the summer vacation season for many families who travel in the summer. There is a conference room that was used to provide activities for the children since there is no dedicated children's room/area on board the ship. In addition to passengers from around the USA, Mexico and Canada there were several passengers from outside the United States from various places around the world including, China, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Australia and several other countries throughout Northern and Western Europe. The majority of the passengers were sailing to Alaska for the very first time. This was actually our fourth cruise of Alaska. We are not sure exactly why, but we did not get to know our fellow passengers as well as we have on our other Crystal and Seabourn cruises. In the case of Seabourn it might be because not only did we travel on their 200 passenger ships, but also on Seabourn very often one is invited to hosted tables throughout the cruise. Couples are not seated together so it encourages conversation with others. There are far fewer hosted tables on Silversea. We were invited to one of them but had to decline the invitation, as this was the night we were dining at the specialty restaurant. The other factor for us is that we did not take any of the shore excursions, which we do often on our Crystal and Seabourn cruises. With that said, we did meet and talk with some of our fellow passenger's including having drinks one evening with one couple. We just didn't meet anyone who we will likely correspond with when we are back home which is unusual for us. Itinerary/Shore Excursions =================== As I mentioned, this was a ten-day cruise with stops in several Alaska ports and Canada. We enjoyed the itinerary and I think it is good for those sailing here the very first time and those like us who have sailed here before. There were a variety of Alaskan itineraries to select from with many offered several times. As this was our forth time to Alaska, we did not sign up for any shore excursions as we have taken quite a few over the years. Instead, we decided to walk around each of the ports on our own. For those who haven't cruised here before, we thought that Silversea offered a nice variety of shore excursions to choose from at a wide range of price points. They also offered some unique excursions, which were at a substantially higher price point. Many who we spoke with who did take the excursions enjoyed them. A couple of the highlights for people was one where they took a helicopter to the Glacier and then went dog sledding. Another one was an excursion on a catamaran in Ketchikan where folks went whale watching and I believe saw eight whales all at once. This happens infrequently so the folks were very fortunate to see all of the whale. On our previous voyages we did see some whale but never that many at once. Internet ====== Internet connectivity including speed was quite good. We had less delay than I anticipated. I believe that this was attributable to not only the position of the ship but the fact that my sense is not many of the passengers used the internet during the cruise. In the end, demand has a lot to do with the speed and we were fortunate that the demand was likely not too great. There was a small internet room with public computers and a couple were also located in the library. The only problem that we really encountered to use the internet was the signal strength as mentioned earlier if the door to the cabin was entirely closed. I am not sure if this is a problem in some rooms or just ours. There are several minute usage plans to sign up for at various price points. As expected, the larger the minute plan the lower the per minute price. I was pleased that if you purchased an internet plan and still had minutes remaining that you could use the internet on the morning of disembarkation. You could not purchase new minutes since the shipboard accounts are all reconciled at that point in time. Fitness Center ========== Since the Fitness Center is important to us I wanted to mention this facility. The Fitness Center has a nice variety of cardio and weight lifting equipment for the size of the ship. I work out on the elliptical machine and my wife uses the treadmill on a daily basis. As is the other case on other cruise lines we found that the best time to use the Fitness Center is either very early or very late in the day. For us, early is best. We would arrive when it opened at 6:30 AM and workout for between one and two hours. Colonial Wes was absolutely correct with his recommendation as to the best time to use the Fitness Center. I am not sure if it is possible for the Fitness Center to open earlier. On some ships we the Fitness Center is open 24 hours a day even if no staff is present. Since the center can get busy it would be great if it could open 5:30 AM or by 6:00 AM but again the need to staff it might be the reason it opens when it does. The other suggestion would be for the staff to ensure that there were a