Day 2 – Inside Passage

Sailing the Inside Passage aboard Silver Shadow

Sailing the gorgeous Inside Passage off the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada aboard Silversea's elegant Silver Shadow. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Sailing the gorgeous Inside Passage off the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Shadow. This is the view from my suite balcony at 7:15a.m. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

Silversea’s Silver Shadow was making an easy 16 knots when I awoke this morning, hugging the coast of Vancouver Island as we made our way up towards Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) and on to Alaska.

People often ask me why they should bother with a balcony stateroom or suite in Alaska. The answer is simple: the views. The scene I woke up to just outside the balcony doors of my Veranda Suite was nothing short of fantastic. You won’t be doing much sun-tanning on the balcony, but you will be spending plenty of time there admiring the scenery.

Balconies are worth every penny when it comes to sailing the Inside Passage. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Balconies are worth every penny when it comes to sailing the Inside Passage. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Balconies along the port side of Silversea's Silver Shadow. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Balconies along the port side of Silversea’s Silver Shadow. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I’ve sailed to Alaska several times now, and I’ve cruised with Silversea on a number of different voyages. I’m also a creature of habit, so I tend to find a handful of things I like to do both onboard and ashore and stick with them. Not so on this voyage: I’m actively seeking out things I’ve never done before.

One thing I have done before, and continue to love: Silversea's room service breakfast. I got hooked on it onboard Silver Explorer and Silver Discoverer, and haven't looked back since. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
One thing I have done before, and continue to love: Silversea’s room service breakfast. I got hooked on it onboard Silver Explorer and Silver Discoverer, and haven’t looked back since. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

In keeping with that theme, I made an appointment yesterday at the Spa at Silversea to have my hair cut this morning at 9:00 a.m. I’ve never had my hair cut before on any cruise, but I’ve always been curious about it. And, since my hair styling was madly out of control, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new.

No longer exclusively a female domain, spas onboard cruise ships offer dedicated treatments for men in addition to a wide array of massages and other exotic rituals. And, at $45, the Men’s Cleanse, Cut and Style Dry option is only about five dollars more than I’d pay to have my hair cut at home. Sorry, Adam – you can cut my hair next month. I promise!

The Spa at Silversea aboard Silver Shadow offers nearly every conceivable treatment. It's located on Deck 10 forward. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Spa at Silversea aboard Silver Shadow offers nearly every conceivable treatment. It’s located on Deck 10 forward. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Monika from Poland was my stylist for the hour it took to cut my hair. She asked how I’d like my hair cut and checked frequently to ensure that the style was coming out right, and that I was happy with the length. The room was bright and pleasant and looked out onto the corridor running along Deck 10 from the forward stairwell to the Observation Lounge. Roughly four people – if I am not mistaken – could have their hair cut at the same time on a busy day. I am sure this afternoon will be booked solid, as tonight is Formal Night here onboard the Silver Shadow.

If you’re thirsty, you can enjoy a glass of water or some tea or coffee while you have your hair done. Monika brought me a glass of water, and forty minutes of clipping and pleasant conversation later, and I was done; feeling – and looking – much better.

Clip, Clip! I didn't cut my own hair, but I was very pleased with my first-ever shipboard haircut! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Clip, Clip! I didn’t cut my own hair, but I was very pleased with my first-ever shipboard haircut! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Would I get my hair cut again on a ship? Definitely. In fact, I think this was easier than trying to cram in an appointment at home before my cruise when the rush is on to pack and get organized. I also appreciated that there was no “hard sell” for additional products like you sometimes get at shipboard spas. The entire experience was very pleasant.

Before leaving the Spa, I decided to sign up for another brand-new experience later on in the cruise – but you’ll have to wait a few days to find out what that is! I am assured it’s “cool” for men to get it, so we shall see.

Operated by Steiner Leisure, the Spa at Silversea uses Elemis products. I've signed up for another new Spa experience later on in the cruise... Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Operated by Steiner Leisure, the Spa at Silversea uses Elemis products. I’ve signed up for another new Spa experience later on in the cruise… Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Worth mentioning is the fabulous mix of guests onboard the Silver Shadow this week, with a large number of guests hailing from Australia and Canada. Many guests, of course, have come from the United States, and there is also a smattering of guests from Europe and further afar.

I am also pleased to see a healthy number of families with kids ranging from babies to teenagers. I know it’s not typical luxury-line doctrine, but I think a Silversea cruise would be a fabulous experience to give your kids. Obviously it’s not suitable for every family, but the kids onboard have been nothing but pleasant and well-behaved, and seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. There are even dedicated kids programs onboard for them, taking place three separate times today. It’s not as elaborate as something on, say, Carnival or Disney, but I think it’s a great effort to try to cater to the broad age demographic that this sailing has attracted.

