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Sail Date: May 2014
We’ve just finished up a May 2014 cruise ending in Stockholm on the Silversea Whisper having previously completed three cruises on the Regents Mariner in 2013, 2011, and 2010. A Silversea crew member mentioned that they considered ... Read More
We’ve just finished up a May 2014 cruise ending in Stockholm on the Silversea Whisper having previously completed three cruises on the Regents Mariner in 2013, 2011, and 2010. A Silversea crew member mentioned that they considered Regents their biggest competitor, so I decided to write this review comparing the two cruise lines. My wife and I are well-traveled, experienced in the culinary world, and focused on detail. Some of the distinctions I make below may not matter to you; you should evaluate my comments in light of our backgrounds, our cruising experiences to date, and your personal requirements. First, the ships. We prefer the greater spaciousness of the Mariner. The fact that it holds twice as many passengers makes no difference with the logistics of restaurant seating or anything else on board; it does make a difference given the size differences in docking in ports. My wife thinks the Mariner is “prettier”; I have little idea what she means by that. I like the larger gym in the larger ship. We learned that noise generated in docking procedures is greater in the smaller ship and also depends greatly on cabin location; this is not a problem unless these procedures begin at 4:30 in the morning. As a classical pianist I prefer the Mariner because it has an acoustic piano on board whereas the Whisper has only electronic pianos which I thoroughly dislike. There were a few opportunities for me to entertain some of the passengers with music on the Mariner and they seemed to be very appreciative. The staff. The staffs of both cruise lines are trained to be courteous, helpful, friendly, and they succeed. I did not find any real differences between the two cruise lines other than a casual observation that the Silversea crew seemed to be a bit friendlier and more personable. Service. In two of the restaurants on the Whisper there were a few minor mix ups, occasional excessive time to address refills, and other inconsistencies. For example, in the Whisper I received breakfast cereal in the cabin with no milk, hardly a disaster. Another time I did not receive what I ordered, and we also once received a room service request form that had already been filled out by someone else. In the main restaurant in the Whisper we had two good experiences and one mediocre one where the time to get refills for water as well as wine exceeded a reasonable amount of time. This could not be attributed to the number of people in the restaurant at the time as it was not busy. We did not experience these minor annoyances on the Mariner. We did take the galley tour on the Whisper and that was very informative. Dining. We know a lot more about food than wine; we have eaten in more than a few one, two, and three Michelin star restaurants in Europe as well as the US. Overall the food is comparable save two comments: we think the wine selection as well as table wine is better on Silversea and we think Le Champagne is worthy of one Michelin star. This is not meant to denigrate Signature on the Mariner as that is also excellent and does not require the $40 upgrade charge as does Le Champagne. The room service menu on the Mariner offers quite a few more selections than the Whisper but that may be due to it being a larger ship with twice as many passengers. Silversea’s dining reservation policy states that reservations can be made at three of the four restaurants, including the pool deck, but we were surprised to learn that sometimes they were fully booked. I would have expected this at the upscale restaurants but not the pool deck. We also learned that restaurants on the Whisper may look half empty even though fully booked, the reason being that 20 concurrent seatings at a time are maintained as a maximum in order to allow sufficient time to move food from one part of the ship to another. We don’t remember this limitation being the case on the Mariner. Entertainment. The crew of the Mariner put on quite a show at the end of our last Regent’s cruise. On our Silversea cruise I was somewhat amused to hear one of the female singers open the program singing a baritone aria (Figaro) on opera night. Wireless. Wireless is poor on both ships. I understand the Mariner has been upgraded so maybe that is an unfair outdated comment. There are passengers like myself who need to continuously monitor financial matters while onboard; to have wireless connections dropped with no warning while trying to manage transactions and read important financial news is totally unacceptable. Time to fix problems. When we checked into our cabin on the Whisper I noticed a line of black mold that ran the entire length of the inside casing of the shower door. I notified Reception and within 5 minutes it was determined that it could not be cleaned. Immediately someone appeared to strip the caulking and replace it. High marks for response time, but questionable marks for inspections that should have caught this beforehand. There were also four gashes on the desk that should have been repaired prior to releasing the cabin for passengers. Dress code. We like Regents’ code: business casual after 6PM, jackets not required. We would strongly encourage jackets for men in the Regents upscale restaurants. We find the dress code on Silversea to be confusing and inconsistently enforced. We saw men in the lounges at upscale restaurants without jackets while we were told in one of the lounges that we needed to go back and get them. That was especially irritating since a man at the next table was sitting there without a jacket. The clientele of Silversea and Regents is not likely to show up as slobs, so I maintain there must be a way to accommodate people who like to dress for dinner and those who think business casual with optional jacket is a reasonable policy. I’m guessing that Silversea’s dress code policy accommodates the demographics of their passengers which I suspect has a higher percentage of Europeans whereas Regents has perhaps a higher percentage of Americans. Maruzza Foundation. On the Silversea Whisper a passenger is automatically signed up to donate $1 per day to the Maruzza Foundation. While I look favorably on the work this foundation does, I do not like to be automatically signed up for donations. I was told the Foundation is not set up as a not for profit organization, that is it’s not a 501(C)(3). In the brochure provided onboard there is no information on the efficiency of the organization as measured by the percentage amount spent on overhead compared to the percentage amount that goes directly to the people needing help. For these reasons we declined to contribute. Passengers who choose to donate should check with their tax advisors as to whether their donations are tax deductible. And finally a few summary comments. Both cruise lines work very hard to satisfy their passengers and both maintain high standards. We think Regents does so more consistently. We liked the galley tour on Silversea and encourage Regents to offer onboard tours. We liked the Mariner’s captain and all the officers along with some of the crew members greeting us upon return from one of the Regent’s excursions and encourage Silversea to do the same. In short we recommend both cruise lines but will likely return to Regents provided they maintain reasonable prices. For those of you who have had the patience to read this long review I hope it has been helpful.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
SILVER WIND– CRUISES 2406, 2407 AND 2408 CAPE TOWN TO BARCELONA, 27 FEBRUARY TO 5 APRIL 2014 PART 3 THE WIND-BLOWN “WIND” Review of the ports visited during Cruise 2408 from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands to Barcelona, ... Read More
SILVER WIND– CRUISES 2406, 2407 AND 2408 CAPE TOWN TO BARCELONA, 27 FEBRUARY TO 5 APRIL 2014 PART 3 THE WIND-BLOWN “WIND” Review of the ports visited during Cruise 2408 from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands to Barcelona, Spain 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 Las Palmas to Barcelona ARRECIFE LANZAROTE MARCH 25 2014 Leaving Las Palmas at 22.00 on March 24, with some 200 new passengers, we docked in Arrecife promptly at 8.00 am, the capital of Lanzarote since 1852, the following morning. The earliest records of this city date back only to the 15th century when it was just a small fishing village. Its name derives from the black volcanic reefs where boats could hide from pirate attack. Whilst Arrecife does have a sandy beach, most tourists arriving at the airport in Arrecife will make a bee line for Costa Teguise, a purpose built 1970’s tourist resort with about four natural sandy beaches, many hotels and catering for the “British pub” scene with numerous discos and a lively nightlife. We arrived to a cloudless blue sky but the scene belied the biting cold northerly wind, and we went ashore well wrapped up. In the sheltered sunny areas, the sun was quite warm but in the shaded windy areas in the centre of town it was none too pleasant. We took the ship’s shuttle into the edge of the town adjacent to Charco de San Gines. This is a really picturesque area, its name translates to “the puddle” and it is situated on the front in Arrecife. There is a car park next to a small lake where colourful boats are moored and is reminiscent of a small Mediterranean fishing village, surrounded by whitewashed buildings and a few restaurants. Walking beyond here we went into the centre of the town and sat in the square outside the parish church, although it was too cold to linger for long, Arrecife was clean but offered limited features of interest, whilst