Embarking on our Silversea journey through Southeast Asia

Singapore and the Silver Shadow. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Singapore and the Silver Shadow. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This morning, I embarked Silversea’s elegant Silver Shadow at her berth at the Singapore Cruise Terminal in Singapore. Built in 2001, she carries just 382 guests and a crew complement of 302, for a passenger-to-crew ratio of nearly 1-to-1. And over the next 12 days, Silver Shadow will take me – and by digital extension, you – on a luxury voyage through Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.

Our full journey:

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
October 31, 2016SingaporeEmbark1800
November 1Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia08001900
November 2Penang, Georgetown, Malaysia08001800
November 3Phuket, Thailand08001400
November 4At Sea
November 5Yangon, Myanmar0600Overnight
November 6Yangon, MyanmarOvernightOvernight
November 7Yangon, MyanmarOvernight1900
November 8At Sea
November 9 At Sea

November 10Langkawi, Malaysia08001500
November 11Malacca, Malaysia13001900
November 12Singapore0700Onward Journey Home

Silversea’s Silver Shadow is a staunch favorite of many of the line’s past guests, including myself, who value her spacious interior spaces, soothing décor, and elegantly-designed suites. She may not have all the latest bells-and-whistles that the line’s forthcoming Silver Muse will have, but she and her sister Silver Whisper have more than earned their keep in the Silversea fleet. Unlike a lot of current luxury ships, Silver Shadow and her sister weren’t designed to be trendy; they were meant to be timeless.

Silversea's Silver Shadow was designed to be timeless and classic. Shown here is the midships elevator lobby, facing aft, Deck 6. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Silversea’s Silver Shadow was designed to be timeless and classic. Shown here is the midships elevator lobby, facing aft, Deck 6. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

For her part, Silver Shadow spends her winters here in Southeast Asia, running a diverse series of voyages that primarily operate out of Singapore, Hong Kong or Tokyo. In the summer, she makes her way over to Alaska, where we caught up with her two years ago on a wonderful sailing out of Vancouver, British Columbia.

I have a special place in my heart for Silver Shadow. Long before I ever had sailed with the line, I had the opportunity to tour the ship during one of her port calls in Vancouver and immediately fell in love with her. This is a ship that does a great job of offering some big-ship amenities, like a two-story show lounge and a soaring six-story atrium (really a central stair tower), but with the little luxuries you’d expect from a line like Silversea. And that means no crowding, intimate public rooms, and excellent service.

Singapore Sling

Welcome to Singapore: a beautiful city with a huge passion for retail therapy. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Welcome to Singapore: a beautiful city with a huge passion for retail therapy. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

I arrived in Singapore on Sunday morning after connecting through San Francisco and boarding United Airlines Flight 1 direct to Singapore’s Changi Airport. The third-longest nonstop scheduled flight in the world, it has a westbound flying time of 17 hours and 20 minutes. It is also the longest flight in the world operated by a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

So what is it like to be on a plane for 17 hours? To be honest, not all that bad – even in Economy. United surprised me by offering better-than-expected food, friendly service from the flight attendants, and comfortable seating. To pass the time, I read, watched movies, and did my best to sleep. Before I knew it, we were landing in Singapore, and I was soon on my way to the Shangri-La Singapore for my overnight stay.

Silversea uses the gorgeous Shangri-La Singapore for its "Silver Shore Simply" pre-cruise hotel. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Silversea uses the gorgeous Shangri-La Singapore for its “Silver Shore Simply” pre-cruise hotel. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Built in 1971, the hotel has been substantially refurbished over the years, and offers the same quality service that Shangri-La is known for. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Built in 1971, the hotel has been substantially refurbished over the years, and offers the same quality service that Shangri-La is known for. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

I’m a huge fan of Shangri-La’s elegantly-designed hotels. The service is always friendly and welcoming, and the properties grand in both design and appearance. The location can’t be beat either: the hotel is just a few minutes walk from the Orchard Road shopping district.

Here’s what I’ve learned about Singapore: I love it. But it’s expensive, and the whole city is virtually a giant shopping mall. There are malls on either side of the street, and malls that run for five stories under the roads separating those malls. Every retailer is high-end, and nearly everything is expensive. I stopped at a place for lunch where a beer (from Japan) and a bottle of water from Italy literally ran me S$30. Add in food, and lunch cost an amazing $73.  One Singaporean dollar is roughly equivalent to one of my Canadian dollars. At home, what I ordered would cost maybe, at best, $30.

