Silver Explorer Cruise Review by ahp2123: Good but isn't Antarctica
Overall Member Rating
Good but isn't Antarctica
Destination: Baltic Sea
We took the 14-cruise, which started with a charter flight from Oslo to Longyearben, and included Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland. Although we received numerous extreme warnings from Silversea about how luggage limitations would be strictly enforced on the charter flight to Longyearben, none of the warnings turned out to be true. We were told that under no circumstances could we have more than one piece, 50 pounds maximum, of checked luggage, plus one hand luggage of 11 pounds. In fact, SAS said they would be happy to check two pieces of luggage per person, and they showed no concern over the weight of our checked or hand luggage. SAS also said that Silversea pre-assigned all seats on the plane and had instructed them not to change anyone's seats. Despite the fact that the aircraft was only about half full, we were assigned middle seats in the next to last row.
We had a veranda suite category room, so our French doors opened onto a tiny balcony. This was especially important More because we had views--including of a polar bear that appeared directly under our balcony, that could not easily be accessed unless you could step outside the cabin.
The cruise was pretty good, but overall we had mixed results. We had been on the same ship to Antarctica, which is a much more exciting destination with far more to see.
The biggest drawbacks of this cruise: it is about four days too long, so that several days include uninteresting things to see on the shore (remains of cabins or mining; entire excursions to see moss and tiny flowers) or consist of sailing around the shoreline; there is surprisingly little wildlife around--animals are extremely scarce (a single seal or whale brings dozens of people on deck), although we were lucky enough to see one polar bear VERY close up in Greenland, and a couple others in Svalbard at a distance; the expedition staff does not do a good job of describing the shore excursions accurately in advance--they sometimes neglect to mention the zillions of mosquitoes or the strenuous hiking that may be involved; it is difficult to rest because loudspeaker announcements are frequently being made and the room speakers can not be turned off. The ship's extremely expensive internet rarely worked (even when my personal phone would get cellular reception), especially in the extreme north, and for mysterious reasons, the TV satellite usually would not either, even in port.
The plus side: the scenery is spectacular, with gorgeous sea ice and icebergs; most of the Zodiac rides are beautiful; the crew is extremely nice, helpful and hardworking; there is a reasonably good variety in and quality to the food and lots of fresh fruit (even exotic fruits); the ship and cabins are pleasant and well maintained. The lectures, library and movies are fine. The fitness center is very small and often crowded. There are good free laundry facilities. Less
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Cabin review: Veranda
The veranda cabins, like most of the other cabins, are small but comfortable. It makes a huge difference that the French doors on this cabin open. You can step outside a big and get far more interesting views and vistas, especially because it is light 24 hours a day.
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