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I have sailed solo before so this was not my first rodeo. I've done lower-end cruise lines with 5,000 of my closest friends out of Bayonne and Florida. I've also done Seabourn, which I felt compelled to give up because of their disgracefully lax smoking policies. Last year, I did a nice, long, Oceania cruise from Chile to Tahiti by way of Robinson Caruso and Easter Islands -- where I discovered that I enjoyed the hikes and bird watching more than the passengers who complained that the hikes were too long. So this year for my Christmas cruise, I chose something very different - an expedition cruise in the Sub-antarctic Islands of New Zealand. And what a wonderful trip it was. In fact, I'd call it life-transforming. I've lived and worked, biked, hiked and dived around the world but the sheer beauty and numbers of birds and plant life, stark islands, not to mention the sea lions and seals - gave me a new perspective. We traveled with people who really knew their stuff - they were not university has-beens looking for a cheap vacation providing boring lectures. These were experts of all ages, seasoned professionals and people who truly, thoroughly loved their subject-matter. The NZ Department of Conservation stationed someone on our ship to make certain that we complied with all of their stringent rules and did not adversely affect the environment - and she was a bonus insofar as understanding the local issues. And if the ship's experts did not know every detail of their subject matter, there were passengers who often knew nearly as much and were happy to give you another point of view about volcanoes and sediment and rocks and such. We had about 45 fellow passengers and all were well-educated, knowledgeable, interesting conversationalists, and generally thoughtful. Only two were smokers -- one used the electronic variety -- but they were relegated in this behavior to a small area at the stern. Among the passengers were equal numbers of Americans, British, Kiwi and Aussies -- with a smattering of others from places like Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands. One was a travel writer getting grist for her work. Others included a chemist, geologist/map specialist, a retired judge, airline CFO, captains of industry, school teachers and administrators, attorneys, a Russian tour operator, a STEM Science promoter, at least one medical doctor -- and a host of people who never really discussed their backgrounds because they were so busy otherwise. This ship had a woman captain. A woman expedition director. A woman chef. Wow. Lots of faith in women with this cruise line! And they did a great job - they looked a little stressed in the morning after rough seas and planning sessions to ensure that we had the most comfortable ride possible through swells and wind. But they did their jobs with such professionalism that I felt confident whenever I saw them at work. Which brings me to an important point -- expedition cruising is not for the faint of heart. If you get sea sick on a cruise to Bermuda, this is not the right cruise for you. This ship will pitch and roll and you will need to secure your belongings and go easy on the booze when you hit rough water - besides - you will be getting up early to get out on zodiac cruises and you want to have some sense of balance. DO NOT forget your gear for wet landings. Pay attention to the manifest and plan accordingly. But do not bother to read the recommended books -- just pack your waterproof stuff, order your parka, and show up. The outstanding crew will do the rest. If your favorite activity is shopping, then consider something else. Gambling? Maybe someone will bet you on the number of new bird species that you will see. If you want prizes from trivia games, then book someplace else -- we did have a couple of trivia contests but all you got was a wink and a smile if you won and there were no real rules and no one really cared. But this crowd really did tea - every single day. No kidding. And it was fun. Also fun - the best New Year's Eve party ever on a cruise ship. Usually you have to try and find the crew party - but the crew partied with us. Mercifully, we did not need to get up and do much the next morning as I was on the dance floor until 1:00 am. They put on a show ahead of time - none of this pretense about having entertainment professionals - just a happy bunch of amateurs - sort of like banquet night at summer camp. Next time, they should have the passengers join in and do whatever they do as well. That could have interesting results. And a shout-out to Chef Tracy and her magnificent crew of cooks and servers for making every dinner a fine experience, even if you decided to eat outside at the back of the ship and your wine glass flew off the table. Since there was a great deal of cappuccino drinking, the servers engaged in a humorous contest to develop three-dimensional designs - hearts and bears and kiwis. It was fun entertainment for meal times. Were there imperfections? Sure. Were they that noticeable - not really unless you liked to dwell on such things. There were some water issues given the age of the ship but they worked hard at correction. The butler/room steward service was such that I couldn't leave for a short time without having my shoes straightened. An older and smaller ship presents serious issues and the crew rose to all challenges. I may go again on another expedition cruise or just try one of the different Silversea ships. Either way, this cruise line has won me over. They have faith in their women employees and place them in positions of responsibility. They work hard to provide great service. They treat solo travelers with respect and the same amount of attention that they give to couples and families.

An Awesome Experience

Silver Discoverer Cruise Review by Matollygirl1

11 people found this helpful
Trip Details
I have sailed solo before so this was not my first rodeo. I've done lower-end cruise lines with 5,000 of my closest friends out of Bayonne and Florida. I've also done Seabourn, which I felt compelled to give up because of their disgracefully lax smoking policies. Last year, I did a nice, long, Oceania cruise from Chile to Tahiti by way of Robinson Caruso and Easter Islands -- where I discovered that I enjoyed the hikes and bird watching more than the passengers who complained that the hikes were too long.

