Ships of Sand and Fog in Salalah
“After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say ‘I want to see the manager.”
– William S. Burroughs
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Last night after filing my daily report, I took a stroll around Silversea’s elegant Silver Wind at 0130 in the morning. I’ve always thought a deserted ship at night is a beautiful thing. Each ship has its own unique characteristics and personality, and Silver Wind does not disappoint in that regard. From the gentle swaying of the curtains in the darkened Panorama Lounge on Deck 8 to the throbbing of the corridor between The Bar and the main staircase on Deck 5 that results from the engine casing and funnel uptakes below, there is little doubt in my mind that the Silver Wind is every bit as alive as you and I.
Once again, I took breakfast in my suite this morning. It arrived promptly at 0900, just as I had requested it to. I’m a creature of habit, and Silversea makes it effortless to cater to the needs of each specific guest.
I also have to mention how impressed I am with how Silversea has handled the loss of our call on Sharm el Sheikh due to scheduling difficulties with the Egyptian authorities that control transits of the Suez Canal. The line sent out a letter explaining the cancellation in detail and offering to refund any previously-reserved shore excursions in Sharm el Sheikh to guests’ onboard accounts. That didn’t surprise me; what did, however, was that the line has extended our call in Port Said, Egypt – and they’re offering up two separate excursions that were never included before.
Originally, Port Said (pronounced ‘sigh-eeed’) was just to be a technical stop after our Suez Canal transit, with no shore excursions offered. Since we’ll now arrive in Port Said at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 15, Silversea has added two excursion options for guests.
The first, Port Said City Sights by Carriage, comes in at a very affordable $59.00 US per person. Departing from the pier at 1:00 p.m., this two-hour long excursion gives guests an overview of Port Said by horse-drawn carriage, travelling through the historic city centre and visiting the Catholic Church of Port Said. Guests can then return to the ship or stay on Sharia al-Gomhoria, the main shopping street of the city, in order to give a little boost to the local economy.
The second option is the 6.5-hour long Suez Canal & the City of Ismailia tour that, at $99 per person, is a real bargain for a half-day excursion. It includes a visit to Ismailia City and the East Bank of Egypt and a ferry crossing of the Suez Canal from the African continent to the Asian continent.
Both are pretty cool options, and I’ve decided to take advantage of the horse-drawn carriage tour. After all, when in Rome…or Port Said!
Speaking of excursions, I really should have researched this initial part of the trip better. Silversea offers four excursions here in Salalah, but I naively thought that I could just wander around town today and see the sights. And I can – if I want to pay for a taxi to take me a total of 42 kilometres roundtrip. You see, Salalah port is a busy container port, with ships of all shapes and sizes coming and going like planes at an airport. It’s also situated 21 kilometres (13 miles) away from the city of Salalah itself.
Now, one of the best things about Silversea is that, more often than not, the line offers a complimentary shuttle into town. Here, however, they can’t offer that to guests: the taxi union and port authorities won’t allow it. Lacking in Omani Rial and unenthusiastic about the prospect of spending around 30 minutes in a taxi to and from town and – let’s face it – haggling over the price to begin with, I opted to stay right where I am here aboard the Silver Wind and enjoy a day with the ship almost literally to myself.
Silversea offers a total of four shore excursion options here in Salalah on this voyage. These range from the $99 per person Serene Salalah tour (SLL-D) to the $699 Silver Shore Privato – Salalah by Private Van with Guide – Half-Day (SLL-X). Despite its price (per van, not per person), the latter is particularly good for larger groups wanting to see the sights together without joining the organized tours.
For those staying onboard the Silver Wind, the activities for the day, courtesy of the Silversea Chronicles:
- 0700 – Morning Walk with Fitness Instructor Konstantinos. Aerobics Room, 9.
- 0730 – Stretch and Surrender with Fitness Instructor Konstantinos. Aerobics Room, 9.
- 0800– The Silver Quiz, Crossword and Sudoku are available. Shore Concierge Desk, 6.
- 0900 – International Desk. Bianca is available to assist international guests. Lobby, 6.
- 0900 – Computer assistance is available with IT Officer Vladimir. Internet Point, 4.
- 0930– Starting Bridge from Scratch by Genevieve Wilson. Card Room, 6.
- 0930 – Bridge for Novice Players by Albert Wilson. Card Room, 6.
- 1000 – International Desk. Elonora is available to assist International Guests. Lobby, 6.
- 1015 – Coffee Chat with Voice of Silversea Philippa. Panorama Lounge, 8.
