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Planning for 2022 - Silversea and Suite Type (Balcony)?

Planning for 2022 - Silversea and Suite Type (Balcony)?

Old Jul 25, 20, 9:31 am
  #1  
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Planning for 2022 - Silversea and Suite Type (Balcony)?

My wife and I are in our late fifties and planning our first "serious" cruise (we have taken a 3-day river cruise on the Yangtze River and have a Galapagos Cruise planned for December 2021). We are interested in Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia in December 2022.

We like hiking and wildlife but not interesting in kayaking, snorkelling or diving. We are looking to travel comfortably and in a relatively small ship, and Silversea seem to tick all the boxes, any thoughts, recommendations or alternative suggestions?

If anyone has been on one of the Silversea Antarctica cruises and has stayed in the Medallion Suite, any comments? Is a balcony much use on an Antarctica cruise. Are all the suites of a certain type the same, also any preference between port or starboard suites on an Antarctica cruise?

Any advice/recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

One final question, does the implementation of the Polar Code impact on Silversea cruises?

Thanks in advance...
ademanuele is offline  
Old Jul 28, 20, 4:15 pm
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Originally Posted by ademanuele View Post
We are interested in Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia in December 2022.
South Georgia is the wildlife highlight of that trip. I'm glad to hear that it's on your list if you'll be in the area.

Originally Posted by ademanuele View Post
We like hiking and wildlife but not interesting in kayaking, snorkelling or diving. We are looking to travel comfortably and in a relatively small ship, and Silversea seem to tick all the boxes, any thoughts, recommendations or alternative suggestions?
Small is good. I recommend a ship with no more than 200 passengers (some lines cap their ships at this, even if they can carry more). With a 100 person onshore limit in most places and 4 landing slots each day, a 200 person ship typically lets everyone get their feet on land twice a day for 60-90 minutes at a time (weather permitting).

A 100 person ship generally has few, if any, time limits on how long you can stay ashore. Well, until the ship wants to leave. If you want to return to the ship earlier, you can do so as well - the zodiacs tend to run continuously from the ship to the shore and back.

If by comfortable, you mean luxury, then I would suggest you also look at Hapag (German) and Ponant (French). The crews will speak English, but confirm that lectures will also be held in English if you go with one of them. The wildlife and historical lectures are a big part of the overall Antarctica experience.

If comfortable means comfortable, then you might also want to take a look at Quark and Hurtigruten (Fram only - their other ships carry more than 200 passengers). Double-check Hurtigruten for their lecture language also.

Originally Posted by ademanuele View Post
Is a balcony much use on an Antarctica cruise.
At sea, very weather dependent. In rough seas / strong winds you'll be asked not to use them. The temperature will probably be slightly above freezing throughout the trip, and when there's wind and spray, it will feel even colder. I think most people tend to watch from indoors, but go outside when there's a wildlife sighting. Big animal sightings are often announced during the day, smaller ones are not.

When the ship is at a landing spot, you won't have much time to use a balcony. When you're not onshore, you'll probably be taking a zodiac cruise to see wildlife around the shore. Between those activities, dressing up/down for them, and meals, there's not that much spare time.

Originally Posted by ademanuele View Post
any preference between port or starboard suites on an Antarctica cruise?
If you're going to South Georgia before Antarctica, I would pick starboard because most of the common landing spots are on the eastern side of the island. No guarantees, but I think it's more likely than not the ship will approach from the north in this routing. To me though, whether or not you get the "good" side, it will pale in comparison to what you see on land and from the zodiacs. Even when the ship is conducting landings, it's not that close to land. You can see great landscapes, but penguins will be tiny dots in binoculars, if visible at all.

With that said, I'd pick a cabin in the middle of the ship as opposed to the front or back because it feels more stable in rough seas. Ideally not directly opposite an elevator bank or staircase for noise reasons.
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cruiseplum is offline  
Old Jul 29, 20, 6:52 am
  #3  
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Thanks for the detailed response, much appreciated. I will have another look at Quark and Hurtigruten in detail as I thought they only had large ships.

Does anyone have any thoughts on Aurora, these seem to be very activity focussed?

