Silversea's New Expedition Ship Taking Shape

December 28, 2007
Silversea Cruises plans to position Silver Dawn, its recently acquired expedition ship, half the year in Antarctica. The other six months or so will be spent in the region of French Polynesia, assuming governmental permission is finalized.

The ship will launch sometime in spring 2008 though no specific dates have been revealed and cruises are not yet for sale.

Silver Dawn, which formerly sailed as Society Expeditions’ World Discoverer, is currently undergoing an extensive multimillion dollar rehab at the Fincantieri shipyard in Trieste, Italy.

The 6,072-ton vessel has a strengthened hull that carries the highest Lloyd's Register ice-class notation, appropriate for sailing in Antarctica.

Though the ship accommodated 175 guests during its tenure with the now defunct Society Expeditions, that number will be reduced to 132 during the refurbishment in keeping with the line's intimate crew-to-guest ratio. Guests will be accommodated in all oceanview staterooms. These include Owner's Suites and Grand Suites, and 12 to-be-named suites that will mirror the concept of the Silver Suites aboard other ships in Silversea's fleet -- with a separate dining and living room and clubby atmosphere.

Cruise Critic has also learned the vessel will debut in the spring, with a naming ceremony expected to take place in April in Monaco. The first cruise is expected to be in June, and the ship is to do a season of Arctic Circle, Iceland and Greenland cruises followed by Antarctica and South America cruises. But Tahiti six months each year (with Antarctica and South America the rest of the year) is the ultimate goal.

At a press conference last week in Tahiti, it was disclosed that the cruise line has entered into a "mutual commitment intent" agreement with the Tahitian government to cruise in Tahiti six months of the year, beginning in April 2009.

According to Tahitipresse, the reason the agreement was preliminary, rather than final, was the need by officials to gain a greater understanding of "a revised French state decree that took effect Oct. 25 dealing with visa requests for foreign cruise ship crewmembers."

The paper quoted Polynesia Tourism Minster Marc Collins as saying his aim was to have Silversea in French Polynesia for several years.

Cruise Critic has also learned Silversea has plans for its French Polynesia voyages on Silver Dawn that will emphasize exotic ports not necessarily offered on a regular basis by other lines operating there. Among the possibilities include stops at the southernmost Austral Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago and the northernmost Marquesas Islands.

--By Fran Golden, Cruise Critic contributor