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Silver Shadow review - Sept. 2013


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We returned this afternoon from our two week sailing on the Silver Shadow (Vancouver to Tokyo). Although we are Regent customers, this was our third Silversea cruise and we really enjoyed it.


First I would like to mention what is referred to by many on board as "the incident". As most of you know, after the unsatisfactory CDC rating in June, they were inspected again and received a "97" (and probably deserved a 100).


The Food and Beverage Manager called me the second day on board to ask what I thought about the CNN report regarding the CDC rating. The only reason I can imagine that I would receive a personal phone call is the statement I posted prior to the cruise on CC. I posted that if I were concerned about the food, quality, or sanitation, I would contact the F&B Manager. Although I could see that the ship was immaculate, it was nice to hear reassurances from someone "in the know".


Since the June inspection, galley tours and galley lunches have been discontinued. They may resume if they find a safe way to do them. Not having sailed Silversea much, it was difficult to determine what procedures were new and which were not. For instance, all hot foods are served to the guests. I seem to recall being able to help myself on previous cruises. There are crew members available to assist guests in getting desserts, pouring milk on cereal, etc.


Now for the review - starting with the "not so good" so I can get on a positive note.


1. We are used to having butlers and understand that they are off duty in the afternoon and that there is a back-up system to serve guests during this time. Since this was a very port intensive cruise, we were on the ship most of the time. On three occasions, we called the butler and are still waiting for a response. This is an area that needs improvement. Note: Our butler was delightful and deserved his break!


2. Hot Rocks. When we arrived for dinner, the non-smoking section was almost full (with not one person sitting in the smoking section). We were placed at a table far away from any heater and was very dark because a light bulb was burned out. It was quite cold so we asked if we could sit in the smoking section. We learned that the heaters were an issue there as well. There were four heaters that could heat maybe four tables -- if they are moved close together.


3. Le Champagne was the biggest disappointment we had on board. I understand that food is subjective, however, I think we all agree that it should be served hot. The "soup"(?) will remain in my memory as the most unique I have had. The mushroom soup has a wonderful taste but is the consistency of custard. Although the server warned us about this, he had no way of knowing that on top of the consistency issue, it was barely warm. I wonder why they serve a dish that requires a warning? There was also an understaffing issue. We were a table of six. This required 3 servers to do the countdown to uncovering the plate. If this was done once -- perhaps at the beginning of the meal, it would be lovely. When our entrée was served, the server was running around to find a third person to uncover the plates. He had to go into The Restaurant to find someone (while our food was getting cold). Very disappointing.


The good and the wonderful:


Kirk, our Cruise Director was the best!! He really connects with the guests and makes each and every one feel special. He is energetic, talented and just a wonderful person. When he performed his show on the last night, he had passengers dancing by their seats in the theater, holding hands and singing. He received an immediate standing ovation and ended by running up the stairs. I was fortunate enough to see him as I was leaving the theater (a tiny bit late for our reservation) and was able to give him a hug and tell him how marvelous the show was.


Okay -- the ship is in need of refurbishment (that will happen in two months during wet dock) but it still is a wonderful ship -- the most comfortable we have sailed. The fact that there were only 293 people on board (and the same number of crew) enabled us to get to know one another very quickly.


The food was amazing. Despite the issue in Hot Rocks, the filet mignon, shrimp and baked potato were cooked to perfection (okay -- I cooked my own filet and shrimp but they did a great baked potato:-) Food in La Terrazza and The Restaurant was also excellent. We were in an area with a lot of fish and it was prepared perfectly (especially the halibut).


Due to the wonderful service of the Food and Beverage Manager and his staff, we were invited back to Le Champagne. There were more servers and the meal was considerably improved (no -- didn't order the mushroom custard again). The soup (lobster bisque) was hot as was the rest of the meal.


Speaking of service, this was equal to the best service we have had at sea. I ran out of room on the final questionnaire writing down names of "special" crew members. IMO, they are all special!


Jet lag seems to be getting to me right now. I did want to post my thoughts about this very enjoyable cruise.

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Glad to hear u had a nice trip Travelcat2. I did this same cruise last September and thought it was an excellent itinerary.


