It may have been my sixth voyage, but the first where I truly saw Alaska
On Monday morning, my luxurious Alaskan adventure aboard Silversea’s Silver Shadowended as we sailed back underneath the Lions Gate Bridge and came to berth at Vancouver’s Canada Place Cruise Terminal, where we had begun our journey 11 days prior.
The full Live Voyage Report:
- Day 1 – Embarking Silver Shadow in Vancouver, British Columbia
- Day 2 – Sailing the Inside Passage
- Day 3 – Ketchikan, Alaska
- Day 4 – Juneau, Alaska
- Day 5 – Skagway, Alaska
- Day 6 – Sitka, Alaska
- Day 7 – Cruising Tracy Arm & the Sawyer Glaciers
- Day 8 – Wrangell, Alaska
- Day 9 – Prince Rupert, British Columbia
- Day 10 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean
- Day 11 – Victoria, British Columbia
As far as endings go, Silversea makes the breakup between fantasy and reality as soft and comfortable as possible. Despite the fact it was the morning of disembarkation – when all services on other ships typically stop – Silversea still allows guests to order room service breakfast to their suite. So, for one last time, my fabulous butler Muhammad brought me my toast, grilled peaches with honey, and Greek yogurt along with coffee and orange juice.
In typical Silversea style, breakfast was also served in La Terrazza on Deck 7 from 7:00a.m. – 9:30a.m.; and in The Restaurant on Deck 4 from 7:30a.m. – 9:30a.m.
Because I live in Vancouver, I was assigned the last disembarkation colour. At 8:30a.m., I left my suite for the last time and sat in The Bar and mingled with a few guests. When my colour was called half an hour later, I leisurely gathered my things and strolled off the ship into the terminal, where Farida from the Shore Excursion desk was waiting to help guests find their luggage.
Five minutes later, I’m out of the terminal and on my way. For the guests docked next to us on their megaship, the process looked a lot more stressful, with huge queues for baggage, customs and transportation.
At the end of the day, I think there’s five things that made my sixth voyage to Alaska so memorable – and that really set Silversea apart from the numerous mainstream lines in the region:
It’s About You – Not Everyone Else
Full disclosure: I love mainstream cruising. Love it. I cut my teeth on it, and I still like big ships. For who they are designed for and what they’re designed to do, they’re great.
But they’re not Silversea. Silver Shadow carries, at a maximum, 382 guests. There are also 302 crewmembers onboard, which is a superb ratio. At 610 feet in length and 28,258 GRT, that makes her one of the most spacious ships afloat.
On mainstream lines, it’s about the non-stop shows and the onboard art auctions and getting your photograph taken constantly by the shipboard photographers, who occasionally have to suffer through the injustice of gangway duty dressed as a sperm whale. Or a lumberjack. Or a certain former Alaskan governor who looks suspiciously like Tina Fey. Either way, the things start to outrival the destination.
I’ve sailed with Silversea many times now, but it wasn’t until last week that I truly realized just how fabulous they really are. Instead of bogging the destination down in a series of numbing champagne art auctions and sailaway spectaculars, Silversea’s onboard product enhancedAlaska’s beauty.
On Silversea, it’s all about you – not everyone else. Service is personalized in a way that other lines promise, but simply cannot deliver for two or three thousand guests. It’s unobtrusive and friendly, exacting but never stuffy. It’s personal.
When you’re taking photographs out the window while eating lunch, and you turn around, and your Alaskan Amber beer has been mysteriously re-filled for you – that’s not just good service. That’s amazing.
Longer and More Varied Itineraries
The standard Alaska run is typically seven days in length and calls on Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. But even on Silver Shadow’s own weeklong itineraries between Vancouver and Seward – which make up the bulk of her season – Sitka is included along with Hubbard Glacier.
It’s Silversea’s longer itineraries, however, that really showcase both Alaska and the luxe style of cruising the line has been known for since its inception in 1994. Next year, the line is offering a fantastic 10-day sailing (Voyage 3509) from San Francisco to Vancouver; an 11-night sailing in July departing roundtrip Vancouver (Voyage 3518); followed immediately by another 10-night sailing