When you go on as many cruises as we do, it is rare for a destination to really stand out as one of those "must-see" parts of the world. A few immediately come to mind: The Galapagos Islands; Alaska; China; and now, Australia and New Zealand. Australia/New Zealand has been on our "Big 5" list of destinations we want to visit for quite some time. What better way to experience this unique place than on a luxurious Silversea cruise?
Pre-Cruise – Sydney, Australia
United Airlines – San Francisco to Sydney
Our adventure begins with a 14-hour, sold out flight from San Francisco to Sydney on United Airlines. We opted to pay $300 to upgrade to “Economy Plus” which is United’s “premium” economy class claiming to offer up to 5 additional inches of legroom. In reality, there was about 2 inches of additional legroom on the 747-400. However, at 6’-1” with 34" inseam, I can use all the extra room I can get so I guess it was worth the extra money. One thing to be aware of when selecting your seat assignment, the lavatories are used all night long and, anytime the door to a lav is opened, the bright light shines as far back as six rows! I felt sorry for the people seated at the bulkheads right beside the lavatories. Not only did they have the lav lights shine on them all night, but people seemed to group in the area in front of those seats while waiting for a lav to become available.
The rest of the in-flight service was pretty basic international fare for a U.S.-based carrier. Beer, wine and spirits were complimentary. There was a late dinner, a snack and breakfast service. Food quality was fair to good for airline food. Attentdants were regularly seen moving about the cabin with bottled water. The entertainment system on this 747 was still delivered via the now ancient center wall screen and a few scattered drop-down monitors in the aisles. A lot of people seemed to be having trouble with the audio, including us.
We landed in Sydney early in the morning. Customs and Immigration proved to be quick and painless, but the same can not be said for the wait for the luggage. When the luggage finally arrived, we made our way to the area outside baggage claim to search for information about transportation into the city. After a discussion with a nice lady at an information kiosk, we settled on what we thought was a bus, but turned out to be more of a mini-bus with not a lot of room for luggage.
|CruiseReport.com Tip! |
|It is a good idea to have some local money with you when you first arrive in a foreign city to pay for things like transportation and tips. Our advice is to order over the Internet before you leave and have the currency delivered to your door! |
The drive into Sydney took about 35 minutes and, as we approached the city, we were amazed at the number of modern skyscrapers and at the large amount of traffic we encountered. There was also a lot of road work going on. Another surprise was the many trees and green spaces in a downtown area. What a beautiful city!
The Observatory Hotel – Sydney
Any cruise into or out of Sydney should include an extra 5 to 7 days to take in all of the sights in and around this great city. This is one city that you simply have to experience, and you can't do it in one or two days. We booked 4 nights at The Observatory Hotel in Sydney (an Orient-Express Hotel) and we could have easily stayed another 2 or 3 nights. We fell in love with Sydney after the first day and even more in love with The Observatory Hotel. For detailed information about this property, and our stay, click here.
Sydney Opera House
Who is going to travel all the way from North America to Sydney, Australia and not take a tour of the Sydney Opera House? If there is a single "must-see" attraction in Sydney it is this world-famous Sydney landmark. The Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognizable and photographed landmarks in the world. Of course, it is nearly impossible to go anywhere in Sydney and not at least see the Opera House from a distance. However, an up-close and personal tour is the only real way to experience The Sydney Opera House. Better yet, take a tour and attend one of the many concerts or operas performed year-round.
