We chose this cruise because we wanted to see polar bears and we did (along with whales, walrus, seals, arctic fox, reindeer and puffins)! The wildlife and scenery surpassed expectations. Although our departure post of Kristiansund was not easy to get to, it was a lovely Norwegian town. Embarkation was easy considering the entire passenger complement was only 200.
The crew number was almost the same and each and every crew member was wonderful. There was a team of 28 young, enthusiastic scientists (botanists, zoologists, etc) aboard who manned the zodiacs, gave lectures and joined us for dinner. Although there was no "traditional" entertainment on board, the talks were just what we wanted. The casino was replaced by a stellar photography studio with a world renowned photographer. He helped us enhance our photos with instruction on camera handling and computer aided post production. SO valuable for all of us on the expedition cruise. Why else would we be on an expedition cruise except to photograph everything we encountered?!
Each cabin had a butler who eagerly provided every service you could imagine. We have been on other Silversea voyages and the cabin on this small expedition ship was exactly the same as the cabin on their classic cruise ships. The room was very comfortable and well appointed with Bulgari bath products, thick bathrobes and a fully stocked mini fridge.
The same high quality standards were met by the dining room(s) staff; I have some complicated dietary issues and all my needs were easily and thoroughly accommodated. The dining room options that were available were the same as on the classic cruise with identical quality in both service and offerings.The food in the breakfast and lunch buffets was just as good as in their intimate french restaurant.
Of course, the highlight of the cruise was the zodiac trips to the glaciers and landing sites of Svalbard. This is what we all came for, and Silversea did not disappoint. Svalbard has encouraged responsible tourism. All ships are required to run on a strict schedule with respect to how many people are allowed ashore, how long you can stay in any area and how close you can get to the wildlife. Thus, we feel we had the perfect Arctic experience for us: luxury and adventure all in one fabulous trip.