With chilly temperatures but some pleasant sunny breaks this morning, guests made use of Silver Shadow's two hot tubs. The pool remains under-utilized - for now! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
With chilly temperatures but some pleasant sunny breaks this morning, guests made use of Silver Shadow’s two hot tubs. The pool remains under-utilized – for now! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The only thing I am disappointed in are the activities scheduled for the day. At first glance, it looks like the program for the day is chocked wall-to-wall with activities. But once you remove the jewelry seminars, port shopping talks, and detox-for-weight-loss sessions, not much is left aside from tea and trivia – and those both take place within 40 minutes of each other.

Now, I don’t need to be entertained. Far from it. I would also hazard a guess that most other Silversea guests don’t suffer from boredom, either, and are quite happy reading or socializing. But the port, diamond and artwork seminars seem to be super-heavy today compared to other voyages I’ve taken with the line. It’s something I’d expect on a mainstream ship, but not necessarily on Silversea.

Silver Shadow's Pool Deck and upper jogging deck, shown during a rare sunny break as we approach the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Shadow’s Pool Deck and upper jogging deck, shown during a rare sunny break as we approach the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Instead of detoxing for weight loss, I went the other direction and headed to the Pool Grill for lunch. We’d finally sailed past the northern tip of Vancouver Island by this point, and the Silver Shadow began to move around in earnest with the swells coming in off the unsheltered expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Around 1:30 p.m., we passed Holland America’s Zuiderdam on our starboard side as she entered the Inside Passage on her way back to Vancouver.

The weather in Alaska changes constantly, giving way to some beautiful photographic opportunities. Shown is the aft portion of Deck 8, looking forward and to the port side. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The weather in Alaska changes constantly, giving way to some beautiful photographic opportunities. Shown is the aft portion of Deck 8, looking forward and to the port side. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Zuiderdam is one of my favorite mainstream ships, and I’ve enjoyed two separate trips to Alaska on her. But it really got me thinking about some of the differences between mainstream and luxury cruising – particularly as I was enjoying an Alaskan Amber ale with my Grilled Chicken Burger.

This morning, I’ve had a cappuccino, a cup of English Breakfast tea, and the aforementioned beer. On Silversea, those items come with no additional cost. On mainstream lines, I’d be out nearly $15. It’s not a lot of cash –but multiply it by 11 mornings, and you have $165. Then add in some wine with dinner, a few soft drinks or cups of coffee or the odd martini here and there – and the onboard account on a mainstream ship can start to catch up with the actual ticket price of a luxury one.

Lunch Is Served! My Grilled Chicken Burger, served up with a pint of Alaskan Amber Ale. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Lunch Is Served! My Grilled Chicken Burger, served up with a pint of Alaskan Amber Ale. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Cozy wool blankets ensure that you can enjoy the fresh air out on deck and still stay warm! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Cozy wool blankets ensure that you can enjoy the fresh air out on deck and still stay warm! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

As for the Pool Grill: I’d forgotten how much I missed it. Rather than just having a standard cheeseburger on offer, Silversea’s Pool Grill features numerous entrees and even a choice of several types of hot dog. If you’re hungry, it’s tough to go wrong with the “Transatlantic Double Dog.” Even with temperatures hovering around the 10°C mark, sitting on the pool deck was quite pleasant if you had a coat on. Blue wool blankets were also placed on each chair, and they’ll keep you nice and toasty. Heaters mounted to the steel bulkheads of the forward section were also turned on for added warmth. All in all, Silversea made being up on deck – even in chilly conditions – extremely pleasant.

This afternoon, I spent a few rather enjoyable hours in the Observation Lounge on Deck 10... Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
This afternoon, I spent a few rather enjoyable hours in the Observation Lounge on Deck 10… Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
...enjoying a cup of tea and catching up on my ocean liner history! The Observation Lounge includes a very well-stocked library of titles on numerous subjects. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
…enjoying a cup of tea and catching up on my ocean liner history! The Observation Lounge includes a very well-stocked library of titles on numerous subjects. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Tonight is Formal Night here onboard the Silver Shadow. I never really write a lot about formal nights, for two simple reasons: one, they tend to run late, and I tend to be up late as it is writing and posting these reports. Two: I hate bringing my camera along. My main goal is always to write about the onboard experience, but I feel that I’d be impacting the experience of my fellow guests if I was to wander around with a huge DSLR camera all evening.

What I can tell you is this: evenings are truly where Silversea excels. They’re certainly my favorite part of the day. Once the clock strikes five, guests retreat to their suites to put on their finest. That doesn’t mean ritzy-glitzy clothes from high-end designers; the dress code for Formal Nights like tonight recommends “Cocktail dresses or dress pantsuits” for ladies, and “Tuxedoes, dinner jackets or dark suites and tie” for men. And since the entire vessel dresses up, this becomes an event, not a chore.

