The entertainment onboard is a piano player performing on a baby grand in the main Explorer Lounge during cocktail hour and after dinner (though few passengers are in the lounge after dinner). He also plays a keyboard in The Grill at lunchtime.
Otherwise, guests may entertain themselves in the evening by chatting at the ship's firepit outside the Explorer Lounge on Deck 4, or heading up to the dark stargazing area on Deck 8 to try and spot the Southern Cross or, if you're lucky, lava flowing from an active volcano in the distance.
You've come to the Galapagos to explore, and your itinerary includes up to four excursion choices each day, all included in your cruise fare and led by universally excellent Galapagos National Park-certified naturalist guides – visitors are not allowed to explore the park unless accompanies by a guide. A big selling point is the number of guides, Silver Origin with a 1:10 guide to guest as opposed to the 1:16 ratio allowed by the park.
To keep everything orderly, your ship will be divided into groups, and call each group at staggered times, so you never need to wait long to board a Zodiac at the ship's very active marina. Lots of crew are on hand to lend an arm as you board the bobbing Zodiacs for adventures that might include a hike on a beach strewn with thousands of nesting marine iguanas, or a hike past lava tubes for views of volcanic rock formations, or a ride along the coast to spot birds such as blue-footed boobies, or a little time on a beach. Most tours are for one hour. The only time you will find yourself on a bus is a visit to a tortoise preserve and coffee plantation on the island of Santa Cruz.
Deep sea snorkeling and kayak excursions require signup, so that groups can be staggered – with one guide assigned to every 10 guests. Kayaks are for two, but if you are a solo traveler you will either be paired or assigned your own guide/partner. Snorkelers are provided with wetsuits, fins and masks with snorkel that you keep in your cabin. The masks and snorkel are yours to take home. All guests are also given a life vest to wear on the Zodiacs and you keep that in your cabin as well (hooks in your walk-in closet handle all that).
In a bit of an oddity, the shore excursions are operated with a sound system (for hearing the guides) that requires you to download an app on your cellphone and to have your own headphones. It works well, unless for some reason you don't have your own headphones – be sure to pack them.
Visiting the Galapagos is like visiting an open-air zoo, except in these islands the animals are utterly unafraid of you. We are sized up as something big and non-threatening walking by. You are advised by your naturalist guides to keep a distance of six to eight feet, but the animals haven't necessarily gotten the memo.
When you are deep-sea snorkeling, you may find yourself with a sea lion trying to stare you in the face, or look down to see several whitetip sharks swimming by – which you can brag about with your friends if you have an underwater camera. On a kayak excursion through a scenic mangrove, sea lions may come over to show off their octopus or other catch of the day, while sea turtles swim past.
If you don't snorkel or kayak, you'll still have plenty of wildlife experiences, assured by the naturalist team. Zodiacs explore the shore, the drivers getting as close as they are allowed to birds and animals. Bring your binoculars for the best views. You'll also walk beaches where sea lions are lounging, bright orange Sally Lightfoot crabs are scurrying and rays are hanging right off shore. From your ship, you may spot dolphins and sea birds will fly overhead. An excursion to a on the island of Santa Cruz will assure you will get to see giant, 150-year old tortoises at a private preserve that's also a coffee plantation.
Hundreds of species are found nowhere else on earth such as spiky backed marine iguanas, warm weather penguins, the giant tortoises and Galapagos sea lions. Birdwatchers come to see prizes such as Darwin's finches (four species of which are mockingbirds), endemic Galapagos hawks, rails, flycatchers and martins, plus blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca boobies.
In the evening, everyone – guests and guides – gathers in the Explorer Lounge pre-dinner for cocktails, a recap of the day’s events, and to hear what is on the schedule for the next day. One naturalist will also do a brief lecture based on his or her area of expertise. Longer lectures are offered some days, either in the morning or afternoon. Nature movies are also occasionally shown on the screens of the Explorers Lounge.
