By Susan Hanson
Cruising’s “expedition competition” has brought more new ships and luxury options than ever before. It’s also brought more scrutiny from Virtuoso travel advisor Natasha Rhodes, who pays close attention to each vessel’s sustainability features and impact upon the world’s waters. So how does she rank Silver Cloud, whose recent extensive renovation included a number of eco-initiatives such as a high-tech reverse-osmosis plant and food digesters to minimize waste? “Silver Cloud is a gem,” says Rhodes, “and one of the finest expedition ships cruising today.”
A few reasons for her bold claim: the ship’s state-of-the-art sonar and thermal-imaging equipment; its team of more than 20 expedition experts – including marine biologists, ornithologists, and geologists – who join guests for Zodiac excursions, kayaking, and hikes ashore; an inflatable platform that makes it easier to get in and out of those Zodiacs; and a crew-to-guest ratio of nearly one to one for just 254 passengers (with a max of 200 in polar waters). Here, Rhodes shares her top reasons to get on board.
Breaking New Paths
An ice-breaking hull allows Silver Cloud to navigate the icy waters of Antarctica and the Arctic. Rhodes also calls attention to the ship’s more novel itineraries, such as a 31-day sailing from Ushuaia to Cape Town that departs next February and covers a host of destinations, including Antarctica, South Georgia, and the rarely visited Gough and Nightingale islands. In January 2021, the ship will depart on its first world-expedition cruise, visiting 30 countries while traveling pole to pole over 167 days.
Venturing to remote regions inevitably means multiple days at sea. Luckily, Rhodes says, “there’s no getting bored on Silver Cloud.” Guests can browse the bookshelves while scanning the horizon through floor-to-ceiling windows in the observation library, listen to live music in the Panorama Lounge, or settle into the theater for expert lectures and film screenings. The ship also features a full spa and fitness center, plus four dining options.
Rhodes calls Silver Cloud’s photo studio “a game changer.” This creative space features multiple Macs and PCs on which guests can retouch and print photos. For a nominal fee, you can join a master class in editing using Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop, or (Rhodes’ favorite) arrange a private session with the ship’s photographer while ashore or on a Zodiac.
Though expedition cruises often require a degree of flexibility, says Rhodes, “there’s something to be said for having a cabin with all the fixed luxuries.” The all-suite Silver Cloud, she notes, offers large, comfortable accommodations, the majority of which include a private veranda. Add personal butler service, Pratesi bedding, and a nine-option pillow menu and – sea conditions notwithstanding – “a gratifying night’s sleep is nearly guaranteed.”