The first destination-specific ship built for luxury line Silversea has been floated out of its shipyard ahead of entering service in the summer.
The 100-passenger Silver Origin will be based in the Galapagos Islands from July 18 in its inaugural sailing season.
Construction of the all-suite vessel is continuing after it emerged from the De Hoop shipyard at Lobith in the Netherlands.
Silver Origin will replace Silver Galapagos which is being retired.
The new ship will run alternating seven-day itineraries between Baltra and San Cristóbal in the Pacific Ocean archipelago.
Silversea president and chief executive Roberto Martinoli said: “This is an important milestone for our cruise line; it takes us one step closer to strengthening our industry-leading offering in the Galapagos further still.
“While completing the final stages of Silver Origin’s construction, ensuring that the ship surpasses Silversea’s trademark level of comfort, we are also readying our expedition team, who will deliver an enriching and memorable expedition experience for our guests.”
The experts will offer guided excursions by Zodiac boats, hikes and nature walks ashore.
If it’s not on Instagram, did your vacation actually happen?
The authentic, off-the-beaten-path, Instagrammable vacation is what vacationers want today, according to recent studies.
In cruising terms, this translates to small ports, far-flung locals and activities they won’t find on every single mega-ship.
Cruises are obliging.
They’re taking travellers to destinations that include the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Cuba and even Antarctica.
“There is a special allure for Americans due to Cuba being a forbidden travel destination for so many decades,” says Laura Carlson, principal travel advisor in Houston. “The Galapagos Islands are amazing because the animals have no fear of humans, so you are standing about 5 feet away from them while they pose for your photos. Additionally, Antarctica is a popular destination and books up fast.”
Formerly, a Caribbean cruise—which is an easy, accessible vacation for anyone and everyone —was the go-to for cruisers. But today, new and seasoned cruisers are taking on the complicated spots, craving the previously inaccessible locations.
According to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, visitor numbers making shore landings in Antarctica reached close to 52,000 during the 2017/2018 season, an increase of 17 per cent from the previous year.
This is despite of—or because of—the fact that the ships may only carry a maximum of 500 visitors at a time, and only one ship can visit each site. There is a maximum number of ship visits daily, with no more than 100 passengers onshore at a time.
And then there’s the journey itself.
“Accessing the Antarctic Peninsula involves two days at sea crossing the infamous Drake Passage—this is a notoriously unpredictable stretch of ocean,” says Frances Armitage, senior PR executive at Chimu Adventures in Sydney. “We are living in an increasingly experiential society, and Antarctica has ultimate bragging rights, yet is still a safe and accessible thing to do if you have the money and time.”
Even the ships travelling to more popular destinations like Mexico or the Caribbean are working hard to create the off-the-beaten-path experiences on and off the water to attract vacationers.
For example, Seabourn and Holland America are some of the ships that stop at Dominica, where visitors can tour the volcanic mountains, rainforests and geothermal springs. Princess cruises stop at Bequia, which is a 7-mile island where you can visit the open-air food market to try the local cuisine or check out the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary.
Many people are opting to extend their trip with a land-based tour for a few days either before or after the trip, says Jenni Fielding, marketing manager at Cruise 118 in the UK. More than half—or 57 per cent—of cruisers extend their vacations in the port cities, and 68 per cent of millennials do this, according to the Cruise Lines International Association study.
“Seasoned cruisers are looking for something new. Not just new port of call, but also new land-based experiences when they get there,” Fielding says.
They’re also choosing ships that offer onboard experiences that can’t be found elsewhere.
Carnival Vista just added the RedFrog Pub and Brewery, which creates beer out of desalinated seawater. And on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, former Olympians perform in its water acrobat show.
Now that is something you can brag about on Instagram.
The world is a wonderful patchwork of variety, with something totally different to explore in every corner of the globe. So if you’re sick of wintry weather – or just fancy a complete change of place – there is an exciting destination out there to be discovered, and, thanks to the schedule that the tourism industry operates by, there are lots of good low-season deals to be had. Here are a few suggestions of top cruise destinations – only not at the times of year you might expect.
November to January
The winter months are a funny time for the cruise calendar. Although the weeks of Christmas and New Year are peak times for trips to the Caribbean and the Mexican Riviera, early November and late January are very quiet periods that nevertheless offer all of the benefits that you’d expect from busier times. The weather is still beautiful and perfect for beach days and general lounging, but crowds are few and, with less demand for tourist attractions and excursions, ticket prices are lower. Meanwhile, the South Pacific, and particularly the exquisite island of Tahiti, is the perfect place to escape the bitter cold of European winters. Wade in the crystal waters and relax on the beaches of French Polynesia, while enjoying the peace of the low season in the cafes and bars.
February to May
Springtime is a great chance to pick up some travel bargains before the real holiday season gets into full swing, and there are some amazing destinations that are cheaper and much less hassle to visit at this time of year. South America is a particularly good hotspot to try. Temperatures are not yet up to their summer highs but they are still very pleasant – and, helpfully, less humid – and in a part of the world that sees a lot of tourist traffic, the presence of fewer crowds really pays off when it comes to convenience and the prices you pay. The Amazon rainforest can be explored via river vessel and makes for a really unique and adventurous trip – and the milder weather will certainly be welcome when you’re navigating the humid confines of the jungle. Alternatively, there are the awe-inspiring and vibrant Galapagos Islands, whose unrivalled flora and fauna helped Darwin to develop his theory of evolution. Although they are popular most of the year round, they enjoy a slight lull in trade around this time of year.
June to August
It may be the peak holiday season during which many Westerners set off around the globe for a hard-earned break somewhere completely different, but there are still parts of the world offering real bargains worth having during their months of hibernation from the tourist trail. Tourists flock to Canada and New England every autumn for their world-famous foliage and breath-taking landscapes, making the summer months the perfect time to visit. Many locals are away for their own holidays, the weather is warm and there is still plenty to do and see, at a much cheaper rate. Australia is another great place to visit during low season; don’t forget that this is Australia’s winter, but extreme weather is unlikely, and there are plenty of attractions to see and bars and restaurants to enjoy while avoiding the high-season-price tickets.
September to October
Autumn brings about many opportunities for exciting and affordable cruises. Now that all of the summer tourist footfall has ceased and normal working days have been resumed, there are many places where you can enjoy the peace and quiet – and cheaper prices. Hawaii is still soaking up the tropical sunshine between September and October, with its colourful beaches bare and ready to be relaxed upon. Although the heat can bring about tropical storms, it will certainly not dampen your Hawaii experience, and there are any number of characterful bars and restaurants to take temporary refuge in. Alternatively, the autumn months are low season for the cruise routes of Northern Europe, which include the famously beautiful fjords of Norway. The crisp winter weather makes for wondrous landscapes, so don’t forget to bring your camera. The affordability of Northern Europe during low season is a definite perk too, with Scandinavia being a lovely but quite expensive destination, so take advantage of low prices and fewer people on board cruise ships.
Royal’s Jewel of the Seas leaving Stockholm
About the author: Debbie Stevens oversees The Cruise Line’s sales team and assists with coordinating the company’s marketing strategy. She has had over 20 years’ travel experience with various responsibilities and sailed with Windstar Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, amongst others.