Silver Origin Cruise Ship Review | By Ngaire Keene Hutyra

The Silver Origin – Reviewed by Ngaire Keene

silver Origin

The Ship

A stunning ship with a very light and bright feel. Lots of windows to enjoy the views of the ocean and the islands.

To view all of Ngaire and Ken's amazing pictures of the Origin and Galapagos -link to their SmugMug pictures here.

RESTAURANTS

THE DINING ROOM DECK FOUR

Very well laid out with tables for 2, 4, 6. Some round tables but mostly square tables. They can set up a table for as many as you want. The dining room at breakfast and lunch has a buffet area where salads, appetizers, desserts, breads are available and you also order from the menu. It works really well. The room service menu is also available in the main dining room.

THE GRILL ON DECK SEVEN

The grill area is surrounded with glass walls that cuts down the wind of an open deck but you still feel like you are outside. During the day they have basically the same menu as the dining room with just a few additions from the grill. This area is really nicely laid out, again with flexibility for the number of people who want to dine together. At night it becomes a combination of a regular menu and HOT ROCKS where you grill your own items on a small block that is extremely hot. This can be a lot of fun.

FOOD

All the food is locally sourced. Lots of fresh local fish and the giant prawns that are wonderful. Some of the best seafood I have ever eaten. As all the fish is local the fish dishes were excellent. There is a lot of pork featured as well and this is locally sourced. Beef is available and served and is acceptable but not up to the standards of the fish dishes. The servings are small so if you want more quantity just asked for a double order it is no problem at all.

WINES

Mostly South American wines and some were good. In fact, I found the pouring wines where as good as the some of the premium wines we drank. IF you find a wine you like you can ask for that wine at all meals.

BASE CAMP

Base Camp on Deck 3 is a lovely area and very spacious when loading the zodiacs. Very easy to load the zodiacs. They load with the nose of the zodiac against the landing dock with permanent steps in the zodiac. It is easier and much safer than the moveable steps. This is where the reception area and where you can purchase items with your Shipboard Credit. There is no shop but a display case and then they get the items you have selected and bring them to you.

RECEPTION

Really superior warm and friendly service. I found all the staff at reception were exemplary. This is where you go to do an onboard booking for a discount on a future cruise.

THE EXPLORER LOUNGE

The main Explorer Lounge where recaps and briefings are held is directly opposite the Dining Room that makes it very convenient. What makes this lounge exceptional is on the sides there are TV’s that show exactly what is on the big screen. The center area of the room is looking right at the big screen. We found that we were drawn to the small square sections on the side with the TV. Super comfortable seating a combination of sofas and individual chairs. Beautiful room as you see in the picture below.

THE STAFF

Fantastic crew. All the waiters, barmen, cabin cleaners and butlers were “above and beyond” All crew are locals and that seemed to create a very compatible team. Could not have been better.

The Hotel Director is around and friendly. Our chef and Dining Room Manager were both female and absolutely outstanding.

THE EXPEDITON TEAM

The expedition leader was one of the best we have ever had. Again, the team were all from Ecuador or had connections to Ecuador. Outstanding team.

THE CABINS

All the categories are well designed with a nice bathroom with shower, good storage and comfortable beds and colors.

The Classic Suite 325 sq.ft: These have the standard balcony where you step out onto your balcony and close the door to the cabin.

The Superior Suite 325 sq.ft: This is the same cabin except the “balcony” is inside the room with top part of the window coming down and creating a full cabin balcony. It certainly makes the cabin feel so much more spacious.

The Deluxe Suite 335 sq.ft: This cabin also has the balcony in the room BUT the layout is different and it is amazing the difference that the 10 sq.ft makes to the suite.

The Medallion Suite is 355 sq.ft:. It is very spacious. There is a completely different closet set up and the room is very attractive.

The Larger Suites: Silver, Royal, Grand and Owners, are all outstanding as you would expect.

THE ITINERARY

THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT ITINERARIES-BOTH HAVE PROS AND CONS ONE IS TRULY NOT BETTER THAN THE OTHER. OFTEN PEOPLE DO BOTH ITINERARIES TO GET THE FULL EXPERIENCE.

There is only one repeat landing. The giant tortoise and coffee experience. However, the second time we went we walked in a completely different area looking for the tortoise so it was like a new experience. The coffee was the same but still very enjoyable a second time.

