31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
My husband and I were on the Silversea Explorer for the December 22, 2015 to January 3, 2016 trip to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica. We flew in a few days early to Buenos Aires to just in case there were any issues with our ... Read More
My husband and I were on the Silversea Explorer for the December 22, 2015 to January 3, 2016 trip to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica. We flew in a few days early to Buenos Aires to just in case there were any issues with our flights because we didn’t want to take any chances to miss a trip of a lifetime. We took a taxi from the international airport to our hotel and then our hotel to the domestic airport. We arrived around 6am to the domestic airport and it was crazy busy. The regular check in line was super long and we actually stood in it with our luggage to check for about 45 minutes until we finally noticed a Silversea representative, who saved us from the terrible line. Then there was another really long line once we got to security. We had a charter flight arranged by Silversea. Unfortunately, our charter flight to Ushuaia pre-cruise was 1.5 hours late departing Buenos Aries. Once in Ushuaia, we collected our luggage and handed it to a Silversea rep who took it to the ship, while we were loaded onto buses and taken on a tour and to lunch at a restaurant near the national park. Lunch was ok, nothing special. There was salad, rolls, lamb, and dessert. After lunch, they took us right to the ship. On board, we were greeted with servers wearing tails, white gloves, and handing us champagne. It’s not really our style, but that’s how Silversea rolls, so we went with it. Being that it was an expedition trip to Antarctica, their little attempts at luxury and providing a fancy atmosphere seemed odd and a little out of place. Our luggage was already waiting in our room and we had time to unpack and sort out our boot and jacket situation before the lifeboat drill. Our rental boots had been delivered to the wrong room and one of our jackets wasn’t the right size, but these issues were resolved within the first hour of being onboard. The lifeboat drill was partially in the theater and partially outside. Unfortunately the weather was windy with an icy cold rain when we had to go outside and many of the passengers seemed upset that they had to be outside. Oh well, that just part of the drill and seriously, this is an expedition trip…you’re going to encounter getting wet and some unpleasant weather. The days where we had landings either at the Falklands or Antarctica were well planned. However, sea days were dull. Where were the activities? Trivia? Anything? There were a couple lectures each day, which were ok, but some topics were just plain boring. Here was a typical sea day: get up, go to breakfast, nap, lecture, nap, lunch, nap, nap, lecture, nap, get a snack, nap, lecture, dinner, & go to bed. The Falkland Islands were nice to visit and if you’re considering a trip to Antarctica you might as well go to the Falkands too. On our first morning landing we saw thousands of rockhopper penguins and albatross. In the afternoon of day one, we saw more of the same. The weather was very windy, but temps in the 40s/50sF. Stanley (the major city in the Falkands) was a worthless stop in our opinion for an expedition cruise with no wildlife to see and was pretty much just an opportunity for a little bit of shopping. Next, we crossed the Drake Passage. It was a relatively clam crossing. Maybe only 20% of the passengers were sea sick. We wore the patches, but found the side effects to be so terrible, we took them off early and we were fine. We crossed the Drake in a day and a half and arrived early to the Antarctic Peninsula. The focus of the captain and expedition staff was definitely to show you as much as they possibly could. We even got out in the zodiacs to see some penguins, seals, and icebergs on that bonus afternoon of Antarctica since we arrived early. The next few days of traveling around the Antarctic Peninsula were outstanding in terms of weather and wildlife viewing! The scenery is indescribable because of the sheer greatness and vastness. It doesn’t even compare to anything we’ve seen anywhere else in the world. Yes, we literally saw millions of penguins and chicks. Mid to late December is perfect chick viewing as well as better weather than if you go earlier on or later in the season. There were some places that we visited that had half a million penguins at that one location. Most locations we visited had more than 100,000 penguins, so there will be no shortage for you to see. The only way you wouldn't see them is if you have terrible weather and are unable to land anywhere, but you would still likely be able to see them swimming and with binoculars or your camera on shore. We saw everything from penguins sitting on eggs, to chicks that were just a day or two old, to chicks that were all the way up to about four weeks old. While in Antarctica we saw chinstrap penguins, adelie penguins, gentoo penguins, and one lone macaroni penguin, as well as a variety of other birds, seals, and whales. The expedition staff was very knowledgeable. We knew we were having an extraordinary trip in terms of weather and wildlife based on how excited the staff was and how often they were taking photos themselves. The weather was clear for the most part with snowflakes every once in a while, at times windy, but not as windy was it was in the Falkands and temps in the 30s/40sF. Being an expedition trip, you go to shore in zodiac boats and there is a lot of hiking. If you don’t like being outdoors or are not in very good shape, this isn’t the trip for you. Also, waterproof pants, jackets, and boots are a must have for this trip because there is splash from the zodiac and