Day 5 – Exploring the Kimberley, Day 1

Discovering The Kimberley aboard Silversea’s Silver Discoverer

Guests aboard Silversea's Silver Discoverer bathe in Crocodile Creek in Yampi Sound, Australia. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Guests aboard Silversea’s Silver Discoverer bathe in Crocodile Creek in Yampi Sound, Australia. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

Today marks the start of our most exciting journey through Australia’s remote Kimberley region aboard Silversea’s sleek Silver Discoverer. It’s our first full day onboard, but an action-packed one at that.

Silversea's newest Expedition vessel, Silver Discoverer, at anchor in Yampi Sound, Australia. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silversea’s newest Expedition vessel, Silver Discoverer, at anchor in Yampi Sound, Australia. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

We’re anchored today in Yampi Sound, Australia. This morning, we’ll be setting out on a two-hour Zodiac tour of the coastline that is teeming with wildlife activity, followed by an excursion to Crocodile Creek.

Unlike its name suggests, there are no crocodiles in Crocodile Creek. At least, they’re not likely. Because of the massive tidal fluctuations that exceed 10 metres this week, Crocodile Creek will be entirely submerged this morning when Silver Discoverer’s scouting party goes ashore to assess the situation. By the time the last zodiac departs just after two in the afternoon, the tide will have dropped so substantially that it will reveal stone and metal steps carved by nearby miners leading up to the freshwater pool.

Silver Discoverer is 338 feet long and 51 feet wide. She's the third luxury expedition ship in the Silversea fleet. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Discoverer is 338 feet long and 51 feet wide. She’s the third luxury expedition ship in the Silversea fleet. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Here’s a look at what is happening today aboard the Silver Discoverer:

  • 08:00 – Silver Discoverer anchors in Yampi Sound
  • 08:30 – Disembarkation for 1.5 hour zodiac tour. Groups 1 and 2. Join your Expedition team for a zodiac tour through Yampi Sound, taking in the spectacular geology of the region. Returns at 10:00.
  • 10:00 – Disembarkation for 1.5 hour zodiac tour. Groups 3 and 4. Return at 11:30.
  • 11:45 – Disembarkation for Crocodile Creek swimming hole. Groups 1, 2, 3, 4. Please listen to announcements and only come for disembarkation when your group is called.
  • 14:15 – Last zodiacs depart from Crocodile Creek
  • 15:00 – “Shaping a Timeless Landscape” – lecture by Mick Fogg. Explorer Lounge, Deck 4.
  • 15:30 – Afternoon tea is served. Discoverer Lounge, Deck 5.
  • 17:00 – Join your Expedition Team for a recap & briefing. Explorer Lounge, Deck 4.
  • 18:15 – Captain Luksa Plecas invites you to the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail. Explorer Lounge, Deck 4.
  • 19:00 – Our Executive Chef Pia and Restaurant Manager Robert invite you to the Captain’s Welcome Dinner. The Restaurant, Deck 3.
  • 21:30 – Silver Discoverer sails for Talbot Bay.
  • 21:30 – Relax in the Lounge with late night music by Jorge. Explorer Lounge, Deck 4.
Our morning excursion included a two-hour Zodiac ride along the amazing Yampi coastline. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Our morning excursion included a two-hour Zodiac ride along the amazing Yampi coastline. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Zipping along on our Zodiac - appropriately named, "Discovery." Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Zipping along on our Zodiac – appropriately named, “Discovery.” Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The beauty of Yampi Sound in Australia's Kimberley region. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The beauty of Yampi Sound in Australia’s Kimberley region. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The gigantic black blob? It's a termite colony. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The gigantic black blob? It’s a termite colony. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Looking back at Silversea's Silver Discoverer from Yampi Sound. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Looking back at Silversea’s Silver Discoverer from Yampi Sound. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Our morning expedition went off without a hitch, revealing dolphins, birds, and mammals – not to mention the amazing geological rock formations that were pock-marked by the occasional black termite dwelling.

But it was our afternoon excursion to Crocodile Creek that really left guests talking. Silversea set up a full bar just outside the freshwater pool carved into the rocks, and nearly every guest – not to mention crew – aboard the Silver Discoverer went for a dip.

Silversea guests swimming at Crocodile Creek. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silversea guests swimming at Crocodile Creek. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The water was cold and refreshing when I waded in, beer in hand. The oppressive heat that had been with us for the majority of the morning seemed to fade away, replaced instead with one of those magical moments that you’re almost conscious of as they occur.

Of course, the Silver Discoverer plays a large part in that. There’s not a lot of information out there about her yet, and I am keen to fill that void. She’s a worthy successor to Silver Explorer and Silver Galapagos, but manages to retain her very own personality.

Crocodile Creek falls in Australia's Kimberley Region. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Crocodile Creek falls in Australia’s Kimberley Region. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Enjoying a cold one fall-side, courtesy of Silversea. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Enjoying a cold one fall-side, courtesy of Silversea. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
At Crocodile Creek, zodiacs zipped back and forth from ship-to-shore. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
At Crocodile Creek, zodiacs zipped back and forth from ship-to-shore. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Zodiacs arrive back at the nimble Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Zodiacs arrive back at the nimble Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Let’s talk about suites for a moment. Onboard the Silver Discoverer, there are essentially five different kinds of suites that range from View Suites that measure 181 square feet all the way up to the ships lone Medallion Suite that comes in at 408 square feet and includes a private veranda.

