Transfers seemed well organized and someone was always there to answer questions should you have any. It was a smooth process from us flying into Quito to embarkation.
Cabins were not redone (I believe bathrooms were). Quite tired, and honestly, embarrassing for Silversea. That's really my biggest complaint - I mean honestly, 80s shiny wood paneling??
Butler/room steward - rooms were cleaned regularly (although for example they didn't check in the middle of the day if someone wanted their room cleaned - they stuck to morning cleaning / evening turn down – including chocolates on the pillow of course). They bring things when you ask them to, but don't necessarily anticipate your needs. E.g., the fridge had a Coke and Coke Light in it to begin with. We drank the Coke Light, but it was not replaced until we specifically requested more of it. On the other hand, one morning we were planning to grab a quick breakfast right before going on a tour, but we didn't More
realize that breakfast was finished already, and our butler was able to scramble and bring us some breakfast items that weren't actually on the room service menu. They were very good at refilling our water every time they came in.
Food - breakfast was a basic buffet with an omelette station. Lunch - buffet in the main dining room, which we only tried once, and a la carte at the Grill - largely grilled seafood that was fantastic (lobster, sea bass, prawns, etc etc) plus limited pasta/hot dog fare, a ceviche of the day, a couple desserts, ice cream. Dinner: hot rock grilling at the Grill (we tried this once, just not our thing, plus my fish had some bones left in it) and a la carte in the restaurant which was overall not bad. It's not what I would call gourmet, and I would not expect much quality wise from meat due to Ecuadorian restrictions, but most of what we ate was really quite tasty. Food presentation was clearly being elevated.
Service in restaurants/bars - we certainly did not experience 3+ hour dinners that some people were previously mentioning. Food came out quickly. You can tell the waiters are still learning but they are doing pretty well all things considering. Occasionally they would get confused but you can just ask again and they would figure it out.
Bar/alcohol - wine selection was all South American - all drinkable. Liquor selection in the bars was better than what we heard from previous posters. We were able to order basic cocktails such as negronis / cosmopolitans, and I saw them bring out back up bottles of liquors when they ran out.
Public rooms – so there’s 2 restaurants, a piano bar, the common area where you gather before tours/for the lectures, library, and spa/fitness/Jacuzzi area. Some common areas were redone, but nothing to write home about. Spa/fitness/Jacuzzi – we didn’t really use, no time really. Piano bar – the bar is fine, but the pianist didn’t play very often… During lunch he would be at the Grill and the waiters would actually occasionally sing, which would be highly amusing, but during the piano bar hours we heard him play maybe 10% of the time? Most of the time he was just sitting at the piano doing nothing. Library is small, but not bad for selection – don’t expect to sit there and read though, it’s tiny with 2 seats.
Lectures – we had maybe 3 or 4 lectures scheduled after lunches. We had a Silversea guest lecturer (I am blanking on her name, but she is Australian and a marine biologist potentially, and from what I understand a regular fixture on Silver Explorer) who was quite good.
Enrichment/tours – what we were there for!! Guides were great, each with a different style, and there was always a lot going on, be it snorkeling, hikes, zodiac tours, etc. If you are in decent shape you will get the most out of this. Not much relaxation time if you want to do everything – though of course nothing is mandatory. We thought the itinerary worked quite well in terms of its flow – there was always something interesting/exciting coming up next.
Odds & ends – There was a videographer on board and we purchased the video (about a 30 min video plus some high res pictures) which cost maybe $160ish, and in our opinion that was worth it. Laundry on board worked well. Wifi was decent speed considering it’s satellite. Shoes: we brought flip flops, strappy water sandals (not closed toe), hiking shoes and a pair of decent dinner/walking in town shoes and in my opinion that was sufficient. You do get 2 backpacks (not waterproof, but I don't think you need anything beyond that. If you think it's going to be too splashy you just put them down at your feet in the Zodiac) and 2 metal water bottles per couple. We threw them out after we were done, but they were certainly sufficient for the trip.
OVERALL: staff needs to continue training, though it would appear they have come a long way, and they need to redo the cabins, but food/service is good, you feel safe, and guides/animals are of course fantastic. I can’t comment on value proposition vs the Celebrity ship although clearly Celebrity’s staterooms are nicer. Less
Silver Explorer Cruises to Antarctica