I embarked on what I consider to be the “new” Silversea Expedition Experience on its Silver Endeavour; one of today’s most luxurious expedition ships. Trying to get my head around the former Crystal ship plus the modifications Silversea has made (far more than ridding itself of both the helicopter and submarine – more on that later) has been a challenge. And there is nothing like being on the ship to understand it! (Note: I will also be on Silver Endeavour in November experiencing its “Fly the Drake” Antarctica expedition. Let me know if you would like to join me!)
The itinerary is one that has intrigued me: We immediately depart from Iceland (I love Iceland, but I’ve been there a lot lately), and head to southeastern Greenland (I’ve recently been to western and northern Greenland and fell in love with its Inuit people and its raw beauty), then to the Canadian Maritimes (where I haven’t been in years) and ending rather surprisingly in New York City…sort of an expedition/cruise combination!
Some background: Back in 2016 I was invited by the “old” Silversea – before it was acquired by Royal Caribbean Group – to experience the now long-gone Silver Discoverer; a tired expedition ship that was just coming out of a refit that still needed much more of one. As much as the ship was a disappointment, the expedition through Indonesia and Myanmar was truly life-changing from exposure to Sea Gypsies and their culture, to observing orangutans in the wild, to enjoying some of the best street (OK, dockside) food ever. Silversea absolutely delivered the expedition, if not the ship! Silversea Expedition Cruises – Exotic Journeys Focus on “The Journey” – Silver Discoverer Indonesia/Myanmar Expedition: Part IX (Reflections)
The question for me is, “How will the new Silversea deliver both the now-expected luxury and a true expedition?”
First, I have to get to Iceland again; and wondered what the heck immigration will be thinking as they say, “Goldring is back AGAIN!?” The officer looked at me and said with a smile, “Only one day?”
Any time I travel from my home in Lake Tahoe, California, multiple flights are required and, let’s face it, in today’s travel world, that can be a more challenging “expedition” than the actual one. But this time, believe it or not, everything went smoothly. Flying on United (I am trapped into their system with all of my benefits) from Reno, Nevada to Denver, Colorado was on time…and arrival was literally one gate away from my flight to Chicago, Illinois. That second flight was – due to a change in aircraft, but the same configuration – only a few minutes late; leaving me plenty of time to relax in the United Club in Chicago.
While in the United Club I, kept frustratingly looking at the United app hoping for an upgrade to business class, as I was No. 1 on the waitlist…and there were three, two, no seats available. I arrived at the gate and was advised one person had checked in but was not at the airport, so “You are saying I have a chance!”
After boarding and the doors about to close, the gate agent, with a smile” handed me my new boarding pass. I was in. (Now, I did have to accept the pre-ordered lemon chicken for dinner, but from time to time such sacrifices have to be made!)
After collecting my luggage (and, yes, that arrived too!) my Silversea transfer was a bit disorganized, but in typical Icelandic manner, it was quickly sorted out with a casual laugh and I was off to the Hotel Berg in Keflavik, Iceland for my included one-night pre-expedition stay.
Keflavik is near the airport (KEF) and about 45 minutes from Reykjavik. For me, this was not an issue and, to be honest, I had just spent a good bit of time in Reykjavik and had seen Hotel Berg from the outside the last time I was in the quiet little town of Keflavik and it intrigued me, as it seemed more polished and modern than the other options.
A letter greeting me was provided at check-in. Due to there being a limited number of guests, there was no Silversea representative waiting for us, but one really wasn’t necessary. Breakfast is included and we are getting picked up around noon and should be on the Silver Endeavour by 1:00 p.m. the following day. (I came to find out I was the only guest with the pre-expedition stay there!)
Fortunately, my comfortable, fairly basic, room was ready, and I was ready for a big nap, knowing that exploring Keflavik – to the extent it could be – wasn’t necessary for me. Mission accomplished! Afterward, a nice wander along the seaside woke me up.
Dinner was at Duus Restaurant. I had dined there before, but then it was a rather ordinary buffet as I was part of a travel agent group, but I really didn’t have many decent options if I wanted fish for dinner. I asked for a table by the window, but was told I couldn’t because a large group was coming in. Oh boy!
Fortunately, I had almost finished my dinner of Lobster Soup (quite good) and a Trio of Fish (Cod, Halibut, and Salmon) with Shrimp (good, but not amazing) with a Gull beer, when the group arrived.
It was back to Hotel Berg where I worked for a few hours. It always amazes me that as soon as I start to travel, lots of inquiries come in. Strange, but always appreciated. Of course, when it was time for bed, my phone started to ring and the emails came in and…I was up! I finally got some decent sleep around 4:00 a.m.
