Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Silversea
Ship: Silver Whisper
Sailing Date: October 21st, 2005
The Whisper docked at the Old Port of Montreal
We recognized many of the staff from our previous cruises and in particular our good friend Maitre d’, Paolo Vitali, as well as Terrace Café Host, Stefano – we were very pleased to see them as they always ensured that we had a good table and the best of “wait” staff.
Also on our ‘glad to see’ list was Cruise Director, Michael Gregurich, who we would have for both cruises together with his lovely wife, Madra, they made us feel very welcome. The Entertainment Hostess was new to us - her name was Melani Lamey originally from Germany and now living in England. At around 6’5” she was an imposing figure in her high heels, at various functions. Our Captain for this trip was, Gennaro Arma, who hailed from Sorrento in Italy and unfortunately, due to circumstances which we shall later describe, we really never had much opportunity to chat with him.
We sailed from Montreal at 6:00 pm that evening, the weather had turned clear and cold and this was expected to stay with us for the next few days. That evening we had an excellent meal in the main restaurant at a table for two. Our waiter “Claudio” had been with us on board for 3 other cruises.
The next morning Saturday October 22, we woke up in Quebec City to temperatures of 6℃ 38℉ crisp, cold and clear. We spent the better part of the day walking around Quebec City, a beautiful city perched above the River with a commanding view of the countryside. We could easily have spent a few days there and shall definitely return for another visit. We departed Quebec City at 6:00 pm destined for Sydney, Nova Scotia.
The Whisper & view from the Fort at Quebec City
Wonderful mural painted on buildings in Quebec City
Sunday October 23rd we spent cruising the St. Lawrence River - again another beautiful day on the water. That evening was ‘formal night’ with a Gala Dinner followed by a Broadway Performance with the Jean Ann Ryan Production Company.
Having fun in the Terrace Restaurant
Early on the morning of Monday October 24, somewhere in the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and off the Gaspe Peninsular we were awakened about 2:00 am by considerable movement of the ship, which necessitated securing everything in the Cabin, glass ware, flower bowls etc. as we were rolling about 30 degrees. The morning dawned wild and rough with estimated 30 foot seas off of our beam. Too rough in fact for us to dock in Sydney. On the P.A. system that morning the Captain advised us that we were being affected by a ‘Nor Easter’ and it was forecast that Hurricane Wilma which was then hitting Florida would very rapidly be heading our way and combined with the ‘Nor Easter’ would create the ‘perfect storm’, “it was” said the Captain “a party to which he did not want to be invited” and thus we would head directly to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Captain Arma felt that this would be a safe destination as we could hide away in the back end of Halifax Harbour. Later on Monday afternoon we arrived in Halifax and proceeded in howling winds and rain to moor the ship to a small, but secure dock at the back of Town.
On Tuesday morning, despite rain and wind, we proceeded ashore for a quick walk through Halifax as well as to have a lobster lunch at one of the local seafood restaurants, I think the name of it was ‘The Little Fish’. By 2:00 pm it was becoming impossible to walk as the wind and rain were now horizontal. When we arrived back at the ship again the gangway had to be removed due to the weather conditions, it was later established that we had winds during the night approaching 100 mph.
On Wednesday we were still in Halifax although the Captain felt the conditions had improved sufficiently to depart later that night and sure enough we did at about 11:00 pm. After two and a half days in Halifax we set sail for Philadelphia. Our schedule would regrettably have to be revised. A letter in our state room indicated:
“The Silver Whisper will depart today, Oct 26th at 11pm from Halifax and proceed onto our newly revised itinerary. Silversea Marine Operations in Monaco has been working on the alternative and has secured our calls into Philadelphia, Baltimore and Port Canaveral. We regret that both Charleston and Amelia Island will be cancelled from this itinerary due to logistical and time constraint factors. We appreciate your understanding.
Our new itinerary is as follows:
October – at Sea
28th October – Arrive Philadelphia at 8pm
29th October – Depart Philadelphia at 2pm
29th October – Arrive Baltimore at 10pm
30th October – Depart Baltimore at 1pm
31st October – At Sea
01 November – Arrive Port Canaveral at 12 Noon and depart at 9pm
02 November – Arrive Fort Lauderdale at 8am “
This task was further complicated by the fact that Hurricane Wilma had created havoc in South Florida and there was little or no communication with Silver Seas Head Office due to damage and the total loss of Electricity.
We have a Townhouse in South Florida and we had no idea of the extent of the damages which we may have suffered and this was definitely putting a damper on our cruise. In addition one of the Ports which we had really wanted to see, Charleston, had to be eliminated.
The evening of Wednesday October 26 was Formal Night. Additionally, the Venetian Society was having its first Party on board, at that time we also met the charming Cruise Consultant, Rosanna De Ria, who hailed from Verona, Italy. It was a somewhat apprehensive evening as the Captain had warned us that the seas would be rough on our departure as well as for our next day at sea on route to Philadelphia and rough it was, but certainly not as bad as Sunday night in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. The Captain requested that most passengers remain in their cabins and avoid walking around the ship as much as possible and certainly at breakfast and lunch on Thursday 27th October not many people were to be seen. The Silver Whisper is a small ship and obviously more susceptible to the sea conditions however, with sea swells behind us the ship ran extremely well. This is a ship that both going into a head sea and running down from the sea exhibits very good manners – obviously a well balanced and well designed Hull. On a beam sea she appears to be ‘top heavy’ and rolls excessively. Perhaps a guide to us in booking destinations for future cruises.
