Silversea Welcomes Silver Origin to the Fleet. Here’s Why We’re Excited.
One of the most joyful rituals in the life of a cruise ship is when it is officially “handed over” from the shipyard to its cruise line. This week marks just that moment for Silversea’s Silver Origin.
“With Manfredi and other colleagues,” says Silversea Cruises President and CEO Roberto Martinoli, “we traveled to Rotterdam to take delivery from Dutch shipyard De Hoop of the first expedition newbuild in the history of Silversea. This day has been significant under many aspects, to start it is a testament of how the world is slowly opening up from the lockdown we have all been forced into.
“Also this delivery is proof that we all have the power to overcome almost anything: the fact that this small yard in the Netherlands managed to complete our ship under incredible circumstances is proof of human resilience and ingenuity, as well as European craftsmanship, characteristics which are at the soul of our company.”
Last but not least, adds Martinoli, “it was a great example of team cooperation with our Royal Caribbean colleagues to design and deliver this beautiful vessel.”
Delivery of Silver Origin is particularly symbolic because it represents the culmination of more than half a million hours of work. It’s a multi-year effort that begins with a glimmer of an idea before moving into design, budgeting, sustainability and, finally, construction. It’s also the first newbuild to join the fleet since Silversea Cruises joined the Royal Caribbean group.
Every ship, just like every newborn baby, is special. But perhaps Silver Origin is a little bit more special than usual for more reasons. That’s because Silversea has incorporated aspects, from technological to environmentally-friendly and from decor to new venues, that infuse the ship with the light, colors, stories, cuisine and ambience of the Galapagos. And, now that it’s officially handed-over to Silversea, Silver Origin is bound for the Galapagos where it will sail year-round.
This is wonderful news.
And there’s more. Silversea Cruises has offered luxury expedition voyages within the archipelago since 2013. Still, creating a new ship, especially one that focuses squarely on the Galapagos, has presented both opportunities and challenges, not to mention De Hoop’s successful effort to complete a newbuild during a global pandemic. In nods to its design, technology, and hospitality, both onboard and onshore, Silver Origin represents a lot of “firsts” – not just for the cruise line but also for raising the bar for new travel experiences in the Galapagos. “Anybody who has been to the Galapagos knows the archipelago’s unique beauty,” Lefebvre d’Ovidio tells us this week. “From its endemic animal species to the ancient lava formations. There is simply no place like it on Earth.”
The incredibly remote Galapagos Archipelago consists of 19 islands and more islets and is located just over 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Certainly, English naturalist Charles Darwin, whose Theory of Evolution was based on his experiences in the archipelago, made the point that all species develop through natural selection and raised awareness of this unusually off-the-grid place. For travelers today, visits to the Galapagos are highlighted by natural wonders from wildlife such as blue-footed boobies, penguins, giant tortoises and marine iguanas, to snorkeling where sea lions, sea turtles and eagle rays are among the highlights.
Whether you are a fellow ship aficionado or you’re just interested in how a truly Galapagos-designed expedition vessel will connect you even more to the region, these are five other reasons why we’re really jazzed about Silver Origin.
Did you know that the Galapagos had not, traditionally, been considered a destination for ultra-luxury travelers?
Silversea was a pioneer when it launched ultra-luxury service in the Galapagos in 2013 and it’s still the only such line to cruise there year-round. The company’s mission has always been to offer life-changing travel experiences there “without losing exceptional service and comfort,” Lefebvre d’Ovidio says.
How Silver Origin changes the game is intriguing. First, the ship carries just 100 travelers. It’s small enough to allow for intimate exploring and also its clever design has incorporated unparalleled creature comforts. Consistent with other Silversea ships, Silver Origin is all-suite, with the largest accommodations in the region. All suites have butler service.
As days are often busy on a Galapagos cruise, hiking through lava tunnels and snorkeling with manta rays among other activities, the luxury of ultra relaxation, via a spa, and beauty salon, not to mention a fitness center if you’re not quite worn out enough, is a tempting lure. So, too, is the chance to simply read a book while watching the sunset from the ship’s Observation Lounge, sipping a cocktail on the Explorer Lounge’s beautiful terrace, complete with cozy armchairs — and a firepit. Or dining alfresco at The Grill, the ship’s outdoor restaurant, complete with an Ecuadorian twist, cooked on Silversea’s signature Hot Rocks concept.