The morning of embarkation started with some more work, a light breakfast, and a short walk up to a viewpoint that starts a fairly nice hike on the cliffs above the coast that I did last time. My driver arrived 30 minutes early and we were off to the Silver Endeavour; making me one of the first guests to arrive for the 1:00 p.m. start of a very painless embarkation.
A definite, “What cruise line am I on?” initially struck me. The Silver Endeavour has some very definite Crystal Cruises interior designs (something that some former Crystal guests may find comforting) but with the staff and crew being definitely Silversea in their warmth, style, and desire to exceed one’s expectations. I am going to spend a few days before I comment further on this.
My suite wasn’t quite ready, so I had lunch at The Grill. It is an unusual two-story glassed-in space with a “disappearing” pool in the center, but more on that later when I discuss the ship’s public spaces.
I am staying in a Deluxe Veranda Suite on Deck 6 aft. It is a beautiful suite. On the bed waiting for me was a Silversea backpack, parka, and water bottle. Inside the backpack was a Silversea baseball cap and moisturizing mist.
Before I could do anything with my luggage (already in my suite), my butler arrived offering me a tour of the suite and unpacking services. Smiling, confident, polished, and kind. Perfect! (I took him up on the suite tour, but did the unpacking myself!)
My suite has an exceptional amount of desk space (important for me!). In fact, it is so large there are two desk chairs! They can be used for in-suite dining, making seating for four possible (two on the sofa and two chairs. Curiously the desk drawers are above the desk surface, so your laptop will block them unless it is centered on the desk…so if you have “his and hers” laptop spaces they are obstructed. (Now that’s a first-world problem!) Located by the large sliding door leading out to a nice-sized balcony with a proper table and two chairs (I don’t think I’ll be dining al fresco on this expedition!), I can work and still enjoy the views!
On the desk is a notepad with a charging station built in. Nice! There is also a small tablet by the side of the bed that acts as a planner and information center. I guess if you don’t have a smartphone – who doesn’t? – it makes sense. Personally, I think it is a bit much, but too much is better than not enough. (Note: You can receive the daily Compass on your television, smartphone, the tablet…and, if you desire, in paper.)
The large flat-screen television is above the desk for viewing from the sofa across from it. If someone is working at the desk, that’s not going to happen, but there is also a huge vanity and mirror at the foot of the bed with a tuffet seat that can easily be used as a desk as well. Problem solved! The television can be angled for easy viewing from your bed.
The bed is large and comfortable. One curious thing: There is no bed skirt, so you can see your bags that are tucked under it. Not really a big deal, but a bit unusual. There are 110 and 220 volt outlets as well as USB and USB-C charging ports on each side of the bed.
There is a walk-in closet with plenty of storage and drawers. It has a motion sensor light so don’t be like me and look for the switch! (It can come on in the middle of the night for a minute if you pass by on your way to the bathroom, so you need to close the pocket door to avoid that.)
Across from your closet is a cabinet containing a bar and a pull-out refrigerator, which is so much better than the ones that are down low and you have to stoop over to get into. There are also more drawers as well.
The bathroom is very well laid out with a large vessel sink with two faucets rather than two sinks (interesting and stylish) plenty of storage, a fairly large rainfall shower with a wand and large seat, and a separate toilet room and small sink, which can either be incorporated into the bathroom itself by opening a pocket door or closed off with the use of a door from the suite proper. (I know it is a trend to have a separate toilet room, but too many on ships do not have a sink, so you wind up using two rooms; not an issue whichever way you decide to have your bathroom on Silver Endeavour.)
By the way, Caudalie, not Bulgari, bath amenities are provided.
Silversea requires reservations for both The Grill and Il Terrazzino, as well as its extra-cost La Dame. However, our sailing is about half-full so I was able to walk into Il Terrazzano for a nice Italian dinner with ocean views. Again, I’ll detail the public spaces later.
My first night – so I thought – finished up with a nice cigar and a couple of whiskies in the Connoisseur’s Corner, a small, but cozy, space.
I did observe that the gin and whisky offerings are quite limited and that what is available differs by venue. But the Silversea staff seems quite adept at moving the bottles around the bars as needed!
Time to settle in and look forward to a sea day as we sail for Greenland…so I thought!
BUT, after I was fast asleep the Expedition Leader made an announcement in the suites: Northern Lights! And, having seen them before, I headed out on deck and was, “Meh. They are OK.” and then AMAZING!
Not a bad way to end my first day on Silversea’s Silver Endeavour.
Stay tuned as our Silver Endeavour Expedition really gets underway!