Page One | Page Three | Page Four | Page Five | Page Six
Boarding of The Shadow was at 3:00pm and I have to admit, I had read so much about the ships and had pored over so many photographs that I was pretty blasé by the time we got through security. Yup, I expected the white-glove reception and the glass of Moët et Chandon champagne being handed to me. It was lovely, but I knew it was coming. What I DIDN'T expect, however, was little Erika from Sweden grabbing my daugher's heavy backpack, swinging it onto her shoulders, and striding ahead of us to our suite* as though we were going hiking in the Alps. We protested that it was too heavy. "It's ok," she reassured us, "I'm used to it."
We were in one of the 13 Silver Suites on the ship, all of which are located on Deck Seven. I knew what to expect, and I am a very seasoned traveler, but I was overwhelmed by the spaciousness and sheer elegance of this "apartment." The entry hallway alone was bigger than most cruise ship cabins I have inhabited, and honestly, I would be [almost] willing to remortgage my house to have the bathroom that we had in our suite.
EVERY POSSESSION WE OWN COULD HAVE FIT INTO THE CLOSET AND SHELF SPACE IN OUR SUITE
My daughter and I had practically emptied our closets for this trip. The cruise was 14 days but our plans included other stops so we had packed for the three-plus weeks we intended to be gone. We also had no idea what the weather would be like on a transatlantic crossing; we assumed it would be chilly, but would our stops in the Faroe Islands or Canada be warm enough to go without heavy winter clothing? It was not quite the end of summer, so we took "all-season" attire, and lots of it. We also took all-occasion shoes: sneakers, sandals, dressy-for-dinner, businessy-but-not-formal, high heels for formal-- you name it, we had it. And we had other stuff, too. Books, my laptop, gifts we had purchased in London and Dublin, stuff and stuff and stuff. By the time we had unpacked and organized everything, our shelves and closets were still bare. In fact, we could have emptied our respective homes of every item and tchotchke that we own and we still would have had shelf and closet space in our suite.
My daughter is, unlike me, spare and precise in her verbiage. When she sat down on the sofa after we unpacked and pronounced the suite "amazing, just... amazing," I knew that she was truly "amazed." She said the same thing three more times before we ventured out.
Much has been said about the service on Silversea, the most apt being "friendly but not familiar." I am not certain what exactly we expected, but we did worry about an element of stuffiness prior to booking this cruise. When Imma, our stewardess, came bounding into our suite looking for all the world like an Italian version of Pippi Longstockings, when she introduced herself and showed us how to work the mechanics in the suite (VCR, Bose CD player, air conditioning, door locks etc.) and when she showed her sense of humor and joie de vivre, we knew we would be ok. We have been smitten with only one other cabin steward in the past, Gumi on the Statendam, but by the time this cruise was over we literally mourned at leaving Imma.
She was but one of the incredible Silversea staff who helped make our time on board not just enjoyable, but special. We became friendly AND familiar with several of them, but that was our choice.
I suppose that there are some guests who would look upon these individuals as merely "the help," but if there were a few, (and we found no one with that attitude) "the help" would have taken it in stride and would have given the same exceptional service to the grumps as they do to everyone else. The elegant surroundings notwithstanding, this could have been a pretty awful two weeks if we had found the ship's staff unpleasant in any way. This is a constant theme of mine: The employees set the tone for your experience whether it's a Motel 6 or a Silversea cruise, and it was quite obvious that the Silversea employees had been well trained in the art of service. (There was one person whom we felt didn't fit; he did his job poorly, we thought, but luckily we didn't need to have much contact with him. The fact that he stands out indicates just how perfect these individuals were: We never would have noticed him on another cruise line.)
Our Imma and her
We had been told that on a transatlantic cruise the passenger base would skew "older, with more repeat guests." My daughter is in her mid-twenties, I am in my mid-fifties. Although the guest base was certainly closer to my age group than hers, we had no trouble finding and engaging with many of our fellow passengers while on board, like Jean and Ruth, Dolly and Ed, Bill and Arlette. In fact, there are several couples with which we hope to have continuing friendships. A 14-day cruise on a ship that holds only 380 guests affords many opportunities to get to know other people with similar interests. Conversely, you can also learn how to avoid those with whom you choose not to associate.
One of the best things about sailing with Silversea is the flexible dining. The main restaurant is open from 7:30pm to 9:30pm. You can wander in at will, alone, with your traveling companions, or with anyone with whom you choose to dine on any given evening. For the first couple of days my daughter and I dined together at a table for two, but when I realized that Paolo, the Mâitre d', could fix up up with other guests, we selected larger tables and he brought wonderful and interesting people to us, people whom we genuinely liked and whose company we enjoyed. Or, he would lead us to a table with people whom we didn't know and with whom we could share our meal.
*Silversea does not have "cabins." All accommodations are oceanview, most with verandas, and all are suites.
**Silversea doesn't have "passengers." It has "guests."
Page One | Page Three | Page Four | Page Five | Page Six