Silversea’s first-ever destination-specific ship, Silver Origin, has floated out of the De Hoop shipyard in Lobith, the Netherlands. The all-suite, 100-guest ship touched water for the first time on December 30, 2019, and Silversea has commenced the countdown for the vessel’s inaugural season in the Galapagos Islands from July 18, 2020.
Silver Origin will have the highest crew-to-guest ratio in the Galapagos. Part of the ship’s crew, a team of expedition experts will lead immersive shore experiences, including guided Zodiac excursions, hikes, nature walks, onboard lectures, discussions and recaps in Silver Origin's innovative Basecamp, all of which are included in the fare. Here are some of the members of the Expedition Team.
Aura Banda, Environmental Manager & Naturalist Guide: Banda's first camera was a piece of wood cut by her grandfather on Floreana Island, Galapagos, where she first dreamed of communicating the fragility of nature through images. To achieve this goal, she studied photographic arts, languages (French and Italian) and natural sciences, earning a degree in environmental management. In 2005, she settled back home in the Galapagos and began her work as a naturalist guide and photo instructor.
Paulina Aguirre, Biologist & Naturalist Guide: Aguirre was raised in Quito, Ecuador, where she received her university degree in education. Following a stint working as a crew member on yachts sailing across the globe, she moved to the Galapagos, where she had often vacationed with family who resided in the islands, and trained to start a new career as a naturalist and guide. Since then, she has been guiding and living on the islands, together with her daughter and husband, who is also a naturalist guide.
Nicolai Bølling, Biologist & Naturalist Guide: Born in Norway, Bølling was skiing with his father through the forest before he had even learned to walk. Since then, he has continued to love exploring wild nature. He studied biology and earned a master's degree focused on the environmental health of the North Sea, which allowed him to spend time on a research ship. While visiting the Galapagos, he was injured and a local girl helped him to recover. Six years later they married, and today both work for Silversea.
Bernardo Galvez, Architect & Naturalist Guide: Galvez grew up in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a city located within mangrove estuaries. The dichotomy between natural and built environments were apparent to him at an early age and made for a unique setting in which to appreciate nature. After pursuing studies in architecture and urbanism at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, he divided his time between Germany and Ecuador. Now a resident of the Galapagos, he still looks to nature for inspiration for his designs while he walks the trails and dives under the waters of the islands as a naturalist guide.
Leandro Vaca, Biologist & Naturalist Guide: Vaca lives in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of Galapagos Province, situated on the island of San Cristóbal. During his childhood he had the privilege of being surrounded by nature and soon fell in love with it. He studied biology at the Universidad de Guayaquil, where he focused his undergraduate thesis on the various fish species of the Galapagos. After 10 years, he took his experience and biology degree back home to Galapagos, where he worked to develop his skills as a naturalist and interpreter of wildlife.
Jason Heilmann, Naturalist Guide: Growing up in northern California, Heilmann was surrounded by the incomparable nature of the Pacific Northwest. While pursuing a higher education there, he met his future wife, an Ecuadorian woman who set him on his path to eventually living in one of the most revered natural environments on earth, the Galapagos. After being certified as a naturalist guide by the Galapagos National Park, he also spent time working as a naturalist in Alaska, British Columbia, and Cuba. He currently resides in Ecuador and on the Galapagos Islands with his wife and son.
Jeffo Marquez, Naturalist Guide: Born and raised in the Galapagos Islands, Marquez was inspired by his father's job as a Galapagos herpetologist, which afforded him opportunities to participate in several field trips, working with Galapagos reptiles alongside his father. This certified Galapagos naturalist guide, with a background in environmental management, has also worked as a naturalist and professional photo instructor in such wildlife-rich places as Costa Rica, Antarctica, the Falklands, South Georgia, Baja California and the upper Amazon.
Travelers who reserve a Galapagos voyage with Silversea receive round-trip flights between Ecuador and the Galapagos; a two-night, pre-cruise hotel stay in Quito; transfers between airport, hotel and ship; and an immersive "Quito by Night" tour. Travelers who book by January 31, 2020, can take advantage of free round-trip economy air from select U.S. and Canadian gateways for travel to Ecuador on select Galapagos expeditions.
Silver Origin features ocean-view suites and the personalized service of a butler along with such all-inclusive amenities as complementary select wines, premium spirits and soft drinks served throughout the ship; in-suite minibar stocked with local snacks; 24-hour room service and in-suite dining; complimentary Wi-Fi; and complimentary expedition gear that includes a waterproof backpack, raincoat and premium metallic water bottle.
Silver Origin will continue the legacy of the retiring Silver Galapagos by alternating two Saturday-to-Saturday, seven-day itineraries between Baltra and San Cristóbal. On both itineraries, guests will explore Darwin's "Living Laboratory of Evolution," where they might spot rare giant tortoises, marine iguanas, Blue-footed Boobies and sea lions.
Purpose-built with the environment in mind, the new ship will feature a dynamic positioning system, which will be used over the delicate seabed ecosystems to prevent the anchor from causing damage; in-suite freshwater purification systems that drastically reduce the use of plastic on board; and will meet the highest standards of energy efficiency in the segment.