Join us as we set sail for Alaska with Silversea!
Four years ago this month, I stood on the pier at Vancouver’s Canada Place and watched as guests disembarked Silversea’s Silver Shadow.I’d be stepping onboard – however briefly – for a ship tour. I still worked in animation at the time, and I remember having to awkwardly change into my suit in my car before driving down to the pier. Ship tours aren’t the sort of things you get a few hours off for in the middle of the day, and visiting the doctor in a jacket and tie probably would have set off a few alarm bells.
One thing that has always stuck with me about that tour is when the first guests came onboard: one of them burst into tears when she saw the butlers standing at the gangway. She addressed them by name. Other guests came up and gave crew members big hugs, and I remember asking the receptionist if this was some kind of group cruise reunion. “No,” she replied. “They’re our guests.”
Four years later, I get to step onboard again – and stay onboard for 11 wonderful days. Having sailed several times with Silversea since that first tour, I now understand the reaction of those guests: I am always thrilled to see crew members that I have come to know well, and none are more personable (so it seems) than those on Silversea.
Although cruise ships began to use the Port of Seattle back in 1999, Vancouver has been the de-facto home of Alaskan cruising for generations. Even at the turn of the last century, Vancouver was a hub for steamships headed to Alaska, California, and the Orient, with Canadian Pacific maintaining a huge coastal and transpacific fleet that homeported here.
The advent of the jet-age changed the way people travel, and what were originally designed as transportation networks gradually became focused on tourism in Alaska and British Columbia. At one time, cruise ships in Vancouver were so plentiful that all of the berths at Canada Place and nearby Ballantyne Pierwere in active use. The Great Recession and the Alaskan Head Tax initiative in 2006 absolutely clobbered the Alaskan cruise market for a few years, but it has since bounced back, with Port Metro Vancouver enjoying one of its best years in a long time in 2014.
While many lines split their fleet between Seattle and Vancouver, luxury lines like Silversea all but universally call Vancouver home. I love sailing from Seattle – it’s a gorgeous city with wonderful people – but nothing compares to sailing past Stanley Park, under the emerald hues of the Lions Gate Bridge, and out into the scenic Inside Passage.
My voyage onboard the elegant Silver Shadow is a unique one: it’s one of only three Alaskan voyages this year that depart roundtrip from Vancouver, and one of only three that are longer than a week. Silversea’s typical Alaskan programme – which has been hugely successful, if overall bookings are any indication – is mainly comprised of seven-day sailings between Vancouver and Seward.
In addition to the mainstay ports of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, this itinerary also visits several ports of call that just don’t make it on to many Alaskan sailings. Sitka, Wrangell, Prince Rupertand Victoriaare some of the added bonuses on this Silversea voyage. Despite the fact this is my sixth voyage to Alaska, I’ve never been to Sitka or Prince Rupert before, and am very much looking forward to seeing what they have to offer Silversea’s guests.
The full itinerary, both here and onboard:
|Thursday, June 19, 2014||Vancouver, British Columbia||Embark Silver Shadow||18:00|
|Friday, June 20||Cruising the Inside Passage|
|Saturday, June 21||Ketchikan, Alaska||08:00||14:00|
|Sunday, June 22||Juneau, Alaska||09:30||23:00|
|Monday, June 23||Skagway, Alaska||08:00|