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Cruise Ship Information

Established in 1992 by the Lefebvre family and Monaco-based V-Ships, Silversea Cruises debuted with its first newbuild, Silver Cloud, in 1994. In contrast to competitor Seabourn Cruise Line, Silversea's ships feature a high number of cabins with private balconies, and they are also much larger than the smaller mega-yachts. Silver Shadow joined the fleet in 2000, followed by Silver Whisper in July, 2001.

Atmosphere on board

The 4,077-ton, 100-passenger Silver Galapagos, which previously sailed as Galapagos Explorer II, joined Silversea Cruises in the fall of 2013 after an interior makeover.

The upscale line announced in June 2012 that it had acquired Galapagos Explorer II and with it Canodros S.A., a tour operator that runs sailings to the Galapagos aboard the upmarket expedition vessel. The acquisition signals the first time that Silversea will offer cruises to the Galapagos, a group of Pacific islands off the coast of Ecuador known for their abundant and unique wildlife. Silversea's fleet also includes Silver Galapagos, an expedition vessel that visits both poles and almost everywhere in between.

Silver Galapagos will operate in the region year-round via two seven-day itineraries. Both departures, roundtrip from Baltra, will leave on Saturday. The first will visit the western, southern and eastern islands, including Santiago, Bartolome, Isabela, Fernandina, Floreana, San Cristóbal, and Santa Cruz. The other will explore the northeast, central and southeast islands of Santa Cruz, Genovesa, North Seymour, San Cristóbal, Española and South Plazas.

Originally part of the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises fleet, Silver Galapagos has 50 suites ranging from 210 to 287 square feet; all have ocean views and 24 have balconies (a rarity in the Galapagos). The ship features a main restaurant, piano bar, library with Internet access, main lounge, outdoor bar, two outdoor whirlpools and an observation deck.

As denotes a luxury line, fares will include butler service, complimentary beverages and all gratuities.

Family with Kids/Teens

While the Silver Galapagos permits children onboard, there aren't any specific facilities or programs for children or teenagers.

Past Passenger Programs

Silver Galapagos offers an Internet cafe, or you can use your own laptop or tablet to access the Internet via shipwide Wi-Fi. In either case, you must buy a package of minutes. You can get 100 minutes of online access for $45, 250 minutes for $85 and 1,000 minutes for $250. There's also a well-stocked library filled with DVD's, books and newspapers.

The Card Room on Deck 6 provides a great meeting place for bridge players. The shore concierge desk and passenger relations manager are also based on Deck 6.

The duty-free boutique on Deck 5 offers a nice selection of perfumes, as well as designer handbags, sportswear, costume jewelry and incidentals like memory cards for cameras and suntan lotion. For those in the market for real baubles, the H. Stern boutique offers a mesmerizing selection of diamonds and gold, including many modern pieces.

There's a self-serve Laundromat on Deck 4. The medical center on Deck 3 has regular hours, plus an onboard doctor is available at any time for emergencies.

Fitness And Spa

Silver Galapagos has a sizable saltwater pool (large enough for laps) and two hot tubs on Deck 8. The deck space is more than ample for sun-lovers. On sea days, there's usually a rousing game or two of pool volleyball. Just above the pool deck on Deck 9 are a walking track and a small gym housing elliptical machines, treadmills, free weights and yoga mats. The gym provides terrific views. A variety of fitness classes is offered daily. You can also try your hand at paddle tennis, or practice putting at the onboard green.

For those who prefer pampering to pumping iron, the Spa at Silversea is a sight for sore muscles. There are a full hair salon, including nail services, and nine treatment rooms to fulfill your every rejuvenating fantasy. You may want to try a warm stone or Swedish massage, reflexology or an anti-aging facial. Each changing room has a sauna and steam bath.

Food & Dining

Dining on Silver Galapagos is heavenly, with numerous options depending on your mood and cravings. The high-quality food is one reason cruisers choose Silversea over other lines.

The Restaurant is the main dining venue on Silver Galapagos. Friendly, attentive waiters serve delicious multi-course gourmet meals with a Mediterranean influence. There's a standard menu that's always available, along with a lengthy list of daily chef's specials. All three meals are served a la carte. Dinner reservations aren't required; passengers may simply arrive any time between 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

La Terrazza is a smaller a la carte restaurant that features scrumptious Italian cuisine in the tradition of Slow Food. The dinner menu of delights -- Pecorino pie, handmade tagliatelle, veal, tiramisu and panna cotta -- changes every three days. Each of the four courses is paired with the perfect Italian wine. This specialty restaurant (no extra cost) is a must for at least one night, but many cruisers find themselves there several times, given the intimate, quality dining experience. Reservations are required, as the capacity is limited to 50 people. La Terrazza also serves buffet breakfast and buffet lunch. You don't need reservations for these meals, and there is never a wait for a table since people come at different times.

The experience is even more exclusive at La Champagne, the only Relais & Chateaux restaurant at sea. Only 20 diners per night can enjoy an exquisite six-course meal. There's a $30 surcharge per person, plus the cost of any upgrades in the wine selections. You must reserve ahead of time.

In 2012, the Pool Bar and Grill was expanded and transformed into The Grill, which offers passengers the chance to cook their own steak and seafood on heated volcanic rocks at their table. Some passengers enjoy the novel experience of cooking their own meal, while others would prefer to leave the work to Silversea's excellent chefs.

Room service is not to be missed. Many of the main courses served in the restaurant are also featured on the room service menu, so choosing to spend the night in your cabin doesn't mean you need to forego the gourmet experience. Dinners are served in courses -- the waiters ask when you'd like them to come back -- and they're divine on starry, balmy nights in the privacy of your balcony. For other times of the day, or a midnight snack, the usual array of burgers, salads and appetizers is available. Room service breakfast is also a standout, and it's a great alternative when you want to spend a little more time in your cabin getting ready for a port call.

Entertainment

The gamut of usual shipboard activities is offered during the day, from lectures and language lessons to dance classes and bridge. The most popular pastime is the daily trivia competition.

Evening entertainment features "The Artists of Silversea," a troupe of three female and three male singers/entertainers who perform everything from Beatles hits to opera. The quality of the entertainers is fairly high for a ship of this size, and the cruise director also performs along with the group. The multi-tiered Venetian Lounge provides a pleasant setting for these evening shows or movies with unobstructed views.

The most popular spot is The Bar, a bustling art deco saloon, where folks meet and mingle easily before and after dinner. The barkeep will call you by name and remember what you drink after one visit. On many evenings, the Silver Galapagos Quartet performs there; it's a great place to dance.

The pretty, well-designed and user-friendly Panorama Lounge is a great place for just sipping drinks, listening to music or simply sitting and watching the sea go by. At night, a pianist plays and sings there.

There's also a tiny casino that gets good table action, but not too much slot play.

The highlights of Silver Galapagos's shore excursions are the knowledgeable guides the cruise line contracts. Excursions run the gamut from half-day city orientations to cooking classes and winery outings. A Silver Galapagos staff member accompanies every shore excursion to make sure everything is running smoothly.

The shore concierge conducts briefings on ports a day or two before docking, going over the excursions provided by the line and how passengers can tour on their own. At each port, a local expert comes aboard just after docking and can provide maps, restaurant recommendations and information on taxis.

Fellow Passengers

Silverseas' generally 40-and-older passengers are well-traveled and sophisticated. The ships attract an international clientele, with the majority being American and European

Tipping

Included in your fare, though additional services provided by a butler or concierge may deserve extra consideration at your discretion.

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