Even if the performing arts don’t float your boat, the 1-Hour Tour gives a fascinating account of the legacy of the building, the political intrigue and the real-life dramas that go on behind the scenes at one of Australia’s leading tourist attractions. On the inside, beneath the sails, some of the most unique and unforgettable experiences in Sydney are to be found. Tours are offered throughout the day and we had the opportunity to experience both the 1-Hour Tour and the early-morning Backstage Tour, complete with breakfast in the Green Room. Our guide for the Backstage Tour was Adam, a trombone player in the Opera House orchestra who regaled us with behind-the-scenes tales. The Backstage Tour, which has a maximum group size of eight, gives you exclusive access to areas normally reserved for performers and crew. You can take up the conductor’s baton in the Opera Theatre orchestra pit and sing on the stage of the world-famous Concert Hall, following in the footsteps of performing legends such as Pavarotti. You can also peek inside the stars’ dressing rooms and, naturally, get to hear all the secrets and real-life dramas that go on behind the curtain. We thoroughly enjoyed both of our tours of the Sydney Opera House and highly recommend the experience. We regret that we didn't have time to see a performance there.
|The Sydney skyline from inside The Sydney Opera House |
Recently, a new visitor experience has been created: High Tea at Sydney Opera House. This takes places at Bennelong restaurant, and features a signature menu created by celebrated Australian chef Guillaume Brahimi and a 25-minute opera recital. Combining the breathtaking architecture of Sydney Opera House, the elegance of Bennelong’s dining room, the unbeatable views, the very best in contemporary cuisine, and performances from some of the opera world’s brightest stars, High Tea at Sydney Opera House will quickly become one of Sydney’s “must-do” experiences.
Sydney Opera House offers a range of entertainment and tour packages designed to deliver an all-encompassing Sydney Opera House experience for visitors. Package options include a tour of Sydney Opera House, a pre-show dinner at one of Sydney’s best restaurants, a pre-show cocktail cruise or an interval drink. Packages are available for all major performances at Sydney Opera House including Opera Australia, Sydney Symphony, The Australian Ballet and Sydney Theatre Company.
Other Sydney Attractions
A trip on the Sydney Explorer Bus and the Bondi Explorer Bus, both "hop on/hop off" busses, is a great way to see the city and its surrounds and the beautiful beaches so prevalent in the area. We also rode the train to Katoomba to visit the majestic Blue Mountains. You don't want to miss seeing the city from the water at night so take a Harbour Lights cruise. Darling Harbour is a great entertainment area, complete with aquarium, wildlife center and Maritime Museum. There is also a large shopping mall there where we found Dr. Pepper in a candy store for the outrageous price of $2.50 AUS per can (and worth every penny!) From the ferry departure area at Circular Quay, we took the trip to Manly where we window shopped and ate fish and chips. The beach there is beautiful (and crowded!) The ferry ride is an adventure in itself due to the huge number of sailboats in the harbour. Because Sydney is such an international melting pot, just about any type of cuisine you could think of was available.
|Look for the red Sydney Explorer signs all over town to pick up the bus. |
Getting around Sydney, even though it is such a huge city, is easy. Taxis are readily available but busses are also a good way to travel. The city has an underground train system and also a monorail. Even though it was summertime and very warm while we were there, we walked a lot as The Observatory Hotel had such a great location.
On embarkation day, we made the short trip to the International Cruise Terminal at Circular Quay where Silver Cloud was docked. After dropping off our luggage with the porters outside the terminal, we rode the escalator up to the check-in area where we filled out forms for Customs and waited until the ship was ready to board. After passing through security checks, we were welcomed aboard by Cruise Director, Colin Brown, with whom we've sailed before, and proceeded to the Venetian Lounge where we were greeted with champagne and canapes, a Silversea hallmark. Even boarding a Silversea ship is an elegant experience. Here we dropped off our passports and picked up our stateroom keys/boarding cards.
|Three of my favorite things to see: Rickee, The Sydney Opera House and Silver Cloud! |
Very little has changed with Silver Cloud since we last sailed her in March of 2006. You could say that is a good thing since the ship has consistently received some of the highest praises from travel media types over the years. In 2006, our cruise aboard Silver Cloud convinced us that Silversea was still the small ship cruise line to beat in the industry; therefore, we gave Silversea our Editor’s Choice award for 2005 for the third year. Well, you can add another year to that reign as Silversea will be receiving yet another Editor’s Choice Award for 2006!
