Crossing On A CLOUD, Part Two

Continue with Peter Knego and Silversea Cruises deluxe SILVER CLOUD’s recent eight night transatlantic crossing from Funchal, Madeira to Fort Lauderdale.

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THE SANDS OF ALANG: The latest DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2014 unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

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Farewell, Funchal…

At 5:00 PM, following boat drill, SILVER CLOUD cast her lines and spun around to exit Funchal.

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…and Hello, Atlantic!

Within moments after passing the breakwater, we were plunging into Force 8-to-9 seas and despite all efforts to the contrary, I was a goner for the next 12 hours. The Meclizine I took just prior to departure was to no avail and in addition to being inconsolably seasick, I had succumbed to the narcotic effects of the drug. Fortunately, my first presentation was not until 5:00 PM the following day…

Sunday, November 23, 2014

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Jump start.
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La Terrazza, facing starboard.

After a night of pitching, rolling and slamming into massive waves, the SILVER CLOUD had entered far less tempestuous seas. When I arose, I was ravenous, so it was off to La Terrazza, where a warm cappuccino and buffet breakfast awaited.

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Pizza Marinara in La Terrazza.

Throughout the week, we took breakfast and lunch in La Terrazza, which offers open seating breakfast from 7:30 to 10:00 and lunch from Noon to 2:00.

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Sushi and sashimi for lunch.

In addition to the buffet, which at lunchtime features a salad bar, warm and cold appetizers, homemade gelato, sorbet, baked goods and even a selection of sushi, there is a pizza menu.

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SILVER CLOUD Fitness Center, facing starboard.

Our daily routine would consist of a workout in the Fitness Center, which was moved into the forward Deck 9 space that originally housed an Observation Lounge. This well-equipped venue is fronted with cardio machines and features a selection of weight machines and free weights. In temperate climes, the sheltered deck space directly aft is ideal for stretching and just a few steps farther aft is a jogging track that encircles the pool area.

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MV SILVER CLOUD Show Lounge, facing starboard.
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An officers’ welcome.

I donned formal wear for my first presentation in the Show Lounge.  “Ship Safari: Chasing Crumbling Liners” detailed visits to the ALFERDOSS (ex AMERICA, AUSTRALIS, etc.) in Greece, the former Cunarders LEONID SOBINOV and FEDOR SHALYAPIN in the Ukraine, and a final trek to the ex Love Boat PACIFIC PRINCESS in Genoa. Shortly afterwards, dressed-to-the-nines guests and the ship’s officers filed in for the Captain’s Welcome Reception.

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SILVER CLOUD The Restaurant, facing aft.

Dinner on the SILVER CLOUD was an event we would savor each evening. Our favorite eatery was the open seating (7:00 to 9:30 PM) Restaurant, a handsome room with picture windows on each side and a dome in its center.

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Table for two in The Restaurant.

Every seat in the Restaurant is a good one but our favorites were the tables for two overlooking the sea.

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Shall we start with the white tonight?

Properly doused in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, the freshly baked breads and bread sticks were an integral start to each meal, along with a selection of excellent included white and red wines. The five-course meal that particular night included appetizers like Layered Mozzarella Mouse, Asiette of Duck and Waterzool (sole, salmon and shrimp casserole). Soup, salad and pasta choices ranged from Bouillon of Dover Sole and Champagne, to Antipasti Salad and Cannelloni Al Forno. After a Hazelnut Sorbet palette cleanser, the main courses included Grilled Fillet of Sea Bass With Bardolino Jus, Roasted Black Angus Beef, Prosciutto-wrapped Pork Medallions, Chef’s Cut and Baby Vegetable Ragout. In addition, there is an Always Available menu with favorite selections in each category.

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Homemade salt caramel gelato.

There is a separate dessert menu each evening with selections ranging from Chocolate Creme Brulee and Warm Apple Colette to a choice of homemade gelati, ice creams and sorbet followed by fruits and cheese, petits fours and if so desired, a port or sherry.

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Five hours gained in eight nights on a westbound crossing.

A favorite aspect of this Westbound crossing was the five hours gained over the course of eight nights, resulting in a cherished extra hour of morning sleep more often than not.

Monday, November 24 — Monday, December 1, 2014

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Sunny day at sea aboard SILVER CLOUD.

For the most part, the seas were rather kind for the rest of the voyage and on most afternoons, there would be enough sun to warrant time out on deck.

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Full rainbow over the CLOUD.

