Day 9 – Sea Day On Silver Shadow & Reflections On Shore Excursions

Sunrise On Silver Shadow en route to Singapore. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Sunrise On Silver Shadow en route to Singapore this morning. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

At 6:30 this morning, I found a comfortable seat in the Panorama Lounge, where I read the morning paper and sipped on a cappuccino. I enjoy this expansive and attractive room, situated aft on deck 8. Through two glass doors, the lounge has easy access to the open deck, which has comfortable seating for those who want to enjoy where we’ve been more than where we’re going.

From where I was seated inside the Panorama Lounge, I could see through the floor-to-ceiling windows that we were going to have a beautiful sunrise, and so I went scurrying back to my suite to grab my camera. The photo that I managed to snap hardly does justice to the morning. Cameras can’t capture the smell of the sea air, the soothing sound of the ocean as the propeller churns up a frothy wake, the light ocean breeze, the texture of the morning sunlight — the holistic experience of being on a beautiful ship sailing between Jakarta and Singapore.

The sunrise sets the tone for one of my favorite days: the sea day. On sea days, there are no tours ashore, no time schedules to keep to make sure you’re off the ship and on the motorcoach on time. “I spent an hour today doing one of my favorite things,” my new acquaintance Haig told me over dinner tonight. “Sat on my balcony and read a book.” His wife Shaké nodded in affirmation. On sea days, you simply enjoy the ship.

Sea days are not devoid of activity. Take a leisurely breakfast, read a book, take a French language class with the international hostess, attend an enrichment lecture (there were three today) or a fitness seminar, play water volleyball (8 people did), compete in a putting competition, enjoy bridge or a bridge tour, have lunch by the pool, watch a movie in your suite (with popcorn), learn to ballroom dance, plan a cocktail party (I’m planning one for tomorrow night in my suite).

After noon, we crossed the equator © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Shortly after noon, we would cross the equator © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

I participated in a few activities but mostly spent a relaxed morning on Silver Shadow, talking with others. Many of those who I have met on this voyage — and on previous Silversea voyages — are wonderful people, successful in their businesses and in their lives. Some have been married 30, 40, 50, 60 years, and I envy just how grounded they are. They have big families, kids and grandkids, and stories to tell. The people I have met come from all over the world — North Americans, Europeans, Brits and Asians. For the most part, they are a positive bunch, ever-optimisic and endlessly curious about new places and world events. Perhaps it is by being positive that they made their successes in life, and now they choose to reap the rewards of their labors by exploring the world on Silversea.

Shortly after noon, Silver Shadow would cross the equator. In anticipation, we gathered around the pool deck as our cruise director Don and the Artists of Silversea (the entertainers) prepared to perform a ceremony that would result in three guests kissing a fish, getting pasta and marinara sauce dumped on them and other acts that took courage and good humor on the participants’ parts. Thankfully each had free laundry services.

For lunch, we enjoyed a buffet with live cooking stations on the pool deck. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
For lunch, we enjoyed a poolside buffet with active cooking stations. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
A crossing the equator ceremony on Silver Shadow. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
A crossing the equator ceremony on Silver Shadow. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

Tomorrow morning we arrive in Singapore, where a variety of tours are offered. With that in mind, I thought this might be a good time to talk about how Silversea handles shore excursions.

Silversea Shore Excursions

Silversea's Shore Concierge provides a number of services, including local hosts who board in ports to distribute maps and information in addition to what Silversea offers. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Silversea’s Shore Concierge provides a number of services, including local hosts who board in ports to distribute maps and information for independent travelers or for those who want information and recommendations from the local perspective. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

On each voyage, Silversea offers a broad selection of shore excursions ranging from city highlight tours to overland journeys where guests go “off ship” for a night or two. Guests can participate in group tours on motorcoaches and in minivans for reasonable prices, or Silversea can arrange private cars, guides and drivers for those who prefer to tour independently or with friends and family.

All of this can be arranged either before leaving home at silversea.com or, once on the ship, at the Shore Concierge desk (or from the comfort of your suite — simply tick your tour choices and your butler will take care of booking the shore excursions for you).

Silver Shadow arrives in Jakarta. Note the emergency contact number at the bottom of the notice. The numbers for ship agents are included in your key card wallet, which you should keep handy in case you become lost, something I've not known to happen as Silversea sends a ship escort with each shore excursion to account for guests. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Silver Shadow arrives in Jakarta. Note the emergency contact number at the bottom of the notice. The numbers for ship agents for the entire voyage are included in your key card wallet, which Silversea reception staff gives to you upon embarkation and which you should keep handy in case you become lost ashore, something I’ve not known to happen in my more than two decades of travel — either to me or to a guest. As a precaution, Silversea sends a ship escort along with each shore excursion to account for guests. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

As a safety measure, guests receive contact information for port agents in each destination that Silversea ships call on. You’ll find the contact information in your key card wallet as well as on the placard at the gangway that you will see when disembarking for the day. Before going ashore, I always snap a photo of the placard so that I will have the all-aboard time and the phone number handy just in case. There is always a Silversea escort on each bus or minivan to assist and account for passengers.

