Bolsover Cruise Club’s Product Manager Katie was recently on board Silversea’s newest expedition ship Silver Endeavour to experience a revolutionised ultra-luxury voyage to Antarctica, the planet’s southernmost continent. Katie shares her iconic trip, a destination she says needs to feature on anyone’s bucket list.
Where do I even begin? This November I travelled to the end of the world with Silversea Cruises onboard their brand-new ultra-luxury expedition ship Silver Endeavour, to Antarctica! I am an experienced cruiser, and I have travelled on many popular cruise itineraries, but nothing can compare or even come close to this adventure in Antarctica. I have never experienced nature in such a true form, Antarctica is not set up or faked for the sake of tourism, it is instead a completely authentic display of our planet in its untouched state. Wildlife in Antarctica is abundant, and you are absolutely guaranteed some incredible wildlife encounters, along with some jaw-dropping landscapes. While Antarctica is an incredible destination, Silver Endeavour is a destination in herself, setting the tone for ultra-luxury expedition vessels, with a 1 to 1 guest crew ratio, a stunning spa, and multiple fine dining venues, you wouldn’t believe such luxury could exist in such an epic and remote place.
Silver Endeavour is a very impressive ship, designed with ultra-luxury and comfort in mind. Silver Endeavour is equipped with the most advanced technology, built to PC6 Polar Class specifications, one of the highest Polar Class classifications there is. But this isn’t your typical expedition polar ship, instead, Silver Endeavour resembles a luxury hotel with all the modern amenities for today’s luxury traveller. Arriving onboard I remember the first thing I said is “even the stairs are beautiful!”. Every aspect of this ship has been perfectly designed, the interior is homey yet glamorous and you really do begin to call this ship home after just a couple of days onboard. You will find faux fireplaces around the ship making for cosy venues to hang out in. There are four beautiful restaurants onboard, The Restaurant, Le Dame, Il Terrezza, and The Grill, serving fares such as lobster thermidor and caviar, you are spoilt for choice even in the world’s most remote destination! My personal favourite venue onboard the Endeavour is The Grill, set in a large glass atrium on the rear of the ship. This restaurant serves a more casual affair for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it was my favourite place to dine after a day of exploration in the snow. The large glass atrium allows you to dine surrounded amongst the views and believe me the views just never stop in Antarctica! I was constantly looking out of the window completely mesmerised by the passing scenes, each one seemingly more striking than the last.
The Silver Suite
I was very fortunate to be staying in the Silver Suite. On an expedition cruise, your cabin is even more important than usual, as you come home from a day of exploration ready to relax. The suites onboard Silver Endeavour are extremely comfortable well-designed luxurious spaces. Our Silver Suite was a large spacious cabin with a separate living area, dining area, walk-in wardrobe, and ensuite. We had two tv’s including one that came out from the end of our bed. The walk-in wardrobe was large with lots of storage space, there was even a separate drying cupboard to store our wet clothes after a day onshore. The bathroom featured a huge walk-in shower with multiple body jets, and the toilet was separated for practicality. My favourite feature of the cabin was the balcony heater, I loved being able to sit on the balcony wrapped up, under the heater watching the world pass by. From my balcony, I spotted gigantic icebergs, swimming penguins, and even a humpback whale!
The Antarctic Bridge
To reach Antarctica one must somehow cross the Drake Passage. A passage where oceans meet, and land shield is non-existent, the Drakes reputation has for many people been the reason they will not make the trip to Antarctica. I have always had the view that to travel to one of the most untouched and preserved areas of our planet few ever have the privilege to see, you must accept the journey to get there, it’s part of the expedition or even a rite of passage. My experience sailing the Drake onboard Silver Endeavour was very comfortable, while the waves were large, Endeavour handled like no ship I have ever sailed on. The waves of the Drake hardly bothered this powerful vessel and sickness evaded most passengers. However, the fear of the Drake and the unknown conditions will no doubt deter people from visiting Antarctica, especially those who are opting to travel in ultra-luxury. After all, luxury is comfort. That is why when we disembarked, we left Endeavour in Antarctica where she will remain for the rest of the season. Guests of Silver Endeavour will take advantage of Silversea’s Antarctic Bridge programme, operating over 230 flights this season between Chile and King George Island in Antarctica. The flights are operated by Antarctic Airways and have been modified by Silversea for the comfort of luxury guests, with seats removed to create more space. There is access to inflight entertainment, and a local chef in Punta Arenas prepares a delicious three-course menu for the journey. This is a revolutionary method of reaching Antarctica for ultra-luxury cruising. You can skip the part of this itinerary that most people dread. Upon arrival at Antarctica, the expedition begins the moment you step off the plane, with zodiacs collecting you from the shore, guaranteed to be the most unique and exciting airport transfer you will ever experience!
