Friday 28 September 2018

Silversea Expeditions under the Northern Lights

#expeditioncruising #thisissilversea

Guests on a recent Silversea Expeditions voyage were treated to one of nature's most stunning phenomena: the aurora borealis, or northern lights.  This awe-inspiring display of otherworldly green lights dancing across the night's sky came into view as Silver Cloud sailed off the southwest coast of Greenland on 4 September 2018.  The sighting was representative of Silversea's commitment to unlocking deep travel experiences for guests.

For Silver Cloud's guests, who gathered on the ship's top deck to witness the lights, it was a spellbinding finale to a day spent exploring Qeqertarsuaq, a small town on scenic Disko Island.  They had hiked through scenic trails to reach cascading waterfalls and a bay of glistening icebergs.  Enriching guests' immersion into the authentic beauty of Mother Nature, the sight of the northern lights – which are formed by electrons interacting with gases in the magnetosphere - offered a truly unforgettable memory.

"It's a real privilege for us to enable travellers to unlock such thrilling experiences as witnessing the northern lights," says Conrad Combrink, Silversea's Senior Vice President of Strategic Development for Expeditions and Experiences. "Using our expert knowledge and our collective experience, we create the ideal conditions for our guests to enjoy remarkable travel experiences across the world; we're delighted that on this occasion Silver Cloud was in the right place at the right time for our guests to witness a once-in-a-lifetime display.  Moments like these are what traveling deeper is all about."

In 2018, Silversea Expeditions celebrates its 10thanniversary of luxury expedition cruising. Over the past decade, the cruise line has specialised in taking travellers closer to the authentic beauty of the world, unlocking deep travel experiences in ultimate comfort with its fleet of intimate ships. Silversea sails to over 900 destinations across the world, taking guests closer to fascinating cultures and beautiful landscapes.  Silver Cloud will return to Greenland on several expeditions in 2019, including voyages departing from Kangerlussuaq on 26 August and 11 September – during the optimal time period for spotting the northern lights.

Hosting just 254 guests, the luxurious Silver Cloud carries a fleet of 16 Zodiacs and 10 kayaks, providing the opportunity for guests to connect deeper with a destination from the water. Depending on the region, between 20 and 22 Expedition Team members are always on hand to share their considerable knowledge and insights with guests.  They provide lectures in the multi-tiered Explorer Lounge, run workshops, lead Zodiac and kayak trips, and guide nature walks -- all of which is complimentary.

Aboard Silversea's ships, guests enjoy ocean-view suites, sumptuous cuisine, and the personalized service of a butler. Enriching the experience are such all-inclusive amenities as complimentary premium wines and spirits, specialty coffees, bottled water, juices and soft drinks served throughout the ship; an in-suite bar, stocked with guests' preferences; an in-suite 24-hour dining service; and unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi, location permitting.

Browse Silversea's range of luxurious expedition cruises:

Thursday 27 September 2018

From on board: Up periscope!

#expeditioncruising .

From on board Silversea Silver Cloud

Location: St John's, Newfoundland
Date: 27 September 2018

St Johns offers a perfectly protected harbour

From down Water Street in St John's, it looks just like an empty flagpole. But closer inspection of the vertical mast protruding from the unremarkable building reveals its true purpose. Yet closer investigation reveals an even more fascinating story.

It must be remembered that St John's and many ports in Newfoundland (then still a British dominion) played a vital role in WWII supplying warships and merchant vessels sailing in the critical Atlantic convoys. As such, German U-Boats lay in wait in the waters off the coast, reaping havoc for the entire six years.

Ship to shore. Bar at the Crows Nest, St John's. (RE)

On the evening of 15 April 1945, just three weeks before the end of the war in Europe, the little Canadian minesweeper and anti-submarine ship, Esquimalt, sailed from Halifax to go on routine patrol. Unknown to the Canadians, the German submarine U-190 saw them and in their rush to escape fired a torpedo at Esquimalt, scoring a direct hit. The little ship sank in a matter of minutes and half her crew of 83 died, most from exposure in the freezing waters.