getting in and out of them as well as any rain or snow you might encounter. There were several times where we would get out of the zodiac boat into water that was half way up our calves. We rented boots that we picked up on the ship, which were Bog brand. They had a limited amount of boots that people could borrow onboard, but no guarantee of size. Silversea provided us with parkas, which we could take home after the cruise. The ship itself is in good condition and we were glad that it had an A1 ice rating the evening we got temporarily stuck in some ice! I’m glad I had done my research before booking this trip. The food was a big disappointment. We were expecting a quality of food like what we had on other luxury cruises, but it wasn’t anything close to that. It was edible and it was ok, but we were glad when the trip was over not to have to eat any more of it. Breakfast and lunch were a buffet and dinner was a menu. There was also a grill, which had hamburgers and hotdogs…none of which I would actually identify as such…one bite of those and we were both done, yuck. The breakfast buffet was the same everyday: boring. You could order other items off a menu, we tried pancakes and French toast multiple times and every time they came out cold and tasteless. Lunch actually offered the biggest variety of food and it changed every day, which we liked. Dinner was a very limited menu. The presentation of the food was lovely, unfortunately the taste and quality just wasn’t there. The dress code in the dining room had some cruisers worked up. Pretty much people wore whatever they wanted and the staff allowed that. We brought dress clothes, but after we saw the majority of other passengers just wearing jeans and sweaters every night at dinner, so did we. There were a lot of families onboard because of the Christmas and New Years holidays, so I’m wondering if that is why they were more flexible with dress code than stated in the Silversea information we received prior to the trip. The Drake Passage was relatively calm crossing back to Argentina as well. We were going into the wind, which made for some interesting rocking, but nothing too bad. Again, it was more sea days with little to nothing to do onboard. They did have a selection of in room movies that you could watch and you could also watch the lectures from your stateroom, so that was nice, but we would have liked to have had more options of activities to do. On the way home, we disembarked the ship right around 8:30am. Silversea took us on busses from the ship for a tour of the town (which was just driving us down a couple of streets and then parking in a parking lot for 3 hours) because it was so early and on a Sunday, nothing was open, so many people walked around and looked at unopen shops for a little bit and then just sat on the busses. After our 3 hours in the parking lot, they finally drove us to the airport. Airport check in was quick, but it was just our cruise group checking in for a charter at a special counter. Our charter flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires was an hour late. This caused major problems with us trying to get from the domestic airport to the international airport in Buenos Aires. We had the transfer through Silversea and had to push that representative at the airport to move everyone along quickly and get the bus loaded, as well as to get her to agree to drop us off first at the international airport. Luckily it was a Sunday and traffic was light, but it still took nearly an hour from the domestic airport to the international airport in Buenos Aires. We made it to our flight with about 30 minutes to spare before boarding. Read Less
30 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Where to begin...We have gone on 10 Cruises with Silverseas and have always been satisfied..but this was totally different. If you are not the explorer / outdoors type of person then maybe you should not do this cruise. Here is my ... Read More
Where to begin...We have gone on 10 Cruises with Silverseas and have always been satisfied..but this was totally different. If you are not the explorer / outdoors type of person then maybe you should not do this cruise. Here is my blow-by-blow account: The charter from Buenos Aires was a ridiculous ordeal. So we are on a high-end cruise and they have all passengers on a required charter that is in a crappy coach style, 3 across airplane with some of the most vile excuse for food ever. Most of us could not remember the last time we had flown coach so what makes them think that this is acceptable?! Why not spend a little more and have a premium experience to start the trip?! (But they ended it badly also, as i will describe when i explain the disembakiing issues.) When we arrived in Ushuaia we sere taken to a nice restaurant where we had the best meal that we would have for the next 12 days. Then we were taken to the ship where the check in was reasonably simple and efficient like it always is and should be with Silverseas. The safety drill was conducted partially in the cold and wet but that cannot be avoided so I will not complain as it is necessary i guess per maritime law. The excursions and the zodiac crew were very knowledgeable and did their job well and were friendly, only complaint was that they drove faster at times than they really had to. The crossing of the Drake passage was not too bad but it was extremely boring and there are very limited activities on board. that is where they really should improve like maybe having a cruise director or at least movies or some form of entertainment or trvia pursuit or something to do. they do have some lectures but?! Boring! Dining: Breakfast and lunch were always buffets and really not so good. Dinner was much better. Attire: So here is one of our major issues! Along with all of the cold weather gear that we had