Silversea’s Grand Voyage Exclusive Events Are Experiences Money Can’t Buy

Travel is all about discovery, and Silversea’s Grand Voyages provide exceptional opportunities to uncover the wonders of the world first hand. Longer than a typical cruise, a Grand Voyage focuses on one part of the world long enough for guests to dig below the surface to find the essence of a destination — its people, culture, languages and way of life.

Designed with that in mind, each Grand Voyage features exclusive Special Events that bring together representative expressions of a destination to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences, several (but certainly not all) of which are detailed below.

“They are experiences money can’t buy,” says Jannie Cloete, Silversea’s director of experiences and events, who creates these extraordinary events. “We don’t take guests to look at things like a zoo attraction or from a bus window. We try to go to a well-known location but reinvent the experience for the guests.”

Jannie, along with Kevin McKeon, Silversea’s events and experiences manager, work together, scouring the world for intimate, special events in ports that offer unrivaled access. “There’s almost always a gastronomic and music component,” Kevin tells us. “But we also re-create the high level of service from onboard the ship.”

Currently, Jannie and Kevin have planned special events for Grand Voyages throughout 2024. What are their favorites so far? They won’t divulge but note that the following voyages will have extra-special access events during their sailings. Their picks are chosen from these Grand Voyages: Grand Mediterranean 2023, Grand Africa and Arabia 2024, Grand Pacific 2024, Grand South America 2024, Grand Pole to Pole 2024, Grand South Pacific Expedition 2024, and Grand Africa and Indian Ocean 2024.

Indeed, there are so many experiences that you may have trouble choosing your cruise. No problem. We have then covered in a special “how to article” designed for Grand Voyages.

Grand Mediterranean 2023

The fire of flamenco

Fanning the flames: Flamenco fans, slightly larger than a hand fan, accentuate the passion of the dance./Shutterstock

On Silversea’s Grand Mediterranean voyage, you’ll be swept away by the fiery sights and sounds of flamenco, Spain’s UNESCO-recognized folk dance, in the Costa Brava town of Palamós, Spain. Savor Spanish tapas and sparkling Cava wine (“We always try to incorporate the local wine,” Kevin says) at a historic country estate, or hacienda, while admiring the different styles of singing, guitar playing, dancing, finger snapping and hand clapping emblematic of this ancient, iconic art form.

Surrounded by the rolling hills of southeastern Spain, the sensuous display of stylized movements will transport you into the quintessential heart of Andalusia.

Turkish delights

Watch the sunset from Pigeon Island, whose bird population is impressive as well. Plus you’ll get a birds-eye view of Kusadasi./Shutterstock

Another great event on tap for the Grand Mediterranean is the chance sample authentic Turkish hospitality as you stroll the streets of the small Aegean resort town of Kusadasi, the gateway to the Greco-Roman ruins of Ephesus.

Silversea creates a private street party here, with “food vendors hawking ice cream, dried fruit, shish kebabs, and flat breads,” Kevin says. Local dancers and musicians keep guests entertained, Turkish style.

Grand Africa and Arabia 2024

The sights and sounds of the Drakensberg Boys Choir

The Drakensberg Boys Choir/Wikimedia Commons photo by Morné van Rooyen

Thrill to a true South African experience, on Silversea’s Grand Africa and Arabia voyage, is a private performance by the prestigious Drakensberg Boys Choir in their home setting near Winterton, a two-hour drive from Durban. Surrounded by the cathedral-like peaks of the verdant Drakensberg Mountains, you will bask in the group’s signature high-energy performance and thrilling harmonies as the singers interpret an array of musical genres, from classics to contemporary pop to traditional African tunes.

The ensemble, styled after the Vienna Boys Choir, is South Africa’s most racially and culturally diverse chorale, whose 70 members range in age from 9 to 15. This concert, combined with a typical South African braai, or barbecue, will be an evening to remember.

A peek into the future

The Museum of the Future in Dubai has an ultra-modern shape, consistent with its goals to see into the future./Shutterstock

In a totally opposite direction is the Africa and Arabia’s Grand Voyage’s stop in Dubai, where we head into the future. Enjoy a private curated evening in the blockbuster in Dubai’s Museum of the Future, billed as “a place to see, touch, and shape our shared future.” This special event is a full sensory experience — “seeing, tasting, and hearing,” Kevin says — that incorporates cocktails and canapes.

The museum, opened in 2022, is an architectural and engineering showpiece that applies advanced technology to traditional artforms. The futuristic building, shaped like a giant oblong ring, is a canvas for the poetry of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, rendered in traditional calligraphy.

The museum was crafted by leading designers, artists and filmmakers, and combines elements of exhibition, immersive theater, and themed attraction. Let your imagination soar during this exclusive visit in the symbol of Dubai’s spirit of innovation.

Grand Pacific 2024

In the presence of a geisha

Geisha Evening at Kaikaro Teahouse. in Kanazwa, Japan/ Wikimedia Commons photo by RachelH_

“Span 1,000 years of tradition in just 90 minutes,” Jannie says of this evening at the 203-year-old Kaikaro Geisha Teahouse, a traditional house of geisha entertainment in Kanazawa, Japan, one of the ports of call on Silversea’s Grand Pacific voyage.