U-190 spent the next days on patrol until they received news from Germany of the surrender when her commander, the 25-year-old Hans-Erwin Reith, raised the white flag and formally handed his boat to the Canadian Navy. After being escorted back to Newfoundland, the submarine remained as a trophy and training vessel with the Canadian Navy until it was scuttled in spectacular fashion two years later.

U-190 surrenders to the Canadians. The periscope on the
conning tower is now a fixture in St John's Crow's Nest Officers Club.

U-190's periscope (RE)
Before being sent to the bottom, officers salvaged numerous items, including the periscope which was installed in their clubrooms in St John's. The Crow's Nest Officers Club, as it is still known, was founded in 1942 as a place were officers from the many ships then gathering in the harbour could mix, talk freely and drink.

Today, visitors are permitted to venture up the rickety stairs to the semi-secret doorway in what was a pre-war warehouse. Inside the club, walls are bedecked with all manner of memorabilia: photos, flags, hats, plaques, model ships and items salvaged from various vessels including U-190.

If these walls could talk!

Expedition Cruising editor, Roderick Eime, is travelling as a guest of Silversea with assistance from Tourism Canada.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Trouble continues for Croatian shipyard

#expeditioncruising .

The Croatian shipyard, Uljanik, currently building the Scenic Eclipse luxury 'discovery yacht' and with a contract to build the Australian company's second vessel in 2020, continues to struggle.

Scenic Eclipse after float-out in January [intellinews]

According to Standard & Poor's Global Ratings "... the resolution of the troubled Uljanik shipyard, which is currently in search of a strategic investor and could otherwise face bankruptcy, could cost the government up to 1% of GDP. The precise cost however depends on the final scenario, and the possible finalization of ships under construction."

Of the launch delay, Scenic founder Glen Moroney said in a July statement, “Despite the best efforts of our build supervision team to make up construction time, we are not prepared to compromise the quality of the vessel and potentially impact guest experiences to meet the original launch date.”

The situation is certainly critical, but not impossible. S&P have upped the country's credit rating to BB+/B and issued a positive outlook for Croatia's GDP. [source]

In the meantime, Scenic remains optimistic of a January 2019 delivery date for Eclipse and continues to promote departures, beginning with 'Ultimate Antarctica' on 28 January 2019.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

From on board: Lonely Lighthouses of Nova Scotia

#expeditioncruising .

From on board Silversea Silver Cloud

Location: Havre St Pierre, Québec
Date: Friday, 21 September 2018

Lonely Lighthouses
Postcard found in a souvenir store

The waterways around Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia and eastern Quebec are dotted with lighthouses, some of them more than 200 years old. There are some 150 of them in Nova Scotia alone. Yet even with all these lighthouses, ships still came to grief in their hundreds.

Of course, these days with solar and wind power coupled with modern electronics, the life of a lonely lighthouse keeper is a thing of the past. Most of the old structures are preserved for heritage value with new, stark metal automated pylons standing nearby.

Today we visit Havre Saint Pierre with its Mingan Archipelago National Park, home to hundreds of weird, mushroom and phallus-like limestone monoliths formed some 500 million years ago when the ocean was much warmer. With an escort of a tiny Minke Whale, our little local ferry arrives at the pier of Petite ile au Marteau where Guy, our Parks Canada guide awaits.

Petite iles au Marteau (RE)

“Hello bonjour,” he says in the quaint bilingual greeting that is part of life all over Canada, but particularly so in this region where Arcadian French communities still speak their own form of the language.

“Keep your eyes open and you may witness sea parrots or sea swallows,” he advises, using the local terms for puffins and terns. The French spoken all through these parts has its own dialects too, peculiar to local regions and even villages. So strange is it, that even the native Quebecois have to beg for a repeat. Parisians would die with a leg in the air.

