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South America Cruise on the Silver Whisper

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At Sea on the Silver Whisper
Silver Whisper at anchor in the Chilean fjords

The Silver Whisper at anchor in the Chilean fjords near Laguna San Rafael

Silver Whisper (c) Linda Garrison
I love sea days on cruise ships both big and small. The large ships have a larger variety of activities, but I've always been able to stay as busy as I wanted to be on small ships like the Silver Whisper. We had seven sea days on our South America cruise on the Silver Whisper, and the time just "sailed" by. Sometimes it seems like days on a cruise ship are primarily spent eating, drinking, reading, socializing, and napping. It's certainly true that more time is dedicated to these activities than when you are at home. But, you're on vacation!

Below are some of the sea day activities on our Silver Whisper cruise.

Exercise and Sports

Although we had many cool days, guests were seen walking or jogging on the track on deck 9 much of the day. At nine laps to the mile, it's quite a bit shorter than on large cruise ships, but it's still a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. In addition, you never know when you might see a whale! Other outdoor activities included a golf net, ping pong table, and shuffleboard court.

The Silver Whisper also has a very nice fitness center, filled with all the latest workout equipment. Stretching, Yoga, Pilates, and "total body workout" classes were held each day (all complimentary).

Educational Lectures and Presentations

The Silver Whisper had two onboard professional lecturers who did presentations in the Viennese Lounge when the ship was at sea. These lectures (and the accompanying slides) were taped and shown continuously in a loop on one of the television channels in the suites for those who either slept in or had conflicts with the timing.

Jon Fleming, a young man from London, was the destination consultant. Over the past six years, he has lectured on over 250 cruise destinations. Jon and his wife, who does a lot of the research for his presentations, travel extensively on cruise ships. He did an excellent job of providing information on the history, culture, points of interest, and just general fascinating trivia for each of the ports we visited.

I thought Jon's best presentation was on a port we didn't visit--the Falkland Islands. (It was cancelled at the last minute due to high winds.) His discussion of the politics of the Falklands started with a 5-minute caveat because of the continuing disagreement between Britain and Argentina as to whom the islands belong to. Jon presented the facts without any bias (even though he is English). All of us are old enough to remember the Falklands war of 1982, which Britain "won", although over 900 British and Argentine soldiers were killed. Argentina still disputes this ownership. I think Jon was very sensitive to any of the Argentines onboard. However, the British I spoke with on the ship thought that the people who live on the islands (most of whom are British/Scottish) should determine whom they "belong to". They are currently doing a lot of oil drilling near the Falklands. If they find oil, the Argentines may push the issue again.

Captain Richard Hayman from the state of New York was the enrichment lecturer. Richard is an experienced sea captain, sailor, author, and adventurer who spoke on a variety of topics relevant to our itinerary such as the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Cape Horn, Magellan's epic voyage, the peoples of Patagonia, and Shackleton's 1914-1916 expedition to Antarctica. I could listen to the happy-ending story of Shackleton's failed expedition over and over, and Richard told it well.

My mom particularly enjoyed the presentation of the Patagonians, but my favorite lecture was the one on Magellan, I guess because we were re-tracing his route through the Strait of Magellan. Five ships with 277 sailors started the voyage, and only a handful survived the whole trip. Some of Magellan's men mutinied along the east coast of South America, and he ended up having 44 of them executed. Many historians consider him a very harsh leader, but he is recognized as the first circumnavigator since he persistently pushed onward despite not knowing how to get around South America or how large the Pacific Ocean (which he named) was. Even when he made it through the Strait of Magellan and entered this new sea, Magellan thought it would only take a couple of weeks to reach the spice islands of Indonesia. It took them 99 days to get to the Tuamotu Islands near Tahiti. The Pacific was much larger than he imagined.

Here's one piece of trivia to use the next time someone asks who the first person to circumnavigate the world was. Magellan died in the Philippines, so although his voyage was the first; he was not. He had an indentured servant he called Enrique who was from somewhere in the South Seas. Magellan had picked up Enrique in SE Asia on a voyage there from Europe and Enrique had sailed with Magellan back to Europe via India/Africa. Enrique was invaluable when the Magellan world expedition reached the Philippines since he spoke the native language. However, after Magellan died, Enrique bolted rather than become a slave to someone else. No one even knows Enrique's real name or exactly where he is from, but he is really the first man to sail around the world rather than the surviving sailors who were on the Magellan expedition (although he did it in 2 different voyages). He had circumnavigated the world when Magellan's ships reached the Philippines!

In addition to the destination and enrichment lectures, some of the Silver Whisper chefs also did cooking demonstrations, and the chef and sommelier did a presentation on Relais & Chateaux. Abe and Greta Pineless, the two excellent bridge instructors, had sea-day classes for both beginners and intermediate players and then led games in the afternoon. The spa staff gave seminars on how to increase your metabolism, how to have a flatter stomach, and detox, all of which most of us needed after the cruise. I told someone that I couldn't decide who I needed more after 16 days on the ship--Betty Ford or Jenny Craig!

Other Onboard Activities

Some of the Silver Whisper culinary staff did presentations on ice and vegetable carving, and the bar staff held martini and wine tastings. There was also a wine auction of some of the premium wines from the ship's cellar. The boutiques had a fashion show, and the casino staff had blackjack and roulette tournaments. The cruise consultant led a tour of two of the unoccupied suites, and guests also could tour the navigation bridge and the galley. We all stayed busy.

Game lovers often love cruises, and like most ships, the Silver Whisper had a daily quiz, daily crossword, and daily Sudoku. The nice Card Room had board games and jigsaw puzzles to keep the guests occupied. Card players got into the fun, and my mom and I really enjoyed playing duplicate bridge in the afternoons. It's a good way to meet some of your fellow cruisers from around the world. Abe usually had four tables of players, and he filled in when needed. Greta led a party bridge group at the same time in the other conference/card room. The Silver Whisper had free Bingo every afternoon, followed by team trivia, a personal favorite. All of the game winners secured the coveted point tickets that could be redeemed for prizes at the end of the cruise.

Entertainment

The Silver Whisper Viennese show lounge has excellent seating, with tables, wide aisles, and no posts blocking the views. The entertainment troupe of six young singers (three males and three females) were all very good. They performed three shows together--Motown, classical/opera, and ABBA. My favorite was their selection of well-known opera pieces. Each member of the troupe has their own cabaret show, and we were entertained by three of the troupe members on our 16-night cruise. I'm just sorry we didn't get to hear them all individually, but the other three were scheduled to do their shows on the next voyage. I think this "one-man" cabaret show is an excellent idea. Since the entertainers were very approachable and mingled with the guests so well, it made watching their shows even more enjoyable.

The Silver Whisper also had a good variety of special guest entertainers. We had a magician, musician, and guitarist. Colin Brown, the cruise director, is also a very accomplished concert pianist, so he also entertained us some evenings. My mom and I (along with most of the guests I spoke with) were very impressed with all the onboard evening entertainment.

Conclusion on Silver Whisper Cruise

Overall, I enjoyed this cruise very much. What's not to love? We had a fantastic itinerary, fun (and educational) days at sea, and a crew who seemed to both enjoy their jobs and delight in making our voyage a special one. My mom and I both celebrated birthdays (three days and 24 years apart) on this cruise, and those birthdays will be ones we will always remember. Thanks, Silversea!

South America Ports of Call on the Silver Whisper

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.

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