to pack we were told that the dress code was usually Smart Casual and so we packed accordingly. Well here is what others were wearing: pajamas for breakfast, ballcaps and jeans with tee shirts for dinner and worse. OK if that was the dress code i could live with it but please don't have me pack for smart casual and allow everyone to dress in dumb scummy. Another problem was that the excursions were more strenuous than advertised. Moderate walk on the Falklands translates to almost heart attack inducing hike. Disembarking: It never is fun when the trip is over as they are always ready to hustle you off and get the new group on but this was insane. They take you off in a bus and then you are left in a parking lot for hours. Next we were driven to the airport very slowly in a round about manner. The airport was a mess. There was a long line with one person checking everyone through. Then the plane was late and apparently it always is. Now the main source of income for this crappy place are these cruise passengers so you would think that they could figure out how to handle this 3 month ordeal. Short version is that the scenery was great. The staff is good.The food and attire issues need to be addressed as do the charter and the disembarking issues. For an expensive premium experience Silverseas can do a whole lot better. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
This cruise was greatly anticipated after a fantastic experience on Silver Explorer in Antarctica. Started off badly with the hotel we stayed in as part of the package in Oslo. The Radisson Blu - what a dump. A tired and sad hotel in need ... Read More
This cruise was greatly anticipated after a fantastic experience on Silver Explorer in Antarctica. Started off badly with the hotel we stayed in as part of the package in Oslo. The Radisson Blu - what a dump. A tired and sad hotel in need of a lot of TLC. Poor room - too hot to sleep, terrible breakfast once you had fought your way through the swarms of people on coach tours. Poor service with baggage - not collected. Flight to Longyerbyan O K but had to sit apart from travelling companion. Embarkation OK. Not as slick as previous cruise. Found suite. Waited for baggage to arrive. Investigated suite. What ' no champagne' did have that waiting on previous cruise. No slippers - told run out. No passenger list. Had lunch then sailed away. The first few days in Svarlbard were O K but not really exciting. Zodiac landings where very few. Where we did land it was to see some old ruins. One place we were told not to walk off the path and not to touch anything. Some old huts with very new stainless steel flues! We're told the locals visit the place for picnics and overnight stays - so why were we cautioned about what we could do! Asked some questions about the place and was told by the Expedition Historian that there was nothing 'in the book about it'!, One place we visited to see Walruses we had to wait until evening to take a Zodiac Landing because another ship had got there first! We went to see another ruin! Did see some Polar Bears, and it came across that once we had had sightings of a bear then it was -'mission accomplished ' Missed out on the Bird cliffs and a Glacier Walk. Set off for 2 days at sea for Scoresby Sund. Did not get there. Captain decided there was too much ice so another day at sea to head for Iceland. Why could he not get the sh into the sound - if we had had Captain Adam we would have made it. Iceland - could not land at Grimsey. Siglufjord - lots of rain and herrings and a museum! Huskavik - bus trip- awful lunch at some outpost. This is supposed to be the Whale Watching capital so why did we not go out on aWhale Watchting tour. Akureyri - gardens in a town then left to wander around a fairly uninteresting town. Ground fjord- scheduled bus tour- not very inspiringly- poor lunch and around 85 per cent of passengers wanted to get back to ship early. By then almost everyone was well and truely fed up with bus trips. This was supposed to be an 'expedition cruise ' not a Saga cruise and when in port you pile into a bus for a moronic day out. The Expedition Team were not at all inspiring - just look at the blogs on Silverseas Website and compare them with those of the same cruise in 2014. If only we had had Peter Damisch and Micheala Mayer and captain Adam what a huge difference it would have been. All in all this cruise was a complete waste of time and an expensive mistake. Compared to the experience in Antactica this was so so very very poor. The ship in in need of a complete makeover. Lots of very worn upholstery in the public and private places. Paint peeling off ceilings in suites. Towels were old and worn. There were changes as to what you could eat in your suite if you did not want to dine in the restaurant.On previous cruises the same menu was available in your suite absinthe restaurant. Not now you can only choose from the menu used on the deck area. The wine was poor - Civan was great and had a superb personality and was able to persuade you that you could like the wine being served. Food was excellent thanks to Pia the head chef - if it was not for her the whole two weeks would have been a hundred per cent disaster. Staff on board were helpful and good fun. They worked hard and made a difference. This whole experience really does question my desire to take another Silverseas cruise. I bought an Expedition Cruise not a cruise with bus trips to some really uninspiring places. Why we could not have explored other parts of Greenland especially as this was a huge part of the cruise and a big incentive to take the cruise. Silverseas must have a credible fall back plan if plan A does to work out. Bus trips are a cop out and a very easy option. The tour operators in Iceland must have thought that all their Christmases had come at once . The tours were not arranged especially for us, they were bog standard bus tours operated every day in Iceland. The Expedition Team had a really easy time of it and even they were found to be dozing off in the buses. If Silverseas cannot make this a credible cruise then they should cut it out of their program Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
