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Silver Shadow

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Silver Shadow delivers a fine balance of onboard service and outstanding shore experiences. The 382-passenger ship is just big enough to provide multiple lounge, dining and entertainment options, and small enough for crew to quickly learn passengers' names and preferences.

Built in 2000 with its last major refurbishment in 2011, this well-maintained ship has beautiful bones. Rich teak and shiny brass accents abound. In late 2016, Silver Shadow underwent a much-needed refreshment. Upholstery and carpeting in public areas and in the bigger suites were redone. (The swirl-patterned carpeting in passenger hallways and some public corridors adds needed pizzazz.) Parquet floors throughout the ship were refinished and gleam like new. All accommodations are suites, chock-full of amenities like Pratesi linens and Bulgari toiletries. Colours tend toward subdued shades of beige, brown, blue and burgundy -- staid and classic.

Onboard activities are plentiful. Bridge-players -- and there are many -- schmooze in the Card Room. Exercise fiends enjoy jogging on Deck 10 and working out in the well-equipped fitness centre. The small but efficient Spa at Silversea and beauty salon offer an impressive array of services. Retired diplomats and other distinguished guests provide comprehensive port-related lectures. An art expert presents knowledgeable lectures while soft-selling high-end original sculptures, paintings and lithographs by the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Dali. These experts, usually gallery owners, possess a genuine passion for their subjects.

Dining is varied and includes every option from fine Italian cuisine starring handmade pastas -– a Silver Shadow highlight -- to grill-your-own-steaks alfresco and sophisticated French fare. The overall culinary style is modern international. Yet expect some pleasant throwbacks, such as bouillon at 11 a.m. and proper afternoon tea at 4.

Suites come in eight categories, from 287-square-foot cabins with picture windows to the near 1,000-square-foot Grand and Owner's Suites with big private verandas. Don't expect high-tech amenities or even lots of outlets. Amenities aren't trendy -- no Nespresso machines in every suite, for instance, all the rage with some luxury lines. Silversea sticks to Illy espresso-makers (this is an Italian line, after all) and only in the biggest suites. About as cutting-edge as Silver Whisper gets are the complimentary magazines and newspapers you can read on smartphones and tablets by downloading a Silversea app. Those not particularly tech-savvy find the absence most comforting; others may be disappointed.

Butlers for every passenger make a giant difference in the onboard experience and truly distinguish Silversea from its competition. It seems they improve each year fleetwide. They more than fulfil requests -- they anticipate every need, from preparing a hot bubble bath on your return from a long shore excursion to whisking away dusty shoes and returning them polished.

Overall, Silver Shadow lacks the flair of new luxury ships -- the glam opulence of Regent Seven Seas Explorer or the sleek sexiness of Seabourn Encore. Sister-ship Silver Spirit has more dining variety, more evening entertainment and a more vibrant design. On Shadow, significant nightlife, such as razzle-dazzle shows or even guest musicians, is absent. Yet for this ship's devotees, it's perfect. Silver Shadow attracts those who think more old school than new -- at least, in cruise style. They choose Shadow for exquisite personalized service, spacious suites and the opportunity to travel to appealing ports in comfort and ease.

Silver Shadow follows a more traditional dress code. On a 12-day cruise, there are two formal nights, requiring dark suit and tie or tuxedo for gentleman, and fancy cocktail dress or silk pants suit for women. However, tuxedos are rarely spotted. Many nights are informal, with jackets (ties optional) for men, and dresses or nice pants outfits for ladies. On busy excursion days, and the first and last evening of every cruise, casual attire, such as collared shirts and slacks for men and sundresses or casual pants outfits for women, rule. Shorts, jeans and flip-flops are a no-go at dinnertime anywhere. (Although on the last night, passengers usually wear whatever they want.) Pool deck dining is always casual, and the dressiest it gets in La Terrazza (the buffet by day, Italian restaurant by night) is informal.


Silver Shadow Inclusions

Cruises include meals, snacks, room service, alcohol (except for Connoisseurs List beverages), laundry room use and gratuities. Passengers get limited amounts of complimentary Wi-Fi based on cabin category, with higher-category cabins receiving unlimited internet access. The only additional costs are for shore excursions, spa and beauty salon treatments (tipping is included in the fees), fitness trainer, cigars and laundry and dry cleaning service (complimentary for top suites). The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.