Silversea did upgrade a few things when Silver Cloud went into drydock in Genoa in 2006. A few new aerobic machines with individual TVs were installed in the fitness center. We also noticed new fixtures in the public restrooms. Public corridors and suites were recarpeted and chairs and sofas in suites and public areas had been reupholstered. This year, more upgrades will be made including:
|The Best Small Ship Cruise Line 2006 |
|Silversea is our pick for Best Small Ship Cruise Line for the third year in a row! Silversea has earned this distinction for four of the last five years! |
- New balcony furniture and deck chairs
- New Sealy mattresses (Stearns & Foster Plush and Sealy Posturepedic Plush EuroTop)
- Wi-Fi in all suites
- Installation of "Viking Cooking School at Sea" equipment
- More gym equipment with individual tv screens
- New in-suite audio systems
- Flat screen TVs in all suites
Overall, the years have been kind to the oldest ship in Silversea’s fleet of four vessels. Excellent maintenance and housekeeping results in a ship that looks as fresh as the day she was smacked by an champagne magnum. We cannot emphasize enough how well Silversea ships are maintained. Brass railings and fixtures are continually being polished. Windows that go unattended for days on other cruise ships are clean and clear on this ship giving guests clear views of the scenery without the annoyance of water spots.
|Every suite on Silver Cloud greets you with a bouquet of fresh flowers and a chilled bottle of Champagne. |
The bedding in our suite, while comfortable, is ready for the scheduled replacement. There is a visible sag in the middle of the mattress. Our Midship Veranda Suite (531) was comfortable and roomy and our cabin stewardess, Kinga, made sure it was kept immaculate. We are pleased to report that the a/c that never seemed to quite work right on our last Silver Cloud sailing worked flawlessly on this voyage. The large walk-in closet can easily accommodate enough clothing for two weeks or more for two people. The safe appears to be a newer model and is much easier to program and use than the older models. The private veranda features a teak deck, two adjustable deck chairs and a small table. Everything we have on our "wish list" for the Silver Cloud suite is being included in the scheduled upgrade later this year. Kudos to Silversea for making an already great ship even better!
The only interruption to a “perfect” cruise was the symphony of slamming stateroom doors by our neighbors at all hours of the day and night. This is something we have experienced on other ships, but never before on Silversea. A courteous guest should always take care when closing doors (just like in a hotel) so as not to rattle the walls. Nevertheless, Silversea should consider technology to reduce the possibility of slamming doors.
Excellent customer service and attention to detail is where Silversea continues to lead the industry. This is no small accomplishment in an industry that is legendary for customer service. Every member of the Silver Cloud staff and crew go to extra lengths to make every guest feel welcome. The word “no” is virtually not in the crew’s vocabulary when a guest makes a special request. So, you want examples, right?
- We mentioned to Hedi, the Maitre d’ Hotel, that we would like to have a special Indonesian dinner one evening. Without hesitation, he asked us who we would lke to invite to dine with us and what items we would like on the menu. Three days later, eight of us were treated to an impressive display of Indonesian dishes that were as pleasing to the eye as they were to the palate.
- When we could not decide what drink to order one day at the Pool Bar, Silversea veteran bartender, Alma who hails from Croatia, took control and made us a special concoction of her own design. The drink was so tasty that we returned almost every afternoon challenging her to outdo her previous creation. She did not disappoint.
- One evening, Rickee realized she had not had her caviar “fix” since boarding the ship. All it took was a call to room service and, within minutes, a bowl of chilled caviar with all the accompaniments was cheerfully delivered, as was a bottle of chilled champagne!
- Several Americans onboard expressed a desire to see the Super Bowl which was, because of the time zone differences, broadcast on TV in New Zealand on Monday. Somehow, the ship was able to obtain the programming and set up the Venetian Lounge for viewing the game on the big screen, complete with snacks. The game was also available on your stateroom television and at the Pool Bar via a Spanish channel.