General Overall Impression: We were deeply disappointed in the expedition portion of the cruise. We missed 50% of the cruise due to excessive ice in Scoresbysund. Silversea’s answer was to do more in Iceland. We did not pay to ... Read More
General Overall Impression: We were deeply disappointed in the expedition portion of the cruise. We missed 50% of the cruise due to excessive ice in Scoresbysund. Silversea’s answer was to do more in Iceland. We did not pay to visit Iceland – we paid to visit Greenland. For some unknown reason they did go to the southern part of Greenland and made this second half and Iceland tour. I blame the Captain here since he controls where we go. There was no reason we could not have gone south and done other expedition areas. The choice of going to Iceland and doing normal ports Husavik, Akureryi and western Fjords was not expedition sailing but sightseeing. Pre-Cruise Hotel: Hotel was horrible the Radisson Blu Scandinavia. Internet did not work and construction noise throughout our three day stay. Breakfast was mediocre buffet. Some people paid nearly $300 per night, through Silversea, for the privilege of staying at this dive. Transfer to airport. Paid $99 pp for this transfer. No better than taking the Flybussen for $19. We had to drag the luggage around the airport to find the check-in. Silversea’s contracted agents were pretty useless. Flight to Longyearbyen was good - on time and transfer to ship was quick. Svalbard – 4 day cruise. Very interesting though many excursions required you to be in shape and physically fit. Some passenger requested some more less walking friendly tours (ie. Zodiac cruises) but these requests were ignored by the expedition leader. Ship Impression. Having been on the Silver Explorer 18 months ago we knew what to expect. The ship’s decor is VERY tired looking. Rooms are almost all same size (except for the small number of expedition and owner suites). Lounge is very small and fills up for high tea and drinks. Service was excellent. Only comment is that the butlers are glorified housekeepers. Our request for special gin (Henricks) was ignored. Food. Much improved over past expedition cruise. Did not have a bad meal. Previously the buffet lunch was the highlight meal. This cruise the dinner portion is where the chef shined. Chef Pia did a great job. Iceland – what a waste - we were not scheduled to do this we were to do Greenland. • First port Grimsey Island was cancelled due to high waves. • Second stop was a Siglufjord town – where the highlight was the Herring museum. Now come on this is an expedition cruise. Herring museum ..zzzzzz.. • Husavik the whaling capitol of the world. However no whaling but a bus tour to visit the falls and hot springs. Have done this twice before. • Akureyri. Botanical garden tour. ..zzzzzz.. • On the last tour Grundefjord – 75% of the people requested that we return to the ship early – it was so bad as was the guide. Disembarkation: Was quick and the hotel transfer was done effortlessly. Pluses – • Ships Staff – great service. Housekeeping and restaurant staff outstanding • Food – chef Pia did a great job. Never had a bad meal. Minuses- • Ship is tired looking. Needs an interior makeover. • TV never worked – there is no other entertainment. • Internet exceeding slow when working. Some of it is the location but rest is a bandwidth issue. • Wines - thought the red wines could have been of better quality. Mostly all blends (which I hate) • It was not an expedition cruise. I blame the Captain. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
The cover of the Silverseas brochure features a polar bear and when you book an Arctic cruise that's what you expect to find.Yes, we were privileged to sight a bear or two, but no we didn’t have crowds of bears queueing up on the ... Read More
The cover of the Silverseas brochure features a polar bear and when you book an Arctic cruise that's what you expect to find.Yes, we were privileged to sight a bear or two, but no we didn’t have crowds of bears queueing up on the deck all hours of the night and day. An Arctic cruise is more about the beauty of nature. The wildlife you meet on the way are a special treat. I would like to share a few precious Arctic memories which have enriched our lives. “The essence of our journey was encapsulated on Day Two. We were sitting in the zodiac surrounded by glaciers. “Let’s take a moment to listen to the silence” whispers Franz our guide. We put the present on pause, to exist in this special place in time where only glaciers can bear the brunt of history and gulls soaring overhead shriek with laughter at the funny humans in zodiacs below. Our Professor of Ornithology picks up a chunk of ice from the sea. “Have a taste of history”. We take turns to suck on the eons, zillions of years in a crystallized fossil, the water as fresh as the present, the ice as old as the stone age. That's what this cruise is all about. The privilege of experiencing a precious shrinking world like this with top expeditions leaders who understand and can share this rare beauty so generously with us. The Arctic Circle is defined by the tree line – a place where trees can no longer survive. It’s either snow, rock or tundra. We are cruising in Svalbard, an archipelago with the largest iceshelf in the Arctic. There are great tundra valleys in the centre and ice caps lie to the east. This morning we have a trek on the tundra which begins with a wet landing on the stones of a gravelly beach. We are well