My Vista Suite aboard Silver Discoverer, #653. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
My Vista Suite aboard Silver Discoverer, #653. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Unlike Silver Explorer, very few suites actually feature balconies aboard Silver Discoverer – but here’s why that’s not a bad thing: you’re barely in your suite to begin with. And when you are, you’re going to be sleeping, or changing – not lounging around. Silver Discoverer is a very social ship, and it’s also a small ship, meaning everyone’s natural tendency is to gravitate towards the gorgeous open aft deck spaces to enjoy a cocktail or flip through a page or two in their latest novel.

Looking back toward the desk, television and small sitting area in Vista Suite #653 aboard Silversea's Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Looking back toward the desk, television and small sitting area in Vista Suite #653 aboard Silversea’s Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

My room – Vista Suite 653 – is particularly fascinating to me, because it seems to be something of an anomaly. Most rooms in this category feature two picture windows, with the bed positioned so the headboard is facing the windows.

My Vista Suite is arranged differently: it has three windows, with a writing desk along one side of the window. The bed is situated against the aft wall of the stateroom, and you sleep facing the bow of the ship. There’s also a nice little entry area that contains three closets, ample drawers, and the door to the Silver Spirit-esque Bathroom, a design of which I never tire of.

The view from Vista Suite #653. Obstructed view? Not really. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The view from Vista Suite #653. Obstructed view? Not really. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

There are also numerous storage drawers situated underneath the bed. The good news: you could be onboard here for three weeks or more and not run out of storage space. The bad news: there’s nowhere to put your luggage, so mine sits in the space in the entryway.

If you’re an iPod dock maven, each suite is equipped with brand-new iHome docking stations. However, they’re only designed to work with the iPhone 5. If you have an iPhone 4 (like me), you’re out of luck: it won’t connect. Thanks, Apple, for changing those connecter pins every six months.

Silver Discoverer's Reception Lobby is located on Deck 4. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Discoverer’s Reception Lobby is located on Deck 4. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

In the brochure, my view is listed as being “obstructed.” And I suppose, in the most technical sense of the word, it is: there’s a narrow access catwalk that allows crew to perform maintenance or operate the lifeboats just outside my windows. But the white railings are slim, and don’t block my view at all, even when seated. There are three other suites in this category – 651, 650, and 652 – and judging from the exterior of the ship, I’d say their views are about equal to mine.

Silversea is technically correct to list these views as “obstructed”, but it’s nothing like the obstructed view staterooms on other lines that have a full-blown lifeboat in front of them.

The Restaraunt aboard Silver Discoverer, Deck 3. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Restaurant aboard Silver Discoverer, Deck 3. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Discoverer's Main Restaurant is one of the nicest in the fleet. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Discoverer’s Main Restaurant is one of the nicest in the fleet. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Interestingly, Silver Discoverer doesn’t use a magnetic keycard system to access your suite, relying instead on the old VingCard system that involves inserting a plastic ‘key’ with holes punched into it in to the lock on the door to open it. The last time I saw a VingCard keycard system was nine years ago, in 2005. But does it make a difference? Not really. In fact the VingCard comes in the black leather Silversea wallet you’re given upon embarkation.

So how does Silver Discoverer compare to Silver Explorer? That’s a tough question. I feel like Silver Explorer is the more elaborate of the two vessels, but I get the sense that, as Silversea’s first Expedition ship, she was perhaps a little over-built.

Silver Discoverer Bonus: a proper pool, situated all the way aft on Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Discoverer Bonus: a proper pool, situated all the way aft on Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silver Discoverer, on the other hand, is perfectly suited to the task ahead of her. I do miss the Library and Internet Corner aboard the Silver Explorer, as well as the forward-facing Observation Lounge. But I’m the only person who ever seems to use those things, so I suspect space is utilised more efficiently here.

The Discoverer Lounge serves up Breakfast and Lunch on Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Discoverer Lounge serves up Breakfast and Lunch on Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
While the decor in the Silver Discoverer lounge isn't terribly 'Silversea', these nautical lamps in the Discoverer Lounge are a nice touch. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
While the decor in the Silver Discoverer lounge isn’t terribly ‘Silversea’, these nautical lamps in the Discoverer Lounge are a nice touch. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Discoverer's main staircase. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Discoverer’s main staircase. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Up on Deck 7, just outside... Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Up on Deck 7, just outside… Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
...the gymnasium. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
…the gymnasium. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Enjoying a Martini poolisde aboard Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Enjoying a Martini poolside aboard Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Sunset falls aboard Silversea's Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Sunset falls aboard Silversea’s Silver Discoverer. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silver Discoverer, on the other hand, has some features Silver Explorer lacks, like a swimming pool, casual Lido-style restaurant for breakfast and lunch; and more aft-facing open deck space. My recommendation would be to choose between the two based on itinerary – because either way, you’re not going to go wrong.

It’s the first full day aboard the Silver Discoverer, and I am already at a loss for words. Eleven days remain on this voyage to Bali, yet I already feel like I have seen and done enough wonderful things to fill a lifetime. This is the sort of trip that I wish I could take everyone I know on, because I am painfully aware that I will likely never swim in Crocodile Creek again. I’ll tell the tale, to be sure, but will I return? That’s the great unknown.

These, then, are the moments to hang on to.

Silver Discoverer sails into the growing darkness for another day of exploration in Australia's remote Kimberley region. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Silver Discoverer sails into the growing darkness for another day of exploration in Australia’s remote Kimberley region. 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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