Touring Europe by Ship:
Silver Whisper Mediterranean Cruise
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ABOVE: Passengers who go ashore
can take bottled water and towels from a table in the lobby by the gangway.
Tours play a vital role in port-intensive cruises, especially
when historic sites or interesting towns are located inland from the port.
Optional shore excursions from the Silver Whisper typically last four or
five hours, with a few--such as the Taormina and Mt. Etna tour on our
Athens-Rome cruise--going all day. Since most port visits are for eight hours or
longer, passengers usually can take a half-day tour and have time left over for
exploring the port, shopping, or having a leisurely lunch ashore.
Silversea is less aggressive in promoting shore excursions than many cruise
lines are, and the Silver Whisper Tour Desk staff spend as much time
dispensing free information as they do in selling tickets for bus tours.
Before each port visit, Tour Manager Scott Kinney gives a detailed briefing with
tips on sightseeing, shopping, and other matters of interest. (You can attend
the briefing or watch continuous reruns on TV in your suite.) Maps and language
sheets are usually available at the Tour Desk, and Kinney tries to bring a
representative of the local tourist office aboard in each port to answer
questions for passengers who'd like to sightsee on their own.
Silversea also provides free shuttle buses or boats throughout the day if the ship
isn't moored within easy walking distance of the port's main attractions.
tried three Silversea shore excursions during our cruise, and all were more
enjoyable than the usual sightseeing tour. Here's why:
Silversea limits the number of passengers on each bus, so that a
50-person bus might have only 20 or 25 passengers. This doesn't just reduce
crowding; it also means there are fewer passengers per guide, so there's less
time wasted in keeping the group together and everyone can hear the guide.
Silversea provides free bottled water in the lobby on Deck 3, at the
(if passengers are taken ashore by boat), and on the bus. This may not seem
like a big deal, but it's nice to be offered water on a hot day instead of being
hustled for $2 a bottle by a ship's cruise staff.
Experienced cruisers tell us that Silversea's tour prices are
comparable with what you'd pay on other cruise lines. If you dislike group tours
and would rather hire a private guide, the Tour Desk will help you make
TIP: If you're on a ship-sponsored tour
and the bus returns late because of mechanical problems or traffic, the ship
will wait for you. If you're lost or delayed while touring by yourself, the ship
will sail on schedule--and you'll have to make your own way to the next port.
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