Introducing the Silver Endeavour
The ultimate in luxury expedition vessels, the Silver Endeavour is the gold standard of Antarctic exploration, says Caroline Maber
As a travel specialist on the maiden voyage of the Silver Endeavour from Chile to Antarctica, my trip was not quite the normal Antarctica expedition. This debut expedition included a naming ceremony for the new vessel before it set sail, filled with journalists and fellow travel industry experts keen to get a first-hand experience of the new yacht.
Most trips on the Silver Endeavour are ‘fly bridges’, which means you avoid crossing the Drake Passage and fly to Antarctica instead, before boarding the ship. Silversea has an agreement with a private charter company and the flights are very comfortable, making this is a great option for people that get particularly seasick or are short on time, as it maximises your stay in Antarctica. Having sailed the Drake Passage several times, I can attest to the fact that this is rarely as scary as people imagine, and after navigating the Passage’s notoriously choppy waters on the Silver Endeavour, I can assure you this ship is smooth!
Cabins are beautifully decorated and spacious, and all come complete with balconies, which meant I could jump up in the morning, open my curtains and watch the snow and icy mountains pass by from the comfort of bed – stepping outside to take in the sights and wildlife while still in your pyjamas is a real privilege. The best bit? Every need is anticipated by and attended to by your own butler. If you’d like your case unpacked or some clothes dried, or perhaps some caviar and champagne in your cabin, your butler will be happy to assist.
On this ship, Silversea provides jackets and waterproof trousers for you to keep, as well as use of thermal, waterproof boots. Not only are these items all great quality, but this also means you don’t need to lug your own ones from home. Top tip: make sure you leave enough space in your suitcase to take with you on your return.
The team takes the utmost care of its guests, from loading passengers in and out of Zodiacs for cruises and shore landings to carefully laying out safe trekking paths once you’re on dry land. They are also a font of knowledge and come ready with an abundance of interesting information and facts should you wish to ask questions.
Our landings on the peninsula were numerous; we saw thousands of penguins, a solitary humpback whale, stunning scenery aplenty and were fortunate enough to zodiac through the beautiful Lemaire Channel – what a spectacular experience. The ship itself is complete with a DPS aka a Dynamic Positioning System, which is an incredible piece of tech that allows the ship to turn 180 degrees in very narrow stretches of water and means it can access areas many other expedition ships just wouldn’t be able to enter.
Keen on taking pictures? The resident photography guide will be delighted to help you capture the finest images, and there is a beautifully equipped library and board games room, which also home to a couple of computers in case you feel like editing your shots. Across the hall on Deck 9, meanwhile, is a room full of maps where you can partake in citizen science projects and help log and analyse important scientific information.
Expedition cruising is full on, so unless you choose to miss out on an excursion, you have limited ‘free time’. This vessel allows you to make the most of that free time and pamper yourself in the spa, which features a beauty salon and massage treatments, as well as a hairdresser – pretty impressive. Additionally, you can work off a delicious tasting menu from La Dame restaurant at the best equipped gym I have seen aboard an expedition ship.
On that note, let’s talk about the food. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants, which include the Arts Café, serving simple snacks all day long (make sure you don’t overlook its miniature ice cream parlour) and The Grill, a dining room open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favourite place to start the day, the panoramic windows in The Grill mean you can enjoy your breakfast with incredible views, and while a smaller menu is offered at lunch and dinner (including delicious sushi) it’s always a great bet for a bite to eat.
The main restaurant serves a varied and exciting menu of à la carte meals, while Italian joint, Il Terrazzino, is open only for dinner and serves excellent Italian classics. Saving the best for last, we have La Dame, Silver Endeavour’s destination fine dining restaurant, for which there is an additional $60 per person levy for dinner. It’s well worth a visit, not only was the food exquisite but you can select either a full tasting menu or choose from a variety of gourmet options.
Visiting Antarctica on an expedition ship is both holiday and a once in a lifetime experience. However, it is also an education, and Silversea has selected an incredible and knowledgeable expedition team to host fascinating onboard lectures throughout the voyage. From an introduction to Antarctica and an ornithologist enlightening you on quirky penguin mating rituals (which you may well witness) to historians sharing accounts of bygone explorers stuck in the treacherous ice in their wooden ships, these talks were a highlight of any trip.
The only downside of a voyage to Antarctica on the Silversea Endeavour? Having to come home!