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Touring Europe by Ship:
Silver Whisper Mediterranean Cruise
Continued from page 6

Silver whisper lobby photo

ABOVE: Passengers who go ashore can take bottled water and towels from a table in the lobby by the gangway.

Shore excursions

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.

We 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 tender landing (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 independent arrangements.

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.

Page 8 - Memorable moments

In this article:  
Introduction Activities, entertainment
Cruise itinerary Shore excursions
The Silver Whisper Memorable moments
Accommodations Is Silversea for you?
Food and drink Web links

More about the Silver Whisper and Silversea Cruises:
Silversea Cruises: "Scotland's Tattoo"
Silver Whisper Photos 2002
Silver Whisper Photos 2003