- Guests lounging around the pool are periodically offered cold face towels and served ice water, frozen fruit slushes, ice cream and fresh fruit.
- Ice water and fruit punch are always available where the tenders dock on shore. This is a nice touch in the hot, humid climate of this part of the world.
This kind of service and responsiveness is de rigueur on Silversea.
Guests aboard Silver Cloud have several options for dining. this trip under the careful direction of Executive Chef, Joerg Penneke from New Zealand. The Restaurant is an open-seating arrangement for a la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner. The focus is on contemporary, wholesome and regional cuisine, with a wide range of light and low carb fares. Full vegetarian menus are available upon request. The service in the Restaurant is always impeccable and the food delicious. La Terrazza is open for casual buffet-style breakfast and lunch with indoor and outdoor seating available. Evenings, this venue offers an authentic, a la carte taste of Silversea's Italian heritage. A different region is featured daily on the menu, complemented by a choice of regional wines and decadent desserts. Reservations are required for evening dining in La Terrazza. Saletta wine restaurant is where you go for exclusive Relais & Chateaux degustation dinners celebrating wine and those regions of the world renowned for their rich wine heritage. A nominal fee of $150 is charged for dining in Saletta and reservations are required [Editor's Note: We just received notification from Silversea that the fee structure at Le Champagne/Saletta will be changing soon to allow for more flexibility and options at this unique wine-themed dining venue]. An early continental breakfast and afternoon tea are served in the Panorama Lounge, as are pre-dinner canapes. Casual lunch fare can be enjoyed by the pool at the Pool Grill, weather permitting. And, of course, room service is available 24-hours a day complete with tablecloth, china and crystal. A full-length meal served course-by-course could be ordered from The Restaurant, if you wish.
|Inventive and tempting desserts are just one of the dining pleasures aboard Silver Cloud. |
We again had the pleasure to experience a galley buffet lunch where we saw the talented chefs at their busiest and most creative best, and another gala Restaurant buffet lunch featuring elaborate carvings of ice, fruit, vegetables and butter. A lavish South Pacific deck barbecue was held by the pool one evening complete with entertainment by the Silversea Quartet and after dinner disco dancing to the sounds of DJ Ritchie. The weather cooperated beautifully and a fine time was had by all.
Each evening at turndown, a copy of the Silversea Chronicles is left in your suite. This publication is loaded with information about shipboard personnel and daily activities as well as information about the port we were to visit, such as port history, shopping tips, cuisine, sights to see, pier information, and currency exchange. The menus for the following day are also included in the Chronicles.
|Silversea Announces New Spa Concept |
|The Spa at Silversea, will replace the line's existing Mandara Spas and feature new treatments and ceremonies designed to offer a more personalized and holistic spa experience that focuses on the guest's individual needs and lifestyle. More info |
A complimentary newspaper is delivered daily to your stateroom with news selected based on your passport nationality. In addition, Silversea has rolled out its onboard newspaper service with over 280 of the world's most popular periodicals from 50 countries and in 30 languages. You can subscribe to this service for $7.50 per publication per day. A selection of complimentary newspapers could always be found in the ship's Library for reading while in the Library.
Silver Cloud has an Internet Point with five computers. Wi-fi is available in the Library, Panorama Lounge, and Card Room for those traveling with laptop computers. The basic "pay as you go" rate is $.75 per minute, but packages are available such as 250 minutes for $100 (40 cents per minute) or 100 minutes for $55 (55 cents per minute) to be used any time during the cruise. The Internet Point was one of the busiest places on the ship! Several times, we had to make use of the Wi-fi and use our own laptop as all the ship's computers were in use by other passengers with more waiting in line to use the computers. An IT Officer and members of the Silver Cloud Social Staff, are available at certain times to assist passengers with computer matters. It should be noted that the quality of Internet connection, reliability and speed are much improved over our last Silver Cloud cruise. Perhaps this is due to satellite availbility in this part of the world, or upgraded hardware. Regardless, I was always able to get a connection and the speed was better than on most ships. Even the Wi-Fi performance was acceptable. I was pleased to discover that I could use my MacBook laptop to video chat with my brother in Texas!
