You’re about to discover the most important watch outs and things you need to know if you’re interested in, or considering, cruising with Silversea Expedition cruises. These are my Silversea Expedition Cruises Tips
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Who are Silversea Cruises Expeditions?
Silversea Cruises has two parts. They have the classic cruising fleet and they have the expedition fleet. Silversea itself is part of the Royal Caribbean group who have Royal Caribbean line, which is their
mass-market line, Celebrity, which is their premium line, Azamara which is a small ship destination line and they have Silversea Cruise line.
Silversea have a classic fleet which has ships up to around about 600 guests, and then they have the expedition fleet which is constantly growing and expanding. They have such ships as the Silver Cloud, which I went to Antarctica on, they have the Silver Explorer which I’ve been on to the Arctic They also have the Silver Galapagos and they’ll soon add to that to the Silver Origin Galapagos, they have Silver
Discoverer and they’re constantly converting and bringing other ships onto their expedition fleet because it’s constantly growing.
In terms of where they cover in expeditions, they cover the Galapagos, they cover Antarctica, they cover the Arctic and in between those periods they cover other parts of the world like Africa, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific and South America.
What do Silversea Expeditions do better than competitors?
- Luxury expedition cruising. They have luxurious ships which are five-star premium ships with plush interiors and butler service in every single suite. They have lots of attention to detail, incredible food, very high level of service and high passenger to crew ratio, and all the trimmings you’d expect of a luxury brand with champagne and caviar. So, basically taking their classic luxury service and features and putting that into their expedition ships and product.
- They also offer our surprisingly large amount of choice onboard the expedition ships. For example, on Silver Cloud there are four dining options. You have the main restaurant, you’ve got La Terrazza which is a buffet for breakfast and lunch and then turns into an Italian restaurant, you have La Dame which is very premium epicurean dining experience and then you have the grill, which is an outdoor area which for lunch time will serve things like burgers and hot dogs and at night has the Silversea signature Hot Rocks. They also have a wide range of bars, and for example again on the Silver Cloud you’ve got the Grill Bar outside, Dolce Vita, you have the Panorama Lounge. You have facilities like a fitness centre, a spa, guest laundry, library and Observation Lounge. So, again lots of facilities and lots of choice. Surprising large amount for a relatively small ship.
- One of the things they do phenomenally well, and they put a huge amount of resource against, is the Expedition Team. Expedition cruises will have some kind of expedition team, but on Silversea it is a very big team. On Silver Cloud there were 28 people in the expedition team. You have the expedition leader and a wide range of experts like historians, botanists, marine experts and wildlife birds – a huge range of expertise. They run briefings before you do landings, they do recaps where they’ll talk about what you’ve seen, and they’ll do various lectures across the course of the expedition. One of them will then drive your zodiac every day, so as you move around the different zodiacs you have different experts with you all the time. The expedition team, I would say, is definitely something they do very well.
- A fantastic innovation on Silversea Expedition Cruises is the Photo Studio. They have a photographer and often a photographer and a videographer. The videographer goes out on all the expeditions and captures unique footage on what you’ve seen and creates a video. At the end you can then buy it. What the photographer does is help people improve their photographic skills. In the Photo Studio there’s a huge number of computers for both for Mac and PC users. On these are loaded programs like Lightroom and Photoshop. So, when you’ve been out an excursion, you can go in there you can use the facilities to edit, crop and improve your photos. For a fee you can then print those out. Use of the equipment is totally within your fare. Then what the photographer does is also run a series of courses. Some are free courses and they also run a series of paid-for courses on everything from how to shoot manual and how to use things like Lightroom. They are often free to chat about photographs and you can get tips advice. I think that’s a huge big plus and definitely something that they do phenomenally well.
What do Silversea Expedition Cruises do the same as other expedition brands?
