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7 Silversea Arctic Cruise Reviews

We are experienced travelers (we've done treks in Nepal, independent travel throughout Europe, guided small-group hikes and tours in South America and Africa, and some large and small-ship cruises, including an Antarctica trip on the ... Read More
We are experienced travelers (we've done treks in Nepal, independent travel throughout Europe, guided small-group hikes and tours in South America and Africa, and some large and small-ship cruises, including an Antarctica trip on the MS Fram). We chose the Silver Cloud cruise based primarily on the itinerary; we loved the wildlife and scenery in Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands and wanted to do a trip in the Arctic. The MS Fram was our first experience with a small-ship cruise, and the Silver Cloud Expedition sounded wonderful both because of its small size and amenities--many more than on the Fram. We absolutely loved the Greenland and Canadian Arctic cruise! We found the scenery to be varied and amazing. Sam Ford Fjord in particular was like a cross between the most beautiful Norwegian Fjord and a more-spectacular Yosemite, and we were thrilled every day by the glaciers, icebergs, and remote, unspoiled places we visited. We found the towns to be colorful and interesting, and we enjoyed learning about the culture and history of the people and area both in landings and in the many high-quality lectures provided by the passionate expedition staff. We especially appreciated the opportunity to do some fairly strenuous hikes to beautiful viewpoints, most led by Truls, a very experienced Norwegian expedition staff member. One concern we had had with the cruise was that it would not be active enough, but we were quite pleased to see how many challenging hikes we were able to do. Like other reviewers, we were a little disappointed not to see much wildlife, and we did feel that the staff sometimes over-emphasized how much we had seen when this had not been the case, but we did see many birds, a polar bear, one group of walruses close-up, and a few whales. But for us, the scenery made up for the lack of wildlife. We found the ship to be lovely in almost all respects. Our vista suite cabin was comfortable, though we found the large couch and two chairs to be somewhat crowded and awkward. The MDR food was generally quite good and the service was excellent, and we appreciated the fact that on this expedition cruise, we could relax in one of the bars and then at dinner after a long day hiking or being out on deck or in zodiacs without having to dress up .Fellow travelers we met were generally well-traveled and interesting and we loved the casual, non-pretentious feel we found on the ship in the bars and meal venues. Our only criticism of the food was perhaps the lack of variety in the lunch buffet; I prefer a good sandwich or interesting "entree" salad to hot, casserole-type dishes at lunch, the buffet typically only had the latter (along with a fairly uninteresting salad bar). However, we did enjoy the made-to-order pizza a couple of times. We also found Hot Rocks to be fun, though it was a bit too cold to fully enjoy the experience. I assume that the classic Silversea ships are more formal, but we loved the feel of the Cloud and would definitely travel on her again if the right itinerary were available. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We managed to book our cruise/expedition at a very good price due to a late booking, our previous cruise with Scenic Eclipse was cancelled at very short notice. Which was disappointing at the time, but Silverseas have now gained a loyal ... Read More
We managed to book our cruise/expedition at a very good price due to a late booking, our previous cruise with Scenic Eclipse was cancelled at very short notice. Which was disappointing at the time, but Silverseas have now gained a loyal follower! I can't imagine travel on any other line after the great experience that we had. We were met at Oslo and Tromso by Silverseas agents and professionally looked after till we boarded the ship. We had managed to upgrade to a Silver suite on the Silver Cloud, which is, in effect 2 cabins together, so a separate bedroom/dressing room with two shower rooms/toilets. Our butler was efficient, polite and a real gentleman, "Arun" helped to make this trip memorable. With only about 230 passengers, the voyage is made all the more enjoyable as it is possible to meet more people, who are from all over the world, and we met some very lovely people. The food was of an exceptional standard, real fine dining, and the staff on all levels were polite, friendly and knowledgeable. How they manage to remember all our names is a mystery, but they do, The Zodiac trips were well organised with a priority on safety, which is encouraging given the choppy seas at times, and also the land excursions to see the wildlife were also expertly organised, with forward parties going on shore to check out safety i.e.meaning making sure there were no Polar bears loolking for an early meal! It is the first trip we have had in many years, that we were not wanting it to end. Full credit to Silverseas and the ace team that they have working on the Silver Cloud, they made the expedition into one our our most memorable trips.. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We had a bucket list wish to travel to Greenland. We had been to Iceland previously and wanted to experience more of these two beautiful and remote islands. The Silver Cloud is a comfortable and sleek ship with all of the amenities of ... Read More
