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Master Echo

Echo-ing round the Caribbean on Silver Whisper

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We were told that the steps were built specifically for a lady on the World Cruise.  She has done many world cruises with SS, and she told me that she hopes to celebrate her 100th birthday year on the 2020 cruise.  She is a delightful lady who travels alone except for the time when her son joins her for several weeks. She does water aerobics daily, and she used to climb up and down the pool ladder!  I hope to be as fortunate when I turn 80.

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I see from the last few posts that one of them comes from a fellow passenger who is currently onboard.

 

Interesting to note that on all my three cruises in this sector, I was informed that there were not enough passengers on any of them for a meet and mingle, and it is certainly understandable given the demographics on 4930.  A straw poll done at the beginning on departing FLL, proved an overwhelming percentage had booked this cruise as they wished to see Cuba.  However it is also quite obvious that many took the opportunity to cancel, and there are a great number of ‘newbies’ present.

 

As mentioned previously there were 31 continuing from the first to the second leg, but this was reduced to only 11 of us on this current voyage.  This cruise has been split into three, due to undersell, and also to take advantage of Thanksgiving.  One was from FLL to San Juan,  then from San Juan to Barbados, and finally from there back to FLL.  This of course has proved an extra burden on the staff, particularly the GRM and her reception team.  Figures were 306 embarked and 289 crew.

 

Surprisingly enough, and not something expected from a port like New York, $10,000 worth of fish was rejected here for the November 1st departure, which meant that only frozen fish was available, and it was commented on by several passengers that the fish dishes were inferior.  Luckily this was remedied when the Silver Whisper arrived in San Juan, ten days later, and the lobsters, brought on alive, were so fresh, you could smell the sea when eating!,!  Likewise the halibut, so the fish connoisseurs were in seventh heaven!!

 

Overall the food has been very good, matched by exemplary service in all venues, due to the high crew to passenger ratio.

 

Well, about to leave St Kitts, such a very pretty island, and even after a gap of eight years, the island retains its charm, and has not been overrun by the tourist trap.  Unfortunately the Lady Whisper got the short straw today and we were docked in the commercial port, with two large Carnival ships docked in town.  However true to form, SS laid on a continuous shuttle service to town and back for those not on a shorex.

 

  It is with sadness that I am now sailing away, with the prospect of returning to Les Saintes, Guadeloupe, last seen just over a week ago.

 

Kindest regards

 

Master Echo

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On our last cruise we only just made the 6 for M&M MasterEcho but as the cruise progressed we met many other CCers, some of whom posted, some didn’t. 

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On ‎11‎/‎17‎/‎2019 at 11:14 AM, les37b said:

Hope Sir and Madame have a great time... I'd not seen mention of the Jones act anywhere but just googled. What a farce.

 

I'll pop in every now and then to enjoy your musings.... Or should that be Whisperings?

Les  - off topic but is all ok with you? I cant recall where your office is now but I think you used to be near London Bridge?

Rp

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14 hours ago, rosepark said:

Les  - off topic but is all ok with you? I cant recall where your office is now but I think you used to be near London Bridge?

Rp


Thanks for asking.

 

We unfortunately moved September last year to a soulless building without a view near Southwark tube that probably cost 25% of the rent in Cottons where we were. Gutted... no more staring out at Silver Wind or watching the world go past. You never appreciate things quite as much when they’re no longer there!

 

i actually had the day off yesterday, but had I been there, this is the view from my old office window towards London Bridge. I certainly would have been able to see people scampering away and heard the shots, but the “action” was on the opposite side, so spared that.


This is the view from my old office I would have seen.... at low tide... I do so miss my desk by the window.

 

8B527329-2BB5-41A7-B71D-3250F7BB902B.thumb.jpeg.5bd68e6329a8f4c364cc16b495b98604.jpeg

 


Funny enough, in searching for this photo on my phone, I came across loads I took just after the first incident. That one was a little surreal as I’d had been out with my office the previous evening for a curry and drinks at Borough Market until 11pm. We ended that evening, standing in the street for an hour or so, outside the pub the police shootings took place exactly 24 hours later. It brought it home a little.

 

Am i in the slightest be worried or concerned about going into London after these events? Nope, not in the slightest. The odds of being caught up are astronomical.

