Cruise Reviews, Ship Reviews by The Avid Cruiser http://www.avidcruiser.com helping you make informed vacation decisions through cruise reviews, ship reviews and destination reviews, personal, passionate, informed and inspired Thu, 14 Aug 2014 06:44:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 On Silver Discoverer: Better Than Summer Camp, Teens & Adults Learn To Master Photography While Exploring http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/14/on-silver-discoverer-better-than-summer-camp-teens-adults-learn-to-master-photography-while-exploring/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/14/on-silver-discoverer-better-than-summer-camp-teens-adults-learn-to-master-photography-while-exploring/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 06:29:25 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41117 As we explored Russia’s Far East for the past two weeks on Silver Discoverer, acclaimed photographer and film-maker David Wright hosted photography workshops for guests. One of two teens on our voyage, my 17-year-old son took advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as possible from the award-winning National Geographic and BBC film-maker. To... [Read More]

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As we explored Russia’s Far East for the past two weeks on Silver Discoverer, acclaimed photographer and film-maker David Wright hosted photography workshops for guests. One of two teens on our voyage, my 17-year-old son took advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as possible from the award-winning National Geographic and BBC film-maker. To learn more about David’s work, visit Expedition Workshops.

We’ll be posting daily “video vignettes” on Live Voyage Reports and Avid Cruiser— or follow along using your favorite social media portal.

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On Silver Discoverer In Russia’s Far East: In Pursuit Of The Reindeer Herders http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/12/on-silver-discoverer-in-russias-far-east-in-pursuit-of-the-reindeer-herders/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/12/on-silver-discoverer-in-russias-far-east-in-pursuit-of-the-reindeer-herders/#respond Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:49:28 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41114 We couldn’t have asked for a more diverse or event-filled day on Silver Discoverer. Our morning started off with a hike through a glacial valley, past bubbling streams, and across Arctic tundra, to a lake on a day warm enough to merit a splash. The landscape – and the day were absolutely stunning. We returned... [Read More]

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We couldn’t have asked for a more diverse or event-filled day on Silver Discoverer. Our morning started off with a hike through a glacial valley, past bubbling streams, and across Arctic tundra, to a lake on a day warm enough to merit a splash. The landscape – and the day were absolutely stunning.

We returned to Silver Discoverer for lunch, and for a few brave souls, water skiing on a flat, but cold, sea. Alex and I boarded a Zodiac with Sergey Frolov, whose company handles operations in Russia’s Far East for Silver Discoverer. He’s a local who knows the lay of the land.

Suddenly, a surprise. Check out the video.

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In Russia’s Far East On Silver Discoverer: Talking Photography With Richard Sidey http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/11/in-russias-far-east-on-silver-discoverer-talking-photography-with-richard-sidey/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/11/in-russias-far-east-on-silver-discoverer-talking-photography-with-richard-sidey/#respond Mon, 11 Aug 2014 16:22:39 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41111 Today we set out on Zodiacs in pursuit of one of nature’s most majestic and feared beasts: the mighty bear. We saw more than 20 before the day ended, including mothers and cubs. They tackled terrain that would be unimaginable for two-footed creatures like us. We did hike, however, sticking together in groups, ever mindful... [Read More]

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Today we set out on Zodiacs in pursuit of one of nature’s most majestic and feared beasts: the mighty bear. We saw more than 20 before the day ended, including mothers and cubs. They tackled terrain that would be unimaginable for two-footed creatures like us.

We did hike, however, sticking together in groups, ever mindful of the bears. It’s been a great trip, traveling with my son Alex. We climbed to a hilltop for some good photos, and I took the opportunity to talk with one of the best photographers on our voyage: Silver Discoverer’s staff photographer, Richard Sidey.

Check out the video for some great photos of our voyage so far.

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On Silver Discoverer: Visiting Remote Tymlat Village, Plus, An Interview With Conrad Combrink http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/10/on-silver-discoverer-visiting-remote-tymlat-village-plus-an-interview-with-conrad-combrink/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/10/on-silver-discoverer-visiting-remote-tymlat-village-plus-an-interview-with-conrad-combrink/#respond Sun, 10 Aug 2014 05:55:33 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41087 On Silver Discoverer, Cruising Russia’s Far East There are only a little more than 8,000 Koriak people in the world. A handful of them greeted us when our zodiacs pulled ashore this afternoon in Tymlat Village.  Before entering the village, our spirits were cleansed through a ritual that required us to place a blade of... [Read More]

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On Silver Discoverer, Cruising Russia’s Far East

There are only a little more than 8,000 Koriak people in the world. A handful of them greeted us when our zodiacs pulled ashore this afternoon in Tymlat Village. 

