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Silver Origin

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When you explore the uninhabited islands of the Galapagos National Park, you are in one of the roughest places on the planet, a land where the wildlife rules and you are just another creature. That does not mean you need to rough it. You certainly won't on the luxurious, all-inclusive, 100-passenger Silver Origin, Silversea Cruises' first purpose-built, destination-focused expedition ship. Everyone on the ship stays in suites with butler service, and your every need is catered to with aplomb. Crew greet you with Italian designer bathrobes as you return from snorkelling, perhaps with whitetip reef sharks and sea lions. You will find hot water aplenty in your ocean-view glass shower with rainfall showerhead. Your personal butler will fetch you a cappuccino or whatever else you desire.

Silver Origin Deck Plan...

...focuses on bringing the outdoors in. The ship has windows all around (even in the elevator) for views. A luxury hotel designer created a soothing colour scheme of stone and cream, complimented by an Ecuadorian-focused art collection, that gives a sense of place but does not distract from what's happening outdoors. At the same time, Silver Origin is filled with the kind of cushy furnishings you can sink into after a busy day of exploring via inflatable Zodiac, kayak, snorkelling or on foot, with the ship's 10 local, park-certified naturalist guides. You and your fellow passengers may have come to meet blue-footed boobies and endemic marine iguanas and tortoises, but a convivial atmosphere on the ship, an open-seating policy at meals, free booze, and the small number of passengers onboard, means it's easy to make friends (the spaciousness of the ship also means you can avoid anyone you don't care for).

Is Silver Origin a Luxury Expedition Ship?

Silver Origin has space to stretch out, so much so you may feel at times like you are on your own private yacht. Reserve the hot tub for two and have your butler serve Champagne. Head to the windowed observation lounge/library and take a nap with book about Charles Darwin on your lap. A basecamp lounge features an interactive digital wall, a nifty high-tech way to learn factoids about Galapagos wildlife. Silver Origin is Galapagos on a silver platter.

Daytime: Casual, with shorts or jeans and tees most common.

Evening: Most passengers go with country club casual at night; no one dressing up much beyond a casual dress or trousers and blouse for women; collared shirt and slacks for men. Sneakers and hiking boots for footwear.

Not permitted: Shorts and jeans are not allowed in the restaurant at night.

Shows and Theatre on Silver Origin

The entertainment onboard is a piano player performing on a baby grand in the main Explorer Lounge during cocktail hour and after dinner (though few passengers are in the lounge after dinner). He also plays a keyboard in The Grill at lunchtime. Otherwise, guests may entertain themselves in the evening by chatting at the ship's firepit outside the Explorer Lounge on Deck 4, or heading up to the dark stargazing area on Deck 8 to try and spot the Southern Cross or, if you're lucky, lava flowing from an active volcano in the distance.

Galapagos Shore Excursions on Silver Origin

You've come to the Galapagos to explore, and your itinerary includes up to four excursion choices each day, all included in your cruise fare and led by universally excellent Galapagos National Park-certified naturalist guides – visitors are not allowed to explore the park unless accompanies by a guide. A big selling point is the number of guides, Silver Origin with a 1:10 guide to guest as opposed to the 1:16 ratio allowed by the park. To keep everything orderly, your ship will be divided into groups, and call each group at staggered times, so you never need to wait long to board a Zodiac at the ship's very active marina. Lots of crew are on hand to lend an arm as you board the bobbing Zodiacs for adventures that might include a hike on a beach strewn with thousands of nesting marine iguanas, or a hike past lava tubes for views of volcanic rock formations, or a ride along the coast to spot birds such as blue-footed boobies, or a little time on a beach. Most tours are for one hour.

The only time you will find yourself on a bus is a visit to a tortoise preserve and coffee plantation on the island of Santa Cruz. Deep sea snorkelling and kayak excursions require signup, so that groups can be staggered – with one guide assigned to every 10 guests. Kayaks are for two, but if you are a solo traveler you will either be paired or assigned your own guide/partner. Snorkelers are provided with wetsuits, fins and masks with snorkel that you keep in your cabin. The masks and snorkel are yours to take home. All guests are also given a life vest to wear on the Zodiacs and you keep that in your cabin as well (hooks in your walk-in closet handle all that). In a bit of an oddity, the shore excursions are operated with a sound system (for hearing the guides) that requires you to download an app on your cellphone and to have your own headphones. It works well, unless for some reason you don't have your own headphones – be sure to pack them.

