At Sea en-route to Salalah, Oman
Position as of Noon: 19° 59’02” N, 58° 50’25” E
Speed: 15.80 knots
Wind: 50 km/h / Seas: 1 metre
Distance Sailed from Muscat: 268 Nautical Miles
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
Monday, April 6, 2015
Our first day onboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Wind is a relaxing one, as we spend a day sailing the Arabian Sea en-route to our first port of call in Salalah, Oman, where we will dock tomorrow afternoon.
Because Silversea is all about little indulgences, I filled out a Room Service Breakfast card last night before heading off to bed. Reynaldo, my butler, delivered it promptly at nine this morning as requested. Although breakfast aboard Silver Wind is offered in La Terrazza (Deck 7) or in The Restaurant (Deck 4), I prefer to have mine delivered to my suite. It’s just so darn easy and convenient.
As we sail the smooth-as-glass Arabian Sea today, here’s the location of the Silversea fleet today, courtesy of the Silversea Chronicles:
- Silver Cloud: En-route to Gibraltar, Gibraltar.
- Silver Shadow: Charleston, South Carolina
- Silver Whisper: Cape Town, South Africa
- Silver Spirit: Puntarenas, Costa Rica
- Silver Explorer: Namibe, Angola
- Silver Galapagos: Punta Vincente Roca, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
- Silver Discoverer: Raft Point, Australia
The positions of Silver Galapagos and Silver Discoverer are two of my absolute favorite places I’ve ever visited. They’re also a good reminder that some of the most interesting places I’ve been to have been onboard Silversea ships. There was Porto Novo in the Cape Verde Islands aboard the Silver Spirit in 2012. Richards Bay, South Africa aboard the Silver Wind in 2013. Taormina, Sicily aboard the Silver Spirit in 2011. Staffa, Scotland aboard the Silver Explorer in 2012. The list goes on and on. To me, the strength of Silversea’s itineraries and their willingness to explore off-the-beaten path ports of call – even with their “classic” fleet of non-expedition luxury ships – is a major plus.
Speaking of itineraries, our own itinerary has been changed today. Captain Gennaro Arma informed us during his Noon address that, due to Egyptian authorities insisting on an earlier transit of the Suez Canal, our call on Sharm el Sheikh has been dropped. This has been done to allow us to take the first Northbound Transit Convoy of the day on 14 April; a change necessitated due to heavy marine traffic in the region. Should we miss that first transit convoy, we’d be forced to take the evening convoy – and miss our scheduled arrival into Ashdod, Israel.
Because Ashdod is such an important port of call, Captain Arma – in consultation with Silversea – made the decision to drop Sharm el Sheikh. I would have liked to have seen the Egyptian resort town, but I’m just thankful it wasn’t one of the “big ports” like Safaga (gateway to Luxor) or Aqaba (gateway to Petra) that were affected. Plus, after two back-to-back 13 hour tours in both of the aforementioned ports of call, I think I’ll need a day at sea to recuperate!
Days at sea are relaxing events on Silversea ships. There’s no rock-climbing wall, nor are there a million diversions with which to occupy your time. There are scheduled activities, of course, but these tend to be either educational (lectures, origami art classes, bridge lessons) or social (coffee chat with a Voice of Silversea, afternoon tea).
That’s not to say a day at sea aboard the Silver Wind is boring. Far from it! If anything, a Silversea day at sea gives you the time you need to rest, recuperate from your journey, and indulge your own interests. For me, that meant getting my hair cut by Charlie in the Spa at Silversea this morning – something I’ve needed to do for about three weeks now but have continually been putting off. The price of a Men’s Wet Cut is a very reasonable $36, and I’ve had great success with getting my hair cut aboard Silversea ships since I made my first trip to a shipboard barber aboard Silver Shadow in Alaska last June.
I also found the time to read my book on my balcony (Tracks by Robyn Davidson) on my balcony until the heat and humidity drove me back into the air conditioned splendour of the ship. The heat here is a funny thing; it’s about 27 degrees Celsius outside. Hot, but by no means scorching. Add to that nearly 100 percent humidity and you’ll find yourself perspiring like a slowly-squeezed sponge in no time at all. The temperature inside my Silver Suite is much more to this cold-weather Canadian’s liking!
In short, no two guests here aboard the Silver Wind spent their sea days alike. But I do find it interesting that, without exception, everyone I have spoken with so far has sailed with Silversea on any number of voyages in the past, and all were attracted to this specific itinerary – as was I. Personally, I am thankful that Silversea offers it. Not all of us want to sail to the Caribbean from Florida for the rest of our natural lives.
Tonight is our first Formal Night here aboard the Silver Wind. I gave my shirts to my butler yesterday evening to be pressed, and they came back looking sharp and crisp just before 6:00 p.m. I also noticed that, at some point in the afternoon, he had shined my shoes, wrapped them, and sealed them with a Silversea-logo sticker. This is one of the things that impressed me so much on my first trip with Silversea back in 2010, and it doesn’t fail to impress me now.
It does interest me a little when I read message boards like those on CruiseCritic. There are those that say Silversea is slipping, that bemoan the “good old days” when caviar flowed like water and the Silver Wind was 19 years younger. It’s true – this staple of the Silversea fleet celebrates her 20th birthday this year, and it’s true, there are a few bumps and bruises here and there. If you look hard enough. As you’d expect of any ship this age.
What I don’t see, however, is the Silversea product slipping. I see it evolving. Sure, I miss the printed Passenger List the line used to hand out. That was pretty special. But I think the new documentation package is a huge improvement over the old one; regardless of how much I loved those leather document pouches, I threw all the contents straight into the garbage after the voyage. The new Voyage Journals give me a book-like keepsake of my entire journey, and I’ve got past ones lined up on my bookshelf at home.
I also, personally, have seen the food improve. The onboard amenities have improved, from the Pratesi linens to the Bang & Olufsen sound systems and iHome iPod docking stations. Waiters in all the dining venues now use an iPad-based system that ensures greater accuracy in orders and enables them to converse with you more now that the need for them to constantly run to the galley has been eliminated. Even in the onboard shops, where I purchased a new hat today, the purchasing system has been entirely switched over to a sales associate holding an iPad.
Just this year, the line launched a new initiative in the Mediterranean: inclusive shore excursions. It’s a program that has been enormously popular since Silversea rolled it out a few months ago, and one that no doubt the line’s top brass are carefully mulling possibly expanding to other destinations.
So when I read reports that Silversea is slipping? Not in the least. Anyone who has any doubts of that need only step onboard any one of the mainstream cruise ships, holding three to five thousand passengers and littered with a myriad of extra-cost items and no butlers, to truly appreciate just how good they’ve got it here onboard the Silver Wind.
Twenty-one years on, Silversea’s still got a pretty darn good idea of how to deliver a luxury cruise experience.
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 we arrive in Salalah, Oman! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.