Booked this cruise from Reykjavik to Greenland while onboard Silver Cloud’s first Antarctic cruise (reviewed December 2018). It was great to see familiar faces among the crew.
In spite of its refurbishment, the ship already feels a bit dated, with constant creaking and temperatures too high in the suite (spotless), but often too low in public areas (some noticeably dusty). Silver Cloud now has competition in the English-speaking market from Scenic Eclipse, coincidentally in Reykjavik at the same time for her much-delayed maiden voyage.
Food was excellent as always, though portions seemed larger. Service was normally very good, but with the odd slip-up, perhaps because waiting staff have new tablets to take orders. We enjoyed every included wine; typically Silversea buys up entire vintages of less well-known varietals from small European vineyards – not the bland New World wines you get on most lines.
Silver Cloud now has a Social Director (Moss) who handles zodiac embarkation and hosts fun afternoon and evening quizzes. Some other changes: thinner hand towels (fluffier towels changed less often would be preferable) and unlimited wi-fi (still slow). Thankfully, butlers no longer have to proffer a tray of toiletries when you embark.
Exploring was what this cruise was about. Six “zodiac groups” disembarked with rotating departure times, but usually you could go ashore later on a shuttle service. Excursions could be pre-booked through MySilversea, but this was pointless as there was no set schedule.
We enjoyed the ship’s passages through the fjords, and zodiac cruises close up to glaciers, but were uncomfortable wandering among people’s houses in small villages. For us, the highlight was two hours in Disko Bay (Ilulissat) on a small boat operated by a local company; under a cloudless sky we saw whales and vast icebergs that looked like islands.
A note about clothing: Greenland in August was warmer than Antarctica in December. While we were exceptionally fortunate with the weather, make sure to take some lighter hiking gear, as you may get too hot ashore if you wear thermals under a parka. We skipped the only two “wet” landings so didn’t use the waterproof boots we’d hired at $90 – ordinary gumboots would have sufficed anyway.
We would have given this cruise five stars, but for the horrible last day (not covered by Silversea’s onboard questionnaire). For our previous Antarctic cruise we booked our own flights to/from Ushuaia and wish we could have made our own arrangements this time.
After vacating the suite by 8.30 am, it was “hurry up and wait, wait, wait” for the charter flight from Kangerlussuaq back to Reykjavik. After disembarking by zodiac group, an interesting bus tour on the tundra was followed by an acceptable BBQ-style lunch at a rowing club on a pretty lake. There we heard that the incoming flight was late due to weather in Iceland and ATC issues, as happens of course, but from then on everything went downhill.
Waits for the restrooms at the rowing club were 30-40 minutes. It took 80 minutes for everyone to get through security at the airport, not least because both the ship and the charter company (Omni Air) allowed people three or even four large carry-on cases (in spite of Silversea previously specifying one piece up to 8 kg/ 18 lb plus a purse or laptop). Then we waited as long again in the gate holding area, most of us having to stand, until boarding after 4 pm.
Yet another delay was due to the cabin crew being unable to reconcile the boarding cards and having to count passengers FOUR times. The plane itself was a very old 767, with a soggy defrosted snack well below Silversea standard.
Very comfortable bed, though too warm with a heavy duvet and air-con we couldn’t set low enough. Sitting area with couch and two chairs; walk-in wardrobe useful for luggage and expedition gear; bathroom with shower. The veranda was great for looking at the view, and even sitting in the sun off Greenland! Suites have USB and universal electrical sockets that take US, European and UK plugs among others.