Wi-Fi opportunities appeared somewhat limited and less than a couple of hours sufficed for our visit. Church of San Gines (the largest in Arecife) and the square named after it; the church tower does not actually lean but a wide angle lens perspective has caused the distortion! FUNCHAL, MADEIRA, 26 & 27 MARCH 2014 We docked in Funchal at 12.00, an hour early, where Fred Olsen’s very shabby-looking Boudicca and Mein Schiff 2, ex Celebrity’s Mercury now operated by TUI Cruises since 2011 after a major refit, were already docked. The long jetty for cruise ships appeared to have been extended since our last visit in 1999. Additionally, the commercial port has relocated to the south of Funchal, and the small ferry that used to take passengers across the bay also appeared to have gone. Despite being docked the closest in towards the centre of Funchal of the three ships, the town was still quite a walk and we availed ourselves of the Silversea shuttle to the centre. Although very windy out at sea, Funchal was sheltered and warm in the sun. We took a cab up to Reid’s Palace Hotel to reacquaint ourselves with this hotel which we know well, but also to check out the rooms available for a possible stay in the future. Afternoon tea was in full swing on the terrace, which resembled God’s waiting room, being packed with residents of a certain age! Unusually due to the number seated on the terrace, there was an overflow of diners seated in the lounge partaking of Reid’s famous “tea” which now costs 33 Euros per head. We walked back, downhill, into town and visited some old haunts before partaking of a beer in a café in the main square which offered Wi-Fi. With an overnight stay in Madeira, we had booked a car with Europcar for the following day. A taxi ride out of the port to the centre of Funchal is a set Euro7.50. The Europcar office, close to Reid’s Hotel, is nearer to the port, but the cab driver tried to charge us Euro10; telling him that he was overcharging us, we only gave him Euro7 for the five-minute trip, which though he was not happy, he accepted. We had brought our GPS from home and this worked fine for destinations in Madeira. Our tour started with a drive along the excellent airport highway, the runway of which has been extended since our last visit and the infrastructure much improved by large slugs of grant aid from the EU. Camacha was our first stop, a pretty village, still half asleep, only a few kilometres east of Funchal. It is famous for its apple festival and also is known as the village of basket makers, and is in fact the centre for Madeira’s willow craft industry. This encompasses the making of furniture, hats, ornaments, kitchen utensils, wine holders and of course... baskets of all sizes and shapes. All in all, over 1000 different articles are on show. The town also has a very unusual church in that it is very modern and seems not to fit in with this particularly typical Madeiran village. After a brief stop, we set off for Santana, a small village on the north east coast of the island which is characterised by its small thatched triangular houses; these small houses built of natural stone and thatched with straw have served the locals for centuries as stables and dwellings. Triangular house in Santana Then we headed south east along the coast, to what turned out to be a no through route to Porto da Cruz, so we had quite a detour. Here there is a small cove with a shingle beach and a small hotel, as well as cafes and restaurants. One of its hidden gems is the old sugar cane factory, which is still operating the same way as it did when it started with sugar production in 1927. It boasts a 26 meter tall tower and when it's working you might even see steam coming out! Retracing our steps to get back onto the main road, we next headed to Machico, which is near the airport and sports a small beach. This is a relatively large town and, from the historic point of view, is probably the most interesting on the island as it was the landing point of the discoverers of Madeira. Having had no refreshment since breakfast, we stopped off at a café in the square, opposite the parochial church, Igreja Paroquial de Machico, built in the 15th century, and the municipal town hall. As was to be expected, prices for our refreshment were cheap. From here we set off for Monte, stopping off along the way at the viewing point at Miradouro do Pinaculo for the view across Funchal bay. Monte is a village perched high up in the hills overlooking Funchal, four miles away, and was formerly a health resort for Europe's high society. Funchal bay, with Silver Wind at anchor, taken from the viewing point at Miradouro do Pinaculo A cable car now links Monte to Funchal, and it is also from here that you can traverse the two kilometre ride back to Funchal in about ten minutes on the famous toboggan run. Originally a fast means of transport for the villagers of Monte it was inaugurated in 1850, and still continues today but only as a tourist attraction. From here we drove back to the Europcar office in Funchal. None of the ship’s tours offered what we had done, some of the roads being unsuitable for coaches. We had crossed some spectacular countryside and visited places largely unspoiled by tourism. All this for under Euro80 for the car and fuel! CASABLANCA, MOROCCO 29 AND 30 MARCH 2014 Originally the 29th March would have seen Silver Wind in Agadir, but due to the adverse weather conditions, it was deemed prudent to make for Casablanca and spend two days at this port instead of just the one. The price of a ship’s privato for three people was only slightly more than a shore trip, so on the first day we replicated the latter but without the downsides of getting on and off a coach, waiting for late returnees and so forth. We did an orientation of the Hassan II mosque and a quick photo stop before making the hour-long drive to Azzemour. Along the way it was interesting to observe the new property developments in progress, all pointing to wealth in the country. The purpose of the visit was to see the old medina, dating in part from the era of Portuguese settlement. It lies at the mouth of the Great Oum er Rbia River and the best view of the town is as one approaches from the Casablanca direction. We began a walking tour, threading the narrow streets, with mainly older women in traditional dress going about their business, when a heavy shower curtailed matters and we hastened back to our car. Azzemour From here, the drive to El Jadida took about 20 minutes, and is some 100 kilometres south from Casablanca. The Portuguese built this major fortified town with its ramparts fronting onto the Atlantic Ocean. Today, El Jadida, a world heritage UNESCO site, is old town, new town, with a sizeable modern settlement outside the old city walls. We had limited time available to explore the old part of town, with its typical narrow streets. We did however visit the cistern, where the 10 dirham admission fee payable only in local currency, was a disappointment, perhaps because it is not a patch on the one in Istanbul. One benefit is a reasonable toilet! We did, however, enjoy the parts of the old town that we saw. There were no beggars, no hassle from vendors and the place was cleaner than many places in the UK. We would have welcomed the opportunity to spend longer here. El Jadida old town We returned to Casablanca along the fast highway, the trip lasting a little over four hours due to traffic congestion in the city. The second day in Casablanca started from the ship’s shuttle drop-off point in United Nations Square, where we negotiated a taxi ride to the Hassan II mosque. There are two principal types of cabs, small, mainly red cars that are limited to three people and are supposed to charge a fare based on the meter. The others are larger white or cream cars, usually old Mercedes that can take four, sometimes more, and are more expensive. Non-Muslims can visit the mosque on days except Friday at 09.00, 10.00, 11.00 and 14.00 on payment of an admission fee, for which Euros are accepted. We returned by cab to United Nations Square (it is, we are told, about a 20 minute walk) and wandered round the nearby medina. Returning to the ship for lunch, we came back to UN Square to take the tram (trolley in American parlance) to Ain Diab beach, which is at the end of one of the two tram routes. Tram stop in United Nations Square, with the medina in the background. On the left are the barriers that permit access and egress from the platform, with a security guard observing the photo being taken! On both the outward and inward journeys, the trams were full with locals enjoying a day off, on Sunday. Interestingly despite being an Arab country, they have embraced the western weekend, and most shops are now not open on a Sunday. In the past, Sunday was a day of work, with Friday being the day off. The Casablanca trams started operation in November 2012, the route is 30 km long, with 49 stops, and Y-shaped, and there are further lines planned for the future. The tram stops all appear to be manned, so access to the platform can only be gained by passing through the ticket barrier, which has a member of staff in attendance to assist, especially foreign tourists! The fare is six dirham for a single journey plus one dirham for the rechargeable card; and are bought from self-service machines that only seem to take Moroccan coins, and not Euros. The machines can display instructions in English if a local person is not on hand to assist. The ticket barrier is negotiated by placing the ticket on a touch pad. Tram frequency is roughly at seven-minute intervals and the vehicles are very modern and air conditioned. The destination of the tram is displayed on its front and on TV monitors on the platform. The ride to Ain Diab beach took about 30 minutes. Being a Sunday with fine weather, the beach area was very busy with Casablanca