Before entering the village, our spirits were cleansed through a ritual that required us to place a blade of grass on a fire. After that, we were lightly switched as we made our way uphill to the community.

The Koriaks practice a form of shamanism, which we witnessed in some of the ceremonies that we saw today. Their traditional clothing came from reindeer hides, and in fact, the coastal Koriak are close cousins to the nomadic reindeer herders. 

The tribal people were curious and welcoming and they didn’t mind at all when we asked to photograph their fantastic faces. 

While a few Koriaks prepared a fish stew for our group, I sat down with Conrad Combrink, director of Silversea Expeditions, to talk about our voyage so far. Check out the video.

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Day 6 On Silver Discoverer In Russia’s Far East – Visiting An Abandoned Whaling Village & A Story Of Romeo Sans Juliet http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/09/day-6-on-silver-discoverer-in-russias-far-east-visiting-an-abandoned-whaling-village-a-story-of-romeo-sans-juliet/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/09/day-6-on-silver-discoverer-in-russias-far-east-visiting-an-abandoned-whaling-village-a-story-of-romeo-sans-juliet/#respond Sat, 09 Aug 2014 20:03:18 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41083 Silver Discoverer: Visiting An Abandoned Whaling Village & Our Butler & Room Attendant from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo. We knew little about the partially submerged vessel that we were approaching through the mist. The symbol on the smokestack indicated that it was a Soviet era ship. Why it was abandoned remains a mystery.   We... [Read More]

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Silver Discoverer: Visiting An Abandoned Whaling Village & Our Butler & Room Attendant from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo.

We knew little about the partially submerged vessel that we were approaching through the mist. The symbol on the smokestack indicated that it was a Soviet era ship. Why it was abandoned remains a mystery.
 
We were exploring Lavrova Bay, making landfall to walk through an abandoned fishing station. The derelict buildings were hauntingly beautiful, remnants of a past revealed to us on our journey through Russia’s Far East.
 
We returned to Silver Discoverer to enjoy canapés delivered to our suite by our butler. While he shares his name with the ill-fated Italian lover, Romeo is from the Philippines. He takes care of us each day, delivering fresh fruits to our suite, stocking our mini-bar, cleaning our eyeglasses and, when we’re too tired to go to the restaurant, serving us dinner in the comfort of our suite.
 
There is no Juliet, but there is a Maria, our room attendant. She is also from the Philippines. She beams with her warm smile and her pleasant demeanor, and on one evening, she even sang us a song.

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Shoreside Exploring On Silver Discoverer In Russia’s Far East http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/08/41079/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/08/41079/#respond Fri, 08 Aug 2014 09:34:08 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41079 Silver Discoverer Shoreside Exploring In Russia’s Far East from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo. This morning, we cruised into Glubokaya Bay where we discovered a beautiful beach and made our way ashore. We assembled in small groups to learn more about this expansive glacial valley here in the vast Kamchatka region. We broke off into smaller... [Read More]

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Silver Discoverer Shoreside Exploring In Russia’s Far East from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo.

This morning, we cruised into Glubokaya Bay where we discovered a beautiful beach and made our way ashore.

We assembled in small groups to learn more about this expansive glacial valley here in the vast Kamchatka region. We broke off into smaller groups with expedition leaders who informed us about the history and geology of what we were seeing.m

It was a stunningly beautiful day, and after an hour or so ashore we made our way back to Silver Discoverer to have lunch while the ship repositioned. We boarded Zodiacs once again for an afternoon of exploring.

Our second outing was exploration in its truest form because we were not certain where we would step ashore.

After a few attempts, we spotted a beach and zipped along on the Zodiacs to reach it. There was plenty of evidence of bear activity on the beach — and for good reason: the water here was thick with salmon.

We spent 15 minutes or so observing the pinkish salmon. The beautiful creatures were in the last stages of their lives here.

We proceeded uphill along well-worn bear tracks, pausing with the expedition leaders to appreciate the wildflowers and other plants along the way.

It was humbling to think that we were walking on a path that had been treaded not by humans but by majestic bears.

Continuing up the paths made by bears, we sought to fully absorb the beauty of what we were witnessing. After 15 minutes or so observing a landscape that few humans have seen before we boarded our Zodiacs once again to head back to Silver Discoverer after an inspiring day of exploring ashore.

