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Tom Ogg

Age:

Occupation:Travel Professionals

Number of Cruises: Most were seasoned cruisers

Cruise Line: Silversea

Ship: Silver Shadow

Sailing Date:

Itinerary: Scandinavia/Russia

The Setup: This was the first cruise that my wife and I have enjoyed together for almost three years. When our son turned 15 he shared with us that he was tired of traveling and wanted to stay home and lead a “normal” life. Joanie and I made the commitment that one of us would be home and with him until he matured into a young adult. At almost 19 years old, Andy has done a wonderful job of developing into a young man and Joanie and I have complete confidence in Andy’s ability to manage himself and our affairs so we could take this cruise together. Actually Joanie just got off the Silver Cloud with a group and I will be staying on the Silver Shadow with another group after Joanie goes back home. People laugh when we say this but shortly after I get back from the second cruise we are going to take a family vacation to Mexico surfing. We have rented a house in a small Mexican fishing village north of Puerto Vallarta and are going to simply surf, sleep, eat and relax. Joanie and I are going to do seminars for a group of 38 travel professionals traveling with us on the Silver Shadow and will act as the hosts and seminar facilitators.

Getting to the ship: I was originally booked on British Air for the first cruise using a credit from a previous flight as payment for the ticket. When we learned that we would have a group on the following sailing of the Silver Shadow and that I would escort it I called British Air to change my flight arrangement. I must say that dealing with British Air is quite difficult as one has to wait 30 minutes or longer to speak with a reservationist and then each reservationist seems to be working from a different rule book. It really is quite odd. I made a mental note to never use British Air again once my credit was used up. They quoted me a fare that was over $2,300.00 additional to make the change from flying home from Copenhagen rather than London. Ridiculous. I hung up the telephone, called Northwest Airlines and booked a better itinerary and saved $2,100.00. I then called BA and cancelled. I was flying out of LAX on July 7th, 2002 just a couple of days after the El Al shooting and found security to be unusually lax. I arrived quite early anticipating long lines and lots of checks but I simply checked in, checked my bag and proceeded to the gate. It was probably the first time I have never been checked somewhere along the way. I wasn’t even required to turn my computer on.

The flight on KLM was uneventful other than the fact that KLM has cut their seat pitch to an uncomfortable distance for someone of my height. I barely slept during the flight and arrived in Amsterdam to make my connection with time to spare. Upon arrival in Stockholm I immediately went to the baggage claim, cleared customs and immigration and made my way to the train station to catch the express train to Stockholm (20 minutes, approximately US$18.00.) Upon arrival at the main train station I grabbed a taxi cab to our hotel, the Radisson SAS Strand located right in the middle of things. After checking in I unpacked some of the things I would need for our two-day stay before boarding the Silver Shadow and beginning our cruise. Our hotel room was quite small but very European in style and décor.

I had agreed to meet Joanie (who was flying in from London) in the arrival hall of British Air so thought I would take time for a long walk back to the train station. Being familiar with Stockholm’s terrain I decided to walk through the cities shopping areas on my way to the train station. I stopped for a coffee and took as much time as possible before boarding the Arlanda Express back to the airport. With almost two hours to burn before Joanie arrived I decided to walk the entire airport to Sky City and just look around. Arlanda is truly an excellent model for any International airport with its transportation, shopping and general layout and access. After Joanies’ arrival we went directly to the Arlanda Express station and boarded the next train back to Stockholm. The train is truly unique as it speeds into Stockholm at an incredible speed and is a bargain. We dropped Joanies’ luggage off and made our way to a small café for a small dinner of a salad and glass of wine before returning to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

I would highly recommend arriving in Stockholm at least one day before boarding any cruise in Europe if for no other reason, just to get adjusted to the time zone change. Stockholm is a wonderful city that anyone would find interesting and the shopping is world class. From Stockholm’s designer district, to the Old City to Stockholm’s many shopping streets with department stores, boutiques and specialty shops there is something for everyone. We especially enjoy Stockholm’s wonderful outdoor restaurants and coffee bars. We spent the next day enjoying Stockholm with excellent weather and lots of sunshine. We stumbled into the Palace just in time for the beginning of the changing of the guards. The pomp and ceremony for this event is worth seeing and spending hours wondering the Old City’s pedestrian shopping streets is a must-do. After enjoying a long day visiting much of Stockholm we made our way back to our hotel before going to dinner on one of the outdoor restaurants we discovered during the day.

We had a wonderful meal of salad and wine and just enjoyed the evening unfold before our tables. We were only two blocks from one of the main parks and there was a rock concert starting so we decided to investigate. Thousands of Swedes had congregated for the evening’s musical event that was free to everyone in attendance. Their national pride and respect for their city was evident in the way the population enjoyed the concert and respected their environment. After a while Joanie and I decided to take a long walk along the waterfront on the way back to our hotel. Stockholm is a wonderful city and enjoying its evenings is just one of the very best pleasures available to its residents and visitors alike.

The following morning we were up early for a quick breakfast before taking another venture into Stockholm. As our boarding time started at 3 pm we had the entire day it seemed to explore more of Stockholm. More discoveries, another great lunch and some time exploring the nooks and crannies of the Old City and it was time to make our way to the pier. After finishing packing and checking out of the hotel we hailed a taxi and were off to the pier. Silversea had been assigned a change of piers so it took a while to locate the ship. While irritating as the taxi driver took full advantage of the situation to drive up the fare, I take responsibility for the situation as I should have reconfirmed the pier location with the ship’s agent before leaving the hotel. Silversea does an excellent job of providing contact information and it is smart to reconfirm a ship’s actual location before departing for the pier when a port offers several different possible piers a cruise ship might dock at.

The Ship
(Adapted from the Silver Whisper Review)

The Silver Shadow was the first of two sister Silversea vessels (The Whisper is the other) and is an amazing ship. She features the finest of everything and has won every award including "Best Small Ship" almost every year. At 28,258 gross tons she is a small ship and with a space ratio of an astounding 72.8 she feels more like a private yacht. All of the public areas (with the exception of the Observation Lounge) are located in the rear of the ship leaving the forward portion for the suites. This works well as there are no suites that adjoin public areas guaranteeing privacy and a peaceful environment. Her small size allows her to access many ports not readily available to larger ships and this also works in her favor as she offers unique itineraries to out-of-the-way ports not usually visited on most mass-market line itineraries.

The Cabin
Our group occupied veranda suites on decks 7, 8 and 9. At 345 square feet, the Silver Shadow’s veranda suites are more like a small apartment than a cruise ship cabin. My first impression when entering my cabin was one of complete satisfaction. It was large, beautiful and comfortable all at once. The cabin really consisted of 5 separate areas.

