SILVERSEA ON A ROLL
As Silver Muse leaves Australia later this month after its second successful season, Silversea is gearing up for a busy year ahead. Silver Origin, the luxury line's first ship custom-built and designed for sailing in the Galapagos islands, makes its debut in July; its first two cruises are already wait-listed but it will operate seven-day itineraries year-round.
Silver Galapagos promises to be the "most elegant ship ever to sail the Galapagos" and the most environmentally conscious ship Silversea has ever built. A maximum of 100 passengers will be looked after by 90 crew – an incredibly high crew-to-guest ratio – and all accommodation is in suites with butler service. It will be equipped with eight Zodiacs and the interactive Basecamp space will host activities with the onboard expedition team.
With the addition of Silver Origin, which replaces Silver Galapagos, Silversea's expedition fleet will comprise Silver Explorer, Silver Cloud and, later this year, Silver Wind. Silver Wind will be moved from the classic fleet in August and transformed into a multi-destination expedition vessel with an ice-strengthened hull; it will set off on its first Antarctica voyage on November 11, 2020.
Meanwhile, the classic fleet also continues to grow. The 596-passenger Silver Moon, the first of two nearly identical sisters to Silver Muse, will make its maiden voyage from Trieste to Civitavecchia on August 6, 2020. Silver Moon introduces S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste), a gastronomic program that encompasses foodie shore tours, destination-focused dinners in the S.A.L.T. Kitchen restaurant, cooking demonstrations and workshops in the S.A.L.T. Lab, and S.A.L.T. Bar, where local tipples will be among the array of drinks served.
Second Muse sister Silver Dawn is scheduled to make its debut in September 2021, bringing the overall classic and expeditions fleet to 10. Two more ships are on order, a new class called Evolution – meaning an evolution of Silver Spirit, Muse, Moon and Dawn.
Not much information is available about these vessels, other than that they will be built in Germany by Meyer Werft, are scheduled for 2022 and 2023 and will probably carry about 600 passengers. However, we can be sure that they will continue the Silversea tradition of elegant, understated luxury and, as Silversea's executive chairman Manfredi Lefebvre has said, will continue to push the boundaries of travel. See silversea.com
TROPICS AND EXOTICS
Oceania Cruises' six expensively refurbished boutique ships – the 1250-passenger Marina and Riviera and 684-passenger Insignia, Nautica, Regatta and Sirena – will be sailing 105 itineraries in its 2021-22 Tropics and Exotics program, 75 of them new to the line. They will call at 10 new ports, including Port Arthur in Tasmania, Whittier in Alaska and Vanuatu's Mystery Island. Cruises range from 10 to 21 days in the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Africa and the Far East. Two Panama Canal voyages feature an overnight stay in Panama City, while Amazon voyages combine rainforest exploration with less-visited Caribbean islands. See oceaniacruises.com
AMERICA'S CUP 2021
The 36th America's Cup will be held in Auckland in March 2021 and you could be at the centre of the action onboard Ponant's new luxury expedition ship Le Bellot. A specially chartered seven-night cruise from Lyttleton (Christchurch) to Auckland, hosted by yachting expert Rob Brown AOM, departs on March 8, 2021. The ship will spend three days in the City of Sails, following calls to Picton in the Marlborough wine region and Tauranga, gateway to Rotorua. As a crew member on Australia II when it won the Cup in 1983, Brown is perfectly placed to analyse the racing. See travelview.net.au
Built in 1931, the 64-passenger windjammer Sea Cloud is the oldest cruise ship still sailing.
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ANNE AND PETER BURTON, SOUTH MELBOURNE, VICTORIA
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN Seven
LAST CRUISE We sailed the Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean with Peter Sommer Travels, visiting 11 Greek islands in a gulet (a two-masted motor-sailing vessel) with 14 other passengers, two exceptional guides and a five-man crew. The emphasis was on archaeology and gastronomy. The accommodation was in cabins with ensuites, the food, wine and service were fantastic and the sites and museums we visited were mind-blowing. Swimming off the boat in the beautifully clear blue Aegean Sea was a bonus! Highlights included sailing into the harbours of Symi and Chalki at sunset and walking into the steaming volcanic crater at Nisyros, followed by dinner at a local restaurant perched high in the mountains overlooking the crater.
NEXT CRUISE "Music Along the Rhine" with Martin Randall Travel, sailing from Amsterdam to Basel on a specially chartered river cruiser on the Rhine.
DREAM SHIP We prefer small vessels, and our last cruise was our fourth on a gulet. We love the informality, the one-on-one relationship with the guides and crew, and especially the camaraderie that develops with the small group of fellow passengers.
DREAM CRUISE Cruising the Aegean islands on a small boat is an idyllic way to spend a few weeks.
DREAM PORT Sailing into Santorini is hard to beat, with the whole vista of the town of Fira slowly opening up to full magnificence along the top of the caldera.
BEST CRUISE TIP Travel light! On informal, small-ship cruises you don't need much. We only take carry-on luggage with us.
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