Shore Excursions

Silver Shadow excels at shore excursions with enthusiastic expert guides and as comfortable transportation (air-conditioned buses, minivans and private cars with drivers and guides) as a port allows. When we were on a mid-voyage land adventure in Bagan, Myanmar, Silversea chartered a plane last minute after our commercial flight returning to Yangon was delayed. Now that is luxury.

Silver Shadow offers a wide selection of shore excursions that are priced similarly to outings offered by other luxury lines. Extremely physical outings are rare; such excursions are saved for the Silversea expedition fleet. The level of physicality needed for each excursion is clarified and ranges from bus rides with photo stops to extensive walking tours with many hills and steps.

Silver Shadow runs a complimentary shuttle to a town or city centre when possible. The shore excursion desk provides maps and tips for independent exploration. The ship sometimes offers "Good Citizen" excursions, where passengers explore philanthropic opportunities onshore, such as donating school supplies or preserving wildlife.

Daytime and Evening Entertainment

Many activities are scheduled throughout the day, particularly on sea days. Count on shuffleboard, table tennis tournaments, bingo, pool volleyball, golf putting challenges and trivia games. Most passengers participate in activities, with bridge and trivia ever-popular.

Nighttime entertainment is limited. Singers called Voices of Silversea entertain most evenings in the Athenian Lounge, a multi-levelled showroom decorated in burgundy and beige with chairs, couches and cocktail rounds, on Deck 6. They generally perform together, although some evenings, members perform solo shows, varying the musical content from country to opera. While probably not destined to become solo stars, they do sing reasonably well and with enthusiasm. They perform one show, either at 6:30 or 10 p.m., and it's popular.

A singer croons in The Bar on Deck 5 pre-and-post dinner. After dinner, many passengers head to the Panorama Lounge on Deck 8 where the Silver Shadow Quartet plays and passengers dance or just sip nightcaps. A DJ takes over when the quartet retires and spins late-night tunes –- although not too many passengers are still around then. By 10 or 11 p.m., the ship is quiet.

When out to sea, the small casino on Deck 5 is open for slot machines from 10 a.m. until all passengers leave. Roulette, poker and blackjack tables are open from 2:30 until 6 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. until the last passengers depart. This casino isn't the busiest, due to its small size. But if a group of passengers come in together to play poker or blackjack (which often happens), the room gets lively.

Enrichment

Many of Silversea's daytime activities fall under the enrichment tag, such as language and dance classes, fitness seminars, art lectures and bridge lessons.

Guest speakers, such as an eloquent physician from University of Miami discussing health care disparities, or an impassioned former diplomat on United States and Chinese relations, deliver enrichment lectures relating to visited ports. Lectures we've attended keep passengers' interests and provoke back-and-forth dialogue. A destination lecturer, usually jovial and outgoing, provides port information briefings with slideshows.


Silver Shadow Bars and Lounges

Teatime and post-dinner cocktails in the Panorama Lounge and pre-dinner drinks at The Bar are the most popular pastimes. If shore excursions begin early morning, few passengers stay late in bars and lounges.

The Bar (Deck 5): The Bar is particularly popular pre-dinner for pairing off with dinner companions while a vocalist sings. (She also sings after-dinner, but crowds are smaller then.) There are several cozy seating areas with leather couches and patterned upholstered chairs plus a handsome wood bar with leather stools. Servers circulate with nightly tapas such as mini-quiches. Hours are 6 p.m. until the last passenger leaves.

Connoisseurs Club (Deck 7): Passengers puff away on Davidoff cigars and sip fine brandies and other select spirits while relaxing in overstuffed leather chairs at this lounge. Asian rugs and glass-topped tables with ashtrays complete the clubby look. Bar hours are 9 p.m. until the last passenger leaves.