residents, the local cafes and vendors doing a brisk trade. We retraced our route to UN Square and caught the ship’s shuttle to Silver Wind. Ain Diab beach The areas of Casablanca we visited felt safe, were as clean as anywhere these days and offered a good perspective on a modern, progressive city in an Islamic country. MALAGA, SPAIN 1 APRIL 2014 We docked early at around 07.00 in Malaga, located in a berth adjacent to the ferry terminal and an easy walk into town. In fact, we were close to the cruise ship shuttle drop-off area for those on large vessels which berth at the end of a long mole, and presumably are charged for the privilege. Some time after our arrival, MSC Orchestra, 92,000 tons and 2,550 passengers, and a Costa ship, even larger, arrived and were located right out at the end of the mole. Our location was on a new waterfront development, turning left takes one into the town centre of Malaga, whilst turning right took one towards some cafes and retail outlets with apartments and the road along to the lighthouse with the mole beyond. The cruise ship terminal adjacent to our ship generated a free Wi-Fi signal, though at least one of the cafes also had this facility but only for patrons. A five-minute stroll took us to the edge of Malaga old town, which was largely pedestrianised. We spent several hours exploring and found quite a diversity of shops, some offering expensive clothing and footwear cheek-by-jowl with others selling tourist tat. One shop sold the very expensive Iberico ham and it was fascinating to observe how this was carved into small shavings; the smell inside the shop was magnificent, but the price was more than off-putting! Back street close to the cathedral in the old town Some of the architecture was worthy of note, even for someone with no particular interest in the subject. This was especially so for parts of the cathedral. We were told that Malaga is trying to stamp its mark as a cultural centre by expanding the number and type of museums, whilst one can even find traces of the presence of the Phoenicians as well as the remains of the Moorish castle. For an active person, Malaga has a lot to offer. MELILLA SPAIN, 2 APRIL 2014 This is one of two Spanish enclaves in North Africa, the other being Ceuta, and is surrounded on its landward side by Morocco, with three security fences preventing access from the latter. There are constant attempts by illegal immigrants to gain access to this Spanish city, and indeed some appear to have succeeded. However it is becoming increasingly popular with cruise lines as they struggle to find new ports of call. For a relatively small settlement, the port area and marina are quite extensive. At the small dock entrance near where Silver Wind was moored, local tourist staff gave out Panama-type hats, maps and provided information. They told us about the green ‘train’, which offers a truly extensive tour of Melilla, lasting for 40 minutes, for Euro3. We met some passengers who had just done this and they were effusive in their praise. The train parks just a short walk from the port gates in the direction of the town and, on the day of our visit, departed at 10.00 and 11.00 but not again until 17.00. We were driven up into the old walled citadel and round its streets, along the seafront and all round the main parts of Melilla. The only problem was that the commentary, through one small speaker in each carriage, was inaudible. Save your money on a ship’s tour and go for the green train! At the end of the tour, we walked into town in search of postcards. The place has a very Spanish feel architecturally and, of course, Spanish is the language spoken and the euro is the local currency, although Arab costumed men and women were much in evidence. The information office did not have postcards but helpfully directed us to a photographic shop which produced its own. Main square Surprisingly, there was no over-abundance of cafes in the centre. In any event, the weather was cool and fairly cloudy so we walked leisurely back to the ship in under 15 minutes. Don’t expect too much from Melilla and you won’t be disappointed. It’s a pleasant place, where the fortified old town has been well restored and where the modern town is clean, if a little uninspiring. It was from here that General Franco used this city as a staging ground for his nationalist rebellion in 1936 which started the Spanish Civil War, and there is still a statue to him prominently featured, the only one to survive on Spanish soil! CARTAGENA, SPAIN 3 APRIL 2014 The cruise ship terminal here is adjacent to the marina and relatively exposed. Certainly on the day of our visit, the wind along the quay nearly blew you over! Holland America’s Noordam was moored behind us. A short walk outside the port gate, we found the taxis and took an expensive ride to the FEVE railway station, though (perhaps embarrassed at the fare) the driver took us round the corner to see the main RENFE railway station. This is a minor architectural gem, having been designed by a pupil of the famous Spanish architect, Anton Gaudi. RENFE railway station The FEVE (a rough translation being rail carriage in Spain by narrow-gauge vehicles) is a State-owned operation and the 11-mile route from Cartagena is the sole surviving FEVE line in southern Spain. It operates a frequent local service at cheap fares (Euro2.70 return to the end of the line) and is well patronised, although mainly by the older generation, both men and women, who probably do not drive. The route weaves through the undulating countryside, which gave us vistas of former activity, both pre-industrial, and vestiges of buildings long since cleared and left to the ravages of nature. The end of the line was Los Nietos, a beach settlement of modern properties. The strong wind and low temperatures deterred us from walking the maybe half a mile to the beach, so we waited until the same little train did the return journey back to Cartagena. Los Nietos from the FEVE station We opted to walk back to the ship, not least because it was downhill. The road appeared to be a perimeter route outside the old city, whose walls were on our right. The headwind as we walked was so fierce and this deterred us from venturing out after lunch to explore the town of Cartagena itself. BARCELONA, SPAIN 4/5 APRIL 2014 Arriving at this turn-round port for an overnight stay on 4 April at 13.00, we were disembarking the following day. The weather was slightly kinder and the temperatures a little higher, but still not what one would expect at this time of the year in Barcelona. We both know Barcelona well, and whilst it has a great deal to offer for the tourist, from Gaudi’s architecture, the Sagrada Familia, the Guell Palace to Las Ramblas and further afield – Montserrat, unfortunately, we had an appointment with several suitcases. We spent the afternoon packing after 41 days away from home and flew out of Barcelona the next afternoon.   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
Sail Date: December 2012
We travelled as one of 4 couples - of the eight of us, we were the only Silversea/cruising novices. Turns out many of the passengers were returning guests, and/or planned to book again on the Silver Explorer for future expeditions. We ... Read More
We travelled as one of 4 couples - of the eight of us, we were the only Silversea/cruising novices. Turns out many of the passengers were returning guests, and/or planned to book again on the Silver Explorer for future expeditions. We had expected to be the youngest passengers (we are in our 30's) but there were several families with children, and numerous passengers of our own age. Our cabin was on the 3rd deck, so I believe it was relatively stable. Nevertheless I am sensitive to motion and was quite seasick, despite enjoying "Drake Lake". Rather than eat up at the restaurant, my butler was frequently able to arrange for me to have whatever dish I wanted served in my cabin. A much appreciated benefit of the butler service! Indeed, the 8 of us enjoyed almost all the food that was served. Given that we were 12 days at sea without fresh provisions, the range and quality of the food was excellent. I have special dietary requirements and these were catered for without apparent difficulty. For someone who was predominantly confined to the cabin, I found it fairly comfortable. All the ship's staff were very friendly and welcoming, while the expedition staff were outstanding - many had a long association with the Silver Explorer and their enthusiasm for the ship and the destination was infectious. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We booked a Mediterranean cruise on Silver Wind in April 2012. I am not one to write reviews but I depend on them when planning trips. We had a couple of problems and since the cruise line was not forthcoming about this I feel an ... Read More