Squalls tended to pass quickly and the transitions back to sunshine would usually come with the benefit of a rainbow or two.

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Surging pool waters aboard MV SILVER CLOUD at sea.

We especially enjoyed a daily dip in the warm, salty pool as the ship gently rolled and pitched along.

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High tea on the high seas in La Terrazza.

At 4:00 PM in La Terrazza, we made sure to never miss the afternoon tea. In addition to the great leaf selections, cookies and tarts, there were indulgences such as…

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Chocolate pancakes at tea time on the SILVER CLOUD.

…fresh chocolate pancakes…

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Getting “sconed” aboard the SILVER CLOUD.

…and some supremely decadent scones with preserves and clotted cream.

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SILVER CLOUD The Bar, facing starboard.
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Totally random The Bar carpet shot.

With varying activities situated throughout the ship (quizzes, games, golf putting, lectures, Bridge, Portuguese lessons, cooking demos, dance lessons, yoga, etc.), I had plenty of time to seek out unoccupied spaces to finish up the documentation. One of my favorite rooms is the Bar, which spans the width of the vessel on Deck 5.

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ANDREA DORIA and me aboard the SILVER CLOUD.

It was an honor to be a featured lecturer on such a fine ship. Over the next few days, I would offer the following topics: “Style At Sea: From Victorian to The Space Age”, “Star-Crossed Ships: ANDREA DORIA and ACHILLE LAURO”, “The Blue Riband and the SS UNITED STATES Today”, and “AUGUSTUS: The Ecstasy and The Agony (the life and death of the last Italian liner)”.

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Q&A with lecturers Bob McElwee, General Donna Barbisch, a ship nut and CD David Lawton.

My fellow lecturers included NFL referee Bob McElwee (who kept the crowds on their toes with his exclusive footage and behind-the-scenes stories of key games) and General Donna Barbisch, who enlightened us on National Security and other pressing issues.

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General Donna Barbisch on stage in the Panorama Lounge.

General Barbisch’s presentation about her service as a nurse in Viet Nam was one of the most moving (and at times devastating) I have ever seen on land or at sea. It was an honor to alternate podium duties with her.

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Salsa, guacamole and chips start the evening in the Hot Rocks Grill.
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Freshly cut and ready to sizzle in the Hot Rocks Grill.

We tore ourselves away from The Restaurant to enjoy two of the SILVER CLOUD’s alternate dining venues. On a perfectly balmy night, we dined in the Pool Bar, which becomes the Hot Rocks Grill between 7:30 and 10:00 PM.  As the deck lights and pool waters danced to the sway of the ship, wine glasses clinked over the sizzling of select cuts of meat and fish atop each table.

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La Terrazza at night.
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Carbs, Italian Style!

We also tried out La Terrazza, which morphs into an Italian trattoria each night between 7:00 and 9:30 PM.

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Thanksgiving Dinner aboard the SILVER CLOUD.

On Thanksgiving, we enjoyed the traditional American spread, albeit with that elegant Silversea twist, in the Restaurant.

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“Don’t Stop The Music” by the Voices Of Silversea.
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“Mind The Gap” on stage in the Panorama Lounge.

On most evenings, there was a full musical production staged in the Panorama Lounge with the six member Voices Of Silversea and the ship’s orchestra, including tributes to Latin Music, Disco Favorites, Opera and the British Invasion.

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Standing ovation for CD and the ultimate showman David Lawton in the Panorama Lounge.

One night, SILVER CLOUD’s Welsh-based Cruise Director David Lawton brought down the house with a smashing one man show, largely inspired by and including favorites by Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones and even fellow countryman Richard Burton. Lawton’s voice was like silk and his presentation and demeanor were that of a classic showman. It was a pleasure swapping stories with this veteran CD, who rose to the ranks aboard such grand ladies as NAL’s SAGAFJORD and VISTAFJORD and HAL’s ROTTERDAM of 1959 before joining Silversea.

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Twilight at sea from port Deck 9 aboard the SILVER CLOUD.
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Post-rain port Deck 9 illuminated.
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Sailing into the sun aboard MV SILVER CLOUD.

And so our ship sailed on, into the myriad moods and colors of her Atlantic setting. Although it started out as a week’s work for me, it was hard to not be lulled by the charms of the SILVER CLOUD and her watery element.

End Of Crossing On A Cloud

Special Thanks: Andrew Poulton, Brad Ball, Gina Finocchiaro, David Lawton

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

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."
Peter Knego
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