Panorama Lounge (Deck 8): Panorama Lounge is chock-full of cocktail rounds surrounded by velvety burgundy or cream-coloured chairs. Softly striped curtains frame floor-to-ceiling windows. The bar serves from 10 a.m. until the last passenger leaves. On select voyages, onboard Gentleman Hosts may arrange cocktail get-togethers for solo passengers at 7:30 p.m. The Silver Shadow Quartet entertains from 9:30 p.m. until midnight while passengers twirl around the good-size dance floor. This lounge is much more popular in the evenings than during the daytime.

The Grill Bar (Deck 8): Open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., this small corner alfresco bar is always busy. Passengers move between poolside lounge chairs and the few stools to schmooze.

The Observation Lounge (Deck 10): This beige-hued lounge is a spacious quiet spot with jaw-dropping floor-to-ceiling window views –- it's all the way forward -- and 24-hour self-service coffee. Passengers come here to curl up with a book (wall cabinets are stocked with hard-covered tomes to borrow) or contemplate the sea on comfy chairs and couches. It's the most underused lounge onboard.


Silver Shadow Outside Recreation

The seawater swimming pool on Deck 8 is heated in cold weather and chilled when it's hot. Up to six passengers can soak in one of the two beige-and-brown-tiled Jacuzzis at a time, and these hot tubs stay busy with passengers chatting and sipping cocktails. There are also two rinse-off glass-encircled showers. Lounge chairs with striped or brown cushions flank the pool and always-popular covered daybeds edge the teak deck.

On Deck 10, the jogging track encircles the upper pool deck. Joggers may have to manoeuvre past some passengers sunning on lounge chairs but only if it's midday. Many couples walk the track at sunrise, sunset and after dinner.


Silver Shadow Services

There is a 24-hour staffed reception desk on Deck 5. The shore excursion desk is adjacent and posts its hours. The Medical Centre on Deck 3 is staffed with a doctor and a nurse and has clinic hours about two hours per day. Medical assistance is available 24 hours or by appointment.

The library and 24-hour Internet Cafe are on Deck 7, with eight computers spread between the two spaces. It's easy to hop on one any time; most passengers use their laptops, tablets and smartphones. Internet charges are not listed; many passengers rely on complimentary Wi-Fi time. Come here to read newspapers and the latest magazines, and browse many hardcover books to borrow. The Internet Cafe is open 24 hours, with personal assistance available one hour a day, usually from 5 to 6 p.m.

The spacious upscale boutique on Deck 5 sells designer clothes, pricy watches and fine jewellery. Friendly salespeople are low-key and happy to chat even if you're just browsing. Items like aspirin are tucked away in a closet. (Each suite has a list of toiletries and other essentials that your butler can procure.)

The Card Room on Deck 7 has wood tables with leather chairs, burgundy and cream-swirled carpeting and floor-to-ceiling windows. Cabinets are stocked with puzzles and board games like Scrabble. This venue is nearly always filled with enthusiastic bridge players; some games go on for hours.

Three complimentary self-service launderettes with Miele washers and dryers and ironing facilities are on decks 4, 6 and 8. Each has a flat-screen television, chair and laundry baskets to make laundry day a breeze.

The Spa on Deck 10 is tiny; expect a small reception area with leather chairs and a coffee table decorated with an orchid. The desk is hosted by amiable, helpful receptionists. There are a few small treatment rooms with flowery names like Iris and Lily.

Despite its diminutive size, the spa offers an impressive number of services. Skilled therapists use posh skincare products, such as Elemis, for wraps, masks and massages. More unusual massages include a warm bamboo shoot and essential oil treatment, and Thai herbal poultice.

Prices are comparable to fees charged by other luxury lines; a 60-minute massage can run $213. On busy shore excursion days, the spa often offers reduced-price treatments. And if you book two or three treatments at once, you get discounts up to 30 percent. Men and women have separate changing areas with lockers, showers, sauna and steam room. Don't be surprised to receive a handwritten thank-you note delivered to your suite after a treatment.

