Silversea offers non-repeating itineraries that visit almost 1,000 ports worldwide
What are the needs of an ultra-luxury cruise line? For Justin Poulsen, vice president of strategic pricing and itinerary planning at Silversea Cruises, answering this question is one of the biggest challenges his company faces. “This problem is particularly difficult because we deploy our ships globally, visiting almost 1,000 different ports – and the concept of luxury travel is not only dynamic, but also interpreted regionally,” he explains.
To overcome this issue, Silversea aims to build relationships with its stakeholders. “We continually try to build key networks and relationships around the world so that information regarding our needs is understood and creative solutions can be explored together,” says Poulsen.
Communicating with stakeholders is also crucial when it comes to finding ways to make Silversea’s cruise product more sustainable. “We endeavour to achieve a win-win scenario whereby both our passengers and our destination partners receive maximum value,” Poulsen says. “This is accomplished by increasing communication among all the key stakeholders to schedule and disperse our capacity in a way that is manageable, maximises the efficient use of shoreside tourism infrastructure and ensures the best guest experience.”
Another sustainability challenge Silversea must face is to keep up with a constantly changing set of environmental regulations and codes, which can require some flexibility. “As part of our commitment to protect the environment and the destinations we visit, we must remain compliant with all regulations,” said Poulsen. “While our long-term strategic plan takes into account increasing levels of environmental regulation, short-term or sudden changes in the code mean that we have to blend art and science to deliver a creative solution.”
Silversea must factor both the environment and guest expectations into its discussions when planning itineraries.
“Relative to other cruise lines, we represent a very small number of passengers and because we deploy ships globally and offer mostly non-repeating itineraries, we don’t often build a material amount of capacity in a particular transit port,” Poulsen says. “Some of the criteria and key performance indicators we use in selecting ports when designing itineraries are experiential – related to the guest experience and our brand promise – and some are financial – as in how does each port contribute to the overall commercial performance of the itinerary. We evaluate our ability to tell a story and work out how each port fits into the overall narrative of the itinerary.”
However, one problem that comes up repeatedly is congestion. “The most frequently recurring problem is port congestion due to the timeline discrepancies between our launch calendar and the various berth reservation schemes,” Poulsen said. “Of course, we prefer to be proactive, but this requires clear berthing guidelines and processes, transparency, sufficient information and a clear understanding of our needs as a cruise line.”
Poulsen enjoys working with his team to overcome these challenges. “I get the most satisfaction when we’ve successfully executed a planning cycle and everyone on the team feels they played an integral role and made a genuine and meaningful contribution in our effort to create exciting and immersive itineraries.”
This article was first published in the 2019 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
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