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  #91 (permalink)  
Old March 5th, 2009, 04:31 PM
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Old March 6th, 2009, 02:07 AM
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Default Day 16 Silver Shadow - Got myself a gift

Day 16 – Silver Shadow – at Sea
Following dinner last night we moved to the Athenian Lounge to watch the comedy and magic of Keith Fields. Once again I found his “fluffy material” and fun illusions very entertaining. This is not a show filled with the grandeur of David Copperfield magic show, but I thought it fit in perfectly with the social atmosphere of the entire cruise.

As Keith said, “Cruise ship comedians are often just on their way up, or on their way down. And it’s good to be back”.

I keep running into that word, social, don’t I? Perhaps it’s because it’s not what I expected, or perhaps it’s because I can’t think of a word that better describes this entire cruise. I’m really not certain that you could put over 300 people together for 17 days in any other situation, and find the same results. That makes it quite unique.

By now I’m pretty sure it’s clear to most that Silversea is not a mass market cruise line. However it should also be clear that just because it’s a luxury line no one should shy away from it completely, for that reason alone.

I’m not trying to infer that it’s a cruise line that would be a perfect fit for everyone. People’s tastes and what they want from their cruise vacations vary. But hopefully these daily reports have opened some eyes to the value of considering a luxury cruise experience, without a need for anyone to feel intimidated in any way about any requirement to qualify as a Silversea passenger, other than determining if it’s within range of what you’re prepared to spend on your cruise vacations.

Aside from the food and service touches, there is real calculable value to the nature of Silversea’s all-inclusive pricing. If you enjoy wine with dinner, sodas, bottled water, juices, a few drinks through the day, and the odd pre or post dinner drink, with no gratuities added or expected, this cruise line can be a viable and financially competitive option for you… particularly in today’s marketplace. And to top things off you can feel secure knowing you’re also going to have a great time.

This morning, as we make our way to Ensenada we’re feeling of first hints of a reintroduction to the temperatures of North America. Though the sun is shining, there’s a cold wind blowing from south, towards the bow, creating windy conditions pool-side. Even so, there are people on the pool-deck and I’m presently located here as well; sitting at a teak table, in a comfortable chair, people watching. Mrs. Kuki is off attending a lecture, called Around the World in 40 Pictures. I’m watching around the world in 40 personalities.

Dickson, from India, my favorite pool-side waiter is making sure my coffee stays fresh. I’m presently watching a woman with a hair-do, wrapped about her head, adding at least 8 -12 inches to her height. It’s the Audrey Hepburn look from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, only I haven’t seen the look since it since at least the 70s’s.

I’m jealous!!! Not of the hair, but this woman has been on The Shadow since January, and will be remaining on the ship until the end of May. I have to admit I envy her. How nice it would be to escape, leave the real world waiting and the problems I face going home now for another few months.

I left my pool-side perch to watch the Bartender’s Cocktail making competition in the Panorama Lounge. Four bartenders mixed cocktails they designed, and the crowd got a taste of each, and a vote to say which they liked best. Another few bartenders competing, and even I’d have been totally drunk. This, plus all the wine tastings and cooking classes held throughout the cruise are of course included in your cruise fare, and have been very popular.

At lunch we experienced yet another Silversea Tradition, the Galley Lunch. Surprisingly this lunch is held in the galley. The enormous variety of food is presented buffet style, running through the entire galley. I went through once to check out the choices, and take pictures, and then went back to fill my plate. Lunch is completed with an enormous dessert table in the center of Chez Kuki. More lunch pictures :
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=5037
One little tidbit I’ve found very interesting is that the stateroom stewards do not use carts. This means no maneuvering past the steward’s carts while trying to move through the corridors. You’ll see small vacuum cleaners strategically placed along the corridor, but no other obstacles to block your path. Just another one of the “minor” attentions to detail which might go unnoticed, but warrants mention, which comprises a part of the Silversea luxury experience.

As expected, as the ship makes its way closer to Ensenada, and Los Angeles, the seas are rougher. In my experience, it seems that this stretch of ocean rarely lays flat as the ships break through the waterway on their way to Los Angeles.