prepared thanks to the excellent packing list provided by SILVERSEAS online. Especially about the boots. A happy camper has comfy feet and our BOGS boots are a true blessing. They have perfect waterproof coats and the grip of a polar bear. We hike slowly up the hill, on tundra springy like new carpet. Luck has its way as we catch glimpses of the Arctic fox darting around playing cat and mouse with the deer. He’s the Arctic version of the zebra of the north, adapting his wardrobe according to the seasons - snowy white camouflage in winter, and two tone combination in summer to blend with rock and tundra. He’s difficult to photograph, not still for a moment, those black & white stripes flashing across the tundra, with long bushy tail sailing in the wind. He’s not called the long footed fox for nothing and mischievous like Brer Fox, teasing the poor reindeer trying to graze in peace in the valley. We laugh as swirling terns swoop down and outfox our fox; they circle his den and steal leftover crumbs. Then comes another beautiful sight on the ridge above. Two twisted antlers have slowly appeared as mother deer and daughter have raised their heads from morning tea in perfect pose for a picture. They’re been snacking their way along once icy ledges of slopes now covered in fresh moss of the season. They have an almost human stare with such large melting eyes; cleverly wide set for panoramic vision to allow them to watch out for unfriendly visitors. They’re incredibly bulky and cow-like with layers of fat to warm them for the winter. I’ve no idea how they put on weight with a diet of pure greens. On the downward climb we pass little gardens of arctic flowers in bloom in the shade of the rocks. A whole new world of geology is opened up to us crisscrossed with the crevasses of age. Smooth rocks worn down by centuries of glaciers in stunning patterns of orange and grey. The warm shades of the lichen on rock shine like precious stones, but they’re really algae symbiotic with fungi. When we reach the valley below we ford a tiny stream trickling between a carpet of jade moss. Nature has smiled upon us today with all the joys of spring. Sipping hot chocolate in the bar, we share the highlights of the day frozen in memory in I-Phones and cameras. I jot notes from fellow guests and friends to compare with “cruise critic”. Aren’t we all waiting to see that polar bear? True we all agree, but there’s so much more we didn’t expect to see. “We are truly privileged” says Anne, “to experience this pristine wilderness before it all disappears”. For me, it’s a sheer joy to breathe fresh air in deep and gaze out to a horizon that never seems to end. Our photos are better than we ever imagined. We share perfect images of “Kittiwakes” standing barefoot on ice. The light is magic here. Everything is so clearly defined, so even an amateur photographer like myself might churn out the pictures of a champ. Walruses are on the menu for Sunday afternoon. We zodiac ashore to see a gang of these Arctic relics who had swum to land for a spot of siesta. We smelt them as we approached the beach. A colony lay snoozing together in a heap on the sand like beached whales. They certainly cannot compete with George Clooney in the looks department. Each is rumpled portrait of buck teeth, whiskers, deep scars and blood shot eyes. And all sunbaking belly up! Who could imagine that these giant creatures are so sociable, all cuddled up on top of each other? The quiet is only broken by the occasional grunt when someone gives a good back scratch to the neighbour with a handy rear flipper. Back in the boat, Juan our Expeditions Leader, laughs ‘Many wrinkles allow for further girth expansion.’ That's kind of how we felt squeezing into our gear every day. Sampling the delights of the cuisine on board could possibly lead to a final version of a walrus within a few weeks! No cruise critique is complete without a word about the food. How can one possibly squeeze in three massive meals a day, when we’re so busy with outings twice daily in zodiac or on land. Only in the world of the midnight sun where time can be maximised in relentless hours of light. There can’t be anything more delightfully decadent than feasting on scones, jam and cream as the icebergs drift gently past your window. That was afternoon tea. Dinner.. well, not exactly “under the stars”. More like “under the sun.” But not Tuscan. And more light than sun. Silver Explorer offers a very cool “Hot Rock Barbeque” on the upper deck in frozen light. It’s Day Five and we’ve reached the Sea Ice. Perhaps not the warmest night to choose the ‘Hot Rocks but the best part is that we don’t have to dress for dinner. We huddle at the one surviving sheltered corner table in hooded parka and waterproof pants. The only ones to brave the cold tonight along with a hardy Swiss couple who seem oblivious to the biting wind roaring past our faces. The main challenge is to remove hands from warm gloves in order to cut the meat .The chunky slices are unable to decide whether to melt or freeze. It’s a bit like eating a melting ice-cream in reverse. Not a dining experience one would forget in a hurry. .. I pictured myself as a polar bear in this highly unpredictable environment. The word Arctic comes from the Greek word “Arcticus” which means Kingdom of the Bear. This iconic symbol of the north is embedded in our psyche as a symbol of cold. My mind is on him as I shiver over my supper. Day Six: We are 1,012 kms south of the North Pole and north of Spitsbergen. The strengthened hull of the Silver Explorer cuts through the ice with a grinding crunch and the view of the ice floes sailing past my cabin is brilliant. The entire team of eight Silverseas Expedition Leaders, marine biologists, glaciologists are on the bridge in top gear on the polar look out. We are in prime conditions. The pack ice has thickened