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  • Writer's pictureJason Leppert

Live Voyage Review: Silver Spirit, Panama Canal 2013 – Part 7

The Panama Canal is one of those engineering marvels that is better illustrated than described. So, I’ll primarily let my photos from yesterday speak for themselves plus a few captions. But before that, I would like to explore Stars Supper Club where Silversea’s great food and entertainment intersect to create a very unique cruise ship experience as well as share with you a tour of the galley.

The Stars Supper Club Menu

Stars Supper Club – Dinner and a Show

I love jazz music and great food, and whenever the two are paired, you’ll find me there. The pairing is usually available only on land, so discovering it here at sea was a pleasant addition to the repertoire of elegant Silver Spirit offerings. The setting is delightfully moody with low light and handsome decor befitting a jazz club.

The Delightfully Moody Atmosphere


Here the Stars Jazz Duo of Mickki Brown and TC Chandler, vocalist and pianist extraordinaire, lays down toe-tapping standards as a tasting menu of course triplets are served. Cleverly corresponding to each letter in the word “Stars,” each course is comprised of three tapas-sized appetizers, seafood, meats, etcetera.

Course 2

The Pianist Sets the Stage

The evening begins with a selection of olives, parmesan cheese, salts and dips to dress cheesy bread sticks and the dishes to follow as desired. The course pacing is deliberately stretched to allow the music to shine. The pianist alone sets the stage with relaxed new age melodies before the soulful vocalist joins in and kicks the tempo up a notch.

Dinner and a Show

The Ace Vocalist Completes the Ensemble

What’s most enjoyable about the menu is that diners get to sample it all. There is no need to choose one dish over another because it all comes to you in smaller portions that will cumulatively fill you up nicely by the end of the meal. The fare itself varies from refreshing openers like shrimp avocado and duck foie gras to savory lobster, lamb and pork among several others. And the chocolate fondant dessert is beyond yummy. Both the food and music are highlights that shine at Stars.

Savory Meats

Tasty Desserts

Galley Tour

I don’t recall ever taking a ship’s galley tour that was led by the executive chef onboard. So, it was quite a pleasant surprise to have the culinary chief take a handful of guests behind the cuisine as it were. Jerome is passionate about his job and seemed to relish the opportunity to share with us his workshop.

Executive Chef Jerome

The Artistry of Dessert Plating

There was quite a lot of activity in the pastry department when we were there, and we were even given a demonstration of the artistry behind the many dessert plate decorations in chocolate and fruit sauces. Samples of the evening’s entrees were already set out for review and definitely had our mouths watering.

Many Designs

Vegetable Preparation

The kitchen was abuzz with room service orders and preparation for dinner. It was interesting to learn how the executive chef, unlike on most other cruise lines, has complete freedom to alter the recipes onboard per his discretion with the only exception being the Relais & Chateaux venue, Le Champagne, which we are excited to try soon. Seishin was just marvelous, and we will follow up with a report on both Le Champagne and Seishin very shortly.

The Evening’s Entrees

A Delicious Pizza in the Making

The Panama Canal

If the Panama Canal weren’t remarkable enough already, the site is currently under construction nearly one hundred years after opening with a significant expansion that will benefit commercial traffic as well as cruise ship passage. The current dimensions of the lock chambers are limited to about 110 feet by 1,050 feet. The new set of locks, originally slated for completion in 2014 but now delayed by at least a year, will measure 180 feet by 1,400 feet. Let us now explore the Silver Spirit’s fascinating canal transit.

All Exterior Lighting Was Temporarily Removed from Our Ship as a Precaution for the Tight Canal Clearances

The Immensity of the Southern Lock Expansion

Giant Earth-movers Are Employed

Our First Canal Lock Approach – Notice the Significant Height Displacement of the Ships Ahead of Us

Arrow Points Right – It’s Our Turn

The Gush of Water that Escapes the Locks with Each Passing Ship

Soon Our Ship Will Be at the Same Height as This Lock In Front of Us

There Are Two Redundant Lock Gates at Each End of the Chambers

The “Mule” Locomotives that Tie Onto and Guide Each Ship – Six Mules Per Vessel

The Southern Lock Expansion from the Elevated Gatun Lake

Approaching One of the Bridges that Cross the Canal

The New Land Cut for the Northern Lock Expansion

The Massive Quarry Operation for the Northern Lock Expansion

The First Gate of the Northern Locks Opens to Lower Us Back to Sea Level

Roller Bumpers Just in Case

The Lock Gates Close Behind Us

And Down We Go

The Aquatic Escalator In Front of Us

Lounging Through the Panama Canal, Silversea Style

We Thrust Farther Forward Away from Gatun Lake

An Illustration of the Height Displacement Per Chamber

A View Off the Stern of Silver Spirit

The Locomotive Tracks Off Our Promenade Deck

Lock Chamber Walls Immediately Outside the Windows of The Restaurant on Deck 4

We Leave the Last Set of Locks Behind

The Enormous Northern Canal Locks Expansion Pit

One Last View of the Panama Canal from Our Stern



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