The ship's unusual enrichment feature has a high-tech twist. In the cushy Basecamp lounge, off the marina, is an alcove with a 39-square-foot interactive digital screen – the largest such screen in the Galapagos. A touch control panel on a podium looks like something out of Star Trek, and allows you to both preview your trip and do a deep dive into the Galapagos, including science and research being conducted. It’s a fun way to supplement the already deep and interesting lectures given by the ship’s expert team of naturalists.
Silversea received special permission from the Galapagos National Park to film footage by drone for the magic wall, and then added expert commentary from naturalists. Keep touching for photos and factoids and videos about the animals you will see on the excursions.
If the ship is at sea for an afternoon, the naturalists may invite passengers to an open deck to search for wildlife from the ship. On select nights, there is a naturalist leading stargazing on the top deck – otherwise, you are free to head up to view the stars on your own.
One afternoon, the chef will do a cooking demonstration and talk on Ecuadorian ceviche, complete with a tasting and handout recipes.
You'll find very little entertainment on Silver Origin besides the piano player. Most guests return to cabins after dinner where they may watch classic and some last-year movies on their stateroom TV.
Silver Origin does not have a casino.
Explorer Lounge (Deck 4): A quiet place to lounge and enjoy a coffee and snack by day, the Explore Lounge is also the ship's main gathering spot at night, the bar team preparing cocktails, which you can order made with Ecuadorian liquors or a broad range of international selections. There's also local artisanal beer served.
Basecamp (Deck 3): The elegant Basecamp, with indoor and outdoor living room areas, is attached to the ship’s marina, and both a cushy place to hang out and gear up for excursions and brilliant educational center. There's a self-service coffee set up in one corner, for those who want to linger, though most passengers pass-through on their way back from shore excursions.
Observation Lounge/Library (Deck 7): When not in a lounge chair out on deck or napping in their cabins, guests come up to this small, forward-facing windowed lounge to sit and read a book or take a nap. The rarely used space is outfitted with cushy chairs and sofas, a giant globe, atlases and books on Charles Darwin and wildlife.
A hot tub large enough to be comfortably shared by four people is located on Deck 7. It's raised for views, and as a special treat you can ask your butler to deliver champagne so you can sip while admiring the passing scenery. A glass-shower is nearby. Silver Origin does not have a traditional pool.
Due to restrictions in the national park, there are no individual watersports offerings and you can't swim from the marina (kayaking and snorkeling is all escorted).
The reception desk in the Basecamp lounge has two standard desks. There's no gift shop but there are some items for sale displayed in glass cases. Local selections include sterling silver and gold jewelry inspired by Galapagos wildlife, from the environmentally conscious Galapagos jewelry company. With straw Panama hats originating in Ecuador, there is also a custom example – If you want to pay $1,000 for a hat.
Ship-wide WiFi is available at no charge. If you want to download photos or stream videos you may want to upgrade to a premium package for a weekly fee.
Silver Origin has a small, two-room Zagara beauty spa located on Deck 5. It's staffed by one Ecuadorian hairdresser/massage therapist. You can get a wash and blowout, pedicure or manicure at the beauty parlor or head into the massage room for treatments such as a "Freestyle Deep Tissue Massage". Prices are similar to what you find on other Silversea ships. The gratuity is at your discretion, however, as opposed to being added on.
The small but well-equipped and ocean-view gym has a step machine, bike, leg curl machine and treadmill, plus a decent selection of weights. It's just enough to keep up with your daily routine, assuming you know what you are doing as there is no trainer or staff.
While it would be hard to do a power walk on the ship, you can get active on hikes, and a few times during the week there are organized power walks or runs, accompanied by a naturalist guide, offered on shore.
Silver Origin is being booked by some families during the summer and holiday periods. The minimum age to sail is 5, though the suggested minimum age is 10. There are no set activities for kids, through age-appropriate activities may be added based on who is onboard – such as a pizza party with the chef.
Kids who come onboard should be prepared to listen to instructions from the crew, such as when boarding or in Zodiacs. They should also be used to having restaurant meals with adults (babysitting is not available).
For families with older kids, several cabins connect in the Classic Veranda Suite category. The Royal and Grand Suites combine into a two-bedroom spread with living rooms and indoor and outdoor dining areas, for a family of four.