All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2014 unless otherwise noted.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Thirty hours of transfers, airport lounges and flights found me in Funchal, Madeira two days prior to departing on Silversea Cruises luxe MV SILVER CLOUD for an eight night crossing to Fort Lauderdale. Shortly after arriving at the swank Pestana Casino Park Hotel (designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemayer), my friend Rob Di Stefano and I ventured out for a delicious tomato and onion soup at a waterfront cafe between bursts of rain.
Located directly across from the ferry terminal, the Pestana Casino Park was not only a fine example of curvaceous MidCentury style but perfectly situated for views of the harbor.
Pretty beat from the travels and with a good deal of homework to prepare for my first official crossing as a shipboard lecturer, I adjourned for an early night.
November 21, 2014
I awoke to a stunningly beautiful morning, quite the opposite of the prior day’s rain and gloom. This break in Madeira’s often intense micro-climate provided a perfect chance to explore.
I made it as far as the breakwater at the eastern end of the harbor where a small lighthouse presides over a man-made basin built to absorb flood waters that have in the past wreaked havoc on the mountainous island.
On my way back to the hotel, I took a slight detour to wander the gardens and park overlooking the harbor.
At 1:30 PM, I could make out the glistening white form of the SILVER CLOUD as she rounded the eastern headlands of Madeira. Shortly thereafter, the 1994-built, 16,800-gt, 296-guest ship was entering Funchal harbor, tying up at the end of the jetty.
November 22, 2014
Clouds and intermittent rain greeted us on sailing day. We boarded the ship early to photograph unoccupied suites in several categories and all accessible public spaces before she filled with guests in the afternoon.
Up on deck, rain squalls, wind and intermittent sun produced a constant series of rainbows, all the more spectacular with Madeira’s lush mountains as a backdrop.
Although there are larger suites, arguably the best stateroom on the ship is the 684-square-foot Owner’s Suite with its prime midships location, separate bedrooom, dining and living spaces which can be combined with the adjacent Veranda Suite for a total of 924-square-feet.
Our home for the next week would be 295-square-foot Midship Veranda Suite 545, a handsomely decorated, comfortable haven with twin beds, a separate sitting area (that can be closed off with a full length curtain), stocked mini-bar and fridge, a walk-in closet with plush robes, wifi, pillow menu, personal safe, vanity table with blow dryer, i-Pod docking station, alarm, and a flatscreen television with DVD player.
The teak-lined veranda measures 49-square-feet and has a pair of chairs and a small cocktail table.
All suites on the SILVER CLOUD have posh, marble-lined bathrooms that are supplied with Bulgari amenities.
Showering in the CLOUD’s Veranda Suites is an indulgent experience with a choice of rainforest or hand-held dispensers.
This would not only be my first sailing on the SILVER CLOUD but my first time aboard since her debut in 1994. I was happy to see that aside from the gym having replaced the observation lounge on forward Deck 9 and the expansion of the shopping area, the ship is largely as built, albeit with updated color schemes and soft fittings. I particularly like the double midships stairtower, both for its aesthetics and its easy flow.
As embarkation began, it was time to put the cameras to rest and switch into cruising mode.
End Of Part One
Much More to Come…
Special thanks: Brad Ball, Gina Finocchairo, David Lawton, Andrew Poulton
Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea. With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications. Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India. He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."