In Tibet, guests interact with monks and take a meditation class. // © 2017 Silversea Cruises/Andrea Frazzetta
Feature image (above): In Tanzania, clients will tour the desert landscape in comfort. // © 2017 Silversea Cruises/Gabriele Galimbert
In Tibet stands Jokhang Temple, considered the most holy temple of Buddhism. Deep in Mongolia, the Kazakh people hunt with golden eagles. These kinds of hidden, untouched places call to travelers who wish to explore the Earth’s treasures — and next year, Silversea Cruises can help them get there. In 2018, the luxury line is extending its reach into such areas, far from the coasts.
Silversea is launching Couture Collection, five- to 11-day elite experiences that offer exclusive access into distant parts of the world in supreme comfort. The line will make use of private helicopters, specially equipped cars and private planes to transport clients, along with providing extraordinary accommodations.
According to Barbara Muckermann, chief marketing officer for Silversea, the line has made arrangements such as private helicopter service in Mongolia, vintage rail transport in India and private boats and helicopters in Iceland “that take guests into areas where nobody goes,” she says.
Silversea staff — not partners — escorts the tours, and although the cost of the itineraries is quite substantial, the trips can actually be considered a bargain for such once-in-a-lifetime experiences. For example, on the most expensive tour — White Desert & the South Pole, a 10-night Antarctica trip starting at $78,000 — guests lodge at Whichaway Camp, which is considered one of the most exclusive hotels on Earth. A week of accommodations in the 20-foot-in-diameter, circular fiberglass domes normally runs $80,000; guests have included Prince Harry and former astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
The tour is ideal for those who want to see Antarctica but don’t want to traverse the notoriously rough Drake Passage; Silversea flies guests in and out of the region on a Gulfstream business jet. Clients can explore ice caves and tunnels, enjoy photo ops with a magnificent colony of emperor penguins at Atka Bay and stand in the footsteps of South Pole explorers Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott.
On the seven-night Namibia & Rovos Rail tour (from $14,000), travelers will explore the Namib desert from the award-winning Little Kulala property in the Kulala Wilderness Reserve; go flightseeing over the Skeleton Coast; and float above the landscape in a hot-air balloon. They’ll also ride the Rovos Rail — hailed by "Vogue" as the most luxurious train in Africa — for a nearly 1,000-mile journey through South Africa.
For clients seeking unique wildlife, recommend the seven-night Rwanda & the Serengeti itinerary (from $25,000), which includes a two-day trek with mountain gorillas thanks to Silversea’s relationship with primatologist Jane Goodall’s refuge and lab. Guests will also experience a game drive to spot the Big Five from a custom four-wheel drive vehicle in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.
Other Couture Collection trips explore destinations including Iceland, Bolivia, the Australian Outback and India. The itineraries are combinable with 2018 Silversea cruises, as well, helping to reinforce Silversea’s branding at sea, with its increased emphasis on exceptional luxury coupled with real expedition experiences.
Mark Conroy, managing director of the Americas for Silversea, says about 50 percent of the guests on focused expedition cruises are new to cruising — which gives travel agents an opportunity to capitalize on additional future sailings. He warns advisors that less than 40 percent of the travelers who return from a cruise come back using the same agent.
“You must follow up,” he said. “Stay in contact at least once a month. If you’re not talking to them, someone else is.”