The beauty salon offers everything from Fire & Ice manicures (first a cooling gel and then hot stones are massaged into hands) and pedicures to haircuts and styling -- even teeth whitening. It's most busy on sea and formal days and usually open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The well-equipped fitness centre is by The Spa on Deck 10. It's open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Elliptical machines, treadmills, stationary bicycles, free weights and upper and lower-body weight machines such as leg presses make a full workout easy. Some treadmills have televisions. Headsets, towels and chilled bottle waters are provided. A wall of windows provides ocean views.

You can hire the fitness instructor for personalized training, but there are many complimentary classes, such as yoga, Pilates, sunrise walks and fitness seminars. Classes are led in a mirrored room by the weight and treadmill area. When classes aren't in session, come here to stretch, do mat work or use medicine balls, rollers and the barre. Extra dumbbells are stacked in racks.

Recently, Silversea switched from relying on frozen ingredients to utilizing fresh locally sourced foodstuff whenever possible. This dramatic change positively impacts the overall dining scene; chefs are happier, the food tastes better and servers are more enthusiastic. The new healthier emphasis includes ingredients like chia and flax seeds and flavoured olive oils on the luncheon buffet, and olive oil on tables throughout the ship, even the Pool Grill. Dinner in the Italian La Terrazza and in Le Champagne are cruise highlights. Service is excellent in all dining venues, but slowest at The Pool Grill at lunchtime.

The Restaurant (Deck 4): This dining room smacks of timeless elegance. Crystal chandeliers shimmer. Softly striped formal curtains, lined with sheer panels, tie back to reveal ocean views from windows lining both sides of the room. (Window tables for two are highly coveted.) Recently sanded and re-polished parquet floors gleam. Tables are set with overlay cloths in creamy tones.

The Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and reservations are never needed. Dine as you wish, with fellow passengers or at tables for two. Tables for four are often converted to two, per passenger request. While the maitre d' always asks if you'd like to sit with others, he never makes you feel pressured. State upfront if you want a table for two nightly.

Breakfast is served between 8 and 9:30 a.m. and is ordered from a menu. Expect choices like pancakes, waffles, egg dishes, Danish and other freshly baked pastries. English breakfast devotees adore scrambled eggs served with baked beans and grilled tomato.

Lunch is served between noon and 1:30 p.m. The menu is substantial -- order up to three courses plus dessert. Dishes like crab and cherry tomato confit timbale, penne carbonara and whole-roasted Asian-style crusted pork loin are typical. You can find a sandwich, like grilled ham and cheese with french fries and greens. If the only salad available is appetizer-size, ask the chef to add chicken, seafood or beef for a main-course meal. A leisurely lunch here is most popular on sea days. When the weather's nice or passengers are busy with activities, most prefer dining more informally outdoors, at The Pool Grill or La Terrazza.

Dinner is served between 7 and 9:30 p.m. The Restaurant feels far fancier come nightfall. Lights are dimmed, curtains are closed. Tables are set with dressier china and more delicate stemware. On formal nights, musicians play classic songs. The expansive menu always features crudo (raw marinated, usually seafood), like scallops or beef carpaccio, soup such as frothy cauliflower, salad, pasta like fusilli mascarpone with mushrooms, seafood such as crayfish-stuffed baby squid, and premium meats. Two gourmet hamburgers, including hickory-infused with taleggio cheese and polenta fries, are new-ish staples. (We're not convinced burgers, even if they are luxe, belong on the fine-dining menu.) Most passengers order three or four courses plus dessert. Europeans often finish with a cheese course; the menu features 10 selections, many from France. Vegetarians can choose between two sophisticated entrees. Menu staples, like grilled salmon, chicken and steak, are always available. With advance notice, the chef will prepare any dish you like if the ingredients are available.

Knowledgeable sommeliers bring complimentary red and white wines to each table and readily refill glasses. These wines gallop the globe, and include fine labels as Chateau Les Tuileries Bordeaux. If you don't like the evening selections, ask for another complimentary choice. Wines are good enough to avoid spending extra on the Connoisseurs List, unless your budget is limitless or you're celebrating a special occasion.

The dessert menu accentuates gelato -- don't miss the Sicilian pistachio or Italian almond. Italian frozen yoghurt marbled with whole fruit (bitter orange delights), stands out, too, and the froufrou pastries are as chic as any in a Manhattan bistro.

