Looking forward to the future at Silversea Cruises

A ship launch, newbuild plans and refurbishments characterised Silversea Cruises in 2017. Chief executive Roberto Martinoli shares future plans with Sandra Speares

Looking forward to the future at Silversea Cruises

This article was first published in Spring/Summer 2018 issue of the International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Silversea Cruises’ plans for 2018 and beyond reflect the original vision of both company chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio and his late father Antonio, according to Roberto Martinoli.

“Manfredi’s vision is to have a fleet composed by at least 12 ships – this was the dream of his father when he launched the company in 1994,” Martinoli explains. “We have already announced the arrival of the 10th ship, Silver Moon. Our goal is to keep enlarging the fleet.” Silver Moon, which is due to join the Silversea fleet in autumn 2020, will be a sister to Silver Muse and will have Green Star 3 Design notation because she will be designed, built and equipped to prevent air and water pollution. The €310 million (US$387 million) vessel will be constructed by Italian shipbuilding giant Fincantieri.

“Silver Muse has been a great success with passengers, particularly due to her eight restaurants offering 26 food concepts and her very high ratio of upper suites, so ordering a sister ship was a given,” says Martinoli. “Fincantieri delivered Silver Muse in flawless condition, and in my long personal experience of ship deliveries, I can’t recall one that went as smoothly. Fincantieri is one of the best ship builders and we are very confident in having the company as our partner for Silver Moon.

“Another important historical partner of Silversea on the design side is architect Giacomo Mortola, founder of Genoa-based design firm GEM,” Martinoli adds. “He will continue the tradition of ‘whispered luxury’ onboard Silver Moon.”

Silversea has also embarked on a US$170 million fleet-wide refurbishment programme to improve the ships and the guest experience.

“We’re a leader in luxury cruising and expeditions, and our ships are at the centre of our customer experience, so continuous refurbishments are really a table stake for us,” remarks Martinoli. “Following the success of the soft colour palette and simple luxury of Silver Muse’s design, we’ve decided to adopt the same colour scheme for the rest of the fleet. Silver Cloud recently came out of dry dock and she looks astonishing with the neutral colours of Silver Muse.”

The next vessel overhaul will be on Silver Spirit. “She will be lengthened, but also completely redone as far as interiors are concerned, again to reflect the modern luxury of Silver Muse,” Martinoli says.

“We also completed a refit of Silver Explorer last year, as well as important works on Silver Galapagos. We’re also doing some improvements on Silver Whisper, with a big dry dock planned for 2018.”

Elsewhere in the fleet, Silver Cloud has been converted from a classic ship to an expedition cruise vessel by Palumbo Shipyards.

“Silver Cloud’s conversion was a very important and ambitious project for Silversea, not least because she was the first to set sail for our company,” comments Martinoli. “We decided to work with Palumbo Shipyards for this project because of its expertise in ship conversion, and the team has done a great job – Silver Cloud looks spectacular.”

Silver Cloud is the first luxury cruise ship to be transformed into an ice-class vessel. “The conversion was an incredible technical achievement,” notes Martinoli. “The refurbished ship now represents a true crossover between classic luxury and expedition cruising – she has strength, agility and elegance. The ship is now designed for all terrains: she’s got a wonderful pool which makes her perfect for the Caribbean, but her 10 kayaks make her ready for harsh expedition-style cruising in Antarctica. Boasting five restaurants, mostly balcony suites and butler service, Silver Cloud is the most luxurious ship to ever sail the polar regions.”

To further improve its expedition programme, Silversea launched a new leadership training academy that will expand the skills and expertise of its shipboard expedition teams. “Silversea training academy is aimed at recruiting and developing high-quality talent to join the expedition teams and supports the company’s commitment to exploring the world with the best team of experts,” says Martinoli. “The goal is to attract candidates who are knowledgeable and passionate, and then prepare them for an exciting career working onboard a ship that will take them to amazing places where they will guide our guests in understanding the local history, culture and wildlife.”

Programme participants can remotely develop skills via webinar sessions, which focus on several aspects, including guest relations. Following this, they are invited to spend around six weeks on Silver Cloud during her first Antarctica season.

“Participants will develop core competencies through intensive hands-on training and working with experienced expedition staff and additional educators while onboard Silver Cloud,” Martinoli says. “We’ll also provide cross-training in various academic disciplines, environmental and ecological knowledge, sustainability protocols and cultural sensitivity. Further skills development will focus on boat handling, practical field first aid, and ‘how to guide’ training.”

After successfully completing tasks in a tiered system of increasing responsibility, participants will have the opportunity to work the balance of the Antarctic season as members of the expedition team and, ultimately, on expedition voyages to other regions of the world.

“We strongly believe in the expansion of the expedition sector,” says Martinoli. “There’s a continuous strong demand for this product and, as we want to remain the undisputed leader in the sector, we need programmes like the academy to drive the continued growth of our expedition team.”

Martinoli expects the whole of the cruise industry, not just the expedition cruise sector, to expand in 2018.

“In the past, this industry has demonstrated that an increase of capacity drives higher demand, therefore the many new ships that are planned for 2018 are a positive indicator for the global cruise industry this year,” he predicts. “Silversea will carry out many projects to encourage growth in 2018. We’ll celebrate 10 years of Silversea Expeditions, invest in the ‘travel deeper’ concept, explore many new destinations via our partnership with American photographer Steve McCurry, and new land programme projects that follow on from the Couture Collection launch.”

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018