By Sally Macmillan, Cruise Critic contributor (5.0)
Silver Discoverer is Silversea Expeditions' third expedition vessel, joining Silver Explorer and Silver Galapagos. It's also the eighth ship in the Silversea fleet. In March 2014, just before its official naming in Singapore, the former Zeagrahm Expeditions-operated Clipper Odyssey underwent extensive refurbishments to bring it in line with its beautifully appointed Silversea fleetmates.
The intent for the passengers staying in one of the five categories of suites is to combine the line's reputation for luxury with voyages to remote destinations. The ship's small size and shallow draft allow up-close exploration of rugged coastlines, islands and archipelagos -- like Australia's vast Kimberley area in the northwest; the culturally diverse islands of Borneo, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines; Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia; the Russian Far East; and New Zealand's sub-Antarctic islands -- that are inaccessible to bigger ships.
With a maximum of 120 passengers, the ship is small but offers enough public space to give it a spacious feel. The decor throughout the ship is understated, and the walls are hung with inspirational photographs of rare birds, animals, landscapes and tribal peoples -- many of them taken by members of the expedition teams. The pool deck (complete with pool, bar and grill) is a major bonus on a ship that travels extensively in warm-climate regions. No other expedition ship operating in the Asia-Pacific region has an onboard pool.
As many of the destinations offer superb diving and snorkeling, the ship is equipped with some scuba gear (weight belts and tanks), masks, fins and snorkels, as well as a glass-bottom boat for those who don't wish to go under water. The expedition team members are experienced snorkelers, and some are qualified scuba masters. Passengers have to be fully certified advanced-level divers to participate in dives.
Silversea Expeditions partners with the Royal Geographic Society, and expedition teams are made up of 11 experts whose specialized knowledge adds another dimension to each voyage. These experts lead tours, drive the ship's Zodiacs, and give lectures and briefings on destinations visited: "Travel, not tourism" is the company's focus.
Passengers are well traveled, well heeled couples and singles who range in age from late 30s to 70s. They need to be fit enough to climb in and out of Zodiacs, snorkel and take sometimes challenging hikes. They are interested in understanding more about remote regions and tribal people and consider themselves travelers, rather than tourists. About 50 percent of passengers are expected to come from the Asia-Pacific region (the rest from the U.S. and Europe). About 90 percent of Kimberley cruises will be filled with Australians.
There are no formal nights, and casual resort/country club attire is the norm onboard and ashore during the day. Shoes should be flat or low-heeled for deck activities. On casual evenings, open-neck shirts, trousers and casual footwear are acceptable.
Eveningwear is also casual with the exception of the Captain's Welmce Aboard and Farewell dinners, when jackets are recommended for men; women typically wear dresses or pantsuits.
The region passengers are visiting will affect what they pack; layers are recommended to keep warm and dry. Passengers can order expedition gear appropriate to the regions they are visiting online from silversea.com/gearshop.
All gratuities are included in the cruise fares.
|Terrific expeditions but ship needs work|
May 2014 melmike
I've always wanted to see the Kimberley but balked at the price of the cruises, looking at Orion and True North. When we heard about the Silver Discoverer we decided it was going to be worth the (extremely high) cost. After all, not only is it ...continue
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