A well-stocked Library contains a nice selection of books in several languages and DVDs available for viewing in your suite. The Library is also the place where you would find the daily Sudoku and crossword puzzles. Comfy leather sofas and chairs make this a welcoming and comfortable place to relax.
Complete valet services, including laundry, pressing and dry cleaning, as well as alterations, are available at a charge. There is also a self-service laundrette on Deck 4. We have always found the laundry and dry cleaning service on Silversea to be top-notch. Items are usually returned the same day and are very nicely pressed, folded and wrapped in tissue paper.
There is also an onboard Medical Center staffed by a doctor and nurse on 24-hour call when at sea. The onboard fitness center features state-of-the-art equipment and men and women's sauna and steam rooms. Fitness classes are conducted by the onboard fitness director and personal training sessions can be arranged for an extra fee. The Mandara Spa and beauty salon offer invigorating facial and body therapies along with hair styling and manicure and pedicure services. The Shops of Silversea feature a wide selection of designer jewelry, fashions, perfumes and Silversea-branded items. Toiletries and convenience items are also available for purchase.
The Silversea wireless system allows passengers to access cellular and other data services on their own compatible mobile phone or Internet-enabled device while at sea. Users will be billed by their home mobile phone provider. Calls or messages will appear as roaming charges. When near port, the system is turned off, and user may connect to the local wireless network as permitted by the user's home service provider.
Entertainment and Activities
|Sir David Dain lectures on Afghanistan |
Silversea always does a wonderful job of providing enrichment lectures that further enhance the cruise experience. This voyage was no exception. The informative and interesting guest lecturers on this trip included: Britain's Sir David Dain, High Commissioner at Islamabad until 2000 who has negotiated with the Taliban in Kabul and with Pakistan coup leaders; Dr. Gerald M. Pinciss, Professor Emeritus at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York who has written several books and developed courses and texts for interdisciplinary studies in art, architecture, literature and music; and Dr. Lewis W. Falb, a retired college professor and academic administrator who was a Fullbright Scholar in Paris and earned his doctorate at Yale. Dr. Falb also has been a guest speaker on cultural history at Sotheby's in New York.
|Neil Hanson does his best Dame Edna impersonation |
Entertainment had a definite Aussie flair on this cruise and included Danny Elliott, Australia's premier multi-instrumental and vocal entertainer who has performed with some of the biggest names in the industry; Neil Hanson, pianist, singer and raconteur who, for three years in a row, won "The Mo Award" which is awarded in Australia for excellence in live performance; Richard Scholes, who uses masks to be funny, sad and mysterious as he weaves them into routines where they seem to float, change at great speed, burst into flame and even disappear; Karen Beckett, one of Australia's most popular cabaret artistes who weaves her show with the very best songs of the twentieth century interspersed with her humor and stories from life; Bob Howe, the Guitar Man, who offers an unusual and entertaining act incorporating instrumental favorites, vocals, pop, country, old time rock n' roll music and tributes to legends; and Mickey O'Connor who had an amazing juggling act. We were also honored with a classical piano concert performed by the incredibly talented Cruise Director, Colin Brown. Something missing from this cruise was the production shows by the Jean Ann Ryan Singers and Dancers who had entertained us on our last Silver Cloud voyage.
