Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Goldring Travel's Silversea Silver Shadow Alaska Cruise Review - Part VI

Our evening on the Silversea Silver Shadow, as we left Skagway, Alaska was quiet; a nice reprieve from my ziplining experience earlier in the day. 

We had reservations in La Terrazza, but cancelled same; opting for The Restaurant.  We “suffered” being placed in the back corner to accommodate our desire for a window table…with a breathtaking view watching whale spouting and porpoises jumping as we dined.  Not sure why the maĆ®tre de apologized as we were thrilled.  Our dinner was quite good as was the service. The presentations are simple, but well done.  Interestingly, my veal chop was breaded and, in part, scallopined, so part was quite thin but near the bone done perfectly.  (I also did ask for a filet mignon to see if the third time was lucky.  Unfortunately, while it looked great and was cooked to temperature properly, the meat was just tough.)



We arrived in Sitka, Alaska, our last port, in an early morning mist with rain.  It is our only tender port.  Getting off the ship was very well organized.

As we had booked the Tongass Rainforest Hike I was confident we were going to get lots of rain in the forest.  But as luck seems to be following us, the rain all but disappeared.  We started our hike (totaling a little over 4 miles) with the Mosquito Cove Loop Trail.  It was, especially with the light rain falling in the rain forest, one of the prettiest and most interesting hikes I have been on…and with excellently maintained trails.  It was concerned that some of our group of 8 would not be up to this hike, but they all made it!  (Again, the Silversea small group experience made this hike enjoyable rather than a touristic ordeal.)






We then took a more leisurely mile or so walk/hike through marine, estuary and muskeg (peat bog) environments with some truly spectacular scenery…and with the sun breaking though just at the perfect time.  (It was there I discovered that our very energetic guide who kept us moving at a good pace was 77 years old!)

 


For me this was the best land experience of this cruise.  I had been to Alaska once before, but with our children when they were younger, so I opted for more family friendly experiences.  I love nature and since then felt that I had been missing out on something important.  While some others saw a couple of breaching whales for a few moments, I truly felt fulfilled spending hours surrounded by deep greens, running water and moss-covered trees.  (And with Silversea charging a mere $89 for the experience it truly was a great bargain.)

After returning to the pier we walked through the charming town of Sitka – which is about a 30 minute stroll if you continue on to the excellent park at its far end – where we had a very nice casual lunch at Westmark consisting of an excellent fresh clam chowder and a grilled halibut sandwich.  A bit of art gallery wandering and then it was back to the pier.

Curiously, with the mist and rain starting, Silversea did not have Welcome tent or any hot beverages and it was only running one tender, so we had about a 30 minute wait taking cover under the bridge next to the pier.  Not the end of the world, but not expected and not a luxury experience.

Back on board I tried to get some work done, but the internet is terribly slow and inconsistent.  I am sure this is, in large part, due to the latitude and the mountains.  Silversea does not offer a full cruise internet package, but rather only three choices:  100 minutes for $45, 250 minutes for $85 and 1,000 minutes for $250.  Figuring I would use about 250 minutes I bought that…and then a $45 package and then another $45 package, but at about 50% efficiency it does come out to be quite pricey.

Although feeling guilty, we dined in Le Champagne for a second time and again enjoyed the experience.  This time I had the King Scallops and the Dover Sole, both of which were very good.  The wait staff, who are Romanian, were polished and very friendly. My dessert, however, was the only disappointment as the crepe Suzette was soggy and without great flavor.

As our last day is a Sea Day I thought I might just sleep in…until I realized we would be visiting the Hubbard Glacier between 6:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.  Again, being lucky on this trip, we arrived with some rain and low clouds/mist…and then it cleared. While there was a good bit of ice, Captain Alessandro Zanello – who is friendly and charming, guided the Silver Shadow within 3 miles of the glacier.






While the bow and Observation Lounge (where hot chocolate, warm spiced wine and snacks were being served) were filled with guests, we decided to slip down to a virtually empty La Terrazza for breakfast.  Table for two by the window overlooking the stern?  Absolutely!  And now, with the Silver Shadow turning to depart Hubbard Glacier we had the ultimate in breakfast with a view.