Every now and then, there’s a piece of news that comes along that genuinely surprises and excites us all at the same time – and that’s very much the case this morning as ultra-luxury line Silversea announced that the 296-guest Silver Cloud will be joining the line’s luxury expedition brand, Silversea Expeditions, in November of 2017.
Silver Cloud was Silversea’s first-ever luxury ship when she was launched in 1994. Since then, she’s been substantially upgraded over the years and continues to sail luxury cruises around the world. But in 2017, she’ll be given a new mandate, a striking new black hull, and fully refurbished and refitted interiors to prepare her for her new life as one of the most luxurious expedition ships afloat.
To start with, her passenger complement will be reduced from 296 to 260 (or 200 in the Polar Regions), making her one of the most spacious ships afloat. The reduction is done in part to allow Silver Cloud to sail a full season of itineraries in the High Arctic and Antarctica. Silversea is a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), and adheres to each organization’s guidelines to ensure sustainable tourism. These include such measures as limiting the number of guests going ashore in certain areas of the Arctic and allowing for a broader range of Antarctic landing sites for expedition ships with no more than 200 guests.
Because of the often harsh conditions in the polar climates, Silver Cloud will be fully converted into an ice-class ship during an extensive refurbishment that will begin in August of 2017 and last until her entry into service in November of that year.
The decision to convert Silver Cloud into an expedition ship was made in part due to the overwhelming popularity of the Arctic and Antarctic voyages aboard Silversea’s first expedition vessel, Silver Explorer. Capable of carrying just 132 guests, these voyages routinely sell out well before departure.
“Silver Explorer’s polar expedition cruises have proven hugely popular with our guests,” said Enzo Visone, Silversea’s CEO. “By converting Silver Cloud into an ice-class ship for our expedition fleet, we will be better positioned to meet the increasing demand for comfortable adventure travel, particularly to the Arctic and Antarctica, places that are best explored by small ships specially equipped with ice-strengthened hulls.”
But it’s Silver Cloud’s pedigree as a luxury cruise yacht that makes her entry into the world of expedition cruising so exciting. She will be the only expedition ship to offer five different dining venues, including the Relais & Chateaux-influenced Le Champagne. Guest-to-crew ratios will be nearly one-to-one, and the onboard Expedition Team will feature one team member guiding no more than 12 guests apiece. Silver Cloud will also be outfitted with 18 Zodiac rafts for up-close exploration in some of the world’s most spectacular (and special) regions.
When she enters service under the Silversea Expeditions banner, she will become the line’s fourth dedicated expedition ship. Including the aforementioned Silver Explorer, Silversea’s expedition fleet also includes the 120-guest Silver Discoverer and the 100-guest Silver Galapagos. Silver Discoverer makes her home in the Pacific, where she sails Australia’s magnificent Kimberley Coast, Southeast Asia, Japan, Alaska, and Russia’s Far East. Silver Galapagos sails year-round to the Galapagos Islands, operating two separate weeklong itineraries from Baltra that can be combined with overland cruisetours to Ecuador and Peru.
Click here to read Aaron’s report from Silver Galapagos in the Galapagos Islands, or his journey aboard Silver Discoverer in Australia’s Kimberley Coast
Click here to read Ralph’s report from Silver Discoverer in Russia’s Far East
Silver Cloud’s full 2017-18 schedule has yet to be released, but Silversea promises the itineraries will be released “in the coming days.” The ship’s transfer to expedition cruising won’t have any impact on overall guest capacity for the “classic” fleet: Silver Muse, Silversea’s under-construction flagship, is scheduled to debut for the line in the Spring of 2017.