sufficient number of towels, bottled water, and wet wipes out at all time. On several occasions we had to let the staff know that the container of wet wipes was empty. I also never saw anyone cleaning the machines from the staff and think this is important in terms of containing germs. We as passengers do thoroughly wipe down our machines before and after use but very few others did likewise so I think this is another reason for the staff to be diligent in the cleaning of the machines. We did not use any of the other treatments available in the spa area or any of the private fitness related offerings. Enrichment Programs, Activities and Entertainment ===================================== We attended several of the lectures and since we were cruising Alaska the major focus of these presentations was on Alaska rather than other areas such as novels and politics. This makes perfect sense for this type of cruise. We also attended all of the talks given by the on board art expert. There was a nice selection of activities offered during the cruise, particularly on sea days. This included fitness, gaming, and dance classes, team trivia, social and duplicate bridge, bingo, arts and crafts, French, Spanish and Italian lessons. There was music and dancing in the evening and of course time to enjoy a cocktail with a fellow guest. There were shows at night, which featured singers and dancers. We found significantly more activities and expanded entertainment from what we experienced on the Seabourn triplets while quite a bit less than what we have experienced on either of the Crystal ships. Again, the size of the ship is the key as to what can be offered in the way of entertainment and enrichment programs. Shopping ======= There were a couple of stores on board the ship. This included one boutique that carried an array of items including clothing, jewelry, and other sundry items. This store also had a jeweler on board from Arizona featuring a jewelry trunk show. The other boutique was an H Stern jewelry store. In addition, the art expert who was on board the ship had many art items available for sale. Disembarkation ============ Disembarkation was handled very well. We made arrangements through Silversea to have a private car take us to the Vancouver International Airport and the car was waiting for us at the appointed time The ship arrived to the Port of Vancouver at the designated time which was 7:15 AM. We had been instructed a couple of days before that we could pick up our passports at 7:00 AM and when I arrived at the designated spot I just had to wait in line for a minute or two before I collected our passports. They were organized in room number order, which made it easy to find them. We were asked to vacate our cabin by 8:30 AM and we waited in another area of the ship until it was time for us to depart the ship at approximately 8:50 AM. At that point someone from the staff came up to us and told us that our car was ready. After we got down to the pier, personnel were visible to guide us to our luggage and in no time we were through customs where the driver was waiting for us. Summary/Final Thoughts =================== This was a very nice cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary along with the overall cruise. We found the overall cruise experience to be 5 Star+ We enjoyed the size of the ship, the service, the high quality cuisine, the enrichment programs and the overall cruise. The cruise confirmed our expectation of Silversea and our view of cruising on a luxury cruise line. In the end, our view of luxury cruising is similar to our view of other luxury products. As such, we will not rank this line with the other luxury cruise lines that we have sailed with because each person will rank it differently based on those areas that are most important to them. To me it's no different than ranking luxury car manufacturers such as Lexus, Mercedes and BMW. Each manufacturer builds top of the line luxury cars but each owner may have a different view of which car they rank first based on those factors that are most important to them. The same is true for cruise lines. In the end, we believe its important for each person to decide for themselves which cruise line(s) and which ship(s) they prefer the best based on those factors that are most important to them. As I always say, no two cruises even on the same cruise line are the same. We will sail on Silversea again. I hope others will find this review helpful. Keith Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Embarkation was awkward, as we were asked to wait in a small cold room on the wharf,with plastic chairs, until our turn to go aboard. One should be able to walk aboard, state your name, and receive guidance to the suite without delay this ... Read More
