If you imagine that an expedition cruise requires bunking in an icebreaker, Silversea Expeditions will surprise you as its luxury ships explore the edges of the world.
Susan and Stephen Soldoff had traveled on ships, including ones from Silversea, before they boarded their first Silversea Expeditions cruise in 2012. Susan says, “It was love at first sight. They take you to places that no other cruise line goes, and they take care of you so well.” In the years since that first journey, they’ve traveled the Arctic and Antarctica, the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean, on Silversea’s four expeditions ships.
When asked for especially memorable moments from their expedition cruises, it is clear that they have too many memories to list them all. If she had to pick one, Susan chooses an excursion on an Indonesia cruise, when they visited an orangutan preserve with a researcher who has spent 40 years studying the primates. “She was with us throughout the excursion, including during a visit to an orphanage, where we spent time with young orangutans. They would jump into our arms, and take us by the hand and lead us into the forest.”
Stephen recalls a cruise on the opposite side of the globe, sailing the Northwest Passage from Iceland to Otaru, Japan. “At one point a Canadian icebreaker came to clear the way for us through the Arctic waters,” he explains, “and polar bears approached the ship. We were looking right down at them as they looked up at us.”
This year Silversea Expeditions celebrated its tenth anniversary of taking travelers to the edges of the world, with Arctic and Antarctic cruises, ones that call at the remote tropical islands of the Indian Ocean as well as the cooler ports of the Russia Far East. In the process, they’ve converted thousands of passengers to the joys of expedition cruises. For travelers like the Soldoffs, the cruises have catered to their desire to see the world, on small ships where everyone knows their name.
Conrad Combrink, Silversea’s Director of Expeditions, provides some of the history of how the cruise line decided to enter this market. “When I first sat down with Manfredi Lefebvre, Silversea’s Chairman, over 10 years ago, he laid out plans to develop a luxury expedition cruise line. People were very skeptical at first; it simply hadn’t been done before,” he says. “Over the past decade, we have developed Silversea Expeditions with a union of ‘luxurious comfort and true expedition’ in mind. Since our first expedition to the remote waters of Svalbard in 2008, we have continuously pushed boundaries and brought innovation to the expedition segment. We have become more daring and more ambitious in our itineraries, having unlocked Antarctica in 2008; the West Coast of Africa, the Galápagos Islands and the Russian Arctic in 2012; the Northwest Passage in 2014; and Bangladesh in 2017, to name a few.”
For the Soldoffs, a central appeal of Silversea Expeditions cruises is the “exceptionally knowledgeable lecturers and excursions leaders. Their presentations are always timely and wonderful,” in Susan’s words. Combrink explains that’s always been a goal of the line and part of how they distinguish themselves from competitors: “Our guests benefit from the level of expertise that we bring to expeditions, as well as the sheer range of experiences and destinations on offer. We have developed rigorous recruitment and training for our Expedition Team Members to ensure that our collective knowledge base enhances the experience for our guests as much as possible. Our Expedition Team is simply unparalleled.”
When asked to describe the types of travelers who are, like the Soldoffs, drawn to expedition cruises, Combrink sees them tapping into a desire increasingly common these days to understand destinations with greater depth, in all their complexity. “Typically guests that travel on expedition cruises are curious about the destination and have a mindset that they would like to learn more and go away feeling enriched. The travel deeper philosophy of Silversea, and the importance we place on ‘delivering’ the destination in a unique and educational way resonates with our guests. They are traveling to collect experiences not souvenirs.”
The Soldoffs need fewer words to describe their feelings about Silversea Expeditions and why they have been so loyal to the line. “They offer all the comforts of a luxury cruise line—delicious food, excellent waitstaff and cabin attendants, wonderful suites with duvets, a choice of pillows, and even three different lines of amenities in the bathrooms.” Susan says. “They are much more than a cut above other ships.”
Stephen adds, “It’s the whole package. They have got it together!”
Next up for the Soldoffs is a 25-day Northeast Passage cruise, from Nome, Alaska to Tromsø, Norway, along the northern coast of Russia, when they will pass the milestone of having spent 400 days at sea with Silversea. Much like the Silversea Expeditions after it marked its ten-year anniversary, the Soldoffs are far from done exploring the world’s most remote and fascinating destinations.
Explore Silversea’s Expeditions cruises and plan your next adventure at cruiseafar.com/expeditions.