Shopping is the word of the day on Orchard Road, Singapore's primary retail district. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Shopping is the word of the day on Orchard Road, Singapore’s primary retail district. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

You literally can't walk five feet without discovering a shopping mall. This one takes you five stories under the road between two other malls. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

You literally can’t walk five feet without discovering a shopping mall. This one takes you five stories under the road between two other malls. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Singapore is also a strikingly beautiful city...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Singapore is also a strikingly beautiful city…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...with all kinds of contrasting architecture. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…with all kinds of contrasting architecture. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Street art also plays a big part in Singaporean life. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Street art also plays a big part in Singaporean life. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Look Closer. Nature is still here...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Look Closer. Nature is still here…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...amidst the crowds of busy shoppers. Despite this, Singapore is one of the cleanest and easy-to-navigate cities I've been to in Asia. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…amidst the crowds of busy shoppers. Despite this, Singapore is one of the cleanest and easy-to-navigate cities I’ve been to in Asia. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Japanese imports also seem to be prized: one grocery store offered up a pound of grapes flown in from Hokkaido for $89. The winner at the local grocery store? A bag of lemons for $230. It makes the offerings at the ubiquitous Gucci, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana stores look almost like a value.

Now, this is just one side of Singapore. We’ll explore the city more in-depth on our return on November 12.

A Grand Experience

Welcome Aboard! A nice touch in all suites aboard Silver Shadow is this branded keychain light. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Welcome Aboard! A nice touch in all suites aboard Silver Shadow is this branded keychain light. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

In true Silversea fashion, embarkation today was a snap. Guests were shuttled from the Shangri-La Singapore in three separate transfers in order to prevent crowding on the coaches and at the pier. Once at the Singapore Cruise Terminal, passports were checked and taken for the voyage, the usual onboard account formalities were completed, and I was headed for my suite.

On this voyage, I’m particularly fortunate to be occupying one of Silver Shadow’s high-end Grand Suites. Second in line only to the pull-out-all-the-stops Owner’s Suite, the three Grand Suites aboard Silver Shadow are a real tour-de-force of luxurious living.

My home away from home - almost literally - aboard Silver Shadow is one of the ship's spacious Grand Suites. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

My home away from home – almost literally – aboard Silver Shadow is one of the ship’s spacious Grand Suites. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Measuring between 941 and 1,090 square feet, Grand Suites are offered either as a standalone one-bedroom suite, or are bookable with an adjacent Veranda Suite that shares a common vestibule entrance just off the main passenger corridor. It’s a great option for extended families or friends travelling together, and increases the overall size of the suite to 1,435 square feet at the high end.

Grand Suites offer up a dedicated bar...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Grand Suites offer up a dedicated bar…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...and plenty of seating space. If you used every chair in the room, you could comfortably seat 10 people here. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…and plenty of seating space. If you used every chair in the room, you could comfortably seat 10 people here. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: this suite is plenty big. I’ve seen bigger suites on other cruise ships, but I particularly love the layout of this suite, with its oversized living area that manages to comfortably contain a couch, a full-sized dining table, several chairs, a full-service bar for entertaining or simply playing mixologist, writing desk with personalized stationary, and a chaise lounger. And it’s still got enough empty space that you could cartwheel through the room without hitting anything. Not that I recommend that. But you could.

Located off the main living room is a separate bedroom which sleeps two in either a queen configuration (really a king) or two twins. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Located off the main living room is a separate bedroom which sleeps two in either a queen configuration (really a king) or two twins. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The room curves attractively with the forward bulkhead in the Grand Suite bedrooms. Lighting is soft and pleasant, and Silversea has added new wall treatments since I last toured these suites about two years ago. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The room curves attractively with the forward bulkhead in the Grand Suite bedrooms. Lighting is soft and pleasant, and Silversea has added new wall treatments since I last toured these suites about two years ago. Note that I’ve shut the curtains at right to keep the heat of the sun out. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Off the main living room is the bedroom, which shares a bulkhead with the ship’s forward superstructure. This gives the forward wall of the bedroom a slanted appearance and, in my suite, half-height windows. They’re not so convenient to look out of (you have to get up on your tip-toes to see much of anything), but suites on higher decks have full-height windows.

Frankly, the windows here don’t bother me at all: I’m here to sleep, not admire the scenery.

Beyond the bedroom is the private bathroom and a walk-in closet. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Beyond the bedroom is the private bathroom and a walk-in closet. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Like the main living area, the bedroom offers ample personal space and plenty of storage options. A queen-sized bed that can be split into two twins is placed on the starboard side of the room, while a walk-in wardrobe runs along the port side of the ship, right along the center line.

