For the first time in the cruise line’s history, Silversea’s guests recently crossed the iconic Northeast Passage. Between August 10 and September 5, 2019, travellers journeyed 5,019 NM between Nome and Tromsø, calling at 27 incredible destinations in three countries. They travelled aboard Silver Explorer in superlative comfort, retracing the route taken by famous explorers of yesteryear. Among the voyage’s numerous highlights were various sightings of polar bears with their cubs, and other rare wildlife encounters; two passages through the Arctic sea ice, accompanied by an icebreaker; a unique culinary experience on the remote Ostrov Isachenko; and a polar plunge above 80°N latitude.
“It was a life-defining voyage,” says Stefan Kredel, Silversea’s Expedition Leader for this particular crossing of the Northeast Passage. “Nothing is guaranteed this far north, but we were very fortunate with the weather and ice conditions. We are delighted to have unlocked so many unique and memorable experiences for our guests in this remarkable region, from a folkloric performance by locals in Provideniya to various sightings of polar bears and walruses.”
Silversea’s guests were accompanied on this unique voyage by 15 experts from the cruise line’s industry-leading Expedition Team, including three historians, a marine biologist, a botanist, a geologist, an ornithologist, and a professional photographer. Almost 50 destination-inspired lectures were delivered aboard Silver Explorer throughout the voyage, which enabled guests to learn insightful information that enriched their experiences.
Those with a penchant for birdwatching enjoyed a wealth of activity off of Cape Dezhnev from Silver Explorer’s Zodiacs, with Short-tailed Shearwaters, Crested Auklets, Brunnich’s Guillemots, both Horned and Tufted Puffins, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Glaucous Gulls, and Vega Gulls offering ample entertainment. Ornithologist Dr. Danaë Sheehan was on hand to identify the various species and share fascinating information on each.
Near the breathtakingly beautiful Kolyuchin Island, Silversea’s guided Zodiac tours enabled guests to safely witness seven polar bears in just one hour, as well as a vast haul out of walruses. Subsequently, marine biologist Robin Aiello hosted a lecture on polar bears once back on board, enriching guests’ experiences with scientific insight on the animals’ behaviour.
On August 19, just off Ayon Island in the East Siberian Sea, guests rose at 6:00 am to search for wildlife on surrounding ice floes. As well as spotting many walruses resting on the ice, guests were treated to a spectacular polar bear sighting—in which a female bear and her two cubs were navigating the ice. Following this, guests visited the isolated settlement on Ayon Island, which is home to a small town of aged Soviet-style buildings and is inhabited by approximately 300 residents. Local children were eager to interact with Silversea’s guests, performing traditional songs and dances in an authentic display of the region’s historical culture.
Two weeks into the voyage, on August 24, Silver Explorer reached the Arctic pack ice and began following its edge northwards, accompanied by a Russian icebreaker. Then, with the icebreaker forging a clear path for Silversea’s expedition ship, guests were able to journey into the thicker ice for a truly unforgettable experience. Weather conditions were exceptional and the water was perfectly calm. In addition to lectures and on-deck observation sessions with the Expedition Team, guests took the opportunity to enjoy the various hallmarks of luxury that enrich all Silversea voyages, including the personalised service of butlers; exceptional cuisine, with 24-hour in-suite dining; and complimentary beverages throughout the ship.
Silversea’s industry-leading culinary offering was extended to the remote shore of Ostrov Isachenko on August 26, providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience for guests. The ship’s Hotel Team ventured ashore to establish a temporary bar near an abandoned weather station, from which the group enjoyed champagne and blinis with caviar, as they explored the abandoned buildings and surrounding tundra in a temperature of just 3°C.
Northwest & Northeast Passage Crossings in 2020
In 2020, Silversea will operate two concurrent crossings of the Northwest and Northeast Passages, aboard Silver Cloud and Silver Explorer, respectively. A 24-day voyage, the crossing of the Northwest Passage will depart Kangerlussuaq for Nome on August 21, 2020, journeying through remote regions in Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. The Northeast Passage crossing will depart Nome on August 22 and will arrive in Tromsø 25 days later, taking guests deeper into the breathtakingly beautiful landscapes of Alaska, Russia, and Norway. Both promise a wealth of remarkable experiences in some of the world’s most remote regions.
Silversea’s recently enhanced all-inclusive Polar Package enriches the cruise line’s Arctic offering with one-night, pre-cruise hotel stay; in-country flight(s) when required by the itinerary; guided shore experiences and Zodiac excursions; polar parka; one post-cruise day-use hotel; and transfers and luggage handling between airport, hotel and ship.