Silver Explorer Ship Review
Built in 1989 as World Discoverer II of now-defunct Society Expeditions, this 6,072-ton, 132-guest vessel was acquired by Silversea in 2007 and put through a multi-million-dollar renovation and upgrade before emerging in 2008 as the luxurious Prince Albert II. Silversea changed her name to Silver Explorer in April 2011.
A real expedition ship with a Lloyd’s Register 1A ice-rated hull, Silver Explorer is also a first-class luxury vessel offering all the finesse and good taste for which Silversea is known. Sailing Antarctic expeditions November through March and Arctic expeditions June through August, with a series of repositioning legs through Central/South America and Europe/Africa in between, the vessel is the top choice for those who wish to visit geographic extremes without sacrificing one iota of comfort.
Like all real expedition vessels, Silver Explorer is outfitted to give its passengers an up-close view into the world outside. Zodiac landing boats are employed to ferry passengers ashore and take them out for closer views of wildlife and geographic features, and all such off-vessel trips are accompanied by members of the typically six-person expedition team, comprised of naturalists, geologists, biologists, historians, ornithologists, and the like. Team members also present numerous onboard lectures, along with a daily evening debrief and preview of the next day’s activities. Cabins are outfitted with binoculars for nature- and wildlife viewing from on board, and there’s a high-powered telescope in the Observation Lounge if you need to focus in closer.
Lectures and other onboard activities (which might include slideshows and other destination-specific activities, or completely unrelated ones like cooking demos, wine tastings, afternoon teas, dancing, etc.) are presented in three public rooms: the Observation Lounge on Deck 6, which provides great views forward over the bow; the Panorama Lounge on Deck 5, with views over the stern; and the Theatre, which provides no views at all save what’s on stage.
Other public rooms include a library/Internet center stocked with books on the ship’s destinations; the woody, inviting Connoisseur’s Corner for relaxing with a cognac and/or cigar; and a changing room where you can doff your boots and expedition togs and slip into something more comfortable. The Bridge is also a de-facto public room, open for visits and chats with the captain and crew.
For physical culture, Silver Explorer has several options: a tiny, cabin-size fitness center on Deck 4, stocked with a treadmill, bike, elliptical trainer, weight machine, and dumbbells; a single treatment room for massages and other spa treatments; sauna and steam rooms; a tiny beauty salon; and two on-deck hot tubs.
All three meals are served on fine china in the ship’s elegant, window-rimmed dining room, The Restaurant. Breakfasts and lunch are buffet-style, though you can also order from a waiter if you choose.
Dinner, as aboard Silversea’s more traditional cruise ships, is a sumptuous feast with multiple courses served by skilled waitstaff. Menus feature signature dishes created for Silversea by the chefs of Relais & Châteaux; complementary wine flows freely; and expedition team members dine with passengers, providing a nice kick to the dinner conversation.
Other dining options include a continental breakfast in the Observation Lounge; lunch at the outdoor grill; and room service, which gives you the option of having a full lunch or dinner served course-by-course in your stateroom (during Restaurant hours) or ordering off the regular room-service menu.
Accommodations on Silver Explorer range from the smallish, 154- to 163-square-foot Adventurer Class staterooms (with two portholes for views) to the 675-square-foot Grand Suites, the latter with forward-facing views, a teak veranda, separate bedroom and living room, and marble bathroom. The vast majority of staterooms aboard are View, Vista, and Veranda staterooms, all virtually identical at 230 square feet, with the only difference being the presence or absence of a private balcony. All accommodations on board come with butler service, a bar setup stocked with your preferences, wifi access, European bath amenities, fine linens and down duvets, and a choice of nine types of pillows.
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