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On Silver Shadow: Dignified Elegance

(January 1, 2003)

Exceeding expectations in today's consumer conscious world has become increasingly difficult; especially when it comes to travel, where so much is expected. When it comes to great expectations, Silversea Cruises is one of the few in the travel industry that consistently delivers. Year-after-year Silversea has maintained the highest quality ratings of any cruise line in the world. This is uber-luxury cruising at its finest designed from top to bottom for those who expect the very best and are willing to pay to get it. So, what's it like to sail the world's best cruise line? As I found out sailing the Silver Shadow for twelve days in November, Silversea is anything but ordinary.

"Real" All-Inclusive Vacation

Silver Shadow
(Click for more photos)

Yes, Silversea is expensive, but it's a completely packaged vacation from start to finish. "All-inclusive" is a term highly touted by many pre-packaged vacation deals; however, few, if any, are truly all-inclusive. Silversea is as close to being totally all-inclusive as you can get. From the time I arrived at the airport, I didn't have to reach for my wallet. What cannot be emphasized enough is the depth of amenities that Silversea offers that are included in the price:

  • Roundtrip air transportation. 
  • Pre-cruise deluxe hotel stay (usually Ritz-Carlton or Orient Express Hotels). 
  • All transfers and tips. 
  • All port charges.
  • All ocean-view staterooms.
  • All beverages aboard ship (including all spirits, wine and champagne).
  • A complimentary shore excursion of your choice. 
  • All onboard gratuities.
There are on-board charges; however, they are limited to spa, shore excursions (although transfers between downtown areas and ports are complimentary), Internet access, dry cleaning, and special wines. It's interesting to note, special wines are seldom ordered since the complimentary wine list is extensive and includes excellent vintages.

Silver Shadow Atmosphere & Ambiance

The 28,000-ton, 398 passenger Silver Shadow is a small vessel by today's standards. What sets Silver Shadow (and her sister ship Silver Whisper) apart from other cruise ships is the vessel's unique configuration, resulting in ships that never seem crowded. Guest accommodations are forward on seven decks with lounges, bars and restaurants extending from midship aft. This arrangement allows for a peaceful environment in every stateroom.

Italian Style
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The onboard atmosphere is yacht-like with refined Italian style and European elegance. Décor color is subdued and compliments the ship's fine Italian craftsmanship of granite, marble, rich woods, and brass. Textured fabrics and soft leathers are combined with an eclectic mix of contemporary and traditionally styled furniture. Original artwork is everywhere and reflects the tastes of Silversea's Italian owners.

Despite an ambiance of elegance, there is nothing stuffy or pretentious about the services or personnel. Shipboard routine is designed to cater to guests, making them as comfortable as possible. Upon check-in, a staff member will escort you onboard where you are immediately greeted by a welcoming line of smiling staff members offering crystal flutes filled with champagne. Afterwards, a stewardess will escort you to your posh stateroom.


Grand Suite
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Fresh flowers, personalized stationary, and Godiva chocolates greet guests upon arrival. All accommodations are ocean-view suites, most with private verandas. The 180 suites are elegantly furnished with separate bedroom and living area detailed in mahogany woods, a generous walk-in closet, spacious marble-tiled bathrooms with full-size tub (Jacuzzi® tubs in larger suites) and separate shower. Each suite is fully-stocked with high-quality bath products and beds are wrapped in the finest linens and topped with fluffy down pillows. If you prefer down duvets as I do, your cabin stewardess will accommodate that preference along with any other specific requests. In addition, a bar is fully stocked to your specifications along with a fruit basket, both are re-filled daily. There are seven stateroom categories ranging from 287 square feet all the way up to a palatial 1435 square feet.

Silver Suite
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All suites are serviced twice daily by friendly efficient stewardesses. Complimentary self-service laundries are available; however, valet services including pressing, laundry, and dry cleaning may be arranged for a fee. For those guests staying in the larger suites complementary full-service laundry is included.


The main event on a Silversea Cruise: exceptional dining. Dining is refined, yet relaxed as open seating allows guests to take meals when, where, and with whom they choose. "Formal" nights are limited to about two per week; other nights are usually "resort casual." No matter where you dine be prepared to be spoiled by the European-trained waiters, who are attentive and personable.

Included daily are specially designed spa and vegetarian choices, as well as unlimited caviar and excellent wines served with lunch and dinner. Attentive wine sommeliers make sure your glass never goes empty. Entrees created by Silversea's Master Chefs reflect the flavors of the region in which you are sailing. These dishes are complemented by those of La Collection du Monde, created by the world-class chefs of Silversea's culinary partner Relais & Châteaux. These are true epicurean creations that easily rival those served in the best restaurants worldwide. While the aforementioned may sound ostentatious, it's surprisingly not. These gourmet meals are served in several dining venues:

The Restaurant
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The Restaurant -

Located on deck four mid-ship, The Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A dramatic formal hall entrance sets the tone for an elegant venue combining the best of traditional and modern décor. The mix is evident by the use of grand chandeliers and modern etched glasswork art on the farthest wall. Polished parquet floors, inlaid with contrasting woods in geometric designs add a fresh look. Narrow pillars divide the room for more intimacy and traditional cherry wood chairs and tables nestle together in small and large seating groups.

The Terrace Café -

Located aft on deck seven, the Terrace Café offers both indoor and al fresco dining. A wall of floor-to-ceiling windows offers 180-degree views and brings the outdoors inside. It is an elegantly casual, self-service restaurant with waiters always in attendance to take the "self" out of the self-service. A pasta chef prepares made-to-order specialties during lunch times; fresh omelets during breakfast. However, my favorite daily item was the unlimited selection of excellent sushi, which I happily overindulged in.

