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The 388-passenger, all-suite Silver Shadow, launched in 2000, is a middle child of the Silversea fleet: larger than Silver Wind and Silver Cloud, but not as large as Silver Spirit. The feeling onboard is much like a fine English country house that has been a favorite of the affluent for decades: well lived in and exceptionally comfortable.
Shadow’s emphasis is on elegant relaxation: chairs made to sit in, tables at the right height, beds that make you sigh when you lie down. Though the ship is unquestionably sophisticated, guests will feel far from intimidated.
The staff is the true treasure of Shadow. Service is warm, helpful and sensitive, served with kindness, humor and real concern. Within an hour, the butlers act as though they had been with you for many years and know exactly how to take care of you. They seem to anticipate what guests need and want, while making sure they have an effective balance of service and privacy. And their attention to detail is the talk of the ship: I left my glasses on my desk one day, and when I returned to my suite, there was a cleaning and polishing cloth folded next to them by the miraculous Rosie Honera.
The space ratio — which indicates the amount of gross tonnage available per person — is a whopping 74. The smallest Vista Suites on the all-suite Shadow are 287 square feet, running all the way up to the Grand Suites at 1,409 to 1,435 square feet. All have walk-in closets, a separate bath and shower, double Italian marble basins and stocked refrigerators. Every suite is also furnished with Bvlgari bath amenities, Pratesi linens, fresh fruit, desks and entertainment systems.
Guests on our March cruise in the Caribbean ranged from a toddler (who enjoyed herself thoroughly throughout the sailing) to cruisers in their 70s. There were fitness room devotees who worked out as soon as the gym opened every morning as well as those carefully using walkers or scooters to get around the ship.
The onboard culture was unperturbed and friendly, and solo traveler events led to single guests dining and planning shore excursions together. Silversea guests generally run 50 percent North American and 50 percent international; on our cruise, Canadians, South Africans and Australians were in attendance.
On my sailing, everyone became lyrical about the food and service. The main dining room offers a thoughtful menu for all three meals, balancing more adventurous dishes with traditional standards. In the main dining room, beef, seafood and poultry dishes are mixed with game and vegetarian specialties, and the staff is fabulous about accommodating special dietary restrictions.
The dessert menu feels like it could be the length of “War and Peace,” longer than many full dinner menus and quite varied. Tell your clients that everything made from chocolate is amazing. The chefs only use the finest ingredients — and they know what to do with them.
La Terrazza, with indoor and outdoor dining, offers a lunch buffet that includes a pasta station with seductive scents of garlic and oregano. In the evening, it becomes an Italian slow food restaurant. Poolside restaurant, The Grill, dispenses casual fare for lunch and hot rock (stone cooking) dining at night. Le Champagne, with a menu created by the Grands Chefs of Relais & Chateaux, provides a multicourse degustation menu with wines, beautifully presented and served (a $40 fee is extremely modest for the experience).
Silversea continues the tradition of formal nights, although guests interpret the code as they feel inspired. In addition to 24-hour room service, Shadow guests can enjoy course-by-course service from the dining room menu during open hours.
The Spa at Silversea also has its own slant, with a broad range of services including a number of treatments for men. There’s a very personal attitude toward guests, and more than one guest mentioned that a session in the salon was like being a character in “Downton Abbey,” with a ladies’ maid in attendance.
In the expansive fitness area, a a large aerobics room was in use each morning until night, equipped with Pilates balls, balancing equipment, free weights and other goodies.
Abiding by the homelike ambiance, there are no big production shows. Instead, guests will be treated to music in the lounges and lots of enrichment in arts, history and culture. The most popular place to relax before and after dinner is The Bar, with its personal, clubby atmosphere that prompted people of all nationalities to stake out a table and comfortable chairs to sip and talk the night away.
Shadow sails Alaska this summer, moving into Asia from September until May 2016, when she returns to Alaska.