To this point in the cruise neither Mrs. Kuki nor I had done any shopping, other than some souvenir gifts for our friends at home. Today I picked up something as a treat, just for me... a lovely Austrian Eva Maria, and it was Duty Free.

Mrs. Kuki says I can’t keep it though.

Those who follow my writings from ships understand I have a tradition of finding a “girlfriend” on every ship; or as I like to refer to them, when relating the tale to Mrs. Kuki, my possible future wives. On this cruise I’ve found several of them in the casino. It’s been the only luck I’ve had in the casino.

L to R Daniella, Jennifer,Maryima, and Eva Maria

The casino onboard is small, and operated by Casino Austria. The Blackjack tables (2 onboard) have a betting limit of $5 - $50, or $10- $100 respectively. I normally spend a fair bit of time in the casino, but on this sailing, with the schedule we’ve been keeping, I’ve been playing very little. Throughout this cruise the casino has been very quiet, with few players visiting for the entire 16 days so far.

“My casino girls” have been great fun though! They’re very sweet, and from Day 1 on any time I’ve visited we’ve had a great fun, joking, goofing off, and playing. Daniella is the Casino Manager, and she’s very friendly, with a delightful sense of humor, and that is shared by Eva, Jennifer, and Miryama as well. They seem to get along very well, which would be important with a small group like this, living and working in close quarters.

I feel bad for them that the casino hasn’t been busier. The time would certainly pass more quickly for them, and I know the passengers would have enjoyed their time with “my girls”.
This picture was taken yesterday in Cabo San Lucas, as the girls had shared our tender ride from the ship to the pier.

They were off to spend the day at a beach… which they told me they thoroughly enjoyed. We probably should have gone with them. As I said, the crew always know the best, and often least expensive things to do in the various ports. The Casino crew are especially reliable in this regard, as the casino is closed and they are off duty in every port. Though, with Silversea they get the opportunity to escort some of the shore excursions, to act as assistants. It makes for a nice way for them to participate in some of the excursions without the cost.

This evening was the Captain’s Farewell Reception. Captain Corsaro spoke warmly to the guests, and wished everyone safe travels… and introduced representatives of all the departments onboard. They also awarded several employee of the month awards.

Mrs. Kuki wanted to see the show tonight by the Jean Ryan Production Company, so we headed to Chez Kuki by 7:45. This was the first night of the 16 days onboard where I found the service a bit spotty. It wasn’t annoyingly so, but we did leave the dining room before the coffee arrived so Mrs. Kuki and our dining companions wouldn’t miss the show. I’m guessing the service issue may have had something to do with an earlier than normal arrival time for larger numbers of diners because everyone was already out for the Farewell Reception.

As I made my way to the suite I almost slid down the corridor to my doorway. The motion of the ship is slightly noticeable tonight, in a way similar to be speaking about being slightly pregnant.

I have an interesting note tonight. I’ve noticed that for several days now the forward elevators have been out of order. It’s been of no concern to me, and I hadn’t given it much thought, as we’ve only been using the stairs. I did hear from another guest tonight that the elevator cannot be repaired until the ship reaches Los Angeles.

That will likely make for quite a challenge for disembarkation procedures when we reach Los Angeles, as those elevators are normally the ones used for taking off (as well as bringing on) guests baggage. It has likely been a bit of a challenge already for some of the less mobile guests. Though it would certainly be much more of an issue on a larger ship than on a ship this size.

Tomorrow, our last day onboard, is a stop in Ensenada. I’m going to sit on my balcony all day and watch to see if anyone gets off the ship for more than 13 minutes.

My first ever cruise was a Mexican Riviera sailing in 1994. I’m no more a fan of it today, as I was then…not at all… though the experience was what hooked me on cruising.
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Old March 6th, 2009, 08:30 AM
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Yup, you didn't dissapoint..a girl on every ship, this time, multiplesSadly, you didn't heed my advice to continue sailing on, for my benefit, so, let us share your last hours on the balcony, so we all can end with a high note, on your last day....Safe travels to you and Geela....xoxoxo
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Old March 6th, 2009, 09:22 AM
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I've enjoyed this posting every day. Thank you. It brought me to a new perspective on cruising.
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  #95 (permalink)  
Old March 6th, 2009, 06:26 PM
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Default Day 17 - Silver Shadow

Day 17 – Silver Shadow – Ensenada – treated as a day at sea
It’s not that Ensenada isn’t a beautiful place to visit, though it’s not. It’s that I can’t for the life of me figure out why any ship would visit, other than to meet the requirements of the Passenger Services Act, which is a “bullocks” (note the British accent I’ve developed) law anyway. It requires every vessel leaving from a U.S. port to visit a “distant” foreign port before returning to the United States.