|Rickee and Colin tear up the dance floor at the Pool Barbeque |
Daily activities are varied and always include several exercise programs, table tennis, shuffleboard, needlepoint, team trivia and golf putting. Bridge players were ever-present in the Card Room and lessons are offered daily. There are cooking demonstrations by Chef Joerge, wine tastings with Head Sommelier Morris and cocktail-making demonstrations. Recent-run movies are shown on the big screen in the Venetian Lounge. Audience participation games such as Name That Tune, Liars' Club and The Newlywed/Not So Newlywed Game, ably hosted by Assistant Cruise Director, Andrew Carbone, were also enjoyed. The Silver Cloud Quartet plays for dancing in The Bar and Salvatore regales guests with his piano stylings in the Panorama Lounge. Guests can even disco the night away in The Bar with DJ Ritchie. The Mandara Spa personnel offer beauty seminars and demonstrations of products and treatments. Dance lessons are conducted by Gentleman Host, John Hennesy. There are also galley tours and visits to the Navigational Bridge.
|Nikki, Silver Cloud's Tour Manager, takes a photo break in front of the geysers at Te Puia. |
Another area where Silversea excels is the Tour and Excursion Department. We were pleased to see that Tour Manager, Nicole Denarie (we call her Nikki), was still on board since our last Silver Cloud sailing. Nikki and her team did an excellent job of organizing and executing a variety of interesting shore excursions. I should probably mention that the more Rickee and I cruise, the more we like to get off the ship and explore on our own. Sometimes that might be renting a vehicle to drive around an island, or simply walking into town for lunch at a local restaurant. While some cruise ship tour departments are unable (or unwilling) to offer suggestions to guests who prefer to “go it alone”, Silver Cloud’s tour desk and concierge are a welcome exception. They can arrange rental cars, private taxis or vans, even make reservations at local restaurants. At certain ports, hospitality desks were set up onboard where local residents provided information about things to see and do at that port and even change money for guests.
There were lots of interesting tours from which to choose on this particular voyage. We did participate in five organized shore excursions: a vineyard and wine tasting tour of the Hunter Valley area in Newcastle with the first stop at a historic old jail and lunch at one of the vineyards; a city tour and wine tasting in Noumea, the "Paris of the Pacific"; a trip to the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua at Tauranga which included a delicious lunch at the historic Prince's Gate Hotel; a wonderful Maori Cultural Experience and Forest Walk in Bay of Islands, led by a Maori native and included lunch and a visit to the Waitangi Treaty House; and a city tour of Auckland including a visit to volcanic Mt. Eden and the Auckland War Memorial Museum, where you could easily spend several days. All motorcoaches used in the tours were comfortable and airconditioned and guides were personable and knowledgeable. Each tour was escorted by a member of the ship's staff or crew. We missed one port on our trip, Norfolk Island, as the seas were too rough to safely use the tender boats. This was surprising as we had commented the entire trip about how incredibly smooth the seas had been. It was like sailing on glass except for this one day at Norfolk Island.
|CruiseReport.com Tip! |
|Be sure to always take photo ID with you when you leave the ship. At some ports, local officials check ID and won't let you reboard the tender or enter the pier area without it. |
At several ports, when the Silver Cloud docked, we were entertained by local singers and dancers in native dress performing on the pier. In Newcastle, the Hunter Valley High School Koalas' marching band greeted us with a lively welcome serenade. At some ports, vendors set up booths to sell local arts and crafts pierside. Whenever possible, Silversea offered shuttle bus service into town.
Disembarking and Auckland
We never look forward to leaving a Silversea ship, nevertheless, Silversea makes the process a painless one. We thoroughly enjoyed the ship, the wonderful service, and the people and wished that we were staying onboard for the voyage back to Sydney. However, we had an adventure awaiting us in New Zealand! Our luggage was placed outside our suite by 11pm the night before disembarkation. Disembarkation morning, we had breakfast in The Restaurant, then gathered our hand luggage to leave the ship, claim our checked luggage in the cruise terminal, clear Customs and take the short walk to our hotel, the beautiful Hilton Auckland , located at Princes Wharf where the Silver Cloud was docked. A porter in the cruise terminal loaded our luggage on a cart and pushed it the short distance to the hotel, where a room with a large balcony overlooking the harbour (and the Silver Cloud!) was available for us.