The veranda is generous in size and offers two reclining chairs each with its own footrest. The teak decking gave the veranda a feeling of true luxury and it is very functional as well. The doorway leading to the veranda requires a little strength to operate but offers the comforting feature of locking both when all the way closed and also in the wide-open position.

The sitting area is located between the veranda door and the bedroom and may be closed off by simply closing the drapes covering the veranda doorway and the room divider that offers a full drapery to separate the sitting area from the bedroom area as well. The area offers a nice sofa with end tables with lamps (great for simply relaxing and reading) a coffee table and separate plush chair. It is a great place to chat and enjoy the complimentary wine and champagne that Silversea offers. Upon first entering the cabin there is a complimentary bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne in a silver ice bucket and a small vase with fresh orchids. On the other side of the sitting area is a complete work/entertainment center. I was able to set up my computer and printer with no problem and had tons of room for everything else. However, be sure to bring a short extension cord with multiple outlets on it, as there is only one 110v outlet on the desktop. Behind the door on the lower right side there is a small refrigerator loaded with bottled water, soft drinks and beer (all complimentary.) On the left side are some shelves and a drawer. The desktop is huge and adorned with fresh fruit and other amenities. The upper cabinet on the right offers glasses and other paraphernalia for beverages while the television and VCR are located on the left. Silversea offers a video library of movies that can be checked out and viewed in your cabin. An extensive list of first run movies and other television venues are offered as well.

The bedroom area offers quite a bit of space so that walking around the bed is easy. There is ample room for getting into and out of bed for two people. The nightstands offer two drawers each for even more additional storage and the bedding is the finest available. We thoroughly enjoyed sleeping on the Silver Shadow and would have liked to have the bedding in our home. Against the wall is a wonderful area for women to apply their cosmetics and other activities where a vanity mirror and lights would be desirable. There is another 110v outlet here as well.

These suites also offer a full walk-in closet. There is ample space for dresses, suits and all of your clothing to hang in complete spaciousness. A full shoe rack will hold a dozen pairs of shoes and there is a stack of drawers that will satisfy everyone’s needs for storage. All in all, the closet is like one you would find on a world cruiser that will accommodate a complete wardrobe with ease.

The bathroom is to die for. There is both a full bathtub and an enclosed shower. The hot/cold controls are excellent. There is also a double sink so that it is possible for two people to bathe and get ready at the same time. The generous use of marble tiles, porcelain and glass give one the feeling of luxury. Silversea provides Bvlgari hair and soap products and Neutrogena soap products complimentary. Hardwood cabinets and moldings accentuate the cabin’s subtle design. The crown moldings give the cabin a feeling a quality and the use of wood and mirrors make it look even larger than it actually is (and it is quite large and comfortable)

The Restaurants
Fine dining is part of the Silversea experience and the restaurants on the Silver Shadow certainly keep that promise. Here are the restaurants you will enjoy.

The Restaurant
This is the main restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Breakfast and lunch were never crowded as folks seemed to opt for the Terrace Café’s excellent food and service. We ate breakfast in the Restaurant a few mornings and enjoyed the menu and the service. You can basically order anything either on the menu or not. One gentleman prided himself for creating a caviar and swiss cheese omelet that he dined on every morning. Lunch was pretty much the same experience with excellent cuisine and service being offered daily. No reservations were necessary for any meal in the Restaurant so it was a favorite.

Dinner in the Restaurant was always a culinary treat. A preview dinner menu was always included in every day’s Silversea Chronicle so one could ponder the evening’s event with anticipation.

Dinner in the Restaurant does not require reservations and there is seating at tables for 2 people up to 10. We never had trouble getting an excellent table no matter how many of us there were. The service is excellent (actually better on the Shadow than on the Whisper) and the food quality and presentation impeccable. Along with the menu one could order many of the standard offerings such as caviar, escargot and other culinary treats. Both red and white wines were always selected and offered with dinner. Silversea offers about 20 labels and there is another 25 or so that may be purchased with dinner as well.

The Terrace Café
This was my favorite. Breakfast found an excellent buffet of everything imaginable one could ask for. While the term buffet is used, fine china and silverware are the norm and white-gloved waiters will carry your plate for you to your linen covered table. There is also full table service for those not wanting buffet items. I found the selection of fruits very much to my liking and I always apply the “seed test” to every ship….Silversea ts the first 10 I have ever awarded for the preparation of fruit for consumption (not one seed in any fruit for the entire cruise)

Lunch found the Terrace Café with another buffet with wonderful cuisine. Each day featured a different theme and the seafood buffet was to die for. Unfortunately, I missed a good number of luncheons on the ship as I was in port exploring but understood that each one was wonderful. Again, both red and white wines were offered with lunch and poured freely. I liked the Terrace Café so much that I never got around to eating in the Restaurant for lunch (I suspect that was true for most folks on this cruise.)

Dinner in the Terrace Café was an event to behold. Reservations are mandatory and it was sold out early each day so be sure to plan your evenings in the Terrace Café early (especially on formal nights) While the restaurant can seat a good number of people, the Terrace Café only accommodates about 45 or so lucky people for dinner. The event starts at 7:45 promptly while everyone makes their way to be seated in the restaurant. The evening unfolds with course after course of fantastic dining. Without question I enjoyed dinner in the Terrace Café the very most. While reservations are required for this restaurant no gratuity is.

The cuisine in the Terrace Restaurant is truly gourmet. Each evening, the flavors of certain European sub-cultures that are unique and exploratory. This is not a steak and potato restaurant and folks should be up for culinary treats as they are served. Here is an example of the themed menus served during this cruise in the Terrace Cafe' Provence Cafe, La Cucina Italiano, Flavors of the Orient, Tour de France, Secrets of the Sea and Paris-Nice. If you like to explore new discoveries in dining, you will absolutely love the Terrace Cafe for dinner.

The Pool Grill
Located forward by the pool, the pool grill offers those lounging in the sun by the pool a dining option that does not require them to change out of their bathing suits to dine. The Pool Grill offers all of the standard pool side cuisine as well as more sophisticated choices as well. This dining venue was open from 11:30 in the morning until after 4 in the afternoon.

The Panorama Lounge and the Observation Lounge
Both of these lounges offered coffee, juice and rolls in the morning and snacks throughout the day. I enjoyed fresh orange juice in the early morning in the Panorama Lounge before going to the Internet Café to check my e-mail.

The Bars

The Bar
This is the main bar on the Silver Whisper and features full bar service in a plush setting. The Silversea Quintet plays dance music here in the evening and offers a wonderful place to relax after the show for the evening. The music is mellow dance music.

The Panorama Lounge
This is another larger lounge that offers full bar service and a piano bar atmosphere that everyone enjoys. On this cruise there was a very talented gentleman named Colin that was a wonderful performer. On some evenings the Panorama Lounges Is used as an entertainment venue as was in the case of a jazz night and a mixed entertainment evening. All in all, I liked the Panorama Lounge equally as well as the Bar.