We had a bucket list wish to travel to Greenland. We had been to Iceland previously and wanted to experience more of these two beautiful and remote islands. The Silver Cloud is a comfortable and sleek ship with all of the amenities of the larger ships (no casino and no shows though). Awesome specialty restaurants to choose from, especially our favorite, the Grille (hot rock cooking at its' best). The crew service was outstanding in every way. Our butler and attendant were especially attentive and provided the best service we have ever received on board any ship. We enjoyed our first use of the spa services and were pleasantly surprised by how nice the service was! We also wanted to suggest that the disembarkation tour of 5 hours, was not the best use of time for us. It was too long and too confined in the rustic artic buses with all of our carry on luggage. Also, restroom facilities were very limited, which made us uncomfortable. We were really spoiled being on the ship and had a rude awakening when we disemabarked. Definitely enjoyed all aspects of the cruise until the very end and when we did our post trip hotel. We had lunch on the 5 hour tour and then our flight was delayed so much that we missed dinner completely and about 50 of us arrived at the hotel both hungry and exhausted, only to find no food available. To top it off, someone neglected to arrange for our transportation to the airport (which was included). We had to find a way on our own and it made our last day of the trip terribly stressful. Even with the end of the trip not going so well, would we do it again? Absolutely! Loved the SilverSea Silver Cloud and it's crew a lot!! Thank you for asking our opinion. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see polar bears and we did (along with whales, walrus, seals, arctic fox, reindeer and puffins)! The wildlife and scenery surpassed expectations. Although our departure post of Kristiansund was not ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see polar bears and we did (along with whales, walrus, seals, arctic fox, reindeer and puffins)! The wildlife and scenery surpassed expectations. Although our departure post of Kristiansund was not easy to get to, it was a lovely Norwegian town. Embarkation was easy considering the entire passenger complement was only 200. The crew number was almost the same and each and every crew member was wonderful. There was a team of 28 young, enthusiastic scientists (botanists, zoologists, etc) aboard who manned the zodiacs, gave lectures and joined us for dinner. Although there was no "traditional" entertainment on board, the talks were just what we wanted. The casino was replaced by a stellar photography studio with a world renowned photographer. He helped us enhance our photos with instruction on camera handling and computer aided post production. SO valuable for all of us on the expedition cruise. Why else would we be on an expedition cruise except to photograph everything we encountered?! Each cabin had a butler who eagerly provided every service you could imagine. We have been on other Silversea voyages and the cabin on this small expedition ship was exactly the same as the cabin on their classic cruise ships. The room was very comfortable and well appointed with Bulgari bath products, thick bathrobes and a fully stocked mini fridge. The same high quality standards were met by the dining room(s) staff; I have some complicated dietary issues and all my needs were easily and thoroughly accommodated. The dining room options that were available were the same as on the classic cruise with identical quality in both service and offerings.The food in the breakfast and lunch buffets was just as good as in their intimate french restaurant. Of course, the highlight of the cruise was the zodiac trips to the glaciers and landing sites of Svalbard. This is what we all came for, and Silversea did not disappoint. Svalbard has encouraged responsible tourism. All ships are required to run on a strict schedule with respect to how many people are allowed ashore, how long you can stay in any area and how close you can get to the wildlife. Thus, we feel we had the perfect Arctic experience for us: luxury and adventure all in one fabulous trip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Loved the ship & the cruise. We had previously done an Antarctic cruise on the same ship and the Arctic cruise held a few surprises for us. But it was all great. The land excursions in the Arctic are VERY short. Sometimes as short ... Read More
Loved the ship & the cruise. We had previously done an Antarctic cruise on the same ship and the Arctic cruise held a few surprises for us. But it was all great. The land excursions in the Arctic are VERY short. Sometimes as short as a few hundred meters. We quickly learned that the reason was the potential for a Polar Bear attack. If it is foggy, then the zodiacs will not land since the bear guards can not see far enough to verify there are no polar bears. If they see a polar bear, then the zodiacs will not land. Instead you get to cruise about in the zodiac watching the polar bear. Okay! As in the Antarctic, the passengers are split into 4 zodiac groups. The zodiacs can hold 2 groups at a time with rotating staggered boarding times. So some days you get to sleep in (and then be rushed to get to dinner). We were lucky enough to see multiple polar bears. 