Embarkation was awkward, as we were asked to wait in a small cold room on the wharf,with plastic chairs, until our turn to go aboard. One should be able to walk aboard, state your name, and receive guidance to the suite without delay this is not a Carnival ship. Our stewardess knew nothing about the suite, and could not answer any question we had, even one concerning how to rotate the TV stand. The liquor we requested for evening cocktails in the suite was delivered several days later, after several requests. The once sterling menu was extra-ordinary: all frozen entrees. No fresh fish or seafood even though we were cruising Alaskan waters. Breads were often stale and tasteless. Desserts uninteresting and vegetables tasteless. The wine selection was excellent as usual. Service was poor, with many regulars missing and replaced by untrained, though sweet and willing;staff with very limited English skills. Internet service was very limited, with no in-suite connection. You had to use your computer in a public lounge.They still do not have hookups for iPod in the room. They had an excellent presenter, whom we heard only a few times, and a dry-as-dust speaker, whom we heard many many times. There did not seem to be enough linens to go around: every day we were missing towels. One day it was bath towels, the next day hand towels, the next day wash cloths. Any request of our stewardess had to be repeated to a supervisor or housekeeping, not because she was unwilling, but because she didn't understand a word we were saying. Books and tapes were thrown on library shelves in a haphazard way, and the selection was dated. The furniture and carpets are worn and not very clean.  There was tension on the ship, I believe, because of reduced staff, and customer (particularly returning ones) dissatisfaction. I would suggest avoiding Silver Shadow until Silversea is able to get things back to the standard expected of a luxury, high-cost, cruise line. It badly needs refurbishing,a menu review, and the return of experienced and additional staff. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Background: While this was our sixth cruise (and second to Alaska) for my us, it was our first on Silversea, or on any luxury line. We are in our late 40's and, by our own definition, "cabin rats". As cabin rats our number ... Read More
Background: While this was our sixth cruise (and second to Alaska) for my us, it was our first on Silversea, or on any luxury line. We are in our late 40's and, by our own definition, "cabin rats". As cabin rats our number one goal on a cruise is rest and relaxation, and to us that means great service, no crowds, good food, a comfortable cabin, good books/movies, an upscale/elegant atmosphere, and no hassles. So, when plans changed unexpectedly for us this summer, we booked a 12-night cruise (3917) from San Francisco to Alaska and back at what was for us the last minute (three months out) through Silversea. Embarkation: We chose to use Silversea's Air package which gave as our flight into San Francisco plus the transfer to the port. We got off our plane and walked down to baggage claim to start looking for our bags, after which I planned to start searching for our pickup area. As I entered baggage claim I saw a man in a suit holding a sign that said "Silversea". Great, I thought - he can tell me where to go after I get my bags. Instead, he greeted me by name, told me he'd been waiting for us, escorted us to our claim area, loaded our bags into a luggage cart, and walked us to bus pickup point! We had to wait for ~30 minutes for the bus to arrive which seemed to cause a great deal of unhappiness on the Silversea port agent personnel there with us. Finally, bus arrived, bags were loaded, and after about 40 minutes we arrived at Pier 35 around 1 PM. Processing took about five minutes (no lines whatsoever), after which we arrived at the waiting room where we would be until 3 PM as we had not signed up for Early Embarkation. However, during our in-processing one of the Silversea port agent personnel had muttered to another to put us on the Early Embarkation list due to the bus delay. We mentioned that to the rep in the waiting area, and five minutes later we were escorted into our cabin, champagne glasses in. Stateroom: The 285 sq. ft. for our mid-ship veranda cabin (plus 65 sq. ft. for the actual veranda) was comfortable The walk-in closet, dual bathroom vanities with granite countertop, separate shower and (full) bathtub, and sitting area with separate desk and makeup areas provided more than enough space for us to stow our four full suitcases (plus two carryons) worth of luggage and exist for almost two weeks without feeling the least bit cramped. The mini-fridge came supplied with the usual assortments of juices/sodas/beers plus champagne, but at our request most of that was replaced with bottled water and Diet Coke and restocked as needed.. The basket of fresh fruit was replenished daily as we consumed it. There was only one general-purpose electrical outlet in the room, but it was enough for recharging our camera batteries. Unbeknownst to us (note: check next time before packing!), the bulb in our nightlight had died so we eventually resorted to leaving a light on the bathroom at night to