Luxury oceangoing cruise lines were front and center this week at Seatrade Cruise Global in Miami Beach, FL, showcasing what’s new and planned for their brands. Travel Agent spoke with executives from Seabourn, Cunard Line, Ponant, the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and other lines, and attended many press conferences.
Here's a look at the Silversea Cruises press conference and gleanings for advisors from that event.
Unveiling Silver Origin
Roberto Martinoli, Silversea’s president and CEO, showcased new interior spaces of the Silver Origin, the line’s new expedition vessel, which is purpose-built to sail the Galapagos Islands.
Silver Origin will be delivered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in March 2020, and will begin service in June 2020 in the Galapagos. It's the first new build design Silversea is doing in cooperation with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which became the luxury cruise line's majority stakeholder last year.
"Wow, what an organization," said Martinoli in discussing how the new build process unfolded. "I don't know if you have ever been to Royal Caribbean's new build department, but the first time I went there, Richard Fain [the chairman of RCL] said, 'Have you ever been to our Innovation Lab?'"
Martinoli said "no," but after touring it, "I couldn't believe it, my jaw dropped, I said 'wow.'" Martinoli said the department has 250 people working there and a gigantic 3-D video screen for its creative designing work. That talent and innovative technology, coupled with what Martinoli described as Silversea's "humble input," created the Silver Origin design.
With capacity for 102 guests, the 5,800-gross-ton Silver Origin will only carry 100 guests in the Galapagos, per Ecuadorian regulations. It will also carry eight Zodiacs and 10 kayaks.
Describing the new ship as "really beautiful and very much in line with the rest of our fleet,” Martinoli unveiled new renderings of the spaces.
Among those are Base Camp, a comfortable area where guests will board the Zodiacs; Explorer Lounge, where every seating area has its own video screen; the Main Restaurant with 114 seats and a buffet area; and the small spa, with one treatment room, a small area for a beauty party and some gym equipment.
He also unveiled suite renderings, including one of the Royal Suite, which consists of two suites that can be combined into one.
Under the banner of "You Only Live Twice," Conrad Combrink, Silversea’s senior vice president, strategic development expeditions and experiences, said “we’ve made the decision to expand on our World Cruise offerings.”
In theory, the line really wanted to offer 600 people that World Cruise opportunity in 2021, but “we are a small-ship company and we believe in our smalls ships.” So instead of putting its largest vessel on the World Cruise, he said the line opted for two World Cruises on smaller ships for 2021.
The first is a classic 36,000-nautical-mile, 150-day itinerary on Silver Whisper from Fort Lauderdale to New York, with eight overnights and bespoke events.
What’s special? Silversea will introduce a Dine Around Town program, where guests in a selected port can choose from a variety of restaurants and “we assist them with reservations, and they go and they dine on our account,” he said. “That really goes a long way on adding that element of luxury and choice," said Combrink.
In turnaround ports for the World Cruise segments, the ultra-luxury line also plans to introduce a "Your Day, Your Way" program, providing guests with a private guide and a private vehicle for the day, so the guests decide what they wish to do.
The second, 167-day World Cruise, the expedition itinerary, will be operated by Silver Cloud, sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Tromso, Norway. It will call at such destinations as Antarctica, the South Pacific, the Kimberly region of Australia, the Mediterranean’s small islands, such as in Greece, and in ports where the ship will just drop anchor and let people just go ashore and explore.
Demand has been “absolutely incredible,” he said. “In fact, we’ve sold both the Grand Suites on the Silver Cloud” for this itinerary, at a price tag of $665,000, double occupancy, for the full cruise, said Combrink. One Royal Suite has also been booked at $585,000, double occupancy.
He said that the expeditionary World Cruise is the most expensive voyage the line has ever sold.
Because the line’s expedition team can’t be experts on every region on this World Cruise, they’ll come and go, depending on ports and the region, but the line has already signed up 70 expedition leaders and 20 experts to sail on the voyage.
Barbara Muckermann, Silversea's chief marketing officer, talked about the new 596-passenger Silver Moon, the sister ship of Silver Muse. On Silver Moon, Silversea will relocate La Dame to allow for more guests to dine at the intimate, French fine dining venue.
“We’re going to go into an expanded location offering 64 seats every night including outdoor, so this is the first time that La Dame is really offering an indoor and outdoor experience,” she said. “We are absolutely sure this is going to be a hit, because as you know, the problem with La Dame is that it’s always full.”
By moving La Dame, the Connoisseur's Corner then will move to a new indoor-outdoor location on Deck 4.
As we reported previously in our S.A.L.T. program introduction story, the biggest change will be that Indochine will become the 168-seat S.A.L.T. Kitchen, and there will be a new S.A.L.T Bar in between that new dining venue and the location of the former La Dame, where the line will put the S.A.L.T. Lab, the hub for the program and a foodie hang-out spot.
Muckermann says that the S.A.L.T. Kitchen will serve food from the ship’s sailing region, and the S.A.L.T. bar will have local drinks too. So most guests will get closer to the destinations via dinner or drinks with a local flair. Then guests might listen to a lecture or go ashore on a food-oriented shore trip.
But the goal is to dig deeper, to truly find the local people who the guest can connect with and who can explain the culinary traditions, ingredients and even, in some cases, the spirituality of the cuisine. And for guests who've visited a port in the past or are avid foodies may wish to take the line's shoreside S.A.L.T. food tours.
So it's not about celebrity chefs or Michelin dining. Muckermann stresses it's about authentic local food experiences, such as a trip to visit the tripe butcher in Rome.
Finding those kinds of experiences in hundreds of destinations across the globe (Silversea sails to more than 1,000 ports) is a big challenge, but ultimately the line hopes to be able to deliver the program to all or most of them, where appropriate.
Also, in destinations, if guests are a bit timid about tasting ashore, the line will bring the ingredients onboard so the guests can taste them.
“It’s much more expensive than any other program we’ve ever seen in the industry,” Muckermann said, adding that research shows guests see food as the key to understanding the destination.
The program will be on every sailing of the Silver Moon. Will S.A.L.T. be extended to other ships? The line is looking at putting it on Silver Dawn, as well as incorporating it into the upcoming Silver Evolution project, said Muckermann.
And Muckermann said that, while it could also possibly add the program to Silver Spirit and Silver Muse, no decision on that has yet been made by the line's board.
To learn more about Silversea and the Silver Origin, sign up for our Silversea Specialist Rewards course here.