Embarking on our Silversea journey through Southeast Asia
This morning, I embarked Silversea’s elegant Silver Shadow at her berth at the Singapore Cruise Terminal in Singapore. Built in 2001, she carries just 382 guests and a crew complement of 302, for a passenger-to-crew ratio of nearly 1-to-1. And over the next 12 days, Silver Shadow will take me – and by digital extension, you – on a luxury voyage through Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.
Our full journey:
|October 31, 2016||Singapore||Embark||1800|
|November 1||Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia||0800||1900|
|November 2||Penang, Georgetown, Malaysia||0800||1800|
|November 3||Phuket, Thailand||0800||1400|
|November 4||At Sea|
|November 5||Yangon, Myanmar||0600||Overnight|
|November 6||Yangon, Myanmar||Overnight||Overnight|
|November 7||Yangon, Myanmar||Overnight||1900|
|November 8||At Sea|
|November 9||At Sea|
|November 10||Langkawi, Malaysia||0800||1500|
|November 11||Malacca, Malaysia||1300||1900|
|November 12||Singapore||0700||Onward Journey Home|
Silversea’s Silver Shadow is a staunch favorite of many of the line’s past guests, including myself, who value her spacious interior spaces, soothing décor, and elegantly-designed suites. She may not have all the latest bells-and-whistles that the line’s forthcoming Silver Muse will have, but she and her sister Silver Whisper have more than earned their keep in the Silversea fleet. Unlike a lot of current luxury ships, Silver Shadow and her sister weren’t designed to be trendy; they were meant to be timeless.
For her part, Silver Shadow spends her winters here in Southeast Asia, running a diverse series of voyages that primarily operate out of Singapore, Hong Kong or Tokyo. In the summer, she makes her way over to Alaska, where we caught up with her two years ago on a wonderful sailing out of Vancouver, British Columbia.
I have a special place in my heart for Silver Shadow. Long before I ever had sailed with the line, I had the opportunity to tour the ship during one of her port calls in Vancouver and immediately fell in love with her. This is a ship that does a great job of offering some big-ship amenities, like a two-story show lounge and a soaring six-story atrium (really a central stair tower), but with the little luxuries you’d expect from a line like Silversea. And that means no crowding, intimate public rooms, and excellent service.
I arrived in Singapore on Sunday morning after connecting through San Francisco and boarding United Airlines’ Flight 1 direct to Singapore’s Changi Airport. The third-longest nonstop scheduled flight in the world, it has a westbound flying time of 17 hours and 20 minutes. It is also the longest flight in the world operated by a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
So what is it like to be on a plane for 17 hours? To be honest, not all that bad – even in Economy. United surprised me by offering better-than-expected food, friendly service from the flight attendants, and comfortable seating. To pass the time, I read, watched movies, and did my best to sleep. Before I knew it, we were landing in Singapore, and I was soon on my way to the Shangri-La Singapore for my overnight stay.
I’m a huge fan of Shangri-La’s elegantly-designed hotels. The service is always friendly and welcoming, and the properties grand in both design and appearance. The location can’t be beat either: the hotel is just a few minutes walk from the Orchard Road shopping district.
Here’s what I’ve learned about Singapore: I love it. But it’s expensive, and the whole city is virtually a giant shopping mall. There are malls on either side of the street, and malls that run for five stories under the roads separating those malls. Every retailer is high-end, and nearly everything is expensive. I stopped at a place for lunch where a beer (from Japan) and a bottle of water from Italy literally ran me S$30. Add in food, and lunch cost an amazing $73. One Singaporean dollar is roughly equivalent to one of my Canadian dollars. At home, what I ordered would cost maybe, at best, $30.
Japanese imports also seem to be prized: one grocery store offered up a pound of grapes flown in from Hokkaido for $89. The winner at the local grocery store? A bag of lemons for $230. It makes the offerings at the ubiquitous Gucci, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana stores look almost like a value.
Now, this is just one side of Singapore. We’ll explore the city more in-depth on our return on November 12.
A Grand Experience
In true Silversea fashion, embarkation today was a snap. Guests were shuttled from the Shangri-La Singapore in three separate transfers in order to prevent crowding on the coaches and at the pier. Once at the Singapore Cruise Terminal, passports were checked and taken for the voyage, the usual onboard account formalities were completed, and I was headed for my suite.
On this voyage, I’m particularly fortunate to be occupying one of Silver Shadow’s high-end Grand Suites. Second in line only to the pull-out-all-the-stops Owner’s Suite, the three Grand Suites aboard Silver Shadow are a real tour-de-force of luxurious living.
Measuring between 941 and 1,090 square feet, Grand Suites are offered either as a standalone one-bedroom suite, or are bookable with an adjacent Veranda Suite that shares a common vestibule entrance just off the main passenger corridor. It’s a great option for extended families or friends travelling together, and increases the overall size of the suite to 1,435 square feet at the high end.
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