When you explore the uninhabited islands of the Galapagos National Park, you are in one of the roughest places on the planet, a land where the wildlife rules and you are just another creature. That does not mean you need to rough it. You certainly won't on the luxurious, all-inclusive, 100-passenger Silver Origin, Silversea Cruises' first purpose-built, destination-focused expedition ship.
Everyone on the ship stays in suites with butler service, and your every need is catered to with aplomb. Crew greet you with Italian designer bathrobes as you return from snorkeling, perhaps with whitetip reef sharks and sea lions. You will find hot water aplenty in your ocean-view glass shower with rainfall showerhead. Your personal butler will fetch you a cappuccino or whatever else you desire.
The ship has windows all around (even in the elevator) for views. A luxury hotel designer came up with a soothing color scheme of stone and cream, complimented by an Ecuadorian-focused art collection, that gives a sense of place but does not distract from what's happening outdoors.
At the same time, Silver Origin is filled with the kind of cushy furnishings you can sink into after a busy day of exploring via inflatable Zodiac, kayak, snorkeling or on foot, with the ship's 10 local, park-certified naturalist guides.
You and your fellow passengers may have come to meet blue-footed boobies and endemic marine iguanas and tortoises, but a convivial atmosphere on the ship, an open-seating policy at meals, free booze, and the small number of passengers onboard, means it's easy to make friends (the spaciousness of the ship also means you can avoid anyone you don't care for).
Silver Origin has space to stretch out, so much so you may feel at times like you are on your own private yacht. Reserve the hot tub for two and have your butler serve Champagne. Head to the windowed observation lounge/library and take a nap with book about Charles Darwin on your lap. A basecamp lounge features an interactive digital wall, a nifty high-tech way to learn factoids about Galapagos wildlife.
Silver Origin is Galapagos on a silver platter.
• All meals in the indoor restaurant and outdoor grill
•Complimentary backpack and metal water bottle
• Rain poncho
• All shore excursions such as hikes, Zodiac rides, kayaks and snorkeling
•Use of wetsuits and a take-home snorkeling mask
• Alcohol including top-shelf drinks, beer, wine and champagne
•Soda and coffee drinks
•Gratuities for crew
•Unlimited Wi-Fi (basic package included; upgrade to higher speed for a cost)
•Complimentary bottle of prosecco, sparkling wine or Champagne on arrival (depends on your suite category)
•Pacari chocolate bars from the Andes (as a welcome gift)
•Complimentary mini-bar with soda, juice and beer
•Your choice of a full bottle of your favorite alcohol
•Most fares include air and pre-cruise hotel nights in Quito, Ecuador, as well as day-use of a hotel in Guayaquil, Ecuador, before your return flight to the U.S.
•Replenished bags of Ecuadorian potato chips
•Fruit basket, replenished daily (the size depends on suite category)
•24-hour room service
•Massages and beauty salon treatments
•Upgraded wine list, with selections from France, Italy, Chile and Argentina
Doctors, lawyers, business people, birders and retirees, most in their 50s and 60s, make up the general passenger base. Silversea says they are also booking families, such as the Silicon Valley CEO and kids, for summertime and holiday sailings. Most onboard are couples. You may also run into groups of up to 10 friends traveling together. Most passengers are from the U.S.
Daytime: Casual, with shorts or jeans and tees most common.
Evening: Most passengers go with country club casual at night; no one dressing up much beyond a casual dress or pants and blouse for women; collared shirt and slacks for men.
Sneakers and hiking boots for footwear.
Not permitted: Shorts and jeans are not allowed in the restaurant at night.
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