04 Oct The Silver Cloud Experience
The Silver Cloud Experience
Mikaela Price- Arctic Travel Centre
Stepping on board the Silver Cloud, I was welcomed with my first of many glasses of French champagne along with a warm hand towel as I proceeded to acclimatise to my home for the next 10 days. Once I was checked in, it was time to relax over lunch at La Terrazza whilst waiting for my suite to be ready. Just as I had completed my first fantastic meal on board with multiple rosés in hand, the message came over the loud speaker, “Please make your way to the check in desk to meet with your butler who will escort you to your suite”. The time had come to live the true Silversea experience, something that solidifies their place in the market as a highly regarded, intimate and luxurious cruise company. Operating for 25 years, it is safe to say that Silversea have close to perfected their on board experience – something which many guests come back time and time again to relive.
In July 2019, I was lucky enough to experience a 10 day voyage through the Svalbard archipelago on board the Silver Cloud travelling from Longyearbyen to Tromsø. During the cruise we spotted an abundance of wildlife unique to the region (luckily including the star of the Arctic – a polar bear), and witnessed the incredible landscapes that make Svalbard so special. Carrying just 240 guests in the polar regions, the Silver Cloud is able to glide effortlessly through the pristine waters taking passengers to indelible destinations, led by an expert expedition team, along with 200 staff members contributing to an almost 1:1 staff to customer ratio.
The whole experience was simply unforgettable.
As I made my way to greet my butler, Oscar, who was dressed smartly in a tuxedo with crisp white gloves, I was impressed by the classical beauty of the Cloud – spiral staircases weaving through the different levels and public spaces. I was escorted to my immaculately serviced suite, where there was a bottle of French champagne on ice patiently awaiting my arrival, shortly followed by my luggage. A holiday really should be effortless and Silversea do everything that they can to make sure of this. Once on board, everything is included (aside from top-shelf wines and spirits) and you can choose to do as little or as much as you like during your time on the ship. Butlers and suite attendants are available at the push of a button, able to assist with anything you need along with being extremely thoughtful. At times when I suffered from sea sickness, Oscar would be there with a ginger tea and some ginger chews asking if there was anything else he could do for me. Spee, our suite attendant ensured that our suite was impeccably serviced both morning and evening complete with daily chocolates on our pillows beside our copy of the “Chronicle” – Silversea’s onboard news circular updating us on what to expect the following day.
Along with service, gastronomy is another stand out on board the Silver Cloud and I can only imagine is another reason why past passengers keep returning. I was astonished at the freshness and complexity of dishes being served, whilst we were travelling in what felt like the edge of the world. Four different dining options ensured that we were never short of possibilities on where to enjoy our long lunch or a delightful dinner with new friends. One of the restaurant options, La Dame served traditional French cuisine whilst cruising through the backdrop of undulating mountains and endless blue waters. The rooftop restaurant, The Grill, served hearty bistro style meals during the day but turns into a self-cooking event in the evening. Choosing your protein, you became your own chef as you fried your meat or seafood on top of a hot stone. La Terazza dished up impeccable Italian cuisine in the evening and a buffet with an abundance of food options during the day. And the always faithful, The Restaurant served a fusion of food with daily specials and had a rotating menu every 3 days.
If I was in an early group for the morning expedition, there was no need to skip a full breakfast as there were endless options when it came to having a freshly cooked start to the day in-suite. Oscar would lay down the white table cloth and set up my cutlery as I awoke gently to my blinds being opened and coffee being poured. With 24-hour room service, it was easy to have a late night snack or full meal as you we were up enjoying the midnight sun or had awoken from a siesta.
The onboard sommeliers never failed to expertly match opulent wines to the meals and made sure that our glasses were never empty (unless we had requested). Two different bars on board allowed everyone to mingle and enjoy the company of new companions with a cocktail in hand whilst enjoying evening canapés and the gentle tunes of an extremely talented pianist. Alternately, if you wanted to host new friends in your suite, the butlers would provide bottles of wine and champagne along with canapés, equipping you to become quite the entertainer.
Don’t be fooled though, although Silver Cloud is extremely lavish and has many impressive features on board, guests were not deterred from disembarking the ship and experiencing a true expedition in the Arctic. As strict environmental regulations limit many landing sites in the polar regions to 100 people at a time, strong organisation was needed when it came to ensuring that all 240 guests had ample time to explore the landscapes. Excursions, and trips to and from shore, were operated by 18 zodiacs. Guests were split into 6 groups for disembarkation; the order of which was continually rotated throughout the voyage. All landings were led by highly knowledgeable expedition team members, who ranged from ornithologists to botanists and were all eager to answer any questions. Time ashore ranged from guided hikes explaining the surrounding flora and fauna to freedom to roam at your own pace taking in the stunning surrounds.
The expedition team knew that almost everyone on board had been drawn to the high Arctic by the allure of spotting the king of the north, the polar bear. As with any wildlife sighting, nothing can be assured but we still felt as though a trip to the Arctic would not be complete without being lucky enough to spot one. The team searched our surrounds tirelessly in the hope of not disappointing the guests. One afternoon we reached our northernmost point and cruised the ice edge for 5 hours, looking for one of these magnificent creatures without success. After this the mood on board changed considerably and it felt as though some people had lost hope. However, the following day an expedition team member managed to spot a bear, almost 10km away! We were all treated to a Zodiac ride where we followed the female bear along the coastline and witnessed her rolling around in the snow before taking a snooze. Certainly a highlight for all on board.
Whilst considering what expedition ship is right for you, it can be hard to know where to start. Some people feel that if you are after a more adventurous, exploration-focused style of voyage then it comes at the cost of luxury. Whilst there are certainly other ships that enable more time on shore and more expeditions, Silversea shows that there is a way to balance both. Whilst there is a smart-casual dress code on the ship past 7:oopm, and you may be swooped up with the luxurious feel on board, the days are packed with adventure and the expedition team ensure that you have ample time to stretch your legs on shore and enjoy as many wildlife sightings as possible. There was trivia most nights, an opportunity for singles travellers to mingle and make new friends, and movies played in the theatre, where the daily briefing would also take place. Whilst Silversea operate a fleet of classic cruises which offer the highest level of luxury with ball gowns a necessity, their expedition ships, the Silver Cloud and the Silver Explorer effortlessly combine onshore adventures with an unforgettable, luxurious onboard experience.
EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF
Spacious yet intimate, the yacht-like Silver Cloud carries 254 guests but only takes 240 guests on Arctic voyages. You will travel in incomparable comfort and style. Combining spacious ocean-view suites and private verandas with excellent dining and entertainment options. Silver Cloud epitomizes a vision of world-class cruise accommodations, cuisine, service and amenities. The Silver Cloud is equipped with a fleet of zodiacs and expert guides to escort you on excursions from the ship.
The Silver Explorer was built in Finland in 1989 and was designed specifically for navigating waters in some of the world’s most remote destinations including Iceland, Greenland and Spitsbergen (Svalbard). The vessel was acquired by Silversea in late 2007 when it was fully refurbished and relaunched in 2008 as an elegant luxury expedition cruise ship. Its ice-strengthened hull enables the ship to safely push through ice floes with ease, while a fleet of Zodiac boats allows guests to visit even the most incredible locations accompanied by the expert Expedition Team.
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