Travel Spotlight

Floating Palaces: Silversea and the Golden Age of Ocean Liners

When I was five, my older brother came home from school with a book about the Titanic. And since then, thanks to the world’s most famous ocean liner and its tragic maiden voyage, I have been fascinated with great ocean liners. I have read countless books and newspaper articles, watched A Night to Remember, along with every Titanic documentary since Dr. Robert Ballard discovered the famous wreck in 1985. I imagined John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim in white tie and tails in the mahogany-paneled First Class Smoking Room and strolling the windswept promenade deck. I imagined Isidor and Eda Strauss sipping champagne over a 12-course dinner with the unsinkable Molly Brown and Captain Smith and the officers on the bridge sending telegrams from the Wireless Room. And I have read about the great passenger liners of Europe—the opulent floating palaces such as the Rex, Conti di Savoia, and the Andrea Doria; the sophisticated chic and nouveau elegance of the Ile de France, Normandie, and S.S. France; the radical advances in engineering married seamlessly with luxurious public spaces and the accommodations of the Bremenor in the Ritz-Carlton dining room on Leviathan; and, not to be forgotten, the classically refined Art Deco modernity of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth—and the golden age of ocean liners.Courtesy Silversea

Courtesy Silversea
These days, it seems as though, at least twice a year, the major cruise lines are introducing the newest and largest cruise ship ever built, behemoths with 6,000-plus passengers and the over-the-top onboard facilities that one might find in an amusement park. (In fact, plans are even in the works for a new mega-ship featuring a roller coaster.) Forget about ocean liners: these ships, not unlike their predecessors once were, are nothing short of modern marvels—floating mega-resorts. Thankfully, there are also more intimate options for the luxury traveler seeking experiences in exceptional destinations while enjoying all the comforts of a five-star hotel.  If, like me, you have ever felt somewhat conflicted about cruising, read our article Dispelling Myths: The Cruise to help decide what type of experience is right for you. Based on my recent experience aboard Silver Shadow from Singapore to Hong Kong, with ports of call in Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, and Halong Bay (and a previous memorable trip on Queen Mary 2), I can attest that cruising can provide an incredible journey, with the right ship and the right itinerary.Among the shortlist of Indagare’s preferred cruise lines, Silversea has found the right balance between journey and destination. The ultra-luxurious accommodations and facilities, coupled with their intimate size and white-glove service, harken back to the days of sailing First Class aboard “floating hotels.” As on the Silver Shadow, you won’t find any interior rooms—every cabin is a spacious ocean-facing suite with a large sitting area, bathrooms with dual vanities and a separate tub and showers, and all but the lowest category has a veranda. Each suite also comes with a dedicated butler, who will take care of your needs 24 hours a day, from booking a spa appointment to packing and unpacking your luggage.Courtesy Silversea
Courtesy Silversea
Silversea’s small fleet reaches over 800 destinations on all seven continents, ranging from traditional ports of call such as Dubrovnik and the Greek Islands to the Russian Far East. Four of the nine vessels in the fleet are purpose-built expedition ships that bring passengers to the most remote corners of the planet, including both polar regions, without sacrificing luxurious accommodations or white-glove service. Silver Galapágos offers year-round itineraries around the islands. Her intimate size of just 120 passengers is a great fit for those who still want to enjoy the full-service facilities on board between island excursions.The Breakdown: Singapore to Hong Kong on Silver Shadow9 DaysShip size: 382 passengersDestinations: Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Halong Bay, Hong KongWhat’s Included: All meals and alcohol and a number of group excursions. Plus, by booking the cruise with Indagare, we are able to tailor all shore excursions with our expert local partners to deliver the same kind of experience you would get if you were based on land. In destinations where multiple cruise ships can be docking the same day, having this option increases the odds of escaping the crowds. Top Activities: Exploring the Mekong Delta, a dinner gala at the opera in Ho Chi Minh City, a kayaking tour around Ha Long Bay, a biking excursion in Hoi An. How does a cruise compare to a land-based itinerary? To cover the same destinations in the same amount of time would entail four flights, eight airport transfers, four hotel check-ins and check-outs. For my cruise, I had two airport transfers and one hotel to ship transfer, one hotel check-in and check-out, and one embarkation and de-embarkation, which took roughly 30 minutes for each. When I did the math, I came up with a savings of 17 hours of travel time—17 more hours to do whatever I wanted at my leisure, whether relaxing by the pool, reading a book, getting a massage, attending a lecture by a destination expert, or simply catching up on sleep. As a bonus, I didn’t even have to unpack or repack my bags—my butler did it for me. Indagare Cruising Tip: Choosing the right Itinerary:When it comes to cruising, the most important consideration is the itinerary. All cruises are not created equal and certainly some can be far better than others, based on numerous factors from the time of year to size of the ship. Adding on a pre- and post-cruise itinerary can also enhance the trip, particularly if you are already committing to a far-flung location for just a few days or a few weeks. Contact Indagare to book your cruise with advice on cabins, routes and access to our preferred network of expert guides and tailored, bespoke services for shore excursions personalized for you.

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