My wife and I sailed on the Silver Shadow December 3-12 from Fort Lauderdale to Bridgetown, Barbados. We are both in our early 50s and are experienced world travelers. We have cruised on many different lines, all in the luxury class.
This was our first cruise with Silversea. Our overall impression was that the Silver Shadow is the ultimate in sophistication -- a cruise ship for every other luxury vessel to try to equal.
Negative aspects and experiences: There were none.
We arrived in Miami a day before departure, because of personal experience with consistent luggage problems at the Miami airport. Warning: If you are going through Miami and you need your luggage to be with you, always arrive a day early.
Boarding Embarkation went perfectly. We arrived half way through the embarkation hours and walked straight onto the ship after they took our passports and took a quick photo of us. Total embarkation time was less than two minutes -- there was no waiting, delays or lines. We came by early and dropped off our luggage, then went to a fabulous Italian restaurant and had a leisurely lunch before arriving for boarding. When we stepped onto the ship, the staff gave us each a glass of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut Champagne, and for nine days it never stopped flowing.
Disembarkation was also fast and efficient. We had a leisurely breakfast in the Terrace Cafe as we did every day. We had settled our accounts and picked up our passports the day before disembarkation, and were off the ship in less than one minute.
Positive aspects The Silver Shadow provided an expert to give a detailed talk about every port we visited, early in the morning as we were arriving. Our expert had been an Associated Press reporter all over the world for 30 years and then a CIA analyst for another 20 years. He was very knowledgeable about each port and knew the complete history of each island.
The Silver Shadow also provided a walking map of the dock area and a map of the town at every stop, as well as a local tourist guide at each port who was at the information desk every morning. Every port was in the middle of the largest town on each island, so we did not need ground transportation to see the local sights.
Food The food was a gourmand’s feast. We have not had better food on any other ship. My wife and I are professional food and wine people; we both trained at a professional chef’s college, as did others in our group. Normally we are not too impressed with food anywhere, but that changed with the Silver Shadow. It was incredible. The sauces were rich and the flavors were intense. Some dishes were a little low sodium but the seasonings were powerful. (Many people get salt confused with flavor and seasoning.)
All food service was first-class and unobtrusive. Water, bread, wine, butter and utensils all appeared and disappeared like magic. There were never any interruptions from when our orders were taken until the dessert menu was presented.
At breakfast in the Terrace Cafe, the wait staff always offered to prepare any special breakfast we wanted, like eggs Benedict, French toast or any kind of omelet. Many mornings we were offered any of these special meals two, three or even four times. Most mornings we just enjoyed cruising through the cafe's bountiful breakfast buffet. It was fabulous!
The service personnel were excellent. The maitre d's in The Restaurant were outstanding. There were eight of us, and every night we invited another couple as our guests -- so every night we were a party of 10. We never had any problems with seating or service. Our wine steward was especially good. She memorized what every person liked and brought us appropriate selections at every meal.
We really liked not being nickeled-and-dimed to death for every drink. My wife and I figured that our bar bill for the nine days would have run to several thousand dollars on any other ship.
The ship had a special dining room called Le Champagne, where one could pay an extra $150 for world class wines specially selected by the ship’s master sommelier with each course. You could drink as much of these very expensive wines as you wanted. Our four friends who dined in Le Champagne claimed that they drank more than $4,000 worth of wine at each dinner. That would be more than $1,000 worth of wine for each person, for a surcharge of only $150 -- not a bad deal. Next time, we will be in Le Champagne for several meals ourselves.
Staterooms Our stateroom was the best we have seen on any vessel; we had the smallest cabin on the ship, but it was huge. The bathroom was easily large enough for two people. It had two sinks and plenty of shelving space for our toiletries. There was a nice-sized shower and a bathtub. The large walk-in closet had a safe along with drawers, hanging racks and a tie rack sufficient for our four suitcases of clothes. The bed was excellent. Set up for a meal or wine-tasting was excellent. There was plenty of room for everything.
The Silver Shadow, much larger than many other luxury ships, was very stable and barely rocked. The stabilizers worked great and there was never any lateral rocking. The ship did move up and down like every ship does.
Some other reviewers have mentioned that there was a smell of raw sewage at varying times and places. We experienced none of this.
Overall The Silver Shadow is truly a “best of class” ship. The ship was huge for the number of passengers. We never saw a crowd anywhere at any time. The entire staff is among the best, from all over the world. I cannot speak of how the Silver Shadow has been in the past, but as of December 2006, our impression is that it is the ultimate in sophistication.