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Luxury cruising in Antarctica on board Silver Endeavour

I’ve worked in the Antarctic cruise industry for 16 years, and travelled south on a wide variety of ships. In my earliest days I sailed on some of the last generation of ex-research expedition vessels, where bunks and shared bathrooms were the order of the day. Since then I’ve seen new generations of ships launched, and been lucky to spend time on more than a dozen of them. 

But until this year, I’d never had the opportunity to test out the new and expanding luxury segment of the Antarctic cruise market. I was very happy then to finally put that right by joining Swoop’s Ultimate Luxury Antarctic Fly & Cruise, sailing on Silver Endeavour. 
Launched in 2021, Silver Endeavour is a state of the art luxury cruise ship, designed to take up to 220 passengers to Antarctica in supreme comfort and style.

Veranda suites

Like many luxury cruises, my experience started some way before I ever set eyes on the Antarctic Peninsula. As I would be flying to Antarctica rather than sailing, my travel companion (and fellow Swooper) Marta and I started the trip in Santiago in Chile, spending the night at the very comfortable Ritz Carlton before taking a special charter flight with our fellow passengers the next day to Punta Arenas, from where we were flown the following day in three groups to King George Island in Antarctica to join Silver Endeavour. It was all delightfully easy and hassle-free 

Our veranda cabin on Deck Six

Zodiacs came ashore to greet us and transfer us to our home for the next week. It’s an absolute joy to board a ship for the first time from the water. Even smaller expedition cruise ships can feel massive when you’re up close for the first time, but Silver Endeavour was sleek and graceful while still being a serious-looking ship for polar waters. The staff were excited to greet us and show us to our cabins. 

We were staying in cabin 623, a premium veranda suite midship on deck 6. It was a spacious 304 square feet with a generous private balcony, and all as beautifully finished as you would expect. 

With luxury travel, it’s the extras that can make the difference to a trip. The one thing that I appreciated the most was that all my outdoor clothing was included as standard. Most expedition cruise ships provided you with an Antarctica-ready outdoor parka, but Silver Endeavour topped that by including waterproof trousers, a backpack, water bottle and even a waterproof cover for my mobile phone. This made packing for the cruise a dream as it meant that all I had to pack was my trusty merino wool underlayers to make sure I’d be cosy when I was outdoors. (It also made unpacking the work of a moment too: I could have used the butler who served our cabin, but it seemed unnecessary when my packing was so efficient). 

Other thoughtful details included the complimentary pair of binoculars that come on loan with all cabins and extras like a Dyson hairdryer in the bathroom: something I’d never thought I needed on an Antarctic cruise but which was absolutely fantastic. Some of the higher class suites also come with their own Bang and Olufsen sound system for in-cabin entertaining. 

One last point I noticed about our suite was that ours was an interconnected cabin. It wasn’t a feature we needed, but unlike cabins on some ships where you’re joined by a simple door, on Silver Endeavour there was a small hallway in between. This tiny detail meant that the extra separation meant an extra level of soundproofing. I never heard our neighbours once during the voyage, but families or groups travelling together would be able to appreciate being connected while still enjoying their own quiet spaces.

Life on board Silver Endeavour

A day into the cruise, I suddenly became aware of what Silver Endeavour was lacking: noise. It took me a while to notice its absence. As a veteran of Antarctic cruises I’m used to the hum and movement of a ship, but Silver Endeavour was so remarkably quiet and smooth, sometimes it was easy to imagine that we weren’t moving at all. Even when we moved out into more open waters and faced waves with a three metre swell, the ship barely felt it. 

Early risers’ breakfast for with a view in The Grill

It was all a very clever illusion. The changing view from the balcony every morning was a reminder of the glorious way that Antarctica unfurls itself before you on a cruise. I saw wildlife five mornings in a row as I was getting dressed and putting on my layers for an excursion: porpoising penguins, humpback whales or a seal chilling on an ice floe. 

The ship’s design also meant that Antarctica was welcomed generously into the interiors. My favourite place to eat quickly became The Grill, with its enormous windows that turned the frozen landscapes of the Peninsula into an interior designer’s dream. I came here each morning to graze on a light breakfast, knowing that the quick access to the exterior deck also meant that I could quickly rush outside if there was the chance of more wildlife watching. 

Part of Silver Endeavour’s spa

The Grill was only one of a choice of places to eat, that included the Italian-flavoured Il Terrazino and the Parisian La Dame. The six course tasting menu at the latter was a particular treat, though like all the restaurants on board it was necessary to make a reservation in advance. 

For relaxing, I quickly settled on the Observation Lounge or the ship’s Library as two of my favourite spots. But to really unwind – especially after a zodiac cruise or a landing, my real indulgence was to book myself into the Spa for a massage or to steam myself in the sauna. It felt an awfully long way from the first expedition ships I ever sailed on – and a marvel of how far the cruising industry has progressed. 

Cassia (right) enjoying a champagne zodiac cruise with Swoop colleague Marta

All this choice meant that the ship never once felt crowded during the cruise: people were always off in different places or doing different activities. Silver Endeavour had a stylish choose your own adventure atmosphere, with passengers free to pick from a menu for exactly how they wanted their cruise to be. One couple I became friendly with were doing just that: the husband took advantage of the super-fast Starlink internet on board to stay in touch with his work while his wife was out on a zodiac cruise or getting a spa treatment, with the two getting together for meals and planning what they’d do the next day. 

Silver Endeavour’s Antarctic Experience

For those who really wanted to immerse themselves in Antarctica, the Silver Endeavour offered every opportunity. After many years, I finally got to kayak in Antarctica – a popular option on board thanks to all passengers automatically being offered the opportunity to sign up as an included (rather than paid) activity. 

I did it at Orne Harbour, and while it meant that I missed out on a continental landing, it was incredible to paddle through brash ice. The sea kayaks are very well-designed for beginners, and the guides were fantastic. When we got back on board, all of us grinning, we were greeted by crew members who offered us hot tea – a charming and very welcome touch. 

For the first time on a cruise, I elected to skip doing the Polar Plunge, only to find it almost as much fun as an observer on deck as a participant. It was certainly a lot warmer! Watching 90 enthusiastic plungers brave the chilly waters was fun enough, but when they set against a backdrop of scenic glaciers, with the noise of a chinstrap penguin colony on a far shore and even a lazy humpback whale cruising at a distance, I was extra glad to have been a spectator just this once. 

The molten sunsets of late season Antarctica

Travelling in March meant relatively shorter days, but also that we could enjoy the gorgeous polar twilight that you miss out on during the popular days of high summer. One sunset in particular was truly extravagant, with warm oranges and pinks contrasted against the cool blues of the icebergs, and the entire scene reflected in a sea that was as calm as a mirror. I really appreciated that we’d chosen to dine at The Grill that evening, as we were constantly running outside onto the deck to take photos between courses. 

A day that started with a polar show on my balcony, a day on the ice followed by a spa, and then a choice of where to eat out for a fine meal that still allowed Antarctica to keep showing off its best face. This was the epitome of luxury expedition cruising.


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Cassia Jackson

Polar specialist

Cassia’s extensive polar experience stretches over a decade. As well as visiting the Antarctic Peninsula multiple times, she's one of the lucky few to have been to Antarctica’s historic heart in the Ross Sea, as well as South Georgia, the Falklands and even Macquarie Island.