Silver Cloud Readies for Her First Expedition – And We’ll Be Onboard

On November 15, 2017, we’ll join Silversea’s completely transformed Silver Cloud Expedition on her first voyage from Buenos Aires to Antarctica. Rendering courtesy of Silversea.

Antarctica has fascinated me for years. I personally consider it to be the Mount Everest of cruising destinations, surpassed only perhaps by a cruise around the world.

Remote, lonely and often overlooked, Antarctica is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is a land of towering icebergs, enormous mountain ranges, and diverse wildlife. Its thrilling history of exploration is littered with triumph and tragedy, a testament to the superhuman endurance of people like Amundsen, Borchgrevink, Scott and Shackleton.

Antarctica is a place like no other on earth. It is, to me, the ultimate bucket-list cruise destination. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

This is a land that most of us will never see – and that’s precisely what makes it so alluring. Antarctica, the southernmost continent, is nearly twice as large as Australia. A full ninety-eight percent of it is covered in ice nearly two kilometres thick. It was the last region on Earth to be discovered, unseen by human eyes until 1820.

In two weeks, I’m making my second trip to Antarctica, travelling in the kind of luxury and comfort that the earliest polar explorers could only dream of. I’m not sure what’s more exciting: travelling to Antarctica, or doing so on the first polar voyage of Silversea Cruisesfully refitted Silver Cloud Expedition. I think it’s both.

Silversea’s Trailblazing First Ship Soldiers On

Extensively refitted, Silver Cloud Expedition will be Silversea’s largest and most luxurious expedition vessels to-date. Rendering courtesy of Silversea.

Between August and late October of this year, ultra-luxury line Silversea sent its very first ship, the 296-guest Silver Cloud in for an extensive drydock at a shipyard in Malta. Built in 1994, she helped build Silversea into the cruise line it is today. Now, she’s preparing for an entirely new role as the company’s largest and most lavish luxury expedition ship.

Refitted to Ice Class 1C, Silver Cloud will be able to hold her own in Antarctica, which is frequently littered with sea ice of all shapes and sizes. Her ice rating allows her to cut through ice with a thickness of up to 0.6 metres, or roughly two feet – though she may not be able to wedge herself in the pack ice like her fleetmate, Silver Explorer, which carries a higher Ice Class 1A designation.

The changes made to Silver Cloud – which is now widely referred to as Silver Cloud Expedition – are sweeping. In addition to being fully repainted in a sleek new black and white livery with a thin red “cheat line” along her superstructure, she’s been given a new ice-strengthened bow. A new, ice-reinforced large bulbous bow was fitted to the ship, complete with sheltered thruster doors and a built-in FarSounder Sonar System that can see 1000 metres ahead of the ship. This system is tied to the ship’s navigation equipment on the bridge.

Inside, Silver Cloud Expedition will sports refitted suites and public rooms that have been outfitted with new, Silver Muse-esque decor. Rendering courtesy of Silversea.

Because Silver Cloud Expedition will now have to cross the feared Drake Passage routinely, she’s been refitted with newer, smaller windows on her navigation bridge. This has changed her forward appearance somewhat, but attractively so. Pillars between the panes have been widened and strengthened, and stronger marine glass has been fitted.

On the bridge, the ship’s Communications Center was replaced entirely with a new state-of-the-art facility. A new Olex Marine Charting and Navigation system was installed, along with an additional system designed to more efficiently operate the vessel at the slow speeds required for ice navigation.

The ship’s entire complement of radars were removed and replaced, and the Silver Cloud expedition now has a Thermal Night Vision Camera to allow for better visibility over the ice during evening navigation.

The new look for the Panorama Lounge aboard Silver Cloud Expedition. Rendering courtesy of Silversea.

All portholes and windows aboard Silver Cloud have been removed and, where necessary, replaced with new ones designed to be resistant to heavy seas and colder temperatures.

At the stern, a small triangular reinforced skeg has been added to aid with icebreaking when moving astern.

The ship’s entire heating and ventilation system was upgraded and fully automated, and the ship’s waste treatment plant was removed entirely and replaced with a new black and greywater treatment facility.

The most obvious changes, however, are on Silver Cloud’s upper deck. A brand-new, forward-facing observation lounge is now situated above the navigation bridge. Named Tor’s Observation Lounge, in keeping with the precedent set by the new Silver Muse, this brand-new public space will sport Silver Muse-esque décor and will serve as the place to be during scenic cruising in Antarctica, complete with its extra-large, floor-to ceiling windows.

Tor’s Observation Lounge is a brand-new addition to Silver Cloud Expedition, perched high above the ship’s navigation bridge. Rendering courtesy of Silversea.

Also fitted to the ship’s upper decks: a fleet of 16 Zodiac rafts. These rugged new landing crafts will carry guests on scenic cruising journeys throughout Antarctica, and will act as shuttles to bring guests ashore – though never more than 100 at a time, in keeping with IAATO rules governing Antarctic tourism.

The ship also carries 12 kayaks, a first for Silversea. The relevant platforms were added to the ship for kayak and zodiac embarkation, including an expedition first for the line: an inflatable zodiac embarkation platform.

In addition, Silver Cloud Expedition will now carry just 200 guests when sailing in polar waters, and 254 on other voyages. Silversea has used this reduction in guests to add more Silver Suites, each measuring 541 square feet apiece. There are now 12 Silver Suites onboard, compared to just three pre-refit.