Wildlife Viewing on Silver Origin

Visiting the Galapagos is like visiting an open-air zoo, except in these islands the animals are utterly unafraid of you. We are sized up as something big and non-threatening walking by. You are advised by your naturalist guides to keep a distance of six to eight feet, but the animals haven't necessarily gotten the memo. When you are deep-sea snorkelling, you may find yourself with a sea lion trying to stare you in the face, or look down to see several whitetip sharks swimming by – which you can brag about with your friends if you have an underwater camera. On a kayak excursion through a scenic mangrove, sea lions may come over to show off their octopus or other catch of the day, while sea turtles swim past. If you don't snorkel or kayak, you'll still have plenty of wildlife experiences, assured by the naturalist team. Zodiacs explore the shore, the drivers getting as close as they are allowed to birds and animals. Bring your binoculars for the best views. You'll also walk beaches where sea lions are lounging, bright orange Sally Lightfoot crabs are scurrying and rays are hanging right off shore. From your ship, you may spot dolphins and sea birds will fly overhead. An excursion to a on the island of Santa Cruz will assure you will get to see giant, 150-year old tortoises at a private preserve that's also a coffee plantation. Hundreds of species are found nowhere else on earth such as spiky-backed marine iguanas, warm-weather penguins, the giant tortoises and Galapagos sea lions. Birdwatchers come to see prizes such as Darwin's finches (four species of which are mockingbirds), endemic Galapagos hawks, rails, flycatchers and martins, plus blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca boobies.

Enrichment and Lectures on Silver Origin

In the evening, everyone – guests and guides – gathers in the Explorer Lounge pre-dinner for cocktails, a recap of the day’s events, and to hear what is on the schedule for the next day. One naturalist will also do a brief lecture based on his or her area of expertise. Longer lectures are offered some days, either in the morning or afternoon. Nature movies are also occasionally shown on the screens of the Explorers Lounge. The ship's unusual enrichment feature has a high-tech twist. In the cushy Basecamp lounge, off the marina, is an alcove with a 39-square-foot interactive digital screen – the largest such screen in the Galapagos. A touch control panel on a podium looks like something out of Star Trek, and allows you to both preview your trip and do a deep dive into the Galapagos, including science and research being conducted. It’s a fun way to supplement the already deep and interesting lectures given by the ship’s expert team of naturalists. Silversea received special permission from the Galapagos National Park to film footage by drone for the magic wall, and then added expert commentary from naturalists. Keep touching for photos and factoids and videos about the animals you will see on the excursions. If the ship is at sea for an afternoon, the naturalists may invite passengers to an open deck to search for wildlife from the ship. On select nights, there is a naturalist leading stargazing on the top deck – otherwise, you are free to head up to view the stars on your own. One afternoon, the chef will do a cooking demonstration and talk on Ecuadorian ceviche, complete with a tasting and handout recipes.

Nightlife on Silver Origin

You'll find very little entertainment on Silver Origin besides the piano player. Most guests return to cabins after dinner where they may watch classic and some last-year movies on their stateroom TV. Silver Origin does not have a casino.

Silver Origin Bars and Lounges

Explorer Lounge: (Deck 4): A quiet place to lounge and enjoy a coffee and snack by day, the Explore Lounge is also the ship's main gathering spot at night, the bar team preparing cocktails, which you can order made with Ecuadorian liquors or a broad range of international selections. There's also local artisanal beer served.

Basecamp: (Deck 3): The elegant Basecamp, with indoor and outdoor living room areas, is attached to the ship’s marina, and both a cushy place to hang out and gear up for excursions and brilliant educational centre. There's a self-service coffee set up in one corner, for those who want to linger, though most passengers pass-through on their way back from shore excursions.

Observation Lounge/Library (Deck 7): When not in a lounge chair out on deck or napping in their cabins, guests come up to this small, forward-facing windowed lounge to sit and read a book or take a nap. The rarely used space is outfitted with cushy chairs and sofas, a giant globe, atlases and books on Charles Darwin and wildlife.

Hot Tubs on Silver Origin

A hot tub large enough to be comfortably shared by four people is located on Deck 7. It's raised for views, and as a special treat you can ask your butler to deliver champagne so you can sip while admiring the passing scenery. A glass-shower is nearby. Silver Origin does not have a traditional pool. Due to restrictions in the national park, there are no individual watersports offerings and you can't swim from the marina (kayaking and snorkeling is all escorted).