Mingan monoliths (pixontrips/500px)

After a stroll of a few hundred metres we arrive at the lighthouse with its keeper's cottage and outbuildings. Guy points out the interesting plants like Labrador Tea, a curious, star-leafed plant of the rhododendron family favoured, as a herbal tea by the early settlers and Inuit. But beware, you must steep the tea in hot water only to get the mild, calming benefits. Boil the water and you get both hallucinogens and a laxative. We joke that if you made that mistake, you would see purple monsters and crap yourself!

Silver Cloud alongside at Havre St Pierre (RE)

As we continue around the Gulf of St Lawrence aboard Silver Cloud, many more lighthouses are counted including several on the Iles de la Madeleine (which we will visit) and the Quebec coast to the west.

Blessed with cool and sunny conditions (with the occasional uncomfortable wind) we continue south to Louisbourg and Nova Scotia.

Expedition Cruising editor, Roderick Eime, is travelling as a guest of Silversea with assistance from Tourism Canada.

Saturday 22 September 2018

From on board: Gros Morne Rock Stars

#expeditioncruising .

From on board Silversea Silver Cloud

Location: Woody Point, Newfoundland
Date: Thursday, 20 September 2018

Rock Stars: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

It's not every day you get to see the centre of the Earth, but that's what's going on at UNESCO-listed Gros Morne National Park near the delightful hamlet of Woody Point, Newfoundland. Huh? Well, stick with me on this.

The Main (and only) street in Woody Point (RE)

Just outside the town is the Parks Canada Discovery Centre devoted to the neighbouring 1800 sqkm Gros Morne National Park which, by the way, was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1987.

UNESCO state: “The property presents the complete portrayal of the geological events that took place when the ancient continental margin of North America was modified by plate movement by emplacement of a large, relocated portion of oceanic crust and ocean floor sediments.”

Here in the park, we go on a leisurely hike with our guide who fills us with knowledge of this most unusual landscape.

Silversea guests explore the landscape of Gros Morne NP (RE)

In the days when the theory of plate tectonics was still hotly debated, Newfoundland-born geologist Harold Williams (among others) advanced the theory of colliding super-continents much to the dismay of the established theorists, but the landscape of the Tablelands within Gros Morne held all the evidence he needed.

Great hiking and views in the Gros Morne NP (Parks Canada)

Here we see a distinct change in the landscape with barren, toxic Martian-like rocks on one side and lush green hills on the other. The minerals disgorged in the violent 'obduction' of the continental plates contain both the ancient ocean floor and minerals rocks like peridotite and chromite which can only come from the Earth's semi-liquid mantle. Got it? Enough geology then.

Silversea Silver Cloud at anchor in scenic Bonne Bay, Newfoundland. (RE)

Before we reboard Silver Cloud there's time for a bit of a stroll through the tiny township and its delightful retro buildings, bars and shops.

Expedition Cruising editor, Roderick Eime, is travelling as a guest of Silversea with assistance from  Tourism Canada.

Thursday 20 September 2018

From on board: Meet the Vikings

#expeditioncruising .

From on board Silversea Silver Cloud

Location: St. Anthony, Newfoundland
Date: Wednesday 19 September 2018

MAP: click to enlarge

Meet the Vikings

We've all heard tales of the rampaging Vikings or seen the graphic TV series of the same name, but who knew these ambitious Scandinavians were the first Europeans to settle in North America?

'Vikings' greet Silversea guests at the Port of St Anthony

True story. The great sagas have long told of great feats of exploration and conquest, but these sometimes fanciful tales have lacked hard evidence. But in 1960, two Norwegians conducted a thorough survey of the area, finding archaeological evidence and locating the settlement now known as L'Anse aux Meadows. The site was later inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage list.

Authentically recreated Norse structures at Norstead Viking Village (RE)

Despite many years of excavation, there's not a lot to see of the original settlement. The digs have been re-interred by Canada's Parks Authority and replica structures built adjacent the site. Here we meet enthusiastic reenactors 'living' in the sod-covered timber-framed buildings carrying on life much as how these first settlers world have done 1000 years ago. (pics below)

What is particularly significant about the meeting of the Norse people and the local indigenous tribes is that event marks the first time (probably) that the journeying human race completed an encirclement of the Earth that took some 100,000 years from the time the first wanderers left Africa. How about that?

