Out of the seven days on board, we had breakfasts twice in the Terrace Cafe, three times by room service, and skipped twice because we got up late. The breakfasts in the Terrace Cafe was fine, the room service was punctual, and properly "set up" in our cabin using the "table converter", covered with white table cloth. We got what we asked for (on a form hung out at our cabin door the night before). Items not on that (card) form was added on, and they complied.
We ate lunch only a couple of times, again in the Terrace Cafe. The selections were quite "usual". We also tried the (raw) salmon and tuna and they were good, but the rice in those "sushi rolls" were not up to standard (the rolls should be made as they were consumed, not left on a tray for hours). When we went ashore and came back late for lunch, we had to eat at the poolside grill. Somehow, this grill only provided hot dogs and hamburgers, and some salad selections, and that seemed to be so every day we went there. There was no grilled seafood (Oceania's poolside restaurant at least had nice grilled halibut steaks last April), and the (previously mentioned on this board) roasted pig was nowhere to be seen! The variety of food provided at this venue obviously needed substantial improvement.
We ate specialty dinners at the Terrace Cafe twice. Both times, this cafe was less than half full. Its seating capacity had been increased to eighty, but when we booked, we were reminded that if there were less than thirty people, that particular dinner would be cancelled. The food was good and the waiters were friendly. The head of this cafe was always around and attentive. On other days, we ate our dinners at the main Restaurant. In all cases throughout our cruise, our request for a "table for two" was honoured. Occasionally, we were give a larger (for four) table to eat by ourselves alone, which was fine.
In all, we had lobster twice: once as a part of "surf and turf" in a specialty dinner, and the other time as part of an appertizer in the main restaurant. We had king crab legs only once, as one of the items in the "galley brunch". We ordered the free sevruga caviar several times and foie gras twice, and each time they complied. The general rule seemed to be that if you asked for something that they could get for you "out of a jar", even though it might be expensive, they would give it to you. On the other hand, if you wanted something that needed kitchen preparation that was not on that day's menu, then you had to "book" ahead of time, not when you had arrived at your table. One evening, in the main restaurant, we ordered pork chop (which was on the menu), but we got a steak instead. Since that steak was quite good, we ate it and didn't say anything. We also ordered some spaghetti which never came.
On the whole, the food was more refined than on the mass market ships. We liked the small portions served: In this day and age of high blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol, serving and eating small portions would be good for our own health, not to mention cutting down on wastage and pollution. Those who wanted more could always ask for extra servings, or eat more than one dish to get a variety. Each night's menu in the main restaurant included a section on seafood, and a section "from the fields". The seafood section seemed to be always fish, fish and more fish, even though the quality of the fish was good. A photocopy of the menu for each day was included in the "Chronicle" the previous night, to give us an idea of what was to be served.
We had not been on Silversea before to determine whether the quality of food was getting better or worse with time. We could tell, however, that generally speaking, the quality of food on most ships had been declining in the last half a dozen years as cruise lines competed for ever tighter budgets.
Most crew members were courteous and rather friendly, saying hello whenever they met us. Some were very attentive, especially those serving drinks by the poolside, they deserved our compliments. Staff in the Terrace Restaurant were good. Those in the main restaurant were also busy, some were actually helpful and attentive while a few were somewhat absent minded.
The housekeeping staff were very efficient, always cleaning our cabin while we were away (sometimes just to eat a meal such as on a sea day). Unlike on mass market ships, we did not have to wait for hours for them to come. Our particular housekeepers were somewhat stingy on providing supplies, replacing items only when they were nearly completely used up, and once we had to call them to get replacements. Afterall, we understood that Bulgari toiletries were expensive, and conservation was important, especially since they might run out of the stuff before the switch to a new supplier.
The officers, from the captain down, were quite polite. We did not meet anyone "with an attitude" (as mentioned by some posters previously on this board). Perhaps we were lucky: they always said hello to us and we replied in kind. Some waiters had some difficulty with the English language, but this was rather common with international staff.
We only attended the Broadway show in the Athenian theatre once. The seven (five ladies and two gentlemen) team did quite well under the circumstances. It was nice for such a small ship to have a genuine multi-tiered theatre with lighting and sound effects. This hall was a multi-purpose gathering place able to seat just about all passengers at the same time, from announcement sessions to life boat drills.
At times, there was music, piano or band, to accompany cocktails and meals. As most passengers were half a hundred and beyond, the entertainment was suitably neither loud nor thumping.
With three full sea days, we stopped at only three ports, docking at Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, while anchoring at Carbo San Lucas. The ship stayed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the first two, but only until 1 p.m. at the last.
At Puerto Vallarta, we hired a taxi by the pier side and drove through those cobble-stone roads first to the tourist hotels district, then through steep narrow lanes to the local residential district and finally passing the "tropical rain forest" before getting back to the cruise ship terminal. There was no rain or forest, but we did see some fruits and wild flowers. The gap between the rich and the poor was very wide, and the weather, especially under the sun was just too hot (and this was December). Sometimes we wondered how the locals coped without air conditioning during the Summer.
At Mazatlan, a "trolley" took us to the terminal building where we again hired a taxi for a couple of hours, which took us into town and showed us around. Here the roads were paved and looked a bit more like a typical small city. Both Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan had a population of close to half a million (so we were told), and both drivers spoke workable English, and we didn't have any problem.
After anchoring at Carbo San Lucas (somehow the Silver Shadow was anchored twice as far off shore than the three times bigger Celebrity Mercury, which we had been aboard twice before), tenders went between ship and shore at half hour intervals. There was a covered art and crafts market on shore from which we hired a "bicycle cart" paddled by a local teenager, and for $10, he took us to and back from the centre of town. Noticing that he paddled so hard, we gave him 150 Mexican pesos. Even in these Mexican towns, ATM machines were easily available. Being a partly cloudy day, and a bit further north, the heat was more manageable here.
... to be continued