2 with fresh kills. Our first bear encounter occurred shortly after our group land excursion was complete (we were sipping champagne on the top deck and getting ready to think about ordering lunch when the bear was reported). The 2 groups onshore were quickly evacuated to the zodiacs and spent the last half of their time slot watching a polar bear walk along the shore. They were brought back to the boat and our group reboarded the zodiacs to spend over an hour following the bear down the coast. The zodiac expedition crew radioed back to the ship to tell them that we would be very late returning and to delay lunch. Awesome. But not common. We started up north in Longyearbyen and ended in Tromso. This meant we had a lot of lectures at the end of the trip (during at sea days) telling us what we had already seen. Maybe we should have started at the south? Our week started out with the first excursion delayed and almost cancelled due to weather. We had fog & horizontal sleet / rain. Not nice. We then lucked out for the rest of the week with lots of sunshine. We only had 1 day cancelled due to weather conditions. You should normally expect at least 2 to 3 days (or more) cancelled due to weather. The unexpected great weather also meant we could eat lunch on the deck 5 times (sunshine, champagne, blankets & winter coats!) and we also did the Hot Rocks dinner on the rear deck 2 of the 3 nights it was offered. This trip we were upstairs which is really midships (our friend was down below on 4 and much closer to the front). This cabin included a few extras like free laundry (which i used several times) free wifi (i think the whole boat had it?) and daily canapes service (which we consumed with a bottle of champagne). We had a balcony which was great for checking the weather of looking around, but it was too cold to actually sit out there very long. The cabin was standard silver sea. No issues. A little worn around the edges but perfectly fine for people that were wearing waterproof clothes and lots of underwear. We enjoyed this as much as our Antarctic trip. But you need to remember this is an expedition cruise. The weather is often bad to terrible. This will affect your trip. After the Polar Bears & Walrus the highlight was the birds on Bear Island. My hat still needs a little more cleaning. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
The cover of the Silverseas brochure features a polar bear and when you book an Arctic cruise that's what you expect to find.Yes, we were privileged to sight a bear or two, but no we didn’t have crowds of bears queueing up on the ... Read More
The cover of the Silverseas brochure features a polar bear and when you book an Arctic cruise that's what you expect to find.Yes, we were privileged to sight a bear or two, but no we didn’t have crowds of bears queueing up on the deck all hours of the night and day. An Arctic cruise is more about the beauty of nature. The wildlife you meet on the way are a special treat. I would like to share a few precious Arctic memories which have enriched our lives. “The essence of our journey was encapsulated on Day Two. We were sitting in the zodiac surrounded by glaciers. “Let’s take a moment to listen to the silence” whispers Franz our guide. We put the present on pause, to exist in this special place in time where only glaciers can bear the brunt of history and gulls soaring overhead shriek with laughter at the funny humans in zodiacs below. Our Professor of Ornithology picks up a chunk of ice from the sea. “Have a taste of history”. We take turns to suck on the eons, zillions of years in a crystallized fossil, the water as fresh as the present, the ice as old as the stone age. That's what this cruise is all about. The privilege of experiencing a precious shrinking world like this with top expeditions leaders who understand and can share this rare beauty so generously with us. The Arctic Circle is defined by the tree line – a place where trees can no longer survive. It’s either snow, rock or tundra. We are cruising in Svalbard, an archipelago with the largest iceshelf in the Arctic. There are great tundra valleys in the centre and ice caps lie to the east. This morning we have a trek on the tundra which begins with a wet landing on the stones of a gravelly beach. We are well prepared thanks to the excellent packing list provided by SILVERSEAS online. Especially about the boots. A happy camper has comfy feet and our BOGS boots are a true blessing. They have perfect waterproof coats and the grip of a polar bear. We hike slowly up the hill, on tundra springy like new carpet. Luck has its way as we catch glimpses of the Arctic fox darting around playing cat and mouse with the deer. He’s the Arctic version of the zebra of the north, adapting his wardrobe according to the seasons - snowy white camouflage in winter, and two tone combination in summer to blend with rock and tundra. He’s difficult to photograph, not still for a moment, those black & white stripes flashing across the tundra, with long bushy tail sailing in the wind. He’s not called the long footed fox for nothing and mischievous like Brer Fox, teasing the poor reindeer trying to graze in peace in the valley. We laugh as swirling terns swoop down and outfox our fox; they circle his den and steal leftover crumbs. Then comes another beautiful sight on the ridge above. Two twisted antlers have slowly appeared as mother deer and daughter have raised their heads from morning tea in perfect pose for a picture. They’re been snacking their way along once icy ledges of slopes now covered in fresh moss of the season. They have an almost human stare with such large melting eyes; cleverly wide set for panoramic vision to allow them to watch out for unfriendly visitors. They’re incredibly bulky and cow-like with layers of fat to warm them for the winter. I’ve no idea