In many of the destinations that Silversea visits, the company provides complimentary shuttle services between city centers and its ships. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
In many of the destinations, Silversea provides complimentary shuttle services between city centers and its ships. Some cruise lines may charge as much as $15 per person each way for shuttle bus service. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

Another option for guests who want to go ashore independently is to use Silversea’s complimentary shuttle bus services between ships and city centers in many of the destinations that Silversea visits. I’ve seen other cruise lines charge as much as $15 per person, each way for shuttle services. Additionally, local tourism authorities often are invited on Silversea ships in ports to assist with maps, planning and recommendations from the local perspective.

In underdeveloped countries such as Indonesia, Silversea works with local ground operators to provide a warm and orderly welcome in industrial ports that aren't so pretty. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Silversea works with local ground operators to provide a warm and orderly welcome, especially in industrial ports such as this one in Jakarta that aren’t always so attractive. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

Have your camera ready when disembarking. In many ports, Silversea guests are welcomed with a bit of fanfare. In Jakarta, for example, costumed dancers welcomed us. These special welcomes are great opportunities for photographs or video.

For my shore excursion last week, Silversea provided a complimentary backpack, stocked with water, a Silversea cap, Evian spray and other items. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
For my shore excursion last week, Silversea provided a complimentary backpack, stocked with water, a Silversea cap, Evian spray and other items. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

Nearly always, Silversea includes admission to attractions and museums in the shore excursion fare. Many guests tip their guides, from a couple of dollars to $5 or more, but the tips and items you may purchase are the only additional expenses you’ll have on Silversea shore excursions. Bottled water, and often snacks and sometimes lunches, are also included in the cost of the shore excursion.

Silversea even provides us with ceremonial sarongs to wear in reverence during our day at Borobudur, one of the world's most important Buddhist temples. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
At Borobudur, Silversea provided us with ceremonial sarongs to wear in reverence when visiting one of the world’s most important Buddhist temples. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Silversea doesn't crowd guests on motor coaches. Our bus could seat 45, but when all were boarded, there were only 23 of us. Motor coaches are air-conditioned and drinking water is provided (along with soft drinks today on our tour). © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Silversea doesn’t crowd guests on motorcoaches. Ours could seat 45, but when all were boarded, I counted only 23 of us. Motorcoaches are air-conditioned, and water is provided (along with soft drinks today on our tour). © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

On group tours, Silversea deliberately keeps passenger counts low on motorcoaches and minivans for guest comfort considerations. In Jakarta, for example, I counted seats for 45, but there were only 23 of us. Silversea sent three busses on the same tour in Jakarta and could have crammed us all in two busses, still with room to spare, but the luxury line believes guest comfort is paramount.

On a shore excursion to Borobudur, Silversea arranged for a police escort to offer a trip that otherwise might not have been possible because of heavy traffic. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
On a shore excursion to Borobudur last week, Silversea arranged for a police escort to offer a trip that otherwise might not have been possible because of time constraints and heavy traffic. The tour spanned more than 11 hours with the police escort. Without it, the excursion would have taken hours longer. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

Working with its ground operators, Silversea has thought through all aspects of its shore excursions. As I noted in The Buddha & Me, 30 Years Later In Borobudur, Silversea arranged for police escorts to optimize the time required to get to Borobudur and back.

On those rare occasions when things fail to go as planned, Silversea has even planned for the (figurative) bumps along the road. When our minivan in Bali experienced a flat tire, for example, a support vehicle that had been following us changed the tire and had us going again in 15 minutes.

In Bali, our bus had a flat tire. It was changed within 15 minutes while we toured a wood-carving shop. Silversea had contracted an additional support vehicle to follow our bus just in case it was needed for incidents such as this one. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
In Bali, our bus had a flat tire. It was changed within 15 minutes while we toured a wood-carving shop. Silversea plans for such mishaps and had contracted an additional support vehicle to follow our bus just in case support was needed for incidents such as this one. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

When choosing Silversea’s shore excursions, you can rest assured that you will be well looked after while touring comfortably with specially selected guides who add to your experiences ashore.

Silver Shadow, Bali To Singapore

Day 1Boarding Silver Shadow In Bali
Day 2Riding Elephants In Bali
Day 3Lombok, Indonesia
Day 4Probollingo, Indonesia
Day 5Surabaya, Indonesia
Day 6Borobudur, Indonesia
Day 7Semarang, Indonesia
Day 8Jakarta, Indonesia
Day 9Sea Day
Day 10Singapore
Day 11Disembarking In Singapore
Top Ten Highlights Of My Cruise