 

 

 

Edited by les37b

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5 hours ago, les37b said:

Am i in the slightest be worried or concerned about going into London after these events? Nope, not in the slightest. The odds of being caught up are astronomical.

 

 

With you there, Les. Safety in statistics.

I walked twice over the exact spot exactly a week previously (on my way to and from Borough Market) which gave me pause for (extra) thought but really what are the odds? Among the millions of people in the thousands of places in London during the hundreds and hundreds of minutes in each day, what are the odds it'll be you? Not zero, but not enough to worry about.

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As we sail away from Barbados with the lights of the west coast fading into the distance, this is the start of the final leg of cruise no. 4930

 

Why the final leg?  In 2018 a number of cruise lines sailing out of American waters,  including Silversea changed itineraries to include visits to Cuba.  Cruise number 4930 was one of them.  In early June this year, the US President decreed that all such visits were banned and all the cruise lines had to do a hasty rejig in consequence.  Many bookings on 4930 were subsequently cancelled and Silversea decided to split 4930 into three segments.  These were FLL to San Juan, San Juan to Barbados spanning Thanksgiving, and Barbados to FLL.  This split the original 14 night cruise into shorter segments in order to attract more bookings.

 

This meant that 55 disembarked in Barbados and 45 boarded.  However there was only a small turnround in San Juan.

 

There are 245 Venetians ( 75%, which is a high percentage) on 4930, proving the draw of Cuba.  Whilst cruise 4930 initially attracted some SS ‘big hitters” again because of Cuba, five couples with over 1000 days and Joe Buckley with over 2300 days ( none of whom cancelled), there has been a marked difference in the demographics between cruises 4928, 4929, and the three segments of 4930.  

 

The shorter segments of the last of these certainly seems to have attracted the sort of people whom one would not normally see on Silversea.  I have never encountered so many who in the evening, were one over the odds, and loud to the point of being raucous.  It was alleged that some were from the Miami office, indeed there has been a contingent of travel agents on these segments who are undoubtedly travelling on a deal.  

 

The new ensuite TV system gives information about Internet connectivity on a daily basis.  I have not monitored this regularly, but when I have checked, even when in port it has been “poor” or at best “limited”!

 

It seems that despite the insertion in the Chronicles that ‘guests are reminded to shower before entering the pool and the jacuzzi, and to use the hand sanitisers located around the ship, it has been ignored.  It does seem there is more of a disregard to basic hygiene on this last voyage, than hitherto.  Fortunately the family with two young children under ten, one of whom couldn’t swim, who let them  in the pool with snorkel masks, tubes and fins, and then using the jacuzzi, despite the minimum age limit for the latter, disembarked in Puerto Rico!

 

More to follow on ports and entertainment anon.

 

Kindest regards

 

Master Echo

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As is the case with quite a few of my observations it appears  staff is hesitant to correct the situation. Especially the smoking.  

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Dear Master Echo,

Thank you for taking the time to compose these reports. If you don't mind, I would love to hear your thoughts on Les Saintes, Guadalupe. I've just returned from the Wind, and that port was a favorite of nearly everyone onboard -- crew and guests alike.

 

 

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I have not commented on the ports visited because the Caribbean is a well known destination to CC readers.  However, there  are one or two specific matters that are worthy of reference.

 

On two occasions, Silver Whisper was the only ship in port on a Sunday, the first being Philipsburg, St. Maarten, and the second, Grand Turk, once a small and inviting island.  This is now dominated by Carnival’s Margaritaville, a large resort for cruise passengers offering everything they could wish for, from swimming, shopping and numerous food and drink outlets on disembarkation from their ship.   The former too, is geared heavily towards cruise ships from Diamond International, and upmarket jewellery outlets, to electronic and cosmetic stores.  Indeed Front Street is one long parade of shops inviting the cruise passenger to spend their cash.

 

The Shore Concierge department informed passengers that many shops would be closed because it was a Sunday.  This however runs counter to my previous experience in Grand Turk when we were the only ship docked, and I was told that most of the locals could not be bothered to open as there was only one ship in port and that only had around 400 passengers!