The Lampadina
The Lampadina is a small and intimate bar adjoining the casino. It offers full service and is open the latest of all the bars on the ship and generally is the place everyone ends up if they close the other bars.

Le Champagne Bar
This is the champagne and wine bar that adjoins the Terrace Restaurant that opens at 9:30 each evening for wine and champagne. Le Champagne also serves as a private restaurant for up to 12 guests at a time for the ultimate private party. Reservations are made and the fee for hosting dinner in Le Champagne is $1,000.00 for up to 6 guests and then $150.00 per guest up to a maximum of 12. For that you get your own private dinner just the way you want it. Here is how it works;

"Reservations for Le Champagne may be made while on board. Simply contact the Concierge to make a reservation. Reservations made aboard will require a minimum of 48-hours notice and will be confirmed at time of reservation. Once confirmed, you will meet with the Executive Chef to select the dishes of your choice, or to adjust the menu to your liking. You will also meet with the Head Sommelier to select the perfect wines from both our wine selection of complimentary wines and those specially selected wines available exclusively for Le Champagne dinners."

As we celebrated Joanies' birthday on board the Silver Shadow I regret not making the event even more special by hosting a birthday celebration for Joanie in Le Champagne.....next time. I wasn't able to get a shot of the Le Champagne set up for a private dinner but saw it one night and it was stunning indeed.

The Humidor
Adjoining the Champagne, the Humidor is the place to relax with one of the cigars offered there and some brandy. While I didn’t visit the Humidor in the evening, those that did loved its rich environment and subtle décor. The brandies are on a self-service cart that one may enjoy and it is much like enjoying a private cigar club atmosphere.

The Entertainment Venues

The Athenian Lounge
This is the main showroom on the Silver Shadow and offers the evening’s production shows and other entertainment on the cruise. It is a smaller theater as ships go but offers a very intimate experience with the entertainers. By sitting in the front rows you feel almost a part of the act and the interaction is wonderful. The best seats go quickly and bar service is suspended during the show so be sure to get there early if you enjoy being entertained and want the maximum experience. There are no bad seats in the house.

Other Public Areas

The Pool Area
The Silver Shadow’s pool area is just the right size for the ship and offers a very comfortable pool and two Jacuzzis. The lounge chairs offer thick and comfortable cushions for total relaxation. There is ample space for everyone that wants to lie out and enjoy the sun and the lounge chairs are far enough apart making it easy to get in and out of the chairs. There is also a pool bar offering full bar service and of course the Pool Grill for those that do not want to dress for lunch in the restaurants. The area is well protected from the wind and takes full advantage of the available sunshine. The pool water is kept quite warm and is enjoyable to be in even if the weather turns cooler. We were blessed with 80 degree weather and lots of sunshine making the pool area quite popular.

The Library and Internet Café
The Silver Shadow offers an elaborate library and Internet Café. First, there are a good number of books to choose from that may be taken out at will and there is also an extensive library of video tapes for those that want to watch them in their cabin (all cabins have a VCR) One simply selects the book or tape they would like to enjoy and takes it on the honor system.

The Internet Café offers 5 quick terminals that are connected to the Internet and also has basic Microsoft Office applications on them. All of the terminals are connected to a printer and one may create flyers, letters and so on and then print them out. The charges for using the Internet access are somewhat confusing. I was told that there was a $.75 per minute charge for accessing the Internet from the Café. While this is true, the charge only occurs while you are either downloading or uploading content to/from the Internet. I am a heavy user and my average session only cost between $2.00 and $3.00 (I was usually on for an hour or more) Most cruise lines charge you from the time you log on until the time you log off and this is nothing like that. Don’t be put off by the price per minute as it is not expensive to use the service.

There is an Internet Cafe manager on the Silver Shadow but I found him to be more invasive than helpful . Whenever the manager would show up the Internet Cafe became noisy with loud conversation and interruptions. I planned my sessions before and after the time period the manager was to be in the cafe as the noise level was so predictable. (Just as a mention to all users, one should treat an Internet Cafe as they would a library. Folks on line are trying to concentrate and open conversations between people are very disrupting at best and downright rude at their worse.).

Also, Silversea will issue you an e-mail address with your final documents that folks can use to send and receive e-mail to/from you. You will be charged for each e-mail if you decide to use the Silversea address. I prefer to access my own e-mail account and use a company called www.webbox.com to do it. It allows me to freely access all of my accounts at once and to send and receive mail from my own e-mail address without problem. If you are a heavy e-mail user you might want to check it out.

The Observation Lounge
This is a great room that is overlooked by many. It offers a panoramic vista from comfortable sofas and chairs and is a great place to simply relax and watch the scenery go by. There is no bar in the lounge but there is always coffee, juice, tea or some other treat available to enjoy. There is also a small library area of nautical interest with books, maps and charts to enjoy. Joanie enjoyed sitting in the lounge working on the puzzle that was always in progress as a group effort.

The Workout Room
I was disappointed in the equipment that was offered in the small workout area but don’t see how they could have equipped it any better with the space they allocated. There is a small Universal Machine, several treadmills, a couple of step machines and some dumbbells. Not really enough to get a reasonable work out and I don’t particularly care for Universal Machines as they tend to get out of service quickly. I passed on working out for the entire cruise to give my body time to regenerate and returned to my routine when I got back home.

There is also a small aerobics area adjoining the workout area and while I never visited it I understand that it was used frequently for morning exercises and such. I am not sure how I would change the setup to make a better gym but I suspect that many on the Silver Whisper are not interested in working out during the cruise making it a moot point.

The Beauty Salon and Spa
Mandara Spa, the Balinese style spa that is considered the best on any cruise line, manages the Spa. They offer full spa services and everyone that used the spa loved it. The Beauty Salon was also heavily used by the women and gained high marks for the quality of their services. One of our group members who is in the business of selling spas worldwide felt that the spa on the Silver Shadow was the best she had ever experienced.

The Casino
The Silver Shadow offers a very compact casino with limited slot machines and gaming tables. However, it was heavily used and people seemed to be winning.

The Shops
There are two shops on the Silver Shadow and they both offer wonderful items. The Boutique offers Silversea signature items (shirts, hats and so on) as well as other collectibles. Bvlgari, which adjoins the Boutique, offers quality jewelry and other fine collectibles.

The Registration and Tour Desks
The Registration desk is open 24 hours a day and I experienced nothing but quality service from them. They offer currency exchange and other helpful services throughout the cruise. The tour desk is always a busy place to be, especially in the morning after arrival into a new port. Everyone found the tour staff to be helpful and knowledgeable about the shore excursions Silversea offered and also about the ports.