La Terrazza (Deck 7): La Terrazza's indoor-outdoor design showcases gorgeous sea views with floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides of the room. Inside, fine linens top tables, and columns with brass accents and teak rails subtly divide the space into more intimate alcoves. A stunning oval-shaped stained glass light fixture shines overhead. Outdoors on the patio, a cream-coloured awning shades teak tables of varying sizes. On beautiful days, these tables are packed. The breakfast and lunch buffets are presented in a separate annex, so dining feels unhurried and uncrowded. Reservations are only necessary at dinner.

A breakfast buffet is served between 7:30 and 10 a.m., with egg dishes requested from your server and cooked to order. The buffet is well presented, with neatly arranged food on attractive platters kept immaculate by watchful cooks. Help yourself to fresh fruit, yoghurt, cheeses and primo cold cuts, and sides like hash browns and grilled tomatoes. Freshly baked breads, croissants and Danish abound. Servers insist on carrying plates to your table, even if you're only holding a small fruit bowl. They refill water and coffee, clear plates and happily retrieve an extra Danish from the buffet. La Terrazza is the most popular morning dining venue, particularly on shore excursion days.

A diversified lunch buffet is served between noon and 2 p.m. More passengers enjoy dining here rather than The Restaurant; it's less formal plus it's faster on shore excursion days. Staff stands behind counters to assist and serve. The spread is prettily laid-out, at varying heights, on attractive platters and with signage. An array of sophisticated salads, from duck to vegetarian, plus sandwiches are always displayed. Many ingredients, such as artichoke hearts, capers, pumpkin and pine nuts, and seeds like chia and flax, may inspire your own leafy creation. Splash one of eight flavoured extra-virgin olive oils, such as lemongrass-infused, on your greens. Sushi and sashimi, such as salmon or vegetable rolls, are fashioned daily, too. A quiche of the day and two freshly baked thin-crust pizzas, like seafood or mushroom, also await -- or order a personalized pie from the tableside menu of 10 choices. The pizzas are uniformly good.

At the carving station, a cook slices moist roast turkey, pork loin or juicy beef to order. Other hot dishes vary from dim sum and Indian biryani, to fish and vegetable gratins. Rather than taste cafeteria-ish, these dishes, made in small batches, possess finesse. The cheese display excels, often including a fine French blue or English Stilton. Expect a wide array of gluten-free and sugar-free desserts, plus ice cream, pastries such as opera cake, and American cookies like oatmeal raisin and chocolate chunk.

An Italian sit-down dinner is served between 7 and 9:30 p.m.. The setting is far lovelier at night. The buffet annex is closed, lights are dimmed and passengers are only seated by or near the windows, or on the outdoor patio. Dinner is by candlelight and served on more elegant dinnerware than at lunch. The restaurant is booked only until it's half-full, so make reservations ahead. The evening menu changes every three days and housemade pasta -- particularly a signature duck ragout -- is always a knockout. The exemplary breadbasket tempts with bulbs of roasted garlic and freshly baked herb-scented focaccia. The noteworthy antipasti plate includes arancini (rice balls), anchovies and robust Parmesan. Lamb chops with deep-fried leeks and sliced striploin of beef with port wine sauce are terrific. Complimentary Italian wines, like Luccarelli Puglia Primitivo, are always good and servers are quick to refill glasses or open another complimentary bottle if you're not satisfied. Tiramisu and panna cotta are dessert standouts.

Le Champagne (Deck 7); $40: Le Champagne is the only Relais & Chateaux (an upscale collection of hotels and restaurants worldwide, renowned for its cuisine) restaurant at sea. It's also the most romantic dining room onboard, and Silver Shadow's only extra-fee restaurant. This is a couples' haunt, with just seven candlelit tables for duos who come to whisper and hold hands. Fine art celebrating food and drink hang on walls; sleek glass cases display haute wine bottles. Two picture windows provide ocean views. Chairs sport plush royal blue upholstery. Posh chargers, rimmed with black and gold, rest on creamy linen tablecloths. The delicious menu showcases fancy French multicourse meals with wine pairings and is served between 7 and 9 p.m.

