An Arctic Svalbard Adventure Aboard Silver Explorer

Silver Explorer is the first of three dedicated ultra-luxury expedition ships sailing for Silversea’s Silversea Expeditions brand. Photo courtesy of Silversea Cruises

“He stood breathing, and the more he breathed the land in, the more he was filled up with all the details of the land. He was not empty. There was more than enough here to fill him. There would always be more than enough.”

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

At the northernmost reaches of this planet is an archipelago of islands collectively known as Svalbard. Located halfway between the northernmost coast of Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is the Antarctica of the North; caked in ice and snow on a nearly year-round basis, with a temperature that barely manages to climb above 7°C, or 44.6°F, during the summer months.
Then there’s the matter of the sun. Back on April 19, it simply stopped setting in the evening, remaining fully up 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The famous “Midnight Sun” will bathe the entire archipelago in constant daylight until August 25, when it will dip below the horizon for all of 61 minutes.

The small hamlet of Ny-Alesund, in Arctic Svalbard. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

The small hamlet of Ny-Alesund, in Arctic Svalbard. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Svalbard has an entire population of a little over two thousand, nearly all of whom live in the capital city of Longyearbyen – the northernmost city in the world with a population greater than 1,000 inhabitants.
Svalbard is one of the most remote and inaccessible places in the world – and we’re headed there in July aboard ultra-luxury line Silversea’s rugged and adventurous Silver Explorer.

Silver Explorer Voyage 7514 will take me to the farthest reaches of Arctic Svalbard. Illustration courtesy of Silversea

Silver Explorer Voyage 7514 will take me to the farthest reaches of Arctic Svalbard. Illustration courtesy of Silversea

Departing July 2, 2015 from Tromsø, Norway aboard Silver Explorer’s Voyage 7514, this itinerary is the staple of Silver Explorer’s extensive Arctic expedition programme, with five voyages sailing between Tromsø and Longyearbyen, or reverse. To round out her summer season in the high arctic, Silver Explorer will chart a course for Iceland, Greenland, and Canada’s High Arctic, ending in St. John’s, Newfoundland in late-September.
Because flying directly to Tromsø from North America is a bit of an arduous task, I’ll begin my journey in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on July 1, with an overnight stay at Silversea’s Silver Shore Simply hotel, the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Oslo.
The next morning, it’s back to Oslo-Gardermoen Airport for a date with my SAS flight to Tromsø – and the Silver Explorer.

Silversea's Silver Explorer at anchor off Rathlin Island on the morning of Sunday, May 27, 2012. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Silversea’s Silver Explorer at anchor off Rathlin Island on the morning of Sunday, May 27, 2012. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

This is my second date with the beautiful Silver Explorer, a ship I last sailed on in 2012 when I made my very first expedition cruise on a repositioning sailing through the British Isles from Portsmouth, England to Greenock, Scotland. Silversea’s first luxury expedition ship, Silver Explorer was previously known as Prince Albert II until the line changed her name to bring her more in-line with naming conventions throughout the Silversea fleet. But regardless of what name she sailed under, Silver Explorer was an unabashed runaway success. Thought it may sound contradictory, the concept of a luxury adventure expedition appealed to a wide variety of travellers – including many who had never cruised on the line’s “classic” fleet of luxury vessels.
I experienced this firsthand onboard Silver Explorer at Silversea’s past-guest party, known as the Venetian Society. One couple had 100 days under their belt with the line – and in conversing with them, I learned they’d never set foot aboard one of Silversea’s other ships. All 100 days were earned aboard the Silver Explorer.

The Panorama Lounge and adjacent Connoisseur's Club are intimate, cozy and inviting - and finding a seat is never an issue. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The Panorama Lounge and adjacent Connoisseur’s Club aboard Silver Explorer are intimate, cozy and inviting – and finding a seat is never an issue. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The attractive, wood-accented Restaurant aboard Silver Explorer, facing forward. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The attractive, wood-accented Restaurant aboard Silver Explorer, facing forward. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Think of Silver Explorer as a rugged, mini-version of Silversea’s flagship, Silver Spirit, and you’ll get the idea of what to expect: beautifully-designed suites with marble bathrooms and Bulgari toiletries. Cherry-wood panelling in the main restaurant, which features 180-degree views of the passing scenery and the same Relais & Chateaux-inspired cuisine that exists on the line’s “classic” luxury vessels. She also boasts a huge Library & Internet Center, an Observation Lounge, and a cozy Piano Bar known as the Panorama Lounge that serves as the de facto social hub of the ship by day and night.

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