The Hilton Auckland
There is no other Hilton in the world like the boutique-style Hilton Auckland which opened in 2001. It is perched on the end of Princes Wharf, 330 yards out to sea, and almost surrounded by water. Located in the heart of trendy Viaduct Basin, it is close to some of the best bars and restaurants in Auckland. Downtown Auckland and the ferry terminals are within walking distance.
Rooms in this hotel are contemporary, sophisticated, stylish and exquisitely furnished with large bathrooms with separate walk-in showers and amazing views of the harbour. There is also a restaurant (White); bar; glass-fronted heated outdoor swimming pool suspended from a 4th floor bridge; gym with trainer; concierge; tour bookings; car rentals; secretarial services; 24-hour room service; massages and beauty treatments at the adjacent Spa de Servilles; babysitting; laundry service; same-day dry cleaning and on-call doctor/dentist.
We found the service and style of Hilton Auckland to be superior and can highly recommend it to anyone sailing into or out of Auckland. The hotel's close proximity to restaurants and bars, and the ship's pier, make it an obvious choice. Our four nights at the Hilton Auckland convinced us that we had made the perfect choice in post-cruise accommodations.
Seeing New Zealand
Since we both like to ride motorcycles, we gathered up our courage, rented a Honda Goldwing, helmets, jackets and gloves from New Zealand Motorcycle Rentals and spent three days riding through the beautiful New Zealand countryside. It was especially nerve-wracking at first since they drive on the left side of the road there. However, we soon adapted and the risk was worth it to ride the Pacific Coast Highway and visit the Coromandel Peninsula. We rode to Piha and marveled at the twisty roads winding through rainforest conditions which led to this magnificent beach. We rode through the Hunter Valley wine region and saw vineyards and wineries. We rode in sunshine and rain, wind and fog. The scenery was incredible, ranging from rolling hills and pastures complete with sheep and cattle, to ocean and rainforests. It was summertime in New Zealand and, to us, the temperature was absolutely perfect: not too hot and not too cool. We were sad when our bike rental time was over and we had return the Goldwing. A motorcycle trip around the South Island could be in our future!
A word of warning when departing from the Auckland International Airport on Qantas Airlines: make sure your carryon luggage does NOT weigh more than 7 kilos. There are personnel right outside the security checkpoint who weigh your carryon luggage, and if it is overweight (which most everyone's is!), you have to rearrange the contents and make it lighter by putting stuff in another bag or go all the way back to the ticket counter and check the bag! This experience was a nightmare! If you are traveling to America, you have to go through New Zealand security which will let you keep bottled water. Then you also have to go through US security where you have to have the ziploc bag with 3 oz. containers, etc. and NO bottled water. All foreigners have to pay a $25 per person NZ departure tax and have our boarding pass stamped before we can go through security. So, it pays to arrive at the airport VERY early.
Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down
Cruise Director, Colin Brown - Colin is always smiling, visible and very accessible to guests.
Assistant Cruise Director, Andrew Carbone - Andy made sure everyone was entertained during our cruise. His golf putting obstacles are legendary!
Embarkation/Disembarkation- Everything was handled smoothly and efficiently. Check-in was quick and painless.
Enrichment Lectures - Silversea does a great job of finding notable experts to add to the destination experience.
Suite Accommodations - The Midship Verandah Suite is one of the most spacious and well-appointed suites you will find anywhere. And, with the planned upgrades, will only get better!
Itinerary - Australia and New Zealand are two must-see destinations.
Inclusivity - Virtually everything is included in the cruise fare except for incidentals such as gift shop purchases, spa treatments and shore excursions.
Slamming suite doors - We wish that Silversea could come up with a mechanical fix that would prevent suite doors from being slammed.
|Overall - A cruise on Silver Cloud is a great way to see any destination. We are big believers in small ship cruising, especially in an area that is as scenic and remote as Australia and New Zealand. Silversea continues to impress us with great service and wonderful itineraries. |