In-suite Canapes, served shortly after 4pm. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
In-suite Canapes, served shortly after 4pm. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Sailing into inclement weather as we approach the dinner hour and cross the Pacific Ocean between Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Sailing into inclement weather as we approach the dinner hour and cross the Pacific Ocean between Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Then, most guests amble down to The Bar on Deck 5 to listen to some live music and to enjoy pre-dinner cocktails. Tonight, Captain Alessandro Zanello will give his Welcome Aboard Toast (with more cocktails) in the Athenian Lounge on Deck 6. Conveniently, this can be accessed right from two doors that flank the port and starboard sides of The Bar.

After that, most guests will head to The Restaurant for the Captain’s Welcome aboard Dinner. Tonight’s menu:

Silver Shadow

En-route to Ketchikan | Friday, 20 May 2014

Our Chef’s Selections for Tonight

APPETIZERS

King Crab Timbale

Egg • Shallots • Chives • Sour Cream • Keta Caviar

Grilled Foie Gras

Caramelised Forest Fruit • Port Wine Reduction • Pain d’epice

Assiette of Artichokes

Grilled • Marinated • Stuffed • Gazpacho

 

SOUP, SALAD & PASTA BAR

Oxtail Consommé

Vegetable Cubes • Solferino Sherry

Baby Leaf Salad

15-year old Balsamic • Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil Vinaigrette

Penne alla San Remese

Penne • Lobster Chunks • Seafood Sauce

 

SORBET

Pink Champagne

Orange Crisp

MAIN COURSES

Grilled ‘Maine’ Lobster

Saffron Risotto Lobster Jus

Fresh Alaskan Rock Fish

Champagne and Caviar Cream • Celeriac and New Potato Mash

Tournedos Rossini

Brioche Crouton • Pan-fried Foie Gras • Perigord Truffle Jus

Chef’s Cut

Ask Your Waiter for Today’s Chef Special • Choice of Side Offerings

Singapore Fried Noodles

Spiced Oriental Vegetables • Roasted Sesame Seeds

What’s particularly cool about this menu – and last night’s menu, for that matter – is that there are several Regional Fare selections that are based around locally-sourced produce loaded on to the vessel at different ports of call on our itinerary. Only the Alaskan Rock Fish is regional tonight, but last night’s menu listed no less than four regionally-sourced options. I had the Rock Fish, and it was superb; plenty of flavour, but without a heavy “fishy” taste to it. The Lobster, as you might imagine, seemed to be the dish of choice this evening.

The Senior Officers aboard Silversea's Silver Shadow were introduced tonight at 7:00pm in the Athenian Lounge on Deck 6. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Senior Officers aboard Silversea’s Silver Shadow were introduced tonight at 7:00pm in the Athenian Lounge on Deck 6. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

As we end our first day onboard Silver Shadow’s Voyage 3417, I realize that I’ve imagined the Silver Shadow incorrectly for four years. I had used to think of her as a scaled-down Silver Spirit, but that’s not accurate. In truth, she’s a stretch version of the Silver Cloud and her sister, Silver Wind.

Silver Shadow may have more bells-and-whistles than her pioneering fleetmates, but she has the same intimate onboard atmosphere, wrapped up in a slightly larger and more elaborate package. It’s an atmosphere that, like the rest of the Silversea fleet, lulls you into its embrace, no matter where you are in the world.

Until tomorrow...! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Until tomorrow…! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report onboard Silversea’s luxurious Silver Shadow continues tomorrow as we come ashore in our very first port of call in Alaska: Ketchikan! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

Follow along with our entire journey!

Silver Shadow, Alaska

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
Thursday, June 19, 2014Vancouver, British ColumbiaEmbark Silver Shadow18:00
Friday, June 20Cruising the Inside Passage
Saturday, June 21Ketchikan, Alaska08:0014:00
Sunday, June 22Juneau, Alaska09:3023:00
Monday, June 23Skagway, Alaska08:0017:00
Tuesday, June 24Sitka, Alaska09:0018:00
Wednesday, June 25Cruising Tracy Arm / Sawyer Glacier
Thursday, June 26Wrangell, Alaska07:0016:00
Friday, June 27Prince Rupert, British Columbia08:0017:00
Saturday, June 28At Sea
Sunday, June 29Victoria, British Columbia08:0023:59
Monday, June 30Vancouver, British Columbia07:00Disembark
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2 Comments

  • I’d love to get a better idea of what the formal night looks like. That was actually one of my biggest fears in going on a luxury cruise.

    Reply
    • Lots of tuxedos and fancy dresses – but nothing stuffy or uncomfortable. I wore a dark suit and tie every night and never felt out of place. The biggest misconception about formal night on a luxury ship is that people sometimes have the mistaken impression that it will be very rigid and not at all fun. The exact opposite is true; everyone dresses up, sure, but everyone has a spectacular time. Though you do have to budget an hour or so of your late afternoon to get ready…!

      Reply

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