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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Day 1||Boarding Silver Shadow In Bali|
|Day 2||Riding Elephants In Bali|
|Day 3||Lombok, Indonesia|
|Day 4||Probollingo, Indonesia|
|Day 5||Surabaya, Indonesia|
|Day 6||Borobudur, Indonesia|
|Day 7||Semarang, Indonesia|
|Day 8||Jakarta, Indonesia|
|Day 9||Sea Day|
|Day 11||Disembarking In Singapore|