|Silver Explorer // All photos by Silversea Cruises|
Luxury guests simply can’t get enough of “adventure,” and Silversea Cruises said earlier this week that it's refurbishing the former Clipper Odyssey to become the 128-passenger Silver Discoverer, its third expedition vessel.
Why a third ship, and why now? “Silversea has always strived to be the innovator within that luxury cruise space, and what we’re hearing and seeing from customers is they want more adventure," said Ellen Bettridge, president, Americas, Silversea Cruises (www.silversea.com).
Five years ago, Silversea launched Silver Explorer, its first expedition ship. Bettridge said that allowed the line to tap into the public’s adventure mindset. Feedback from guests on that ship was a driving factor for the addition of a second ship, Silver Galapagos, which begins sailing around the Galapagos Islands this fall.
Expedition ships, based on their intimate size, are able to enter small coves and some ports that larger ocean vessels can’t. Those remote spots are appealing to affluent baby boomers and seasoned travelers who want to see and do more, according to Bettridge: "Interest is definitely very high...especially when it's combined with a luxury twist."
With Clipper Odyssey, “the opportunity came up and it’s a part of the world where we did not have so much focus,” Bettridge explained. "It was our opportunity to get in there and own ‘the space.'"
Silver Discoverer will operate itineraries in remote parts of Asia including the Russian Far East, as well as Australia and the South Pacific. Those destinations should appeal to adventure seekers and destination collectors.
Bettridge acknowledged that the expedition itself is the top priority for these guests. But she added that "when you can go off on these incredible adventures all day and still come back to these beautiful suites, incredible meals, hot showers and beautiful wines, I think that's very appealing to people. It elevates the expedition experience."
“We can take care of both these needs [the expedition focus and the luxury twist],” Bettridge emphasized. Silver Discoverer, which will be completely refurbished prior to beginning service, will have five accommodations categories. All are suites and all oceanview. All accommodations have butler service.
Cruises Etc. of Fort Worth, TX, specializes in luxury, and Ruth Turpin, owner, concurred. “Anytime we get a new luxury product I’m excited," she said, noting she has very loyal Silversea Expeditions clients and "to add some totally new destinations to where they can explore is fabulous.”
Turpin also believes Silver Discoverer will bring in clients who normally don’t cruise, but go to the South Pacific or other regions on land tours. “I am particularly excited about the fact they will go to the Russian Far East, which is not served by other cruise lines," she added. "It will allow our ‘bucket list’ clients to add a new destination."
From Bettridge's perspective, the ship itself fits well with Silversea's expedition approach.“She really is a perfect vessel in the size for expedition and also in the amenities that she has onboard."
For example, the ship has a swimming pool and what Bettridge characterizes as an excellent layout, particularly the way the deck is configured for Zodiac boardings.
Another plus for Silversea? “The Clipper Odyssey has a huge loyal following,” Bettridge said. Expedition enthusiasts and past guests for the vessel have already told the line they're eager to sail on the ship.
"We believe it’s going to work in our favor," said Bettridge. "We are incredibly enthusiastic as the feedback so far has been very strong.”
Obviously, expedition cruising remains a fairly small portion, berthwise, when considering Silversea's global fleet. The line operates five classic luxury vessels - Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit.
That said, Silversea is now the only major luxury line serving North American travelers with both classic vessels and an expanding expedition product. Does that set it apart from other luxury lines?
Bettridge answers this way: "We're redefining luxury for our customers."
She said travel advisors will learn about the new vessel and the expedition product via Silversea's trade activities including sales calls on agencies, consortia communications and Travel Agent University. For those who already sell expedition cruises and are familiar with the vessel, the line also will detail exactly how it's going to change this ship in the refurbishment.
“The fact that all of these [itineraries] can be done in true all-inclusive luxury is a high factor for us,” Turpin says, adding: Our clients love adventure, but they want it in luxury."