Join us as we set sail for Alaska with Silversea!

Silversea's magnificent Silver Shadow. Photo courtesy of Silversea

Silversea’s magnificent Silver Shadow will be our home for the next 11 days in Alaska. Photo courtesy of Silversea

Four years ago this month, I stood on the pier at Vancouver’s Canada Place and watched as guests disembarked Silversea’s Silver Shadow.I’d be stepping onboard – however briefly – for a ship tour. I still worked in animation at the time, and I remember having to awkwardly change into my suit in my car before driving down to the pier. Ship tours aren’t the sort of things you get a few hours off for in the middle of the day, and visiting the doctor in a jacket and tie probably would have set off a few alarm bells.

One thing that has always stuck with me about that tour is when the first guests came onboard: one of them burst into tears when she saw the butlers standing at the gangway. She addressed them by name. Other guests came up and gave crew members big hugs, and I remember asking the receptionist if this was some kind of group cruise reunion. “No,” she replied. “They’re our guests.”

Silversea's new documentation package includes a personalized travel journal, filled with itinerary information, ports of call, excursions, and even a map and deck plan to your suite. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silversea’s new documentation package includes a personalized travel journal, filled with itinerary information, ports of call, excursions, and even a map and deck plan to your suite. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Four years later, I get to step onboard again – and stay onboard for 11 wonderful days. Having sailed several times with Silversea since that first tour, I now understand the reaction of those guests: I am always thrilled to see crew members that I have come to know well, and none are more personable (so it seems) than those on Silversea.

Click here to read our interview with Kristian C. Anderson, Silversea’s Senior Vice President of the Americas

Although cruise ships began to use the Port of Seattle back in 1999, Vancouver has been the de-facto home of Alaskan cruising for generations. Even at the turn of the last century, Vancouver was a hub for steamships headed to Alaska, California, and the Orient, with Canadian Pacific maintaining a huge coastal and transpacific fleet that homeported here.

It's not going to win any awards, but Silver Shadow is shown here departing Vancouver bound for Alaska on July 7, 2011. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

It’s not going to win any awards, but Silver Shadow is shown here departing Vancouver bound for Alaska on July 7, 2011. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

The advent of the jet-age changed the way people travel, and what were originally designed as transportation networks gradually became focused on tourism in Alaska and British Columbia. At one time, cruise ships in Vancouver were so plentiful that all of the berths at Canada Place and nearby Ballantyne Pierwere in active use. The Great Recession and the Alaskan Head Tax initiative in 2006 absolutely clobbered the Alaskan cruise market for a few years, but it has since bounced back, with Port Metro Vancouver enjoying one of its best years in a long time in 2014.

While many lines split their fleet between Seattle and Vancouver, luxury lines like Silversea all but universally call Vancouver home. I love sailing from Seattle – it’s a gorgeous city with wonderful people – but nothing compares to sailing past Stanley Park, under the emerald hues of the Lions Gate Bridge, and out into the scenic Inside Passage.

Sailing the magnificent Inside Passage: one of the prime reasons to take an Alaskan cruise. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Sailing the magnificent Inside Passage: one of the prime reasons to take an Alaskan cruise. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

My voyage onboard the elegant Silver Shadow is a unique one: it’s one of only three Alaskan voyages this year that depart roundtrip from Vancouver, and one of only three that are longer than a week. Silversea’s typical Alaskan programme – which has been hugely successful, if overall bookings are any indication – is mainly comprised of seven-day sailings between Vancouver and Seward.

In addition to the mainstay ports of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, this itinerary also visits several ports of call that just don’t make it on to many Alaskan sailings. Sitka, Wrangell, Prince Rupertand Victoriaare some of the added bonuses on this Silversea voyage. Despite the fact this is my sixth voyage to Alaska, I’ve never been to Sitka or Prince Rupert before, and am very much looking forward to seeing what they have to offer Silversea’s guests.

The railroad was a critical lifeline for the Gold Rush town of Skagway, Alaska. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

In addition to Skagway (shown here), our voyage aboard Silver Shadow will take us to Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell, Tracy Arm, Prince Rupert and Victoria. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The full itinerary, both here and onboard:

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DAY PORT ARRIVE DEPART
Thursday, June 19, 2014 Vancouver, British Columbia Embark Silver Shadow 18:00
Friday, June 20 Cruising the Inside Passage
Saturday, June 21 Ketchikan, Alaska 08:00 14:00
Sunday, June 22 Juneau, Alaska 09:30 23:00
Monday, June 23 Skagway, Alaska 08:00

The post Silver Shadow Live Voyage Report – Day 0 appeared first on From The Deck Chair.

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