For those who enjoy the marvels of the natural world, few locales compare with Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands. Happily, for those who wish to have this experience on an ultra-luxury, truly all-inclusive ship, Silversea’s newest expedition ship, the destination-specific Silver Origin is just the ticket.
I was on board the Silver Origin in late February when it was officially christened by Bishop Patricio Bonillo, and esteemed conservationist and Galápagos Islands permanent resident Johanna Carrión named as the ship’s Godmother. (The Silver Origin first started welcoming guests in June 2021, but the Omicron variant had postponed the naming festivities. Since its first voyage last June there have been 36 weekly voyages with eastern or western itineraries and not a single case of COVID.)
Built in 2020, the 5,800 ton Read the rest of this entry »
“Keep calm and visit Ukraine,” says one travel insurance supplier’s recent marketing campaign, in a tone-deaf call for travel advisors to become evangelists for travel to Ukraine (Visit Ukraine – INFORMATION PAGE FOR FOREIGN TOURISTS).
And indeed, travel advisors report that many clients are holding steady on their planned cruises and FITs in the region, if not to Ukraine itself. Still, though, as final payments come due, politics and the drumbeat of military operations are beginning to take a toll.
“I sell cruises only, and I’m a top producer for Virtuoso, so I have lots of people going to that region—and surprisingly few have canceled,” says Linda Speer of Cruises by Linda in Harrison, AR. “Still, I have a group of seven cabins booked on a Baltic cruise in September that’s looking instead for something to do domestically. Between omicron and this Ukraine business, it was just too much uncertainty.”
Of course, that’s something Speer has gotten used to of late Read the rest of this entry »
A decade ago, many expedition ships were retired ice breakers lacking in creature comforts such as nice staterooms and good food. That situation started to change when some traditional luxury small ship cruise lines and charter operators ordered “luxury expedition ships.” These ships combined their usual cruising features with polar-rated PC6 hulls that could handle ice packs in Antarctica and, hopefully, transit the Northwest Passage unassisted.
Many of the ship designers let their imaginations run wild. They added a helicopter and a mini-submarine; and “garages” that permitted the vessels to launch and retrieve Zodiacs and water toys from inside the ship. Most also supplemented the crew with naturalists, professional photographers, and armed polar bear guards—bringing some guest-crew ratios to almost 1:1. Read the rest of this entry »