NORTH CENTRAL ITINERARY

This itinerary has a higher likelihood of seeing the Red Footed Booby and the Frigate Bird.


Red Footed Booby

Ngaire & Ken at Prince Phillip Steps

Galapagos Fur Seals
GENOVESA MORNING– Darwin Bay. Nature walk and snorkeling from the beach and also deep-water snorkeling.

An easy nature walk with a wet landing starts the day. Great Frigatebirds, Brown Pelicans, Red Footed Boobies, Nazcar Boobies, Darwin Finches, Galapagos Fur Seals, Galapagos Sea Lions

Walking on a circular track you find many nesting red footed boobies and many other species of birds. You can literally get within inches of the birds. Very easy walk and a wonderful introduction to the birds of the Galapagos


GENOVESA AFTERNOON

Prince Phillip Steps. A 2-hour difficult nature walk.

This is a famous walk as Prince Phillip did this but it is quite a difficult walk as you climb up over a series of rocks. Once at the top the terrain is flat. Along with many varieties bird and great views the group saw Owls which was a nice treat.


Blue Footed Booby With Baby

Frigate Bird

Iguana
NORTH SEYMOUR MORNING – Walks and snorkeling

A 2-hour nature walk with a dry landing on rocks and a very short climb to the top. Not difficult for most people and there are expedition people there to assist. However, if a person has mobility issues this may be better to pass. Here we saw Land Iguanas, Marine Iguanas, Blue Footed Boobies with chicks, Frigate birds displaying their red gular pouches to attract females. Plus, Brown Pelicans, Darwin Finches, Swallow Tailed Gulls.

Also offered was a zodiac cruise followed by a shorter walk. The zodiac drives along the rocks where we saw Fur Seals (not really seals but smaller sea lions) were climbing down the sheer rock walls to reach the sea. Along with schools of fish around the zodiac. You have a choice of going back to the ship after the zodiac tour or going on the short walk but still up the rocks to the walking paths.

Deep Water Snorkeling.


Brown Pelican With Babies

Chinstrap Penguins

Blue Footed Booby
SULLIVAN BAY, SANTIAGO
– Time at the beach and Lava Field walk.

Leisure time at the beach. Wet landing and snorkeling from the beach.

The 2-hour Lava Field walk with a dry landing. This is a challenging and the rocks can be very slippery. Caution is advised. This area is full of Marine Iguanas and also of course a variety of birds. Stunning lava with incredible strata.


Flamingo

Sunning Iguanas

Blue Heron

PUNTA MANGLE – FERNANDINA – Zodiac Tour, Deep Water snorkeling

A very nice zodiac tour where we enjoyed seeing the diversity of birds. Including the flightless cormorant drying its short wings, the pelicans breeding colony with young chicks in the nests, blue footed boobies.

Also, the sea lions playing and swimming around the zodiacs.

PUNTA MORENO, ISABELA –Zodiac Tour and a challenging adventure hike.

This zodiac tour was even better than the morning tour because of the Galapagos penguins. We saw a large group of penguins along with many other bird species.

The adventure hike was pretty difficult and around 2 miles. Walking over uneven lava with crevasses that had to be jumped over. Would only recommend this for those that are very fit and have good stability on uneven surfaces. The payoff was seeing flamingos.

SANTA CRUZ MORNING Giant Tortoise and Coffee experience – Deep Water Snorkeling – Nature Walk – Kayaking

In the morning we visited the highlands of the Islands, Montemar Tortoise Reserve to see the Giant Tortoise in the wild and experience the Galapagos coffee industry. This was a very interesting 3-hour tour. On the way up in the bus we saw tortoise on the side of the road. When we reached the top of the reserve there were multiple tortoises of various sizes.

These are wild tortoise and if you got close the retreated into their shells. In one area they gathered at a watering hole and there were quite a few that hissed at one another. The largest tortoise winning the hissing battle every time.

The coffee experience was very interesting and including a chocolate tasting. Explained by the owner of the property was that coffee grown in the Galapagos is high quality. Also, chocolate is made here which was a rich dark chocolate, one salty, one floral and one spicy. A very enjoyable experience with very clean restaurants and a small shop that sold local jewelry, chocolate and coffee.


