As more and more people recommence travel following the pandemic, travelers are seeking ways to recalibrate their minds, bodies and souls while seeing the world. For those wanting to do so in luxury while not venturing too far away from home, a journey to Alaska aboard Silversea’s Silver Muse will not only be a visual pleasure complete with Mother Nature’s naturally exquisite eye candy at every turn, but will also provide guests the ability to get one’s mojo back post-lockdown. Indeed, a sojourn aboard the Silver Muse will make travelers so happy and content, disembarking to return home may be serious challenging.
After being on lockdown hiatus, the Silver Muse recommenced service in May and is now the most luxurious ship to sail Alaska. I was on the Muse’s fourth sailing in early June. Perhaps because Alaska is so dramatically different from Hawaii where I grew up – and there were always student exchanges between the 49th and 50th states – I’ve always had a particular affinity to Alaska despite summer weather that is downright chilly by island and west coast standards.
The Silver Muse as Muse
The 698-foot Silver Muse is the grand dame of Silversea’s Muse series of ships. Her progeny includes the brand’s Silver Moon, inaugurated in June 2021, and the Silver Dawn, inaugurated in March 2022. The Silver Muse has eight passenger decks with 411-crew and carries a maximum of 596-passengers (on my voyage there were 447 guests). With such a crew-to-passenger ratio and Silversea’s signature superb training, service is truly unmatched. Even more wonderful, all Silversea cruises come with a dedicated butler for each stateroom who makes certain guests needs and expectations are not just met but exceeded.
About 10-minutes following embarkation I realized that my butler Narottam, who hailed from India was friendly and kind. As the voyage ensued, I also learned, more importantly from my perspective, that he was clairvoyant. He seemed to know what I wanted, needed, or what I might like, even before I did. Throughout the voyage I alternately fantasized between kidnapping him or adopting him.
Suites are large, starting at over 330-square feet and beautifully appointed. Pillow menus have several options – I loved the Tempur-Pedic – while Italian-made cotton and satin Rivolta Carmignani sheets and Tiara pillow covers ensured dreamy sleep. Suites also have bar setups and refrigerators filled with tailored items. For those who wish to stay connected, suites have two large, mirror-embedded flat-screen HD televisions with all manner of news and entertainment, and unlimited ship-wide WiFi. Marble bathrooms have separate, large soaking tubs with scented sachets, spacious enclosed showers, and Bulgari amenities.
Also onboard, a large swimming pool, jacuzzis, humidor, card room, casino, expert enrichment lectures, live entertainment, and curated activities onboard and ashore. Regardless of what one chooses to do, or not do aboard the Muse, you will be refreshed, reinvigorated and downright rejuvenated.
With 24-hour room service serving outstanding meals within 30-minutes (caviar anyone?), nine restaurants, nine bars/lounges with live entertainment, culinary and mixology boredom is impossible.
There are two speciality restaurants. La Dame serves excellent French fare such as escargot de Bourgogne on puff pastry, creamy lobster bisque, and lobster tail atop truffled leeks with elegant silver dome service. Kaiseki serves several-course fish bowls, delectable Miso black cod and tender Wagyu beef in a traditional yet hip Japanese atmosphere.
At Indochine creative southeast Asian dishes such as deconstructed lobster pad Thai, delight in an uber chic dining room, while Atlantides has all manner of delicious continental cuisine with both a set menu that changes nightly and an a la carte with regular favorites, including marvelous steaks. Silver Note, the Muse’s jazzy supper club boasts some of the most artistically delicious land and sea dishes on the high seas.
For simpler fare there Spaccanapoli for fresh pizza, a gelato stand for Italy’s greatest dessert culinary contribution and The Grill for gourmet burgers, sandwiches and salads, that in the evenings turns into Hot Rocks where you cook-your-own steaks and seafood tableside.
Zagara Spa as Savior
The Muse’s Zagara Spa has several treatment options on its menu including deep tissue massage with hot bamboo that was so blissfully marvelous, I’m fairly certain a few years were added to my life. I especially loved the steam and sauna which had a strategically placed enormous window to watch stellar views while body and soul was soothed.