- 1030– Enrichment Lecture with Guest Lecturer Peter Damisch. Parisian Lounge, 6.
- 1030 – Sudoku Challenge for prize points with International Hostess Bianca. Panorama Lounge, 8.
- 1100 – Shuffleboard. Have a game with your fellow guests hosted by Christopher. Pool Deck, 8.
- 1130 – Team Trivia for prize points and fun with Cruise Director Colin. The Bar, 5.
- 1300 – Silver Wind is scheduled to dock in Salalah, Oman.
- 1400 – Unsupervised Bridge. Bridge supplies are available. Card Room, 6.
- 1500 – Board Games (Scrabble, Chess & Backgammon) are available. Card Room, 6.
- 1600 – Afternoon Tea is served to the delightful music of Lou. La Terrazza, 7.
- 1730 – Golf Putting for prize points and fun hosted by Ashley. Lobby, 4.
- 1830 – The Silver Wind Quartet plays for Guests’ listening and dancing pleasure. The Bar, 5.
- 1845 – Lou plays for Guests’ listening pleasure. Panorama Lounge, 8.
- 2130 – The Silver Wind Quartet plays for Guests’ listening and dancing pleasure. The Bar, 5.
- 2145 – Silversea Proudly Presents: The Magical Marc Oberon. Parisian Lounge, 6.
- 2145 – Lou plays for Guests’ listening pleasure. Panorama Lounge, 8.
- 2230 – All Aboard! Silver Wind prepares to set sail.
- 2300 – Silver Wind sails for Safaga, Egypt.
If the idea of doing a Middle Eastern voyage like this one entices you, fear not: Silversea will be operating a variation of this itinerary next year as a segment of Silver Whisper’s 2016 World Cruise. Voyage 4607 departs on April 22, 2016 from Dubai to Muscat and follows a similar itinerary to ours, with port calls on Salalah, Safaga, Aqaba, Sharm el Sheikh, Port Said, Ashdod, and Haifa. Where it differs is that it includes another week of sailing through the Mediterranean to create a 22-day voyage that ends in Venice, Italy after calling on Souda Bay, Corfu, Kotor and Dubrovnik.
While Silver Wind isn’t doing any Africa & Indian Ocean sailings next year, her sister Silver Cloud is. Her 2016 begins with voyages sailing between Mombasa and Cape Town, followed by three 10-day South African journeys that operate roundtrip from Cape Town. The spring season concludes with Voyage 1606 – Cape Town to Tema (Accra) and Voyage 1607 – Tema (Accra) to Barcelona.
The one I have my eye on, however, is Silver Cloud’s 18-day Voyage 1635 that departs November 18, 2016 from Dubai and calls on Abu Dhabi during the Grand Prix, followed by Fujairah, Muscat, Mumbai, Cochin, Male, Praslin, and Mahe before ending in Mombasa.
Is it strange to plan ahead for your next Silversea cruise? Not really. Future Cruise Consultant Alessandra is one of the busiest people onboard so far, even though we’re only on our third day of this fifteen day voyage.
Tonight, we’re departing the industrial port of Salalah at 23:00 hours, or 11:00 p.m. We’re then setting a course for Safaga, Egypt, which we will sail at Silver Wind’s top speed of 18.5 knots to, giving us four enjoyable days at sea before our arrival. That’s a good thing: in Safaga, I’m taking part in a massive 13-hour Silversea Shore Excursion to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, followed by a 10-hour tour to Petra when we dock in Aqaba, Jordan the following day.
It’s shaping up to be quite the adventure!
Silver Wind Middle East Adventure
|April 5, 2015||Muscat, Oman||Embark Silver Wind||19:00|
|April 6||Day at Sea|
|April 7||Salalah, Oman||13:00||23:00|
|April 8||At Sea|
|April 9||At Sea|
|April 10||At Sea|
|April 11||At Sea|
|April 12||Safaga, Egypt||07:00||21:00|
|April 13||Aqaba, Jordan||09:30||21:00|
|April 14||Transiting the Suez Canal|
|April 15||Port Said, Egypt||08:00||17:00|
|April 16||Ashdod, Israel||08:00||23:00|
|April 17||Haifa, Israel||07:00||18:00|
|April 18||At Sea|
|April 19||Kusadasi, Turkey||08:00||17:00|
|April 20||Piraeus (Athens), Greece||07:00||Disembark; Live Voyage Recap|
Our Live Voyage Report aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Wind continues tomorrow as spend the first of four relaxing days at sea en-route to Safaga, Egypt! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.