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Day 1: Aboard Silver Shadow

Six Stars

sunny 80 °F

We are again up early. B4 has an 8:30 ninety-minute massage which, for her, is pure bliss. I fill that time with a long walk (8.5 miles/15,500 steps) to the waterfront, down and through Stanley Park and then back to the hotel. The Silver Shadow is in port and I walk past her, listening to the purser announcing which groups are scheduled to disembark at what hour, watching luggage come out of the hold and spying on what our balcony will look like and where I hope to have breakfast most mornings. This is not the most beautiful ship I have ever seen; she is, I think, almost unsightly looking directly at her bow but her profile is better.SilverseaLogo.JPGSilverShadowPanoramaLoungeDeck.JPGSilverShadowBalcony.JPGSilverShadowInDistance.JPG

My walk takes me past the marina and the sea plane base. The marina is home to yachts and houseboats some more remarkable than others.large_SeaPlanePort.JPGlarge_HouseBoats.JPG

We have a checkout time extended until 1:00pm but cannot board Silver Shadow until 2:00. There is no problem with what to do for us as passengers but the same cannot be said for our shipping container sized suitcases. The bellman will hold them, of course, but is a hassle. And, based upon their weight, a workers comp hassle for the Four Seasons.

We meet Fred and Jami, as planned at 1:45 to make our way to our ship.

As cruise ships go, the Silver Sea Lines’ Silver Shadow is quite small; as has been mentioned here she can accommodate only 382 guests.

In this era, bigger is thought by many to be better (seven years ago, I sailed from Fort Lauderdale aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of The Seas which, when every cabin is occupied, holds 5,400 passengers--6296 if a third passenger is crammed in to staterooms designed to accommodate that). Reality is that you have a fourteen to seventeen times greater chance of conversing with someone who has sailed aboard the Oasis than someone who has sailed on the Silver Shadow.

The Silver Shadow boasts that it has “one of the highest space-to-guest ratios at sea.” Calculated by dividing the number of passengers into the gross tonnage of the vessel, the Silver Shadow ratio is 74. The Oasis, for example, has when loaded to normal capacity, a space-to-guest ratio of 41.4. Norwegian Cruise lines’ largest ship, the Escape, boasts a ratio of 39. Think of it this way: the largest ships are similar to giant floating resorts while the small ships feel more like intimate retreats. Both are fine with me and I enjoy them equally but the experience offered is remarkably different.

The Silver Shadow was refurbished just last year so everything feels new from the carpet to the upholstery on the chairs in the dining rooms. She was built in 2000 at the Mariotti Shipyard in Genoa, Italy. Her passenger-to-crew ratio is 1.31; putting it another way there are three crew members to take care of the four of us. She is 610 feet long and 81 feet wide with 194 “suites” throughout decks four through nine of this ten deck vessel. (The Oasis of the Seas is 1,187 long and 208 feet wide) large_b8c062b0-8eb9-11e8-a32b-1bf7ab598671.png

The largest accommodation on board is the two-bedroom Owner’s Suite which measures 1,264 square feet. Going down in size from there are the Grand Suites, Royal Suites, Silver Suites, Medallion Suites, Veranda Suites, Terrace Suites and finally the Vista Suites which measure 287 square feet. Ours is Silver Suite 719 (the largest and fanciest stateroom I’ve ever been in) at 700 square feet. silver-shadow-silver-suite.jpg

It is midship which means less rocking from front to back. Think of a ship in rough seas as you would a kids’ playground teeter-totter. The ends move up and down a lot but the middle moves no much at all. We’re just aft of the middle.

This fancy suite has, outside its large sliding glass doors, a teak veranda where padded patio furniture awaits. There is a living room with a separate dining area separated from the bedroom which holds a queen-sized bed. There are two vanities in the bathroom adjacent to a full-sized bath tub and separate shower. The writing desk comes outfitted with personalized stationary and the walk-in wardrobe is large enough to please B4 who requires more closet space than most.

Boarding, you quickly notice that the staff—most of them at least—are clad in white gloves. We are handed champagne flutes and escorted to the seventh deck where we are welcomed by our Butler. We are offered a choice of bathroom amenities (a luxury wasted on me) and a choice of pillows. I opt for goose down. The Butler offers to unpack for us. He tells me that he will “polish and condition” my shoes.

Silversea cruises come with a comparatively hefty base price tag but there is more value than meets the eye due to all the things that are included here that are extra-cost items elsewhere. For example, room service, “selected” wines and premium spirits are all included. Drink as much as you want without being handed a bill. I particularly enjoy having a glass of prosecco in my hand at virtually all times. All non-alcoholic beverages, extra cost items elsewhere, are included as well. Full beverage packages cost about $60 per person per day on most other ships and there is always a 15% tip assessed on top of that.

