Q&A with Silversea Managing Director Amber Wilson

Silversea Cruises has an enviable reputation for its luxurious ships and a very high standard of service on board. We chat with Managing Director Amber Wilson about all things cruising.

What is the Silversea difference?

Firstly, we are proud that Silversea is recognised as the gold standard in luxury cruising both for its cosmopolitan lifestyle on-board and the global portfolio of itineraries to all seven continents. Silversea is one of the most all-inclusive cruise lines and our guests enjoy the ease, convenience and value of our comprehensive cruise fares.

There are many factors that set us apart from our competitors, but it all starts with the warm hospitality and highly personalised service that we provide. With a staff-to-guest ratio that is virtually one to one, from the moment our guests step aboard, they find an uncompromising commitment to service excellence. As a brand our mission is to unlock new territories and invite our guests to go deeper in their travel experience. Silversea guests are interested in more than just visiting destinations. They want to be able to take the time to fully immerse themselves in local cultures. Our bespoke shore programmes offer up-close, highly immersive experiences in the destinations our guests visit, including after-hours and private access to select iconic sites.

What are some of the most memorable on-board experiences guests can have?

All guests are pampered on-board a Silversea vessel, which is the only cruise line in the world to provide a butler in every suite, in every category. From toiletries and personalised stationery, to a bar stocked with the guests’ favourite wines and spirits, everyone receives the finest comforts in luxury cruise accommodation. On select voyages, Silversea guests can experience a unique cooking school concept, L'École des Chefs by Relais & Châteaux; a broad curriculum of tantalising culinary events has been designed exclusively for Silversea. These cruises include cooking demonstrations, intimate cooking and lunching events, on-board cooking classes, cooking competitions and knife skills workshops.

Silversea has teamed up with The Peninsula Hotels, a range of award-winning luxury hotels, to create The Asian Collection. This hand-picked selection of Asian voyages is enhanced by a unique programme created in partnership with the prestigious hotel group. Aboard and on shore, a team of historians, local specialists and renowned Peninsula Chefs will share their expertise in a number of exclusive events to enrich our client’s experience in Asia.

Can you tell us about the health and wellness offerings on-board some of Silversea's ships?

Silversea Expeditions offers a series of Wellness Expedition voyages specifically designed to improve our guests’ well-being. In addition to travelling to some of the most remote and unexplored places in the world, we provide a complete on-board programme of yoga and stretching classes, spa treatments and healthy daily menus supported by our Wellness partner, Technogym.

On-board Silver Discoverer we combine remarkable expedition voyages with the thrill of exploration and a holistic approach to rejuvenation. By day, guests will journey to destinations off the beaten path in South East Asia, encountering magnificent landscapes, fascinating new cultures and unique wildlife. Once back aboard Silver Discoverer, the ship becomes a sanctuary for mind, body and spirit with programmes including water aerobics, pilates, stretch and tone, and gym sessions.

Silversea also offers a holistic approach to wellness integrating bespoke fitness and spa programmes combined with lectures and nutritional plans personalised for guests. On-board, health and fitness experts, a yoga instructor, and a nutrition consultant, provide an experience like no other.

With the increasing popularity of luxury cruising what is Silversea doing to innovate in the industry?

It is a new era for Silversea, we face the most ambitious fleet and product portfolio expansion in the history of the company. In 2018 alone Silversea has added 178 ports of call to its routes, often ports which are not accessible by larger cruise lines. Silversea is committed to innovation. As part of our fleet-wide refurbishment programme, worth 170 million dollars, we have made several announcements recently including:

- Silver Cloud, the ship which launched the Silversea fleet in 1994 is currently in dry dock, undergoing an extensive refurbishment to be transformed into an expedition ship, complete with a strengthened ice-class hull for navigating polar waters. Silver Cloud will make her inaugural voyage in November 2017 with an exciting itinerary for 2018.

- Silver Wind and Silver Whisper will both undergo a refurbishment in December 2017. The two ships will take inspiration from Silver Muse, Silversea’s most recent flagship vessel launched in April 2017.

- Silversea has just announced plans for its first ever ship lengthening, transforming Silver Spirt in early 2018 at the Palermo shipyard of Fincantieri in Italy. Silver Spirit’s inaugural sailing is scheduled for 6 May 2018 from Rome to Barcelona.

- A brand new ship, Silver Moon has just been announced for 2020, the sister ship to Silver Muse, which was delivered in April 2017. The new build will expand Silversea's fleet to 10 ships and will significantly raise the bar in the ultra-luxury segment with a wealth of enhancements to the on-board experience, while satisfying the uncompromising requirements for comfort, service, and quality of the world's most discerning travellers.

- In December 2018, Silver Muse will arrive into Australian waters for the very first time via a 16-day voyage from Bali to Sydney, arriving into Cairns on 30 December, and then Sydney on 6 January.

You’ve recently teamed up with famous travel photographer Steve McCurry, can you share what this partnership will entail?

Silversea’s partnership with Steve McCurry is a global creative initiative that will chronicle Silversea’s extensive fleet and portfolio expansion designed to take guests to some of the world’s most intriguing and remote destinations. Steve McCurry has the ability to capture the authentic beauty of the world, and express it with passion and clarity through his artistry and storytelling. The partnership aligns perfectly with Silversea’s immersive experiences, intimate vessels and unforgettable destinations. There is a regular schedule of destinations that will be unlocked by Steve, allowing our guests to view his beautiful photography from the variety of destinations he travels to with Silversea. We are thrilled to be capturing the emotion and inspiration of global travel through Steve’s lens.

Which destinations has Silversea recently added to their itineraries. Are there plans for more additions?

Silversea is constantly adding new destinations to our itineraries offering guests a variety of choices and in 2018 alone has added 178 ports of call to its routes, often ports which are not accessible by larger cruise lines. Northern Europe and the Mediterranean are some of our most popular voyages, and for 2018 we have added 73 new ports to these destinations alone.

Silver Spirit will return to Northern Europe and the Baltic for the first time since 2009, taking in the new ports of Borgholm (Sweden), Kemi (Finland), and Sundsvall (Sweden) for the very first time. In the Mediterranean, on-board Silver Wind, guests will have the opportunity to discover brand new destinations for Silversea. Calling into the ports of Almeria (Spain) and La Savina (Spain) for the very first time. Silversea will revisit Antibes (France), for the first time since 2013.

When putting together a new itinerary how do you decide on which ports you will dock in?

The small size of our ships means that we can sail into ports not accessible by other cruise lines, often adding unique and desirable destinations to our itineraries which are not accessible by any other means. Our intimate, ultra-luxury ships can sail up narrow waterways into the heart of a city, or tie up right at the pier while others must anchor off shore.

Our destination experts are continually scouting for new destinations that are suitable for our clientele to ensure we continue to create new travel experiences for our guests.

Our expedition itineraries are personally researched in advance and the programmes are curated by our team of experts to continue to unlock new territories such as the inaugural visit to Bangladesh in 2017.

How do you ensure that your expedition cruises deliver on the luxuries guests expect from the Silversea brand?

At Silversea Expeditions we are committed to providing the highest levels of comfort and service, whilst visiting incredible destinations as part of our unique itineraries. When travelling on-board a Silversea Expedition ship, guests can enjoy an all-inclusive lifestyle and the highest crew to guest ratio in expedition cruising.

On-board, guests can also experience sumptuous cuisine, the personalised service of a butler, and a generous selection of shipboard amenities including complimentary beverages, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, stocked in-suite beverage cabinet, and at least one free hour of Wi-Fi per guest, per day.

In true Silversea Expeditions style, guests will be enriched by an on-board programme of destination lectures, photo presentations and daily recaps. Exploratory Zodiac® excursions and interactive walks ashore, led by experts in their field -- marine biologists, ornithologists, geologists, botanists, historians, and anthropologists, are complimentary.

Silversea believes that, although the cruise line offers the highest levels of elegance and comfort at sea, it’s the unique and compelling experiences and vast number of ports visited that really deliver ‘ultimate luxury’ at sea. With itineraries spanning across the globe, our expedition cruises transport guests to exciting and breathtaking destinations including the Arctic, Russian Far East, Galapagos Islands, South America and Australia and New Zealand.

What are some of the new expedition cruise itineraries on the horizon?

We have just announced our 2019 itineraries, which feature a rich diversity of itineraries, spanning the globe from Alaska and the South Pacific to the Galapagos Islands and the Russian Far East. A particular highlight is a 25-day expedition aboard Silver Explorer, departing on 10 August from Nome, Alaska, on one of the world's great journeys, exploring the wonders of the Russian Arctic. Sailing to Tromso, Norway, just 130 intrepid guests will enjoy the rare privilege of exploring a legendary region of remarkable seascapes, intriguing wildlife and fascinating cultures.

During Silversea’s first crossing of the Northeast passage, guests will retrace the voyages of famous explorers like Nordenskiöld, Nansen, DeLong and Amundsen and take in highlights such as the protected nature area and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wrangel Island (Chukotka), the uninhabited Medvezhyi Islands and Hooker Island, Franz Josef Land, (Russia).

What do you identify as the emerging trends in expedition cruising?

As the number of cruise passengers continues to rise, so too does the demand for new and interesting itineraries. Travellers are increasingly looking to experience something truly unique and to fully immerse themselves in each destinations they visit, going deeper on land. As seasoned luxury travellers, Silversea guests want to discover the least accessible corners of our planet and we actively seek out experiential, small group excursions that offer up-close, highly immersive and authentic experiences to excite our intrepid travellers.

Drawing on Silversea’s own exceptional itinerary expertise and global knowledge, we recently announced the 2018 Couture Collection, an industry-first exclusive series of ocean and land adventures, which are custom-designed for the world’s most discerning travellers. With prices ranging from A$18,500 to A$105,000 per guest the Couture Collection is an inspired portfolio of nine pre- and post-cruise luxury land programmes of five to 11 days, offering authentic and immersive travel experiences in the most remote and untouched regions on Earth. Silversea’s experienced architects have custom-crafted each element of the 2018 Couture Collection down to the smallest detail. The pre- and post-cruise Couture Collection includes exclusive experiences, ranging from a private helicopter service in Mongolia to a vintage rail journey in India, and Gulfstream jet charters in and out of Antarctica.

Amber Wilson
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