Lyme Regis welcomes the Silver Explorer

Lyme Regis welcomes the Silver Explorer on May 20, 2012 - its first cruise ship! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

This morning at 6:30AM, Silverseas adventurous Silver Explorer dropped anchor roughly six cables off the West Dorset coastal town of Lyme Regis, England.  Not only did it mark another maiden port for both Silversea and the Silver Explorer, our arrival was also the occasion of great celebration for the town, which has never had a cruise ship call here in living memory.

A Warm Welcome: HMS Edinburgh towers over the Lyme Regis Rowing Club. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

I love visiting places where the locals get all revved up for our visit, and no place I’ve ever been to has given us the welcome the people of Lyme Regis did. It was bitterly cold out this morning, but the wind and chilly temperatures didn’t stop the local rowing club from sailing out to us to wave, making 360-degree laps of our ship – at a little after 7AM.  The Town Crier and Mayor were ashore. And the Royal Navy was in town for a special ceremony.

The Silver Explorer's scouting party comes back with good news: we're ready to go ashore! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

To get ready for my exciting day ashore, I ordered room service this morning, which came promptly at 7AM on the dot. Being an expedition vessel, things happen early and often here, so I’ve placed a standing order with my butler for breakfast to be delivered to my suite every morning. It’s a wonderful luxury that just wouldn’t be possible aboard many competing expedition vessels.

Boarding Silver Explorer's zodiac rafts, bound for Lyme Regis. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Expedition Leader Robin West came over the public address at 7:30AM to say that the Scout Team zodiac had been ashore and had confirmed our scheduled landing site was a “go.”  Whenever the Zodiacs are used, as they were today, a special team heads out before disembarkation begins to ensure everything is ready on-shore to receive guests. Once they get the go-ahead, guests are taken ashore in groups of four, or as scheduled in the Silversea Chronicles daily newsletter.

Not Small At All: Silver Explorer towers over the zodiac rafts! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

As this is my first expedition voyage, I’ve learned I could pack better should I be fortunate enough to do this again. While I brought a waterproof jacket, I never thought of bringing waterproof pants. They weren’t absolutely required today, but I did get a good splashing on the way back!  Still, if you’re scheduled to sail on an expedition soon, they’re something you may want to consider.

Now this is cool: zipping along aboard the zodiac rafts! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Good Morning, Lyme Regis! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

As for the zodiacs themselves, they’re fun. Really, really fun! I knew today was going to be different from my previous cruises, and zipping along in these rugged boats across the Lyme Regis harbour only heightened my excitement.

A quick look at what’s happening today:

  • 0700: the Silver Explorer will anchor off Lyme Regis, England. Continuous Zodiac transfers are available from the shore to the ship and vice versa throughout the day.
  • 0800: Sudoku and Quizzes are available at Reception (Deck 3)
  • 0830: Disembarkation for 4.5hr Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Gardens & Swannery Tour. Group 1: 0830; Group 2: 08:40; Group 3: 8:50; Group 4: 9:00
  • 1000: Disembarkation for 3hr Fossil Walk
  • 1300: Local choir and band performances with naming ceremony shoreside (1500hrs)
  • 1430: Disembarkation for Town Walk Tour (3 hrs)
  • 1600: Afternoon Tea is served to the music of Lou- Panorama Lounge, Deck 5.
  • 1700: Disembarkation for 3.5 hr. Jane Austin-themed tour of Lyme Regis.
  • 1800: UNESCO Jurassic Coast – Guest Lecturer Professor Brunsden. (Theatre, Deck 6.)
  • 1900: Join your Expedition Team for a Destination Briefing.
  • 1930: All aboard! Silver Explorer sails for Dartmouth.
  • 1930: Dinner is served.
  • 2145: Enjoy the late-night piano stylings of Lou.

A warm welcome pierside in Lyme Regis. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Rather than tour the Swannery, I opted to go fossil hunting the Jurassic Coast of Lyme Regis. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Jurassic Coast was made famous by the wok of the city’s most illustrious past citizen, a woman named Mary Anning.  Born in 1799, Anning was an avid fossil hunter at a time when women’s rights were severely restricted. In fact, the Royal Society considers her to be the third most important woman to have shaped the history of science thanks to her discoveries.

My mission today: fossil hunting on England's Jurassic Coast. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Not only are tours included in your fare aboard Silver Explorer, they’re also hugely informative and wonderfully engaging. Four our group of 16, we had an astonishing five guides plus our expedition member from the ship. The result was that everyone got personalized attention, and nearly everyone walked along the rocky shore and still managed to keep up the pace. Our guides gave us a quick history lesson on the kinds of fossils to look for, and we set to work.

I didn't find any prehistoric relics, unless dinosaurs used pitchforks... Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The next two hours were spent combing the beach for every kind of conceivable prehistoric relic, like the much -coveted vertebrae from ancient dinosaurs or the always-entertaining petrified shark dung, which is distinguished by its unique spiral shape.  More proof that travel is far more educational than even the best schooling…

The Royal Navy comes ashore. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Did I personally find anything during my three-hour excursion? No – but I did get a vertebrae piece that one of our guides gave me. And it’s pretty cool, particularly since they ensured everyone on our tour went back to the ship with a freshly-scrounged artifact.  I did, however, find things that interested me: the top half of an old iron pitchfork; several bricks; some Delft tile remains, and a cast-iron railroad track. Still, I hope no one is picking up pieces of my vertebrae three thousand years from now!

