The purchase is a smart move by Silversea, who have been keen to expand their expedition programme. The conversion of their smallest classic ships, Silver Cloud and Silver Wind, to operate as expedition vessels has increased their capacity to operate in polar waters, and the introduction of the brand new Silver Origin in the Galapagos has cemented their position as the luxury expedition line. However, it's the smaller 144-guest Silver Explorer that is currently used for more adventurous expeditions in polar and tropical waters, and this ship is due to leave the fleet in 2023, leaving a gap for those looking for a more unusual expedition.
Silversea also need to deal with an increasing level of competition in the luxury expedition space since they pioneered this style of travel back in 2008. Scenic have been successfully operating Scenic Eclipse for several years, a vessel that turned heads as the first luxury expedition ship to host a number of hi-tech toys such as helicopters and submarines. Hapag-Lloyd have three new build expeditions ships, one of which, Hanseatic Inspiration, is dedicated to the international market. Ponant's Le Commandant Charcot offers unrivalled ice-breaking capabilities, and let's not forget Seabourn's first dedicated expedition vessel, Seabourn Venture, giving plenty of options to choose from. For Silversea to snap up a ship that is read to operate and can immediately compete with these rivals in terms of expedition capability, and surpass many of them in terms of onboard luxury, is quite a coup.
Silversea will likely want to make the vessel their own in terms of look and feel, but the bare bones of the vessel are unlikely to change, so let's review what made Crystal Endeavor such an exciting new product. Originally scheduled to launch in June 2020, and then inevitably delayed, the ship was finally named in Germany (where she was built) in late June 2021, and commenced cruising in Iceland in July. After a few initial teething problems, she settled well and guests raved about this fantastic new ship. She continued in operation until February 2022, and completed a short series of Antarctica cruises before Crystal were finally forced to pull the plug.
First of all, the bare facts: 20,000 GRT, with a capacity of 200 guests in 100 suites (though this may increase slightly if Silversea decide to alter the layout of the ship). What does that mean for you? Well, it means that the ship is large enough to ride comfortably, and has sufficient space on board to give you all the facilities of an ultra-luxury cruise ship in miniature, as well as spacious sea view suites, all with their own veranda. In fact, this ship offers more space per person than any other ship, expedition or otherwise, currently in service or under construction.
A ship built for comfort in the polar regions can often be a little unappealing in the tropics, but with her clever design - the two storey solarium, spacious observation deck areas (including outdoor Jacuzzi), sea level marina and of course the veranda suites already mentioned this ship will be comfortable whatever the weather.
The impression we got when several of the Mundy staff visited during a call to London is that she is rather more imposing than we expected. Is she a large yacht or a small ship? As we said, she is so small she only carries 200 passengers, but so large she has more space per passenger than any other cruise vessel. So small she can operate expedition voyages calling at tiny harbours and bays, but large enough to ride heavy seas, for example on her journey across the Drake Passage to Antarctica, in great comfort. So small she offers great intimacy and personal service, but large enough to delight her passengers with a whole range of lounges and dining options.
We cannot predict if Silversea will retain the décor, but they will surely make the most of the numerous dining options which have become a feature of the newer Silversea classic fleet. The light-flooded solarium is perfect for a more casual breakfast and lunch experience next to the indoor pool.
Some expedition ships focus on cosy enclosed spaces, and whilst these exist on this ship - with some inviting and intimate lounges - what is most striking is the light-filled public rooms: the floor-to-ceiling windows in the spacious lounge high up at the front of the ship, and the double height conservatory style solarium, both of which enable you to sit in the warm whilst enjoying the stunning views of your wilderness cruise, with easy access to extensive deck space for closer inspection of the stunning scenery and wildlife.
Whilst there is no lecture theatre, a relaxed lounge gives great sightlines and huge screens for more formal lectures, as well as doubling up as a great venue for evening entertainment.
The spacious suites, starting at a generous 304 square feet, are welcoming, comfortable and well designed, with lots of bathroom space including a sit-down shower and double sink, a walk-in wardrobe and a generous sitting area leading out onto an extensive verandah. Well designed mudrooms down on deck 3 will enable speedy disembarkation in Zodiacs to go and explore.
With a PC6 designation the ship can operate through medium first-year ice, and features the latest technology. Travelling into pristine wilderness environments, the ship's green credentials are very important. Sophisticated waste management equipment, storage and procedures ensure nothing will be left behind unless pre-arranged with a specific community equipped to handle waste. Grey and blackwater discharge parameters exceed international requirements, and the ship is equipped with advanced dynamic positioning technology to ensure no harm is done to delicate underwater ecosystems and reefs.
Because there are so many luxury expedition ships coming into service at present, here at Mundy Adventures we are working hard to differentiate the various products to ensure that our clients pick the right vessel for them. With Silver Endeavour we have a small and elegant luxury cruise ship, enhanced by its ability to travel far from the beaten track, and we think it will be a very welcome addition to the Silversea Expeditions fleet.