Jannie tells this story of the inspiration for this event: “There’s a geisha who I met many years ago named Lady Baba. One of her dreams was to do a talk on a cruise ship.” He arranged for her to give a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the life of a geisha for Silversea guests.

“In her gorgeously preserved home with its gold-woven tatami and red-lacquered steps, she explains the refined world of the geisha with the help of one or two maikos, young geishas-in-training.,” he says. “A traditional Japanese tea ceremony rounds out this extraordinary experience.”

Grand South America 2024

Culture, creativity and cocktails

Callao, Peru, dates to 1537, and was, for years, a target of pirates seeking its treasures./Shutterstock

On Silversea’s Grand South America voyage, you can immerse yourself in the colorful street world of Callao, Peru’s main seaport and a hub of magnificent colonial architecture. Let local artists guide you through this graffiti-filled open-air gallery adorned with more than 600 murals by local and international artists.

As you sip pisco sours and sample local ceviche or Peruvian stir-fried rice with seafood, watch the artists at work, learn some graffiti basics, and “become participants in how they tell their story to the world,” Jannie says.

The sport of kings

On this itinerary, which also incorporates some of the Caribbean’s more intriguing ports, you can revel in a grand evening befitting the sport of kings in Bridgetown, Barbados. Dress up and spend an evening at the tony Barbados Polo Club, which dates to 1884.

Watch a private match as the majestic horses charge up and down the field under the skillful guidance of their riders. Feast on classic Caribbean dishes such as barbecued jerk chicken and Barbadian flying fish at a festive sit-down dinner on the field with polo ponies for companions. 

Grand Pole to Grand Pole 2024

An evening on Gorée Island

The 88-acre Gorée Island, off Senegal, was taken over by the Portuguese after they visited in 1444./Shutterstock

The hallowed grounds of tiny Gorée Island, off  Dakar, Senegal, are the setting for a celebration of the resilience of the African people. The stop at Senegal is part of the before-and-after of this unique Pole to Pole voyage, which starts with Antarctica, finishes in the Arctic, and visits all manner of fascinating destinations in between.

The island’s fort-cum-museum, which was the largest slave-trading center on the African coast, is the venue for this outdoor event. Silversea creates a memorable evening with a candlelit sit-down dinner and entertainment by local singers, musicians and drummers. This living history monument, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features the grim slave quarters contrasted by the traders’ elegant houses.

“It’s about paying tribute to the culture, not about throwing a party” in this painful symbol of the slave trade, Jannie  says. “We want to give the people the ability to tell their story.”

Grand South Pacific Expedition 2024

Rhythms and rituals of Aitutaki

Dancers entertain in Aitutaki as part of an all-day festival./Shutterstock

A quintessential South Pacific experience on Grand South Pacific awaits in tiny, secluded Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. Set against the Windex-blue waters of the world’s most beautiful lagoon, this daylong Silversea festival comes alive with people dancing, eating and celebrating life.

As Polynesian dancers flank you, move from stall to stall to enjoy fresh banana, coconut, breadfruit, and taro, and to slurp giant native clams called pasua. “It’s an opportunity to engage with the community and bolster local businesses,” Kevin says of this pinch-me Bali Hai moment.

Grand Africa and Indian Ocean 2024

Wildlife and wetlands

A rhino at iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Rhinos’ eyesight is poor so they may charge based on smell or hearing. They weigh as much as 5 tons./Shutterstock

Nature and culture take center stage in this full-immersion expedition in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal Province. Spot the Big Five on safari in some of the biggest game reserves in the area — Hluhluwe, Imfolozi and Phinda. Silversea’s Grand Africa and Indian Ocean voyage offers true African immersion as we heed the call of the wild in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the world’s oldest land mammal (the rhinoceros), biggest terrestrial mammal (the elephant), oldest fish (the coelacanth) and biggest marine mammal (the whale) share an ecosystem.

Cap off this outdoor adventure with a sunset game drive and Zulu-themed dinner and dance performance you won’t soon forget.

A touch of the ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

Enjoy tea service in a snake boat that cruises you on the Kerala River in India./Shutterstock

If you haven’t seen the heartwarming “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” the magical film chronicling life and love in India, this is your chance to be showered with rose petals in real life, not just from a movie screen. That’s just one part of this riverside festival on the banks of the Kerala River in Kochi (formerly Cochin), India.

Settle in for lunch on long tables lining the river as locals dish out zesty curries from big pots onto plates covered with banana leaves while you sip fresh lime or coconut juice and watch martial arts performances.

As drummers pound out their farewell rhythms, you’ll board snake boats (long dugout canoes that are icons of the Kerala culture) for a leisurely ride down the river accompanied by tea service, of course.

After disembarking, hop on colorful tuk-tuks for “a processional ride back to the bus in grand style,” Kevin says.