Day 1 — Nome, Alaska, U.S.A. Once all guests have embarked, we depart on our spectacular 15-day, Great Northern Expedition. This afternoon we will be introduced to our expedition team and participate in the safety drill before setting sail.
It is 2 a.m. Some things are clear. Others remain shrouded in mystery.
Of those things that are clear.
1. We left Nome, Alaska hours ago — precisely how many hours I cannot say. I am comatose, having traveled 2.5 days to get to Nome (from where, I will tell you in a moment).
2. We are sailing across the Bering Sea to Provideniya, Russia. I know nothing of this outpost, except that it is situated a little more than 200 nautical miles from Nome.
3. I am on Silver Discoverer, Silversea Cruises’ third expedition vessel. The other two are Silver Explorer, which I have experienced, and Silver Galapagos, which I have not.
4. My habitat is a Medallion Suite, which I am sharing with my 17-year-old son Alex. The suite is large, with a living room and bedroom, and an expansive entry area. We have a couch, a desk, a coffee table that can be converted for dining, a small veranda with two chairs and a round table.
5. Our suite has two flat-panel televisions with free on-demand movies.
6. Our butler’s name is Romeo. While he possesses the name of the ill-fated Italian lover, Romeo is, in fact, from the Philippines. There is no Juliet, but there is a Maria, our room attendant. She is also from the Philippines. She beams with her warm smile and pleasant demeanor.
7. The middle buttons on the top rows of the two phones in our suite summon Romeo, who will come to our suite for anything that we need. It is a luxury that we do not take for granted.
8. As needed, Romeo will stock our mini-bar with sodas, beer and mineral water. He will bring us canapés each day at 4. He takes care of our laundry, complimentary in our category suite. He will assist with dinner reservations at the Grill, the outdoor dining venue, and he will fill our water bottles before each excursion. We barely need to think. Romeo is our Google. We express a query and he provides the solution.
9. I am exhausted (see “thing that are clear” number one). Alex and I ordered shrimp cocktails and steaks for dinner. Romeo created a dining room experience in our suite, and it was relaxing to be able to dine in.
10. At 10 p.m., I could no longer keep my eyes open, and I fell asleep in bed while Alex stretched out in the living room across the couch to watch a movie.
Of those things that are foggy.
1. I awaken and look at my phone. The time is 2 a.m. I get up, walk into the living room. The clock there shows 10 p.m., the same time that I went to bed last night, yet, I later learn, it is no longer July 31. It is August 2. The first of August vanished, washed away in Silver Discoverer’s wake when we crossed the International Date Line.
2. I step outside onto the veranda. An opaque sky blends with the gently undulating sea. They blend in a way that obscures the horizon. We are in motion but it seems that we are suspended in time.
3. I return to bed at 4 a.m. ship’s time and sleep for two hours. At 6, I awaken again and trot to the Explorer Lounge on Deck 4 for “Early Riser’s Danish and Coffee.” A small group, also sleepless, sits sipping coffee and talking quietly. I join them for coffee and light conversation.
4. I am not certain how many days ago I left Portugal. I had been cruising there on the Douro River. I know it was Tuesday when I left, but how many days ago was that? It is August 2, and I left Portugal on July 29 — five days ago. Yet only 96 hours have passed, the equivalent of four days.
5. I do not know what to expect after we cross the Bering Sea. What does this strange land on the other side of the mist-white sky hold for us? Silversea’s head of expeditions tells me that it is an intriguing region of the world. He speaks enthusiastically of the landscape, the nature and the cultures up in this remote region of our planet. I need to be convinced that this is a place worth the effort that it takes to get here.
I walk outside and head up to the top deck. The sun has brightened the sky, but visibility is still obscured. It is as if we are parting the curtains to emerge in a place that is strange and dreamlike — at least for now.
About Our Voyage On Silver Discoverer
This week, I’m traveling in Russia’s Far East on Silver Discoverer. Come along to explore exotic cultures and stunning landscapes in the luxurious style that Silversea Expeditions delivers. Join me on a journey where few ships have sailed before in one of the world’s most remote regions. We’ll be posting daily “video vignettes” on Live Voyage Reports and Avid Cruiser— or follow along using your favorite social media portal.