Launderettes and laundry Service
There are launderettes located on decks 4, 6 and 8 with complimentary detergent and so on. These came in very handy for ironing and keeping small items fresh and clean. The laundry and dry cleaning service on the Whisper was reasonably priced and efficient. On several occasions I received laundry back the same day that I sent it in and the pricing was just about the same as I would pay at my cleaners at home. (HINT: I always bring my tux and suits on a cruise from my last cruise and get them dry cleaned when I get on the ship. This way they are fresh and not wrinkled like when you have them cleaned at home and them jam them into a suitcase for the trip. This works quite well on most lines and is certainly the way to do it on Silversea.)

Card Room and Conference Room
These rooms adjoin one another and make an excellent place to meet for small meetings and such. We did our seminar in the Conference Room and had approximately 35 in attendance. The conference room had everything one would need for a formal meeting however I would suggest bringing a wireless microphone and amp if you are going to present to more than 20 people. There was some engine noise that I had to talk over and after three hours my voice was pretty well gone. The card room is also another great place to meet as it is rarely used by anyone. I took my notebook computer there and set it up to meet some of the folks from our group to build some web sites.

The Officers and Crew of the Silver Shadow
The staff of the Silver Shadow is exceptional. Captain Gennaro Arma's friendly way with his crew and passengers, Head Sommelier Wolfgang Zehnter's outgoing personality and ever present charm, Cruise Director Colin Brown's exceptional people skills in person and on stage and Venetian Society Representative Teresa Binding's enthusiasm for Silversea are all the most professional and wonderful management team I have ever seen assembled on a ship. Without question, the Silver Shadow is the best managed ship I have ever been on.

The Cruise

Day One, Stockholm, Sweden, July 10th, 2002

We arrived at the terminal about 30 minutes early and met some of the group waiting to check in. Upon opening registration it was only a matter of minutes before we were boarding the Silver Shadow. After being greeted at the gangway by the Cruise Director and other staff we entered the ship where we immediately offered a glass of champagne and escorted to our cabin by one of the stewardesses. Our luggage was already waiting for us so we unpacked and prepared to make arrangements for our group. Joanie went to the Purser’s desk to reconfirm everything while I went to work on the computer to prepare a welcome aboard letter for everyone in our group. We had a life boat drill at 5 pm and we wanted to try and get the letters into everyone’s hands by the time the drill was over so while I printed and folded the letters Joanie delivered them to the cabins.

We didn’t finish before the drill began so I brought the balance of the welcome aboard letters with me to the drill and delivered then on the way back to the cabin once the drill was complete. I must say that even the lifeboat drill on Silversea is accomplished with the passenger’s comfort in mind. Most cruise lines require you to squish together at your muster station while Silversea only requires you to visit your muster station and then comfortably enjoy a presentation in the main lounge for the details. Following the lifeboat drill we relaxed and then got ready for our group’s welcome aboard cocktail party and dinner.

We met our group in suite 602 for a private cocktail party. Everyone enjoyed the spaciousness and lushness of the suite and made a point to return and enjoy it one day. The suite has a private bar and we enjoyed appetizers and an open bar for at least an hour while everyone settled into the Silversea lifestyle. The on-board cruise consultant and food and beverage manager joined us for the party and it was an enjoyable experience for all. After lots of conversation we broke into smaller dinner groups and made our way to The Restaurant for dinner. As Joanie and I were the last to leave the cocktail party we ended up at a small table for two before running into four more from our group and then joined them for dinner. We had a great time talking abut past cruises, ports and the travel industry in general and ended up being the last to leave the Restaurant before continuing on to the Panorama Lounge for a nightcap. Both Joanie and I were bushed and called it a night.

Day Two, Cruising the Baltic Sea, July 11th, 2002

Our first seminar was to take place this morning in the conference room on deck 7, aft. After a short breakfast I made my way to the room to prepare for the seminar and to make sure I had everything I needed. Silversea had provided juice, coffee, tea, rolls and everything that went with it and by 9 am the group was there and the seminar was under way. The seminar went quite well and by noon we were on our own for the afternoon.

Joanie and I took a lunch in the buffet outside on the aft deck in the sunshine and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Fresh shrimp, crab legs, salad, sushi and vegetables completed my selection and Joanie enjoyed salad and sushi with some French bread. We also enjoyed a glass of the day’s wine selection as we sat in the sunshine…. ahhh, Silversea. After lunch we logged some time in the Internet Café and then spent a little time by the pool before going to our cabin to prepare for the evening’s formal night (the first of four on this itinerary) We had arranged to meet our group in The Bar at 6 pm for a group photo and pre “Captain’s Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party” cocktail party. We had fun while some of the agents built web sites at the bar on my computer and finally got the group photo. After a wonderful social hour we continued on to the

Silver Shadow’s Welcome Aboard cocktail party in the main showroom. While it is probably just my perception, but the staff on the Shadow seemed even more professional than on the Silver Whisper (as if that were possible) It just amazes me that Silversea is able to attract, retain and motivate such quality individuals to serve on their ships. As a businessman, I would think this is one of Silversea’s more unique qualities. The Captain of the Silver Shadow, Captain Gennaro Arma is a younger Captain yet possesses a gift of portraying a friendly and personable personality yet is clearly able to command the respect of his entire crew. Everyone loved him.

From the cocktail party we continued on to dinner in The Restaurant and formed a group of six of us who enjoyed the caviar, salad, vegetables and lobster along with plenty of the wine selection for the dinner. We had a great time at dinner that ended in a joke telling session that left us howling with laughter. After dinner we dropped into the evening’s entertainment that was already in progress and opted for a night cap in the Panorama Lounge before turning in for a good night’s sleep.

Day Three, St. Petersburg, Russia, July 12th, 2002

We were sound asleep when we heard what sounded like a marching band playing the United States national anthem right outside our balcony. Joanie jumped out of bed to see just that, a full marching band playing to the Silver Shadow as she finished tying up to the dock on the Neva River in the heart of St. Petersburg. It was truly a great experience and a complete surprise. We enjoyed the band as they played several other songs and finally departed waving good-bye to everyone standing on their balconies enjoying the special treat. We ordered a pot of coffee and simply enjoyed the morning’s rays of sunshine on our veranda. We both had much work to do and needed to spend time on the Internet so opted to simply stay on the Silver Shadow for the day. It was like having your own private yacht once everyone departed to go on tour. We dressed and made our way to the buffet for some fruit and juice to enjoy on the aft deck in the sunshine and then made our way to the Internet Café. After wading through over a hundred e-mails Joanie and I decided to make our way to the pool and enjoy the 80 degree weather. This proved to be a great choice as the sunshine was comfortable and soothing. I spent my time between the pool, Jacuzzi and my lounge chair. It was a great afternoon.

