Friday, May 20, 2011

Cruising On A “Ghost Ship”

SilverShadow 2

The Silver Shadow

As you know, Lisa and I departed from Incheon, South Korea on Tuesday, May 17th. Originally, we were scheduled to join our ship in Tokyo, and then travel north along the Japanese coast stopping at two different ports in Japan before reaching our northernmost stop in Petropavlosk, Russia. In fact, our ports of call would have put us almost on top of the area in which the damaged nuclear plant is located.

Therefore, at the last minute, the itinerary for our trip was changed eliminating any stops in Japan, and had us meet the ship in South Korea instead. From Incheon, we would then travel south along the Korean coast until we could turn east, and then north into the Sea of Japan. All in all, we will spend five full days at sea, in order to put us back on schedule for our arrival into Russia on Monday, May 23rd.

That change in schedule, while completely understandable, was far from satisfactory to many people, and in spite of a very generous offer of cruise credits from the cruise line, many canceled their reservations.

I share this story because it has created a very unusual situation for this trip. We are travelling onboard the Silver Shadow, one of the larger ships of the SilverSea cruise line; it is an absolutely wonderful vessel offering every possible amenity. Our previous experience with SilverSea had been on the smaller Silver Wind which can carry only 296 passengers. The Silver Shadow is by industry standards still a small ship, but by comparison, it can handle up to 382 passengers and carries a crew of 302. However, on this voyage there are only 120 guests. In short, there are three crewmembers to care for each passenger, not to mention that the “atmosphere” is almost one of a “ghost ship.” For example, we went to breakfast this morning in the main dining room where there were only 4 other guests seated in a room that could easily hold over 350 people. So, Lisa and I are enjoying a very quiet cruise with an abundance of attention from the ever-present staff. Indeed, it is so quiet in our cabin that not a sound intrudes to break the eerie silence. We hear no one out in the hall, nor a door slamming shut. There is no loud shouting or music from surrounding cabins. There is not even the sound of a single flushing toilet.

Even though we are cruising at 18 kts., there is not even the sensation of movement. In order for us to know if we are actually moving, we have to look out a window. In fact, right now the wind is almost calm, as is the sea, and we are moving forward in a pea soup thick fog. In the last hour the silence is now broken by the low moan of the ship’s fog horn in a monotonous regularity of sound. They just announced that our position in the Sea of Japan puts us directly west of the damaged nuclear power plant which is around 120 miles away to our east.

Until this morning, the weather had been quite mild with daytime temperatures in the mid-50’s. Overnight, however, the temperature dropped like a rock, and we awoke to a temperature of 40 degrees F.

This afternoon I will try to post the few pictures that I was able to take in Korea on our web page.

I hope everyone is doing fine.


No comments: