In September, the Silver Discoverer cruise ship operated by Silversea Cruises opened up the Asia Pacific region for luxury group travel. Larger than its sister ships, the 128-passenger, all-inclusive expedition-class ship offers personal butler service, gourmet cuisine that captures the flavors of visited ports, and complimentary fine wines, champagne and spirits.
The new Silver Discoverer will tour the Russian Far East, Micronesia, Malaysia, Polynesia, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The other two expedition-class vessels sail to the Arctic and the Galapagos. The ships carry inflatable rubber Zodiacs that easily navigate the shallow 12-inch waters inaccessible to larger vessels.
“Silversea has the only expedition ships that cross over into the luxury category,” says Sean J. Mahoney, global vice president of corporate and incentive sales.
The company has five classic ships that range from 147 to 270 suites and three 60 to 64-room expedition vessels. The intimate ambiance found on Silversea ships fosters camaraderie while setting the stage for a personalized onboard experience. Itineraries include more than 450 destinations on all seven continents. For such a whale of a fleet, Silversea ships easily slip into the most exotic, tucked away ports.
“Because of their intimate size, about 85% of all corporate and incentive revenue on Silversea are full ship charters who want exclusive, highly customized and personalized events,” Mahoney says. Silversea also caters to half ship reservations and has embarked on executive retreats and incentive programs for as few as 10 suites in the past.
Unlike traditional commercial cruise lines, Silversea ships don’t have strict departure ports. Itineraries are planned to begin in one city and typically end seven days later in another port. The cruises are designed for longer, often overnight, port stays. This flexibility enables Silversea and its partners, from entertainment to tour operators, to customize shore excursions or events on board.
“You can’t imagine how fantastic it is to have Monte Carlo as the backdrop when you’re dining on the deck,” says Mahoney. The expedition ships each have a main dining room, pool grill, lecture room for presentations, entertainment venues and individual spa treatment rooms. Classic ships each have four to six restaurants. The most popular routes are to the Mediterranean aboard Classic ships.
According to Mahoney, the Mediterranean region represents roughly 50% of Silversea’s corporate and incentive business. There’s huge demand for Silversea fleets to visit Barcelona, Istanbul, Monte Carlo, Rome and Venice.
We asked Mahoney, what’s the greatest value proposition for a group to charter a Silversea cruise?
“Corporates are realizing that cruising allows them to cut costs without compromising quality, especially when buying an all-inclusive cruise to Europe with U.S. dollars,” he says.
After comparing a 5-star European resort to one of their cruises, Silversea discovered that by the time the exchange rate and value-added taxes were factored in, savings of at least 30% occurred. Additionally, the groups get to visit five to seven exotic ports without the hassles of packing and unpacking.
The appeal of all-inclusive customized luxury cruising is credited with the company’s need to expand their fleets. While revenues for 2013 were on target, current bookings reveal a record year for corporate and incentive business approaching in 2014.