Sailing from Tower Bridge is a very special occasion, so when I received an invitation to join Silversea on a voyage from Tower Bridge to Dublin, celebrating 10 years of expedition cruising, I could not resist. The last time I sailed under this amazing London landmark was back in July 2003 when Swan Hellenic Minerva ll was christened, an occasion I will never forget.
Sailing under London Tower Bridge on Silver Cloud
Silversea had chosen Silver Cloud to take 200 guests from literally all corners of the globe. When I say all corners of the global, remarkably the first person I spoke to at a pre-cruise gathering at the Rosewood London had just flown in from Melbourne and would spend more time in the air than actually cruising on Silver Cloud. Over the next few days, I met guests from South America, North America and Europe to name just a few. The group was composed of Silversea’s most experienced expedition guests, top travel agents, media and of course the management and owners of Silversea. It was apparent from the start that Silversea clearly meant business in making this a very special celebration.
Our time on Silver Cloud
Silver Cloud, our home for two nights, will be familiar to many of you as she has been part of Silversea’s luxury fleet since the early nineties. In fact, in 1995 I spent my honeymoon on her sister ship, Silver Wind, when they were both new revolutionary luxury vessels; both ships featuring almost all balcony suites, which was a first! In November last year Silver Cloud achieved another first, a cruise ship converted into a luxury expedition vessel, including a newly strengthened ice-breaking hull.
We first saw her tied to HMS Belfast from the South Bank and decided to walk over Tower Bridge and past the Tower of London on the North Bank, maintaining terrific vistas of Silver Cloud with London’s amazing skyline in the background. We joined Silver Cloud by tender from the Millennium Pier to HMS Belfast and then a quick hop directly on-board Silver Cloud. The interior was immediately familiar and looked great. Whilst an older ship now, the refurbishment completed last November was clearly extensive and she looked lovely as we made our way to the dining room for lunch. The food was delicious; I had a beautiful salad followed by the signature main course, salmon in pastry with cream and spinach layers. The Silversea flair for quality and luxury was evident immediately!
On day two, I watched Silversea’s presentation on their expedition program. It was ten years to the day that Silver Discovery was launched in Monaco and this was really a historic and emotional occasion. Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, owner and executive chairman, spoke passionately about their ground-breaking move into true expedition cruises and it was most surprising to learn what they have achieved over the past decade. Now with four ships – Silver Discovery, Silver Explorer, Silver Galapagos and now Silver Cloud Expedition, they lead this market in this specialist sector. But what sets them apart is that all ships operate to Silversea’s premium luxury standard.
Over the following hour, I felt very privileged to listen to their team enthusiastically take us through the amazing faraway destinations they had visited and where they are going in the coming years. Antarctica, East Russia, Galapagos and recently Bangladesh were clear favourites, with customers and staff alike.
Looking to the future, the chairman confirmed they were actively looking at converting Silver Wind into an expedition vessel as well saying, “it’s a logical thing”. Plus, a new purpose-built vessel is also a very strong possibility. Over the next year or so, Silversea will cruise the Northeast Passage, return to the Bay of Bengal, the Russian Far East and Antarctica. Plus, in summer 2019 Silver Discovery will visit Borneo’s Camp Leakey – a famous refuge for orangutans.
On each expedition voyage, a team of up to 28 experts arrange immersive destination experiences for their guests. These dedicated and insightful professionals offer engaging lectures and conversations on board, in addition to Zodiac excursions and nature walks ashore – all of which are complimentary.
We finally arrived in Dublin, a new part of the world for me, and it was time to leave Silver Cloud. Before flying home, whilst over a pint of Guinness and a pie in one of the city’s many old pubs, my wife and I plotted our first expedition cruise. Clearly, we had been converted to the world of luxury expedition cruising!
Check out Silversea’s 10 Year of Expedition cruising video below.