If you’re looking for adventure, Silversea’s fleet of 3 expedition ships Silver Explorer, Silver Galapagos and the latest addition to the fleet Silver Discoverer, is not a bad place to start.
Visiting some of the most remote corners of the planet their schedule of up-close and personal expeditions will bring you face to face with some of the world’s rarest wildlife and most intriguing cultures.
From the majestic sandstone canyons and waterfalls of Western Australia’s Kimberley coast and the bull worshiping funeral festivals of Borneo’s Toraja people, to the incredibly bio-diverse Utria National Park in Columbia and the blue-footed boobies of the Galapagos, you really will see some of the Earth’s greatest treasures.
Our Marketing manager Kathryn Malone recently attended a Silversea Expedition Lecture in London and managed to grab an interview with expedition leader Daniil Elterman. Having worked for the last six years as a Silversea expedition leader, Daniil Elterman agrees he has seen his fair share of the planets weird and wonderful. On a recent whistle stop trip to the UK he shared some of his favourite experiences with us as well as his personal recommendations of where to head on a Silversea Expedition cruise.
In Conversation with Daniil Elterman – Silversea Expedition Leader
Q. Can you describe a typical day in the life of a Silversea Expedition leader?
There is no such thing as a typical day, as the ship is always in a new location each day. Usually it is an early start. At least an hour before the ship’s arrival into a new port the Expedition Leader is on the bridge next to the Captain, checking the timings, anchorage position, weather and distance to the landing site, as most of our disembarkations are done by Zodiacs (inflatable powerboats). The Expedition Leader is usually in the first “scouting” Zodiac to go ashore – to check on the landing conditions and make sure that all is safe for passenger disembarkation. Whether we are planning a landing, Zodiac tour or hike, the Expedition Leader is always ashore with the guests, leading and overseeing the activities. Even when the day’s tour is done our work isn’t. We spend time fine-tuning the following day’s plans and briefing the rest of Expedition Team. Building relationships with our guests is also a big part of the job, so socialising with the guests or co-ordinating any lectures once back on board is important too, ensuring that everyone gets the most out of their adventure.
Q. Who makes up a Silversea Expedition team?
A. On all three expedition vessels we have a team of 11 people. Each team consists of an Expedition Leader, Assistant Expedition Leader and Expedition Staff Assistant, who are in charge of planning and delivering a really interesting programme for our guests. Then we have our lecture staff, that generally includes a Marine Biologist, Ornithologist, Geologist, Anthropologist or Historian, Botanist, General Naturalist and other specialist – it really depends on the itinerary as to what specialists we have on-board. On all our voyages we also have a professional Photographer / Videographer to capture our guest’s experiences, should they wish to take away a video or photographic memento of the trip. I think you’ll agree quite a team and all with years of experience.
Q. Is there one place/view that stands out as really taking your breath away?
A. After the last six years of expedition travelling and 15 years of travelling by many other means – it is still South Georgia, a Sub-Antarctic island in the Southern Ocean. It is literally packed with the most impressive wildlife – hundreds of thousands of King Penguins, Elephant Seals and Fur Seals that crowd almost every beach of the island and Albatrosses soaring above. Add snow-capped mountains, glaciers, valleys of green tussock grass and icebergs in the bays and you get more or less a complete picture of a paradise on earth!
Q. Of all the wonderful wildlife you’ve encountered do you have a favourite?
A. I absolutely love sea turtles and had an amazing opportunity to snorkel in a “turtle soup” in the Galapagos while visiting Silver Galapagos for a few weeks. It was the most mesmerising experience – to drift on the swell, completely surrounded by these mysterious creatures. More than a year later it is still my favourite wildlife moment. Whale watching from a Zodiac is another incredible experience. Luckily it happens often – especially in Antarctica, Alaska and the Russian Far East, where we regularly have these giants approach very closely to our Zodiacs, sometimes swimming underneath and even spy-hopping!
Q. Have you had any dangerous encounters with the local wildlife?
A. Close encounters – very often, dangerous – never. The safety of our guests is always our first priority and we always operate according to wildlife viewing guidelines. For example in the Arctic where Polar bears are one of the highlights, we always have qualified bear guards who ensure that we are never threatened. One of the most exciting close encounters is when a whale swims under your Zodiac, or a Walrus pops up right next to the Zodiac to inspect you with his curious little eyes.