We booked a Mediterranean cruise on Silver Wind in April 2012. I am not one to write reviews but I depend on them when planning trips. We had a couple of problems and since the cruise line was not forthcoming about this I feel an obligation to write about it. ??? The Good?? This was our third Silversea cruise and we enjoy their interesting itineraries, small ship size and all inclusive policy. They make it clear that even tipping is added to the cruise price so that you don't have to deal with that once on board. Almost all of the staff on board are very pleasant and well trained especially the service people to take care of the cabins. Also factored into the price was a ship board credit of $1300. We all know that these 'gifts' are not free and are instead factored into the price that we all pay, a way for the cruise line to support some of their on board amenities. ??? More Good Things?? Itineraries on Silversea cruises are usually very interesting and this cruise was no exception. Santorini, Malta, Ibiza, Sicily, etc. The staffing (almost all that is) are wonderful. Always clean and neat, pleasant and helpful. The cabins are small but comfortable and most cabins had outdoor space. Our cabin had a balcony that comfortably fit two upright chairs and a small table. This was pre tourist season and we were able to dock in most ports. ??We also took advantage of a Silversea air fare promotion. Coach air fare was already included in the price (from NYC worth about $1000) and we paid $2000 extra per person to upgrade to business class. The airlines quoted me $3600 for the same non stop flights making our savings on air about $600 per person. Silversea fares also include transport by bus from the airport to the ship.???? Dinning?? The dining room is pleasant and staff great. The food is well, just OK. We did not take this cruise for the purpose of over indulging so this was fine for us. We often ate delicious meals on shore during the day. ??There is also a small and very expensive restaurant on board that was was fully booked when we tried to make reservations very shortly after boarding. We lost interest in persuing reservations after other passengers complained about the extremely high cost ( $200 per person) for food they said was very similar in quality to the main dining room food. Different menu but same quality. ??? Cabins and Public Spaces?? Cabin decor was definitely not my style but it was well maintained. Our cabin was small but comfortable. Toiletries were very nice. Two bath robes. The bathroom was tight and had a fair amount of inexpensive wood on the front of the tub and almost the entire floor. Looked like and felt like linoleum to me but my husband thinks it was some kind of very thin wood laminate. Floor space was really tiny and a marble tile floor would have been inexpensive. I don't know what they were thinking. Using cheap wood or linoleum in the bathroom gave a downgraded feel, like staying a no frills motel. ? ?Public spaces are very nice, clean and well maintained. Theater was roomy and everyone was able to have a good seat with room to spare. Lounges very pleasant. We had cocktails before dinner in a lounge with a smoking and non smoking section. Appetizers were served butler style with our cocktails and the wait staff was great.? ?? Entertainment?? On a small ship such as this entertainment is limited. Some of the shows were fun because of the music and theme. The entertainers work very hard to do a great job and were very pleasant. ?? ?Spa?? At first we could not arrange for massages since all reasonable times were booked by email before the cruise. However, lots of prime time opened up. They were the worst massages we ever had and understood why times became available. We are very clean people and had showered immediately before the massages. My masseuse sanitized me fore she touched me. Scrubbed me down painfully hard with what felt like a wire brush and used something that felt and smelled like hand sanitizer. She used rubber gloves during this cleansing process. When we finally got started she used her fore arms instead of her hands. She had no sense of how much pressure she was applying because she was using her body weight to do the work. In the more sensitive areas around my rib cage and lower back I felt she might break my back. When I mentioned that I didn't care for the forearm technique she switched to her hands and it felt like someone was lightly petting my skin, no hand strength. At the end she rang a bell in both ears I guess to wake me. That was just weird. And if that was the reason for the bell, a good masseuse would be able to sense that I was not even relaxed. My husband had a very similar experience with a different masseuse. Massages cost $140 per 50 minuets and tips are NOT included.??? The Bad?? Silver Wind seems to have a design problem. If the seas are rough starting with about 6 or 7 foot swells the anchor bangs...and I mean loud banging that happens while you are sleeping. The larger the swells and faster the speed the louder the banging. Very scary the first time we were woken up by this. It is hard to exaggerate the loudness of this banging, couldn't talk over it. We could feel the percussion. At first we thought the boat was crashing. When we phoned the front desk we were told about the anchor problem. Then I worried that the anchor might bang a hole through the side of the ship. Guests were in the hall in their pj's and we were scared. The extremely loud banging went on all night and banged an average of every 30-45 seconds. Zero sleep. It was awful. This happened three nights of an eleven day cruise and seemed to happen on the nights the captain picked up speed in order to make it to a far port by the morning. The first night was the worst and the next day we bought ear plugs. The second and third noisy nights weren't as loud, smaller swells, and the ear plugs helped but we still were up several times during the night.??? A strange thing about this problem is that it can be heard only in certain cabins. Primarily on the 4th and 5th floors towards the front of the ship. The people in the rooms mid ship just down the hall from us told us that they heard it but the sound was faint. Some of the crew members were bleary eyed the next day and told us their cabins were forward of ours. ?? I wondered why I did not see any posts about this before we booked and searched the internet upon our return. I found another post from a passenger on a previous SilverWind cruise that had this problem and that gentleman and his wife were able to move to another room. Our cruise was fully booked and that was not an option. Towards the end of the cruise on the repeated urging of a staff member I went to the desk and reported the problem. At first the lady (I believe her name was Kathleen but her name might be Catherine) pretended that there was no noise problem. She had a smirk on her face and I felt that I was being mocked. There was no point in having that conversation since it was upsetting and I was sorry I didn't stick to my original plan of not complaining. Kathleen's attitude was only making me more upset. As I walked away from Kathleen another passenger waiting on line behind me stopped me . She told me she had one of these rooms too, that she had a similar conversation with the front desk and that I should not waste my time talking with her. Silversea just doesn't care about it. We paid over $15000 for this vacation and I think it is unconscionable for Silversea to sell us a cabin, especially at full price except for the 'special' that they offered to everyone, knowing it has such a serious flaw. I was not the only or the first person to report the problem. We lost a couple of days of our vacation due to lack of sleep the nights before. I have taken three Silversea cruises and truly enjoy almost everything about them. I do not think that SilverWind is up to SS standards. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
Having cruised the exact same ship just a couple years ago, I observed a significant "slip" in Silversea's quality and service; but it wasn't just me who noticed. It was a frequent topic among fellow passengers. One ... Read More
Having cruised the exact same ship just a couple years ago, I observed a significant "slip" in Silversea's quality and service; but it wasn't just me who noticed. It was a frequent topic among fellow passengers. One couple complained about their room temperature being too hot and their refrigerator not working. They were asked to give the crew time to sort it out and in the mean time given another room - filled with boxes. They eventually were moved on day 3 but to a room someone else had left because of noise from a nearby slamming crew door. My room only had minor problems like the shower leaking out to the floor; that was finally repaired the last day of the cruise. There was also hair in some of the drawers and I kid you not, a bottle of vagisil left under the bed. Housekeeping was strangely absent yet we always returned to a cleaned room. The butler did introduce himself but that was the last time we saw him. At the bar, one friendly waitress kept getting our names mixed up and in the dining room a certain waiter could be smelled approaching before seen. It was one of those cruises where it was advisable to pick out the best and tip them early so they would stay with you. All the help had turned over from our last cruise and it seemed to be a training day everyday. The head chef and another "nameless" director seemed a bit cavalier (loose) as if they were accountable to noone. The food suffered more than once; dried out sea bass, overcooked lobster, and really nothing that wowed us, until the last night, that is. It seems they wanted to leave us with a good impression and everything was spot on for 3 whole hours. A predictable poolside buffet went well for us because we had Paul looking out for our table of six but we heard lots of gripes from others who were not so lucky. The after dinner party music sounded unfortunately like a wedding reception play list: "YMCA", "Macarena", etc.. They seemed open to our suggestions after most of the crowd left. he port stops though were fairly well arranged. The one exception was Antigua after St Barts and before St Martin. I would have preferred if they had just stayed anchored off St Barts for two days and skipped Antigua. The cruise ended much like it began, like something was missing. I walked in wondering what had happened to the staff who used to line up and greet guests as they arrived and I left wondering what had happened to one of my suitcases that was collected the night before. I was in the process of filling out the lost luggage form (along with another guest in the same situation), when my bag suddenly appeared. It had been re-tagged as another guests and thankfully they noticed. To sum it up, I walked away saying: "well that was certainly different". Not the Silversea I remember. It was still a really enjoyable cruise but more thanks to our traveling companions and the other fun guests who we met. Sorry to say, I would rank Silversea at the bottom of the other four cruiselines I've been on. Read Less
