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Silver Explorer: Adventure in the lap of luxury
Silversea's purpose-built Silver Explorer expedition ship has been designed specifically for navigating waters in some of the world's most remote destinations, including both of earth's polar regions. Launched in 1989 it had operated under various names by different lines before being acquired by Silversea in 2007 and extensively renovated. It has a strengthened hull with a Lloyd's Register ice-class notation (1A) for passenger vessels enabling the Silver Explorer to safely push through ice floes with ease.
The ship can carry a maximum of 132 guests in 66 suites, with a crew of 117. It is luxurious, in line with the Silversea “six-star cruising” offer, and all suites have butlers, choice of branded toiletries, complimentary mini-bar and pillow menu.
Who will like sailing on Silver Explorer
Cruise guests looking to combine adventure travel with luxury will enjoy an expedition cruise on Silver Explorer. A fleet of Zodiac boats allows cruise passengers to visit even the most off-the-beaten path locations and an expert Expedition Team provides insight and understanding to each Silver Explorer cruise adventure.
As expedition cruising is a premium vacation, with prices from around US$8,000 upwards for a 10-night trip, guests tend to be professional or recently retired couples, relatively affluent, well-travelled, and like to be sociable.
Although the language and all activities are only in English, the trip attracts a range of nationalities but tend to be predominately American, English and Australian.
Where Silver Explorer sails
Silver Explorer spends most of the year sailing in and around both of earth's polar regions, focusing on the Arctic during the Northern Hemisphere summer and Antarctica during the Southern Hemisphere Summer months. During repositioning it offers a range of cruises including around the United Kingdom, Iceland, South America and Southern Africa.
What to expect on an expedition cruise
Fit & mobile
As expedition cruises usually include fairly strenuous hikes on land and getting on and off Zodiacs, guests need to be able, fairly fit and mobile to experience and enjoy all the excursions and adventures.
There is a doctor on the ship to deal with emergencies and injuries. You are required to send a medical declaration form before the cruise to make sure expedition cruising in remote areas of the world is suitable and they can cater for you. You are often not in reach of any on-shore medical facilities, including a pharmacy, for many days during the trip and you must be confident your health is satisfactory for this adventure – and carry plenty of any prescription, and other regular first aid treatments you use, as the ship is unlikely to have them if you run out.
Children over six are allowed on the Zodiac excursions. However as there are no specific activities of Kids Clubs on board for children, most guests are adults and the food and experience caters more for adult travelers.
How an expedition cruise works
An Expedition Leader, supported by an 11-person Expedition Team, hosts the cruise. The team includes a marine biologist, ornithologist, fish expert, botanist, historian, naturalist, polar bear guards and a wildlife photographer. They run talks, provide debriefings on things seen each day, drive the Zodiacs (lightweight boats made of tubes filed with pressurized gas) that take you off the ship and host all the excursions.
Guests are divided into four numbered Zodiac groups of around 25 people. Each boat sets off with about eight guests from the group in turn.
The format of the days is fairly rigid. The days are busy, with little downtime. You should expect the following:
- Being woken up around 7 am with an announcement in your cabin giving an hour warning for departure of the first set of Zodiac excursions.
- Most days you will go on two excursions off the ship lasting around 1.5 hours each. Based on the destination you will either be cruising on Zodiacs or doing hikes in groups of 8. Zodiac groups are called in turn and two sets go out at any time. Each day the order is rotated so one day you go out first and the next second.
- Lunch is between noon and 2pm served as a buffet.
- Before dinner is the daily debrief and briefing session lasting between 45 minutes and an hour. It is important to attend these, or to watch them live on Channel 09 on your in-room television. The Expedition Team will provide more insight and detail on any wildlife or sights encountered that day, and lay out the plans for the next one.
- Dinner is open-seated dining from 7pm to 9pm. Although the bar is open afterwards with a pianist, there is no other entertainment. Most guests retire fairly early ready for the early morning start and activities. There is no casino and other evening entertainment provided.
