Back to the Start: That’s the Spirit! Day 1
Aboard the Silver Spirit, Day 9: Sunday, November 21
Sorry to say it, folks, but I’m out of gas.
I’m tired of these people, and I’m tired of these same old bars and restaurants, and I’m tired of the routine. So as far as the daily report is concerned, I’m taking the day off.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t offer some concluding comments on the entire Silversea experience. The Spirit is one fine and handsome ship, even if the décor seems slightly dull and uninspired to me. The room and bath amenities are quite good, and the butlers and room attendants do a fine job. My fellow passengers onboard are as nice as you’ll find anywhere in a gathering of strangers. The management staff knock themselves out for you. The food offerings and food quality have been way above average. The entertainment has been fine. The free drinks, free wine, tips-included features are fantastic. Negatives? The physical fitness facility and spa are fairly weak– not a big deal to me, but it could be to others. The bars’ and restaurants’ ambiance are just okay. As you have no doubt detected from various tirades, I think the food and beverage service staff is mainly comprised of robots of below-average mentality, and they are the slowest human beings afoot on the planet. And there is a legitimate question, raised by some I have met, as to whether Silversea is worth the very serious premium prices it charges compared to cruise lines one notch down.
So, in toto, what is the verdict? Would I do it again (preferably with AW, even more preferably with AW and friends or family)? If you’d asked me on the first or second day, I probably would have said no way. But the overall quality of this operation grows on you. Over time you see how much effort and planning goes into the daily operation of this ship, and you hear from your fellow passengers that this doesn’t always happen on other cruise lines. So, I guess I will answer that key question with a definite maybe. They had a tough and cynical critic aboard this voyage, and by gosh they may have actually begun to win him over.
Tomorrow, Ft. Lauderdale, then onward to L.A. and Pasadena. Thanks for listening. Over and out.
. . .
Aboard the Silver Spirit, Day 9: Appendix to Report for Sunday, November 21 (and Monday, November 22)
Even though I previously declared my intent to forego a report for the last day(s), I decided to include a few musings about the final events.
Sorry to say that the final day (Sunday) was, in fact, pretty uneventful. Slept in for the first time on the trip, hit the pool, went to a special cocktail party for all the Team Trivia participants, then we had our final Team Trivia event (came in third again…I tell ya, these other guys are tough). Why they put the cocktails before the contest is beyond me, as one of our best players, Liz—she may be a social barbarian, but she’s an ace trivia contestant—was half loaded and rather ineffective. The question that broke our back was: What 80’s band’s name was inspired by the movie Barbarella? We guessed Sex Pistols, which was wrong. Correct answer below. See what I mean? All week we dealt with some impossibly tough questions.
Wound up at dinner with Tom and Joan from Chicago and Lake Forest, IL (for the uninitiated, considered by many to be the very top suburb in Chicagoland). Met Tom when he was a fellow grinder on the regatta, then later one night on my lone Casino visit. A mid-40’s guy with a cherubic countenance, he previously s served as General Counsel for pharmaceutical giant Shering-Plough (sp?) (lost that job when they merged with Merck). He presently has the very super-duper job of General Counsel of United Airlines, although his job is ending at the close of 2010 due to the United/Continental merger in which the Continental G.C. got the nod for the position with the combined entity. Don’t feel sorry for him. Like my old roomie Terry Martin, he departs all these primo jobs with golden parachutes and other goodies. For example, one of his severance benefits from United will be a lifetime pass on the airline….oooooh, how I would give anything for that. Originally from Connecticut (went to Wesleyan, same as Bonnie Harrison), he and Joan (no kids) have lived in New Jersey, California and Illinois (the latter four times).
Earlier in the week Tom and Joan, very proper country club types, had had a well-noticed brouhaha poolside with a bald New Yorker that Joan has dubbed “The Plaintiff’s Lawyer.” The PL is part of a NY foursome who yell across the pool and generally are loud and gaudy and inconsiderate and obnoxious. Joan bristles at their showiness (e.g., their wives bringing $15,000 purses to the pool). At any rate, the tiff resulted from fact that, on the first Sea Day– when the pool area was the most crowded and chairs were at a premium– the PL and his gang commandeered four chairs on BOTH sides of the pool so that they could change locations as the sun moved across the sky. Tom objected to this maneuver, and the two of them proceeded to have a little trans-pool discussion, which had to be settled (in Tom and Joan’s favor) by the ship’s Pool Manager, a stout gal who wears a white outfit that looks like a nurse’s uniform. Believe me, all heads poolside popped up from their reclining positions to witness the dust-up, the most excitement we had all week.
Monday morning was disembarkation day in Fort Lauderdale, which ended up costing Silversea some future business, I’m sure. A whole lot of us had signed up to disembark at 8:30 a.m., plenty of time for me to get my rental car at Fort Lauderdale airport and drive to Miami airport to catch my 11:51 flight to Chicago. Because they are going to be on my same flight, Tom and Joan are going with me (I’m trying to be as nice as I can to this guy in the hope that he’ll get me one of those lifetime passes). Well, somebody at Silversea was asleep at the switch. Since this is the first time the Silver Spirit has ever visited a U.S. port (up to this time it had been sailing in Europe and across the Atlantic), it’s necessary for the U.S. Coast Guard to board the ship and give it a complete inspection. Coast Guard uniforms are scurrying all over the ship and 8:30 comes and goes, and people are beginning to get worried. 9:30, and they still aren’t done with the inspection. All around, people are moaning about certain missed flights and a completely messed-up day. Finally, at 9:50, we’re told we can disembark…IN THE ORDER OF THE COLOR OF YOUR LUGGAGE TAG. The first color called: Red. Who are among the few with the red tags? The Plaintiff’s Lawyer and his entourage, which of course completely infuriates Joan. Anyway, our color was next, and we ran off the ship at 10:00, then had to go through Immigration and Customs, where there was one—count him: ONE) U.S. Customs guy on duty for the crowd of 480. The Silversea elite are mad as hornets, laying it on the Silversea port attendants who had nothing to do with the problem and were trying to soothe frayed nerves and tempers. Luckily the three of us were among the early ones off the Spirit, but we still didn’t exit the terminal until 10:15…for a 11:51 flight out of Miami! Long story short, we grabbed a taxi to Hertz at the airport, grabbed our car, drove wildly to Miami and get there with 15-20 minutes to spare. I kept saying to Tom: “Maybe you ought to give someone a call.” He’d just shake his head and give me a look that said that’s not how it works, my friend. Made the flight. And all was well that ended well.
As this is being composed, I sit on United 123 on my way to LAX.
Thus endeth the Saga of the Spirit.
(Answer to trivia question: Duran Duran. I have no idea whatsoever what the connection is with Barbarella.)