As retired Biologists, we wanted an extensive Antarctica cruise that catered to our interests in wildlife and wilderness habitats. We also wanted an science-oriented trip shared with adults. We were not disappointed!
This cruise was billed as 'The Grand Southern Expedition'. There were 110 guests and 118 crew. In Antarctica regulations limit the number of tourists ashore to 100, so we never had to wait long for zodiac trips. The guests were divided into 4-groups for off-ship excursions. These included guided beach walks, overland hikes, and zodiac cruises along shores too rough to land on. We covered 4,200 nautical miles around the Scotia Sea, including 18-zodiac excursions, and the seldom visited South Sandwich Islands.
The Silver Explorer is a venerable expedition cruise ship with an accomplished and professional crew. It is tastefully decorated and has been recently upgraded and modernized. We were impressed by the quality of the expedition staff, who are experts in their right, but very approachable to guests. While not ashore and on sea days, staff presented informative, high-quality lectures on wildlife, fisheries, oceanography, geology, and history of the region. Captain Maggie and Expedition Leader Stefan were first rate. They made every effort to maintain the advertised itinerary and position the ship close to shore, even resorting to zodiac hydrographic surveys in anchorages where soundings were minimal. In Antarctica, weather and ice dominate. At all times, we felt our safety was priority. We were pleased that most of our shipmates had a mutual share of love of nature and adventure. A voyage of this breadth is not for those who desire a quick, and/or cheap Antarctica touch.
We chose our suite on the middle-3rd deck, starboard side to minimize the 'motion-of-the-ocean'. As experienced sailors, we are not prone to seasickness. Many guests resorted to various mal-de-mer remedies, but few complained. The 2-day Drake Passage lived up to its reputation. The Silver Explorer has a lively but solid motion.
Silversea expedition cruises are all-inclusive with no tipping and no additional charges for drinks, room service, etc. Quality outdoor gear was furnished and boots are available for rent. We brought our own rubber boots, which are better to hike in than ship fare. The quality and choice of food and drink is very good and the service is impeccable. We appreciated our butler stocked the mini-fridge with our favorite wine and served breakfast in our suite each morning.
Silversea seems to treat their employees well and have a high retention rate. It is not unusual to reacquaint with staff from former cruises, and they all make a point to greet you by name.
This is our second Silversea expedition cruise...it won't be the last.
Suite was quiet and comfortable for a couple. Window afforded great views of nearby whales, icebergs, mountains, etc. Comfortable queen bed with duvet. Bed made up with fresh sheets daily. Room kept extremely clean and well maintained by housekeeping. Storage was adequate. Satellite TV and 1-hour daily free WiFi worked well, some temporary outages depending on ship position. We learned to reboot the satellite box, which locked up regularly, without calling IT. Modern tiled bathroom and large shower with granite surfaces. Suite heating and ventilation was very good.