Silver Origin Services, Shops and WiFi

The reception desk in the Basecamp lounge has two standard desks. There's no gift shop but there are some items for sale displayed in glass cases. Local selections include sterling silver and gold jewellery inspired by Galapagos wildlife, from the environmentally conscious Galapagos jewellery company. With straw Panama hats originating in Ecuador, there is also a custom example – If you want to pay $1,000 for a hat. Ship-wide WiFi is available at no charge. If you want to download photos or stream videos you may want to upgrade to a premium package for a weekly fee.

Silver Origin Zagara Spa

Silver Origin has a small, two-room Zagara beauty spa located on Deck 5. It's staffed by one Ecuadorian hairdresser/massage therapist. You can get a wash and blowout, pedicure or manicure at the beauty parlour or head into the massage room for treatments such as a "Freestyle Deep Tissue Massage". Prices are similar to what you find on other Silversea ships. The gratuity is at your discretion, however, as opposed to being added on.

Gym on Silver Origin

The small but well-equipped and ocean-view gym has a step machine, bike, leg curl machine and treadmill, plus a decent selection of weights. It's just enough to keep up with your daily routine, assuming you know what you are doing as there is no trainer or staff. While it would be hard to do a power walk on the ship, you can get active on hikes, and a few times during the week there are organized power walks or runs, accompanied by a naturalist guide, offered on shore.

Meals are certainly a high point with an executive chef who seems omnipresent – whether describing the fine points of why a grain melts on your tongue or giving the history of stew from the Andes.

Ecuadorian Restrictions Impact -- And Can Enhance --- Silver Origin's Onboard Dining

Part of the chef's goal is to educate guests on Ecuadorian cuisine. Listed on menus are international dishes and both traditional and modern Ecuadorian cuisine. It's hard to get imported products into the Galapagos, including a restriction on beef. It must come from Ecuador. The result is that cuts that may not please all American tastes; if you want beef, order it in the form of Silversea's Signature Burger (topped with gouda, caramelized onions and Portobello mushrooms). You are better off ordering fresh Galapagos fish and seafood – including varieties you may never have tried before such as Galapagos scorpionfish. Local pork is available from a farmer who sings to his pigs. Silversea works with local producers whenever possible, including buying produce from local farmers. What's available depends on the season, but includes fruits such as papaya and pineapple featured at the lavish breakfast buffet in The Restaurant. Cheese comes from a Galapagos producer who ages his products in lava tubes. Menus include the kind of dishes that will make vegetarians and vegans feel they received special attention, rather than being an afterthought. You won't find the caviar which seems omnipresent on other Silversea ships – it only appears as a garnish on some featured dishes.

All Restaurants Are Included on Silver Origin

The Restaurant, Deck 4

Meals - Breakfast, lunch, dinner: Breakfast and lunch in The Restaurant feature lavish buffets and menu dishes available to order, in both cases with a good selection of choices, both hot and cold. International dishes combine with Ecuadorian selections at each meal. Fresh fruit and vegetables are plentiful. At dinner, The Restaurant takes on the allure of a fancy restaurant, the vibe distinctively more formal, the Ecuadorian waitstaff dressed more formally and presenting dishes as beautifully decorated as you would expect to find in a top-notch restaurant. Delivery of dishes is timed, for a voila moment. Seating is open, sit where you like and with whom you like. Reservations are not required, unless you want to have a large table for your own dinner party.

The Grill, Deck 7

Meals - Lunch and dinner: The open-air, but shade-covered grill hosts a daily Galapagos Seafood Market at lunch, with meat and vegetarian options and a salad bar. A popular selection at lunch is the daily-changing Ecuadorian version of ceviche, which is more like a cold soup and is served with popcorn and plantain chips. The Grill is a favourite spot for catching views and breezes, and if passengers are not heading off on shore excursions they tend to linger here. The chef goes table to table explaining the day's featured Ecuadorian and seafood dishes, with other menu options including burgers and a sandwich of the day.   At night, the venue hosts Silversea's popular, casual "Hot Rocks" experience where you can choose your protein and cook your own selection on a heated lava rock. Reservations are required for the evening experience.

Room Service

Meals - Breakfast, lunch and dinner: Complimentary room service is available 24 hours a day. Many passengers choose to have breakfast in their cabin, whether indoors or on their veranda. Your butler delivers your selections on a tray. The lengthy, full-breakfast menu includes pastries, made-to-order eggs and Ecuadorian breakfast specialties. At lunch or dinner, you may choose Silversea's Signature Burger, pasta, pizza and other hot or cold dishes. At dinner, you can order off the menu in The Restaurant, but be aware that only the upgraded suites receive the order course-by-course – otherwise, you receive the whole meal at once.