I am happy booking directly with the cruise company and assume that this is the least expensive route, I was watching a Youtube video where the agent was claiming that they can get better rates from Silversea? I assume companies like Audley, Trailfinder etc will add their standard markup on the published fares?

These are pricey trips, any recommendation on travel insurance policies that provide good cover?

Last edited by ademanuele; Jul 29, 20 at 12:50 pm
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Old Jul 29, 20, 9:33 pm
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Originally Posted by ademanuele View Post
I am happy booking directly with the cruise company and assume that this is the least expensive route, I was watching a Youtube video where the agent was claiming that they can get better rates from Silversea? I assume companies like Audley, Trailfinder etc will add their standard markup on the published fares?
I've never seen an agent add booking fees on top of a cruise fare, at least in the US. I can't say that it doesn't happen in the UK, but normally agents are paid directly by the cruise line out of the cruise fare. Some agents may charge service fees for things like cabin changes, air travel booking, or a cancellation fee (even if you're outside the penalty period in your cruise line contract).

I don't know Audley or Trailfinder, but some companies will lease an entire ship for a specific period and then fill it themselves (for instance, Abercrombie & Kent leases a Ponant ship for Antarctica). A&K pricing might be similar to Ponant, or it may not be close at all, but Ponant won't be selling exactly the same trip if the entire ship is leased.

One way travel agents can offer cheaper rates is by booking blocks of cabins (they may be taking inventory risk to do so). Another is by rebating a portion of their commission directly or indirectly through onboard benefits. Some agents will try to recoup some of this rebate by charging the aforementioned service fees.

If you're comparing UK prices to US ones, check the final price. In the US, some sites will only show the base fare upfront; port charges, taxes and other mandatory items like charter flight costs are excluded until the last step of the booking. Crew gratuities may or may not be included in the fare - varies by line.

The specifics of the contract terms may also differ if you book through a UK agent vs a US one, or direct with the cruise line if they offer both UK and US terms. Even if the UK price of the cruise is a bit higher, being covered by UK consumer protection law might be worth it.

Originally Posted by ademanuele View Post
These are pricey trips, any recommendation on travel insurance policies that provide good cover?
I don't have any recommendations that would cover a UK resident, but polar trips are the only ones where my regular policy gets a top-up. Medical facilities are far away and evacuation costs can be extreme.

On a related note, you'll probably be asked to fill out a medical questionnaire before you leave. If you have any health concerns I suggest you get a copy of the line's standard form before booking.
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Old Aug 2, 20, 11:14 am
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Originally Posted by cruiseplum View Post
Small is good. I recommend a ship with no more than 200 passengers (some lines cap their ships at this, even if they can carry more). With a 100 person onshore limit in most places and 4 landing slots each day, a 200 person ship typically lets everyone get their feet on land twice a day for 60-90 minutes at a time (weather permitting).

A 100 person ship generally has few, if any, time limits on how long you can stay ashore. Well, until the ship wants to leave. If you want to return to the ship earlier, you can do so as well - the zodiacs tend to run continuously from the ship to the shore and back.
Great advice throughout this thread, cruiseplum. I'd just further add to this that I'd strongly recommend ships with closer to 100. 100 vs. 200 is a huge difference. I don't get why people pay five figure sums of money on once-in-a-lifetime trips, and don't seek to maximize their time on land. 60-90 minute landings versus 3-4 hour landings? The latter is much better.

OP, I'd divert the money you're considering spending on a fancy balcony and put that money towards a ship with closer to 100 people.

OP: We did Antarctica + SGI + Falklands this Feb/March with Polar Latitudes, and I'd give them a look.
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Old Aug 3, 20, 7:11 am
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Is there a way to find Antarctica cruise timetables as they are published? Is there a web site that can send updates/alerts or is it just a matter of registering with the various operators?
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Old Aug 3, 20, 9:39 am
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Originally Posted by ademanuele View Post
Is there a way to find Antarctica cruise timetables as they are published? Is there a web site that can send updates/alerts or is it just a matter of registering with the various operators?
There absolutely is not a comprehensive database. You might be able to get some sort of a compilation from various travel agencies' websites, but it won't be by any means complete.

This was recently discussed on TA: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopi...dventures.html
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