Day 4 – Embarking Silver Discoverer in Broome

Embarking Silversea’s Silver Discoverer in Broome, Australia

Welcome aboard Silversea's Silver Discoverer luxury expedition cruise ship! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Welcome aboard Silversea’s Silver Discoverer luxury expedition cruise ship! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

My horoscope in the West Australian newspaper said today would be a bad day. And for the first half of the day, it was shockingly accurate. But the latter half of the day got infinitely better when I finally stepped aboard Silverseas newest ultra-luxury expedition vessel, the sleek Silver Discoverer, in the red rock port of Broome.

The morning started off well, with a visit to the soothing Qantas Club Domestic Lounge in Perth's Terminal 4. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The morning started off well, with a visit to the soothing Qantas Club Domestic Lounge in Perth’s Terminal 4. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Located on the western coast of Australia, Broome is a small town that is home to just under 15,000 inhabitants. During the height of the tourist season, the town’s population more than doubles. Tourists come to see Broome’s immense stretches of sandy beaches like Cable Beach, which runs for 22 kilometres. Tourism Australia calls Broome, “the romantic pearling port” and gateway to The Kimberley.

It’s also remote: it’s a two-and-a-half hour flight from Perth to Broome, and while Qantas offers flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Broome, most people will come here via Perth.

This particular Qantas Club Lounge even has its own dedicated play-area for kids! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
This particular Qantas Club Lounge even has its own dedicated play-area for kids! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Admittedly, things got off to a rather lousy start when my pre-arranged transfer to Perth airport didn’t show up, despite having reconfirmed it yesterday with the Concierge at the Pan Pacific. Fortunately, the airport isn’t terribly far away, and Qantas has things down to a science in terms of check-in. Like in Sydney yesterday, I tagged my own bag and placed it on the conveyor belt, and was through security in under ten minutes.

From there, it was only three more minutes until I was relaxing in the splendour of the Qantas Club Lounge in Perth Airport’s Terminal 4, where I was able to grab a light breakfast, a barista-made cup of coffee, and a copy of The Australian newspaper and settle in for an hour of relaxation.

The time was 8:30a.m. I wouldn’t be relaxed again until after 4p.m.

Our replacement aircraft on the tarmac in Broome this afternoon. A damaged cargo door caused a plane change, but Qantas handled it well. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Our replacement aircraft on the tarmac in Broome this afternoon. A damaged cargo door caused a plane change, but Qantas handled it well. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

When Qantas 1074 to Broome boarded this morning just after 9:30a.m., the Boeing 737-800 we embarked was so new it still had that “new plane” smell. Unfortunately, a baggage handler loading a large dog kennel into the hold ended up smashing the carrier into the open cargo door.

What was at first thought to be a small gash turned out to be a rather deep one that took off some rivets. After watching our departure time come and go, the decision was finally made to deplane everyone and switch them – and the luggage, and the catering – to a new aircraft.

Strolling towards baggage claim in Broome. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Strolling towards baggage claim in Broome. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I absolutely applaud Qantas for erring on the side of caution and safety, and to their credit, we were onboard our replacement 737-800 just 30 minutes after disembarking the first one; a herculean effort from all those behind-the-scenes.

Unfortunately, it also meant we took off nearly two hours late. But Silver Discoverer wasn’t scheduled to sail until 4:30p.m., so no issues there.

Until the second car service driver failed to show up to collect me in Broome.

Broome Airport is as remote as the city itself, but the fly-over from Perth to Broome was spectacular. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Broome Airport is as remote as the city itself, but the fly-over from Perth to Broome was spectacular. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Fortunately, the gentleman who is Silversea’s contact person in Broome – a man by the name of Frank Burgess – personally took me to the pier in his own car after multiple failed attempts to contact the car service.

The pier in Broome is strictly regulated. You have to have a certain kind of license to drive a motor vehicle out onto the jetty, making pre-arranged transfers essential. I’m not sure what I did to anger the transfer Gods today, but it must have been a doozy.

Fortunately, Frank sprang into action and arranged everything through Abercrombie & Kent, who arrange the majority of Silversea’s transfers here in Australia. Once at the pier, he got out of the vehicle and switched seats with someone – I have no idea who – that clearly held the necessary license. Even if it wasn’t a sweltering 36 Celsius outside, I couldn’t have walked the pier to the ship: it simply isn’t allowed.

Welcome aboard! Familiar "scent branding" aboard Silversea with Laura Tonatto fragrances... Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Welcome aboard! Familiar “scent branding” aboard Silversea with Laura Tonatto fragrances… Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
...and Bvlgari toiletries. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
…and Bvlgari toiletries. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

What’s more, Frank runs a Bed & Breakfast in Broome called Ochre Moon. And he had two paying Ochre Moon guests with him, who were nothing but kind about the unexpected detour for the stressed and sweaty Canadian writer.

So my hat is off to Frank, along with my sincerest thanks to him for staying with me for over an hour after touchdown as he tried to get the situation sorted.

Once I arrived at the Silver Discoverer, however, things began to change for the better. I was – literally – the last guest onboard today, but the scents of the Laura Tonatto “Shanghai” reed diffuser in my room intermingled with the Bvlgari toiletries made me feel almost instantly at home.