Meeting some from our group at 7 pm in the Bar we enjoyed some appetizers and cocktails before going up to the Terrace Restaurant where the Silver Shadow had organized a private dinner just for our group. It was wonderful. We entered the Terrace Restaurant where tables of 4 and 6 were set up along the windows so everyone could enjoy the excellent views of St. Petersburg while dining. The Terrace Restaurant is the Silver Shadow’s specialty restaurant and the head chef had prepared a special dinner for our group. Following is the menu:

MENU

White Wine from Verona
Inama Soave Classico D.O.C., 2000

Red Wine from California
Barbera, La Famiglia di Robert Mondavi, 1999

Marinated Swordfish Carpaccio with Herbs Citronette
Summer Salad and Chives

Handmade Pappardelle Alla Modenese
Prosciutto, Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

Refreshing Limoncello Sorbet

Cote Boelif with Sauce Bordelaise
Mediterranean Vegetable Compote and Rosmarin Potatoes

Creamy Lemon Tart with Vanilla Almond Ice Cream

Coffee and Petit Fours

Of course the service was impeccable and the food gourmet. It was a special evening as two of my favorite people were celebrating birthdays and I had arranged for birthday cakes for both of them and they were delivered with song and good wishes from the entire group. After the fabulous desert and lengthy conversation we made our way up to the Panorama Lounge for an after dinner drink. Running into some others from our group we enjoyed conversation with much laughter before turning in for the evening.

Day Four, St. Pertersburg, Russia, July 13th, 2002

Another couple Joanie and I having seen most of St. Petersburg’s sights before had decided to negotiate a private car for the day to do some serious shopping and exploring. We were met by our guide Euginia and driver and took off in a brand new Mercedes van after a lingering breakfast on the deck aft of the buffet. We started by viewing some of the more important buildings in the city before Euginia picked up on our intent for shopping. From there it was non-stop shopping for Russian knick knacks and collectibles. She took us to some shops where outstanding quality collectibles were being offered and I have to say that the Russians have caught onto the idea of capitalism quite well. In one shop the “husbands chairs” included a bottle of vodka, several liquors, crackers and chocolates in a serve-yourself environment. We never laughed so hard in our lives. We then decided to check out the public markets and head to St. Isaacs Cathedral and the open air market across the street. Rod and I took up refuge in the little bar area under the shade trees while Joanie and Marge shopped for the traditional Russian gifts. We continued on to our final destination the open air shops around the Church of the Spilled Blood where we seemed to have hit the jackpot for both knick knacks and collectibles both in abundance and also priced aggressively. The market by St. Isaacs seems to be controlled by a few vendors who are sticking to their prices in an effort to generate high profitability while the market by the Church of the Spilled Blood is till very competitive with 50% discounts being had on already excellent prices after extensive negotiations. If you are looking for excellent shopping I would highly recommend this venue as the best in the city. We found that many of the shops are priced higher in order to accommodate commissions paid to the drivers/guides bringing clients to them so be aware.

HINT: The Silver Shadow can arrange for a private driver to take you out using their group Visas even if you haven’t obtained a Russian VISA. This is a great opportunity for those that want to strike out on their own yet do not want to go through the expense and hassle of obtaining a VISA in advance. We shared a driver with another couple and were treated to a brand new Mercedes Benz van, a driver and a very knowledgeable guide for a total of $120 per hour (4 hour minimum) and found that 4 hours was plenty of time for shopping and enjoying St. Petersburg. If you are going to get a Russian VISA then I would strongly suggest that you pre book an English speaking driver/guide in advance of arrival as few of the taxi drivers speak any English whatsoever. Further, I made a mental note to learn some Russian for my next trip to Russia as the few words that our driver guide taught us were rewarded by huge smiles and a warm response from the local merchants and store keepers.

Back on the ship we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Terrace Buffet in what was becoming our normal routine. We had been blessed with 3 days of hot sunshine in St. Petersburg and today was no different so we spent the afternoon lounging by the pool before spending time in the Internet Café catching up on e-mail. Joanie and I spent the balance of the afternoon in our cabin catching up on work and decided to take advantage of the Silver Shadows in room dining service. We went to the library and found a movie we wanted to watch and then enjoyed a glass of wine on our balcony just talking and watching the evening unfold. At about 8 pm we decided what we wanted for dinner, ordered another bottle of wine and then ordered dinner. Silversea is one of the only cruise lines that allows you to order room service from the menu being served in the main dining room so we took advantage of the opportunity and ordered a full 6 course meal. It was great! The server from room service showed up with our hot and cold appetizers on china and fine silverware. There is a table top in the walk in closet that he used on the table in the sitting area of our cabin and then covered the affair with a fine table cloth and set up a dining table that resembled on that you would enjoy in the dining room. We uncorked the bottle of French Chardonnay and enjoyed the appetizers and wine. At just the right moment, our doorbell rang and our entrée arrived. After clearing the appetizer and salad plate the entrée was presented and we continued our intimate dining experience. Joanie And I do not eat desserts so we finished our meal with another glass of wine and total satisfaction. After another ten minutes or so our doorbell rang once more and the entire dining set up was removed returning our cabin into its former identity. I would highly recommend in cabin dining as an option to the dining rooms if you would like a unique dining experience that is simply not available on most other cruise ships. Enjoying the six-star dining experience right in your own cabin is something that reminds me of the old time movies….it is simply fantastic. After dinner, we inserted our video and drifted off into a long and peaceful sleep.

Day Five, St. Petersburg, Russia, July 14th, 2002

It was another stellar day and we were up for an early breakfast that we had delivered to our cabin as we were on the early tour to the Hermitage Museum Our breakfast arrived right on time and was excellent as usual. After dressing and spending some time in the Internet Café we made our way shore side to meet with the motor coach that would transport us to t he Hermitage. Silversea had arranged for the Silversea passengers to gain entrance to the Hermitage one hour earlier than its official opening. This one feature makes taking Silversea’s shore excursion very desirable if nothing else. The Hermitage is a world famous attraction and is always crowded no matter what day you plan on visiting the museum. Having taken the same tour a year ago but without the early entrance it took almost 3 hours to see what we were a ble to take in the first hour and fifteen minutes with Silversea. Silversea also limits the group size to around 25 so the process of boarding the motor coach and gaining entrance to the museum is quite simple. The smaller groups also move throughout the museum much faster than larger ones. After a couple of hours touring the museum Joanie and I decided to sneak off for a cool drink and to take a walk around St. Petersburg before returning to the motor coach to return to the ship. We made a couple of purchases and enjoyed the warm morning sunshine and eventually made our way to the motor coach to meet up with the rest of the group and return to the ship. All in all, it was a wonderful morning and revisiting the wealth of Russia’s history is something not to be missed.