SILVER SHADOW TOUR/REVIEW Last Sunday, October 15, my wife and I, past Silverseas passengers, had the opportunity to tour Silverseas new ship the magnificent SILVER SHADOW while the ship was in the Port of Philadelphia on it's ... Read More
SILVER SHADOW TOUR/REVIEW Last Sunday, October 15, my wife and I, past Silverseas passengers, had the opportunity to tour Silverseas new ship the magnificent SILVER SHADOW while the ship was in the Port of Philadelphia on it's third cruise. This new build, the third ship in the award-winning Silverseas fleet takes the concept of elegant, all-suite, ultra-luxury cruising to the next level. This dramatic new ship incorporates technological innovations, suggestions from past Silverseas passengers and improved design concepts. The Shadow and its sister ship Silver Whisper, scheduled to enter service in July 2001, are designed to carry Silversea's tradition of all-inclusive luxury and style into the new millennium. The Silver Shadow (And Silver Whisper) are larger then their flee mates the Silver Cloud and Silver Wind. Here is a comparison: SILVER CLOUD SILVER SHADOW SILVER WIND SILVER WHISPER PASSENGERS 296 382 GROSS TONNAGE 16,800 28,258 LENGTH 514 Feet 610 Feet WIDTH 60 Feet 81.8 Feet PASSENGER DECKS 6 7 PASSENGER SPACE/RATIO 64 74 The Silver Shadow has the highest space to passenger ratio in the cruise industry at 74, providing more space per passenger than any other cruise ship. The space/ratio is arrived at by dividing a vessel's gross registered tonnage, which is a volume measurement of its interior space, not the ships "weight" by it's lower berth capacity. The Shadow's hull was built at Italy's Franceso Visentini Shipyard near Trieste and the ship was outfitted at the T. Mariotti Shipyard in Genoa. My wife and I were aboard Sliver Cloud last October 9 when the Captain announced over the public address system that Silver Shadow had been floated at the Visentini yard and was enroute to the Mariotti yard. We had the special privilege to toast the "newborn" at Captain Russo's table that evening at dinner. The Shadow is registered in the Bahamas. Designed by Petter Yran and Bjorn Storbraaten Architects of Oslo, the award-winning designers of the Silver Cloud and Silver Wind. The vessel has Italian Officers, European staff and an international crew totaling 295 and providing a passenger-to-crew ratio of 1.31 to 1. Entering the ship you are normally in the Reception Foyer on Deck 5 (Due to the limitations of the dismal Port of Philadelphia the gangplank was on deck 4) a crystal chandelier casts a soft glow on the foyer's warm honey-spiced woods and chestnut, umber and ebony hued marbles. The area features groupings of snug and comfortable wing-backed chairs. This is the hub of the ships activity containing the Reception and Concierge and Shore Excursion desks and also the offices of the Hotel Director and Cruise Consultant. Every Silverseas cruise feature a cruise consultant offering the passengers advice on planning future Silverseas cruises. The line has an extremely high ratio of repeat passengers due in part to the unique way the cruise consultant operates with the passengers personal travel agents to book future cruises at savings of 2-4%. Our tour progressed to the top Deck, deck 10. This deck houses the new and larger spa operated by the exclusive Mandara organization. The spa features an extensive menu of restorative body therapies combining exotic Balinese traditions with classic techniques. The spa feature numerous treatment rooms and a fully trained staff. Also on this deck is the Beauty Salon and Fitness center. The Salon features, by appointment, coiffeurs, manicures and pedicures. The Fitness center is the place for fitness enthusiasts. Equipped with circuit weights, state-of-the-art treadmills, stair climbers and stationery bicycles as well as men's/women's steam rooms and dry saunas. The crowning glory of Deck 10 is a completely redesigned Observation Lounge, perched on the deck above the bridge, this charming room seats 55. With a commanding view of the world, the room looks forward over the bow. Equipped with a radar screen, astronomical maps, binoculars and reference books, old salts and would-be-mariners can monitor the ships course and progress. During the day, a self-service water and juice bar provides refreshments to guests. At night, a full service bar makes this room a popular spot for private functions and cocktail parties. The Observation Lounge on Shadow is a vast improvement from the Cloud/Wind. On the smaller ships the Observation lounge can only be reached by climbing a flight of steps and walking a good portion of the ship's length outside to reach the room. Shadow has an elevator to the deck and the route to the lounge is all inside climate controlled area. Next stop on the tour was Deck 9 featuring 18 Veranda Suites and the ship's jogging track overlooking the pool area. The aft section of deck 9 features a delightful small deck area for relaxation, with lounge chairs and tables. Deck 8 features the new Poolside Grille and Bar. The full service bar was featured on the Cloud and Wind. New to the Shadow is the Grille provides barbecue facilities for poolside lunch under the shade of the deck above. The Poolside Grille is sure to be a hub of activity during days at sea. At least once during each cruise Silverseas plans to offer a poolside dinner barbecue featuring Lobster, Swordfish and Steak. The area also features a teak deck for dancing to the band perched on a "stage" on deck above. This area is forward of the large (for a ship of this size) pool and dual whirlpools and twin showers, the entire pool area is surrounded by teak decking. Aft on this deck passengers will find the Library, a quiet enclave where guests may borrow from a wide variety of videos to watch in their suites, hundreds of books, from classics to bestsellers. A complete collection of National Geographic magazines is also available on CD-ROM. The Computer Center, which seats 5, offers four computer stations and one laptop station with Internet access available to guests anytime day or night. A trained staff member is available to assist in the use of the computer equipment aboard. The rear of the deck contains the Panorama Lounge, a signature feature on the Silverseas ships. Seating from 162-170 guests the room is designed to reflect the curves of an elegant nautilus shell. The Lounge features a sweeping curved wall of glass that looks out to the sea. In this room guests may enjoy a light continental breakfast by dawn's early light. Afternoon tea is served here with tempting pastries and piano accompaniment. By night the Panorama Lounge becomes a nightclub....the perfect venue for that after-dinner drink and dancing to piano renderings. During our cruise on the Cloud last year we spent at least two hours each evening in this pleasant piano bar. Deck 8 also features 2 Grand Suites (953 square feet) and 28 Veranda Suites. Two of the 28 Veranda suites can be combined with the 2 grand suites to create two bedroom accommodations. Moving down to deck 7 we toured the first of several suites. We toured Royal suite 702 and the connecting Veranda Suite 704. The Royal suite Measures 901 square feet and features forward facing windows, a guest powder room, flat screen televisions and Bang and Olfeson Entertainment centers and a Jacuzzi massage bathtub in the newly designed bathroom. The suite can be reserved as either a one or two bedroom configuration. The "master" bedroom, of the suite, features a walk-in closet rivaling some Royal Caribbean cabins in size. Connecting to the Royal Suite we toured suite 704 a traditional Veranda Suite. There are a total of 134 veranda Suites on Silver Shadow. These 345 square feet suites feature a sizable private balcony with two lounge chairs and table, floor to ceiling windows and door leading to the living area which features a couch, cocktail table, three side chairs, a desk area, stocked bar, refrigerator and storage. The living area can be separated from the sleeping area by a curtain. The sleeping area features twin beds, which can be configured as a queen bed and a vanity area with comfortable chair, twin bed stands and reading lights. The sleeping and living areas mirror the same areas on Silver Cloud and Silver Wind which measure 295 square feet. New are an enlarged and much better designed walk-in closet and a vastly enlarged and improved bath now featuring a separate shower and tub and twin basins. The hallmark accommodations on Silversea ships, the veranda suites provide guests with immediate access to the sights and sounds of the sea and ports-of-call. The veranda is perfect for enjoying a good book, an early morning breakfast or watching a magnificent sunset. Deck 7 also features 1 Grand Suite which was not open for inspection, 12 Veranda Suites, 2 of which can be combined with a Royal or Grand suite to create 2 bedroom accommodations. This deck also features 13 Silver Suites, 2 Owner Suites and 2 Medallion Suites (A new category on Silver Shadow). Available for inspection was one of the Silver suites. The Silver Cloud and Silver Wind each featured 3 Silver Suites, the new builds feature 13 Silver Suites each because of the popularity of these accommodations. The Silver Suite measure a generous 701 square feet and offer larger, separate living room for entering guests and a more spacious veranda. The suites also feature a full-size Jacuzzi tub. Owner suites measure 903 square feet and feature a guest powder room, flat screen TV's in both the bedroom and living room, Jacuzzi tub, B & O Stereo and double long veranda. Owner