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Walrus Watching, Beach Campfires & Rosy Sunsets http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/06/walrus-watching-beach-campfires-rosy-sunsets/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/06/walrus-watching-beach-campfires-rosy-sunsets/#respond Wed, 06 Aug 2014 13:55:00 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41076 This morning, we boarded Zodiacs in pursuit of marine life. It wasn’t long before we found our bounty: a haulout of walruses. We pulled up to a respectful distance to observe the marine creatures in their native habitat — at sea. We sat quietly for 30 minutes or more, bobbing around in the zodiacs and taking... [Read More]

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This morning, we boarded Zodiacs in pursuit of marine life. It wasn’t long before we found our bounty: a haulout of walruses.

We pulled up to a respectful distance to observe the marine creatures in their native habitat — at sea.

We sat quietly for 30 minutes or more, bobbing around in the zodiacs and taking in this spectacle of nature. We took turns jockeying for positions to best frame our cameras on these wondruous sea creatures.

Afterward, we zipped along to land the flat-bottom zodiacs on a nearby beach. Taking precautions to remain together as a group — this was bear country, after all — we hiked alongside a stream.

Silver Discoverer’s expedition leaders showed us a few things that we might have otherwise overlooked: dwarf bluberries, bees burrowed in the earth, edible plants. The valley was teeming with life for those who knew where to look for it.

In the evening, we boarded the Zodiacs again for a sunset cruise to another desolate beach, where we pulled ashore and were greeted by glasses of champagne and a blazing campfire.

Before sitting down to enjoy either, we took a short hike up a mountain to snap a few photos of the sunset from high above. The lay of the land was simply stunning.

The fact was not lost on me — or on the others who I spoke with — that in this busy and bustling world, we were spending an idyllic evening in one of the most remote regions of the planet. As the sky darkened, we made our way back down to the beach.

The campfire crackled, and one of our fellow passengers played old-time favorites on the mandolin. Inspired by the music, a few passengers joined in to perform the melodies.

The sense of fellowship capped an evening — and a day — that none of us are likely to soon forget — a perfect ending to a perfect day on Silver Discoverer.

We’ll be posting daily “video vignettes” on Live Voyage Reports and Avid Cruiser— or follow along using your favorite social media portal.

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Day 3 – Our Medallion Suite On Silver Discoverer http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/05/day-3-our-medallion-suite-on-silver-discoverer/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/05/day-3-our-medallion-suite-on-silver-discoverer/#respond Tue, 05 Aug 2014 08:57:53 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41073 Our Home For Two Weeks: Silver Discoverer’s Medallion Suite from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo. Our home for our two-week expedition is the most spacious suite on Silver Discoverer. Measuring 408 square feet, including the 27-square-foot balcony, the Medallion Suite features a living room with a sitting area, twin or queen-sized bed and complimentary backpacks and... [Read More]

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Our Home For Two Weeks: Silver Discoverer’s Medallion Suite from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo.

Our home for our two-week expedition is the most spacious suite on Silver Discoverer. Measuring 408 square feet, including the 27-square-foot balcony, the Medallion Suite features a living room with a sitting area, twin or queen-sized bed and complimentary backpacks and parkas, two flat-panel televisions with on-demand movies, and a large marbled bathroom with a walk-in shower. Laundry and pressing is included for guests occupying the Medallion Suite. If it’s living space that you appreciate on your expedition, then you’re going to like the Medallion Suite.

Follow our voyage through Russia’s Far East on Live Voyage Reports.

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Silver Discoverer: Provideniya Warmly Welcomes Us Into Russia http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/04/silver-discoverer-provideniya-warmly-welcomes-us/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/04/silver-discoverer-provideniya-warmly-welcomes-us/#respond Mon, 04 Aug 2014 15:15:00 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41067 Silver Discoverer: Provideniya Warmly Welcomes Us from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo. Traveling more than 200 nautical miles from Nome, Alaska, Silver Discoverer reached Provideniya, Russia, shortly before noon. As required, I showed my passport and visa to a uniformed border control guard, who stood at the top of the vessel’s gangway. The rosy-cheeked young man... [Read More]

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Silver Discoverer: Provideniya Warmly Welcomes Us from Ralph Grizzle on Vimeo.

Traveling more than 200 nautical miles from Nome, Alaska, Silver Discoverer reached Provideniya, Russia, shortly before noon. As required, I showed my passport and visa to a uniformed border control guard, who stood at the top of the vessel’s gangway. The rosy-cheeked young man flipped through my passport, inspecting the Russian visa as if he were reading the fine print, then holding up the booklet to compare my photograph with my face. He handed back my passport and smiled, motioning me down the gangway. Welcome to Russia.

Read the full story and see a video here at this link.