After a quick lunch we decided to take advantage of the excellent weather and sit by the pool for a while. I met with some of the folks from our group and spent a couple hours talking about the Internet, web sites and opportunities and then rejoined Joanie by the pool. We stayed late into the afternoon and left just enough time to get ready for dinner in the Terraces Restaurant where we had reservations for a table of 6 for Asian night. The Terraces Restaurant is always a special treat and this evening was no different. We started with appetizers of sushi and sashimi followed by an excellent lobster bisque and a main course of expertly prepared duck. It was a wonderful dinner. We relaxed enjoying our conversation and then elected to move up to the Panorama Lounge for the disco party that was to take place. The disco music got folks on the dance floor and everyone had a wonderful time. Joanie and I turned in rather late but had a great time.

Day Six, Day at Sea Cruising the Baltic, July 15th, 2002

The morning started out somewhat dreary and I was contemplating doing an optional seminar for the group as I tend to do when the weather keeps lousy. Joanie and I took breakfast in the Terrace buffet and then spent some time in the Internet Café before walking past the pool heading back to our cabin. Lo and behold, the sun had broken through and it promised to be another stellar day. I immediately cancelled the idea of an optional seminar in favor of spending time in the sun by the pool so that is exactly what we did. The morning flew by as I enjoyed a latte and Joanie a cappuccino as we lounged by the pool in the hot sun. I jumped into the Jacuzzi and then the pool before laying out to bake some more. Eventually, it was time for lunch and since Joanie wanted eat at the poolside venue “The Pool Grille” I decided to join her. It is interesting that one must sit at one of the tables in order to order food from the Pool Grille but after considering the alternative it is the only thing that makes sense. Even the fare served in the Pool Grille is served on fine china and with formal silverware. Joanie and I had a grilled cheese and tomato paninis and they were excellent. A small salad bar was offered as was a more typical pool side menu of hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with French fries and such.

The afternoon went by quickly and before you know it Joanie was on her way to the work out classes (I was taking a break from working out as the Silver Shadow just didn’t offer me the right equipment to maintain my workout and I was enjoying the break). Joanie, who is addicted to working out and running, loved the classes offered on the ship and made great use of them. She would attend the body pump, ab attack and then the lower body workout on odd days and loved it. She also made good use of the jogging track and enjoyed that daily. She enjoyed the mat pilates, stretch and upper body classes as well.

I logged a good amount of time in the Internet Café before returning to our cabin to get ready for the evening’s formal night activities. We had organized a cocktail party in The Bar for our group so Joanie and I arrived a bit early to claim an area for our group to form and converse. Folks started showing up and shortly there were almost 40 of us socializing and having a great time. After an hour or so the group started to break into dinner groups and make their way to dinner. Joanie and I formed a group of 6 and made our way to the Restaurant and enjoyed a fabulous experience from the appetizer to the dessert. After lingering conversation we decided to move on to the Panorama Lounge to enjoy the evening’s music and entertainment. After a nightcap we decided to turn in for the evening completely satisfied with a wonderful meal and great company.

Day Seven, Gdansk, Poland Arrival, July 16th, 2002, Joanies’ Birthday

We arrived in Gdansk right on schedule and after a quick breakfast we were ready to go exploring the old district of the city. I had never been to Poland before and was looking forward to seeing how the reality of Poland compared to my preconceived opinion of how it might be. Silversea provides a complimentary transfer in each port to the city center so Joanie and I along with some of our group boarded the motor coach and made our way into the older section of Gdansk. I have to say t hat Gdansk (and Poland) was 180 degrees from my expectations. The town was a quaint as any I have ever visited. It was clean, friendly, happy and just a totally positive experience. The shopping was excellent and Joanie and the ladies with us could not believe the bargains on amber jewelry, lace and myriad other products. The people were happy and friendly and very attractive. It was simply a wonderful stop and one of the highlights of the cruise for everyone. We spent a good amount of time in Gdansk before making our way back to the ship for a late lunch by the pool. I stopped at a little flower stand to purchase some fresh flowers for Joanie and the ladies accompanying us and fell in love with the ladies who wrapped each bouquet as if it were a special occasion.

We had arranged to join some of the folks from our group in the Restaurant for Joanies’ birthday and first met in the Bar for cocktails before adjourning to the Terrace Restaurant for another fabulous meal with white and red wine as part of the treat. The dinner was complimented with wonderful conversation and laughter. After dinner, Joanie and I simply made our way to the Panorama Lounge where we were joined by a good number from our group to celebrate Joanies’ birthday. It was great fun and we stayed late enjoying the music. We then retired to our cabin for a long night’s sleep as we cruised towards Germany. All in all, it was one of the best days of the cruise for us.

Day Eight, Day at Sea/2 pm Arrival in Rostock, Germany, July 17th, 2002

Today was the day of our second seminar and Joanie was going to do this one. We enjoyed an early breakfast in the Terraces buffet and then made our way to the meeting room to ready the conference room for the meeting. Silversea had already taken care of all the arrangements and the coffee, tea, Danish, orange juice and other morning treats were ready to go as was the flip chart Joanie was to use in her presentation. The seminar went quite well and we were treated to a visit by many of the Silver Shadow’s officers for an hour-long question and answer period that was fascinating. After the seminar we enjoyed a lingering lunch in the Terrace buffet once again before spending time on line in the Internet Café catching up on e-mail. Today was the day that Raoul Fiebig and one of his friends from Rostock were to join us on the Silver Shadow for the afternoon and evening. We docked in the harbor right on time only to be greeted by a twenty piece band playing American and German songs. Everyone enjoyed the music and the gesture and was looking forward to the 2-day visit.

We had cleared Raoul and Marcus’ visit many weeks in advance with Silversea and after the bulk of the passengers disembarked for tours and transfers to Rostock and surrounding areas, Raoul and Marcus were allowed to board the Silver Shadow. Raoul, myself and Marcus (who hosts the website for the Rostock port in German at www.cruiseport-warnemuende.de ) spent the afternoon photographing the ship for our various websites and talking about a myriad of topics. Marcus was especially knowledgeable about the comings and goings in the harbor that was quite busy with ferry traffic from the Baltic and North Sea and it was interesting to learn things about the harbor other than the cruise ship activity. After hours of conversation we went to the Bar to meet Joanie and another couple that I had invited that I thought Raoul would find interesting. After a short cocktail period we made our way to the Restaurant for dinner. I have to admit to being tired after the previous night’s birthday celebration and decided to turn in after dinner foregoing the evening’s entertainment. It was indeed god to see Raoul again and to meet Marcus and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. I slept like a new-born baby.

