Could the Galapagos be a model for the future of expedition cruising?
At Silversea Expeditions, at least, the answer could be yes.
Silversea Cruises chairman Manfredi Lefebvre was asked about expansion plans for the line's expedition arm on a two-night cruise from London commemorating the 10th anniversary of the launch of that business in 2008.
One possibility is to convert the Silver Wind, currently the oldest ship in Silversea's luxury fleet, into an expedition vessel the way the Silver Cloud was transformed and transferred to the expedition fleet in 2017.
Lefebvre was noncommittal about adding new ships, but he did talk about how the expedition fleet might be deployed going forward.
"We have several ideas," he said. "And the ideas are not only ships of different sizes. It's also the possibility to locate those ships at certain destinations."
Most expedition ships are nomadic, traveling from one region of the world to another, offering diverse routes and destinations. The Galapagos Islands is one of the only places where Silversea and other companies station dedicated expedition ships year round.
Without being specific, Lefebvre indicated that Silversea is thinking about other areas an expedition ship could be anchored more permanently.
"It's not the only place in the world that deserves a ship full-time," Lefebvre said of the Galapagos, adding that other places could handle a ship for at least half the year.
He said this is something company executives talk about a lot with Conrad Combrink, senior vice president of strategic development for expeditions and experiences at Silversea.
Combrink is sort of the chief location scout for Silversea Expeditions, which goes to some of the most obscure ports of call cruise passengers might ever want to visit.
Lefebvre said he sees some benefit from a more stable deployment of Silversea's four expedition ships.
"For our trade partners, the more you can explain what a destination is, the easier it is to make your clients understand what it is and wish to go there. So it establishes a market," Lefebvre said.
"When we started going to the Russian Far East, nobody really knew what it was," he noted. That was 10 years ago. "Now, people know that when somebody goes there, he comes back happy. He says 'Thank you for sending me there. It's a very interesting place.'
"So that's something we want to work on, not only the amount of ships, or the size of ships, but also being in certain areas more time, [not] just passing through."