 

In Philipsburg, the mandatory water taxi was also not operating between the cruise terminal and downtown, and Silversea is prohibited from offering a road shuttle service between ship and Front Street.

 

As an aside, the Shore Concierge team is by far the weakest department on the ship, and does not seem to have the experience to offer an indepth service to passengers requesting information on any ports visited.

 

 Indeed one of their team accompanied one of the tours in Martinique and was not aware there was a newly opened - over two years ago, - museum at St Pierre, detailing the history and timeline of the disastrous Mt Pelee eruption of 1902 when over 30,000 souls perished and destroyed St Pierre, the capital at the time, which then relocated to Fort de France, some 30 kilometres to the south west.  I gave her the information , not only about the museum, but also the date of the eruption, to which she was unaware.  Silversea had the same tour only the cruise before, and therefore I think it was inexcusable that the shorex department was not cogniscent of these basic details.

 

Despite the ‘ghost town’ aspect of Philipsburg, it was delightful to walk down the narrow main street,  Front Street, and appreciate the architecture without thousands of cruise passengers wandering aimlessly hither and thither across the street.

 

On several occasions we have called at ports in the French Antilles, Fort de France, Martinique, St Barts, Gustavia and Les Saintes, the kast two of which were part of Guadeloupe, but the former ceded in 2003.  In these ports American passengers have been horrified that US dollars were not accepted, the options being credit cards or Euros.  This is a point to be borne in mind for future visits.

 

The character of these French islands is markedly different to the brash American orientated ports such as Philipsburg, and St Thomas, US Virgin Islands or the over commercialised ports such as Barbados and Antigua.

 

During the visit to St Barts, it was illuminating to learn how little rainfall it receives, to the point that it is one of the few West Indian islands where cactii flourish.  

 

It is interesting to note that on this last leg, the number of offered shorexes were cancelled due to lack of interest. This is particularly surprising as many of these were free to some passengers.

 

Silversea brought on local entertainers in several ports, which ranged from a single performer to a troupe of West Indian singers and dancers numbering around 25.

 

The Voices of Silversea - six performers, three female and three male, provided the main evening entertainment in the Show Lounge.  Despite all being operatically trained, they gave a very good harmonising performance as an ensemble.  They also gave solo cabaret performances which showcased their exceptional  talents.  Most notable was Martin Calvert with his Savoir Faire show and Luke’s highly personal cabaret.  They are all disembarking on December 6th with me, after being onboard for six months, and their last few shows have shown that despite performing the same routines for such a long period, their expertise and professionalism continued to the last with rousing performances.

 

Bits and pieces to follow

 

Kindest Regards

 

Master Echo

 

 

 

 

 

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Preparations for the World Cruise

 

This morning, the on-screen Internet status was reported as “none”!   As we are in sight of land in the Caribbean,  I wish those on the WC sector in Antarctica good luck!  ( see previous post regarding this issue.)

 

Preparations are already in hand for the WC which starts on January 6th.  The ship has been inspected by senior personnel to identify any issues for remedial action.  One of these will be draining and deep cleaning the swimming pool, whilst this morning the deck 8 carpet received particular attention.

 

Silversea has already issued a Press Release to name the Senior Personnel for the WC, but there will also be changes at a more junior level.  

 

Norman, who was on for cruise 4929, (see earlier post), will return for the Christmas cruise to begin his own preparations for the WC.  A number of passengers who have already been on for a month, will either stay onboard for the entirety of the WC, or until March.  

 

Kindest regards

 

Master Echo

 

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Thanks ME for the updates. As always, your reporting is detailed and vivid. I look forward to reading each one!

 

Do you know who the CD will be going forward?

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10 hours ago, Master Echo said:

A number of passengers who have already been on for a month, will either stay onboard for the entirety of the WC, or until March.


Wow!  Personally, could not imagine being on a SS ship for that long, let alone the length of a world cruise.  So, I can only imagine how spectacular is must be for those who enjoy spending months on end at sea.

We've never done more than 17-days and will spend 15-days on the Cloud this January.  The more I think about it, I'm a bit worried about how we'll feel next fall when we're on the Moon for 24-days.  Have a feeling we may go stir crazy during the transatlantic crossing.

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Thank you DC Cruiser57 and seaquay for your very prompt accurate answer to Spinnaker2's question.