how they put on weight with a diet of pure greens. On the downward climb we pass little gardens of arctic flowers in bloom in the shade of the rocks. A whole new world of geology is opened up to us crisscrossed with the crevasses of age. Smooth rocks worn down by centuries of glaciers in stunning patterns of orange and grey. The warm shades of the lichen on rock shine like precious stones, but they’re really algae symbiotic with fungi. When we reach the valley below we ford a tiny stream trickling between a carpet of jade moss. Nature has smiled upon us today with all the joys of spring. Sipping hot chocolate in the bar, we share the highlights of the day frozen in memory in I-Phones and cameras. I jot notes from fellow guests and friends to compare with “cruise critic”. Aren’t we all waiting to see that polar bear? True we all agree, but there’s so much more we didn’t expect to see. “We are truly privileged” says Anne, “to experience this pristine wilderness before it all disappears”. For me, it’s a sheer joy to breathe fresh air in deep and gaze out to a horizon that never seems to end. Our photos are better than we ever imagined. We share perfect images of “Kittiwakes” standing barefoot on ice. The light is magic here. Everything is so clearly defined, so even an amateur photographer like myself might churn out the pictures of a champ. Walruses are on the menu for Sunday afternoon. We zodiac ashore to see a gang of these Arctic relics who had swum to land for a spot of siesta. We smelt them as we approached the beach. A colony lay snoozing together in a heap on the sand like beached whales. They certainly cannot compete with George Clooney in the looks department. Each is rumpled portrait of buck teeth, whiskers, deep scars and blood shot eyes. And all sunbaking belly up! Who could imagine that these giant creatures are so sociable, all cuddled up on top of each other? The quiet is only broken by the occasional grunt when someone gives a good back scratch to the neighbour with a handy rear flipper. Back in the boat, Juan our Expeditions Leader, laughs ‘Many wrinkles allow for further girth expansion.’ That's kind of how we felt squeezing into our gear every day. Sampling the delights of the cuisine on board could possibly lead to a final version of a walrus within a few weeks! No cruise critique is complete without a word about the food. How can one possibly squeeze in three massive meals a day, when we’re so busy with outings twice daily in zodiac or on land. Only in the world of the midnight sun where time can be maximised in relentless hours of light. There can’t be anything more delightfully decadent than feasting on scones, jam and cream as the icebergs drift gently past your window. That was afternoon tea. Dinner.. well, not exactly “under the stars”. More like “under the sun.” But not Tuscan. And more light than sun. Silver Explorer offers a very cool “Hot Rock Barbeque” on the upper deck in frozen light. It’s Day Five and we’ve reached the Sea Ice. Perhaps not the warmest night to choose the ‘Hot Rocks but the best part is that we don’t have to dress for dinner. We huddle at the one surviving sheltered corner table in hooded parka and waterproof pants. The only ones to brave the cold tonight along with a hardy Swiss couple who seem oblivious to the biting wind roaring past our faces. The main challenge is to remove hands from warm gloves in order to cut the meat .The chunky slices are unable to decide whether to melt or freeze. It’s a bit like eating a melting ice-cream in reverse. Not a dining experience one would forget in a hurry. .. I pictured myself as a polar bear in this highly unpredictable environment. The word Arctic comes from the Greek word “Arcticus” which means Kingdom of the Bear. This iconic symbol of the north is embedded in our psyche as a symbol of cold. My mind is on him as I shiver over my supper. Day Six: We are 1,012 kms south of the North Pole and north of Spitsbergen. The strengthened hull of the Silver Explorer cuts through the ice with a grinding crunch and the view of the ice floes sailing past my cabin is brilliant. The entire team of eight Silverseas Expedition Leaders, marine biologists, glaciologists are on the bridge in top gear on the polar look out. We are in prime conditions. The pack ice has thickened enough for the polar bear to walk on, A lone seal appears ahead perched on an ice floe surveying his surroundings like the warm up band before the star of the show appears. The ice has formed the right kind of frozen platform for a bear to pounce on his prey. We are lined up on deck like an army of red and white soldiers in our arctic uniforms, binoculars fixated on the horizon, cameras ready in focus, listening out for an announcement by the captain when the star is to appear. “Quick! Focus your lens on two o'çlock” says Kit, our marine biologist excitedly. He’s out there, just to the right of that island. I freeze my fingers off in the struggle to master my new fancy binoculars. The minute I focus exactly on the bear, he moves. But he’s closer and adrenalin is racing. Now I see him! He clambers out of the water, rolls into an easy half somersault on the ice to shake excess water from his fur, and finally stands up to face his audience. His antics are hilarious. Black rimmed eyes stare straight at my lens. As if to say “what on earth are you doing here in my domain?”” I am in heaven. Then he moves. So in tune with his environment, nose in the air as he pads along the ice, one elbow in front of the other, on his way to the next victim of prey. Alone in his glacial world. The sheer ice carpet is the backdrop