prevent a wrong turn from turning ugly..... The TV was a flat screen mounted on a rotating stand. Since my wife's and my IQ's tend to subtract from each other's when we're in the same room, we could neither figure out how to rotate it nor how to get it to play an audio CD. We finally asked our wonderful cabin attendants (Evelyn and Sonja) for instructions, and they quickly pointed out the knob to pull out to rotate the stand (duh!), but were also stumped in getting a CD to play. Thinking they were doing something wrong (the TV remote control system was evidently fairly new), they came back with detailed instructions later that afternoon. When it still wouldn't work they called in an engineer who arrived within the hour, took one look and diagnosed a loose cable, tightened it, problem solved. One of the nicest features in the room was a plastic tray that slides over the sitting area's coffee table. The result was a good-sized table that is at just the right height for in-room dining. We made heavy use of this throughout the cruise! Another nice little touch were the little cloths placed on each side of the bed at evening turndown so your bare feet aren't sullied by the cabin carpet when you get into and out of bed. Bathroom towels were always well-stocked and replaced at the next service. Although the cabin furnishings/carpet were in good shape, when we received our "mid-cruise" comment form on about the fourth day we noted (in addition to heaping copius amounts of praise on the crew's service, especially Evelyn's and Sonja's) that the seal on our shower door didn't really seal anymore, and the towels/bathrobes, although plush, were a bit rough for our taste. We expected this form to disappear into the bowels of Silversea till it eventually found a home in someone's "circular file", so we were very surprised to find a letter from the Hotel Director next day in our mailbox thanking us for our input and specifically mentioning the items we'd brought up. Even better, the seal on the shower door was replaced that same day while we were out of the cabin. And, to top things off, I looked at my wife the following morning and asked if I was crazy, or did the towels seem softer to her.? She thought she was crazy too as they also seemed softer to her, so we asked our cabin attendants their opinion and no, we weren't candidates for the lunatic asylum, they had started doing our towels separately with extra softener! To make life complete for the cabin rat, public announcements (other than the captain's daily noontime message ) were not broadcast in the cabins. One source of noise we did have in our cabin (642) was, we thought, occasional nights of constantly ringing phones next door in the early evenings. We eventually learned that what we were actually hearing were the slot machines in the casino below, and would not recommend booking a cabin immediately above it in the future. Ship Info: We found the ship to be well laid-out and easy to navigate, and really enjoyed the fact that, from deck 6 mid-ships, we could get to any place we needed to go within only a minute or two. Overall, the general condition of the ship was in good condition, although there were some heavy stains on the carpet in the public hallways that warrant carpet replacement at the next dry dock. We enjoyed the original artwork/photos on consignment that had been placed along the passage ways and stairwells, and the price tags below merely reminded us of days past window shopping along Canyon Road in Santa Fe. And we enjoyed even more the total absence of any "ship's photographers" constantly hounding you to poise for them..... The library contained a reasonably modern (3-4 year old), well-organized collection of books, DVD's, and CD's that was broad enough to satisfy both of our tastes throughout the cruise. The checkout system merely required entering your name, date, and cabin number for the article you were taking. There was also a good collection of travel guides and other literature in the Observation Lounge. Plus, the Observation Lounge came equipped with about a half dozen massage chairs which were not unpleasant to try out. The fitness center, although not large, was equipped with a good variety of aerobic/resistance machines and free weights. I used it 5-6 times during the cruise and, if it was busy, sometimes had to settle for the elliptical instead of the recumbent cycle, but my lungs couldn't tell the difference. One thing the fitness center could use is more ventilation but I'm not sure how easy that would be to add. Another nice feature were the launderettes on most passenger decks. These came equipped with two washers, two dryers, and a self-serve tub of laundry detergent (but no dryer sheets) and a utility sink. Between the ship's dry cleaning (which, although we didn't ask for it, provided same-day service) and the launderette we actually managed to come home with suitcases full of mostly clean clothes! Towards the end of our cruise the launderettes did get busy with guests with