 

May I also thank you Spinnaker2 for your kind comments, it is always gratifying to know that what I write is of use to someone.

 

Responding to Unibok, regarding Les Saintes Guadeloupe, I can well understand why both the passengers and crew on the Wind enjoyed this delightful island. You dock at Terre de Haut which is the easternmost island of the Isles de Saintes Guadeloupe.  Unusually for a West Indian island, it is too hot and dry for sugar cane, so consequently there was no slave trade.  Apparently the inhabitants have both Norman and Breton roots which one might expect,  being French.  

 

The Lady Whisper visited this island twice, the first time our tender ride was slightly longer as two other ships were anchored nearer in to the little jetty - Club Med 2 and Star Pride, but I was very pleased as the tender ride was delightful.  The second time we were the only ship in, and the tender ride was therefore shorter.

 

Coming ashore, what might be considered the main street in the centre of this hamlet, it really is too small to be called a town, was a mere 25 yards away.  The buildings along this narrow thoroughfare, which only has electric powered vehicles, are quaint to the point of being quirky.  They are certainly far more characterful than those on St. Barts, another one of the French Antilles.

 

The climb up to Napoleon III ‘s Fort offered glimpses of local life and ultimately grand views of the nearby islands.

 

Overall, I found this port full of a distinctive charm, not found elsewhere in islands visited during the 35 days on the Whisper.

 

By the way, for the aficionados of the four little green topped bottles, you will be very pleased to know that they are currently alive and well and living on Silver Whisper - for how long - who knows?!

 

Hopefully more to follow

 

Kindest Regards

Master Echo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Been really interesting to read all this. waiting for my taxi to Newcastle Airport (far North of England) for connecting flight to Miami to join the Lady whisper tomorrow. First time on Silversea though cruised many times with P and O and Cunard. Very excited.

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Clodia

 

Safe flight from Newcastle - Fort Lauderdale  is a sunny high of around 25C - sure that is currently warmer than Newcastle!!

 

Silver Whisper is gearing up for your arrival - bon voyage - enjoy!!

 

Kindest regards

 

Master Echo

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Key West was again the last port on this  itinerary.  Unlike two weeks ago, when we were docked  at Mallory Square, this time, for two reasons, we were docked at the Navy dockyard.

 

The  first reason was that Brilliance of the Seas was docked in the pier B, adjacent to Mallory Square.  She arrived in after us at 10.00am and was sailing later.  However due to her length she overhung the Mallory Square berth.  To compound the problem, Silver Whisper was sailing an hour later than two weeks ago, and seemingly it is not possible to sail from here at dusk,  as Sunset is so special for the inhabitants of Key West that nothing can mar the view!!  Having got several pictures in the twice we were there at that time, I can vouch for thiis view!

 

Unfortunately,  we did in fact sail at 5.30 pm hot footing it to Fort Lauderdale to disgorge the complement of the current passengers, in readiness to greet and look after the those embarking on 4931, not least Cruisin'' Pashmina - one and all, enjoy and look after my lovely Lady Whisper until the next time!!

 

Over and out - maybe the final roundup will follow.

 

Kindest regards

 

Master Echo

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A cursory passport inspection in Key West yesterday meant that we just walked straight off the ship this morning, and on to the waiting coach for a trip on the Everglades airboat prior to being taken to Miami airport .

 

On the final segment from Barbados, we had 300 passengers and 286 crew.

 

Sandra the Cruise Director is settling well into her role on promotion, from Silversea’s first Assistant Cruise Director.  Whilst some of the shows such as Argento, are very well known to SS’s regulars, the Voices of Silversea arranged several of their own production shows.  This made a refreshing change to the established ones.  The production company has been awarded a renewal   of their existing contract for another three years, and plans are afoot for a completely new series of shows.

 

Food and Beverage service onboard has been excellent.  Despite one or two hiccups, Gio has delivered a very high standard of catering.  The hiccups saw him reject $10,000 worth of fish in New York, as hitherto mentioned, and opening a crate of fish labelled Dover Sole, only to find it contained John Dory, not at all the calibre of the former, which was my biggest disappointment.

