Friday, April 10, 2009

Silversea Cruises is Robbing the (Regent Seven Seas') Cradle...Seriously (And You Are NOT Going to Like It)

Ever see those signs, "Child Onboard"...Silversea Cruises now has them available.

That's right:  Your elegant, luxury, cruise without children will not be happening on many Silversea Cruises.  Those that booked their 2009 Silversea cruise as an adult luxury product are not going to have exactly what they expected.  In fact, they are going to have pretty much was Ken Watson brought over from Regent Seven Seas.  (And you know I have always placed Silversea in the luxury category and Regent in the faux luxury one.)

Silversea is going to be announcing that it is going to have a full-fledged children's program on its ships, complete with youth counselors and discounts for children for 2009...And for all of you that have snapped up those highly discounted fares for Alaska and the Mediterranean for this summer, the program will be in place and actively seeking children to utilize it. 

To me, the real issue is that I cannot think of a single client or even message board poster that had expressed a legitimate desire for such a program on Silversea.  I know it is about "getting bodies in beds", but to so fundamentally change a product smacks of disrespect for those that have booked adults only cruises and makes one wonder which market Silversea is seeking to tap into that is going to overcome all the cancelled bookings that are most assuredly going to occur...followed by all those that will now not book Silversea because of the children's program.

Multi-generational cruises are not exactly the big thing this year and if Regent, with its larger ships and a long-standing program, can't make it work well, how is Silversea going to do it? Possibly by tapping further into the European market?  But there is a tremendous difference, culturally dependent, of what kind of behavior is expected of children and, importantly, who will actually use the program...rather than the hot tubs, etc.

Now, in respect of full disclosure, I have two children ages 13 and 10 (almost) and they have been on over 20 cruises.  They truly enjoyed each of their Regent cruises as far as the youth counselors and individual attention.  And, I selfishly just might now give Silversea a shot with them...for the right price.  But...and it is a big but...I have seen the eyes of those angered by my well-behaved kids just being present.  I have heard the compliments about "I am surprised how wonderful your children have been.  You should be proud." but wondered if it was really just an expression of relief.  Check out pretty much any message board (other than mine!) and just look for any thread mentioning children...It is ugly.

So, to my mind, Silversea is making a big mistake...but it just may have to take the risk.