enough for the polar bear to walk on, A lone seal appears ahead perched on an ice floe surveying his surroundings like the warm up band before the star of the show appears. The ice has formed the right kind of frozen platform for a bear to pounce on his prey. We are lined up on deck like an army of red and white soldiers in our arctic uniforms, binoculars fixated on the horizon, cameras ready in focus, listening out for an announcement by the captain when the star is to appear. “Quick! Focus your lens on two o'çlock” says Kit, our marine biologist excitedly. He’s out there, just to the right of that island. I freeze my fingers off in the struggle to master my new fancy binoculars. The minute I focus exactly on the bear, he moves. But he’s closer and adrenalin is racing. Now I see him! He clambers out of the water, rolls into an easy half somersault on the ice to shake excess water from his fur, and finally stands up to face his audience. His antics are hilarious. Black rimmed eyes stare straight at my lens. As if to say “what on earth are you doing here in my domain?”” I am in heaven. Then he moves. So in tune with his environment, nose in the air as he pads along the ice, one elbow in front of the other, on his way to the next victim of prey. Alone in his glacial world. The sheer ice carpet is the backdrop to his ever shrinking home. Then as suddenly as he faces us, he turns back and sinks behind the rock. But that’s only the first round of the show, ladies & gentlemen, until our appetiser is served. Just as we take the first spoonful from our steaming bowls of soup, the captain makes his second announcement. “The polar bear has stood up and is walking towards the ship!” There’s a stampede from the dining room, grabbing parkas, gloves & hats on the run. An eleven year old boy travelling with his grandparents lets out a hoot of sheer delight. Our bear is much closer now. When he finally stands up and moves from his lair, tears of joy spring to my eyes. Visible to the naked eye, we watch as he prowls carefully across the ice like a graceful ballerina, bulky yet steady, king of his Universe. He typically moves slowly, not wanting to heat up too much as it’s only minus 5 today. He’s been lying down on the ice to cool off and is now back on the hunt. In the presence of such majesty we are dwarfed as human beings. He stalks along with the dignified rump of a lord. Walks, sniffs and then waits with patience and stealth for seals to come up for breath. He needs 40 or 50 seals a year, and has all the time in the world to wait. And so have I as I watch how he moves. He’s top dog here and no one can challenge him. It’s a juggle between I-phone and camera, as he gets bigger and bigger. I just can’t get enough of him. And now he stares at me again, his black searching eyes right into my lens. The captain is careful for us not to overstay our welcome. To snatch a glimpse of this majestic animal on ice is to capture a unique moment in history, frozen in time. So most unfortunately are my fingers. Oh that I had fur growing on my paws like the bear! But it’s worth the ice and the wind, the frost and the fear, for one clear raw gaze of this magnificent creature. We are so privileged and fortunate to catch a glimpse of his world. Alas fast melting before our eyes. And now many months later I still feel that polar stare. Sea ice is dynamic and the next day the ice zone is too packed for us to sail back. But maybe we have gained more than just a sight of a polar bear. Maybe the thrill of such a privilege to view this starkly beautiful wilderness will help us refocus our lives to preserve one of the few remaining gifts of nature on this planet. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We went on a Silver Sea expedition cruise to Svalbard in July 2015. Our ship the Silver Explorer was a beautiful ship and our service by the crew was wonderful. The issue started when our mandatory charter flight to Longyearbyen was not ... Read More
We went on a Silver Sea expedition cruise to Svalbard in July 2015. Our ship the Silver Explorer was a beautiful ship and our service by the crew was wonderful. The issue started when our mandatory charter flight to Longyearbyen was not able to land because of fog. They flew us back to Oslo and put us up in the local airport hotel. I'm not upset as to the weather as I know that can happen at any time. I'm upset at how the company handled the situation. There was very little communication and when we did have meetings things were said like, " What do you want us to do, it is Sunday?" We were told to have lunch in town and save the receipts, so they can reimburse us. It was never mentioned again. When I went to reception on the ship, at the end of the cruise, and asked them what to do with the receipts, I was told they would make a copy of them but a decision hadn't been made as to what would be done with them. Two days later we finally were able to get on the ship. They said they wanted to give us the best cruise ever as we had missed 2 days. As I said the ship was great but the expeditions were terrible. According to the dictionary expedition means to explore, we did no exploring. When we did get off the ship, in the zodiacs, we were required to walk in a small tight group and look at poop or bones on the ground. If we walked 1/2 mile we would be lucky. One expedition was 45 minutes long to look at a walrus. I could have stayed longer and the last thing I wanted to do was walk and see poop down the beach. Another day on the zodiac was 1 1/2 hours long to sit at the bottom of a glacier and stare at it. Glaciers don't move much so there wasn't much to see. My husband and I have been on a Quark expedition to Antarctica and it was totally different. We walked around to see and explore the area and wildlife on the Antarctica cruise. This is a good cruise but it is not an expedition cruise at all. The expedition staff are all knowledgeable and nice, however their program is in need of some exploring to make it an expedition. As far as the actual ship it was wonderful for an expedition cruise. Our room was clean and very nice with 2 big windows. Dining was pleasant and the food was good. It was open sitting however one large group reserved all the window tables, across the back of the ship, on the first day, for the whole trip.