suite can be reserved as one or two bedroom configurations. The new suites on the Shadow--Medallion Suites measure 521 square feet are larger than the veranda suites and feature a larger living room and veranda which contains two lounges and two chairs and a table. The aft section of deck 7 includes the Conference room--new space on the Shadow, seating 36 and available for groups, clubs and private parties by reservation. The room contains audio-visual equipment including a roll-down screen, flip charts and white boards for conference use. Also available are a television, video player and a small refrigerator for convenient refreshments. In front of the Conference Room is the 22 passenger capacity Card Room. Featuring felt covered tables and an entertainment cabinet with television and video player and a small refreshments refrigerator. Connecting to the conference center by a movable wall the Card room may be joined to form a conference room seating 58. New to the Shadow are the Humidor a 20 passenger capacity Cigar club. Passing through decorative doors you enter this club-like space presented by Davidoff. From the walk-in humidor built under the direction of the legendary Davidoff company, guests may select a fine cigar from an extensive collection of Davidoff and other premium brands. Deep and very comfy gallery chairs and soft settees are the perfect place to savor a fine cigar and a cognac from the trolley. The air in the room is constantly circulated via a special ventilation system. Connecting to the Humidor is Le Champagne, presented by Moet & Chandon, Silverseas official champagne. On the port side of the Terrace Cafe Silversea's new wine bar, Le Champagne offering a genteel retreat designed for tastings and social gatherings. Featuring the cuvee of Moet & Chandon, this intimate space--new on the Shadow--also offers a generous selection of wines from the Silverseas extensive wine list. Filling the aft section of deck 7 is the popular Terrace Cafe which seats 162 guests indoor and 64 on teak decks surrounding the room. Allowing a 180-degree view of the horizon, the Terrace Cafe's floor to ceiling windows provide a panoramic view of the sea and ports-of-call. For breakfast and lunch, diners may chose from a generous buffet. In this newly designed room the buffet area is glassed-off from the dining room. On Cloud and Wind the area is separated only by a curtain. This casual restaurant features grilled fare and freshly prepared pasta. Guests can enjoy the view from inside or in the fresh air under a shady canvas awning. In the evening the mood of the room is transformed and the Terrace Cafe becomes a specialty venue featuring Italian, French or Asian cuisine. This alternative dining is by reservation only and the gourmet dining experience is extremely popular among Silversea passengers. On our Silver Cloud cruise last year my wife and I were invited to a very special dinner in the Terrace Cafe for passengers that were staying on board, we combined two cruises. This dinner started with cocktails, caviar and jumbo shrimp, and a multi-course French Menu that was beyond belief. On a par with meals we have been fortunate to have in the best restaurants on land in the world. The tour moved to deck 6 featuring 52 Veranda suites, 1 Royal suite and 1 Grand Suite. Two of the veranda suites can be combined with the Grand and Royal suite to form two bedroom accommodations. Aft on deck six, down an attractive entrance way is the upper deck of the two deck Athenian Show Lounge. Seating 356 guests this multi-tiered show lounge is cleverly designed to afford each guest an unobstructed view of the stage. This enlarged show lounge--due to the increased width of the Shadow features full production shows (Silverseas recently changed production companies), first run movies and concerts. During the daytime this lounge offers informative port lectures and featured speakers to enlighten and entertain in this multi-purpose venue. On this particular Colonial America cruise astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the featured lecturer. Arriving back on deck 5 we were unable to tour the casino due to port regulations, but his enlarged casino draws it's inspiration from the Grand Casino of Monte Carlo. With bold winning tones the casino offers Blackjack, Roulette and new to Silverseas, Craps. Electronic gaming machines are thoughtfully tucked into alcoves to soften the lights and noise. Off the casino is a delightful new bar Lampadina, named for the popular Italian drink. This cozy bar sports ultra comfortable chairs and smart Italian designed sofas, with ebony leather stools circling the handsome handmade cherry wood bar. Day or night. This bar, welcomes shoppers and browsers from the nearby Shopping Arcade, or Piazza. The shopping arcade features a well-stocked ship's Boutique and the Silversea signature elegant Bvlgari shop. Bvlgari toiletries are featured in each Silverseas suite. This luxury Italian jeweler formed an alliance with Silversea and a well-stocked Bvlgari shop is featured on each of the Silversea ships. Gentlemen beware this shop features beautiful and elegant goods and can be very hazardous to your wallet. I was lucky to escape my last Silverseas cruise by buying my bride a much reduced, due to the duty free nature of on board shopping, Bvlgari scarf. This special gift still set me back nearly $300 dollars--a considerable savings over the $495 list on land. This shop features items from a few hundred dollars to over a quarter of a million dollars. As the clerk told me last year "you can save nearly $60,000 by buying the necklace on board, it's only $197,500!" Passing through the reception area you will enter a hallway leading to The Bar. Seating 109 guests, The Bar is another Silverseas signature area. This handsome gathering place fosters a spirit of conviviality. It is the gathering place prior to dinner and features a quartet playing music for dancing. It's also a perfect place for an after show cordial. Access to the lower deck of the Anthenian Show Lounge is through The Bar. Deck 5 also features 24 Veranda Suite and 8 Vista Suites and 2 Handicap Suites. The 2 handicap suites (535 and 537) measure 415 square feet and are Handicap friendly. The Vista suites on Deck 5 (521,523,525,527,529,531,533,535 and 537) share a common unfurnished veranda. These suites will probably be the first to book as they offer a veranda for the lower price of a window. These suites would be perfect for families and small travel groups. Moving down to Deck 4 we find 26 Vista Suites measuring 287 square feet. These suites are identical in layout to the Veranda Suites but without the veranda. These suites feature a five-foot panoramic window framing the view of the sea. Living, Sleeping, Bath and Closet areas are identical in layout to the Veranda Suites. The public area on Deck 4 is The Restaurant, you have to love Silverseas simplistic approach to naming their public rooms, The Bar, The Restaurant etc. This attractive room seats 424 guests in a variety of table configurations from 2 tops to 8 tops. The added width of the Shadow allows for an additional row of tables on each side of the dining room. You enter The Restaurant through a formal hall you have a wonderful view over the dance floor to the dramatic glasswork on the far wall. In a much different design than the Cloud and Wind, three grand crystal chandeliers crown the center of the room. The size of the dining room allows Silverseas to offer single seating dining, dining when you want and with who you want during an extended dinner period. This elegant room features high-backed cherry wood chairs. So there's the tour--they treated us to cocktails and finger foods in the Bar after the tour. The new ship is magnificent, a new level of elegance in the ultra-luxury cruise market. Silverseas continues to include the most inclusive pricing in the industry. The cruise pricing includes, your suite, all food and drink, including premium wines and spirits (top vintage wines and champagnes are available at an extra cost), all tips (Silversea employees are not allowed to accept tips), a pre-cruise night at a luxury hotel, your connecting flights (frequently offering low cost Business or First class upgrades), transfers, portage, and port charges. In addition Silverseas offers 15% discounts for prepayment 6 months prior to the cruise and 10% for 90 day prepay. It's hard to get 30% interest on your money these days! The fares on Silverseas are above average but for my money they represent real value for the dollar. Last year on our Silver Cloud cruise service was outstanding, the entertainment above expectations, the food on a par with the very best land based restaurants and the atmosphere as close to perfect as possible. Taking a tour makes it impossible to judge service, entertainment and food. But as luck we have it during the tour we met a passenger who was on board with my wife and I on our Silver Cloud cruise last year. He and his wife were passengers on this cruise so we had the opportunity to talk about the food, the service and the entertainment. Their assessment: the food was as good or better; the service, which was excellent last year maintained the same flawless quality and the entertainment, which was also topnotch last year was even better. So there you have it Silverseas has a new winner in it's fleet! My wife and I are saving our money so that we can experience a cruise on the Shadow or the Whisper in 2002. Bill in Harrisburg HAPPY CRUISING 10/23/00 Read Less
Now everyone (including a lot of my friends at home) looking at this itinerary is going to say "you have to be crazy to do this". Crazy like a fox!!! First of all the cruise was heavily discounted for obvious reasons. We used an ... Read More
