Friday 12 August 2022 – We’re now aboard Silver Muse and underway. This is the view from our cabin’s balcony right now (it has been like that ever since we left Seward); appropriately we are in Disenchantment Bay. (It improves – keep reading.)
We’re not missing anything right now, therefore this is a fantastic opportunity to bring you up to date with how everything went yesterday.
This being a holiday, we were up earlier than would normally be the case at home. OK, the jetlag helped. Thing is, we needed to hand our luggage over to the nice Silversea people, conveniently located at a desk in the hotel lobby, between 8am and 9am, which means 8am ‘coz we always want to give ourselves maximum contingency for cock-ups. As well as handing over the suitcases, we had to prove that we were free of the Dreaded Lurgy and that we had ‘fessed up to the Canadian authorities about our imminent arrival in a week’s time. Jane, as always, had done a mistressful job of marshalling the necessary paperwork, which left the Silversea folks almost as impressed as I was.
It was our lot to travel by rail down to Seward, where the boat would leave. We actually had no particular idea about whether this was better or worse as an option than traveling by coach, but, whatever, we had to be ready to be picked up at 1215. This gave me the opportunity to finish writing about our day in Anchorage on Wednesday, which had been sufficiently eventful that it took two days to write it up.
The rail trip to Seward starts, somewhat counterintuitively, from the airport. There are no scheduled trains from Anchorage to Seward, so this was a Silversea Special and it departed from the rail depot at the airport (presumably needed because of the massive logistical significance of Anchorage as a hub). A coach took us to the airport, where we joined a queue to prove, once again, that we had the paperwork, then another queue to get a boarding pass for the train and our cabin keys. There was a holding pen whilst we waited to board the train
and then we were called by carriage number. They called carriage 555 first, and we were carriage 554, so held ourselves in readiness to sprint forward. Then they called….carriage 553. No matter, they hadn’t forgotten us and we were next to take the walk down the platform.
The carriage had big observation windows
and for the journey we had the pleasure of the company of the two ladies bottom right, Rebecca and her mother Margaret. Notice that there’s nowhere to put bags, so my super-heavyweight backpack had to be stashed somewhere else.
The carriage was run by a chap called Christian, who did the best he could to gee everyone up with tales of possible sightings of moose and eagles and bears and that, but his news that the train trip was going to take four and a half “ish” hours came as a bit of a surprise. The weather conditions also quite literally dampened expectations of fabulous and interesting views.
Christian started serving people from the far end of the carriage and it became clear that it would take him some time to work his way up to our end. Happily, we discovered that we were next to the buffet car, which was rather like any British Rail buffet car except the lady serving behind the counter knew how to mix cocktails. We satisfied ourselves with a hat trick of G&Ts before we were able to get a salad via Christian’s service, and that nicely lubricated the conversation with Rebecca and Margaret as we ground our way slowly along.
The most interesting challenge, photographically, was seeking a gap among the trees in order to get a photo. The train might have been moving slowly, but the gaps between the trees seemed to flash right by. I managed one glacier
and one lake
and that was about it (no moose or eagles or bears), which meant that by the time we got to Seward we were beginning to feel rather bored with the whole process. I don’t know whether the coach option might have been swifter, but we were all glad to get to Seward, where the weather conditions (as forecast)
weren’t all that conducive to any further beautiful photography. Scurrying from the train to the boat was actually a higher priority
and, naïve soul that I am, I was surprised at the size of the ship.
The boarding process was very smooth and it was soon clear that we were going to be very well looked after during our cruise. Every cabin has a butler; ours is called Francis and he came and introduced himself and talked us through some of the information we’d need throughout our cruise. We also found the launderette, which is a nice thing to have the use of. These things are important, you know.
The rest of the day was taken up with the inevitable and important safety briefing and dinner, which we took in a restaurant called Atlantide.
Great food, nice surroundings and efficient and courteous service. After dinner, we thought it would be good to stretch our legs, so we walked around the ship to orientate ourselves. It’s a big ship in our experience, but quite small in the general cruising context – a maximum of 596 guests if full. Relatively small as it is, it’s still an 11-story building so there was a lot to take in.
We learned from one steward (Simon, German) that there are 437 guests on this cruise and somewhere around 360 crew, so the service level is near one-to-one; also that even if the numbers had been higher post-pandemic, the ship would not have been full, as they have to reserve some cabins for quarantine purposes. The pandemic’s consequences continue to affect the hospitality industry, even after all this time.
The strains of the day began to tell, and even the prospect of further free booze wasn’t enough to keep us going, so we called it a day at this point and got our heads down in order to prepare for a day at sea containing the prospect of seeing the Hubbard Glacier at reasonably close range from the ship. We therefore hoped for decent weather, not something that we’d seen thus far. However…..
….the skies have cleared, making today’s activity a bit more promising. I’ll write about that in the next post, so do come back and find out more, won’t you?