By Alan Fine, Jun 08, 2020
Silversea Cruises took delivery of its first-ever destination-specific ship, Silver Origin, from Dutch shipyard De Hoop at an intimate ceremony on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, marking the first in-person cruise ship delivery since the pandemic prompted a global lockdown on cruising. Silversea’s top executives, including Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman; Roberto Martinoli, president and CEO; Damien O’Connor, senior vice president-hotel operations and onboard revenue; and Barbara Muckermann, chief marketing officer, attended the ceremony in Rotterdam. Joined by representatives from De Hoop Shipyard, they took a tour of the completed ship for the first time and were present for the official flag ceremony (see video below of the ceremony and a full ship tour).
“It was a very proud moment for me to attend Silver Origin’s official delivery ceremony in person, and to welcome Silversea’s first-ever destination-specific ship to our fleet,” said Lefebvre d’Ovidio. “I am very grateful to all involved in the build, especially the professionals at De Hoop Shipyard. In September 2013, Silversea became the first cruise line to launch an ultra-luxury ship in the Galapagos Archipelago. We have invested our accrued know-how into the design of Silver Origin. Every element of the ship has been designed with the destination in mind and tailored to enhance the experience for travelers, while fostering a deep sense of respect for this magnificent ecosystem and everything that inhabits it.”
“We welcome the beautiful Silver Origin to our fleet as the first ship since the start of our collaboration with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.,” said Martinoli. “The ship demonstrates how fruitful our collaboration has been, while providing an indication of the great success to come. With Silversea’s destination expertise and the invaluable support of the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. group (RCL), we have pushed the boundaries of ultra-luxury travel in the Galapagos with Silver Origin. I want to extend my gratitude to all those involved, including my colleagues at both Silversea and RCL, but especially to the De Hoop Shipyard, which overcame many challenges to complete the ship.” Martinoli said those challenges include the fact that many other shipyards had shut down during this period, as well as the unpredictable water level of the river adjacent to the shipyard, which made it impossible to either sail or pass beneath the many bridges on the way to delivery.
“It has been extremely rewarding to work on this project, and we are proud for having been able to deliver the ship in spite of the external challenges,” said Patrick Janssens, CEO of De Hoop Shipyard. “The delivery ceremony marked a momentous moment for both parties, and delivering Silver Origin to Silversea’s executives here in Rotterdam was a great pleasure. We wish the cruise line every success for the future and we look forward to seeing this beautiful ship in the Galapagos Islands where she belongs.”
Integrating the latest state-of-the-art technology and designed with a focus on sustainability, the all-suite 100-guest Silver Origin will sail year-round in the Galapagos Archipelago starting Aug. 22. It features a total of 51 suites, with five interconnecting, and all with balconies. Each of Silver Origin’s spaces has been designed specifically with the Galapagos in mind by Hirsch Bedner Associates Miami. Silversea’s executives visited each to experience them first-hand.
Marina: As a key point of entry to the ship, the Marina has been designed with attention-to-detail to offer guests a memorable arrival and disembarkation experience. Connected to the Basecamp, the Zodiac embarkation area features large comfortable couches, as well as showers for guests to rinse their gear, racks to store wetsuits and other equipment, and an innovative fold-out stern with special boarding facilities that can accommodate two Zodiacs at the same time. With eight Zodiacs, Silver Origin will have the highest Zodiac-to-guest ratio in the Galapagos at 1:12.5. A large garage with hydraulic doors, hatches and cranes has been created between Decks 2 and 3 to store six of the ship’s eight Zodiacs, while two will be stored in the bow. Silver Origin also has 10 kayaks and a ratio of qualified guides-per-guest at 1:10.
Basecamp: This is one of Silver Origin’s most innovative spaces, designed especially to bring the destination on board. At the heart of the ship, the almost 6,000-square-foot Basecamp has 70 seats, 36 of which are outdoors. It will host educational activities in which guests will interact with Silversea’s team of expert guides, who are all permanent residents of the Galapagos and certified by the Galapagos National Park. Basecamp also will feature the reception area, the expedition desk and a refreshment corner. With bespoke software created exclusively for Silversea by strategic-design studio Sketchin and with input from Silversea’s Expedition Team, the centerpiece of Basecamp is a control podium and a 20-foot-by-five-foot interactive digital wall, the largest screen in the Galapagos. Through this interactive program, which will change according to the itinerary and covers more than 100 topics, including 31 species and 14 islands, guests will be able to access destination-related content, including historical pictures provided by the Royal Geographical Society of London, videos with exclusive aerial and underwater shots, and excursion previews and scientific presentations. The expedition team will use the LED wall to introduce guests to the wonders of the Galapagos before they embark on Zodiac and kayak adventures to experience them first-hand.
Explorer Lounge: Offering an inviting space in which guests can relax for an evening while enjoying a cocktail and a book from Silver Origin’s curated library, the more than 5,000-square-foot Explorer Lounge seats 112 people inside and 30 people outside. It will host daily lectures and briefings, as well as live piano performances. Floor-to-ceiling windows bring the destination inside, while a large video wall with state-of-the-art AV technology and wide HD screens in different seating areas will optimize guests’ expedition experience. Outside, there is a terrace with comfortable sofas and armchairs, including a round central sofa with a fire pit running on environmentally safe liquefied petroleum gas.