An onboard physician can slow Father Time’s onward march with cosmeceutical injectable Restylane, Microneedling facial peels to enhance collagen production and Thermage, an FDA-approved treatment to smooth wrinkles. Also on this cruise, Dr. Ankit Pandey, a naturopathic physician specializing in acupuncture who could provide relief in one to three treatments for a host of maladies from disturbed sleep to migraines. The most requested relief according to Dr. Pandey is abatement of back, neck and knee pain. The state-of-the art fitness center meant that happily liposuction would not be my manifest destiny.
Alaska’s Natural Splendor
One of the great things about cruising Alaska on Silver Muse, is that due to her size, port access is easy. In all but one port on the Inside Passage itinerary, one simply walks off the ship and steps away is the center of town or transportation to one of the many included excursions.
Another great aspect of cruising in Alaska is that one can sit in the privacy of one’s balcony or on one of the ship’s decks, martini-in-hand, and be faced with some of this country’s most gorgeous, unspoiled scenery. Soaring snow-capped mountains, emerald-green pine and spruce trees, and frolicking Orca whales alternately vie for attention. Assuming that is you can take your eyes off the multitude of verdant islands and interesting islets in your purview.
Intending to go on a bike ride in Ketchikan, it was drizzling so I jumped on Oyster Farm excursion, an admittedly odd choice for one who intensely dislikes oysters. However, all that changed at Bonfire Bay Oyster Farm, a small, family run hatchery operation that started out as the patriarch’s trial-and-error hobby and now supplies local restaurant and sends the freshest oysters around the country. After a 30-minute boat ride during which several Orca whales frolicked nearby, we arrived to the off-island hatchery. After learning about all aspects of oyster production and their predators, we tasted both fresh and grilled oysters. It was in a word, divine, and a bivalve mollusk lover was promptly born.
Another great excursion in Alaska’s remote outpost capital of Juneau, was a 20-minute ride to Mendenhall Glacier with over 1,500 square miles of ice field, from which at least 38 ice flows branch off. Boarding specialized dinghies, we traversed Mendenhall River in Class II rapids. Seeing a half dozen bald eagles cavorting between tree limbs, including two that engaged in an actual riverbank food fight, reminding me of the last time my husband attempted to taste a chocolate desert I was served. Then as if on loan from central casting, a massive bald eagle’s nest appeared in a spruce. Moments later, the female’s head bobbed and turned nonplussed, as if to say, “Pity for you down there as I have a way better view.” For the record, our view was amazing.
In tiny, quirky Skagway, permanent population 100, seasonal 900, you’ll want to pop into The Red Onion Saloon for a brew and a view of its odd decor of 48 colorful bedpans. The owners once had 96, but divorced, so the remaining spouse retained half the pans and the bar. Upstairs tour the former brothel. Walking down Skagway’s “Broadway,” two vaudevillian costumed vocalists belted out some beautiful tunes from a second story window. Intrigued, I went into this cool theatre and saw the “Days of 98” about Jefferson “Soapy” Smith, Alaska’s most notorious outlaw who conned like crazy during the 1989 Klondike Gold Rush. Running continuously since 1923 with matinee and evening performances, the talent in such a tiny town was remarkable, especially Grammy-nominated vocalist Carla Jabkonski possessing serious operatic chops and pianist Aaron Thompson.
In Sitka, a bike and hike tour brought us first to Silver Bay. Appearing glasslike, it connects to the ocean where Hawaiian humpbacks often come to feast on krill and pacific herring. On Thimbleberry Lake’s hiking trail bald eagles perched on lush branches while antennaed banana slugs inched along doing their important fertilizing work.
As the week ended, I bid adieu to Narrotam and thought of John Muir’s words, “To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.” And to the lovers of luxury cruising, or to those who want the best way to see and experience our vast, marvelous 49th state, Silversea’s Silver Muse is the most wonderful way to do so. Happy Travels!