Gratuities for the crew are included. Those run from $14.50 a day per person in a regular stateroom and $18 a day in suites aboard Celebrity Cruise Lines. Unlimited internet access is included but costs as much as a half-dollar a minute on other ships. B4 likes to be online.

Doing the math, it would not be unusual for a couple to be handed a bill for just under $1,500 for extras consumed during a week’s voyage.

Excursions and spa treatments are extra cost items on virtually all cruise lines. And, most have “premium” restaurants which cost extra if you opt for them over the very fine dining room fare which is included on all ships.

I’ve been privileged to spend 161 nights aboard ships on 16 cruises on eight different cruise lines, the shortest being four nights in the Caribbean and the longest being 36 nights across the Pacific. I am anticipating that this seven-night Alaskan Silversea journey alongside B4 will be the best of all.large_b18fb7c0-8eb9-11e8-a32b-1bf7ab598671.jpg

But, take note: this cruise had to have at least one stop outside the United States, hence our departure point from Vancouver. Couldn't we have made the departure point Seattle? No. Why? Read on:

The Jones Act, “requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.” While that may sound bureaucratic and overly technical, and not a concern of most Americans who aren’t in the shipping industry, it makes a huge difference to cruise lines, and thus to cruise passengers. Simply put, because of the Jones Act, cruise ships that were not U.S. built, U.S. owned and with U.S. crews cannot travel between U.S. ports, unless they stop at a foreign port. Which means that a ship that is foreign in any way (origin, ownership, crew) ship can go roundtrip from Seattle to Alaska or San Francisco only if it stops in Canada.

There are not, to my knowledge, any U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Therefore, at least one Canadian port will be and must be contained in any "Alaskan" cruise. Now you know.

A quick taxi ride gets us to the Cruise Port. We are among the first to board; we arrive at the terminal just after 2:00pm. Our bags are whisked away by porters. As we are the only ship in port, there are no lines. None. Our passports are checked by U.S. Customs & Immigration because we are technically leaving Canada now and, as we enter the boarding area we are back in the USA even though we are on a dock in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Our carry-on bags are run through the x-ray machine and we are run through the metal detectors. At the next position we are checked in by Silversea and given our suite cards which are magnetic keys. Our next stop was the ships reception desk where they confiscated our passports, took a digital photo to attach to our suite card file, ran my credit card for incidentals and a steward escorted us to our suite: 719.

It is the largest accommodation I've ever enjoyed on a ship; you can check the floor plan for yourself. Our bags won't be here for a while so B4 leads Fred and Jami and me on a ship tour which primarily consisted of finding the spa and making multiple appointments for various services there. large_B4BedroomDoor.JPGlarge_B4LivingRoom.JPG

We are greeted by our butler, Abraham. He cannot tell us when our bags will arrive and he cannot tell us whether or not our specialty reservation at La Dame has been confirmed. Mostly, he is of no value as yet. Off to the spa, I can see that this is going to take a while so I retreat to the pool bar. I am joined by a smiling B4 who has three things arranged. We are back to 719 to unpack and then off to Muster Station B on Deck 5 for the mandatory emergency drill.

Our Captain is Swiss Samuele Failla who joined Silversea is 2003, the same year I started ej4. The Staff Captain is Sicilian Giacomo Castiglione, formerly with Carnival but I won't hold that against him. As second in command, he is responsible for ships's maintenance as well as being in charge of safety, security and discipline on board. The Chief Engineer is Italian Guido Capurro formerly with Costa and new at this; he became chief engineer only last year. The Hotel Director is Romanian Marius Octavian I. Sima, with Silversea for a decade, formerly as Food & Beverage Manager on the Silver Whisper, Silver Shadow and Silver Spirit. Finally, the Cruise Director is Dominican Rico Du-Breil who greeted me when we boarded and swears that he remembers me from a past voyage. He is mistaken but, hey. Formerly with Club Med, he joined Royal Caribbean in 1998 as an entertainer and joined Silversea in 2016.

At 5:45, I feel the ships engines come to life and see that leaving the pier. The port side bow thruster engages and the Silver Shadow begins to pivot so that we are on course to pass beneath the Lions Gate Bridge.

There are helicopters and sea planes buzzing about, freighters standing off and at piers here and there. North Vancouver is off to our starboard side (our suite is on the starboard--or right--side and I am enjoying the view from our extra-long balcony. The weather is perfect, the sky is clear, the city behind us is beautiful and we are happy.

It is 548 nautical miles to Ketchikan.

Posted by paulej4 18:42 Archived in Canada Tagged sea shadow silver

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