Why adaptability is key for itinerary planning

Frederique Patry explains how Silversea Cruises is navigating  itinerary planning during a pandemic

Why adaptability is key for itinerary planning
Guests will be able to visit eight ports while sailing onboard Silver Shadow in Iceland

By Susan Parker |

Leading the global restart of ultra-luxury cruising, Silversea Cruises is delighted to have returned to service with four ships in 2021: Silver Moon in Greece and Silver Origin in the Galapagos Islands in June, followed by Silver Muse in Alaska and Silver Shadow in Iceland in July. 

“All the return-to-service itineraries have been specially designed to adapt to the conditions of the pandemic and they do not follow the original published itineraries,” says Frederique Patry, senior manager of itinerary planning at Silversea Cruises. 

“Only touching one country per voyage (two for Silver Moon, which is also visiting Cyprus) has allowed us to concentrate our efforts on fewer national regulations and adapt our own Covid-19 protocols to each country. This has been very beneficial in facilitating a restart of cruising.” 

Planning these voyages has led to some interesting itinerary adaptations. “Visiting only one country gives us the option to include new or less-visited destinations and offer in-depth explorations,” explains Patry. 

Silver Shadow is calling at a total of eight ports during her 10-day Icelandic cruises, while Silver Moon is visiting smaller ports like Amorgos and Paros in the Cyclades Islands. To adapt to the temporary waiver of the Passenger Service Act in Alaska, Silversea has adjusted its regular seven-day Seward/Vancouver voyages to 10- and 11-day voyages out of Seattle on Silver Muse, allowing it to add more ports. Extended voyages also enable its guests to reach Alaska’s glaciers. 

After the initial return-to-service phase, Silversea plans to reconnect with its published voyages as soon as possible. 

“However, the planning will be affected due to each country following its own regulations, which can also differ per province within the same country,” says Patry. “For example, some countries still have a ban on cruise ships, some have prohibited travellers from certain nations, others have limits on the number of people allowed in groups, and so on. And we must keep in mind that the situation is always evolving – when we define a feasible itinerary, we’re never sure that we’ll be able to operate it as such when the cruise starts.” 

 Silversea usually works two or three years ahead to develop and sell its voyages, but the pandemic has forced the company to work on a totally new production for the next weeks or months.  

“It has definitely forced us to be very flexible and reactive,” says Patry. “With no possible prediction on when the future will bring us all back to our previous normality, it is extremely challenging to take the right decision. This is why we need the local authorities and partners to be very proactive and keep us closely informed on all specific regulations, even though they are also depending on the fast fluctuation of the situation.” 

Meanwhile, Silversea is monitoring the situation daily and keeps developing new scenarios. “Considering that our guests are mainly from USA and UK and that our usual itineraries touch many different countries, we find ourselves in front of a giant puzzle,” says Patry.  

For example, operating Silver Moon in Greece was relatively easy but Silversea’s Mediterranean voyages this autumn will include calls in several countries, each of which has its own regulations.  

“Greece will not accept direct sailings from Turkey, and Malta will only accept a maximum of two people ashore per tour group,” says Patry. “Portugal will require a test at least 12 hours before each call. Monaco is closed for the whole 2021 season. Italy is restricting entry to the territory to certain nationalities. Turkey is not recommended by the US and UK Governments. And when our UK guests come back home, they might need to quarantine depending on the countries they visited during the cruise.” 

Silversea is proud of being a destination-focused luxury cruise line, but the pandemic has introduced frustrating new limits on its previously almost limitless portfolio of itineraries, says Patry. “While the strength and resilience of our industry has been demonstrated during this period, we’ve had to remain versatile to adapt our plans if required. Last year, our challenge was to find a place where we could lay up the ships. Now, our challenge is to select the available ports for the restart of our operations and have our guests back onboard.” 

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

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