Malacca, Malaysia and the End of our Silversea Journey

Silver Shadow at anchor in the rain off Malacca, Malaysia. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Silver Shadow at anchor in the rain off Malacca, Malaysia. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

I spent the morning aboard Silversea ‘s Silver Shadow nervously avoiding what I knew to be true: in less than 24 hours, someone else will take my place in my Grand Suite, as they set sail on their own adventure, this time from Singapore to Hong Kong. Silversea rarely does the same voyage twice, and a handful of lucky guests are staying onboard, extending their vacations a little longer.

We’re not in Malacca, Malaysia until this afternoon, which is great news for me: it gives me another chance to enjoy another cappuccino in the Panorama Lounge, served by the always-friendly Faye. I can also participate in another dance class, and I’m happy to say I’m getting better. Which isn’t saying a lot. I dance terribly.

Silversea always makes it easy to find the gangway. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Silversea always makes it easy to find the gangway. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Most of all, I can spend the morning enjoying all of my favorite areas of the ship onboard one last time. Which is exactly what I did before venturing up to the Pool Grill for one last lunch. I miss the “Transatlantic Double-Dog” that Silversea used to offer here, and the Chicken Burger, but the new hamburger selections more than make up for it. Try the Spicy Jalapeno Burger – it’s fantastic!

This afternoon, we arrived in Malacca just as the skies opened up with the heaviest rain we’ve had so far on this mostly rain-free trip. And boy, did it rain. It reminded me of being aboard Silver Shadow in Sitka, Alaska two years ago – albeit, much warmer.

Here’s another cool Silversea touch: rather than relying soely on the ship’s own tenders, Silversea contracted the services of local tender boats to supplement the ship’s tenders and get guests ashore faster. Absolutely incredible – particularly if you’ve ever waited around for tender tickets on bigger ships.

It was a rainy affair...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

It was a rainy affair…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...as we tendered ashore today in Malacca. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…as we tendered ashore today in Malacca. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Silversea used local tender boats to shuttle us ashore. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Silversea used local tender boats to shuttle us ashore. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Malacca – known locally as Melaka – has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site sin 2008, thanks in part to its eclectic collection of traditional and Colonial-era buildings that gives the town an odd Asian, British and almost Mexican feel thanks to its Jesuit history.

The result today is a town with very modern amenities (think H&M and Hard Rock Café), but which blends and melds styles at every turn. This is even evident in the local cuisine, which blends Chinese, Thai, and Indian specialties into regional dishes.

Malacca is a unique blend of history and cultures. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Malacca is a unique blend of history and cultures. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

You can't go wrong with shopping...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

You can’t go wrong with shopping…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...and a cart ride...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…and a cart ride…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...on Jonker Street. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…on Jonker Street. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

While Silversea offers plenty of excursion options here, I elected to walk from the tender pier to the main historic shopping area of town, known as the Jonker Walk, or Jonker Street. Dating back to the 17th century, the street is crammed with locals, tourists and antique shops, plus dozens of local eateries. It is an easy, 10-15 minute walk from the tender pier, and if you’re armed with a map, it’s quite easy to get to (just continue following the river until you get to the bridge).

Picturesque Malacca. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Picturesque Malacca. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Before long, though, it was time to return to the Silver Shadow to pack and to enjoy one last evening onboard. Our journey is nearing its end, which makes this the perfect time to look back upon where we’ve been:

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

I always tell people that I meet that there’s no such thing as a bad cruise, but there is something to be said for finding the right cruise for the right person.

To me, Silver Shadow is the perfect size of ship for sailing in this part of the world. She’s big enough that there’s plenty to see and do onboard, yet small enough that she can sneak into ports where the big ships can’t go.