Even though Silver Cloud is close to 100 per cent capacity, just 250 guests ensure that when ashore, we do not overwhelm our destination. We're split into small manageable groups, so there are no queues for the museums or bathrooms and everyone gets small group attention when guided through the sites.

Rebuilt Silver Cloud (with new blue hull) at anchor at St Anthony NL (RE)

You'll recall Silver Cloud was converted to a Polar Class vessel after an intensive three-month rebuild in 2017, so I'm curious just how this process was conducted. Regardless, the result is nothing short of staggering. The 156m vessel was originally built in 1994 as Silverseas' first ever cruise ship, so to have her 'reborn' in this fashion and ready for a whole new life of adventure is quite something.

I'll detail more of Silver Cloud over the next week as we explore the historically rich waters around Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada's eastern territory.

Expedition Cruising editor, Roderick Eime, is travelling as a guest of Silversea with assistance from  Tourism Canada.

Just what is 'screeching' exactly?

#expeditioncruising .

Wednesday 19 September 2018

PONANT Kimberley 2020 voyages released

#expeditioncruising .

The PONANT Kimberley May - August 2020 series of 10 to 13-night voyages has been released. An exceptional opportunity to explore one of the remotest regions on earth, simply stunning in size, breathtaking in colour, home to saltwater crocodiles and extraordinary in its wealth of indigenous rock art.

Deal: Save $1300 on World Expeditions most luxurious Galapagos cruise

Book your World Expeditions' Galapagos adventure and save $1300!

Cruise the wildlife wonderland that is the Galapagos Islands on board the luxurious MV Origin motor yacht and you'll stay in one of only 10 fully air-conditioned deluxe staterooms with private bathroom, enjoying superb cuisine, fully stocked bar and generous observation areas and open sun decks.

Two on-board naturalist guides will help you discover the wildlife havens and learn about the natural environments of this exciting destination.

You'll save $1300 per person twin share – and pay $9,750 - on this unforgettable eight day luxury cruise, normally priced at $11,050.  Book before 31 December this year (while cabins last), and depart between 1 September 2019 and 9 December 2019.   Offer includes a bonus night's accommodation at the luxury boutique Hotel Del Parque in Guayaquil.

More information at  or call 1300 720 000.

Celebrity Xpedition 7-day makeover

#expeditioncruising .

 The award-winning Celebrity Xpedition has emerged from a stunning seven-day makeover in Panama, surrounding guests in upgraded comforts as they explore the extraordinary Galapagos Islands.

It’s another bold step in THE CELEBRITY REVOLUTIONSM, beyond the introduction of two industry-changing ships – Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Flora – and the $500 million modernization of the rest of the brand’s fleet.

When she makes her stylish return to service on Sunday, September 23, 2018, the revitalized Celebrity Xpedition will debut an array of enhancements across the 100-guest mega-yacht, from redecorated staterooms, lounges, and restaurants that perfectly complement the natural beauty of this one-of-a-kind destination, to faster and more reliable Wi-Fi that allows guests to stay connected even as they disconnect.

“Our commitment to the Galapagos Islands has never been stronger, because we know, having sailed these awe-inspiring islands for so many years, what a life-changing experience it is to come here,” noted Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “The upgrades we’re making to Celebrity Xpedition and the upcoming arrival of our new Celebrity Flora, the first ship designed specifically with the Galapagos Islands in mind, will transform the way our guests discover this amazing place and take our unrivaled Galapagos offerings to an entirely new level.”

[read more]

Monday 17 September 2018

Podcast: Cruising the Arctic

#expeditioncruising . 

