Silversea Cruises will deploy its hybrid expedition ship Silver Cloud to Western Australia’s Kimberley region in 2024, increasing capacity for the ultra-luxury cruise company in the area.
Silver Cloud will replace the 144-passenger Silver Explorer in the region, with a capacity of 254 guests. While Cloud can accommodate 100 more people than Explorer, its adventure cruises over Australia’s rocky coastline between Darwin and Broome will be capped at no more than 200 passengers.
Silversea has sold silver Explorer to the French start-up company Exploris, which will take ownership of the vessel in November after her swansong season in the Kimberley and then across the South Pacific this season, which concludes on 27 October with a 23-day expedition from Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. The vessel will, after that, be renamed Exploris One.
Conrad Combrink, Senior Vice President of Expeditions for Silversea Cruises, acknowledged that more operators are entering the Kimberley this week and recommended that travel agents carefully consider their customers’ alternatives.
“It’s part of the world that we love exploring,” Combrink said of the Kimberley.
For the 2023 season, Silversea has increased the number of Zodiacs onboard Silver Explorer and, at the same time, raised its number of the expedition staff.
“It’s really important for us to have enough Zodiacs and enough expedition staff to get everybody off the ship at the same time while exploring this stunning coast,” he said.
The Miami-based expedition cruise guru exploited the tide moving from high to low at Montgomery Reef, only accessible by Zodiacs, to alert advisors to the problem that arises for competitors without adequate runabouts.
“What happens if you don’t have enough Zodiacs aboard your ship to get everybody off at once? How do you decide who will be there to experience that?” he cautioned.
“So, I am not saying that some of our competitors don’t have enough Zodiacs or expedition staff,” Combrink quipped. “I am saying that we’ve decided that we cannot go to the Kimberley if we don’t have enough Zodiacs and expedition staff to do this because, ultimately, if we don’t have the equipment, we can’t deliver the experience.”
Combrink further stated that, following last year’s incident with the Horizontal Falls tourist boat operator, the activity would no longer be complimentary to passengers but will instead be a first-in, first-served paid optional activity. Silversea will only have limited seats available for the excursion, ranging from 20 to 35 for every expedition.
Silver Cloud will not carry more than 200 passengers for the 2024 Kimberley season and beyond.
“That enables us to have more than enough Zodiacs for everybody. The ship has a fleet of 26 Zodiacs and 28 expedition staff which makes a big difference,” Combrink added.