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New Silversea President Discusses Growth

February 19, 2007 By: Susan Young Travel Agent

When Silversea Cruises appointed Amerigo Perasso as its new
president—with Albert Peter becoming deputy chairman of Silversea Leisure and
Travel—agents barely batted an eye. It was just another corporate
restructuring. But when some learned Perasso would be based in Monaco, rather than at the line's Fort Lauderdale headquarters, the question was: "Is
Silversea shifting its focus from the North American market to Europe?"

 Amerigo Perasso

"I would put it in context with future growth,"
said Perasso, in his first American trade interview, with Travel Agent.
"We are always trying to establish and position ourselves quite in advance
of market trends," Perasso said from Monaco. Yes, Silversea wants to
take advantage of the booming economies in Europe and Asia for future growth,
he said, but "basically North America
will continue to be the focus."

"We don't anticipate any change over the short
term," said Perasso, noting that 65 percent of the line's revenue comes
from North America. When charter and incentive
sales are mixed in, the total is 70 percent. "So that [the North American
market] will continue to be our core base," he noted.

From a competitive standpoint, all luxury lines need to tap
into burgeoning demand from overseas luxury clients. Perasso cited both Europe
and Asia as having potential for more sales growth, along with Central and South America. He says the line's numbers are
impressively on the rise in Mexico
and Brazil.

While still catering to Americans, the line's view is that a
bit higher mix of international guests onboard shouldn't be detrimental to any
of its customers. Silversea's guest satisfaction surveys have consistently
shown that American luxury clients like to mingle onboard with other
like-minded luxury guests from diverse cultures.

What about those potential new ships for Silversea
(discussed for some time now)? Perasso wouldn't speculate on potential new
tonnage, other than saying Silversea was definitely interested and would expand
at some point. Nor did he say where any new tonnage would be placed.

The good news for agents is that he believes: "We will
basically have a similar marketing profile [for any new vessels]."
Translation: Don't expect Silversea to put a ship in China and target that only for the
Chinese market. New tonnage will be used to expand the brand.

What's Perasso's vision? He cited his pride in the strength
of Silversea's brand. "If we can be so visible [after such a short time
compared with other lines], it means the core of our output and our product is
excellent. So my commitment will be to enhance that at all levels." Agents
can expect a strong quality and product focus.

In Other News

Elsewhere, we were pleased that MSC Cruises
proactively opted to commission shore excursions to North American agents
booking travel for their clients on all MSC ships.

Commission of 10 percent is paid on shore trips booked three
days or more in advance of sailing. This is one of the strongest points cited
by agents in "Agents Reveal Wish List for Cruise Selling" (Travel
Jan. 8, 2007). Some wishes do come true it seems.

While MSC clearly seeks a market edge, it also appreciates
agents as an asset. "Customers want to book shore excursions in advance
and they need help doing that," says Rick Sasso, president and CEO, MSC
Cruises USA. "It's not easy. So we want the travel agent to be intimately involved
in helping clients pick shore excursions. Therefore, agents should be

Our response? Thanks and Amen.

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