Food & Wine Lifestyle Travel

All at sea – on the luxury Silver Explorer cruise ship

Ready for safety drill on Silver Explorer

Ready for safety drill on Silver Explorer

Playing a role is your choice, if you join an amdram, amateur dramatics group.  Of course if you are a pro, you and your agent decide if it is a good idea to divert from Shakespeare to Strictly Come Dancing to make more money.  For those going cruising, luxury or not, there is no choice.

The gal, like everyone else, has to go through mandatory safety drill before the ship sails.  Ever since the fiasco of the Costa Concordia earlier this year, the pre-sailing safety drill is taken even more seriously, and here on Silver Explorer, the gal takes part.

Up to the theatre to learn how to put the lifejackets on

We pick up the fluorescent orange life-vests from our cabins, and are directed by staff wearing day-glo yellow baseball caps up to the sixth-floor (sorry deck) theatre.  Robin Wicks, the head expedition staffer, leads the safety drill.

We put on our life-vests, go outside in single-line file, right hand on the person in front.  If necessary all 106 of us can get into the same lifeboat.  There are two, and each holds 150. We are told they are already stocked with food and drink (caviar and Dom Perignon?  Not likely, more probably the kind of meals-ready-to-eat that the military have).

warm blankets supply - Silversea's Silver Explorer

A supply of warm blankets on the sixth deck

I think I would snatch a blanket from the supply up at the stern of the sixth deck.  This is the one that you can walk round, entirely, taking right-angle bends so not suitable for running.  But this walkway provides a good pre-breakfast warm-up.

I skirt the Filipino sailors swabbing the decks, doing their sunrise spring clean, then I pop inside into the sixth-deck Observation Lounge for some – excellent – coffee to go, paper cup provided.

Suite's closet - Silversea's Silver Explorer

Masses of hanging space (and lifebelt space) in the closet

Really, this luxury ship has everything, including more names than any actor, amdram or pro. She was launched in 1989 as the Delfin Clipper, switched to Sally Clipper, Baltic Clipper, Delfin Star and Dream 21.

That takes her record up to 2002, when she became World Discoverer for two years, with a further four as World Adventurer.  In 2008 she was renamed, by new owners Silversea Cruises, as Prince Albert II – the ceremony was done by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, where Silversea is based.

In 2011 she passed into the hands of German owners, and her name was brought into line with Silversea corporate branding.  She is now, and we hope forever, Silver Explorer.  Built in Rauma, Finland, she was upgraded in Trieste, Italy.  For the record she is 6,130 GT tonnage, overall length 354 ft 4 ins, with 51 ft 2 ins beam.

Silversea's Silver Explorer bed lighting

The bed has good reading lights either side

Silversea calls its cabins suites.  Number 308 is an Expedition Suite, its 460 sq ft total space giving a walk-around alignment.  Enter, and you can turn immediate right to the walk-in closet. You can, alternatively, go ahead to the living area, with desk, two chairs and a sofa that can be converted into a second bed.

From the living room, turn right to the bedroom, and right again to the walk-in closet, from which you turn left to the bathroom. The bed is king-size, with a commendable choice of pillows.

The closet has enough space for Lady Gaga’s wardrobe, and a safe for her jewels.  The bathroom has a shower large enough for two, a single basin large enough to bath a baby, and a full-size tub.

Welcome aboard - with Champagne, canapés welcomo aboard Silversea's Silver Explorer

Welcome aboard – with Champagne, canapés and Ann Patchett

Of course, in any luxury hotel, even a floating hotel – for that is what a luxury cruise ship is – a butler comes too.  For 308 it is Dinesh, from Mauritius, is assisted by the hard-working Reuben from Yorkshire.

Dinesh comes by with a bottle of Heidsieck Monopole and a plate of seafood canapés.  Since we have borrowed Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder from the excellent onboard library, it seems somewhat appropriate.  Wonderful, Silversea.