Day Nine, Rostock, Germany, July 18th, 2002

We were up early for an early breakfast and to explore Rostock. We had originally booked the train trip to Berlin but cancelled the last minute in favor of spending a more relaxing day near the ship. The ship actually ports in Warnemuende rather than Rostock and the Silver Shadow offered a free shuttle to Rostock every 30 minutes. Joanie and I boarded the shuttle and made our way into Rostock and explored its pedestrian streets. And while quaint, we didn’t care for Rostock all that much and decided to make our way back to the ship for lunch. After a wonderful lunch in the Terrace buffet we decided to explore to local town in W arnemuende and the water way we could see from the ship. We found our way along the pier, past the ferry to Rostock, past the train station and under the tunnel into the streets of Warnemuende. It was truly a wonderful little community with numerous shops, restaurants and other stores and treats. We walked the entire length of the waterfront until we arrived at the end of the town and a wonderful large beach that extended quite a ways. Since it was getting late in the day we reversed our walk and visited some of the shops on the return trip. Joanie stopped at a candy store near the entrance of the town on the main road where she picked out some candy and went to pay. She pulled some Euros from her pocket only to have the candy guy grab 15 Euros from her hand and throw them into his cash register. This was quite offensive as the maximum amount for the candy would have been no more than 3 Euro. It certainly left a bad taste in our mouth for what was otherwise a wonderful visit to Warnemuende.

On future visits to the area I would certainly take the trip to Berlin or simply spend the day on the beach in Warnemuende and forget about Rostock. I would certainly avoid the candy merchant on the right hand side of the street about a block after you go through the tunnel as you enter the town…actually, if I went back I think I would make a scene to embarrass such shabby business practices. Also, the fish restaurants on the boats anchored on the waterway are excellent so if you are hungry for fish and chips, this is a great place to indulge yourself.

Back on the Silver Shadow we met some of our group in the Bar before going to the Terrace Café for an evening of Italian Cuisine. Dinner was wonderful and the conversation just as excellent as we worked our way through the various courses offered in the fabulous dining experience. After dinner we again went to the Panorama Lounge for a nightcap and some dancing. It was such great fun having Joanie with me for a change that I was really enjoying the nightlife the Silver Shadow offered its guests.

Day Ten, Transiting the Kiel Canal, July 19th, 2002

I had never been through the Kiel Canal and was looking for way to the experience. The Kiel Canal was built in the late nineteenth century and opened to ships in 1895 or so and connects the North Sea with the Baltic Sea and is the most efficient way for ships to navigate their way from one to the other if they are coming from Germany or Poland south.. I had anticipated an industrial atmosphere and one of a busy waterway full of freighters and other merchant ships. I couldn’t have been more wrong. We awoke early to an overcast and misty sky and once the room service had delivered our coffee we took our time getting ready for breakfast in the Terrace Café. We had settled into a daily routine of first having room service deliver a pot of coffee, enjoying it on our balcony while talking about the day’s events and then making our way up to the Terrace Café to enjoy a breakfast of fruit, croissants, yogurt and juice before going to the Internet Café to catch up on e-mail.

We were making our way into a bay that was narrowing as we proceeded. We stopped letting several other ships pass us before the bow thrusters gently started turning the Silver Shadow into position to approach the lock that would lift us into the 61 mile long canal. We eased into position and after several minutes we began our rise into the canal’s 37 foot deep channel. The lock opened for the Silver Shadow to continue her journey into the canal and we went forward at about 8 knots to penetrate the interior of Germany and the canal’s depths. To my surprise the surrounding countryside was pristine and void of any industrial development whatsoever. There were farms, woods, forests and the never ending sound of birds singing and an occasional call from one of the white swans that call the canal home. It was so quiet in fact, that when the ship approached one of the ten or so small communities that call the canal’s banks home, one could here the voices of people talking hundreds of yards before arriving at the community. Many of the townsfolk would come to the side of the canal to watch the Silver Shadow transit past their village The scenery was simply wonderful throughout the entire canal and Joanie and I enjoyed sitting on our balcony watching the passing of sailboats and other vessels making their way across the canal as we headed in the other direction. The mist turned to rain in the afternoon so I made my way to the Jacuzzi to enjoy it in the rain while Joanie went to the many classes offered in the gym to work out. Silversea had arranged for a private wine tasting and galley tour for our group and we were quick to take advantage of it. After tasting several wines and several complimentary cheeses we went to our cabin to relax. We arrived at the second lock at about 6 pm and reversed the process of being lowered back down to sea level without incident.

We met again in the Bar and formed dinner groups before heading into the Restaurant for another excellent meal. I must admit to becoming spoiled at the quality of the food on the Silver Shadow and began taking it for granted but the menu selections and the preparation as well as the presentation and level of service in the Restaurant is simply gourmet. The Maitre di’ was wonderful to us and everyone in our group as was the Maitre Di’ in the Terrace Restaurant. Dinner on the Silver Shadow is truly a wonderful event and is certainly the event of the day. Following dinner it was back to the Panorama Lounge for more music and dancing…It was so good to have Joanie with me. The Captain had received a weather notice of force five winds in the North Sea so had decided to make his way to our next port (Zeebrugge, Belgium) by 6 pm the following evening so that we could spend the evening in the comfort of the harbor rather than being at sea. The Silver Shadow cruised all night a full speed and remained on course for an early arrival

Day Eleven, Day at Sea, July 20th, 2002

We awoke to sunny skies and smooth water as the Silver Shadow continued her sail to Zeebruge. We continued our routine and spent the morning by the pool area on deck 8. Joanie passed on lunch so some of the folks in our group and I made our way down to the galley lunch that Silversea puts on once a cruise. It is simply wonderful as they turn the entire galley into a huge buffet of every type of food imaginable. I thoroughly enjoyed the shrimp, Alaskan crab, stone crab claws, sashimi and sushi. Also, they were offering fresh steamed vegetables that were to die for. I have to admit to making a second trip through the line for more sashimi and shrimp. It was delicious. Of course, wine was flowing freely throughout the entire event. After two hours of enjoying the food, wine and laughter I made my way back to the cabin where I got ready to spend some time in the Jacuzzi as many of the lunch group had decided that it would be a good idea to spend the afternoon in the spa. I made my way to the Jacuzzi and was joined by a couple from the group and relaxed the afternoon away while others stopped by to chat with us. It was a great day.

This was the last formal night so we arranged to have a meeting of our group before the Captain’s farewell cocktail party and we met in the Bar for a farewell toast and conversation. It came time to go to the Captain’s cocktail party and no one left. Finally, Joanie and I left as we felt our absence would be noticed from the Captain’s cocktail party. We arrive just in time to watch the entire crew of the Silver Shadow up on stage and wishing everyone a fond farewell. It really was touching as we had developed friendships with many of the people and would miss their happy faces and attitudes. After the show we made our way to the Restaurant for another superb dinner. I enjoyed the lobster and everything that went with it. The dinner conversation lingered into the evening and it eventually came time for Joanie and me to turn in.