I also have had the mushroom soup in Le Champagne. It was more like a mushroom capuccino than soup. The night I went, I was the only person there and it was one of the standout meals that I have had on SS.


Did u have good weather?




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Did you have Internet access reliably? ESP when in Japan? And I would like to hear about the ports visited. Did you do any ship's excursions or on your own?


I quite like the mushroom soup on Spirit in Le champagne, but it was most definitely served hot.

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Travelcat/Jackie, thanks for posting y'alls excellent/candid review of your recent Shadow voyage. Nice to hear the service & dining (generally) was excellent. Did Dennis and you book another SS voyage or take an open booking?

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I am wide awake for the moment so will answer some questions.


Weather in Ketchikan, Juneau and Kodiak was wonderful. It was quite warm in Ketchikan and Juneau. It was very windy, cold and wet in Skagway. We heard that the following week ships could not get into Skagway. Weather was pleasant (sunny and cool) in Russia and Hakodate, Japan and was very hot, very humid and quite uncomfortable in Tokyo.


Internet reliability was not so good -- no fault of Silversea. In terms of Japan, they block internet when the ship is 12 miles or less from land. So, when approaching Hakodate we lost communication and did not regain it until after dinner the next night. Silversea posted the hours when internet connectivity was expected to be available. We appreciated knowing when we could probably get online again. The last time we were able to use the internet was 8:00 p.m. on the last night because we were sailing close to land.


That just reminded me of the seas. Although the crossing was considered fairly mild, the waves were high enough to hit the windows of The Restaurant one night. Most passengers were prepared and did well. I now understand the term "sea legs". The second week of the cruise both my DH and I were able to take the rocky seas without wrist bands or medication. We still walked like we were drunk but were not bothered by the movement in other ways.


We have not booked another Silversea cruise. We have Regent cruises in December, 2013 as well as March and November of next year and hope to fit an Oceania cruise in sometime mid-year. We tend to sail Silversea when we find an itinerary not offered by Regent. We have been looking at cruises that include Cape Town but prefer only to sail on the Whisper and Shadow. Regent is offering the itinerary next year (finally) so we are booked on that.


In addition to the ports in Alaska listed above, the only other ports were Russia (don't have the spelling in front of me -- it is also known as Kamchatka). We have been to Alaska previously and did not do any excursions there. There was really nothing to do in Russia -- we took the shuttle and walked a lot. It was interesting to see the city but the main excursion was to a volcano. It was quite rough in terms of the transportation -- miles of very rocky roads plus walking. Since I have a knee issue that I need to get repaired, we could not do that excursion. Another woman with a knee issue did the excursion and was limping and had to ice her knee for the remainder of the cruise.


My all-time favorite port may now be Hakodate, Japan. There are places in the world more interesting and with more things to do but it would be difficult to find more friendly people. Hakodate became a port stop for cruise ships after the earthquakes that affected ports previously used. I knew that Japanese ports gave nice welcomes and farewells to cruise ships but this one was amazing.


For about 45 minutes prior to docking there was a boat next to us shooting up colored water -- changing colors all the time (one of those things you need to see to appreciate). There were also 70 schoolgirls who study English in school - 15-17 years of age that were anxious to speak English and help the visitors find their way around. I know that other places do this...... but, these young women rarely see a cruise ship. There were signs all over the place welcoming the Silver Shadow. This was obviously a major event in Hakodate. We did shopping with chef (Chef David) -- went to a marvelous fish market.


The city and people are just delightful. It is a place we would like to spend a bit more time in. If I remember correctly, there is a population of 80,000 so there was no traffic or crowds anywhere. After dinner on the ship we heard very loud music. We looked at the dock at saw a long line of 50 people waving while music played in the background (recorded music - not live as in Tokyo). They continued waving for a long time. Such a beautiful memory.


Hope the above makes sense..... my brain is quite muddled:)

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TC, thanks for your review. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the cruise, especially after 'The Incident' and your trepidation about this cruise.