However, in the case of the itinerary we’ve traveled on the Silver Shadow this law does not apply. So, most of my day was spent deep in thought trying to comprehend why we stopped here.

That was probably much better than the despondency that would’ve set in if I spent the day thinking that this is the last day of our voyage.

Going back to the beginning of the cruise, I don’t think I mentioned that everyone boarding was required to turn in their passports. It has been some time since I cruised on a ship with this requirement, though it used to be the norm for aliens cruising out of the United States. (Aliens- being non U.S. citizens, not visitors from another planet… though I’ve been accused of that too).

I have no idea why that was a requirement on this cruise. I find it would be very unlikely that anyone would abandon ship to seek a better life in Guatemala, unless their surname was Madoff, or Stanford.

I’ve paid several visits to the shop onboard looking to purchase a souvenir Silversea logo item. I found the selection for men, even simple things like a ball-cap, extremely limited, and ended up disappointed, with nothing to purchase. The only thing I’ll leave the ship with is my wonderful memories and a 4 month supply of Bvlgari bathroom products I’ve squirreled away.

At this moment Mrs. Kuki, tools is hand, is busy trying to disconnect our drinking fountain, to stash away in our luggage.

After 30 days of diverse, exciting, fun and unexpected adventures, Mrs. Kuki packed the luggage for a final departure, to head home. It’s a scary thought, as it seems the world events while we were living this fantasy have become more complicated, not less. Before leaving I had my life in some sort of sense of order, and no doubt returning I’ll find it requires much attention and restructuring to get it livable once again.

Though we’ve lived a dream the past month, we face variations of the same problems all of you face. As we enjoy our last day on board we reflect on how fortunate we’ve been to only have to worry about if the superb service has been off by a hair, or if the entertainment onboard has been the best or the worst we’ve seen, or if breakfast is better on deck, in the Restaurant, or at La Terrazza.

In the 17 days I’ve no doubt drunk a cruise fare worth of Diet Cokes and BBCs, and all the wines I’ve had a little taste of.

Things went so well over the 17 nights we never did get to try the in-suite dinner service, or the ship’s other alternate dining venue, Le Champagne. Le Champagne is the only restaurant onboard where there’s a surcharge for dining. There’s a $30 per person charge for food and service, or if you choose to participate in the Relais & Chateaux dining experience, with Degustation wine pairings the charge is $200 per person.

One has to wonder how after 17 days onboard a ship this size I haven’t seen every square inch of the ship. Yes, a part of it is I’m lazy, but more importantly I’ve been occupied the entire time doing things that please me. That is such an integral part of cruising; being able to do what you like, when you like… and that includes doing nothing more than relaxing. It’s probably been 8 or 9 days since I’ve turned on the television in the suite, when at home my eyes are likely fixed on it for 3 or 4 hours a day.

Captain Corsaro invited us to the bridge to watch the sail into Ensenada. It was very interesting, because though we’ve been on the bridge several times for sail-away, this was a first for us sailing in and docking. Today was a windy day, with temperatures reaching only 60 degrees F.


http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/g...5038/80943.jpg

The Captain explained that combating wind conditions can be difficult, and even with the technology available today he’s very reliant on his experience, and his “feel” for the movement of the ship. I loved the open wings off the Bridge. The larger ships are now more often built with enclosed wings. Captain Corsaro too prefers the open wing as well, explaining feeling the wind and sea, and watching from that position aids him guiding the ship comfortably to it’s berth without putting dents in it.


Another low-tech maneuver in a high-tech world is getting the lines used to tie up the ship, to the shore. A crewmember throws a light-weight line, with what looks like a tennis ball or hacky sack, to those waiting on shore. They then attach the much larger ropes to that line, and the workers on shore drag the lines across to their positions.