The main season for Arctic cruises is summer, when the so-called Land of the Midnight Sun comes into its own with 24-hour daylight. Roderick Eime talks with ABC Nightlife's Philip Clark about the pleasures of cruising one of the most untouched landscapes in the world

Saturday 15 September 2018

National Geographic Venture Launched

Earlier this week, Lindblad Expeditions successfully launched the National Geographic Venture from Nichols Brothers in Freeland, WA as she took to the water for the first time. Below you will find a great video of this event captured by our VC team. More updates to come as we continue to prepare the vessel to welcome her first guests in San Francisco in late November.

Following her launch celebrations in San Francisco, she will depart on two new and unique inaugural itineraries that explore the Pacific coast, before she begins her seasons in Baja, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.  Sister ship of National Geographic Quest launched in 2017, the 50-cabin coastal vessel is the second new build for the line, and has been designed with decades of expedition experience.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

World class submarine on board Scenic Eclipse

#expeditioncruising .

Scenic Eclipse, is providing guests with their very own underwater experience on board the U Boat Worx Cruise Submarine 7.

Capable of diving to a depth of 300 metres with seating for up to six guests, the submarine has been custom-built for optimal sightseeing of marine wonders, offering guests an unforgettable excursion into the wide blue depths.

The U-Boat Worx submarine is designed to meet international noise standards and to provide unmatched comfort, space and style, with maximum legroom and headroom while keeping overall weight and size to a minimum. This combination delivers the ultimate diving experience. Internal climate control and a surround sound music system form part of the fine detailing, together with the optimum ergo dynamics to facilitate ease of boarding and disembarking.

Scenic Founder and Chairman, Glen Moroney said the submarine will offer guests a unique opportunity to go below and beyond.

“Scenic has always sought to venture beyond the horizon and with our submarine, we provide guests with the opportunity to enjoy unparalleled access to some of nature’s most beautiful marine environments. From inside the U-Boat Worx submersibles, each guest will enjoy an uninterrupted view thanks to the strategic placement of all components and the use of an ultra-clear acrylic hull, expertly engineered to make you feel “at one” with the ocean”, Mr Moroney said.

The submarine design consists of a three-person pod on the front and at the back of the sub for a total of six guests plus the pilot, who is located behind the guests. The seats are mounted on a platform that can swivel 180 degrees, so the guests are able to see both sides of the submarine. Strong exterior lights will allow guests to take in the colors and details of wrecks and other underwater sights.

“The sub is able to perform from 8 up to 12 dives per day, depending on the length of dive, giving as many guests as possible access to this unique opportunity,” said Mr Moroney. “Because the cabin is pressurized, there is also no need for a slow ascent or descent. One of the thrills for guests is a fast, upward journey where they pop out from below the ocean with a splash”.

Based in the Netherlands, U-Boat Worx is the world’s largest manned submersible manufacturer. For more than 12 years, they have delivered private submersibles to a variety of clients.

Monday 10 September 2018

New shipwreck discovered in the Canadian Arctic

Discovery of Long Lost Vessel Marks Third Significant Underwater Archaeological Find in the Arctic

For the second time in Canadian history, One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) has contributed to the discovery expedition to find a long-lost vessel in collaboration with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS). The most recent discovery of evidence of Nova Zembla, a Scottish whaling ship that was wrecked near Buchan Gulf off the coast of Baffin Island in 1902, will help shed light on the historical and political complexity of the whaling industry in the Arctic.

Image source

The successful find of the HMS Erebus in 2014 marked a momentous breakthrough in the exploration of the Canadian Arctic. Subsequently, the HMS Terror was found two years later. The newest discovery of Nova Zembla occurred on 31 August 2018 by fellows of The RCGS Dr. Matthew Ayre and Dr. Michael Moloney, from the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary. Evidence of the wreck was discovered near Buchan Gulf while traveling onboard OOE's Classic Northwest Passage and Greenland voyage on Akademik Sergey Vavilov.

This discovery marks the first British whaling wreck in the eastern Canadian Arctic to be found and investigated. The finding of the ship will present an opportunity to ground-truth historical documents and understand more completely the operation of Arctic whaling ships. Information gained from the discovery will complement past investigations of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, continuing to tell the story of maritime nautical history in the Canadian Arctic.

