A Vista Suite onboard Silver Muse // © 2017 Silversea Cruises
Feature image (above): Silversea’s newbuild and refurbished ships will have dining areas modeled after those on Silver Muse. // © 2017 Silversea Cruises
With a sweep of new business policies, a return of former top executives and ambitious plans for fleet growth, Silversea Cruises is experiencing a rebirth.
Since Roberto Martinoli was named CEO of Silversea in September 2016, fleet quality and expansion plans have been top of mind for the line. The new outlook has been greatly shaped by the recently launched Silver Muse, which Martinoli calls “a sophisticated inspirational milestone for our brand.”
It all came to a head this September, when Silversea announced a newbuild, a ship lengthening, serious renovations and more — all heavily influenced by the design and aesthetics of Muse.
First, Silversea and shipbuilding company Fincantieri signed a contract worth approximately $360 million for the construction of a new 596-passenger ship, due to join the fleet in 2020.
Provisionally named Silver Moon, the newbuild will be the sister ship of Muse, which debuted in April as the largest ship in Silversea’s fleet, featuring spacious accommodations and extensive dining options. Moon will expand Silverseas’ fleet to 10 ships.
“Based on the high praise Muse has earned with our guests, we are eager to build on our flagship's success and move forward with a sister ship, which will bring us closer to fulfilling my father's dream of a 12-ship fleet,” said Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, chairman of Silversea.
In addition, Silversea has announced plans for Silver Wind and Silver Whisper to undergo a refurbishment program in December that will significantly redesign public areas with the aesthetic onboard Muse. And on the heels of that announcement came word that the line’s first-ever ship lengthening will take place early next year for Silver Spirit. The project will insert a prebuilt, 49-foot-long midsection that will house six Silver Suites, 26 Veranda Suites and two Panorama Suites, as well as add technical upgrades. Again, the innovations onboard Muse will be reflected on Spirit, where Silversea will add creative dining concepts and stylish decor in accommodations and public spaces.
"Based on the wonderful feedback from guests sailing onboard our beautiful Muse, we believe the comprehensive makeover we have planned for Spirit will enrich the onboard experience and be equally appreciated by guests,” said Christian Sauleau, executive vice president of fleet operations. “They will see many of Muse's innovations and elevated comforts embodied by our reimagined Spirit.”
As plans explode, longtime executives — such as Sauleau — are returning to Silversea. Sauleau, a veteran of luxury travel, is known for enriching the onboard experience with creative partnerships; he formerly spent nearly 20 years with Silversea and recently served as senior vice president of operations and total guest satisfaction for Crystal Cruises. Barbara Muckermann, who formerly spent nearly four years at Silversea as senior vice president of worldwide marketing and sales for Europe, has come back in the role of chief marketing officer. She most recently served as CEO of Yonderbound, an online travel company she founded in 2012.
Mark Conroy, managing director of the Americas for Silversea, sees all these moves as generating a rebirth for the line.
“Silversea has always been a great brand and a leader in luxury, but unfortunately, we lost our way for a while due to a number of reasons,” he said. “But things have changed. We have an owner who continues to invest in the business on both new ships, Muse and now Moon, and reinvests in the existing fleet. We have a great leader in Martinoli, who understands our industry, and Muckermann, who is supporting a worldwide marketing team. We have a wonderful loyal onboard and shoreside operating team loved by our guests and now being led by Sauleau, one of the most respected people in the industry.”
According to Conroy, Silversea’s expedition capacity is increasing by more than 60 percent in 2018, and he says the company has been successful in selling the additional capacity, raising the bar through the refitting of Silver Cloud with large suites, balconies and multiple dinning venues. Silversea has also been making the program more inviting to multigenerational travelers, with more attractive single supplements and third berth fares on Cloud in the Artic and Antarctica.
Additionally, Conroy notes that Silversea is focusing on being easier to do business with, starting with staff training for reduced call-holding time; more efficient booking processes; and improvement in the air program and air concierge desk. The company is also adding the last agent who booked a past guest as the call-to-action on all Venetian Society mailings; creating promotional tools for agents to help them convert their premium and river business to luxury; and offering new, easy-to-use marketing tools such as Gage, which allow agents to personalize all correspondence with their client base.
Conroy says he sees a bright future for Silversea, especially as it reaffirms its partnership with the travel trade through improved service and promotional support.