20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We choose SilverSea to experience a luxury expedition. The staff and the Arctic lived up to reputation but the ship was a huge disappointment. See our review of the cabin. The quality of food was excellent however to have hot dishes ... Read More
We choose SilverSea to experience a luxury expedition. The staff and the Arctic lived up to reputation but the ship was a huge disappointment. See our review of the cabin. The quality of food was excellent however to have hot dishes served luke warm from the buffet at breakfast and lunch was a complete turn off. By the end of the week I was reduced to eating from the pasta station as this was the only food hot. Dinner service was dependent on the side of the restaurant you were seated. Waiting over 30 minutes from the end of main course until dessert arrived is not acceptable. The next night the meal service took over 3 hours to be completed. The public rooms are tired with the door to the observation lounge half falling off and cracking window ledges in the theater. The smoking policy makes no sense. With the smoking room attached to the panorama lounge every time the door is opened the room fills with the smell of cigarettes. The staff serve the smokers and their uniforms absorb the smoke. That made afternoon tea and bar service totally out of bounds. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
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
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This was our first cruise and we were not interested in boarding a huge vessel with multiple restaurants, cinemas etc. We were interested in being able to disembark and actually experience the landscape rather than just see it. This ship ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we were not interested in boarding a huge vessel with multiple restaurants, cinemas etc. We were interested in being able to disembark and actually experience the landscape rather than just see it. This ship takes a max of 148 passengers. We booked a category 5 cabin which had a verandah - we were lucky enough to stand there and photograph a polar bear walking along the near shoreline, as well as multiple opportunities for viewing the ice pack, glaciers, landscape etc. We were able to disembark most days. This process went very smoothly as we were generally divided into three groups - "long walks", "medium walks" and "short walks". Each walk was described in terms of length, elevation, terrain etc so that you could make an informed choice. "Long walkers" disembarked first via small zodiacs (approx 8-10 people on each), and there was very little waiting required. Those on short walks would have had to wait the longest, but each group was called 15 minutes before disembarkation so you could use your time in other ways, rather than having to hang around the disembarkation room. There was also a couple of opportunities for zodiac excursions for those less inclined to walk or to see specific wildlife (for us that meant a "haul out" of walruses which were sleeping on a beach) or glacier walls. On several days, there were both morning and afternoon "expeditions" (walks, kayaking, zodiac excursions), all optional of course. The ice conditions were such that we actually managed to circumnavigate Spitsbergen and visit some of the outlying islands in the archipelago. We were lucky enough to see 5 polar bears in relatively close proximity to the ship and a couple more at huge distance. Also saw seals, blue whales, narwhales, fin whales, walruses, arctic foxes and more birds than I can label. Although this was marketed as a "Land of the Ice bear" cruise, you are really in the lap of the gods when it comes to wildlife actually appearing. However, even if we had seen nothing but the marvellous birdlife, just the scenery and the sheer exhilaration of walking on one of the remotest spots on the planet would have been enough for me. The ship operates an "open bridge" policy 24 hours a day so you can go and check out the view from there. One night the captain allowed the ship to meander along a wall of cliffs, covered in nesting sea birds. Quite a few of us piled into the bridge to watch this, and were rewarded with the sight of four arctic foxes patrolling the lower reaches of the cliffs, looking for fallen eggs and fledglings. I wish I had used the bridge more often during our time - the atmosphere was great ! Other public spaces were the library - almost fully glassed walls so the views were spectacular, the lounge (for presentations, socialising etc), the bistro (a more casual dining area with the same food as the main restaurant) and the main restaurant. The food was excellent, with plenty of healthy choices. Buffet style for breakfast and lunch (although you could order eggs any way for breakfast), and a la carte for dinner. Table sizes ranged from 4 to 8, and you could choose your own table at any meal. The bistro area had more two seater tables, which appealed to the more introverted. The buffet had two sides to it, so any queues moved very quickly. Alcohol was free on the first night and last night, due to the Captain's welcome cocktail evening and farewell cocktail evening. Otherwise, it was reasonably priced and certainly much cheaper than Norway ! Service was top notch, with all the waiters learning your name within 24 hours. There were a number of presentations on subjects ranging from sustainability, wildlife, photography etc. And there was a daily "recap" in the lounge each evening before dinner, where the day's highlights were presented, together with a selection of photographs and videos. We didn't attend all of these - just according to whim/mood. Passengers were mainly American, with a small handful of international folk (like us !). Demographic mainly older/retired. No tour groups either, which is great as some groups can cause a bit of havoc due to differing cultural values/practices. We were accompanied by half a dozen naturalists, some of whom were also expert photographers. They joined us at mealtimes and were a very diverse but engaging and friendly group of people. Laundry was very reasonably priced, and there was also a retractable washing line in the ensuite bathrooms so you could wash out smalls etc, if you wanted to. The trip officially starts in Oslo and the day before embarkation there were bus trips to a couple of sights in Oslo - we chose to avoid those, not being big fans of escorted bus tours. Similarly, after disembarkation we had a day to kill in Longyearbyen, the port on Spitsbergen, whilst waiting for our charter flight to arrive with the next batch of passengers. The entertainment was a bus tour around the local sights (which are limited !), and a buffet lunch in a hotel which seems to deal mainly with large tour groups - that was a bit of a rugby scrum and something I would normally avoid like the plague. This is a trip I would do again in a heart beat and I think we have now become converts to the cult of Lindblad/national Geographic ! Truly fabulous voyage. Read Less

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