Silversea Reports On Its First-Ever Transit Of The Iconic Northeast Passage
Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw
For the first time in the cruise line’s history, Silversea guests recently crossed the iconic Northeast Passage.
Between 10AUG and 5SEPT, travellers journeyed 5,019 nautical miles between Nome and Tromsø, calling at 27 destinations in three countries. They travelled aboard Silver Explorer in 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 the voyage by 15 experts from the cruise line’s 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.
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 many walruses.
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, home to a small town of aged Soviet-style buildings and 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 24AUG, 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.
Silversea’s culinary offering was extended to the remote shore of Ostrov Isachenko on 26AUG, 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.
“Our guests shared a feedback score of 100% for the overall cruise experience on the Northeast Passage crossing, which speaks volumes about Silversea’s approach to ultra-luxury expedition cruising,” says Conrad Combrink, Silversea's Senior Vice President of Strategic Development for Expeditions and Experiences.
“The depth with which we explore each destination ensures that guests enjoy an immersive and holistic journey of discovery, which is both enriching and unforgettable. Silversea’s first crossing of the Northeast Passage captured the true spirit of expedition. I look forward to 2020 when the cruise line will unlock both the Northwest and the Northeast Passages for guests once more!”
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 21AUG, 2020, journeying through remote regions in Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. The Northeast Passage crossing will depart Nome on 22AUG 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.
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.