Part Two: Introducing the SS Silver Whisper/Embarkation procedure/1st day at sea
Compared to many cruise ships, the Silver Whisper with a capacity of fewer than 400 passengers and roughly 300 crew is tiny. She appeared rather huge to me, though.
She’s the elderly lady among the Silversea fleet, launched in 2001, refurbished in 2018. All her 194 cabins are outside suites, most with teak balconies. Her public areas consist of a multi-tiered “Show lounge” for events and performances, an aft “Panorama lounge” with indoor and outside seating that has all-day bar service and offers high tea in the afternoons, a quiet “Observation lounge” cum library forward on the top (10th) deck next to the gym and spa, and there is a pool with two whirlpools and lounge chairs, another library, and a computer room located on lower decks. To sustain the passengers, the Silver Whisper sports four restaurants and a kind of gentlemen’s lounge for smoking cigars and drinking single malts and cognac entre eux, plus a large bar for hanging out with new friends. “The Restaurant” is the main dining room of the ship. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, no reservations required. The menu’s first page changes daily, which I especially liked. Next is “La Terrazza” with a delicious and varied lunch buffet service. We enjoyed lunch there one day …
… next to a table with two crew members from Napoli, Italy. They assured us that the pizza was first class and authentic! Dinner at La Terrazza offers excellent, traditional Italian fare in an elegant setting and requires a reservation. A very different type of restaurant is “The Grill”, an outdoor venue alongside the pool. During the day The Grill provides drinks and acts as a salad & burger bar, while it turns into a lava stone grill at night. During a nordic cruise, not necessarily an inspiring choice for a cozy dinner, although there’s a roof with (weak) heat lamps, clear plastic wind breaks, and blankets. Still, at 10ºC/50ºF … But cooking one’s own food on searingly hot lava stones is fun and renders very tasty morsels. Lastly, there is “La Dame”, described as a traditional French gourmet restaurant. Tables at La Dame are in very high demand as it is regarded as outstanding which I can neither confirm nor deny since we never ate there. Living in France, we have excellent “French” restaurants, including a Michelin-starred one, right here in our own small town, so it seemed silly to pay a large premium to eat French food in Norway. I would’ve gladly paid (almost) anything for king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, an invasive species in Norway, but unbelievably tasty. Sadly, none were available.
The embarkation procedure for Silversea Cruises runs along similar lines for most of their voyages, I imagine. They provide a luggage drop-off point through local firms where the guest’s suitcases are tagged with name and suite number before they disappear from view. The thus unencumbered passengers then queue for a medical check up consisting of a questionnaire and temperature check. We had to provide a negative Covid-19 test and proof of full vaccination. The medical check concluded with the collection of our passports in exchange for a Silversea I.D. card. This I.D. was the key card for our cabin and it was used by crew members to log us out and back in every time we left the ship. If you’re queasy about handing over your passport, scan it at home and save a copy in a secure location. I believe, international law requires the ships to have the passports in their possession. Since the Silver Whisper was anchored in the Thames rather than docked, we then queued again at the Greenwich pier for the tender to carry us to the ship. Aboard ship, our I.D. cards were scanned for the first time and backpacks, etc. were screened before we queued once more to lodge a credit card with the ship’s purser. There are no cash transactions aboard ship, everything one might purchase, be that a special excursion are a diamond necklace in their posh boutique, is linked to the cabin number and charged to one’s credit card at the end of the cruise.
The sequence of the embarkation procedure was logical and well handled by the crew and their local support teams. It was, however, quite annoying that we had to figure it out all on our own. Our Silversea consultant, upon request for information, only provided the coordinates of the pier, nothing else. Thanks to a heads-up by a Facebook contact, we expected the luggage drop to be somewhere near the Cutty Sark, but we didn’t know were exactly and how to get our cases there as this is a pedestrian area restricted for traffic. But all’s well that ends well, right William?
After boarding the Silver Whisper we had some time to roam the ship, until, finally, finally, around 16h the announcement came over the ship’s speaker system: your cabins are ready for you! Soon after we first entered, our butler Roshan introduced himself.
While we were at dinner with Barbara and John, a couple we met just hours earlier while queuing, and while enjoying the London night scape afterwards …
… Roshan had unpacked our suitcases and our room attendant Gede from Indonesia had turned down the beds for the night. Gede also always provided a copy of “The Chronicles”, the shipboard daily, announcing the next day’s events, activities, weather, you have it.
The Silver Whisper left London around midnight, sailing down the Thames, then in a northerly direction through the churning waters of the North Sea toward Newcastle, our first port of call the following day.
For now though, we had a day at sea to leisurely explore the ship. And to get ready for the bespoke event of the evening, the Captain’s Reception in the Show lounge,
followed by a lovely lobster dinner.
So far, cruising ain’t bad 🛳❤️