In all the confusion and concern about the Hurricane and sea conditions there were some good moments and good meals.
This cruise was also built as a Wine and Culinary Cruise and there was a guest Chef on board, Robert Carter, from the ‘Peninsular Grill’ in Charleston. He gave several cooking demonstrations and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner cooked by him on the evening of Tuesday October 25, in the Terrace Café. This was a 5 course dinner reflecting “American Southern Cuisine”
We arrived in Philadelphia at 11:00 pm on Friday 28th obviously too late to proceed ashore and we departed Philadelphia at 2:00 pm on Saturday 29th for Baltimore. The few hours that we spent in Philadelphia were disappointing. We found Philadelphia dirty and some what devoid of character. In addition to enter any of the Museums including the ‘Liberty Bell’ involved a tiresome series of security checks akin to that experienced at airports in the US today.
On the other hand our visit to Baltimore where we arrived at 10:00 pm on Saturday 29th was a charming reminder of how well old Dock Lands can be converted and Baltimore’s inner Harbour was an area which we would like to have spent at least a day or two, again our early departure for Port Canaveral was necessitated by time constraints and we were forced to leave at 1:00 pm on Sunday. The weather in Baltimore was a cool 48f or 9c but was crisp and clear. Thus our continuing cruise through the Chesapeake Bay was a wonderful calm period of incredible sunset – see below.
Sunset on Chesapeake Bay
That evening after another superb dinner in the main restaurant we saw a Musical Variety Act called “String Fever”. It was put on by a Husband and Wife Team called ‘Jacqui & Brenton Edgecombe’ from Adelaide, Australia. She played the Chelo and he played the Violin accompanied by the Silver Whisper Trio.
Monday October 31, which the evening ‘Chronicle’ dubbed “Happy Halloween” was another Formal Night, however, we decided to eat in and had a 4 course meal served to us in our suite. We choose the meals from the best of the main restaurant and the Terrace Café which was served to us, course by course, at 10 – 15 minute intervals. This meal was as good as any during our entire cruise and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quiet evening and away from the dressing up of another Formal evening.
Dining in our Suite
Tuesday November 1, we arrived in Port Canaveral at 8:00 am. We had decided to disembark the ship today and drive down to our Condo with two reasons in mind. One being to see the damage that had been inflicted on us by Hurricane Wilma and secondly to drop off our winter clothes and pick up our summer gear for the second stage of our Cruise 4539 departing from Ft Lauderdale on Wednesday November 2.
We were very pleasantly surprised on arriving at the Condo to find it still completely intact although there was devastation all around us. On many streets and particularly on the A1A not a tree or shrub was left standing. Many of our neighbours had lost their roofs, high rise Condo Apartments had many blown out windows and doors, not a pleasant sight for us as it felt like ‘deja vu’. Last year two Hurricanes had also created substantial damage – Oh Well! – next year we shall once more have to replant and repair the garden.
On the afternoon of Wednesday 2nd November we re-boarded the ship in Ft Lauderdale for the second part of our Cruise.
We are often asked what problems did we encounter on this cruise and was the ship and Silver Seas living up to its billing as the ‘No. 1 Cruise Line’. Yes, these are wonderful ships, but like many things in life, they have problems although most of these were easily fixed.
Our stewardess and her helper were not totally up to snuff and they were certainly not the most efficient that we have had on other Silver Seas Cruise, but they were friendly and helpful and when we pointed out to them areas of concern they were very prompt to correct it.
We did have to buy a foam Pillow in Halifax as we found the pillows on board this time to be as hard as rocks. Being allergic to feathers obviously complicated this situation.
In Philadelphia with only a few hours in the morning in which to head into town, 45 seater trolly cars were provided to move 300 plus passengers and around 100 crew into and out of town. These trollies should have been retired 50 years ago, they were hot and uncomfortable with minimum springs and certainly were not up to the task of moving so many people in so short a time. This was definitely a problem of the Tour Department.
In Baltimore again with minimum time there were insufficient coaches to carry so many people and once more pandemonium and confusion was the name of the game. Of course the Tour Department blamed the Ground Handling had sent ahead via Silver Seas ‘air-ease’ programme, could not be found until after departure, it was claimed that somehow the baggage tags had become detached.
Again on re-boarding the ship in Ft. Lauderdale we arrived at 2:30 pm on the docks and did not receive our bags until nearly 6:00 pm. We have never experienced this before on previous cruises on Silver Seas and obviously there is a problem here.
In discussing these problems with Mark Rumbarger, he indicated that they were aware there was a problem and he promised that on our planned disembarkation in St. Lucia on the 9th November, he would see that this was corrected and true to his word our bags were collected and taken through the ship and carried to our waiting car in Point Seraphine in St. Lucia. It is very easy to complain and whine about problems, but our experience has been that by bringing it to people of authority most problems can quickly be corrected.
Frankly, I would be hard pressed to find anything else to complain about other than the weather and the unfortunate cancellation of two Ports, perhaps Philadelphia could have been omitted entirely and more quality time spent in Baltimore. I did notice however that there were many containers being de-stuffed and the contents loaded onto the ship at our dock in Philadelphia so perhaps this was an important staging point for supplies.