CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Silversea Cruises Silver Shadow by John Eastern Caribbean October 13, 2006

My wife and I boarded the Silver Shadow October 13th in Miami for an eight day cruise to Barbados, just as Ron (see his review) and his shipmates were heading home. At exactly 3 PM (unless you paid an extra $100 per person or have sailed for 250 days on Silversea) the passengers were herded aboard and offered a glass of Prosecco while waiting to have security pictures taken.

This was our 20th cruise together, but our first on Silversea, and I had high expectations. Our Veranda cabin ("suite" in luxury cruise parlance) on Deck 6 met these expectations. I feel odd waxing eloquent about a bathroom and closet, but hey, they were the best we've had at sea. There was a chilled bottle of champagne waiting, and our stewardess arrived to be sure we had what we wanted in our in-room refrigerator—a good start.

Perhaps the Prosecco for champagne substitution on boarding should have been a clue, but it was downhill from there. Dinner in the Restaurant was memorable only for courses that were mediocre (Caesar salad) or forgotten (coffee and dessert). The best food we had on board was the elegant hors d'oeurvres served in the Bar before dinner (some on bent spoons and forks—very clever). When we were seated at La Terrazza for breakfast the next day, a waiter came up and told us "buffet." We learned from watching more experienced passengers that eggs, other than the scrambled variety on the buffet, can be ordered.

For a "nominal" (by Silversea's standards) fee of $300 a couple, it is possible to have dinner in the small Le Champagne restaurant. This was the only menu where I saw escargot during the cruise. We passed. Two evening meals at La Terrazza (Italian regional cuisine changing every two days, by reservation only) were excellent.

After two or three days we began to hear of other passengers getting ill, and five days into the cruise my wife was up all night vomiting—very likely a Norovirus. This was never acknowledged by the staff, and no attempts (other than asking passengers to disinfect their hands on reboarding) were made to control the outbreak. The CDC site lists two prior episodes on the Silver Shadow, and I am curious to see if this one is reported.

Wine and liquor flow freely, although the bartender trying to serve guests at the sail away looked like the proverbial one-armed paperhanger. There weren't enough deck chairs for everyone on the days at sea, and the bartender wasn't the only server who seemed overwhelmed by the crowd. The team trivia contests were clever (Do you know whose grave is visited most often in the United States?), the library is well stocked, and individual crew members were attentive and pleasant, but Silversea is far from "the Ritz at sea."

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