I am going to end today’s report here. We fly home directly from Los Angeles tomorrow. On Sunday, I’ll load the videos I’ve shot, and post more miscellaneous pictures, and write the final summary of this cruise.
Hopefully when I’m done I’ll have succeeded in describing this voyage in a way that you might experience it when you take your next, or book your first Silversea voyage.
For now, I’ll leave you with last night’s Farewell address, and dessert

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  #96 (permalink)  
Old March 8th, 2009, 12:00 PM
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Default A not so Luxurious Disembarkation

Disembarkation Day

Not that today would be representative of every disembarkation day, but Silversea, like all the cruise lines, have to figure a way to improve the last experience of your cruise; getting off the ship.

One certainly wouldn’t think it would be much of a problem to disembark a ship with just over 300 passengers.

The first problem was misinformation on the information sheet provided with our luggage tags. It stated that Non U.S. citizens would pick up their passports and clear customs and immigration in the terminal.

Had I not accidentally stumbled on the error, I would have waited for our designated luggage tag color to be called, and walked off the ship, headed to the Terminal to collect my passport, which could have turned into a huge problem.

The process was scheduled to begin at approximately 7:30 A.M., but we knew that wouldn’t be the case as we could see from our balcony that the ship hadn’t pulled into its berth yet at that time. So we enjoyed our room service breakfast, and headed to The Bar where passports were being returned, and guest moving through to the showroom to pass through Customs & Immigration.

The line seemed fairly long, and as we had a late flight, and were in no rush, we went back to our suite to wait awhile longer, and gather our carry-on luggage, as guest were asked to vacate the suites by 8:30 A.M. Returning at 8:45 we found the line even longer, surprising because they had so few passengers to get through. And I was surprised when an even longer line formed before us. I was wondering if we’d picked up stowaways in Ensenada. It took us an hour to get to the point to have our morning visit with the “always happy U.S. Customs & Immigration Officers”.

Then returned to the entrance of The Bar, to wait for “our color” to be called to disembark the ship. At 10 AM there still passengers in line, and it wasn’t until 10:30 A.M. that the first passenger disembarked the vessel.

Whatever had caused the delay is irrelevant, as on rare occasion these delays do occur. However, at no point was an announcement made even acknowledging that there was a delay. Communicating with the passengers would have without doubt kept the passengers rumblings to a minimum, even those who had paid drivers waiting for them at the pier, or those who were no doubt going to miss their scheduled flights.

Generally keeping people informed is a much better alternative than to leave them in silence, guessing about what is going on, or harassing the staff they see to find out.

Having Orange Juice and Coffee available in the lounge where people were waiting would also be considerate.

Here’s a few hints for Silversea to keep the disembarkation process as luxurious as the rest of the experience:

- As Norwegian Cruise Line does- allow guests to remain in their suites until their color of luggage tag is called

- When delays are obvious inform the passengers with ship-wide announcements. Your clientele is used to being well informed, allowing misinformation to flow through to them via crew they encounter only aggravates a bad situation.

Outside of the terminal, I overheard one of the passengers who were to transfer with us to LAX, ask a Silversea shore-side employee if there’d be Silversea people at the airport to assist those who miss flights. The answer “ We have limited people at the airport”. Translation “You are on our your own!!!”

Basically Siversea handled the problem of the delayed disembarkation as badly as all the cruise lines seem to handle it. As often as they encounter the situation, you really would think they would devise a way to handle it better!

Our ship’s transfer to LAX worked out fine. We checked in early enough to get an exit row seat, our flight even left on time, and arrived back in Calgary early. It’s very unusual for my air travel to go so smoothly.

Just to make my day really STINKY , we arrived home to find our home had once again been “skunked”. Unfortunately one of the drawbacks of living near the edge of city. The skunks must have been showing their disdain for us being gone for a month.