 

As previously reported there were 31 of us caught by the Jones Act which meant you could not board in New York and disembark in Fort Lauderdale.

 

  Whilst onboard I learned of an American who had booked direct with the SS office in Miami eighteen months ago.  Whilst the cruise for him was roundtrip Fort Lauderdale, he was told that he could disembark in Key West and booked an hotel accordingly.  On embarking he was informed that this contravened the Jones Act and he would have to disembark in Fort Lauderdale.  It was then left for the ship to sort out transportation to get him back to Key West.  The poor GRM, Tania, came up trumps yet again and I learned yesterday that they had organised a car to drive him the four hour journey back to Key West.  Fortunately for SS, his hotel did not charge him for the missed night!

 

Surely, its time for Silversea not to continue to contravene the Jones Act or better still, lobby for this inane out of date ancient Law to be rescinded!!

 

kindest regards

 

Master Echo

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Unless there were 2 people with the same circumstances, we had the pleasure of meeting this gentleman the day before boarding in our hotel in Fort Lauderdale.  He already knew he couldn't get off in Key West and Silversea and his agent had sorted out him not being charged for the hotel and a chauffeur driven car had been arranged for him to take him back to Key West when we docked.  He seemed very happy with the arrangements especially the limo to Key West and even joked about the out of date law with us.

 

Having had the pleasure of sailing with Sandra in the Mediterranean earlier this year it was lovely to meet up with her and hear of her forthcoming wedding plans.  Hopefully she will stay with Silversea once married.

 

Having had the disappointment of Cuba taken away the itinerary did its best to compensate and the crew were excellent throughout.  The shore concierge team had a particularly hard time, with many different booking models on the ship, with some people having free excursions and some not, they were faced with the problem of people in free excursions simply not turning up if they decided to not go.  This resulted in the staff, in an effort not to leave anyone behind, having to try to track passengers down on the ship, only to find they didn’t want to go on the excursion after all.

 

Unfortunately in the BVI we followed the end of a storm into port, which meant a number of excursions were cancelled for safety reasons.  This was  a wise decision as apparently a car transporter with a local skipper had run aground the previous day due to the conditions.

 

It is a pity that the Guitarist in the main bar, Liam, came in for criticism from some passengers, so much so that he stopped doing his early session.  Having spoken to him it would appear that this is his first contract and  he was told by his agent he would be able to sing his own music, he is a songwriter as well as performer.  Once on board he  quickly realised that this was not going to be the case and tried to adapt his set to suit.  It is a pity that in a bar full of people enjoying his music a few people complaining is enough for the staff to have to go and ask him to turn the volume down.

 

One disappointment was a number of people sitting at the tables for lunch on the pool grill in only their swim wear, no cover up or t shirt.  I for one do not really want to go and sit on a chair covered in some one else sun tan and sweat and would be happy if Silversea were to include a sentence to this effect in the dress code.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Master Echo said:

Surely, its time for Silversea not to continue to contravene the Jones Act or better still, lobby for this inane out of date ancient Law to be rescinded!!

 

I thoroughly enjoy your writings ME so I'm sorry to be picky but you really mean the PVSA (Passenger Vessel Services Act) - the Jones Act is much the same idea but deals with carriage of merchandise rather than people.

 

Whatever you call it, I agree that it's rather outdated and should be abolished but I think whenever that is raised, it never gets far. This is a comment I read on John McCain's (fourth!) attempt to repeal the Jones act in 2017:

Like his prior attempts, the new McCain campaign seems unlikely to gather sufficient support to pass either the Senate or House, or to stir much debate leading to other legislation or policy changes. Legislation protecting U.S. ship operators and shipyards from foreign competition in U.S. inland and coastal domestic trading markets dates from the first few U.S. Congresses during the late 18th century. Despite strong support from much of corporate America and traditional Republican interests, including the oil majors and Heritage Foundation, and continuous pressure from U.S. jurisdictions heavily reliant upon ocean shipping trade with other states – such as Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico – historical efforts to reduce the scope of the Jones Act materially have failed outright or been heavily diluted. The current political landscape is no more favorable. Weakening the Jones Act in any way would appear to run directly counter to the protectionist themes of the Trump Administration.

 

So maybe in the future, who knows?

Edited by jollyjones

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