A typical day onboard Silver Endeavour is filled with excitement, weather dependent there will be two landings a day, expedition speak for two stops. The itinerary of an expedition sailing varies dependent on multiple factors, so you will not know exactly which bays and islands you visit until the evening prior. Silversea has a briefing session each evening where they discuss the next day, the weather, the activities available, and what to expect. It’s really fun going to the briefings as everyone starts getting excited for what’s to come! When it comes to disembarking, it’s completely different to normal cruising, firstly you must get wrapped up warm (hand warmers are my key recommendation so you can take your gloves off and use your camera). Pre disembarkation you will make your way to the boot room, in true luxury style even the boot room is a high-end space, each guest has a locker and somewhere to hang your big snow boots. From here you will be guided to the zodiacs, from an open door a team of crew will help you off the ship straight into the zodiac, a small inflatable boat extremely capable of navigating through the icy water. It is incredible how curious the wildlife is about our presence in Antarctica, on my first zodiac outing an adorable sea lion came swimming alongside us to say hello. On land, the abundance of wildlife is just completely beyond what I had expected. I was worried before I left that I might not get to see a penguin, but I was so far wrong, as there were penguins everywhere, thousands of them! I want to keep repeating the word incredible but that doesn’t do the whole experience enough justice. On my trip, we saw Gentoo, Chinstrap, and Adelie penguins, I witnessed them breading, jumping in and out of the ocean and penguin traffic travelling down the penguin highways. I also saw a large gathering of seals, some of them were fighting and playing with each other. And we were very lucky to have a few whale sightings, on some occasions, the whales would linger around the ship almost performing for us guests watching on deck. If you are a wildlife lover, then there is nowhere in the world where you will have such great opportunities to see wildlife in their natural environment quite like this.
One of the most impressive features of an expedition cruise is the expedition team, a group of highly trained individuals with expertise in a variety of fields. These experts will guide you around when on land to ensure you are safe, but they will also answer any questions you have about the wildlife and what you are witnessing. This team is a testament to Silversea, they are extremely knowledgeable answering every question thrown at them, but they are also very friendly and throughout your sailing, they will socialise with you around the ship. It is great to just sit and talk to the team as they all have a wealth of fascinating stories about their travels. The expedition team will also host lectures on their specialist topics, if you see a specific species of bird then the ornithologist will do a presentation about them that day, so you are constantly learning about what you are seeing.
The naming ceremony of Silver Endeavour was like nothing I have ever experienced. We arrived at the Lemaire Channel, a narrow channel between ginormous towering snow-covered mountains, a very impressive and dramatic setting home to huge icebergs, seals, and a colony of penguins, perfectly setting the scene for the continent this ship will call home. This was not a typical naming ceremony with everyone onboard the ship in a formal event, no! This ceremony was done expedition style. Swapping the usual formal attire, we donned our thermals and Silversea parkas and disembarked onto zodiacs. The zodiacs were strategically positioned in the channel as we listened excitedly to the bridge giving orders via walkie-talkie to manoeuvre ourselves through the channel as Silver Endeavour elegantly followed. Watching this ship so gracefully glide through the water was awe-inspiring, she hardly caused a ripple. The hull of the ship towered above us on the water and the ship looked so impressive, to see a cruise ship manoeuvre from the water is a rare and amazing sight, one I will never forget. We arrived at the entrance to the channel and Endeavour turned effortlessly 180 degrees into position for the ceremony to begin. The hotel crew on their own zodiac handed out champagne for a toast on the ice, Captain Niklas Peterstam made his speech, and the Godmother Felicity Aston named the ship by cutting the ribbon, releasing a solid ice bottle which smashed against the name Silver Endeavour on the bow. What a way to begin a season of exploration and lifelong guest memories!
Antarctica isn’t a holiday that people often talk about, it’s this far far away place that people know very little about, other than from watching an episode of Frozen Planet. However, Antarctica is a destination that needs to be on your bucket list, this is a fascinating untouched marvel, that until recently could only be accessed by expedition specialists or not-so-luxurious polar-style expedition vessels. Now with Silver Endeavour, you can travel to this incredible destination, in a luxurious, comfortable, safe, and familiar setting. You are at the end of the world, but you can still dine on your favourite foods, and have a pamper at the spa. I couldn’t recommend taking a trip more, if you are able to go, then you really should see this wonderland white continent for yourself, and there is no better way of doing it than onboard Silver Endeavour.
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