Fam trip report: Lee Mulligan, ROL Cruise
Cruise specialist Lee went to America for an expedition with Silversea from San Francisco to Vancouver. The trip on Silver Explorer was one of the first itineraries to incorporate a new partnership with wildlife charity and conservation team Orca.
Q.What was your impression of Silversea Cruises prior to going on the Silver Explorer fam trip?
A. Before going on the cruise I already had a high opinion of the brand and certain expectations about the cruise line and the experiences offered. Having now sailed with them, I can happily say that the brand not only met my expectations, but far exceeded them. Everything from the easy and personal check-in, to the farewell from an officer as I disembarked in Vancouver, made the trip not just a cruise, but a special experience.
Q. What were you most excited about?
A. Visiting the ports where we embarked and disembarked – San Francisco and Vancouver. Both cities were everything I was hoping for, but what surprised me most were the beautiful, more traditional and less touristy cities, towns and villages we visited in between. The beauty of Silversea’s expedition ships is that they are smaller, which means you can visit places less travelled. The knowledge of the expedition team is also special because they offer such unique insights.
Q. Part of the experience on your itinerary was centred on the new partnership with Orca. Tell us about the wildlife you saw.
A. We were extremely lucky to see more than 500 animals and 14 species on this particular sailing. Luckily, I saw the majority of these. We were able to count various species of dolphin, porpoise, whales, sea lions, harbour seals and even a blue shark!
Q. Do you think the tie-up with Orca offers Silversea guests something unique?
A. The partnership with Orca and the dedication of the experts travelling with us broadened our knowledge and meant we were able to spot and identify the marine wildlife. We would have missed so much without them. We were able to help the Orca experts as they logged our individual sightings for worldwide usage. This definitely gives you the sense that you are doing more than just enjoying the sights; you are actually helping the marine wildlife. Orca also provides a full trip report on orcaweb.org.uk so anyone can go back and remember the many species they saw.
Q. What was the highlight of the itinerary and which ports did you enjoy most?
A. Both Mount St Helens and Olympia were definite highlights. It was both amazing and belittling to get up close to Mount St Helens, seeing the side of the volcano missing after it erupted in 1980. We also saw the devastation to the surrounding forests. Olympia, the beautiful capital of Washington State, is small enough to explore on foot and has many boutiques, restaurants, breweries and distilleries. Walking farther uphill through the city not only gives you the chance to view the Old Capitol Building up close, but it gives you views out to Puget Sound, where Silver Explorer was anchored.
Q. What was your highlight onboard?
A. The service and food on board were obvious highlights, but the real standout was the vast knowledge of the expedition team. Guests are able to learn so much from them and because it’s so varied, there really isn’t much, geographically, historically or nature wise that you could ask without getting an educated and enthusiastic answer. I also like the fact the team is very interested in the guests and spent a lot of time in our company.
Q. How will the experience help you sell Silversea in the future?
A. My experience on this trip will help me no end in selling Silversea. It allows me to talk about the brand from first-hand experience, paint a picture of what it’s like and speak passionately about it, which is something you can only get from experiencing it first-hand. The trip has also given me real insight into what it’s like to cruise to lesser-visited ports that smaller expedition ships can sail into.
Q. Having experienced the product, what type of client would you sell a Silversea cruise to?
The trip made me realise that it’s very difficult to narrow it down to a certain type of customer. On my trip there were adults of all ages, solo travellers and families, everyone spoke to one another and got along. If, like me, you are outgoing and have an inquisitive nature I would say a Silversea expeditions cruise is for you, but if you like a slower pace and enjoy a mix of relaxation and culture, then a classic Silversea ship would suit better.