Day Twelve, Zeebruge, Belgium, July 21st, 2002

Zeebruge is the jumping off point for the village of Bruges, Belgium which is known for its fabulous architecture, medieval pedestrian shopping streets and picturesque meandering canals. The port at Zeebruge is quite industrial with an abundance of containers and other traditional commercial traffic. Several ferries operate from Zeebruge as well. Silversea offered a free shuttle from the ship to the train station in Zeebruge so that folks could take the train ride from Zeebruge into Bruges itself (about 20 minutes by train and costs 5 Euro, return) We disembarked the ship after our traditional breakfast and took the shuttle and then the train arriving in Bruges early in the morning. It was Sunday and also a national holiday so the town was at a stand still as we walked its many pedestrian streets. We finally came upon one of the large churches that decorate Bruges as a formal ceremony was taking place with what appeared to be very important local figures arriving in police escorted automobiles to attend the ceremony. We eventually found an open restaurant and enjoyed a coffee drink while planning our day out. Bruges is very intricate and covers quite a large area so it is quite easy to become lost in the maze of narrow winding avenues. We wandered along streets and finally made our way to an area I was familiar with and decided to take a canal boat through the canals of the village and see what there was to see. We purchased our tickets, boarded the small canal boat and off we went. From the canal the city is absolutely awesome as it offers a completely different perspective than one sees from the avenues.

After about an hour we returned to the streets of Bruges for some shopping (of which there is an extraordinary amount) Fine lace, Belgium chocolates, clothes, antiques and fine china are just some of the shops one finds in abundance. We decided to stop for lunch and selected a small outdoor café and settled in for a traditional Belgium lunch of Belgium mussels, Belgium fries, Belgium beer and of course, a Belgium waffle smothered in strawberries and whipped cream for dessert. It was delicious. After lunch we continued shopping and after several purchases decided to return to the ship. We made our way back to the train station and then boarded a train to Zeebruge. Unfortunately (or fortunately possibly) it dropped us off at a completely different station as the station we departed from. More importantly, the shuttle from the ship did not stop at this station. As it turned out, the shuttle did pass by the street that we (and others) ended up on so our plan was to wave the shuttle down as it passed us by. After a few minutes the shuttle did pass us and just kept going as we jumped and waved our hands. After about 15 minutes it did return to pick up the passengers waiting for it. Joanie and I were feeling quite lethargic after such a huge lunch so we decided to take a power walk rather than return to the ship on the shuttle so after making sure everyone else was boarded informed the drive that we would walk back to the ship. So off we went to explore Zeebruge. We walked the entire length of the boardwalk along the ocean front and eventually came upon what appeared to be a surf shop. I immediately recognized the stylish “R” on the building’s façade and knew it to be the logo for Rusty Surfboards. Rusty is a long time San Diego surfboard shaper who made it big with his aggressive shapes when thrusters became popular and led a new level of performance into surfing. My son spent time with Rusty learning how to shape surfboards when he was 13 or 14 and wanted to grow up to be a shaper and I know Rusty to be an excellent individual as well as a successful businessman. Joanie and I entered the shop/bar/restaurant and it turns out the entrepreneur that operated this location also had a Rusty shop in Bruges (which we missed) and is the licensee for Belgium. He had never met Rusty nor had he been to Rusty’s shop in San Diego but was going in the fall. The guy gave me a tee shirt for my son Andy that was inscribed “RustySurf, Zeebruge” I know Andy will love this shirt. It is so great to see the stoke about surfing spread to Europe as well as the world and to also see folks like the owner of this shop to continue the essence of surfing itself, the brotherhood.

After the thoroughly enjoyable interchange with the owner of the shop we began to walk back to the ship. We walked and walked and eventually came to the overpass that would lead us into the harbor area itself. I remembered walking this before (only from the ship into Zeebruge) and thought that the left turn was the correct one to get back to the ship (in all fairness, it didn’t make sense as it didn’t go the proper way) but Joanie as positive the right branch was the right one. So we went to the right. After a mile or two we came upon the check in for the P & O ferry to Dover that was loading and the gentlemen in the terminal had no idea where Silversea was. I laughed like there was no tomorrow as now I had some new experiences to terrorize Joanie with and decided that we needed to retrace our steps to the over crossing and then take the left choice (like I suggested, ahem) The gentleman that was helping us insisted he call a taxi for us but Joanie and I looked at each other and then declined. He looked like he thought we were nuts. We then took off and retraced our steps, eventually came to the over crossing and took the left road and after a couple of miles came upon the Silver Shadow. Once on board, I made my way to the Jacuzzi to soothe my legs as we estimated that we probably walked another 8 miles from the time we decided to walk back to the ship. This was on top of the several miles we walked in Bruges. Both of us felt that we had burned off the waffle, beer, chocolate, mussels and fries.

It was the last night of the cruise for Joanie so we decided to simply stay in our cabin and order room service rather than go to the Restaurant for dinner. I ordered some shrimp and Joanie ordered some cheese and bread and we also ordered a bottle of Chardonnay to go with it. We thoroughly enjoyed the dinner and the luxury of simply relaxing in our cabin as we ate until our heart’s content. We eventually watched a movie on the VCR in our cabin and then fell to sleep.

Day Thirteen, Dover, England, July 22nd, 2002

We arrived in Dover a tad late and then cleared the local authorities late as well. Joanie was to disembark in Dover and then head home. She had been on the Silver Cloud previous to meeting me in Stockholm so was ready to go home after nearly a month at sea and simply relax for a bit. We both missed our son immensely. I was going to continue with the Silver Shadow with another group so was going to stay on board the ship. We enjoyed our final breakfast together in the Terrace Café and then returned to our cabin until Joanies’ bag tag color was called for disembarkation. I helped her down the stairway to deck 5 to disembark and then through the terminal to the motor coach waiting to take its load of passengers to London’s Victoria Station. Joanie had to spend two nights in London as British Air cancelled her return flight without notice resulting in a two-day layover to get home (why in the world does the traveling public put up with this?) I sat on the bus with her until it was full and ready to go and then got off the bus in time for it to make its timely departure.

I have to share with you that I felt like a teenage kid who just broke up with his first girlfriend. I was empty inside watching Joanie leave the cruise terminal and even more sad to think I wouldn’t see her for another week. Please don’t misunderstand my message, Joanie and I have traveled extensively all over the world and are used to traveling as individuals. It is just that our experience on the Silver Shadow was such that it rekindled the very essence of our relationship and reminded me why we have been happily married for almost twenty years in the face of our lifestyle. While I was tremendously sad at her departure I was at the same time ecstatic that we had shared such a wonderful experience together. I once wrote Tom Milano a message after Joanie had some surgery offering that I understood his love for Mary and that I shared the same fortune in my love for Joanie. After three years of not cruising with my wife and then being immersed in this experience, I would suggest every husband treat his wife to a cruise just to remind himself of why he romanced, courted, married and continues to love his wife. For me, the Silver Shadow provided the venue for the experience.

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