Luxury ingredients -- like caviar with buckwheat blinis, foie gras mousse in cones or terrines and lobster as in a spectacular bisque or Thermidor -- take centre stage. Edible gold leaf risotto is decadently good. Lovely complimentary wines include Champagne Monopole Heidsieck Brut and Tenuta Sant'Antonio Sponsa. Meander through five courses or so and relish on-point servers rushing airy Grand Marnier souffles to your table. Even though dinner costs $40 per person, it's extremely popular, so make reservations as soon as you book your cruise.

The Pool Grill (Deck 8): The poolside alfresco grill is open for lunch between noon and 3:30 p.m. and dinner between 7 and 10 p.m. This isn't your basic greasy burger counter. Grab a seat at one of the Formica-topped tables with rattan-style powder-coated aluminium chairs lining the deck. Even the napkins are fancy -- fine linen rather than paper. There's no waiting in line; servers take all orders. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar cruets, plus a dual grinder of Himalayan pink salt and black peppercorns, grace each table. One side of The Pool Grill is reserved for smokers.

At lunchtime, choices include fresh grilled fish of the day, salads like caramelized fig and goat cheese and the ever-popular Black Angus burgers and sliders. Housemade Ronnefeldt-flavored ice teas and cocktails are poured.

Come dinnertime, the eatery is simply called The Grill and serves Americana classics with hot rock dining. Servers deliver tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa while you decide between entrees like steaks, veal chops and giant Madagascar prawns. (The prawns are divine.) Entrees arrive sizzling on a heated volcanic stone and you take over the cooking. (If you don't want to, the chef can do it. But know that they cook entrees on a flattop rather than hot rocks, which negatively impacts the flavour.) Sides are eggplant, tomato and zucchini skewers, and a surprisingly good baked potato with all the trimmings. Dessert includes apple pie with vanilla ice cream. It's divine to dine under the stars with that gentle ocean breeze. Plus, there's no dressing up.

Panorama Lounge (Deck 8): This all-purpose lounge offers Early Risers coffee and pastries from 6:30 to 10 a.m., and bouillon from 11 a.m. until noon. Tea service is offered daily -- between 4 and 5 p.m. -- and it's impressive. Select from about 20 Ronnefeldt teas, from black and green tea to wild cherry organic. Loose leaves brew in pots while servers present assorted freshly baked scones, tea sandwiches and tiny pastries. It's all quite proper and very fun.

Room Service: Complimentary in-suite dining is available 24 hours a day. Breakfast can be ordered the night before by 2 a.m. Although breakfast is served between 6 and 10 a.m., with advance notice, butlers bring what you want whenever you want.

Breakfast beverage choices include cappuccinos and English tea, daily fruit or vegetable Vitamix drink and juices such as orange, and pineapple and the now-rare prune juice. Pour real maple syrup over banana pancakes or waffles with ripe strawberries and freshly whipped cream. Eggs can be cooked any style with American, English and Canadian bacon among the meaty sides. Healthful choices include egg white omelettes with spinach, yoghurt and multigrain fresh juice-sweetened muffins.

Lunch and dinner include sandwiches like triple-decker club, salads such as chicken Caesar and grilled New York sirloin steak. Pastas, such as homemade linguine with pesto, are consistently good. When The Restaurant is open, you may also order off its menus (but not from other dining venues).

While some canapes and snacks, like guacamole, are complimentary, Silver Shadow offers four types of Calvisius caviar with homemade buckwheat blinis and condiments at market price. (The menu is tucked discreetly in a desk folder.) Selections include California white sturgeon roe and Adriatic sturgeon caviar from Italy.

Passengers can enjoy afternoon tea in-suite. Choose from five varieties of freshly brewed tea, finger sandwiches like smoked salmon and cream cheese, tiny pastries and cookies, and scones such as buttermilk with clotted cream.

Butlers deliver all meals and set tables properly with fine linen and polished silverware. Dinner is served course-by-course. Butlers quickly learn passenger habits; for example, they start bringing an extra cappuccino when they note you always call back for a second.