I'm curious about the F&B Manager calling you and I may well be misunderstanding what you've written. Do you think that someone at SS had seen those posts following the report, and was indeed monitoring here at CC during the whole debacle?


Anyway, happy for you that it turned out well and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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Thank you for the kind comments:)


Nigella: We were surprised when we received the telephone call from the F&B Manager. He also came to our table and checked to see how everything was several times. IMO, someone at Silversea was reading CruiseCritic, knew which itinerary we were sailing on and managed to match my screen name with my real name. Feedback seems very important to them right now and is what prompted me to write the review.

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Thank you for your review. We agree that Kirk is one of the best Cruise Directors on the sea. His performance on the last evening is truly a standout. He's a great Silversea ambassador.

I am relieved to hear that the food on the ship has improved and definite changes have been made to the galley and preparation since my sailing and the "incident" on the following sailing.

There is much to like about the Shadow - especially the crew. We hope the home office has gotten the message and will provide better response and customer service, at the level that their hard working ship employees and loyal passengers deserve.

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Thanks for posting the reviews TC2, sounds like you had slightly better weather than we did (with Jennifer) last year. Shame you didn't get to see the other highlight of the trip which was the volcano visit in Petropavlovsk, but agree wholeheartedly about Halodate, its a gem!


Intertestingly whilst on the Whisper in early Sept both the galley lunch and galley tours were running.


And yes, there are some onboard on SS who monitor CC and have worked out who some of the the avatars are.

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I am glad things are looking up for Silverseas. We did have one wonderful cruise on The Whisper, but for us it is way too formal and we don't like to eat late!


I am glad that the sanitation is up to par as that incident has completely put me off considering Silverseas.


Everything sounded great though and I know you are particular, so I respect that.


Rest up!

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How interesting that other ships are still doing the galley tour and lunch in the galley. Perhaps Silversea is being especially careful with what they are doing on the Shadow. I did hear that they are waiting for some new equipment in the galley that will be installed in November. Hopefully someone will post after wet dock and let us know if the tours and lunch have resumed.


duct tape: I am not ignoring you. I have the F&B Manager's name packed somewhere and will post when I find it. His first name starts with an "S" and is pronounced like Judith. It may be spelled Sudyth. He is from India - a young man with great people skills.


wripro: It definitely was a positive experience. The few less than perfect items I mentioned did in case Silversea reads the review. If I had to rate this cruise, it would be a "5" - definitely a wonderful cruise.

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Thanks for the report on the internet and on Hakodote. We are going to be there on our Explorer cruise next year, and it sounds wonderful. Hopefully will be able to get on internet at least once a day as I have elderly mom and an office that has to be attended to at least a bit even when I am away.

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duct tape: I am not ignoring you. I have the F&B Manager's name packed somewhere and will post when I find it. His first name starts with an "S" and is pronounced like Judith. It may be spelled Sudyth. He is from India - a young man with great people skills. /QUOTE]


Is there more than one Indian F&B manager on Silversea? If not, I too have had contact with the person you reference (I can't recall his name) and found him to be enormously impressive. He took his job and guest satisfaction very, very seriously.


As I recall, he began as a bartender with SS, was promoted to bar manager, and then promoted to F&B manager.


It's good to know that talented staff can find routes to promotion on SS.

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Thanks for the report on the internet and on Hakodote. We are going to be there on our Explorer cruise next year, and it sounds wonderful. Hopefully will be able to get on internet at least once a day as I have elderly mom and an office that has to be attended to at least a bit even when I am away.




We cruised Regent a few years ago in Japan and they said the same thing about no internet while in Japanese waters and in addition no television. What we found in every port was that we had internet and TV until we docked and as soon as we left the dock both came back on again. This occurred in every port the same way. Based on this and the report today, not sure what the real story is so for sure you won't have internet or TV while docked but, there is a chance you will have it available at other times. May depend on the ship and the cruise line.

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Thanx, TC2. Yes, it was Sujith Mohan. He reads CC religiously! He has had a great career, so far. He has recently been promoted to Hotel Director! He will be terrific, we wish him well.


Thank you so much for providing his name. He was absolutely wonderful to all guests. Very happy to hear that he has been promoted.

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