Now everyone (including a lot of my friends at home) looking at this itinerary is going to say "you have to be crazy to do this". Crazy like a fox!!! First of all the cruise was heavily discounted for obvious reasons. We used an online cruise discounter, in addition, so that made the cost of this experience irresistible. To top it all, the Silversea threw in an unbelievable land package, which included two nights at the Cairo Four Seasons, touring the Pyramids and Cairo Museum, meals, famous Egyptologist lecture, charter plane from Cairo to Luxor, one night at the Luxor Sonesta, a beautiful dinner with belly dancer under the stars on the Nile and touring the temples and tombs with an Egyptologist and police-escorted caravan everywhere. Little touches, like ice cold water and towels being provided, while touring were lovely---it was toasty there. Forgot to add that I took an optional balloon ride over Luxor (husband didn't want to get up that early). Unbelievable experience!! Now on to the ship---when our caravan of coaches arrived in Safaga, Egypt, we were greeted with Moet Chandon champagne, cold towels and someone to grab our hand luggage as we walked on the ship's red carpet with a great combo playing. We were escorted to our Veranda Suite (345 sq ft), where we were found beautiful linens, marble bathroom with separate shower and tub--double sinks with Bulgari toiletries and fluffy robes. The cruise is all inclusive (including liquor, tips, etc.). You want to drink all day, you can. I never saw anyone drunk, however. They will stock your refrigerator with just about anything and bring bottles of your favorite hard liquor, within reason (no bottles of Louis XIII, without paying the freight, for instance). One of the best parts of the cruise was that, the Silver Shadow was designed to hold 388 passengers and we only had 144 aboard. Our group had 50 Americans, 40 British and the rest assorted nationalities. The previous cruise, that left from Mombassa, Kenya had only 40 passengers!!!!!!! It was like having your own personal yacht with a few of your own friends on board. The food was terrific in the main dining room with an open seating arrangement. You could dine between certain hours with whom and how many you wanted in the main dining room. They also, had another reservations-only dining room for 30 lucky people (with no extra cost) in upstairs, Terraces dining room. Did I mention room service was 24/7? Dinner by room service was course by course. Also, I kept trying to think of things to order for room service breakfast, that weren't on the menu. They came through every time----how about lobster/herb omelet with a small loin lamb chop on the side? The ports were Port Said, Rhodes, Santorini and Athens--all great experiences!!!! Athens is going to be hard-pressed to make the Olympics in time-- even with construction round the clock now. To top it off, we had pretty much perfect weather. Did I mention the service on board was impeccable everywhere? It was definitely the trip of a lifetime--feel free to email, if you have questions. shesurfs@comcast.net July 2003 Read Less
We just returned from a dream cruise onboard the Silver Whisper. From start-to-finish, this cruise was nearly flawless. Let me start with the finish, for I feel that the way in which debarkation is handled speaks volumes for a cruise ... Read More
We just returned from a dream cruise onboard the Silver Whisper. From start-to-finish, this cruise was nearly flawless. Let me start with the finish, for I feel that the way in which debarkation is handled speaks volumes for a cruise line. Debarkation Day. My husband and I (hi ~~ we're Jim and Cindie) usually call this day "Mad Cow Day." ~~All of those formerly friendly employees suddenly can't seem to see you. Ask for something simple like an extra cup of coffee and they usually react to you as if you were Patrick Swayze in "Ghost." The passengers...many who are tired, bloated, and anxious to get home are herded like cattle into narrow hallways while waiting for their color to be called. Mad cows have behaved better! There were no mad cows on this cruise and the entire staff remained friendly and helpful to the very end. I was pleased that we could order room service on the final morning. (If only we hadn't accepted one more offer for a "final nightcap" we might have remembered to hang out our breakfast order.) We did enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the Terrace. We waited for our color to be called while sipping coffee around the pool. Absolutely civilized. Silversea arranged a wonderful tour of Greece on the way to airport. Once at the Athens airport, representatives were waiting with carts for our convenience. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. It's all in the little touches. Embarkation We thought we had done something wrong...missed a step. Where are the long lines? We just walked straight onto the ship only to be greeted by a waitress offering champagne. Really now. Love at first sight. We are not by any means new to cruising. We stopped counting at our 30th cruise. This was our first smaller ship cruise (definitely not our last.) We were very pleased with our stateroom, a standard verandah on deck nine. We are Crystal fanatics, so we were hoping that our stateroom would at least be as good. Surprise. Even better. The size of the verandah was impressive and the fact that Jim and I could both be in the walk-in closet without any (unintentional) bumping and squeezing was amazing. The bathroom was a comfortable size. I was impressed enough that I closed the door, balanced myself on the tub and began shooting some photos of the twin sinks and all that beautiful marble. It's too bad that I wasn't aware that our room service order was being delivered at that same time. (It would have been kind if Jim had alerted me.) I'm sure the waiter wondered about what I was doing in the bathroom, all alone, snapping photos. (Our camera is on the loud side.) Oh well. I'm sure they have a lot of stories to share with their fellow crew at the end of each day. The linens were divine, ~ in fact all appointments in the room were of high quality. Our Stewardess, Zuzana from Slovenia, was a dream and was also a psychic. We rarely needed to ask for anything...she always seemed to know in advance what we wanted. How we miss her!!! The service in general was outstanding. Everywhere. We only encountered one surly waiter. We arrived for breakfast at 8:45 a.m., and the dining room was nearly empty. Breakfast was listed as being served until 9:30, so we felt like we were there in plenty of time. I guess the considerate thing to do would be to go up to the Terrace, but it was getting toward the end of our cruise, and we hadn't yet tried the dining room breakfast. This waiter let us know that he did not appreciate our curiosity, nor our presence. Dining was a pleasure. We thoroughly enjoyed the "La Cucina Italiana" nights in the Terrace Cafe. I highly recommend signing up for these. They are open for reservations at 8 a.m. for that particular day. You begin in the "Le Champagne" Lounge with drinks and appetizers. The Chef and Wine Steward discuss the menu and the accompanying wines. It is a very lively and intimate setting. As we were traveling just the two of us, the atmosphere provided for a pleasant and easy way meet people. We were also pleased with the Restaurant. Initially, I found the meals a bit bland, but I confess to be a sassy, saucy girl (the last word is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h!) from California. I'm used to dining on our local ethnic cuisines, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese food. My palate is tuned to spice. Once I adjusted, I enjoyed most meals thoroughly. A highlight was the Barbeque Night. The pool and upper deck were transformed into a party/feast. We sat with some delightful people from Michigan and sipped and dined to the sound of the Silversea Quintet and watched the sunset. Spectacular. We found the clientele onboard to be very friendly and from a wide variety of backgrounds. Very international. We met some incredibly nice and interesting people. Of course, there are the exceptions. At the pre-cruise hotel in Rome we were nearly assaulted by a mean-faced woman (we call her "Jaba") who worked her way to the front of the Cashier's Desk line by pushing and swinging her orange umbrella. Dangerous lady. She tried to boot her big butt ahead of a woman with long blonde hair...turned out to be Anna Kournekova (sp?) who was playing in the Italian Open. Anna is not only tough on the court, she did a great job keeping this woman at bay, unlike most of us on the ship. Anwyay...this woman was obnoxious and annoying the entire 12 days. Out of 300-something passengers, though, only one...not bad! The crew and staff were wonderful. Captain Corsaro is the perfect Captain. Professional, yet friendly and naturally outgoing. The entertainment was good. Our favorites were John-Paul Alman (what a voice! And quite possibly one of the nicest people we've ever met), the dancers Wendie and Zoe (talented and sweet), and finally...Colin Salter. Colin made his debut as a lounge act on this cruise and we loved it. We laughed so hard...we will never be able to hear the song, "Copacobana" again without picturing him singing with his Barbie doll props...(do not miss this show!) If you meet him onboard, for fun, call him "Mr. Slater." He loves that. Okay...I'm getting a bit carried away here... To sum up this review: We will (God willing, of course!) be sailing Silversea again. We're very interested in trying the Silver Cloud or Silver Wind the next time. Despite the long flight from Athens to California, we've returned home feeling refreshed. Silversea offers an easy, relaxed pace. I honestly cannot remember standing in a line...the shuttle buses and tenders were always on time and blissfully uncrowded. I could go on and on, but then...as you can see, I already have. I am very excited for those of you with upcoming cruises. You are in for a delightful treat. June 2002 Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