Top dining choices
Cap off each day of adventure with yet another unforgettable activity: dinner in The Restaurant. The Restaurant serves contemporary, international cuisine, with menus that feature regional specialties unique to the voyage destination. For example, roasted Chilean sea bass is served while cruising the Chilean fjords.
While this elegant venue also serves breakfast and lunch, it is the evening meal that guests look forward to most. This is the time to recount experiences ashore with fellow guests and discuss lecture topics with Expedition Team members while savoring fine cuisine and perfectly paired wines. When possible, the Captain will maneuver the ship so as to enjoy spectacular sunset views or to follow the flukes of migrating whales. The Restaurant offers open-seating dining, which means there are no assigned times and no assigned tables. You are free to dine when, where and with whom you please.
Room service is always complimentary and always an option (available 24 hours a day) for cruise passengers looking to eat in the privacy of their suite.
At lunch time hamburgers and other grilled food is served on the pool deck and at night Silversea's signature "Hot Rocks" dinner is offered. Meat, prawns or chicken is served raw on hot lava rocks and cooks in front of you.
Bars & lounges
- Connoisseur's Corner: The Connoisseur's Corner offers exceptional cognacs along with a premium selection of cigars for purchase.
- Internet Café: Email friends and family back home or surf the Internet for a nominal fee. Headphones and complimentary black and white laser printing are also available. Based on the region Internet access may not be available for many days of the trip.
- Observation Lounge: Located on Deck 6 high atop the ship, the Observation Lounge offers panoramic views. Here you will find comfortable seats to enjoy a beverage and watch the ever-changing view throughout your cruise. An early-riser breakfast is served in here and you will often find members of the Expedition team in here willing to answer questions and provide additional insights and information about the region, wildlife and sights.
- Panorama Lounge:The Panorama Lounge is specially designed to provide an uninterrupted view of the day’s destination from the comfort of the cruise ship’s interior. This is an ideal place to unwind, listen to the pianist and enjoy a nightcap with new friends.
- Boutique: Featuring designer collections and duty-free shopping, the onboard Boutiques offer a selection of jewelry, fashions, perfumes and Silversea logo items.
- Library: The Library has a good selection of hardcover books, magazines, reference materials and newspapers, as well as audio listening stations. On-Demand movies are available and can be viewed on your in-suite entertainment center.
- The Theatre: Gather in The Theatre to hear fascinating tales of adventure or to learn about the region’s endemic wildlife and remarkable nature. Lectures and seminars are presented by knowledgeable experts in a variety of scientific fields throughout the cruise. There is no other evening entertainment.
Spa & fitness
- Beauty Salon: A full range of salon services is available for both men and women including hair styling, manicures and pedicures. Appointments for these chargeable services may be made on board the ship.
- Fitness Center: The fitness center is open daily and offers a treadmill, elliptical trainer, stationary bike and a weight machine.
- The Spa at Silversea: Relax your body and mind in this soothing sanctuary. Indulge in a wide range of invigorating therapies including facials, body wraps and massages. Sauna and steam rooms are perfect for relaxing before your spa treatment or after a long nature hike. Appointments for spa services may be made on board the ship.
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Top highlights on this ship
- Butler service is available in every suite and stateroom.
- Complimentary shoreside experiences and distinctive onboard events are included in the cruise fare.
- Travel with explorers, scientists, authors, photographers and destination experts at your side as you discover remote and remarkable environments.
- All onboard gratuities are included, and none are ever expected.
- Guests receive a complimentary parka (for Polar voyages) and water-resistant backpack.
- An Expedition Leader, supported by an 11-person Expedition Team, hosts the cruise. The team includes a marine biologist, ornithologist, fish expert, botanist, historian, naturalist, polar bear guards and a wildlife photographer. They run talks, provide debriefings on things seen each day, drive the Zodiacs.