Today marks the start of what I hope will be one of the most interesting and engaging Live Voyage Reports I’ve ever done: a massive 17-day journey to Australia and Indonesia aboard Silversea’s newest ultra-luxury expedition vessel, the sleek Silver Discoverer.
She originally began life in 1989 as the Oceanic Grace, but is likely more recognizable for her 15-year stint as Clipper Odyssey. Silversea purchased the vessel just last year and put her through a major refurbishment before entering service just one month ago as the third luxury vessel to operate under the Silversea Expeditions banner.
The Silver Discoverer carries 120 guests and an international crew of 96 for service that’s very nearly one-to-one. Physically, she’s as nimble as her fleetmates, Silver Explorer and Silver Galapagos, with an overall length of 338 feet (102.9 metres) and a width of 51 feet (15.4 metres). She sails at a comfortable 14 knots, and features five decks accessible to guests.
With Silver Explorer spending most of her year in Antarctica and the High Arctic and Silver Galapagos operating year-round out of Baltra in the Galapagos Islands, Silver Discoverer’s bread-and-butter is the Pacific region. This year, for example, her voyages take her from Australia to the South Pacific to the breath of Asia, Russia’s Far East, and even a few outings into Alaska. In fact, chances are good that you’ve never seen itineraries like this before.
The Silver Discoverer is as much of a draw as my itinerary. There’s not a lot out there about Silversea’s latest expedition vessel, and my goal is to change that. So expect plenty of photos, details, and general ship-geekiness in the days ahead!
We’re sailing onboard her last Australian itinerary of the spring: Voyage 9407, a unique 12-day journey from Broome, Australia to Bali, Indonesia that spends six days exploring the remote Kimberley Region of Australia with no fixed itinerary, and includes a stop in Wyndham before sailing across the Timor Sea to some of the most remote islands of Indonesia.
Our full itinerary, both here and onboard:
|Friday, May 9, 2014||Sydney, Australia||Arrive Sydney; Pre Cruise Stay at the Shangri-La Sydney|
|Saturday, May 10||Sydney, Australia||Pre-Cruise Stay at the Shangri-La Sydney|
|Sunday, May 11||Perth, Australia||Fly to Perth; Pre-Cruise Stay at the Pan Pacific Perth|
|Monday, May 12||Broome, Australia||Fly to Broome, Embark Silver Discoverer||4:30 PM|
|Tuesday, May 13||Cruise & Explore Kimberley Coast, Australia||8:30 AM|
|Wednesday, May 14||Cruise & Explore Kimberley Coast, Australia|
|Thursday, May 15||Cruise & Explore Kimberley Coast, Australia|
|Friday, May 16||Naturalist Island / Kimberley Coast, Australia|
|Saturday, May 17||Cruise & Explore Kimberley Coast, Australia|
|Sunday, May 18||Cruise & Explore Kimberley Coast, Australia||6:00 PM|
|Monday, May 19||Wyndham, Australia||7:30 AM||12:00 PM|
|Tuesday, May 20||Day at Sea|
|Wednesday, May 21||Lamalerap Village, Lomblem Island, Indonesia||9:00 AM||12:30 PM|
|Thursday, May 22||Komodo, Indonesia||9:30 AM||1:00 PM|
|Thursday, May 22||Pink Beach, Komodo, Indonesia||2:30 PM||8:00 PM|
|Friday, May 23||Waikelo, West Sumba, Indonesia||6:00 AM||1:00 PM|
|Saturday, May 24||Benoa, Bali, Indonesia||9:00 AM|
If you’ve never heard of Broome before, don’t worry: I hadn’t either. In fact, I couldn’t tell you much about The Kimberley, or the islands we’re visiting in Indonesia. And that is exactly why I chose this voyage. In my estimation, the best expedition cruises are the ones that can act as a learning experience.
Thankfully, I did my research beforehand, and I was intrigued to discover that, even by Australian standards, Broome is just about equivalent to the dark side of the moon. It’s over two thousand kilometres north of Perth, which is itself just under four thousand kilometres west of Sydney.
To put things in perspective, Broome is as far away from Sydney as Los Angeles is from Montreal, or Lisbon is from Moscow. It also means we’re going to be flying – a lot – on this trip.
Most of our journey will take place aboard the larger red-and-white jets of Qantas, Australia’s national carrier. With their main hub at Sydney International Airport, the airline flies nearly 65 percent of all domestic travelers, and almost 20 percent of all international travelers coming to and from Australia. Even if you haven’t personally flown them, chances are good that you’ve heard of them, thanks to their partnership with the Ellen DeGeneres Show last year, and their recent tie-in with Modern Family that caused American traffic to their website to spike by 25 percent.
Since we’ll be flying three of their jets (Boeing 747-400; Airbus A330-300; and Boeing 737-800) on three separate routes with three very different time durations, we’ll be devoting coverage to the actual business of getting here, including detailed flight reports with photographs, and tours of some of the Qantas Frequent Flier lounges in Sydney and Perth.
Because of the immense distances involved in simply getting to Broome, we’re going to be taking our time getting there. I’ve never been to Australia, and I feel it would be a shame to just overfly all these cities – if that were even possible. So, to kick off our Live Voyage Report coverage, we’ll be reporting Live from the Shangri-La Sydney on Friday and Saturday.
Situated in the heart of Sydney’s downtown area not far from Circular Quay Station and within sight of the iconic Sydney Opera House, the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney is 563 rooms of luxury rolled into a single building. Each room and suite features triple-glazed soundproofed windows, a marble bathroom with separate shower, and even a pillow menu. It also features complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, which is high up on my list of personal must-have’s for any hotel.
I’m also quite interested in the stunning Blu Bar on 36, which offers magnificent views and a selection of fine wines, champagnes, cocktails and liqueurs served high above the city, within sight of Darling Harbour and the Sydney Opera House. The hotel also boasts a second Bar located in the stylish Lobby, as well as two separate restaurants: Cafe Mix and elegant dinners in Altitude Restaurant.
It’s also remarkably Silversea-esque, attracting the same kind of clientele seeking a luxury experience that is soothing and welcoming, but never stuffy. I’ve seen the gorgeous Shangri-La Hotel here in Vancouver, and I am excited to experience its Sydney incarnation.
On Sunday the 11th, we’ll fly to Perth to continue our Live Report. Silversea uses the elegant Pan Pacific Perth as their pre-cruise hotel for Silver Discoverer voyages operating out of Broome due to the lack of suitable properties there. The Pan Pacific Perth is located right in the heart of the city, near the Swan River.
After an afternoon and evening spent in Australia’s fourth most populous city, we’ll fly to Broome on Monday morning to embark the Silver Discoverer. And that evening, our 12-day luxury adventure expedition will begin!
So join me over the next 17 days as we report live from Sydney, Perth, Broom and Silversea’s newest luxury expedition ship to discover some of the most remote parts of Australia and Indonesia, and to see how she measures up against the wonderful Silver Explorer.
Our Live Voyage Report aboard Silver Discoverer begins now!
Our Live Voyage Report from Silversea’s adventurous Silver Discoverer kicks off tomorrow with two pre-cruise days in Sydney at the Shangri-La Sydney! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.