I hope to have some more stories from “the Shadow” as well as short video clips from the ship up on the site by this evening. Please do check back for the “finale” J
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  #97 (permalink)  
Old March 8th, 2009, 05:16 PM
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Default Video Tour of Royal Suite



Video Tour of the Capri Suite #602 - Royal Suite
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Old March 8th, 2009, 05:17 PM
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Kuki, good reporting I enjoyed reading your adventures. I agree with you Carole and I should try Silver Seas or one of the high end lines at some point. It was interesting that on the last day, even the best lines don't do that well. I guess it is hard to make the least enjoyable part of any cruise seem like fun. Take care, Mike
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Old March 8th, 2009, 06:02 PM
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Default An Intimate Transit of the Panama Canal



This was special because it's all taken from our balcony on Deck 6 of the Silver Shadow. Up close and personal canal experience.
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Old March 8th, 2009, 06:09 PM
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Default Video Tour of Veranda Suite



This is a standard Veranda Suite on the Silver Shadow
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Old March 8th, 2009, 06:26 PM
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Default Video of Vista Suite - Silver Shadow



Vista Suites are twins to the Veranda Suites, but with no balconies
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Old March 8th, 2009, 06:29 PM
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Default Video of Birds "playing" with the ship at sunset



Hard to catch clear shots of how close the birds came to out balcony. But it was very cool watching them and the sunset.
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Old March 8th, 2009, 06:37 PM
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Default Video of Silver Shadow Terrace Suites



This is the shared veranda area for the Terrace Suites. Doors exit to the deck, but there is no balcony furnishings.
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Old March 8th, 2009, 06:41 PM
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Nice!! Kuki

Just like cribs on MTV

is that BIg BED!!where the yo (magic)action happen?

Thanks Kuki....ENJOYED!! the Virtual Tour!

Take Care!
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Old March 8th, 2009, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will
Nice!! Kuki

Just like cribs on MTV

is that BIg BED!!where the yo (magic)action happen?

Thanks Kuki....ENJOYED!! the Virtual Tour!

Take Care!
As a matter of fact Will it IS. I would jump into bed naked and Mrs. Kuki would disappear!
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Old March 9th, 2009, 12:06 AM
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Default Silver Shadow Summary

Summary - Silver Shadow - Sailing Feb. 18- Mar. 7

It has been several years since we’d cruised one of the luxury cruise brands. Several years ago we sailed on Seabourn and Radission (now Regent) cruise lines. No doubt, as the entire cruise industry has changed a great deal in the past half decade, so to have those brands. That makes it difficult to directly compare our Silversea cruise to Seabourn and Regent.

From my memories of those cruises however, I do have to say this cruise on Silversea had a more luxurious “feel“; the fine food and presentation was better than I recall, the attention to detail was more accentuated, and the over-all Siversea team created a more social atmosphere amongst the passengers.

I also think that Silver Shadow has a nicer, and more roomy pool area than those on our other luxury cruises. It’s spacious, and comfortable, and would do on any itinerary.

Of late we’ve been cruising many more of the Mass Market and Premium brand cruise lines, like Carnival, Princess, NCL, Holland America and Celebrity. On several of those ships we were in Suite category accommodations, and we enjoyed excellent cruises on each of them.

Cruising is such a wonderful vacation, and when cruising a variety of cruise lines, we’ve had to approach each expecting to experience what each line does well, and enjoying the differences as much as the similarities, rather than constantly making comparisons. Moving between “levels” of cruise brands it’s interesting to see how flexible our personalities are. While I don’t consider myself a person who would demand luxury services at every turn we certainly adapted to it quickly. How could you not!

I also tried to make a point of observing the operations of the ship, and observe the responses and demands of the passengers in response to it. For some passengers, when nothing is considered impossible, it’s easy to demand near to the impossible, to see how close they can come. But generally the passengers on our cruise were delighted with all aspects of the food and service.

The vast majority of complaints and concerns, mine included, were minor, when viewed in the totality of the cruise.

It’s difficult to demand more when you never have to get up to fill your own cup of coffee, or when fruit skewer’s are served to your seat or sun-lounger when relaxing by the pool in the morning, or chilled towels brought around if it’s hot, followed by served sorbets in the afternoon.

It’s difficult to demand more when you choose to have a casual lunch at the pool-side grill, and service staff come to take your order and deliver your food, rather than you lining up at the grill. And it’s difficult to demand more when the grill items are cooked fresh, rather than heated from a warming tray.

