The Online Cruise Travel Guide
Created by the Author of FODOR'S

tLinda Coffman's
Linda Coffman
Author & Cruise Authority

Cruise Lines & Ships Articles & Advice

Cruise Reviews

Before You Go 
On Board In Port Get a Fare Quote   Home Page

Cruise Essentials:

Site Search
Cruise News
Planning Tips
Packing & Lists
HOT Tips
Cruise Links
About Us


CLICK HERE for savings--CruiseCompete
Don't pay more than your tablemates...
CruiseCompete makes it easy to let independent agents compete to offer you the best deal.

Cruisers' favorites:

Cruise Travel Magazine
Cruise Travel

Porthole Cruise Magazine


Have a question or a review to submit? Write

Copyright © 1995-2015
Linda Coffman, (SM)

ll content is protected by United States Copyright Laws. Violators of our copyright, as well as bandwidth theft by "direct linking" of images, will be pursued by all means necessary. Find out more in
  Terms of Service

Cooling Off In Alaska

by Georgina Cruz

Silver Shadow AlaskaAs year-round Floridians, my husband Humberto and I enjoy warm weather but every so often we do long for a break from the heat. One summer we took a cruise to New England and Canada, another one we went on an expedition to the Arctic. This year, we cooled off in Alaska during a seven-day voyage on Silversea Cruises’ Silver Shadow from Vancouver, Canada to Seward, Alaska, with a pre-cruise night in Vancouver and a post-cruise night in Anchorage.

It was very cool—in more ways than one.

Not only were the temperatures pleasant to our bodies (a high of 62 in Juneau as opposed to a high of 94 in our home in Vero Beach) but, as conservationist John Muir once put it, the natural beauty of Alaska makes it a place to “wash your spirit clean.” And no wonder: Alaska (or Alyeska, “the Great Land,” as its native peoples called it) is a place where Nature reigns supreme with such spectacular attributes as the tallest peak in North America, Mount McKinley, and the largest national forest in the country, the Tongass National Forest, with more than 16 million acres.

After we spent a night in the Fairmont Vancouver Waterfront hotel, with its very convenient and scenic location near the beautiful Stanley Park and just steps away from the cruise terminal across the street, we boarded the yacht-like, 382-guest Silver Shadow, the ideal base to take in all this beauty in the lap of luxury.

We were welcomed aboard, as always on a Silversea ship, with flutes of champagne offered by white-gloved waiters. But cool though this is, even more importantly the welcome, as usual on Silversea, was cordial and friendly—not stuffy—which made us feel right at home.

We noticed two new things on the Silver Shadow that had not been there the last time we were on the ship several years ago. One was an abundance of art including works by Picasso and Dali, among others, in Reception and other public spaces. This is the result of a new art program by Art Director Pasquale Iannetti, an art dealer, art collector and appraiser who gives talks on various art topics. Secondly, the ambiance was decidedly more casual—only one designated "formal optional" evening during the one-week voyage. Staff told us it is because of the itinerary. In Alaska, guests are up on deck taking photos, whale-watching and the like until late, taking advantage of the long hours of sunlight. We were delighted with the more casual dress code as we were among the ones whale-watching!

Our suite #620, a Veranda Suite, is attractive and spacious with a pleasant color scheme in neutral tones and fine woods. It came, as do all accommodations on Silversea, with the services of a butler. Ours, Edmundo, from the Philippines, took care of many details, like stocking our complimentary mini-bar with our choice of libations, bringing our laundry, shining our shoes, serving us dinner ensuite, and leaving us fresh fruits so we would have something refreshing to enjoy when we returned from the ports. He offered assistance with unpacking and packing, pampered us with a selection of toiletries (Bvlgari, Ferragamo and hypo-allergenic) and choice of pillows, and even cleaned our luggage prior to departure. And then, he also surprised us with extras. He noticed we like to do puzzles, so he started bringing the daily puzzles each morning so we would not have to go get them in the library. Another example? In Juneau, we had two tours and a long day ashore. We asked Edmundo to bring lunch to our suite so we could enjoy it in between the tours, and he did, and to our surprise, when we returned from the second tour, he had drawn a fragrant bath for me—without my asking him! Aida, our stewardess, also from the Philippines, anticipated our needs as well, keeping our toiletries well stocked before they ran low. What a treasure these staff members are—it was like finding gold in Alaska once again!

Ports of call included Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka and scenic cruising in the Inside Passage with its snow-capped mountains, forests and glaciers, and at the imposing river of ice of Hubbard Glacier which “calved” several times during our visit—with huge chunks of ice breaking off from the face of the glacier and falling into the water with thunderclaps and a chorus of “oohs” and “aahs” from guests up on deck.

In Ketchikan, we took in The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, an hour-long, fun presentation with lumberjacks competing in sawing, tree climbing and log rolling contests, among others, and we went on a walk on historic Creek Street, the old Red Light District and the totem parks with these beautiful poles that are poetry in wood.

While in Juneau, Alaska’s capital, we opted for a tour to Mendenhall Glacier—with its wall of ice—and a whale-watching tour out of Auke Bay. Tour operators are so confident whales will be spotted that they offer a $100 cash refund if no whale is sighted (and for the past 10 years they have not had to pay off!). We spotted several humpbacks, in addition to eagles and seals. In Skagway, we took the White Pass Railway, a narrow-gauge train journey that goes into Canada with breathtaking scenery throughout and combined it with a visit to a musher’s camp where the excited dogs gave us a sled ride and where we met and cuddled their puppies. In Sitka we took in The Fortress of the Bear, a sanctuary for orphaned bears—wonderful to be able to see these amazing creatures up close.

Back at the Silver Shadow, meals are gourmet fare including such dishes as grilled Maine lobster with drawn butter and Kansas Black Angus prime steak. Since we love Italian food, we had dinner twice at alternative, no-fee, La Terrazza with its Italian culinary delights in the Slow Food tradition—the menu changes every three-four days at La Terrazza and it has been delectable every time we have gone, from the freshly-baked breads with vine-ripened tomato and garlic to the creamy homemade gelato. We also dined at our favorite casual restaurant at sea, The Grill, and feasted on grilled Alaskan salmon, Madagascar prawns, and pork chops that we finished grilling on a hot volcanic slab at our table, along with grilled vegetable skewers, baked potato, salad and apple pie a la mode. For special occasions, Le Champagne, the Relais & Chateaux Wine Restaurant is ideal—they even serve a festive risotto dish decorated with real gold, edible and delicious (fee is $40 and includes the day’s complimentary selection of wines, with additional premium vintages available for purchase).

The Silver Shadow's Alaska itinerary begins in Vancouver and ends in Seward (or vice versa) and there is an included scenic boat train ride to or from Anchorage with refreshing vistas of forests and mountains: panoramas to cool your body and your psyche and—as Muir would say, “wash your spirit clean.”

More from

Articles & Advice

Cruise Reviews

Cruise Line Profiles

Order My
Latest Book

Don't Miss!
Cruises Guide & Cruise Forum

See What's New on
Cruise Diva's Blog



Back to the top of  this page

            Use keywords to search...

Search Search the Internet