( Doesn't seem real fair) As far as activities, there were some lectures and the zodiac cruises and that was it. Not a lot to do. Our TV didn't even work for the first half of the cruise. It was said by one passenger, "Maybe we were blessed to be shortened 2 days as I want off this ship." We will never sail with Silver Sea because of the way they handled the weather situation and they do not know how to do expeditions. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
With many SilverSea negatives in the forums ,and the memories of the Silver Discoverer hotel dept shortcomings still fresh ; our recent Silver Explorer cruise provides a timely opportunity to review. We found the ship and it's crew to ... Read More
With many SilverSea negatives in the forums ,and the memories of the Silver Discoverer hotel dept shortcomings still fresh ; our recent Silver Explorer cruise provides a timely opportunity to review. We found the ship and it's crew to be right on top of their game and we enjoyed this cruise very much. The British Isles Itinerary was selected for convenience and timing rather than for the content, however it was an interesting and informative cruise. It was almost a regular style cruise with less adventure and many bus rides , although the Zodiacs were , for many, an adventure in themselves! The explorer is a lovely ship , and I continue to rail at the renaming..she will always be the PAII in my mind. A ship of lovely lines with an impeccable pedigree and a great capacity for rough water and sea ice. We last sailed on the ship in 2009 and I wondered how she would be after many many years of heavy use. We were pleased to find the the ship, overall, in very good order , clean and well maintained but also showing signs of a long life of adventure Our midships cabin was generally in good condition but was showing evidence of heavy use, our mattress was well overdue for replacement. For this voyage we found the hotel department right on top of their game , the food was good, the wine was also mostly good and all the hotel staff without exception were very friendly and efficient. They were so good and so much fun that we were sorry to leave them. The expedition team , beefed up with German speakers for a very large German language guest contingent, were competent if not quite up to some of the stellar teams we have found on other cruises. Most importantly the whole cruise ran smoothly , pleasantly, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. All is forgiven Silversea..we shall return…... Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
We sailed from Ushuaia to Cape Town via Falklands, South Georgia and Tristan da Cunha. The ship was less than half full, probably because there are many sea days and it is basically a re-positioning cruise but with such a difference. ... Read More
We sailed from Ushuaia to Cape Town via Falklands, South Georgia and Tristan da Cunha. The ship was less than half full, probably because there are many sea days and it is basically a re-positioning cruise but with such a difference. The sea days were so worth while for the amazing sights and experiences we had. First the ship - yes she is a little tired but spotlessly clean and well cared for given the fact she is an expedition ship and spends much of her time in a pretty hostile environment. The cabins (state rooms) are variable in size but even the small ones are well appointed with comfortable beds, choice of pillows and small but perfectly formed bathrooms with lovely toiletries. The expedition staff were just wonderful, so knowledgeable and informative sharing that knowledge in the most entertaining and user friendly manner. Every sea day offered a couple of lectures on topical subjects and usually a trivia quiz with afternoon tea. OK so no all singing/all dancing entertainment but gently amusing and a great way to while away the days. The days we did landings were full on. We had three days on Falklands, four on South Georgia, one on Tristan da Cunha and one on Nightingale Island. We had pretty good weather but one or two rough days when the logistics of getting us on shore were really quite challenging but the expedition staff ensured it was achieved safely and happily for all concerned. We saw so much wildlife, whales, seals, penguins, penguins, penguins, dolphins and so many different birds. We were able to visit Tristan da Cunha which is a very tough landing for expeditions due to the very limited landing facilities so it has to be a zodiac arrival which so far out in the South Atlantic can be very difficult due to the rough seas and we were apparently the first [expedition] ship to get its passengers on to land for just about a year. The restaurant and food were well up to standard with the management of the restaurant, under Anna's ovesight, first rate with such attentive dining room attendants. Our butler, Romeo, was a gem. He looked after us so well, I wish I could have brought him home. The transfer from Buenos Aires is a bit tedious but no worse than that and it is part of the build up to a great adventure. My advice to anyone considering a trip to the South Atlantic is go, go now and go on Silver Explorer. Read all about it so you know what to expect and there is nothing to disappoint you and your expectations can be realised and then visit the wonderful islands of Falklands, South Georgia and whereever else (including Antartica) Silversea can offer you - an elegant gentle lifestyle on board and on shore exciting adventures which it would be hard to surpass. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