How does Silver Origin redefine ultra-luxe?
Let’s focus on accommodations, just to start. Silversea guests who have already traveled on Galapagos cruises have enjoyed butler service and all-suite accommodations. Silver Origin notches that experience up significantly with contemporary new designs and features. In a first for Silversea, some suite categories have ocean-view bathtubs and showers that can be accessed from balconies. It’s also introducing the new Horizon Balcony, which transforms balconies from outdoors to indoors with just a touch of a button. All suites, regardless of category, are the most spacious available in the Galapagos.
Why is it important that Silver Origin was designed with the Galapagos in mind?
“We have invested our accrued know-how into the design of Silver Origin,” says Martinoli. “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.”
There’s another crucial reason why designing Silver Origin around the Galapagos matters. Given that the ship will cruise year-round in one of the most remote places on Earth, incorporating environmental technology is critical, Martinoli tells us. It’s got a dynamic positioning system, which enables the ship to stay stationary without dropping anchor when it’s positioned over a delicate seabed. Energy efficiency is a focus, too. Incorporated into the design and build of Silver Origin is a 25 percent reduction in hull resistance, and a 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption. And from a guest perspective, an in-suite water purification system helps reduce consumption of single-use plastics.
And because ships primarily anchor in the Galapagos and guests spend a lot of time on and in the water, the ship’s Marina is equipped with an improved arrival/departure experience. There’s comfortable seating, showers to clean your gear, and dedicated storage. Silversea has designed racks to conveniently store wetsuits and other equipment, and a fold-out stern with special boarding facilities that can simultaneously accommodate two Zodiacs. The marina has a large garage with hydraulic doors, hatches and cranes to store the ship’s eight Zodiacs.
Silver Origin’s commitment to bringing more of the Galapagos onboard extends to intriguing new venues. Here’s where we want to hang-out on board.
We keep hearing about Basecamp onboard Silver Origin and can’t wait to check it out in person. This venue has been exclusively designed for the newbuild, and its focus is to recreate the wonders of the Galapagos onboard. It’s here where you’ll hang out with Silversea’s team of Ecuadorian guides, learning about the history, landscapes and wildlife of the region — before you head out to explore. Basecamp’s centerpiece is a massive interactive digital wall and plans to spotlight historical context from the Royal Geographical Society of London, aerial and underwater videos, and excursion previews.
Why Local Matters.
The crew is sourced from Ecuador. Everyone, from expedition guides, who are all certified by the Galapagos National Park, to chefs who will incorporate Ecuadorian cuisine along with the line’s trademark international thrust, bring aboard a local sensibility.
The ship’s crew-to-guest ratio is unprecedented in the region; what’s particularly valuable is the high number of guides to passengers. “This is particularly relevant,” says Damien O’Connor , Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations and Onboard Revenue, “because the archipelago is a living laboratory of natural history. Our guests benefit from more time with our local crew and guides…which enables them to form stronger connections with the destination”.
And given that Silversea is very rooted in the culinary arts, expect great dining that will open your taste-buds to new flavors.
“Guests can enjoy a celebration of Ecuadorian food culture, in line with Silversea’s new S.A.L.T. approach,” O’Connor tells us. “We’ll work with local ingredients, sourced from the Galapagos when possible, that will take guests deeper into local culture. Even the chocolate, for instance, is an Ecuadorian product.”
Indeed, O’Connor tells us, Silver Origin’s culinary team is working with independent suppliers on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal to develop long-term solutions to provisioning locally and regionally. It already is working with local farmers and plans to source, for example, 400 kg of tomatoes per month from San Cristobal, along with scoring fresh seafood from local fishermen (look for lobster, yellowfin tuna, scorpion fish, snapper and more).
A Deck by Deck Tour of the New Silver Origin
Silversea Chief Marketing Officer Barbara Muckermann offers lots of details and insider tidbits that you won’t get anywhere else on a tour of decks 3 through 7 of the brand new Silver Origin.