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Silver Discoverer Day 1 – Boarding In Nome To Cruise Russia’s Far East http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/03/silver-discoverer-day-1-boarding-nome-cruise-russias-far-east/ http://www.avidcruiser.com/2014/08/03/silver-discoverer-day-1-boarding-nome-cruise-russias-far-east/#respond Sun, 03 Aug 2014 06:40:58 +0000 http://www.avidcruiser.com/?p=41059 Day 1 — Nome, Alaska, U.S.A. Once all guests have embarked, we depart on our spectacular 15-day, Great Northern Expedition. This afternoon we will be introduced to our expedition team and participate in the safety drill before setting sail. It is 2 a.m. Some things are clear. Others remain shrouded in mystery. Of those things... [Read More]

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Day 1 — Nome, Alaska, U.S.A. Once all guests have embarked, we depart on our spectacular 15-day, Great Northern Expedition. This afternoon we will be introduced to our expedition team and participate in the safety drill before setting sail.

It is 2 a.m. Some things are clear. Others remain shrouded in mystery.

Of those things that are clear.

1. We left Nome, Alaska hours ago — precisely how many hours I cannot say. I am comatose, having traveled 2.5 days to get to Nome (from where, I will tell you in a moment).

2. We are sailing across the Bering Sea to Provideniya, Russia. I know nothing of this outpost, except that it is situated a little more than 200 nautical miles from Nome.

3. I am on Silver Discoverer, Silversea Cruises’ third expedition vessel. The other two are Silver Explorer, which I have experienced, and Silver Galapagos, which I have not.

4. My habitat is a Medallion Suite, which I am sharing with my 17-year-old son Alex. The suite is large, with a living room and bedroom, and an expansive entry area. We have a couch, a desk, a coffee table that can be converted for dining, a small veranda with two chairs and a round table.

5. Our suite has two flat-panel televisions with free on-demand movies.

6. Our butler’s name is Romeo. While he possesses the name of the ill-fated Italian lover, Romeo is, in fact, from the Philippines. There is no Juliet, but there is a Maria, our room attendant. She is also from the Philippines. She beams with her warm smile and pleasant demeanor.

7. The middle buttons on the top rows of the two phones in our suite summon Romeo, who will come to our suite for anything that we need. It is a luxury that we do not take for granted.

8. As needed, Romeo will stock our mini-bar with sodas, beer and mineral water. He will bring us canapés each day at 4. He takes care of our laundry, complimentary in our category suite. He will assist with dinner reservations at the Grill, the outdoor dining venue, and he will fill our water bottles before each excursion. We barely need to think. Romeo is our Google. We express a query and he provides the solution.

9. I am exhausted (see “thing that are clear” number one). Alex and I ordered shrimp cocktails and steaks for dinner. Romeo created a dining room experience in our suite, and it was relaxing to be able to dine in.

10. At 10 p.m., I could no longer keep my eyes open, and I fell asleep in bed while Alex stretched out in the living room across the couch to watch a movie.

Of those things that are foggy.

1. I awaken and look at my phone. The time is 2 a.m. I get up, walk into the living room. The clock there shows 10 p.m., the same time that I went to bed last night, yet, I later learn, it is no longer July 31. It is August 2. The first of August vanished, washed away in Silver Discoverer’s wake when we crossed the International Date Line.

2. I step outside onto the veranda. An opaque sky blends with the gently undulating sea. They blend in a way that obscures the horizon. We are in motion but it seems that we are suspended in time.

3. I return to bed at 4 a.m. ship’s time and sleep for two hours. At 6, I awaken again and trot to the Explorer Lounge on Deck 4 for “Early Riser’s Danish and Coffee.” A small group, also sleepless, sits sipping coffee and talking quietly. I join them for coffee and light conversation.

4. I am not certain how many days ago I left Portugal. I had been cruising there on the Douro River. I know it was Tuesday when I left, but how many days ago was that? It is August 2, and I left Portugal on July 29 — five days ago. Yet only 96 hours have passed, the equivalent of four days.

5. I do not know what to expect after we cross the Bering Sea. What does this strange land on the other side of the mist-white sky hold for us? Silversea’s head of expeditions tells me that it is an intriguing region of the world. He speaks enthusiastically of the landscape, the nature and the cultures up in this remote region of our planet. I need to be convinced that this is a place worth the effort that it takes to get here.

I walk outside and head up to the top deck. The sun has brightened the sky, but visibility is still obscured. It is as if we are parting the curtains to emerge in a place that is strange and dreamlike — at least for now.

About Our Voyage On Silver Discoverer

This week, I’m traveling in Russia’s Far East on Silver Discoverer. Come along to explore exotic cultures and stunning landscapes in the luxurious style that Silversea Expeditions delivers. Join me on a journey where few ships have sailed before in one of the world’s most remote regions. We’ll be posting daily “video vignettes” on Live Voyage Reports and Avid Cruiser— or follow along using your favorite social media portal.

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