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Lyme Regis welcomes the Silver Explorer
This morning at 6:30AM, Silversea’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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