All 191 accommodations are posh ocean-view suites. There are eight suite categories. The smallest have large picture windows; the biggest have oversize verandas. Suites aren't flashy or big on wow factors; instead, they're comfortable, elegant and timeless in design -- like a wealthy mature couple's Upper East Side Manhattan apartment. Think classic styling, with richly grained light wood, plush upholstery and carpeting and mostly burgundy, beige, blue and brown soft hues. Twenty suites connect. Two suites are designed to be wheelchair accessible.

Despite size differences, all suites possess much in common. They're all well-designed; curtains separate sleeping and sitting areas, and the television swivels between the bed and sitting area. (Except in the largest suites; their separate bedrooms have second televisions.) All closets are walk-in, and feature cloth and wood hangers. Lighting, both overhead and lamp, is good for reading.

Beds convert between queen and twin. Dorelan mattresses from an Italian luxury firm -- new to Silver Shadow -- feature silken Pratesi linens and fluffy down duvets. Passengers select from a pillow menu with nine choices. Sleep comes easy on these beds.

Amenities include personalized stationery, safes, mini-bars stocked with passengers' preferences and water bottles, hair dryers (no diffuser attachments), Etro robes and slippers. A sewing kit, shoeshine bag, binoculars, lint brush and a Silversea keychain with a built-in flashlight are also provided. The alarm clock has a built-in iPod docking station.

The flat-screen Phillips televisions (sizes vary by suite category) offer on-demand movies, music and channels such as CNN, Fox News, ESPN and BBC. All suites are Wi-Fi accessible. Passengers can download complimentary interactive mobile content, including movies, via a Silversea app to their smartphone or tablet. Electrical outlets are both 110 and 220-volt.

All suites -- even the smallest -- have similar bathrooms; a granite stall shower, full-size tub with a clothesline, blue granite counters with double sinks and marble flooring. Shelves are plentiful, lining both sides of a large mirror and underneath sinks. A makeup mirror is located outside the bathroom on a well-lit vanity table that doubles as a desk.

Choose between Bulgari, Salvatore Ferragamo and hypoallergenic toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion and soap. (Ask your butler for more than one brand and your request will be graciously received, especially if booked in a high-level suite.) In the largest suites, passengers can choose the more exclusive white tea-perfumed Bulgari toiletries, versus green tea. Scented reed diffusers by high-end Italian perfumer Laura Tonatto, in fragrances like Shanghai, top all bathroom counters. Basic toiletries, like cotton puffs and swabs, are on counters and replenished as needed.

Passengers receive Italian chocolate squares as nightly turn-downs. Some evenings, such as formal nights, turn-down is elevated to a four-piece gift box of exquisite chocolates from star Belgian confectioner Pierre Marcolini in intense flavours like caramel passion and almond praline. Passengers in the biggest suites receive a 16-piece box of Pierre Marcolini chocolates on arrival. All passengers are welcomed to their suites with a bottle of chilled Champagne.

All suites get white-gloved butler service, Silver Shadow's big drawing card. Butlers do everything, from wrapping loose eyeglasses in lint cloths to greeting passengers shipside with welcome signs after an overnight journey. They pour drinks, replace soap and deliver folded laundry in tissue paper. They unpack and pack for you and when departure time approaches; they clean suitcases and wrap them in ribbons and bows. Getting attached to your butler is easy; saying goodbye is hard.

Vista Suites: The 26 Vista Suites measure 287 square feet and are located on Deck 4. Along with the Terrace Suites, they're the smallest. Don't hesitate to book as they're still comfortable with a seating area with a couch, table and chair, a large picture window and marble baths with double vanities, a separate shower and full-sized bathtub. Passengers receive one hour of complimentary Wi-Fi per passenger per day.

Terrace Suites: The nine Terrace Suites on Deck 5 are identical to Vista Suites, except they have floor-to-ceiling glass doors and a shared teak veranda. The veranda is used by all the Terrace Suites and lacks furniture. Passengers also receive one-hour of complimentary Wi-Fi per passenger per day. Two of these suites are equipped for wheelchair access and are conveniently located by the reception and shore concierge desks, boutiques and bar.