After a refreshing lunch back onboard Silver Explorer served buffet-style in The Restaurant on Deck 4, I found myself back onboard a zodiac, zipping across the ocean bound for Lyme Regis, where I spent the afternoon wandering this pretty little town.

Mary Anning's tombstone in Lyme Regis. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Mary Anning is buried on the grounds of the town’s gothic-looking Church, while an actual operating mill offers up tea, coffee and snacks, and shops offering everything from fossils to plastic sand pails line the streets. Vacationers and weekenders snapped up the pastel-colored huts that line the seawall, destined for that last-minute picnic lunch with the family. And more than a few came down to see the spectacle of not one, but two, ships gracing Lyme Regis harbour.

The Navy, Officials and tourists watch a dedication ceremony just after 3pm. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

So how much of a splash is our visit to Lyme Regis causing? Enterprising boat owners are offering tours that go around both Silver Explorer and HMS Edinburgh for £5 per person – and they’re doing a brisk business!

The main Town Square in Lyme Regis. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Interestingly, visitors to Lyme Regis saw my Silversea Expeditions backpack and stopped to ask me about the ship and the experience, which I had to confess has been absolutely stellar despite only having been onboard for a day or so. There was even a travel agency on one street that had plastered their windows with Silversea brochures and posters – but perhaps the best advertising was anchored out in the harbour today.

The only travel agency in Lyme Regis has the right idea! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

After an adventurous day ashore, it was time to return via the always-exciting zodiacs to the Silver Explorer for an elegant evening onboard. Although the dress code here is more relaxed than on other Silversea ships, don’t forget to pack those dress pants: evenings still tend to get dressy.

Gearing up for tomorrow's journey in The Theatre. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

We were briefed on tomorrow’s activities in the Theatre just before 7PM, followed by dinner in the elegant Restaurant. Just like on other Silversea ships, dinner here is a true pleasure. As an added bonus, a spiral staircase at the rear of the restaurant ascends directly to the Panorama Lounge – my favorite after-dinner watering hole on any Silversea ship!

But before I could kick back and fully enjoy my favorite beverage (Fruit of the Glen), I noticed it was the “magic hour” – the perfect time to take interior photos, given the soft blue glow of a darkening evening at sea.

So as I wrap up my first full day onboard the adventurous Silver Explorer, let’s take a closer look at this beautiful, petite vessel.

After all, getting there truly is half the fun with Silversea!

Computer and internet stations are available in The Library on Deck 5 midships. Wi-Fi is available throughout. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Stateroom corridors aboard the Silver Explorer reflect Silversea's dedication to elegant touches. Note the Silversea Expedition doorplates. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The Observation Lounge, Deck 6 forward. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The Panorama Lounge, Deck 5 Aft - facing starboard. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The Connoisseur's Club, Deck 5 Aft - Starboard Side. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The Theatre, Deck 6 Forward. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Sailing away from Lyme Regis, bound for Dartmouth. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

In-Seine? No - it's only logical to enjoy an "In-Seine" in the Panorama Lounge to cap off a wonderful day aboard Silver Explorer. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report from aboard Silversea’s adventurous Silver Explorer returns tomorrow as we visit Dartmouth, England on our “Blooming Gardens and Medieval Castles” expedition voyage through the British Isles.

 

8 Responses to Silver Explorer Live Voyage Report – Day 2

  1. Bob Brooker says:

    Excellent Aaron, we thoroughly enjoyed the visit of the Siver Explorer and have enjoyed your blog. I was standing on the pier at 7:30am, shame we didn’t say hello.

  2. Nicholas Sabalos says:

    Magnificent report, Aaron! I feel like I was right there in the zodiac! You’ve opened my eyes to a whole new approach to cruising!

  3. Kim says:

    What a wonderful blog today! It makes me want to go to lyme Regis! It looks like a cute town that I would enjoy, we have to go back one day! I also think I would Luke expedition cruising.

  4. Olivia Daly says:

    I live in Lyme Regis and I really enjoyed reading this report of your visit – and it’s interesting to see some photos of the interior of the ship, too. I’m glad you had a good time in Lyme!

  5. Doug Chalk says:

    AAron, you should be working for Silverseas Promotion department, your review is full of information and excellent pictures!
    I was (am) one of the “enterprising boatmen” and the visit of two big ships to our harbour was something every passenger who came aboard Frances Jane thought was a brillant momentous occasion, a mark in Lyme Regis,s history, in fact, I hope all the passengers enjoyed their visit as much as you obviously did!, Doug

  6. Ian Thomas says:

    Glad, everyone enjoyed the day in Lyme. It’s a great place to live!
    If anyone fancies coming back to stay a bit longer, why not try the unique cottage on the Lyme Alpacas farm on the cliff tops at Lyme?
    See our website at http://www.visitlymeregis.com for details.

  7. Vanny says:

    Another wonderful experience! I love reading your updates!

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