Article and photos by Karen Lewis 
I had the most wonderful experience cruising through the EnglishChannel on Silversea’s Silver Cloud.Upon arrival at the dock, we were escorted to the registration desk, by agentleman in English formal wear who then accompanied us to our stateroom whereour butler was in waiting. Although the SilverCloud is one of the fleet’s oldest ships, it far exceeded my expectations.The ship is small, quaint and cozy, with friendly and outstanding personalservice.

Our first port of call was Plymouth. We tendered into port thentook a bus to the Royal Theatre across from the main shopping market. Whilewalking around the outdoor market, we made our way to Drakes Circus, a largeand modern indoor shopping center.
We then walked a few minutes to the Barbican, which displays thebeautiful history of this old city with art stores and antique shops. PlymouthHarbor also exhibits where the Mayflower departed for America in 1620. Thestairs that led to the Mayflower are located on the wharf of Barbican. At thetop of the staircase is a memorial dedicated to the pilgrims.
I had the pleasure to enjoy the spa service on board the ship.Starting the cruise with a manicure and a deep tissue massage added to myrelaxation as well as enjoyment of the cruise. The manicure was very good andthe massage was one of the best I have ever had,  I actually fell asleep!
Ourfirst formal night gave us a taste of the quality of service and food we would enjoyfor the remainder of the cruise. Every course had its own special touch of excellenceand the portions were moderate and incredible.
Thenext port was St. Helier, which is the largest of the twelve parishes ofJersey, on the English Channel Islands off the coast of Normandy. We took a bustour around the island along the beautiful coasts dotted with parishes andtowns. The scenery and the lush flowers were impressive, especially the 10-inchhydrangeas. We stopped to capture photos and to visit the Jersey PotteryFactory, a great spot to pick up some gifts and souvenirs.
One of the special activities on board was a cooking demonstrationas the ship set sail. The demonstration was conducted by the head chef, Mario.The guest chef on board was Pascal, originally from Normandy, who now has arestaurant in Newport Beach, California, Traditions by Pascal. The differentstyles of cooking as well as their sense of humor were entertaining andinformative. While chatting with Pascal about our plans, he had suggested thatwhile in Rouen, we should dine and experience the Cathedral where they projectMonet’s works onto the building.
The next day we took the early tour into Rouen. It is a wonderful,charming city with an elegant touch of ancient architecture. The medieval half-timberhouses line the cobblestone streets near the Cathedral. The embellished giantclock in this area adds to the unique charm of this wonderful city. This isalso where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in 1431. A contemporary churchstands in her remembrance with a concrete and metal cross showing the exactspot the burning took place.
The Cathedral is an absolute must-see. Built over hundreds ofyears, the vastness and detailed exterior, as well as the interior are justamazing. It has a unique history. During World War II the Germans had invadedthe city and the Americans were bombing it. An architect involved with thechurch had all the stain glass windows removed and hidden. He then filled onearea (the most likely if bombed to collapse the entire structure) with sandbags from floor to ceiling, which saved the church when it was bombed. 
Come back tomorrow for part 2!