Silver Shadow Cruise Review by Kiliki1
- Sail Date: June 2016
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Veranda Suite
Summary: We loved this cruise! The Silver Shadow is a clean, beautiful ship and the service is excellent. We ate at all four restaurants on the ship and the food was delicious in all of them. The only thing I would ask for is a little more variety for the breakfast menu – it was the same every day. The wine selection is very yummy. If we enjoyed a selection with dinner, they would have a bottle delivered to our room and we could enjoy the scenery form our private veranda, which was totally worth the extra price. We had fabulous weather. The ports were great and the excursions were fun!
I read many reviews before booking our trip and I think this made a big difference in our experience. We embarked in Anchorage and I had read the transfers from the hotel to the train were difficult (we met a couple on the train and they said the same thing), so we rented a car and got ourselves to the train. Silversea required us to be at the train depot quite early and this was kind of a bummer, but the Anchorage hotel had restaurants close enough we went and had a drink.
Another issue I read about was the Silversea representative at the hotels. We stayed at the Hotel Captain Cook, booked the room ourselves too, and the representative was helpful to us even though we did not use Silversea to book the room. The rep told us we had 15 minutes to get our luggage to them for transportation to the train - I didn’t think I could make it happen - but did and we were so happy we did. This made our lives getting to the airport and the train way simple.
The train ride was AMAZING, the scenery was so beautiful and we were lucky to have the best weather for our entire trip. We cruised from June 30th - July 7th as recommended by an Anchorage local. I think the cruise fare is more expensive during this time, because it is peak season. We did not want to go to Alaska and be rained out and there is a better chance of not being rained out during this time. They gave one complimentary drink, but the drinks on the train were reasonably priced and the food was good. I had a seafood chowder and enjoyed it very much.
On board the ship during cruising days we participated in a few activities. We watched the Executive Chef prepare salmon three ways and then attend a lunch of the same dishes he prepared ... mmmmmmmmmmmm! Another day they had a sing along and the lunch was English nature; fish and chips, etc. Again … mmmmmmmmmmmmm! But we felt this way about all the food on the ship. I was craving biscuits and gravy for breakfast when I got off the ship though.
Cruising Hubbard Glacier was fantastic! Because the Silver Shadow is so much smaller than the other cruise lines ships, we were able to get in very close to the glacier and saw the glacier calve several times. One of the other passengers got the calving on video and said he would put in on YouTube, so you may get a preview before your trip :)
Sitka was a fun stop and gorgeous weather. Our sea kayaking tour got cancelled due to “operational issues”, so we went and did the Hot Italian Glass tour. It was a very interesting experience and in the end we ended up with $160.00 in swizzle sticks. We went to the Bayview Pub for lunch during our stop in Sitka and the spot prawn tacos were very tasty – recommended highly to eat spot prawns. Also, if you order their buffalo sauce and the server says the hottest is very hot and to get it on the side – listen to them. We did this and was happy we did (and we like spicy food).
We had a long time in port in Juneau, so we booked two excursions. We went whale watching and whitewater rafting. During the whale watch tour we did get to see humpback whales and she breeched a few times. Pretty exciting and you may be able to find this on YouTube too. After whale watching we went and rode the tram, ate lunch at Tracy’s Crab Shack. OMG! The king crab legs and the soup! Get some – truly! After this we went whitewater rafting. This was a fun excursion and worth the adventure. Make sure you book the Mendenhall Glacier tour. It was pretty cool. While we were in Juneau, our butler poured us a bubble bath with rose petals, the bubble bath smelled good, but we did not get to enjoy this because we were on excursions. They poured us another one the next night!
In Skagway, we rode a helicopter and hiked on a glacier. The BEST EXCURSION OF THE TRIP! This is where you need to make sure you are dressed warm. It is windy and cold. They provide you with hiking boots for the glacier, and a safety vest, but you need to make sure you bring warm stuff. We had gloves and dressed in the rain fleece layer and this made our trip much better. The glacier is so COOL and you get to drink glacier water if you want. It will be some of the best water you will ever taste. We ate at the Bonanza Saloon. It was the 4th of July, so the place was rowdy and we liked it – lol.
Our adventure in Ketchikan was a floatplane ride to an all you can eat crab feast. The plane ride is comfortable and not at all scary. The feast was delicious! And truly all you can eat. The cheesecake dessert – YUM! I read bad reviews on this excursion, but we did not experience anything bad. The George Inlet Lodge gift shop was great too and had funny souvenirs.
Cruising inside passage was fabulous. As mentioned, the Silver Shadow is a small so the ship can go where the floating cities cannot go and you feel like the ship cannot make the area it is going, because the passage is narrow.
We picked this cruise to Alaska because I have a tendency to get motion sick and this did happen a few times to me. I took the bands with me and they did help a lot. Did not do much for my wardrobe though. LOL The worst day was cruising to Sitka in open ocean.
Excursions: all of them were fun! Silversea sends a staff person on some of the excursions to ensure the companies are providing passengers with a quality excursion. Of the five excursion we did, three of them had a Silversea staff. The excursions were all quality and we would highly recommend them
On the ship: there are laundry facilities and they are busy! We had a $500.00 ship credit, so we used the ships laundry service. It is a little pricey, but cheaper than paying the extra baggage fee to the airline. The restaurants were excellent as was the service. There is art everywhere and the ship is very clean!! The staff is so friendly too. There were 37 countries represented on the ship. We did not the fitness facilities - we ate and drank our way through Alaska. LOL
Room: we were on the 7th deck and had a private veranda. I read the veranda was not worth it and we could not disagree more. The views are worth it! Because it stays light for so long, you can see scenery nearly all the time. The bed was comfortable. The pillow not so much, but it was not the worst pillow I have ever slept on.
Disembarkation: was HOT! Organized, but long. They had us out of our rooms earlier than necessary, but I am guessing this is so they can get ready to return to Seward with other passengers.
Souvenirs: you cannot take food and drink onto the ship and they do search bags. So be prepared.
What shocked me being a first time cruiser: the safety (muster) drill upon embarkation. I had no idea it was going to happen, it was fine and needed to be done, but a little heads up would have been nice. Other passengers felt the same way.
What to pack: everything! At least that is what it feels like. Everyone you talk to in Alaska says “dress in layers” and many people were doing just that. I still wore sandals most of the trip and was comfortable, but I run warm internally. Our Silversea travel agent said to bring a heavy coat. We did not and did not feel we needed one. Instead we brought rain coats and put a fleece layer under them. This would be different in September, however. We were comfortable when we needed them, which was only a few time and never on the ship and during our scheduled excursions. We were also the only people who used the pool and hot tub on the ship. It was lovely.
1) Book your air and hotel separate from Silversea. We saved LOTS of money and used for excursions, or at least shop around for other prices. You can book Silversea through your travel agent and get the same price. I did not know this and kind of feel like I cheated on someone I have been using for 20+ years. This also helped with any issues you will read about Silversea transfers and not being effective.
2) Tips are included, but we tipped our room staff anyways and got extra special treatments
3) Book your excursions and restaurant reservations as early as Silversea will let you. This is one area I have feedback for Silversea. Two lines for the restaurants the first night. We had to wait in line to get to our reservation while other passengers made their reservations for the trip. It was frustrating and of course there were technical difficulties with the booking equipment
4) Eat at Le Champagne at least one night
5) If you want to have drinks in your room, order the bottle the first night. The bottles are one liter :)
6) As you noticed, we ate in every port. This was to increase the variety of food, eat fresh Alaskan food, and to support the local places during our trip. Cruisers are about the only reason some of the cities exist. When we did eat lunch on the ship, there was a variety. La Terrazza is a buffet and I do not know about The Restaurant. We only ate breakfast there. Room service was pretty amazing too, which I usually hesitate because the food is tepid. Not in this case.
7) La Terrazza changes their menu every third day. We ate there the first night and the scallops were so delish.
8) Read the Chronicles in your room. They have details about any reservations you have made
9) Check your bill they provide. There were 2 charges for $7 on our bill. It was for their charity. I called and they very politely took it off.
In the end, if I were to cruise again, I would book with Silversea. The passengers are awesome! Because the fares is higher than other boats there were very few children and much fewer passengers. Our boat ended up in the 340 range, so almost one-to-one service for every passenger and you are not cruising with 3,000 of your new best friends. The boat did not seem outdated as mentioned in other reviews and was very well maintained. We highly recommend the Silver Shadow. Thanks for an awesome adventure Silversea!
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