Dining Venues: Ecuador mandates that Ecuadorian products be used whenever possible in the Galapagos, a rule Silversea Origin will have no problem following since it is in-line with Silversea’s new S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program, which officially rolls out later this year on Silver Moon. Silver Origin’s guests will experience an immersive culinary philosophy, centered upon regionally-grown ingredients, Ecuadorian cuisine, and a farm-to-table approach. Locally-inspired culinary experiences—both on board and ashore—will strengthen travelers’ connections with the unique culture, landscapes and people of the Galapagos, as well as those of Ecuador. Between the Restaurant on Deck 4, which seats 120, and the Grill on Deck 7, which seats 100, Silver Origin will be able to seat all guests at once, offering them the luxury of choice and social distance. At night, the Grill features Silversea’s Hot Rocks concept tailored with an Ecuadorian twist, and an advanced sheltering system that will protect diners from the wind and low temperatures for maximum comfort.
Spa & Fitness Center: Silver Origin’s fitness center features seven workout stations equipped with state-of-the-art Technogym equipment and offers guests views of the destination with floor-to-ceiling windows. The Spa has a dedicated treatment room for therapies and massages, and the Beauty Salon will offer a wide array of services, including hairdressing, manicure and pedicure. Located at the very front of the ship, the over 800-square-foot Observation Lounge with a carefully curated library is one of the coziest venues on board suitable for up to 26 people. It offers a hideaway with views of the destination through 180-degree floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
Accommodations: Silver Origin offers a crew-to-guest ratio of 1:1.11, and butler service for all suites. All suites are fully automated, allowing guests to control room conditions with the touch of a button. The Owner’s Suite measures a total of 1,722 square feet and provides sweeping 260-degree views of the destination with a vast veranda. The suite’s bathroom features an ocean-view whirlpool bath and separate shower. There is also a Grand Suite at 1,025 square feet, a Royal Suite at 897 square feet, two Silver Suites at 536 square feet, a Medallion Suite at 355 square feet, seven Deluxe Veranda suites at 355 square feet, 16 Superior Veranda suites at 325 square feet, and 22 Classic Veranda suites at 325 square feet as well. The amenities in these suites were inspired by the suites of Silversea’s larger ships. Outfitted in neutral tones and natural materials that complement the Galapagos’ environment, and designed by GEM, all suites have floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony, while select suites feature the Horizon Balcony, which converts to a floor-to-ceiling window at the touch of a button. Most upper suites incorporate the ocean-view bathtub and shower, some of which are accessible from the balcony. Bathroom amenities will include bottles of 100 percent recycled plastic and 100 percent biodegradable products as well as reef-safe sunblock.
Sustainable Features: Built with the environment in mind and one of the most energy-efficient ships in its class, Silver Origin incorporates environmentally low-impact features to comply with all of the Galapagos’ rules and regulations, in addition to the Galapagos National Park Directorate rules. The latest technological innovations mean a 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and fewer exhaust emissions. The ship’s dynamic positioning system will be used to remain over delicate seabed ecosystems without the use of an anchor, whcih could cause damage; suites incorporate freshwater purification systems that convert seawater into drinking water, drastically reducing the use of plastic on board; and the wastewater treatment system will meet or exceed the strictest regulations in the market. Moreover, all waste will undergo a rigid segregation procedure on board and will be delivered to a local waste management enterprise to be recycled or shipped from the islands.
Silversea Cruises has launched the Silversea Fund for the Galapagos, a dedicated fund that will support educational projects to safeguard the well-being of the Galapagos Islands for future generations. By supporting a diverse selection of projects each year, the Silversea Fund will strengthen the balance between humans and nature in the Galapagos as part of a long-term conservation strategy. The fund’s donors will enjoy savings on Silversea’s voyages, since the cruise line will match guests’ contributions in the form of a future cruise credit to underpin its commitment to the cause.
Travel advisors seeking to learn more the Galapagos should know the destination has two seasons. While it is generally cooler in western regions, the hot season is from December to April with temperatures hitting 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 degrees Celsius, while the cold season drops to 70 Fahrenheit or 21 degrees Celsius. The three- to five-hour flight from the U.S. to Ecuador makes the Galapagos the perfect entry level expedition voyage, and very easy on multi-generational travel guests, as compared to the more arduous journey to the Antarctic. Muckermann believes there will be a higher percentage of expedition cruising post-pandemic when compared to the rest of the market, and Mark Conroy, managing director-Americas for Silversea, said the 100 guest size of the ship makes Silver Origin perfect for incentive charters, as well as smaller educational groups, but he warns to book early. Silver Galapagos has been Silversea’s highest rated ship, and it is historically booked further in advance than other vessels. The expectation is the same for Silver Origin. For more information, visit www.silversea.com.