Day 1 on the Silver Sea, Silver Shadow
When I filled in my online registration for this cruise, next to my name I wrote (Bill Gates traveling incognito). It was either that, or they’d heard I am now a “headline entertainer”. At check in we were told our cabin assignment had been changed. We were given the keys to what will be our home for the next 17 nights, escorted to our cabin, and made to feel truly welcome onboard. Rather than try to describe it with mere words, here’s what we happily, and obviously excitedly walked into…
More pictures available in the photo galleries
This is suite #602, one of the Royal Suites on the Silver Shadow. Over 900 sq. ft of possibly the ultimate in cruise ship luxury, with a private balcony over 100 sq. ft. I’ll offer much more detail about the suite, and the amenities, in the days to follow.
Our day began waking at 3:00 A.M in order to make a 6:00 A.M. flight from New Orleans (where we’d stayed two days) through Miami, and on to Antigua, where the ship is sailing from. As anyone who has read my previous writings will know, flying is normally a misadventure for me. Surprisingly, today both my flights were on time, and without incident. And, almost just as surprisingly, our luggage arrived in Antigua with us.
After clearing through Customs and Immigration, which was a bit of a mess, because several large airplanes had arrived within minutes of each other, we were greeted by Silversea staff, and directed to the transportation area for transfer to the ship. The luggage was taken, to be transported to the ship separately.
We boarded the Silver Shadow this afternoon, simply by getting out of the taxi at the pier and walking onboard. There was no waiting, and there were no embarkation line ups. In fact, the white-gloved staff stood, waiting at the transportation drop off area, to escort arriving guests. We were escorted to tables set up in the showroom, and told them our cabin number. That was the check in process; smooth and easy; the first tell-tale sign that we are sailing on a luxury cruise line. It was at that time we were told of the change in our suite assignment.
The only glitch in the entire process was our luggage was later delivered to what was our original suite number. As it got later into the evening, I thought I would check outside of the cabin number on our luggage tags, and as soon as I walked towards it, the cabin stewardess said she was wondering about it, as her manifest showed no guests in that cabin. She immediately called other stewards, and our luggage was delivered to our suite.
This evening, after the Muster Drill, there was a social pool-side, to introduce the staff, and begin to allow the guests to socialize.
Silversea is a virtually all-inclusive cruise line. The only things guests are normally required to use their shipboard charge card for are shop purchases, shore excursions, and casino play. The wine and alcohol are included (with some exceptions I’ll explain as the cruise continues), as are sodas, juices, etc. There are no gratuities added, and tipping is not expected. Good service is all that is expected.
“The Shadow” has several dining options. The main dining room, unimaginatively named “The Restaurant”, opens at 7:30, and seating is open; no assigned tables or times. Guests enter whenever they like, and may dine with whomever they choose.
By the time we’d tracked down our luggage, and showered, it was shortly after 8 P.M when Mrs. Kuki entered the dining room. Immediately, we were asked if we’d like to join a table, or dine on our own. We opted for joining a table, and met some new people, and enjoyed a superb first meal.
Several interesting things I found during our first day onboard; every guest I have talked to so far is a repeat Silversea’s passenger. In fact I’ve already met several who have between 100 to 200 days on Silversea ships. Interestingly they all talk about the value they get for their dollars; not something one would automatically think of when talking about a luxury cruise line.
It takes a day or two to settle in to new surroundings, particularly on a ship I’ve not sailed before. In the days to follow I promise to deliver lots of specific information about the ship, itinerary, and eventually find out if they really think I’m Bill Gates.