Silversea’s Silver Cloud to Join Expedition Fleet in 2017

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 as Expedition vessel. Luxury line Silversea has announced a full conversion of Silver Cloud into an ice-class expedition ship in 2017. Rendering courtesy of Silversea
Silver Cloud as Expedition vessel. Luxury line Silversea has announced a full conversion of Silver Cloud into an ice-class expedition ship in 2017. Rendering courtesy of Silversea

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.

There's No Getting Around It (or Them): Penguins are everywhere in Antarctica! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Ice-strengthened hulls are essential in Antarctica…for obvious reasons. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

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.”

Click here to read Ralph’s reports from Antarctica and Greenland aboard Silver Explorer

Click here to read Aaron’s report from Arctic Svalbard aboard Silver Explorer

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.

The Relais & Chateaux-inspired Le Champagne will be one of the most luxurious dining venues on an expedition ship. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders
The Relais & Chateaux-inspired Le Champagne will be one of the most luxurious dining venues on an expedition ship. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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 Discoverer off Australia's Kimberley Coast. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Discoverer off Australia’s Kimberley Coast. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Guests embark Silver Galapagos after an afternoon of exploration at Punta Espinoza, Galapagos. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Guests embark Silver Galapagos after an afternoon of exploration at Punta Espinoza, Galapagos. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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.

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4 Comments

  • It will be interesting to see how exactly they will go about ice-strengthening the ship, and to how high an ice class. From what I have been told by people who should know what they’re talking about, refitting a ship that wasn’t designed for ice class to start with into 1A/1A Super or the higher Arctic classes is extremely expensive and not even always possible. Of course, many polar cruise shps are only classed to 1C, but even a conversion to that isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

    Reply
    • Likewise. I am curious how they intend to do this and have asked Silversea this question. No reply to date. From my understanding, a ship is either ice class or it is not. I imagine the engineering required to upgrade a hull would entail a total rebuild, so I’ve asked them to explain what they mean exactly by ‘upgrade’.

      Reply
      • I’m not an expert on the subject, but from what I have been told by people who know these things it’s my understanding that there are ships out there – usually ferries – that are partially ice class compliant, or that have been built with conversion to ice class in mind. I don’t know if the Silver Cloud has been built like this – I strongly doubt it. As far as I understand, the conversion should require putting in additional scantlings, as well as new rudders, propellers and propeller shafts. Possibly also thicker hull plates. Doable, but expensive.

        Reply
  • I think this is good news. We sincerely hope the increasing capacity for Silverseas’ expedition-style cruises will result in the line’s expedition cruising prices coming down. Although we’re dedicated Silverseas’ passengers and would love to take some polar cruises, we can’t justify the typically twice-as-high expedition rates that currently dominate Silverseas’ rate charts.

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