Everyone stays in a suite on Silver Origin and the smallest is a spacious 325 square feet. There are eight categories, including some of the largest suites in the Galapagos. All 51 suites are located on Decks 5 and 6 and come with butler service and 24/hour room service.

Check Your Room to See What Kind of Balcony It Has

While all the suites have balconies, they are not all the kind where you can step out into open space. Some are what the line calls "Horizon" balconies, a design borrowed from sister brand Celebrity Cruises, where you push a button to open the top half of a floor-to-ceiling window to make your suite open-air (patio furniture near the window replicates a balcony atmosphere). Like the rest of the ship, much attention was paid to details in the suites, which are done up in a soothing contemporary décor. Headboards are padded. Beside your bed are plugs (110/220) and USB outlets. You sleep on fine European linens, including down duvets and have a choice of pillows. Beds are twins, convertible to Queen or King, depending on your suite category. The glass shower in your bathroom will have an ocean view – in some suites, you need to push a panel above your double sink for the view (note that your shower is not on an outside wall, so your view is through your bedroom, and you'll be flashing your roommate as you shower). In the bathroom is a special purified water faucet for filling your water bottle. The toilet is in its own separate room, sans sink. Bath amenities are all Ecuadorian-made, and an inclusion is natural suntan lotion that will not harm the fragile Galapagos wildlife, created so that no chemicals leach into the environment. Provided in your walk-in closet are bathrobes and slippers, hanging space and drawers, as well as a safe. Storage space includes hooks to hang your snorkelling gear and the lifejacket you'll use for the week, each time you're in a Zodiac, which is your means for getting ashore to kayaks or to snorkelling spots. Lighting is designed so you can read in bed without disturbing your roommate. Your mini-bar is stocked with local snacks, soft drinks and your choice of alcohol. There's a flat-screen HDTV with an interactive media library (including on-demand movies and a music library) and a mirrored vanity table/writing desk with a chair in each suite. Top suites add coffee machines.

Suites on Silver Origin Have Wide Range; Some Are Particularly Good for Families

Some suites are designed to connect for families. At the top end, this includes the Grand and Royal suites that can accommodate a family of four, in nearly 2,000-square-feet of combined space.

Classic Veranda Suite: The 22 classic suites have step-out, 72-square-foot balconies accessible through floor-to-ceiling windows. The 325-square-foot suites have ocean-view walk-in showers, a writing desk a sitting area and TV, as well as a walk-in closet.

Superior Veranda Suite: These 16 suites are located on Deck 6 and feature 325 square feet of space and Horizon balconies. As is standard on this ship, they have a sitting area, bathroom with double sink and ocean-view walk-in shower, and a writing desk.

Deluxe Veranda Suite: The seven 335-square-foot suites in this category have Horizon balconies and sitting areas, glass showers, walk-in closets and queen-sized beds. The suites are located on Deck 6.

Medallion Suite: Located near the Bridge on Deck 6, this 335-square-foot suite has an 88-square-foot veranda created with a Horizon Balcony. The suite has a sitting area, king-sized bed and ocean view shower, one TV, a premium sound system, a coffee station, binoculars and complimentary laundry service.

Silver Suite: The living rooms of these two suites, located forward on Deck 5, feature an L-shaped couch sitting area overlooking floor-to-ceiling windows and a 109-square-foot balcony. Perks include a whirlpool tub and glass shower with ocean views and the same amenities as above. Each of these suites can connect to a Class Veranda Suite to accommodate a family.

Royal Suite: Combinable with the Grand Suite to sleep four, the 897-square-foot Royal Suite has a 305-foot veranda, an ocean-view whirlpool tub and separate shower and a living room with sitting area. The bed may be configured as twins or king. Among amenities, the suite has two flat-screen HDTVs, a premium sound system, binoculars, and complimentary laundry service, as well as a coffee station.

Grand Suite: Located Deck 5 aft, this 1,025-square-foot suite has a living room with a sitting area, a separate dining area and a bedroom with twins that can be combined into a King-size bed. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors lead to the 271-square-foot veranda. Both the glass shower and separate whirlpool bath boast ocean views. The suite is equipped with the same amenities as above.

Owner's Suite: The Deck 6 aft Owner's Suite features a large living room, separate dining area, bedroom and bathroom with a huge glass shower that opens onto a spacious balcony, large enough for lounging and dining. The suite is 1,722 square feet, while the veranda is 646 square feet. The twin beds in the bedroom can be combined into a king. In addition to the shower, a whirlpool tub faces the ocean. The suite is equipped with the same amenities as above.

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