Silversea is a niche cruise line. Obviously, because even if all their ships were full, they would be carrying less than 1500 passengers. Their niche is not only to provide a luxury all-inclusive cruise experience, but a very personal cruise experience as well.

In my view that’s where the value lies in a Silversea cruise. Those who normally cruise on the luxury lines will have very little to find fault with choosing a Silversea cruise. Those who have not yet sailed a luxury brand, I think will be delighted you gave it a try!

The key words in these rather tumultuous times is -- “finding value”. Today’s cruise market is offering bargains that won’t likely be matched in several years time. This is true of Silversea Cruise Line as well. If you’re in a position to take advantage you can soon be sailing one the finest lines in the world.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 12:07 AM
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If any of the fellow guests on this cruise pop in to read this report.....

It was a pleasure sailing with you. Please feel free to add any of your own comments.... whether you agree with me, or disagree.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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Kuki, thanks for your wonderful reports including the photos and videos.

Your last post mentioned that you often get a suite on mainstream or premium cruise lines. I expected that your next statement would discuss cost comparisons between suites on other lines and Silversea. I think it would be worthwhile to point out that especially now with so many specials prevalent on the luxury lines, suite passengers on mainstream and premium lines might want to take the leap and try the luxury lines. I know that my two cruises later this year have had wonderful cost savings in the last week.
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  #109 (permalink)  
Old March 9th, 2009, 11:25 AM
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Marc... I believe I discussed this several times through the 17 days of reports. I'd have to reread it all to point out exactly where, but a quick scroll back, and I found this :
I
Quote:
’m not trying to infer that it’s a cruise line that would be a perfect fit for everyone. People’s tastes and what they want from their cruise vacations vary. But hopefully these daily reports have opened some eyes to the value of considering a luxury cruise experience, without a need for anyone to feel intimidated in any way about any requirement to qualify as a Silversea passenger, other than determining if it’s within range of what you’re prepared to spend on your cruise vacations.

Aside from the food and service touches, there is real calculable value to the nature of Silversea’s all-inclusive pricing. If you enjoy wine with dinner, sodas, bottled water, juices, a few drinks through the day, and the odd pre or post dinner drink, with no gratuities added or expected, this cruise line can be a viable and financially competitive option for you… particularly in today’s marketplace. And to top things off you can feel secure knowing you’re also going to have a great time.
Prices vary considerably on all cruises, so I certainly couldn't compare any EXACT pricing directly to any other EXACT pricing. But in my mind it's pretty clear I said is "real calcuable value"..... and Silversea program "can be a viable and financially competitive option".

By the way.. they tell me the draft on the life boats is 1/2 metre. That is a specific number
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  #110 (permalink)  
Old March 9th, 2009, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
I think it would be worthwhile to point out that especially now with so many specials prevalent on the luxury lines, suite passengers on mainstream and premium lines might want to take the leap and try the luxury lines. I know that my two cruises later this year have had wonderful cost savings in the last week.
Marc,

The purpose of the report wasn't to talk about how great luxury cruising is. Or to encourage the move to luxury brand cruising. It was to describe the experience on the Silver Shadow, and Silversea specifically.

Obviously, you have a line of choice, and it's very nice that you got recent price drops for your cruises. You obviously were happy to book at the higher price, and whatever discounts occur will be a great bonus for you.

I think I let people know that at this time Silversea may be discounted enough to be considered good value, for those who may have not sailed them yet, or even considered them because pricing may have been out of their budget range.
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  #111 (permalink)  
Old March 9th, 2009, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Your last post mentioned that you often get a suite on mainstream or premium cruise lines.
Marc.. what I said was:
Quote:
On several of those ships we were in Suite category accommodations, and we enjoyed excellent cruises on each of them.
I can only wish that the interpretation you gave it were fact
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Old March 9th, 2009, 02:56 PM
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Kuki thank you once again for informative cruise review!!!!
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  #113 (permalink)  
Old March 9th, 2009, 06:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian J
Kuki thank you once again for informative cruise review!!!!
Thanks Brian. I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed the reports and videos. I am going to write a "proper" review shortly.
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