Giant Tortoise

Santa Fe Island

Tortoise Watering Hole
SANTA FE ISLAND AFTERNOON- In the afternoon Deep Water Snorkeling, Kayaking and a 1 ½ hour nature walk.

Moderate to difficult nature walk, with a wet landing. Very rocky uneven terrain for most of the hike. Really neat cactus trees and really large land iguanas, lizards and sea lions on the rocks. Darwin Finches, Galapagos Mockingbirds, and Blue Footed Boobies.

BAHIA GARDNER, ESPANOLA MORNING– Kayaking, Snorkeling from the beach, Deep Water Snorkeling

The white sand beach was a perfect place to relax or enjoy snorkeling from the beach. Zodiacs go back and forth every thirty minutes. Snorkelers saw sea lions and turtles along with a variety of fish.


Iguana

Silver Origin

Brown Pelican
PUNTA SUAREZ, ESPANOLA AFTERNOON -Two hikes

A dry landing 2 ½ hour challenging hike on the Punta Suarez trail. An uneven and very rocky trail. Galapagos Mockingbirds, Waved Albatross, Nazca Boobies, Blue Footed Boobies. Many birds on nests with chicks. Seals with pups on the rocks, land and marine iguanas and blow holes on the cliffs.

Shorter nature walks, with a dry landing hike of 1 ½ hours moderate walk but still on the same uneven and rocky trail.


Tortoise Breeding Center

Seals Sunning

Tortoise Breeding Center
SAN CRISTOBAL – Tortoise Breeding Experience

This is a delightful excursion after about a 45-minute drive you arrive at the Tortoise Breeding Center. Here you learn about the work taking place to reintroduce more tortoise into the wild. You will see very small tortoise and then some very big tortoise. They do feed the tortoise and it is quite interesting to see them feeding and hissing at each other over the food. A very enjoyable excursion.

SAN CRISTOBAL - CERRO BRUNO - beach at leisure and kayaking.

This features leisure time at a beautiful beach, where the ship shuttles people back and forth every 30 minutes.

This is the last experience before heading home from this itinerary.

THE WESTERN ITINERARY

This itinerary offers, more chance for penguins and the famous Post Office Bay

BARTOLOME’S SUMMIT – Challenging Hike, Zodiac tour, Snorkeling.

A challenging hike to one of islands most spectacular viewpoints at Bartolome’s summit. Dry landing and walking up 388 steps. Not for everyone but this hike was definitely worth the effort for the view.

Zodiac Tour was also offered around the coast line of Bartolome and the Sullivan channel.

Snorkeling from the beach was offered after the hike and zodiac tours.

SANTIAGO - BUCCANEER COVE - Zodiac tour

Zodiac tour was around the coastline of this impressive cove. The conditions were absolutely perfect and lots of wildlife to enjoy.

Today there was a Mandatory Kayaking Briefing.

PUNTA VICENTE ROCA – ISABELA – Zodiac Tours, Deep Water Snorkeling, Exploration Walks

Zodiac tour was excellent. The colors and layers of rock in the side of the island was very interesting. It was very calm and sunny. We saw many iguanas on the rock faces. Penguin and sea turtles in the water. Blue footed boobies, flightless cormorants, both on nests and resting after eating well. We entered a small sheltered area that went into a cave structure that was really fascinating.

The afternoon walk was moderately difficult but worth the effort. Marine iguanas were everywhere all piled together. Lots of birds and the highlight was two water turtles together at the water’s edge. Also, a lot of cactus tree are present on this walk. A shorter version of the walk was also offered.


Caleta Tagus Bay

Tortoise Up For Air

Seals At Caleta Tagus Bay
CALETA TAGUS – ISABELA – Power Hike, Adventure Hike, Zodiac Tours, Kayaking, Deep Water Snorkeling.

This hiking walk was a dry landing followed by many steps leading to a quite steep climb up the island. At the top you looked over a salt water lake and stunning views of the area.

The power walk was for those very fit who wanted to walk fast up the mountain. No talking and more fast walking – the motto for this hike. Minimum of 8 and maximum of 18 the sign-up list filled up quickly.

The regular walk proved to be between moderate and difficult but everyone enjoyed the views and the salt water lake.

