Silver Cloud Expedition Ship Review

Silver Cloud Expedition, docked in Puerto Madryn, Argentina on her inaugural Antarctic cruise. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Silver Cloud’s Second Act: Polar Expedition Vessel

Launched in 1994 as Silversea’s very first ship, the 16,800-ton Silver Cloud was converted into a proper ice-strengthened expedition vessel during a massive drydock in Malta between August and October of 2017.

As part of this work, she recieved an ice-strengthened hull, complete with a new black-and-red livery; additional spacious Silver Suites; a new forward-facing Observation Lounge; a fleet of Zodiac rafts; a specialized Mud Room for storing boots, jackets and other expedition gear; and the transformation of the current show lounge into a bi-level lecture hall and briefing room.

Originally built, Silver Cloud could carry 296 guests. With this late 2017 refit, that capacity has been reduced to 254, and just 200 when operating in the world’s Polar regions.

As part of this refit, Silver Cloud also had substantial upgrades made to her existing public rooms and suites, most of which were altered to better maintain a color and decor palette similar to that found aboard the recently-launched Silver Muse. While most public rooms received a fairly substantial sprucing-up, some areas – like Dolce Vita (formerly The Bar) and La Dame (the former Le Champagne) are essentially as they were prior to the refit. That’s not a bad thing; we liked the Silver Spirit-esque decor that was added to The Bar, now Dolce Vita, during her 2012 refit.

 See Silversea’s Silver Cloud to Join Expedition Fleet in 2017

Silver Cloud Public Rooms

The Venetian Lounge has been turned into the Explorer Lounge: a lecture hall and expedition briefing room. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

In the stern on Decks 5 and 6, the two-story Explorer Lounge has tiered seating and a profusion of cozy seating clusters. Formerly the Venetian Lounge, this former show theatre now functions as a lecture hall and expedition briefing room. Noteworthy features include a new, brighter decor that better mimics that found aboard the Silver Muse and three brand-new digital projection systems, but seating options are awkward and uneven, and the design of the lounge makes it difficult to get out of the banquettes once you’re seated. Since the individual chairs in front of the banquettes are actually higher than the soft couches, sightlines are an issue when the lounge is full.

Just outside the show lounge on Deck 5, Dolce Vita, formerly The Bar, is a social hub where a band or DJ provides music for dancing, plus activities during the day. All beverages are served at no additional cost throughout the Silversea fleet, and though it has a new name, Dolce Vita still retains its Silver Spirit-esque decor added during a 2012 refit (and that’s just fine with us).

Renamed Dolce Vita, the lounge formerly known as The Bar still retains its classy Silver Spirit-esque decor. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Adjacent to Dolce Vita is the new Photo Academy, which takes the space formerly occupied by the long-suffering Casino. The Photo Studio was just barely completed when we took these photos, but classes are offered here on everything from Social Media to Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom techniques. Kudos to Silversea for adding both Mac and PC workstations to make guests feel right at home. These masterclass workshops with the ship’s onboard Photo Specialist come at an additional cost, ranging from about $75 for a session on Social Media to the option to charter your own Zodiac for a photo-expedition for up to six people for $2800.

Improve your photography skills at the Photo Academy on Deck 5. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

A card room and Internet center are located above on Deck 6, while Deck 8 offers the Panorama Lounge, which by day serves up a continental breakfast, cocktails, and phenomenal sea views (from comfortable seating inside or outside), and by night transforms into an intimate nightspot for dancing and piano music. Afternoon diversions like Team Trivia are held here, but afternoon tea has been moved downstairs to La Terrazza, for those who are curious.

The Panorama Lounge, Deck 8, facing aft. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Furniture and decor have been extensively refreshed, and the room has thankfully lost most of its 1990’s-era glitz. New chairs and couches are comfortable, and a full menu of bar specialties (always free-of-charge) makes this a great spot to cozy up with a book and a drink.

Just next door, the Humidor is a dark, cozy spot for cognac and cigars, with buttery leather armchairs.

The Humidor. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

One very new addition to Silver Cloud is Tor’s Observation Lounge. Named after Viking Cruises’ chairman, Torstein Hagen, Tor’s is an entirely new public room for the Silver Cloud Expedition, replacing the former gymnasium that ironically began life as an observation lounge.

Cozy up with a book in the brand-new observation lounge on Deck 9. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

This new, prefabricated aluminum structure is the idea Observation Lounge in every conceivable way. Floor-to-ceiling windows span a full 180 degrees, and these extend right to the forwardmost part of the ship, offering some great views over the ship’s bow.

Bookcases mounted along the centerline of the room stock titles on all of Silver Cloud‘s destinations, including plenty of books on the rich history of exploration in the Arctic and Antarctic.

