Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Say It Isn't So - An Icebreaker?


Lisa and I are about to set off on a cruise which promises to be quite different from our prior experiences. We will be sailing on the Silver Explorer which is the smallest and most unique vessel in the SilverSea fleet. Perhaps the best way to describe what awaits us is to quote from the SilverSea web site:

"Silversea’s purpose-built Silver Explorer expedition ship has been designed specifically for navigating waters in some of the world’s most remote destinations, including both of earth’s polar regions. A strengthened hull with a Lloyd’s Register ice-class notation (1A) for passenger vessels enables Silver Explorer to safely push through ice floes with ease. A fleet of Zodiac boats allows Silversea Expedition guests to visit even the most off-the-beaten path locations and an expert Expedition Team provides insight and understanding to each unforgettable Silver Explorer cruise adventure."

The ship carries a maximum of 132 passengers, and a crew of almost equal size. Unlike its larger sister ships, it has a very informal atmosphere with no formal nights and an "open Bridge policy." At each port, shore excursions are already planned and included as part of the expedition. Generally, we will leave the ship on Zodiacs, which are basically rubber boats with big outboard motors. As such, we will make wet landings on occasion, but this allows us to go places that the normal cruise ship could not go. The ship carries experts in each region in which it is travelling who will prepare us for what we will be experiencing at each port or stop.

During our 37 day cruise, I count 32 different places that we will visit, and for those who are interested, I am attaching a copy of our actual itinerary. Besides the usual type of activities, we will explore sea caves by zodiac, visit colonies of mute swans and puffins. We will visit some of the mysterious standing stones in Scotland, and walk through the village in the Isle of Man that was the filming location for the movie "Waking Ned Devine." We will sail up close to icebergs in our zodiacs and explore deep fjords and lava caves. Eventually we will head North to the edge of the polar ice shelf and in go in search of polar bears and a walrus or two, and at times hope to photograph over five different species of whales that traverse the northern waters at this time of the year. We start in England, visit Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Orkney Islands, the Hebrides, and the Faroe Islands before reaching Iceland. From there we travel north to Norway and the land of Svalbard, home to over 5,000 polar bears. Our journey ends at Longyearbyen, Norway, the northernmost city in the world. From there a chartered aircraft will bring us to Oslo to spend the night before we once again return home.

Obviously we have never quite done anything like this, but it sounds quite exciting. Given the schedule that we have, I am uncertain as to how much time I will have for writing my blogs and publishing my photographs. So, please "bear" with me and I promise to write, but it will probably be done in batches when time permits.

We hope everyone is well and that you will enjoy our travels together.


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