Zodiac tour started out a little bumpy. Quite a swell and we ended up moving to another area of the bay that was more sheltered. That gave us a great nature zodiac tour with penguins in the water. Various variety of nesting birds and a hawk on the hunt. Sea lions were around the zodiac. The highlight was seeing a penguin on the rocks, preening after coming back from feeding that paid no attention to us as we got closer in the zodiac. We also saw a black cat. It looked very skinny and was travelling over the rocky cliffs. Many cats were introduced that turned wild. These cats caused havoc with the endemic nesting birds. Most of the cats have been removed so it is a very rare thing to see a cat in the Galapagos now.

ELIZABETH BAY ISALBELA – Mangrove Zodiac Tour

This is a zodiac tour to the mangroves area of Elizabeth Bay. This was a great zodiac tour. Very sheltered area surrounded by mangroves with super clear water. The Sea Turtles and penguins were easy to spot. The zodiac engines were turned off and the driver and naturalist used paddles to move the zodiac. This was quite serene, so quiet and peaceful. Two sea lion pups were resting on a limb of the mangroves, lots of sea turtles, and a sea lion right next to the zodiac. A delightful experience.


Post Office Bay

Zodiac Landing

Champion Inlet Floreana
POST OFFICE BAY – FLOREANA – Snorkeling and the Post Office.

A visit to the “post office” This is a wooden barrel where sailors would leave letters for their loved ones at home. Ships would check the barrel before leaving to return home. Any letters in the barrel that were in a close vicinity to a sailor’s hometown would be taken. The letters would be delivered on the sailors return. This is one of the oldest mail systems in South America and was used for over a century. Visitors are encouraged to keep the tradition alive. To leave postcards in the barrel and to sort through the post cards in the barrel and retrieve the mail to deliver back to their hometowns.

This is also a sandy beach where you can snorkel from the beach or just have leisure time ashore. This is an area that does have wasps so it is suggested you do not wear bright colors that attract the wasps.

On our trip one couple left a postcard to their DOG Annie. About a month after the cruise a person came to their door and gave them the postcard to their dog. They were amazed.

PUNTA CORMORAN – FLOREANA – Deep Water Snorkeling, Nature Walk

A wet landing nature walk of moderate difficulty. Again, no bright colors due to the wasps.

SANTA CRUZ MORNING Giant Tortoise and Coffee experience

In the morning we visited the highlands of the Islands, Montemar Tortoise Reserve to see the Giant Tortoise in the wild and experience the Galapagos coffee industry. This was a very interesting 3-hour tour. On the way up in the bus we saw tortoise on the side of the road. When we reached the top of the reserve there were multiple tortoises of various sizes.

These are wild tortoise and if you got close the retreated into their shells. In one area they gathered at a watering hole and there were quite a few that hissed at one another. The largest tortoise winning the hissing battle every time.

The coffee experience was very interesting and including a chocolate tasting. Explained by the owner of the property was that coffee grown in the Galapagos is high quality. Also, chocolate is made here which was a rich dark chocolate, one salty, one floral and one spicy. A very enjoyable experience with very clean restaurants and a small shop that sold local jewelry, chocolate and coffee.

FAUSTO LLERENA BREEDING AND DARWIN INTERPREATION CENTER
– Tortoise Breeding Experience and Land Iguanas

This is a delightful excursion after about short bus drive and a walk of about 10 minutes you arrive at the Tortoise Breeding Center. Here you learn about the work taking place to reintroduce more tortoise into the wild. You will see very small tortoise and then some very big tortoise along with Land Iguanas. Also a chance to visit the Interpretation Center which is very interesting.

Staying onboard they ship offered a cooking demonstration and the wine tasting.


Cerro Dragon

Horses

Cerro Dragon
CERRO DRAGON, SANTA CRUZ

After a dry landing guest take a 2-hour nature walk. There is a difficult rocky area to navigate from the zodiac to the land there are also some easy trails on the walk. Great viewing on the land iguanas.

GUY FAWKES BAY – Deep water snorkeling for expert snorkelers.

Guy Fawkes by is located off the coast of Santa Fe. Depth is up to 80 feet with great visibility of about 23 feet. There is a moderate current. Here they anticipate seeing sting rays, some Galapagos sharks and excellent marine life.

BORRERO BAY SANTA CRUZ


The final landing of the cruise was leisure time at the beach. A wet landing and a beautiful sandy beach to enjoy. Zodiacs running to and from the beach so you can return to the ship at your leisure.

GALAPAGOS / PERU