An en-suite bathroom can also be accessed here. Clad in marble, brass and elegant woods, the bathroom is home to a separate stand-up shower; a jetted whirlpool tub; dual vanities and toilet. A separate powder room is also offered for the ladies, and a separate bathroom with a sink and toilet is located outside just off the main living room for when company comes.

The bathroom off the bedroom offers up dual vanities...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The bathroom off the bedroom offers up dual vanities…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...a jetted whirlpool tub...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…a jetted whirlpool tub…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...and Bulgari White toiletries. A toilet, standup shower, and bidet are also located here.  Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…and Bulgari White toiletries. A toilet, standup shower, and bidet are also located here. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Your bathroom comes stocked with Bulgari White toiletries, but you can also request Salvatore Ferragamo or hypo-allergenic toiletries. I really like the Bulgari White, but I really love the Bulgari Green offered in the line’s standard suites. Your butler will be more than happy to swap white for green, if that is your want.

This is the kind of suite you want to spend some real time in. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This is the kind of suite you want to spend some real time in. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

As with all Silversea suites, the devil is really in the details. Beyond just offering more personal space over the already-wonderful Veranda Suites, Grand Suites have a really superb Bang & Olufsen audio system; an in-suite Illy Espresso Machine, and plenty of other niceties, like complimentary laundry, dry cleaning and pressing service throughout the voyage; a special chocolate treat welcome; afternoon canapes (if you wish); dinner with a ship’s Officer; one complimentary dinner for two at Le Champagne; two hours of complimentary satellite phone service; and free Wi-Fi internet access.

 Click here to for our Photo Tour of Silver Shadow’s other high-end suites!

After the customary lifeboat drill, Silver Shadow turned around in the basin and slowly made her way out of Singapore, past the city’s forest of cranes that unload the hundreds of cargo ships that tie up here. We sailed past them by the dozen, some waiting at anchor, others steaming full speed ahead to tie up at their designated berths on time. Curious crewmembers aboard each ship came to the rail to watch the classy Silver Shadow speed past.

After our Welcome Aboard party on the Pool Deck...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

After our Welcome Aboard party on the Pool Deck…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...Silver Shadow's engines sprung to life...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…Silver Shadow’s engines sprung to life…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...lines were taken in...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…lines were taken in…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...and we slowly made our way out of Singapore and into the open ocean. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…and we slowly made our way out of Singapore and into the open ocean. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

One of the things I enjoy most about Silversea is seeing familiar faces. The crew aboard Silversea’s ships are one of the line’s greatest assets. I’ve long said that you don’t realize this at first; it’s only when you come back and are greeted by name as if no time has passed that you truly realize how special Silversea is.

Today, I was walking back to my suite when I came across a familiar face I hadn’t seen in nearly six years: my first butler aboard the Silver Spirit, Karthik. Except he’s not a butler anymore. He’s serving as Silver Shadow’s Housekeeping Manager now, and rightly so: even six years ago, Karthik was the consummate professional. I couldn’t be happier to see him again, and to see that Silversea has recognized his talents and has rewarded him accordingly.

Departing Singapore...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Departing Singapore…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...with its huge industrial port...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…with its huge industrial port…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...and literally hundreds of queuing ships. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…and literally hundreds of queuing ships. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Enjoying a Singapore Sling up on deck...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Enjoying a Singapore Sling up on deck…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...before admiring the view from my balcony. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…before admiring the view from my balcony. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Tonight is Halloween, and I’m impressed to see that the talented galley staff aboard Silver Shadow have carved real pumpkins for us and lit them with battery-operated candles. Carved pumpkins were placed at the entrance to The Restaurant and in the Panorama Lounge on Deck 8, where the Halloween Welcome Aboard Party was held. A few crew members dressed up in Halloween costumes, and I walked into the room while “Monster Mash” was, appropriately, playing.

As for me? The Pratesi linens on the super-soft Silversea bed were calling my name. And that’s okay.  Tomorrow promises more adventure by land – and by sea.

Bring your costumes! Even luxury cruises celebrate Halloween. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Bring your costumes! Even luxury cruises celebrate Halloween. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Shadow continues tomorrow from Port Klang (Kula Lumpur)! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
October 31, 2016SingaporeEmbark1800
November 1Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia08001900
November 2Penang, Georgetown, Malaysia08001800
November 3Phuket, Thailand08001400
November 4At Sea
November 5Yangon, Myanmar0600Overnight
November 6Yangon, MyanmarOvernightOvernight
November 7Yangon, MyanmarOvernight1900
November 8At Sea
November 9 At Sea

November 10Langkawi, Malaysia08001500
November 11Malacca, Malaysia13001900
November 12Singapore0700Onward Journey Home
 

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