"We are thrilled for the expedition team and their discovery of Nova Zembla. The significance of such a find is of great importance, and we'll continue to be a proud supporter and contributor in educational and scientific programs as well as historical outreach," said One Ocean Expeditions' Managing Director, Andrew Prossin. "This is exciting news as it is sure to reveal unknown details about the history of whaling in the Arctic. We hope it will allow us to continue finding answers to many longstanding questions in that field."

With the contribution of onboard facilities such as science labs and berths, along with a zodiac and crew to assist in the search, the integration of exploratory work such as this diversifies the expedition experience. Passengers on board were invited to be a part of the expedition with presentations taking place onboard by Dr. Ayre and Dr. Moloney, and a commemorative patch shared to celebrate the success of the find and share in the excitement.

OOE's extensive commitment to responsible education and development of nationally/internationally accredited scientific programs, university field studies, and the continued interest and support of discovering the undiscovered.

For more information about One Ocean Expeditions:

For more information on OOE's Arctic Voyages:

Thursday 6 September 2018

Ponant names hybrid electric icebreaker

#expeditioncruising .

The name of the latest jewel in PONANT’s fleet is revealed as Le Commandant Charcot, a tribute to the man known as “the gentleman of the poles”               

A world first, this hybrid electric icebreaker powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), has been named after Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot, as an homage to the man known as “the gentleman of the poles”.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Rodney Russ launches new expedition cruise ship

The Changing of the Guard at Heritage Expeditions and putting the Expedition back into Expedition Travel.

Rodney and Shirley Russ founded Heritage Expeditions in 1985, when Expedition Travel was still in its infancy and unlike today very defined.  With a background in wildlife management and conservation expeditions offered by Heritage were focused very much on wildlife. Over the years Heritage Expeditions has become synonymous expeditions to the Ross Sea, the Sub Antarctic Islands, Western Pacific and the Russian Far East. The company has not been tempted to upsize their vessels preferring instead to give their smaller groups better and longer opportunities both ashore and aboard.   Earlier this year after 33 years in the industry Rodney passed the ownership and management of the company to his sons Aaron and Nathan. They have both worked in the industry for many years and are looking forward to the challenges of running and owning the business.

Rodney commissioned the building of a specialist "Expedition Vessel" to put the "expedition" back into Expedition Travel. Where small groups with common goals and interests share in an adventure to some of the remotest places on earth.

On August 12th MV Strannik slowly slipped stern first from the cradle that has held and protected her since construction started and into the Pearl River (southern China) The entire shipyard crew were on hand to watch (and assist) and in time-honoured Chinese tradition fireworks celebrated the event. Rodney, Simon (engineer) and Connor (Chef/Deckhand) were also there to witness and join in the celebration.

Strannik is now tied alongside at the shipyard and over the next few weeks, the mast's will be stepped and the final fit will be completed before sea trials and testing. When this has all been completed Strannik Ocean Voyages Ltd will take delivery of MV Strannik in Hong Kong and a new era in genuine expedition travel will begin.  

Strannik Ocean Voyages Ltd
Tel. +64 (0)21 684 055

Monday 3 September 2018

From aboard MV Indochine II: Scenes along the Mekong

#expeditioncruising .

CroisiEurope is a French-flagged river cruise line with almost 50 vessels worldwide, the majority being in Europe. Their operations also extend to Africa and Southeast Asia. Ask your local cruise agent for details or see

Nysa (13) came aboard for a traditional performance in Phnom Penh and when asked about her aspirations for the future she calmly answered "... to be Miss Cambodia"

Finishing clay cooking pots

Collecting sweet palms

Local boats constantly on the move

Excursion boat supplied by local operators

62m MV Indochine II just 12 months old carries 62 passengers in 31 cabins

Ox cart excursion to local temples

Happy local vendor in Chau Doc on the Vietnam border