To begin with this review, the cruise with the Silver Wind was fabulous as always. Food was great and the service could not be better. The ship need a renovation, but that happens nex year. Dining at eveningtime we prefer The ... Read More
To begin with this review, the cruise with the Silver Wind was fabulous as always. Food was great and the service could not be better. The ship need a renovation, but that happens nex year. Dining at eveningtime we prefer The Restaurant. Meals are very good and the service also. At lunch we prefer La Terrazza outside. It's so nice to sit there with a nice view. In St Peters Port the weather was the best, so nice then to have lunch outside. Service in La Terrazza exellent! Entertainmaint was also very nice, we liked the performance of the singers. Butler en housekeeping as always, very good service! Room was very clean. You may know, me and my partner sailed more then 400 days with Silversea. Why did a rated this cruise one ball? That's because of the price. I booked suite 439 (Vista) and pay including 10% off, because more then 250 days, and 5% on board booking Euro 2.254,- You may know, the last half year before this cruise, start the price was going up to Euro 4.000,- per guest excluding flight, transfer. In the Netherlands is a website for crew members for airlines workers and touroperator workers. They can booked a lot of Silversea cruises for VERY MUCH LOWER prices. There was a couple on board they had in the past worked by KLM and booked this cruise for Euro 1.700,- for a vista suite. Three days before boarding they get a message from the operator that they got an upgrading to suite 741, yes a Medallion suite. Almost three times bigger then a Vista suite. Also including free laundry. Is this normal? Of course not!!! Possible you know that pilots working with KLM had a year income to Euro 275.000,- The may also booking this cruise for this price. I call this larceny! Okay some people get discount, but that upgrading is far from right. Ans this was not for the first time. Last march this couple did a 13 day cruise with the Silver Muse from Singapore to Hong Kong. Price for a Vista Suite USD 1.300,- Once they came on board they get an upgrading to a veranda suite. First i was interested to do a cruise with the Silver Shadow from Rome to Venice in 11 days starting at september 22 this year. Price for a Vista Suite on the Silversea website Euro 7.700,- per guest. Price on www.insidertravel Euro 2.600,- for a Vista, per guest! NO WAY that we booked this cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
I wish I had read the Cruise Citic Reviews for this ship before I booked. I would not have gone ahead. Many of the reviews do not have nice things to say about this ship and they are accurate. Silversea claim that this is a 6 star ship. I ... Read More
I wish I had read the Cruise Citic Reviews for this ship before I booked. I would not have gone ahead. Many of the reviews do not have nice things to say about this ship and they are accurate. Silversea claim that this is a 6 star ship. I have done several Cruises and it is1 -1.5 stars at best. So in summary I paid a six star price for a 1 star ship. Everything on board is the cheapest of the Cheap. Even the bottled water in the cheapest they could buy. No Evian here - cheap water from somewhere in China. Cabins are rusted, no AC working, crew is not allowed to speak any other language then English and they are Latin Americans. The quality of the meals is the worst ever I have, the lowest quality and charged as a 6 Stars. Ship - Tired and Run Down. Staff - poor levels of english and you have to ask for everything 4 times Management - Don't care - we told them of our dissappointment only to be ignored - One manager organised one special meal for us and that was it. Special Requests - At first they tell they can't do special things for you hoping you will stop asking then after a while the reluctantly give in and get it for you - not what was expected on a "6 star" ship. Don't expect any pampering on this ship. They claim to have daily yoga, pilates and fitness classes - they had nobody on board to do them. This is the worst cruise I ever gone and not worth a Penny is TRASH.. Read Less
4 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
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I wish I had read the Cruise Citic Reviews for this ship before I booked. I would not have gone ahead. Many of the reviews do not have nice things to say about this ship and they are accurate. Silversea claim that this is a 6 star ship. I ... Read More
I wish I had read the Cruise Citic Reviews for this ship before I booked. I would not have gone ahead. Many of the reviews do not have nice things to say about this ship and they are accurate. Silversea claim that this is a 6 star ship. I have done 27 Cruises and it is 4 - 4.5 stars at best. So in summary I paid a six star price for a 4 star ship. Everything on board is the cheapest of the Cheap. Even the bottled water in the cheapest they could buy. No Evian here - cheap water from somewhere in China. Ship - Tired and Run Down. Staff - poor levels of english and you have to ask for everything 4 times Management - Don't care - we told them of our dissappointment only to be ignored - One manager organised one special meal for us and that was it. Special Requests - At first they tell they can't do special things for you hoping you will stop asking then after a while the reluctantly give in and get it for you - not what was expected on a "6 star" ship. Don't expect any pampering on this ship. They claim to have daily yoga, pilates and fitness classes - they had nobody on board to do them. Out of 27 cruises Silversea are in my bottom 5. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was a special holiday and very expensive chosen as a one-off treat never again The cabin looked lovely but we had problems with the carpet being wet from the balcony to the middle of the lounge area as did a lot of the same side ... Read More
This was a special holiday and very expensive chosen as a one-off treat never again The cabin looked lovely but we had problems with the carpet being wet from the balcony to the middle of the lounge area as did a lot of the same side of our deck . The Butler was visible sometimes and not others . Tried twice to phone room service and was cut off . The patio door was not sealed properly and difficult to open/close . The weather was appalling on 90 % of the journey and was too near the front of the ship despite being described as midship and the rolling and banging was awful . Many of our group were sea sick . No kettle or tea coffee in room at all , water was provided in mini bar from a unsealed bottle that was refilled by the butler . The ship needs a refurb and is tired and tatty in some areas The food was not as good as I expected from this high end cruise line . The breakfast was bland and most of it congealed warm at best and the choice was limited .Hot plates available on request ?? Eggs available on request which took 10 minutes hardly anyone serving behind the station , burnt ( every day ) pastries. The only thing the staff insisted on in the terraze is carrying your plate from the buffet where you had chosen your food to the table ( could be as near as 5 steps ) which is the most ridiculous thing ( unless you needed help of course ) and I tried to avoid this with no success most days . Lunch wasn’t much better except on deck ( when it was open due to extreme weather ) where the food was really tasty and hot . Dinner in the restaurant was ok , the portions were a joke , with a steak one night there was three tiny pieces of warm pepper , a sliver of cooked onion and nothing else . The choice of puddings were sparse except ice cream and much too much chocolate . You could have three praline sweets and that was a choice ! On New Year’s Eve there was a gala dinner which was ok a few tiny courses and a main. There was very little to do during the day , the chronicles which advised the activities included picking up your crossword and daily puzzle from the library and the fact that there was someone to help with language for foreign speaking guests . The daily quiz with Moss was a highlight but the singers were mediocre and on in the theatre far too many times. We sailed from Bangkok into a tropical storm and had to miss ho chi minn city completely and spent 5 days anchored in Ha Long bay where after having done trips the only activity was being taken by shuttle to a large shopping centre half an hour away . Setting off from there eventually more high seas until arriving in Hong Kong where once again the shuttle bus dropped people at a shopping centre about half an hour away . At night was looking forward to the light show I had heard so much about only to be told we were in the wrong harbour and wouldn’t see it where we were . At dinner that night all we could view from the windows in the restaurant was the side of the boat refuelling for the next trip . I have never paid so much for a cruise and been so dissapointed. The weather could not be helped but everything else was such a let down . The only thing I will say is if you are a budding alcoholic this is the cruise line for you . Far too much alcohol with nothing else to do , many guests took full advantage and were loud , brash and inconsiderate despite being very upper class. I would never recommend this ship or company to anyone and I have read dreadful reports about p and o on cruise critic as well as good ones but for me there is no comparison . This is definately Not 5 star or and higher and its back to p and o for me and reasonable priced drinks and excellent itinerary . Read Less
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