Veranda Suites: The 128 Veranda Suites measure 345 square feet, including 60-square-foot private balconies, and are located on decks 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Veranda Suites' biggest differences from Vista and Terrace Suites are the larger couches with two chairs inside and, of course, the veranda with two rattan-style powder-coated aluminium chairs and a low table. Some Veranda Suites accommodate three passengers with pullout couches. Amenities are the same as in Vista and Terrace Suites, including complimentary Wi-Fi as stated above.

Medallion Suites: The two Medallion Suites on Deck 7 measure 521 square feet, including an 81-square-foot veranda with a dining table, two rattan-style powder-coated aluminium chairs and a matching chaise lounge. They are the most forward of the suites on this deck and the entry-level for the poshest suites with the best perks. The living room has a dining area with a richly grained inlaid wood table and four upholstered dining chairs. The seating area includes a couch and two upholstered chairs. A glass partition separates the bedroom from the living and dining area. The bathroom has a separate water closet for the toilet and a sink. Whirlpool tubs, unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi and complimentary butler-served afternoon canapes from a posh Gourmet Bites menu -- starring caviar and blinis, and foie gras terrine with brioche –- begin in this suite category.

Silver Suites: The 13 Silver Suites on Deck 7 measure between 653 and 701 square feet, including verandas between 110 and 123 square feet. They're popular with passengers seeking a midship location with extra space. All Silver Suites accommodate three passengers, with convertible sofas. The separate bedroom is partitioned by wood doors with etched glass. The dining area features the same table and chairs as the Medallion Suite. The seating area includes a couch with upholstered chairs. The bathroom has a separate water closet for the toilet and a sink. Verandas are furnished similarly to Medallion Suites. Extra amenities beginning at the Silver Suite level include a Bang & Olufsen audio system and an Illy espresso-maker.

Royal Suites: The two Royal Suites on decks 6 and 7 measure between 967 and 1,007 square feet, including a veranda of 110 to116 square feet with a dining table and two chairs and a chaise lounge. Passengers who want the extra privacy of the all-the-way-forward location and an extra bathroom prefer these suites. Plus, they're available as a two-bedroom with an adjacent Veranda Suite. The master bathroom has a water closet with a third sink, toilet and bidet. There's also a powder room (no shower or tub). Royal Suites offer the same amenities as Silver Suites.

Grand Suites: There are four one-bedroom Grand Suites, all the way forward on decks 6, 7 and 8, varying in size from 941 to 1,090 square feet, including a veranda of 103 to 116 square feet with a dining table, two chairs and a chaise lounge. An adjacent Veranda Suite can be added for a two-bedroom configuration. They're much like Royal Suites in size and design but those who prefer bigger verandas opt for the Grand Suites. Grand Suites feature a spacious separate bedroom and a roomy walk-in closet -- big enough for two to move around in. This bedroom has so many drawers, it's hard to fill them all. The bathroom has a water closet with a toilet, bidet and extra sink. A powder bath is located off the living room.

The large living room has a full-size couch and two overstuffed chairs. The corner bar has shelves stocked with glasses, granite counter with an Illy espresso maker and two chairs. An upholstered chaise lounge beckons before a wall-mounted Philips television. Amenities are the same as for Silver Suites and above, plus more: two hours of satellite telephone calls worldwide per voyage, complimentary laundry and dry cleaning service and complimentary dinner for two in Le Champagne per voyage (normally a $40 surcharge per person).

Owner's Suites: Two Owner's Suites on Deck 7 are coveted favourites for their more midship location (compared with the forward-facing Grand and Royal Suites) and the largest verandas. They measure 919 square feet, including a 220-square-foot veranda with an outdoor dining table with two chairs and a chaise lounge. (Request a second, if you like; it will fit but makes the veranda slightly crowded.) Owner's Suites may be configured as a two-bedroom by adjoining with a Veranda Suite. The large living room features a granite bar with three high-backed upholstered chairs, polished wood dining table with four upholstered chairs and a spacious seating area including a couch, two chairs, end tables and a coffee table. The bedroom has a cosy sitting area with a couch, coffee table and chair. The bathrooms and the amenities are the same as in Grand Suites.

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