Terrace Café 
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The café is also used as a dining alternative numerous nights on every cruise, when specialties of the chef are served. My husband and I dined here five evenings and enjoyed one of the best Indian meals we've ever experienced. Reservations are required on those evenings when only set menus are offered along with special wines of the region.

   Poolside Service
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Poolside Grille-

The Poolside Grille offers a full grill menu during the afternoon hours. Yes, even the beautiful people demand and expect cheeseburgers and hotdogs in paradise.

In Suite Dining -

Room service is available 24-hours a day in every cabin. Shadow offers a full room service menu and passengers also can order lunch and dinner from the restaurant's menu and have it served course-by-course in their staterooms.


Concorde Lecture
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The daily atmosphere aboard Shadow is quiet and unhurried. Days are filled with a menu of activities listed in the daily Silversea Chronicles. Why not attend a presentation by a guest lecturer and learn more about the region in which you're sailing? Silversea has one of the best enrichment programs at sea; you could call it vacationing with a purpose. On my voyage, lecturers included experts in South America, the Amazon, a biologist who operates on sharks underwater, and a British Airways Concorde pilot, to name a few. While the subject matter varied, the goal was always self-improvement. In addition to lectures, there were culinary demonstrations by chefs, language classes, and port discussions.

For those wanting to stay active, Shadow's sizeable health club and spa occupy most of deck ten. The facility features aerobic and fitness center with circuit weights, treadmills, step machines and stationary bikes. In addition, extensive aerobic, Pilates, and yoga classes are offered. Separate changing facilities for men and women also include steam rooms and dry saunas. For those wanting outdoor activities, the pool deck offers a heated pool and two hot tubs. There's also a running track on deck nine.

On select voyages, Shadow offers golf enthusiasts the Silver Links 365 Program - a golf experience featuring onboard golfing cages, professional golf instructors, and excursions to exciting courses.

Mandara Spa
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For those seeking less strenuous pursuits, there's an onboard Mandara Spa, which specializes in treatments combining traditional Indonesian methods with classic therapies. I indulged in two of Mandara's signature treatments: a hot lava rock massage and a Japanese honey steam wrap-sheer indulgence and escapism.

Gathering spots with a view include the Panorama Lounge for tea time and cocktails and the Observation Lounge offering a card room where you could indulge in a game of backgammon or bridge. Abundant books and videos are available in the library, and you can surf the Web in the Computer Center. In the evening, guests gather for pre-dinner cocktails in The Bar. "The Humidor, by Davidoff" is another popular gathering spot for guests to enjoy fine cigars, complimentary cognacs and cordials. Adjoining the Humidor is Le Champagne Bar; a room is designed for tastings and social gatherings.

Venetian Lounge
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Cabaret-style shows were offered every night in the Athenian Lounge. Entertainers were energetic and eager to please; however, a guest pianist named Zeidwig stole the show on the nights he performed. For those wishing to spend some serious cash, shopping in the Bvlgari boutique is an option as is the ship's small casino. Lastly, when not being seduced by onboard offerings, there were exotic Brazilian ports of call that included: Recife, Salvador da Bahia, and dazzling Rio de Janeiro.

Service: What The Shadow Knows

Shadow's crew-to-passenger ratio is very high; 301 crewmembers to serve the whims and needs of 398 guests. I watched this exceptional service first-hand as many guests (including my husband) had bouts of seasickness due to the rough currents. An onboard doctor and nurse were sympathetic and quick to offer remedies; however, it was the genuine concern of the crew that was remarkable.

As with any small ship, there are no secrets. Each crewmember I encountered knew and offered any assistance they could to make my husband feel better. At first, it was unnerving, yet it was a good example of Silversea's classic attention to detail. I later found out that the crew is briefed each day on passengers who may have special needs or who may need extra attention.

Nothing is too big or too small for Silversea to tackle. Whether it is attending to ailing passengers, special menu request, hosting a private party in your suite, or a custom tour excursion to visit Pele's Mecca in San Paolo (a request of one British soccer aficionado), nothing appears to be out of reach. As one staff member said: "If it can be done, it will be done." That sums up why Silversea is the world's best cruise line.

If You Go:

Cruise fares on Silversea can range from $350 to over $1000 per day, per person (depending upon such itinerary, time of year, etc.) But, the good news is Silversea is becoming more affordable since the inception of their Simplicity Pricing program. Simplicity Pricing is an extraordinary savings program that allows guests to save up to 50% off the cruise-only fares of Vista and Veranda Suites. Currently, 50 voyages scheduled between January 3 through June 10, 2003 offer these savings.

In addition, Silversea offers Personalized Voyages aboard all Silversea ships. This is a great flexible option that allows cruisers to choose the length of their voyage and embarking and disembarking ports.

For more information, visit Silversea's website at

AnitaVacation Related Articles:

Silver Shadow Photo Safari - Over 70 photos of the ship and onboard life.

Silver Shadow Daily Chronicles and Dinner Menus - See the twelve days of activities and menus offered on my voyage.

Silversea Q&A - AnitaVacation readers' questions answered during the Silver Shadow voyage.

From Polliwog To Shellback-Crossing The Equator - Rites of passage at sea or is it travel "hazing"?

48 Hours in Rio - Read all about this exotic port-of-call.

Additional Related Articles:

Cruise Diva's Silver Shadow Diary - Read Linda Coffman's fact-filled review of her journey from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires.

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