So this year for my Christmas cruise, I chose something very different - an expedition cruise in the Sub-antarctic Islands of New Zealand. And what a wonderful trip it was. In fact, I'd call it life-transforming. I've lived and worked, biked, hiked and dived around the world but the sheer beauty and numbers of birds and plant life, stark islands, not to mention the sea lions and seals - gave me a new perspective. We traveled with people who really knew their stuff - they were not university has-beens looking for a cheap vacation providing boring lectures. These were experts of all ages, seasoned professionals and people who truly, thoroughly loved their subject-matter. The NZ Department of Conservation stationed someone on our ship to make certain that we complied with all of their stringent rules and did not adversely affect the environment - and she was a bonus insofar as understanding the local issues.

And if the ship's experts did not know every detail of their subject matter, there were passengers who often knew nearly as much and were happy to give you another point of view about volcanoes and sediment and rocks and such. We had about 45 fellow passengers and all were well-educated, knowledgeable, interesting conversationalists, and generally thoughtful. Only two were smokers -- one used the electronic variety -- but they were relegated in this behavior to a small area at the stern. Among the passengers were equal numbers of Americans, British, Kiwi and Aussies -- with a smattering of others from places like Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands. One was a travel writer getting grist for her work. Others included a chemist, geologist/map specialist, a retired judge, airline CFO, captains of industry, school teachers and administrators, attorneys, a Russian tour operator, a STEM Science promoter, at least one medical doctor -- and a host of people who never really discussed their backgrounds because they were so busy otherwise.

This ship had a woman captain. A woman expedition director. A woman chef. Wow. Lots of faith in women with this cruise line! And they did a great job - they looked a little stressed in the morning after rough seas and planning sessions to ensure that we had the most comfortable ride possible through swells and wind. But they did their jobs with such professionalism that I felt confident whenever I saw them at work.

Which brings me to an important point -- expedition cruising is not for the faint of heart. If you get sea sick on a cruise to Bermuda, this is not the right cruise for you. This ship will pitch and roll and you will need to secure your belongings and go easy on the booze when you hit rough water - besides - you will be getting up early to get out on zodiac cruises and you want to have some sense of balance. DO NOT forget your gear for wet landings. Pay attention to the manifest and plan accordingly. But do not bother to read the recommended books -- just pack your waterproof stuff, order your parka, and show up. The outstanding crew will do the rest.

If your favorite activity is shopping, then consider something else. Gambling? Maybe someone will bet you on the number of new bird species that you will see. If you want prizes from trivia games, then book someplace else -- we did have a couple of trivia contests but all you got was a wink and a smile if you won and there were no real rules and no one really cared. But this crowd really did tea - every single day. No kidding. And it was fun.

Also fun - the best New Year's Eve party ever on a cruise ship. Usually you have to try and find the crew party - but the crew partied with us. Mercifully, we did not need to get up and do much the next morning as I was on the dance floor until 1:00 am. They put on a show ahead of time - none of this pretense about having entertainment professionals - just a happy bunch of amateurs - sort of like banquet night at summer camp. Next time, they should have the passengers join in and do whatever they do as well. That could have interesting results.

And a shout-out to Chef Tracy and her magnificent crew of cooks and servers for making every dinner a fine experience, even if you decided to eat outside at the back of the ship and your wine glass flew off the table. Since there was a great deal of cappuccino drinking, the servers engaged in a humorous contest to develop three-dimensional designs - hearts and bears and kiwis. It was fun entertainment for meal times.

Were there imperfections? Sure. Were they that noticeable - not really unless you liked to dwell on such things. There were some water issues given the age of the ship but they worked hard at correction. The butler/room steward service was such that I couldn't leave for a short time without having my shoes straightened. An older and smaller ship presents serious issues and the crew rose to all challenges.

I may go again on another expedition cruise or just try one of the different Silversea ships. Either way, this cruise line has won me over. They have faith in their women employees and place them in positions of responsibility. They work hard to provide great service. They treat solo travelers with respect and the same amount of attention that they give to couples and families.
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Cabin Review

View Suite with Window
Cabin VS 653
Well I learned something. The higher the pay, the more the sway. I was at the top level and it rocked and rolled. I had been upgraded to this bigger cabin but I likely would have been better off a floor or two below. Overall, however, it was a very nice cabin with all that I needed. There were some water issues but I expect that water pressure is difficult in this sort of ship. This ain't the "Something Giant of the Seas." And I was glad for that.

And my butler Mary Anne and the cabin steward were beyond outstanding.
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