In June 2018, Accent On Travel was welcomed to Silversea Expeditions 10th Anniversary Celebration in London, including a trip on the expedition ship the Silver Cloud. Here, we interviewed Accent On Travel owner, cruise veteran, and travel expert Annette Stellhorn on what made this event special – and what separates Silversea's experience from other luxury cruise lines.
Tell me a little bit about the trip.
The trip was the celebration of Silversea being in expedition cruising for 10 years. We were the guests of Manfredi Lefebvre D’Ovidio, Chairman of Silversea. We were thrilled to be a part of it.
Silversea sent us to London with the management and fellow guests. Next day they transferred us to the ship itself, docked at the London Tower Bridge location. We were able to board and explore the ship until it was time to sail away. They had a band playing, British flags.
They sailed out of the Thames, out towards Dublin, Ireland. It was a two-day sail, pure education and information on how they do expeditions differently than other cruise lines.
Expedition style explorations of unique destinations or off-the-beaten-track experience at world-famous sites. The no-motor coach style of sightseeing.
Did you glean any new perspectives on Silversea Cruises?
There was a new perspective in that their rotation of ships is unique. They’re exclusively built for expedition travel. They are gutted and remodeled for the expedition style of exploration at that specific destination. For instance, they have a ship with a protective ice hull, built to go into the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctic. And they carry a limited number of passengers.
The one that goes into the Galapagos has a completely different build.
The other thing that’s unique is that the chairman wants a comfortable experience when you’re not on tour. The dining room, food, and accommodations are much more comfortable than on a typical expedition ship. For example, the beds are normal beds as in a luxury hotel. Bathroom and bathroom amenities are like a luxury hotel.
You might come back from a day of experiencing these phenomenal moments in your life, exhausted, and then you come back and have a wonderful place to relax and go to.
Every cabin also has a butler – who needs a butler! But, it’s interesting, and in 92 cruises and 30 years of selling travel, we were shocked – the day before we were supposed to pack up before we go home the butler had taken the luggage out, cleaned it, and left a little note. And also said if you need any help packing, please call me.
How is an expedition ship different from other luxury ships?
There's a casual-style of comfort on the expedition ships. You can go into the dining room in the middle of the day in your shorts and flip-flops in the Galapagos. You can go into the dining with your Uggs at night in the Arctic.
Silversea Classic has more of that small boutique luxury style, but the expedition ships are different. What the chairman did was say, “Why do I have to go to Borneo and suffer when I have a ship that can go to Borneo and dock the ship at places you need normally need to go by motor coach?” “Why would we have to be in twin beds?"
I hate the word luxury. It should be "comfort."
Tell me more about the Silver Cloud.
This is the protective hulled polar ship. From the Arctic to Antarctic and back again. In the Arctic you go June-July-August, and in the Antarctic you go November-Dec-Jan-Feb. In between, they find unique destinations as they go from the North Pole to the South Pole. For instance, I will be in Japan, circumnavigating Japan and South Korea as they re-orient.
The other thing they do is have onboard lecturers that are world-famous. I have a photo of a compass used by David Livingston in his world travels. They brought it on board!
They brought the sextant on board that was used by Charles Darwin. His pocket sextant. It’s about how the lecturers wrap you into the destination by these pieces.
A slide from the geographical society of the landing of the penguins in Antarctica. You don’t know what you don’t know, is the thing.
Let me tell you about the art onboard the ship: Victoria Falls, 1860. I have photos of all the historical details. The art matches the expeditions and it’s all replicas of historic art. Photos from original expedition guides. Animals and wildlife. The onboard artwork reflects where you’re going.
It places the travel as part of the history, the continuity of explorers. What else did the trip entail?
When we landed the expedition ship they took us into Dublin and we stayed in a phenomenal hotel, did a pub tour. Dublin downtown we loved. Silversea really sets up the client with the pre and post really nicely.
We can get discounted business class seats for travelers that are the best prices available. Better than published rates. AoT and Silversea both offer pre- and post experiences.
It’s an all-inclusive experience on board. On the expedition ships for the Arctic they include the life jackets, pre-travel. AoT does a lot of work to make sure everything works really nicely.
You get a pillow menu! A body pillow. Buckwheat. Aqua plus. Fairfax.
It's such a nice attention to detail.
I’m like, “wow, this is crazy!” I have to take my own normally, but I won’t have to take my own. I pack light.