My Vista Suite on Deck 6 measures approximately 269 square feet and includes three large view windows. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
My Vista Suite on Deck 6 measures approximately 269 square feet and includes three large view windows. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The reverse, looking toward the TV and the ship's bow. Note the opened curtains and the unobstructed view. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The reverse, looking toward the TV and the ship’s bow. Note the opened curtains and the unobstructed view. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Shortly after I embarked, the standard Muster Drill was conducted in the Main Lounge. Now, I’ve put on a lot of lifejackets in my time, but the ones aboard the Silver Discoverer were clearly designed by someone with sadomasochistic tendencies; the clasp on the thing is damn near impossible to open. In order to unlatch the bottom plastic clip, you have to push it in, simultaneously pull a heavy plastic tab up, then pull back – all without letting go of the two aforementioned pieces.

After a gorgeous sailaway from Broome, guests reconvened in the Main Lounge for the first of many Expedition Briefings, in which the days ahead were outlined, including a detailed description of our time spent cruising The Kimberley.

Fresh orchids in my suite. I feel more relaxed already! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Fresh orchids in my suite. I feel more relaxed already! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The Kimberley is one of Australia’s most remote regions. Travellers embarking on a land journey through The Kimberley are warned that four-by-four vehicles are mandatory. Extra jugs of gasoline or diesel have to be carried, as does extra food and water due to the limited locations of service stations and rest stops. Australia is also known for their massive “road trains” – massive multi-trailer semi-trucks that can run up to four trailers in length.

Part Australia’s allure is that, outside of the major cities, much of the country remains very rugged, remote, wild and untamed. Perhaps I feel a certain affinity for it here because it’s not so dissimilar from my own country, Canada.

Guests take in Sail-Away on Deck 5 aft aboard Silversea's Silver Discoverer. This is where the line's signature Grill Poolside Dining featuring Hot Rocks is offered throughout the voyage. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Guests take in Sail-Away on Deck 5 aft aboard Silversea’s Silver Discoverer. This is where the line’s signature Grill Poolside Dining featuring Hot Rocks is offered throughout the voyage. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Of course, one thing we don’t have in Canada are Box Jellyfish. And saltwater crocodiles. And the fun-sounding Irukandji Jellyfish, which is about the size of your fingernail and extraordinarily venomous to boot. It fires poisonous stingers out of its body and into that of passing victims, which causes a fun little condition called Irukandji Syndrome.

You might not even feel the sting – but you will feel the effects. Five minutes after being stung, a barrage of symptoms begin to develop: severe headache, backache, muscle pains, sweating, vomiting, anxiety, hypertension…the list goes on. It’s survivable, and treatable, but some patients are reportedly so convinced they’re going to die that they urge their doctors to kill them.

So – not the place you want to fall into the water!

Sail-away drink, Silversea-style! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Sail-away drink, Silversea-style! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I would be remiss if I did not mention tonight’s spectacular dinner in The Restaurant on Deck 3. I put spectacular in italics because that’s precisely what it was: one of the best dinners I’ve ever had on any Silversea ship. That the Silver Discoverer can hold her own against the line’s mainstream fleet is a huge accolade.

Because she’s going to play such a prominent role in the next 12 days, I want to close today’s entry with a look at the Silver Discoverer. She’s a real beauty, and I am once again amazed at Silversea’s ability to soothe, calm, excite and rejuvenate – all at the same time. I’ve only been onboard for a few hours as I type this, but I like what I see. A worthy sister-ship to Silver Explorer, to be sure!

The Main Lecture Lounge aboard Silver Discoverer, facing forward. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Main Lecture Lounge aboard Silver Discoverer, facing forward. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Main Lobby Lounge, looking aft and to starboard. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Main Lobby Lounge, looking aft and to starboard. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The elgant Restaruant on Deck 3 awaits guests aboard the Silver Discoverer! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The elgant Restaruant on Deck 3 awaits guests aboard the Silver Discoverer! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Plenty of tables feature intimate settings and wood paneling. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Plenty of tables feature intimate settings and wood paneling. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
A Couch in the Lobby Atrium area. The photographs on the walls were taken on past Silversea Expeditions. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
A Couch in the Lobby Atrium area. The photographs on the walls were taken on past Silversea Expeditions. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Passenger Corridor, Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Passenger Corridor, Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The main staircase aboard Silversea's Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The main staircase aboard Silversea’s Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
One more shot of my Vista Suite aboard Silversea's Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
One more shot of my Vista Suite aboard Silversea’s Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silver Discoverer, The Kimberley Coast, Australia to Indonesia

DAYPORT
May 9, 2014Day 1 - Arrival Down Under
May 10Day 2 - Sydney and the Shangri-La
May 11Day 3 - Perth
May 12Day 4 - Embarking Silver Discoverer in Broome
May 13Day 5 - Exploring the Kimberley, Day 1
May 14 Day 6 - Exploring the Kimberley, Day 2
May 15Day 7 - Exploring the Kimberley, Day 3
May 16Day 8 - Exploring the Kimberley, Day 4
May 17Day 9 - Exploring the Kimberley, Day 5
May 18Day 10 - Exploring the Kimberley, Day 6
May 19Day 11 - Wyndham, Australia
May 20Day 12 - At Sea
May 21Day 13 - Savu, Indonesia
May 22Day 14 - Komodo & Pink Beach, Indonesia
May 23Day 15 - Waikelo, Indonesia
May 24Benoa, Bali, Indonesia
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