- One of the things that is pretty much the same is the fares are largely all- inclusive. Even on a more basic line the fares, because the nature of expeditions, tend to be relatively all-inclusive. The Silversea Expedition Cruises fare includes accommodation, all of your food, gratuities and some limited Wi-Fi. What’s very important is all your excursions are included – all your zodiac trips and landings. However, that’s consistent across expedition brands no matter what level they are. They do you have kayaks onboard which are included, so you don’t pay to use the kayaks. Some other expedition brands do have kayaks but there’s fees associated with them The only things that are not included on Silversea Expedition Cruises are if you want to go and have some spa treatments, if you’re eating in La Dame or if you use laundry (although that is included within some fares) and of course if you do things like buy things in the boutique. Basic Wi-Fi is included. It’s not very high allowance, so if you want something faster and want to be connected all the time there is a fee to get a better internet package.
- The other thing that they do is they do require you to bring your own gear. There is some limited stuff on board in terms of boots, but you do have to buy or rent your own gear. On expeditions, particularly Arctic and Antarctica, there’s a lot of gear that you need to bring. What Silversea Expedition Cruises do like many of the more premium expedition lines, they have relationships with different providers. In Silversea Expedition Cruises case it’s with a company called Ship- to- shore-traveller and they have a very specific Silversea section where you can go in and you can order your gear and that gets delivered to the ship. You can either rent it or buy it. The other thing that Silversea do, which is again pretty consistent across expedition brands, is they give you a Parka, and expedition cruise lines normally give this to their passengers because it helps you stand out when you’re on land. They also give you a reusable water bottle and they give you a backpack as well.
- One thing that is very similar is the format. The format of expedition cruising is fairly consistent. What that tends to be is there is three basic things that happen: (1) some cruising around in the ship where you’ll go through different sites or you might be wildlife spotting, (2) zodiac tours again looking at scenery or up close to whales or you’ll go and check out wildlife and (3) is landings where you go on zodiacs and your land in certain areas and you then go on hikes to look at wildlife or scenery or some historic aspects. The format of expedition cruising is very similar no matter who you go with. You have briefing sessions; you have zodiac tours or landings and then you have recap briefings. The format and structure are pretty similar.
Who is Silversea Expedition Cruises best suited for?
- First of all, you need to be relatively affluent, because it is a premium luxury experience and the fares are on the higher side versus more basic expedition cruise lines.
- You’ll find most of the passengers tend to be in their 50s 60s and 70s, many of them are retired or professional people. Guests will generally be quite active and fit you, as you have to be quite fit to go on many of the expedition cruises. For example, both in the Arctic and Antarctica you have to be getting on and off of zodiacs, you’re going to be going on hikes up some very big hills and mountains with rough terrain, so you do need to be pretty fit and active. In some of the areas, particularly Antarctica, you will find a much bigger spread because there are younger people who have the money or resources or just really want to do it and will go. For example, we had some people in their late 20s who were on their honeymoon because and they wanted to do Antarctica.
- There is some capacity for people with mobility issues and there are some accessible cabins. But, very important, if you do have accessibility issues have a discussion with Silversea first.
- The expeditions are managed and run in English, however on the various expeditions I have been on they have been other language passengers. They normally come as a group. For example, on the cruise I’ve just done, there was a sizeable Russian group and they’d bought a Russian translator along. If you want to come and do it another language, you need to come as part of an organised group. The groups are organising the translations rather than Silversea itself.
- If you’re a solo traveller, the good news is that Silversea do various promotions on certain expeditions across the year. If you take a look at their website under the offers section, there’s a specific section for solo travellers. Sometimes there will be no surcharge or there may be a 15% to 25% surcharge. You’ll find quite a lot of solo travellers then on those cruises. I was a solo traveller, and it was very sociable and easy to mix with people. It was great that they do have those deals for solo travellers.
Silversea Expeditions is a great product. It’s a premium product and a pretty expensive product, but
there’s a lot they offer. They have a huge expedition team; you travel with luxury with butlers and all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a premium luxury experience.
There’s a number of things that they do really well like that premium experience. I think the expedition team is phenomenal. The Photo Studio is great and then the other things they do are fairly similar to the others. The format and structure are fairly similar.
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Read more about Silversea Expeditions and my Antarctica trip: https://www.tipsfortravellers.com/silversea-antarctica/
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