Besides that flexibility, small ships – and luxury ships in particular – have another advantage: no lines. Embarkation in Singapore was typical of Silversea: efficient, friendly, and above all else, fast. The same cannot be said for guests on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, which was docked next to us in Penang (Georgetown), Malaysia. She’s a great ship, but the hordes of people queuing in the terminal to reboard the 3,807-guest ship made me realize what a great choice Silver Shadow is in this region: with crowded, busy ports of call, it’s refreshing to come back to a spacious ship with only a few hundred guests – most of whom you’ll never see all at once.

Silver Shadow's Reception Area. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Silver Shadow’s Reception Area: timeless and elegant, like the rest of the ship. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Even by Silversea standards, I felt the past two weeks onboard Silver Shadow have really set the bar high. I rarely have cause for complaint on Silversea, and this was one voyage that seemed to hit all the right notes, from our itinerary to our port times to the overall organization of the shore excursions, to the cuisine, the beverages, and finally, to the exceptional staff of the Silver Shadow.

The Silver Shadow herself is in great condition, and she’s headed soon for a drydock to spruce her up even more. The only thing I’d love to see: a better use for the Observation Lounge, and a more dedicated, destination-oriented book selection within. Silver Shadow pretty much just sails to Alaska in the summer, and Asia in the winter, so a travel guide to Barbados seems like an odd selection. If the line stocked the Observation Lounge and the library with books on the history of Alaska and Southeast Asia, Japan, and Russia’s Far East, I’d be in heaven.

At Sea earlier this week. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

At Sea earlier this week. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

My take on the past two weeks:

Sail With Silversea in Southeast Asia If:

  • You’re looking for a luxury cruise through one of the most diverse regions of the world.
  • You appreciate inclusivity, and don’t mind paying for it. Having beverages, gratuities, and other perks included in the cost of the cruise is tremendously relaxing.
  • You want a cerebral, culturally-relevant experience both onboard and ashore. Silversea provides that in spades.
  • You’re looking for a small-ship experience. With just 382 guests at maximum capacity, you’ll wonder where everyone is aboard Silver Shadow.

Give Silversea A Pass If:

  • You’re looking for big-ship, round-the-clock entertainment. You won’t find it here. Activities aboard Silver Shadow are more cerebral.
  • You want an all-American experience on-shore and aboard ship. This isn’t it. The onboard experience is wonderfully European, and shore excursions are tailored to include local and authentic meals, snacks and beverages to immerse guests more fully.
  • You hate dressing for dinner. Dressing up is one of the highlights of any Silversea cruise, and your fellow guests will expect you to do likewise.

There’s a lot of buzz out there right now in the luxury cruise world. Some lines are making some pretty big promises, with massive fleet expansions and crazy toys like helicopters, private widebody jets, and the like. And it all sounds great, but at this point, it all exists soely on paper.

Silversea isn’t doing that. Rather than trying to play the “latest-and-greatest” game that’s the modus operandi of every mainstream cruise line, the line is doing what it does best: offering interesting and unique itineraries operated aboard timeless, classic luxury ships. The company is opting for measured growth across its luxury and expedition fleets, with the new Silver Muse debuting next spring; the conversion of the Silver Cloud to an expedition vessel; and the refurbishment of the Silver Whisper this December, scheduled to be completed just in time for her 2017 World Cruise.

Silver Shadow, docked in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia at the start of our cruise. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Silver Shadow, docked in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia at the start of our cruise. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

I’ve been sailing with Silversea for over six years now. It sounds like a lot, but it’s peanuts compared with some of the line’s most loyal Venetian Society members. I meet people on Silversea cruises that routinely have 200, 300, even 500 or more days with the line. And, to be frank, no one spends 500 days anywhere unless they absolutely love it.

Tomorrow, my voyage comes to a close as the Silver Shadow returns to Singapore, and I head to the airport to begin the long journey to North America. And although I never like disembarking a Silversea ship, there is one bright side: I’ve packed the line’s 2017 Voyage Brochure in my carry-on luggage. With 23 hours of flying ahead of me, I’ve got ample time to plan my return.

And it’s always good to have something to look forward to.

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Shadow has sadly come to a close – but there are more cruise adventures to come in the next three weeks! 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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