fellow ambitions so I would recommend not waiting till the last minute before packing to start washing. Our fellow passengers, although many (~60%?) were also on their first Silversea cruise, consisted for the most part of well-traveled, veteran cruisers. The majority, not surprisingly, were from the US, but with a good mixture of British, Canadians, Japanese, Latin Americans, etc. Being in our late 40's probably put us in the youngest quartile age-wise of the passengers, but as cabin rats we were also probably in the least active quartile! The dress code was adhered to by all the passengers we encountered. On formal nights ~70% of the men were in tuxes with the rest in dark suits, and informal nights saw all in jackets with about half in ties as well. Daytimes were a mixture of slacks, dress shorts, and some blue jeans for men. We would estimate that there were not more than 15 children on board and they were well behaved and also appropriately dressed (especially the young man in his tux on formal nights!). However, we didn't get a chance to talk to any of them to see if they were enjoying things. In general, I don't think I would recommend this cruise for children unless they can tolerate being in a adult atmosphere for prolonged periods and can exist in one without causing a ruckus. Silversea policy allows smoking in cabins/verandas, sections of the pool deck, the Humidor, and part of The Bar. As non-smokers we didn't see any guests disobeying this policy, and for our part if we were on our veranda and the guests next door were smoking on theirs we didn't complain. Aside from one issue discussed below smoking/non-smoking was a non-issue as far as were concerned. Dining: We had breakfast every morning in our cabins via room service. The card was filled out the night before, a ½ hour block was checked for delivery, and the next morning we'd get a knock on our within the first 5-10 minutes of our selected block. In addition to the usual cold items and breads/pastries/fruit/yogurt, there was also a good assortment of hot items such as pancakes, omelettes, Eggs Benedict, bacon/sausage, hash browns, etc. We found the fresh fruit (especially the mangos) to be quite good throughout most of the cruise. There were occasionally a few items missed from what we had checked off, and once a case of Eggs Benedict that had been turned into rubber, but room service was quick to correct these. The only real complaint I had was that their (decaf) coffee never seemed to suit my taste so I eventually gave up on it and stuck to tea. Our lunches switched from venue to venue (The Restaurant, La Terrazza, Pool Grill, or room service) throughout the cruise. The Restaurant offered a somewhat simpler version of their evening cuisine (i.e., four or five course with a Continental theme), the Pool Grill (in fair weather) had excellent hamburgers, etc., and La Terrazza had a pasta station, pizza (so-so to our tastes), hot buffet line, salads, and sushi. My wife loves sushi, and while she was not crazy about what was served she did find it acceptable. Unlike the standard buffet line experience on our previous cruises where "jungle rules" applied, on Silversea the maitre d' would find you a table, seat you, the wine steward would promptly stop by to offer you a soda, glass of wine, or a drink from the bar, and while you had to get up to pick out your food (unless you ordered a burger from the Pool Grill), a waiter would insist on carrying your plate back to your table for you. The overall effect was actually so enjoyable and relaxing that, unlike previous cruises where we avoided lunch on the Lido decks at any cost, we didn't think twice about visiting La Terrazza . We really enjoyed the open seating (7-9AM) policy for The Restaurant in the evenings. The only pressure we ever felt to hurry up and get ready for dinner was from our stomachs! Although the ship as at or near full capacity we were always able to get a table for two regardless of when we showed up. While we enjoyed talking to neighboring tables during dinner during breaks between courses, as cabin rats we generally prefer a buffer space. True to their Relais & Chateau connection, dinners in The Restaurant (as prepared by Sean Emslie) also had a Continental flare. While our tastes generally lean towards New American/Asian Fusion, we found the food to be good to very good with excellent variety (beef, duck, shellfish, fresh seafood, veal, game, vegetarian, etc.) and interesting appetizers. The only area that was really disappointing were the soups, which I usually found to be somewhat watery. However, this was minor since the other courses more than made up for it. Our particular favorites were the Wild Boar Ragout (me) and Maine Lobster (my wife). Unlike the standard cruise ship lobster which tastes like boiled rubber duck, this lobster had been gently broiled and was both flavorful and tender. My wife had been planning on avoiding it that night due to our experiences on previous cruises, but our waiter insisted she at least