to his ever shrinking home. Then as suddenly as he faces us, he turns back and sinks behind the rock. But that’s only the first round of the show, ladies & gentlemen, until our appetiser is served. Just as we take the first spoonful from our steaming bowls of soup, the captain makes his second announcement. “The polar bear has stood up and is walking towards the ship!” There’s a stampede from the dining room, grabbing parkas, gloves & hats on the run. An eleven year old boy travelling with his grandparents lets out a hoot of sheer delight. Our bear is much closer now. When he finally stands up and moves from his lair, tears of joy spring to my eyes. Visible to the naked eye, we watch as he prowls carefully across the ice like a graceful ballerina, bulky yet steady, king of his Universe. He typically moves slowly, not wanting to heat up too much as it’s only minus 5 today. He’s been lying down on the ice to cool off and is now back on the hunt. In the presence of such majesty we are dwarfed as human beings. He stalks along with the dignified rump of a lord. Walks, sniffs and then waits with patience and stealth for seals to come up for breath. He needs 40 or 50 seals a year, and has all the time in the world to wait. And so have I as I watch how he moves. He’s top dog here and no one can challenge him. It’s a juggle between I-phone and camera, as he gets bigger and bigger. I just can’t get enough of him. And now he stares at me again, his black searching eyes right into my lens. The captain is careful for us not to overstay our welcome. To snatch a glimpse of this majestic animal on ice is to capture a unique moment in history, frozen in time. So most unfortunately are my fingers. Oh that I had fur growing on my paws like the bear! But it’s worth the ice and the wind, the frost and the fear, for one clear raw gaze of this magnificent creature. We are so privileged and fortunate to catch a glimpse of his world. Alas fast melting before our eyes. And now many months later I still feel that polar stare. Sea ice is dynamic and the next day the ice zone is too packed for us to sail back. But maybe we have gained more than just a sight of a polar bear. Maybe the thrill of such a privilege to view this starkly beautiful wilderness will help us refocus our lives to preserve one of the few remaining gifts of nature on this planet. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We travelled as a family of 5 on the Explorer for a 10 day cruise , from Tromso and ended on Svalbard. Our time in Tromso was independent of Silversea, its a small northern city. Small arctic museum which makes for a nice morning to ... Read More
We travelled as a family of 5 on the Explorer for a 10 day cruise , from Tromso and ended on Svalbard. Our time in Tromso was independent of Silversea, its a small northern city. Small arctic museum which makes for a nice morning to get acquainted with the arctic whilst waiting to board. There are two harbours at Tromso, and on our voyage the Silver Explorer was moored at the smaller , in twon harbour and not the main one that lies about 10 minutes out of town. This was no obvious from our reservation details and it was really by chance that we saw the ship as we walked around town earlier in the day. So do check that little detail, if you are leaving from Tromso. Boarding was very easy with minimal of fuss, it was like getting onto a friends boat. Registration formalities aside, we got into life on the Explorer. It is a small ship, 6000 tonnes, so those of you who have only done larger cruise ships, will need to get used to the cosy space. Having said that with a maximum of 100 odd guest, one never felt crowded onboard. Common areas are very nicely appointed, the suites were functional rather than luxurious, but then again this ship is built for exploring and safety. Service and maintenance of the cabins were as you would expect from Silversea. A nice touch was afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones in the cabin or in the lounge after a day onshore. Food was very good, and on a 11 day voyage with so few guests, we even were asked if we would like to order anything off menu, which was very efficiently done with 24 hours notice. The were 2 semi formal ( no jackets or ties needed) evenings when the captain hosted dinner, but otherwise it was a very very relaxing affair. There is just one restaurant, for all three meals, service was exceptional, all guests were addressed by name, wines were good and if you wanted something a bit more specials, the list was available at a small premium. The real highlight was the quality of lectures, nature related activities, the detail and safety of the on shore expeditions. Do note this is polar bear territory and so there are always bear guards around, and scout boats ahead of us before we are allowed on shore. We travel extensively as a family on expeditions ( Africa, Asia) and understand two things- first what a top team can do in terms of making one comfortable in remote distant locations, with limited access to new provision, supplies. This team on the Explorer really was on top from the hotel services, the cruise ship management, the food, the challenge of keeping 100 guests satisfied for 10 days in a remote ( and dangerous) location. Secondly, nature is nature- stuff happens, ice, wildlife danger, weather. That cannot be planned for and most important we felt safe travelling with this team. We are so happy we are going back with them too the Antarctic at the end of this year. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
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