Embarking passengers start to notice these extras from the time they first arrive at the ship. The 382 passengers onboard are bound to feel spoiled when there are 295 staff catering to them! Like most small ships, check-in is very quiet and smooth. You're not competing with hundreds (or thousands) of others all trying to board at the same time. We arrived at the Silver Shadow via taxi from our hotel, checked in, and were in our suites drinking the wonderful complimentary champagne within minutes. By the time we had explored our suite, the luggage had arrived. After unpacking, we went to eat lunch by the pool, and met our first new cruise friends Arturo and Nancy, a charming couple from Chile. They had taken advantage of Silversea's flexible embarkation/debarkation program and had boarded the ship a couple of days earlier when it was in Sorrento, Italy. This concept is designed for those who want to "plan their own" cruise itinerary, and is another example of the extras provided.
Another feature that spoiled us is the all-inclusive fare on Silversea's Silver Shadow. If I wasn't so fond of the Spa and the onboard boutique, I could have left the ship with practically no charges on my credit card other than the shore excursions. All beverages, including a generous complimentary wine list, spirits, and champagne are included. Never having to pull out your key card makes the passengers on the cruise ship feel much more like guests on a private yacht. Granted, those passengers have paid a premium for their cruise up-front, but it is wonderful to drink bottled water, soft drinks, beer, wine, champagne, etc. and not have to be signing tickets all the time. None of the dining venues on the small ship have any charges, and room service can be ordered and delivered 24-hours a day with no charge.
The no tipping, gratuities-included policy also contributes to the exceptional experience aboard the Silversea Silver Shadow. The staff uniformly provide fantastic service, and they make the passengers feel like they deliver this service because they love doing their jobs. Some of them even seem to actually have mind reading abilities. For example, early in the cruise one of my companions commented how much she enjoyed the white wine at lunch. Returning to our suite later in the afternoon, we found an ice bucket containing a bottle of this same white wine we had enjoyed. After that day, we routinely would get a bottle delivered to the suite in the afternoon to have before dinner. The sommelier had "read our minds" and knew that we would enjoy a bottle of the wine later.
Another example of the superb service is how the wait staff would keep up with the passengers' favorites and share it with their fellow staff. The Silver Shadow has an open main dining room called The Restaurant where you can dine any time between 7:30 and 9:30 each evening. The three of us usually asked the maitre'd to seat us at a large table with some "fun" people. This meant that we moved around the dining room each evening and often had different wait staff. My friend Julie loves freshly ground pepper, and has it added to almost everything except dessert. The staff all learned this so quickly that we thought they must have her photo plastered at the serving station with a caption labeling her the "pepper lady". With each course, someone would magically appear at Julie's side with the pepper grinder in hand. When we ate in the specialty restaurant or had dinner under the stars, the staff remembered and that pepper grinder followed us.
All of these special extras make the Silversea Silver Shadow experience an extraordinary one. Let's look at two other elements that make this ship a special one. The first element is the accommodations.
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