try it and, after one bite (and a taste for me), she pushed her original entrEe aside and dug in. Service in The Restaurant was polite and unobtrusive. Although the waiters generally wouldn't volunteer suggestions, they were quick to offer them when asked and we were always happier when we followed them. It was great to have both the lunch and dinners menu available the night before as an insert n the ship's Chronicles. Since my wife despises wine (or any other form of refreshment in which she can actually taste alcohol), I stuck to the complementary wines. Although not an expert, I would characterize them as basically decent table wines in the $10-$20 per bottle range. The wine stewards were always quick to fill my glass, and if I decided I had liked last night's selection better to bring me a glass of that instead. We also had dinner at La Terrazza twice by reservation . Dinner seatings are limited to ~30 couples, allowing a more intimate atmosphere than The Restaurant. The cuisine is Italian, focusing on a different region's food (and wines) each night with a somewhat limited menu. While the service was great, we found the food to be prepared with a heavier hand on the olive oil than we prefer. We also made reservations at Le Champagne for one night. This is a 3-4 hour experience in a very intimate (5-6 tables) setting where the degustation menu each night is either French, Italian, Spanish, or (in our case) North American. I chose the wine pairings at $200, while my wife just stuck to water ($30). The food was beautifully prepared by Catalan, and we were waited on impeccably by the maitre d' (Marcello) and our waiter (Abay), but somehow the Relais & Chateau flair just never seemed to mesh with the North American menu for us. Some of the wine pairings (six courses equals six different wines, with glasses refilled upon request!) were truly superb, however. Le Champagne was situated next to The Humidor with a (closed) connecting door. While normally not an issue, unbeknownst to all the air filter in The Humidor chose that night to clog and cigar smoke started infiltrating through the connecting door in increasing quantity as the night wore on. Finally, the couple seated adjacent to the connecting door, and with whom we had been intermittently conversing with, asked Marcello to be moved to La Terrazza, and asked us if we would join him. We readily agreed, Marcello/Abay set things up next door, and off we went, with the other tables following shortly thereafter. Although we ended up still having a great time, we were not surprised getting a phone call next afternoon from Marcello telling us that he had not charged us for the night before. We were somewhat surprised that he insisted upon inviting us back for another night, and would not allow us to even think about paying for it! Our stomachs were still reeling from the quantity of food (plus, in my case, wine) we had consumed the night before, so I finally gave in (I didn't argue too hard!) and made reservations for the following night. That night's menu was "Under the Spanish Sun", and somehow Catalan's cooking just seemed to suit it, and us, perfectly. We both agreed that it was one of the best meals we've ever had anywhere, land or sea. Marcello did not give us the wine pairings but instead chose the bottles himself, and insisted that my wife try a sip of each. While neither the champagne nor the Toscana agreed with her, to everyone's surprise she ended up falling in love with the chardonnay and started planning future meals to accompany it as we finished off the bottle! Sadly, it was a Gaja chardonnay, so my wine budget may take a hit..... Finally, to finish off the night, the pre-dessert dessert, dessert, and post-dessert courses prepared by George, the pastry chef, were perfection. Activities: Although the ship offered a wide selection of activities, including art tours, dance classes, bridge instructions, French/Spanish/Italian clubs with the cruise hostesses in The Bar, etc., as cabin rats our predominant activity consisted of relaxing in our cabin and watching the ocean go by. There were two guest lecturers on board who gave several talks on Alaskan geography and history, but we skipped these in favor of more ocean viewing. This cruise was also billed as a "wine enthusiast" cruise, and there were two wine tastings held in the theater that I attended. These were each a ½ hour apiece, with tastings of 3-4 different wines at each one plus a cooking demonstration and hors d'oeuvres. Although I enjoyed these, I expected more for a 12-night "wine enthusiast" cruise. Service: Service was superb throughout the cruise. Whenever we asked for something we were not only not ever told "no", but were also never told "yes, but that's not my job, ask XXX instead". The crew consisted of 24 different nationalities, with the largest fraction being from the Philippines, and others from Indonesia, India, South Africa, Portugal, New Zealand, etc. Even the junior crew members we spoke to were on at least their second