The Road to Tor’s: enter here. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

There’s just one issue with this gorgeous new space: like the old gymnasium/lounge, there is no internal connector to Tor’s, and no elevator access. You have to go up the forward staircase, walk outside, and re-enter the Lounge. On our sailing, the decks leading to Tor’s were closed during heavy winds, rendering the Lounge unusable in inclement weather. In the Med, this wouldn’t be an issue. Sailing across the Drake Passage…that’s a different story.

Silver Cloud Pools, Spa & Fitness

Silver Cloud’s Pool Deck has been completely refreshed, and the results are fantastic. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Outdoors, the resort-like Pool Deck is dotted with new loungers surrounding a heated swimming pool and a pair of hot tubs. Everything looks new and shiny, and substantial improvements have been made to the upper pool deck, which has lost that unattractive green astroturf and now sports teak-style decking by marine surface provider Bolidt.

However, it is no longer possible to walk completely around the ship on this upper deck, due to the mounting of Zodiacs on the aft and forward portions of Deck 9. A small lap can still be completed around the immediate upper pool deck area on Deck 9.

The new Fitness Center on Deck 6: a small but functional space. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Real fitness junkies will want to head to the new Fitness Center on Deck 6, which was jam-packed on our short sailing. In fact, it was so busy we had to wake up at five in the morning just to photograph it without people. It’s a small, but highly functional space.

Also new to Silver Cloud: a brand-new Boutique, a dedicated Mud Room on Tender Deck, and a fleet of motorized Zodiac rafts and double sea kayaks – not to mention the largest Expedition Team in the fleet, with 22 knowledgeable members offering up lectures, insights, and guiding tours on-shore.

The newly-styled boutiques aboard Silver Cloud Expedition. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Silver Cloud Dining

Dining is one of the ship’s great highlights, with four restaurants from which to choose. The main restaurant, called simply The Restaurant, serves contemporary, international cuisine at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with the latter featuring complementary (and, of course, complimentary) wines and soft mood lighting to illuminate the classic decor.

The Restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner in an elegant atmosphere. Newly carpeted (and outfitted with retractable hooks for the chairs), it’s ready for Silver Cloud’s life as an expedition ship. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Silver Cloud offers La Dame, the rebranded restaurant formerly known as Le Champagne. It was created in partnership with Relais & Châteaux and serves a la carte menus (also recently revamped) of classic international and French cuisine. The cost of dining at La Dame  is now $60 per person, and reservations on My Silversea are highly recommended pre-cruise.

While the decor of La Dame hasn’t changed, the room now boasts new china, flatware and stemware.

La Dame’s decor hasn’t changed…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders
…but new china, flatware and stemware graces this elegant venue. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

For a casual meal, Le Terrazza serves buffet-style breakfast and lunch with seating both indoors and out. In the evening, it serves an Italian menu created on “slow food” principles — locally grown, sustainable and fresh cuisine. Reservations are required at dinner, though at no extra charge.

The Pool Bar also serves casual lunches and dinners, while The Grill offers the fun “hot rock” experience, in which guests can grill their own meat or seafood at their table on a preheated volcanic rock. Also see, Photo Tour: Silver Cloud’s Pool Deck, Featuring The Grill (2012)

Service is doting in all the restaurants, and if you’re not feeling social you can order lunch or dinner served course by course in your cabin, from the day’s menu at the Restaurant or from the extensive Room Service menu.

Silver Cloud Suites

The entryway to one of Silver Cloud’s brand-new Silver Suites. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Suites aboard Silver Cloud range from the 240-square-foot Vista Suites (all but two of them are located down on Deck 4) to the 587-square-foot Owner’s Suite and 1,019-square-foot Grand Suite, the latter two of which offer separate living rooms and bedrooms, large teak verandas, marble bathrooms with shower and tub, and the option of booking and opening up an adjoining standard accommodation for even more space.

Veranda Suites, like all suites onboard, sport new decor, furnishings and fixtures. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders
Polar photographs and artwork grace all suites. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The vast majority of accommodations aboard are 295-square-foot Veranda Suites, with private teak verandas, marble bathrooms, and walk-in wardrobes. All accommodations on board come with butler service, a bar setup stocked with your preferences, wifi access, European bath amenities, Pratesi linens and down duvets, and a choice of nine types of pillows.

Even better, everything about these rooms – minus the bathrooms – is brand-new, right down to the light switches, increased electrical outlets, and new USB power outlets.

Rooms now feature two USB power outlets and increased North American and European outlets. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

All suites now feature flat-panel televisions hooked up to a video-on-demand system, and all guests are treated to a minimum of one free hour of Wi-Fi internet access per day.

Read more about the suites, but note that decor and features have changed since these reviews were written in 2012:

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