The former three Silver Suites have now been recategorized as Medallion Suites, each coming in at 437 square feet.

The Explorer Lounge features a new look and the latest high-tech screens and lighting. Rendering courtesy of Silversea.

Silver Cloud’s luxury pedigree makes her one of the most lavish ships sailing to Antarctica. Every room is a suite aboard this ship, from the entry-level Vista Suites on Deck 4 (a great option for those prone to seasickness thanks to their low, midships location); to the opulence of the Grand and Royal Suites all the way forward on Decks 6 and 7.

Additionally, Silver Cloud Expedition has been given a substantial interior makeover. Suites and public rooms now share the color palette introduced by the Silver Muse earlier this year, favoring greys, blues and earth tones over the darker, more red-and-orange-heavy colors of the ship’s past. Furniture and carpeting in nearly every public room and suite has been replaced, and the ship now sports the highest guest-to-crew ratio in Silversea’s fleet, at more that one-to-one in Polar Regions.

Of course, all the usual Silversea touches will be present. All guests enjoy the services of a butler, and Silver Cloud Expedition offers up the same nine-choice pillow menus and selection of luxury bath amenities that guests have come to expect, along with inclusive beverages and gratuities. Guests in all suites are now entitled to one hour of complimentary WiFi internet access, and a new library of on-demand titles is available in-suite on guests’ interactive televisions.

The elegant Restaurant is ideally located on the lowest deck of Silver Cloud Expedition, but still retains her classic luxury charms. Rendering courtesy of Silversea.

Silver Cloud Expedition still sports La Dame, Silversea’s Relais & Chateaux dining venue. It’s the first time this option has been available on the line’s expedition fleet, and I can’t wait to dine there while in one of the world’s most remote and alluring regions.

Because she is now part of Silversea’s Expedition fleet, Silver Cloud will also have a dedicated team of 22 expedition specialists onboard who will give lectures on everything from nature, wildlife, and the history of Antarctica, in addition to leading tours ashore. The ship also has the distinction of offering Silversea’s first-ever Photo Studio, where guests can retouch, print, and display their photographic works of art.

Silver Cloud Expedition is en-route as I type this to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where her first Antarctic adventure begins on November 15, 2017 – and where we’ll join the ship to report on her inaugural sailing to the Southern Continent.

Voyage 1720 – Antarctica and the Falkland Islands

Voyage 1720, Silver Cloud Expedition’s first foray to Antarctica, takes us from Buenos Aires to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica before concluding in Ushuaia on December 1, 2017. Illustration courtesy of Silversea.

Departing Buenos Aires in the late evening, there will be plenty of time to get to discover – and photograph – the revitalized Silver Cloud Expedition as we sail first to Puerto Madryn, Argentina before heading across to spend two days in the Falkland Islands. Since this is a proper expedition cruise, all excursions are included in the price of the voyage, and will be focused on adventurous outings that can include zodiac tours of the shore line, hikes, and walks.

Following two days in the Falkland Islands, Silver Cloud expedition proves herself by crossing the Drake Passage, a turbulent stretch of water where the currents from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans collide. Then, she’s out of it, and we arrive off Elephant Island.

It was here that Ernest Shackleton set out aboard the James Caird on a desperate, open-sea journey to South Georgia in order to get help for his stranded party. The journey would take him 720 nautical miles, and he’d have the misfortune of landing on the opposite side of the Island from the whaling station at Grytviken. Miraculously, he reached South Georgia after almost a month at sea, and was able to return to rescue his men left on Elephant Island in August after the worst of the winter storms had ended.

From there, Silver Cloud Expedition spends the next six days cruising the Antarctic Peninsula, with an itinerary that is determined onboard based on the prevailing weather conditions. She returns to Ushuaia, Argentina – the southernmost city in the world – at the conclusion of her first Antarctic Expedition on December 1.

We’ll have our full Voyage Report from onboard Silver Cloud Expedition here on From the Deck Chair, starting on Monday, December 4. From the wonders of Antarctica to the brand-new, ultra-luxury Silver Cloud Expedition, it promises to be a very exciting voyage indeed.

Antarctica is a place I never thought I’d get to see again. Experiencing it with Silversea is about as moving an experience as one can get.

Antarctica’s ethereal beauty, moody skies and ever-changing weather are the stuff of legend. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report from onboard Silversea’s Silver Cloud Expedition begins in early December. Follow along with our latest cruise adventures on Twitter: @deckchairblog.

Silver Cloud - Inaugural Expedition to Antarctica

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
November 4, 2017A Closer Look at the Silver Cloud Expedition
November 15, 2017Buenos Aires, ArgentinaEmbark Silver Cloud Expedition2100
November 16At Sea
November 17At Sea
November 18Puerto Madryn, Argentina06301630
November 19At Sea
November 20New Island, Falkland Islands / West Point Island, Falkland Islands0600 / 15001130 / 2000
November 21Port Stanley, Falkland Islands06301600
November 22Cruise the Drake Passage
November 23Elephant Island, Antarctica12:30
November 24Antarctic Sound
November 25Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula
November 26Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula
November 27Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula
November 28South Shetland Islands1800
November 29Cruise the Drake Passage
November 30Cruise the Drake Passage
December 1, 2017Ushuaia, Argentina0800Disembark Silver Cloud Expedition; charter flight to Santiago, Chile & return home
 

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