eight-month contract with Silversea, and most of these had sailed previously on other cruise lines. While English may still have been a distant second language for some of them, we never had any trouble understanding or being understood. As an example, our shore expedition to the bear observatory near Wrangell required about a mile-long hike along a trial through the rain forest littered with, well, what bears do in the woods. Upon return to our cabin I decided that, while my tennis shoes were in no state to pack, it would be unfair to both current and any future occupants of our cabin to clean them off in the bath. Not realizing there was a utility sink in the launderette, I then proceeded to the front desk to ask the young Peruvian woman there what she would suggest. Although (as my wife will attest to) her English grammar and pronunciation were certainly more correct than mine will ever be, it was an interesting experience seeing the expression in her eyes once I explained the concept of "bear doodoo" to her. She informed me that a cabin attendant would promptly be by my cabin to pick up shoes, which was done within a half hour of my return, and Evelyn returned the (now acceptably smelling) shoes with the evening turndown. Although no gratuities were ever asked or expected throughout our cruise, as advertised, the service was so superb we did make a donation to the Crew Fund. No mention of this fund was ever made to any of the passengers on board, and we wouldn't have even known of its existence except for Cruise Critic. Entertainment: The Shadow's offerings in the theatre consisted of a song and dance troop, an "international showman" (Craig Dahn), and a tribute to Nat King Cole (Donny Ray Evins). While the song and dance troop was energetic and enthusiastic, and I thought the female singer had a decent voice, my wife (who used to be a dance instructor) thought the overall quality was about equivalent to a high school production, and I had to agree. I went back (solo) for a second show, but my wife skipped any more. Craig Dahn basically did a Liberace imitation that the crowd seemed to enjoy, but something about it irritated us enough that we left halfway through. We didn't see any of Donny Ray Evins's shows. There was also a piano/vocalist (I believe) duo in The Bar before dinner for listening/dancing, and a DJ afterwards, but we missed all of those and the Silver Shadow Quartet (who were excellent when I heard them at other functions) in the Panorama Lounge for after-dinner dancing. Port and Shore Excursions: We booked all of our excursions through Silversea. This came in handy when our stop at Ketchikan was removed due to a delay from a medical evacuation our first night out as we didn't have to worry about canceling it. Other stops consisted of the standard ones at Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, so I won't go into them any further here. I will remark that one of the advantages to a smaller ship is the ease and speed with which one gets off and on for shore excursions, and the ability to find your tour group on the dock. Another advantage to a smaller ship is that it may visit ports less frequented, in our case Wrangell Island, Alaska. Although the 45-minte air boat ride (each way) to the bear observatory we visited was rough, spending two hours at the observatory watching 6-7 black bears fishing for salmon in a stream (literally at arm's length at times!), plus the comparison of the black bears' size with those of the grizzly that was also fishing in the stream was worth every bounce in the air boat! We were somewhat nervous when asked to turn in our passports when embarking, but we appreciated throughout the entire cruise that we never had to go through the mass cattle calls with immigration that we had on our previous cruises. Disembarkation: As we didn't bring our laptop, and I didn't want to bother with using the public computers in the library, I gave our flight info and credit card number (for luggage fees) to the front desk the day before. The concierge took care of these the afternoon before disembarkation, and I picked up the boarding passes before dinner. Full room service was still available on disembarkation day, so we had breakfast in our cabin, then cleared out shortly before the requested time of 8:30 AM. We then waited in The Bar for about 45 minutes before casually walking off the ship, easily finding our bags in the neatly arranged lines, tipped a nearby porter to tote them to the waiting bus, and climbed aboard. Summary: Our worst fears came to pass - we fell in love with luxury cruising! For us, this cruise gave us exactly what we were looking for, and we booked another one for 2010 while still on board. While we certainly intend to sample other luxury lines, and may do a mass market cruise again with our families some day, we really loved the overall ambience and service that we received on the Shadow. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
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