Saturday, June 27, 2009

Silversea Hitting Very Rough Waters?

As you know I have been concerned for the past year as to whether Silversea would financially be strong enough to accept delivery of the new Silver Spirit in December.  Well...a little birdie has told me that it probably cannot. 

So what does this mean?

One thing it doesn't mean is that the ship will not sail.  I understand that it will, but with Silversea chartering it from Fincantieri Shipyards, who will create a holding company supported by the Italian government, to own the ship.

IF, repeating "if", this is true, I am very concerned about what it means in the way of operations.  Regent Seven Seas has very successfully chartered the Paul Gauguin, so the chartering thing doesn't phase me as much as you might think. 

My concern is the lack of funds will cause a deterioration of the product and of the service.  As I said about the Seabourn Odyssey, if the service wasn't at the level it was, that outstanding ship would be nothing but hardware that provides a disappointing experience. 

Unlike Seabourn, Silversea has already shown a slippage in service and a cutback in cuisine.  With it ships sailing at a reported average of less than 50% of capacity, reduced cash flow and rather static operating costs,  coupled with the huge expense of launching a new ship, makes me very nervous.

I hope Silversea will be a bit more forthcoming with information.  I know the "old school" approach is to keep it all secret, but these are new times with new economic concerns.  Being upfront rather than secretive would go a long way to comforting potential guests.

Silversea's survival is important not only because variety is the spice of life, but competition keeps everyone at the top of their game.  With no competition, even the most successful will have a tendency to...well, I just don't want to go there.