Sailing through Alaska and British Columbia with Silversea

I Am Here, onboard Silversea's luxurious Silver Shadow - bound for Alaska. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I Am Here, onboard Silversea’s luxurious Silver Shadow – bound for Alaska. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Today is an exciting day for me. I’ve sailed to Alaska many times before – but never with a luxury line. My experiences in the region up to this point have all been on mainstream cruise ships with passenger capacities that run into the thousands.

Welcome Aboard! The skies may be overcast, but the pool drinks are flowing. Complimentary, no less - nearly everything is included on Silversea. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Welcome Aboard! The skies may be overcast, but the pool drinks are flowing. Complimentary, no less – nearly everything is included on Silversea. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Today, I embarked Silversea’s Silver Shadow– a ship that only holds 382 guests – for an entirely different sort of Alaskan experience. Over the course of the next 11 days, we’ll sail to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Tracy Arm, Wrangell, Prince Rupert and Victoria – all roundtrip from Vancouver. It’s a unique voyage, and one that’s sailing nearly full. In fact, the top-of-the-line suites are some of the first things to sell out on Silversea’s Alaskan voyages.

I am a huge supporter of sailing from the gorgeous Canada Place Cruise Terminal here in Vancouver, but every time I do so – on any ship – embarkation is an affair that could best be described as “chaotic.” Today, Silver Shadow is the only ship in port and with a maximum capacity of just 382 guests, I had high hopes that embarkation wouldn’t be the normal gong-show that a Saturday embarkation on a megaship can be here.

A sparkling Veranda Suite aboard Silver Shadow will be my home for the next 11 days. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

A sparkling Veranda Suite aboard Silver Shadow will be my home for the next 11 days. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

When you embark in Vancouver, you are first cleared through security, whereupon you are processed by United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) officials. This expedites your entry into Alaska, and eliminates the requirement for mass customs facilities in ports of call like Ketchikan.

Once you’ve been processed, you proceed to the check-in and holding area to have your photo taken and keycards issued. Then, finally, you’re allowed to step out onto the tide-sensor gangways to embark your ship. On a megaship, this process can take an hour or even more if you’re kept in the holding area. The fastest I’ve made it onboard a large, mainstream ship here in Vancouver is 57 minutes, start-to-finish.

At 345 square feet, it's more than spacious - there's even a walk-in closet! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

At 345 square feet, it’s more than spacious – there’s even a walk-in closet! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Today, I beat my previous record by a longshot. From the time I got out of the car at Canada Place, it took me all of 18 minutes to step onboard the Silver Shadow. I was personally welcomed onboard; offered a refreshing towel; and handed a glass of champagne. I even ran into two crew members I’d sailed with two years ago when I crossed the Atlantic onboard Silver Spirit, which was a wonderful surprise!

Now, obviously Silversea starts at a higher price point than a mainstream line in Alaska. Or does it? A certain cruise line with a giant mouse for a mascot wants nearly $6,000 Canadian for a 7-night sailing to Alaska in an oceanview stateroom, and many mainstream lines aren’t exactly giving away their top-of-the-line suites. Considering this was the least-painful embarkation I have ever experienced in Vancouver, I’d say that’s worth noting.

The walk-in closet in my Veranda Suite is large enough for a voyage twice the length... Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The walk-in closet in my Veranda Suite is large enough for a voyage twice the length… Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

...and the dual-vanity sinks are a nice touch. It's hard to believe this ship was built in 2000! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

…and the dual-vanity sinks are a nice touch. It’s hard to believe this ship was built in 2000! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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Our Live Voyage Report onboard Silversea’s luxurious Silver Shadow continues tomorrow with a scenic day spent sailing the Inside Passage! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

4 Responses to Silver Shadow Live Voyage Report – Day 1

  1. […] post Silver Shadow Live Voyage Report – Day 1 appeared first on From The Deck […]

  2. Thomas Stern says:

    We love Silversea and Silver Shadow – enjoy your trip !!

  3. […] Day 1 – Embarking Silver Shadow in Vancouver, British Columbia […]

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