Silver Explorer is an all-suite ice-class (1A) ship delivering a true expedition experience with posh onboard amenities and excellent service. The ship was last refurbished in 2009, but is impeccably maintained and possesses a timeless classic decor.
The destination might be the main focus of an expedition cruise, but that does not mean Silversea ignores the onboard experience. Recently, the luxury line has been moving crew between its classic cruise ships and the expedition fleet (except for the Silver Galapagos), resulting in a higher level of service and cuisine onboard the expedition vessels. Previously, those ships were inconsistent in those areas. Now, dining choices are modern, varied and sophisticated, prepared with excellent ingredients by skilled Silversea chefs. Crew affection for each other and for passengers makes for a relaxed, pampering cruise. We have rarely encountered a crew who act as happy as this one.
All passengers, no matter the suite level, are assigned butlers -- a rare treat on an expedition ship. Well-trained and highly experienced, they cater to passengers' every whim -- and then some. For instance, you might return to your suite from a chilly outing and discover that the butler and suite attendant have prepared a scented bubble bath replete with flickering battery-operated candles.
But fine dining and butlers are not why passengers choose to take an expedition trip. It's the lure of exotic destinations; Silver Explorer's most popular itineraries are the Arctic and Antarctic.
Here, too, the ship excels. A fleet of Zodiacs ensures all passengers experience multiple outings, usually twice daily.
Expedition teams include highly experienced and enthusiastic biologists, historians, geologists and ornithologists, among the Ph.D.-heavy group. Most importantly, they impart in-depth knowledge in an entertaining upbeat fashion. Team members often dine with passengers. Silversea Expeditions also enjoys an exclusive partnership with the Royal Geographical Society, which provides additional scientific and historical information (often seen in the library or on ship display).
Daytime on Silver Explorer is devoted to expedition exploration. When passengers do have free time onboard, they're typically attending lectures by the expedition team, reading and playing board games like Monopoly in the library or relaxing in The Observation and The Panorama Lounges. Some passengers hit the gym or spa, but be prepared that both are tiny. Occasionally, the ship offers a wine tasting or cooking demonstration.
Late in the day, passengers enjoy more traditional cruise ship pastimes, like afternoon tea, cocktails, and multicourse dinners with entertainment by a keyboardist. Most retire early for morning outings.