Q. Where is the most remote place you’ve ever been?
A. Silver Explorer almost every year calls to Tristan da Cunha – officially the remotest inhabited place on Earth. It is situated in the South Atlantic, between South America and South Africa. The nearest civilisation is South Africa at just over 2000km away! I have been there twice and visited the settlement which is called Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.
Q. Where have you had your most authentic cultural experience?
A. That would be Papua New Guinea, which is so culturally diverse and colourful! My favourite was in Rabaul – we took our guests deep into the forest to a remote village at night to witness a Baining Fire Dance, where locals in the most outlandish costumes dance through (not around, THROUGH!) a massive fire. It was quite simply mind-blowing, fascinating and a bit spooky but certainly something to remember!
Q. You must have met some fascinating people – does anyone spring to mind?
A. My most memorable guest on-board was a man named Andrew Simone from Chicago. At the age of 95 he sailed with us on Silver Explorer’s Antarctica voyage – an 18 day trip to the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. He was very sharp minded but could barely walk. He took this journey as his beloved wife passed away shortly before his trip. She had always dreamt about going to these places but was never able to. After she died he decided to make this trip and fulfil her dream. He never missed a landing, whatever the weather conditions. Every landing he just sat on a box at the landing site, looking at the scenery and thinking ….. It was heart breaking. To this day he is my hero to have taken on such a challenge at 95 for such a special reason.
Q. Do you have a favourite expedition ship? Or if that’ll put you in your colleagues bad books what about an all-time favourite itinerary?
A. I will not single out any one ship, (although I do have a favourite one!), but with regards to the itinerary – probably the West Coast of Africa, all the way from Cape Town to Lisbon, when in one go (combining two voyages) one can visit 16 countries, many of them are really hard to visit any other way than on an expedition vessel.
Q. What’s the weirdest gift you’ve been given or something you’ve been asked to do/take part in by the local tribes-people you’ve met on your travels?
A. I haven’t received anything that exotic, except a few masks or wooden carvings. I actually did receive a very valuable gift in Chukotka (Russian Far East) – a reindeer skin jacket, handmade in one of the remote villages that we visited with Silver Discoverer.
Q. Where to next? Is there somewhere Silversea currently don’t go to that you’d love to add to the list?
A. There are a few dream places for me to go to, and luckily our expedition ships do go there and I hope to get scheduled for these itineraries – Aldabra (Seychelles, also known as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean) with Silver Discoverer in late 2016 and the New Zealand Sub Antarctic Islands with Silver Discoverer in late 2015. I haven’t been to any of these places yet, but certainly will make an effort to get there.
So if you’re inspired to experience just some of the amazing sites Daniil has had the fortune to see then speak to our team of travel experts and let us recommend an expedition cruise that is right for you.
Call 0844 847 5004 or 0191 285 9321 to speak to one of our team, email email@example.com
Coming soon – Daniil’s Wildlife Bucket List – When and Where to See the World’s Greatest Wildlife Treasures…..
Travel Bureau Fact File – Silversea Expedition Cruises
Silver Explorer (132 guests) – Cruising Arctic, Antarctic, Caribbean and South & Central America in 2015/2016
Silver Galapagos (100 guests) – Cruising itineraries North Central Island and Western Islands of The Galapagos in 2015/2016
Silver Discoverer (120 guests) – Cruising the Pacific and Indian Ocean in 2015/2016 visiting New Zealand & Australia, Polynesia, Africa, Asia, Alaska and the Russian Far East.
See for yourself – follow the link to see Silversea Expedition voyages brought to life:
- Silversea will debut more than 100 new ports in its expedition programme including Aldabra Atoll – the second largest coral atoll in the world in the Southern Seychelles and Agats in Indonesia’s Papua province, home to the once-feared Asmat tribe.
- There are a range of special interest voyages including photography, culinary, diving, bird watching and wellness expeditions to choose from in addition to the normal expedition programme.
- An exclusive partnership with the Royal Geographical Society means guests should look out for the RGS notice boards on-board each ship given lots of information about their ports of call.
It’s not too late for you to book a Silversea Expedition of a lifetime. Limited space remains on a selection of 2015 itineraries:
Departing on 9 May 2015 a 7 night cruise aboard Silver Galapagos travelling from Baltra to Baltra taking in the islands of Genovesa, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Espanola costs from £3,850 per person.
Call us on 0191 285 9321/0844 847 5004 to speak to one of our team or email firstname.lastname@example.org