Silver Whisper Rio de Janeiro, 5 sea days, St. Helena, 2 sea days, Walvis Bay (overnight) 1 sea day, Cape Town (overnight, disembarkation)
Capt.: Angelo Corsaro
Hotel Director: Norman Rafelson
Cruise Director: Fernando d'Oliveira
Guest Relations Mgr: Enzo Carraro
Cruise Consultant: Selvaggia
Chef: Anne-Mari Cornelius
La Terrazza Chef: Elton Tabaj
This is my partner and my 15th Silversea voyage. We traveled with our friend, Mary, who had only one cruise under her belt and that was a Carnival cruise about 20 years ago. She had two concerns about joining us: 1) That all cruises were more or less like her Carnival experience and 2) that the 5 consecutive sea days would be boring and confining. I was keen to see if, in her eyes, the cruise lived up to her expectations and erased her memories of Carnival.
This cruise is the second leg of the Whisper's World Cruise and the first embarkation since the Costa Concordia incident.
Embarkation: A breeze. We arranged a private tour of Rio and the tour guide took us to the pier at 2PM when it was over. The curbside representative took our baggage and made sure we didn't stand on the line of Costa Fortuna passengers who were also embarking. Our friend Mary remarked, "I like not waiting on lines!" We told her that she wouldn't have to wait on any lines for the next 13 days. The standard champagne welcome and escort to the staterooms quickly followed. We met our butler, Jithu, and asked that he unpack for us, which he did effortlessly and efficiently. The ability to have the butler unpack and pack is one of our favorite services on Silversea.
Once we checked in we returned to the cruise terminal to spend our remaining Reals before going to the mandatory lifeboat drill. On all of our previous Silversea trips the lifeboat drill has always occurred prior to sailing and this trip was no different. What was different this time around was that the captain spoke via the PA both before and after the drill; there was an announcement that no drinking was to occur during the drill; and our cabin numbers were taken as we entered the muster station before heading to the theater for the drill. Interestingly enough (or not!) we were shown how to don the life vests but did not have to actually put them on. Shortly after the drill, we cast our lines and headed into the S. Atlantic Ocean bound for St. Helena.
Days 1 -- 5, 7-8 11 (at sea)
Midway through the first sea day Mary said, "I get it. I get the sea days, " so I think we have a convert. The weather for the most part was perfect for pool lounging. There was afternoon volleyball games, lectures, movies, trivia to participate in if one so desired. We lunched by the pool each of these days save one, when we went to the Terrace Cafe. Each day at the pool there was a different theme to the grill...Chinese one day, two of the ship's officers preparing pasta another and so on. Food and service were both top notch. There was only one day of bad weather and that was the last sea day, (and it wasn't all that bad...you just knew you were on a ship)
St. Helena: This was our second visit to the island, the first being in 2002 aboard the Seabourn Sun. We had independently booked a tour in advance of our visit and when Norman heard of this he advised us to go to the Shore Excursion desk to let them know since the first tenders were "reserved" for people on tours. Once this was done we had no problem disembarking the Whisper upon our anchorage at Jamestown.
St. Helena is a fascinating little island which is probable best known for being the place of Napoleon's exile and death. The three of us plus tour guide toured the island in a seven-passenger Toyota Granvia. During our 4 hours there we saw Napoleon's two homes, the Governor's mansion, Jonathan the 170 year-old tortoise and his buddies, the natural rock formations of Lot and his wife, Sandys Bay, Jamestown and Jacob's Ladder. That's just a taste of what we saw. It was great, informative, and comfortable. In speaking with our fellow passengers we saw more places for less cost. The cost was GBP98 which would've covered up to 7 people in the car. (Reference available if anyone would like. They're a great company.)
Walvis Bay, Namibia: The Whisper overnighted at Walvis Bay. Here we also chose to arrange our own tours in advance and are very glad we did. The company we used was out and out SPECTACULAR! We did a half-day tour upon arrival, timed to return in time for the "Dinner in the Desert, " and a second half-day tour the following morning which got us back to the ship in time for sailaway. The first tour was to take us by Land Rover 4x4 to see flamingos, pelicans, seals and other ornithological interests, many of which are on the grounds of a huge salt factory. The guide sure knew his birds! We saw thousands of flamingos. When we returned to the ship, our fellow passengers who had taken the Silversea tours saw in the range of zero flamingos, having been told they'd migrated already. We even went into a closed area of the salt factory to view birds, etc.
The second day of touring was of these immense sand dunes near Walvis Bay and on to the German town of Swakopmund. Again, the guide really knew his stuff and he was obviously, and rightly proud of Namibia. The cost of each tour was NAD750 p/p with a minimum of four. Again, if anyone would like the name of the tour outfit I'd be happy to provide it. (I don't know if CC allows me to publicly post the names.)
Now, the "Dinner in the Desert..." It was great fun, very well put on but I don't think I need to do it again. It's about a 45 minute VERY bumpy ride to to the event. The food was laid out buffet style under large tents and was surprisingly good! There were fire twirlers and the obligatory kids' choir before returning to the ship.
Cape Town: We arrived in Table Bay to await the pilot spot on time but due to severely high winds which closed the port the previous few days the pilots were busy clearing the backlog so we had to wait about 30 minutes. We were alongside around 1:30PM. We did end up at the commercial port of the Duncan Docks instead of the V&A. The overnight on the ship before disembarkation was nice as it gave us an afternoon to toodle around Cape Town on the "Hop-on Hop-off" bus and to go to the top of Table Mountain. The skies were amazingly clear. Unfortunately it was disembarkation day where everything went wrong. The crew of the Silver Whisper made us, actually MADE US disembark! How disappointing is that? J
Overall, this was one of the finest trips I've taken on Silversea. Ninety-nine point nine-nine-nine percent of the crew exceeded our expectations. If I had to nit-pick I'd say the reception desk wasn't always the most friendly folks on the ship. A second nit-pick would be that there was no karaoke!!
Food: We ate at The Restaurant, La Terrazza and the Black Rock Grill for dinner on this trip. All were excellent. The winning dishes would be any one that had pasta in it!
Silversea Touch of the cruise: My partner just offhandedly mentioned something about watermelon juice. The next day? He had a glass of watermelon juice!
So, here's my review. I hope it proves useful.