The Explorer is we feel the best of the 3 Silversea Expedition Ships Having said that I think it is important to say that some passengers/guests expect the Expedition Fleet of Silversea to mirror in terms of service and food and ... Read More
The Explorer is we feel the best of the 3 Silversea Expedition Ships Having said that I think it is important to say that some passengers/guests expect the Expedition Fleet of Silversea to mirror in terms of service and food and amenities their main line Fleet. On the Explorer the Crew were brilliant - kind , professional, helpful and attentive. Always remembering your name and invariably your favoured tipple in the bar! The ship has a large range of suite sizes and choices - perhaps unusual for a small expedition ship. If there is any criticism we thought the food could go up a couple of notches and the complimentary wine list needs rewriting. ( when will Silversea get the message on this?) The trip was for us was just outstanding. A little swell on the way across to Antarctica, but then and the rest of our trip we enjoyed brilliant weather and very calm seas. We even had lunch and dinner in deck on at least 4 occasions. What a memory that will always hold Not sure words can be found to sum up the sheer beauty of Antarctica! It was just stunning! If you have half a chance should not be missed as future expedition destination. The Siversea Expedition Team did a magnificent job taking us ashore twice every day whilst we were in Antarctica. Their specialist knowledge of the area just added so much to our day to day activities on shore . We loved too the daily briefings by the Team. All 10 or so of them are true pros and a great ambassadors for Silversea Expeditions. So all in all a trip we wouldn't have missed. A long journey, but a couple of days in Beunos Aries also so worthwhile and enjoyable so do visit if you can. our days in a Finca, well north of BA rounded off a truly special trip. If you have got half a chance do go. It is truly a special place Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015

We went with Celebrity Expeditions to the Galapagos about 8 years ago and thought that experience could not be topped. We were wrong. I did extensive research on all the different Antarctic cruises. Most cost the same, all have zodiacs ... Read More

We went with Celebrity Expeditions to the Galapagos about 8 years ago and thought that experience could not be topped. We were wrong. I did extensive research on all the different Antarctic cruises. Most cost the same, all have zodiacs with naturalists, all have food included. None have alcohol included and the luxury experience you get with Silversea. The ship is a smaller icebreaker but lovely cabins and dining room. It did look a little ready for refurbishment in some places but overall was very nice.

But the biggest thing of all is the Antarctic. We were extremely lucky on our Drake passages, they were calm and uneventful. We had a mid-ship cabin on the third floor which was very stable. Our window was very large but there were excellent shades to cover so that us light sensitive sleepers could rest. The bathroom was large, had a tub and was mostly done in marble. I was shocked. We got a fantastic table at the rear of the ship and had amazing views. The maître d'hôtel, Anna was very gracious. The chef was wonderful and often came to the dining room to be sure we enjoyed our food (which was divine). We usually stopped at two ports per day. Most were shore landings but there were a few zodiac cruises. Everything was outstanding.

We were very lucky to have fantastic weather and saw an amazing array of animals. Other people got tired of the penguins but I think they are crazy. Mid-January was a perfect time to go as most of the penguins and birds were just hatching chicks. We actually got to see a penguin chick hatching from an egg! It was funny to watch them squabble over tiny rocks and slide across the ice. Then they would jump in the water and be the picture of speed and grace. We saw lots of seals, orcas and seabirds. We saw many whales (humpbacks, minke) and were very lucky that our captain stopped the boat for an hour so we could watch a group play.

The best naturalist was a young man named Travis from South Africa. He would make noise on the bottom of the zodiac to get the interest of the whales. We saw them come very close and one time they even followed the zodiac. I wished we had known we could invite the staff for dinner with us, we would have loved to get to know some of them more. They are meticulous about making sure you don't take any unwanted seeds or plants from the mainland. It was just very professional and the trip of a lifetime.

We included it with another 2 1/2 weeks of hiking in Patagonia and the whole experience was Nirvana. You have to go. Just do it. It's expensive but worth every penny. I was worried people might be pretentious but the staff were wonderful and most of the people were nice. Don't wait until you are so old you can't move around much. It seemed like some people just wanted to 'tick off' their final continent which I think is a waste. It is truly a gorgeous destination with so much to offer. Go, Go, Go!!!

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Silver Explorer Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.0
Dining 5.0 4.2
Entertainment 3.0 3.1
Public Rooms 5.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.2
Family 2.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.2
Enrichment 5.0 4.2
Service 5.0 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 5.0 3.9

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