Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Silversea's Silver Spirit - Some New Photos...And A Warning About Ralph Grizzle (The Avid Cruiser).

One nice things about having a ship built at Fincantieri is that you have great confidence it will be delivered on time.  Regardless of any other issues, Silversea is blessed with having the Silversea Silver Spirit being delivered as it should be...and, it would seem, in a properly cleaned condition.  This stands in stark contrast to the horrid mess T. Marrioti delivered the Seabourn Odyssey in...and should give Silversea every opportunity to start off on the right foot - with delivery of an excellent right from the start (giving, of course, some leeway for the expected - and unexpected - glitches immediately after any delivery).

There has been some discussion on The Gold Standard Forum about the Silver Spirit appearing to be someone front and top heavy.  (You can read and join in the discussion under "Luxury at Sea - The Hardware").  To my eye she doesn't have the most sleek lines, but the efforts to stack as much as possible on this ship have not ruined the lines to the extent of the Norwegian Epic. 

Compare, however, the lines to the Seabourn Odyssey and you will see what I mean.




To my eye it is as if an additional 2 decks were added midships and forward.  Would this determine if I liked the ship or not, or if I would recommend her or not.  Absolutely not!  It is just comment.

What might make a difference is how she handles in wind and heavy seas.  With today's truly remarkable technologies both through engineering design and equipment it is possible to counter many forces (top-heaviness, wind loads, etc..)  Knowing that Fincantieri makes good ships is one thing, seeing that the client's design as implemented by the shipyard works is another.  We shall soon see how she handles.

Silversea has also released some photos of some of the public spaces (albeit sans furnishings - to be expected this far from delivery).

The Reception Area appears attractive, but to me looks very hotel or banquet hall - esque.  I do have a bit of an eye for new construction work (having managed a superyacht yard for a while).  What I see appears to be very well executed, but not intimate.  It is a concern for me, and guests, that as luxury ships get larger they may just get too impersonal...losing the very character that makes them attractive in the first instance.




It may be that with the addition of the furnishings, this area will be broken up into more intimate areas.  It is why, to me, releasing this particular photo is curious.  (Sorry if I sound negative.  I just have to call it as I see it.  And I don't see why these particular photos were the ones chosen to be release.)

La Terrazza is the causal dining area.



I don't have much to say about this area because it doesn't show much.  BTW, the shiny areas on the carpet is carpet protectors that are put down during construction and taken up as the space is completed.

I do, however, have a bone to pick with the Observation Lounge.




Why would you place a bar so close to the windows...and then orient it so that you are looking away from the windows (and into the bar)?  This is just bad design...from what I can tell from one photo. (I am not sure what is in the distance, but it does seem like it is better.)  Again, comparing it to the bars on ships from the Royal Caribbean Viking Crown Lounges, to the Celebrity Solstice-Class ships to the Seabourn Odyssey, the concept is to have a centralized bar with no real obstructions above bar height, so people can sit and, well, "observe" (something other than the bartender). It doesn't have to be the same old thing; my point is that this is a design topic long ago visited by many designers with some very good results.

The Warning

I would like to make one point clear:  I have absolutely no economic motivation to say anything negative about Silversea.  I have clients that book Silversea.  I have other clients that have booked Silversea with other agencies.  The fact is Silversea has some of the best itineraries out there.  I want it to be a great product (and it ain't bad!), because the more cruises I sell, the more money I make (and it is not like everyone I meet is going to both love and purchase a Seabourn cruise).  But I have to be honest. 

In that regard, I have taken issue with some of the comments Ralph Grizzle - The Avid Cruiser - has posted as "journalism" or "news" tauting how wonderful Silversea's new ship is and how it is better than the Seabourn Odyssey.  (Remember my post about his claiming the Reception Area was as good as the Seabourn Square?) I have listened to him criticize the size and sound of the Seabourn televisions and the crowd he observed on the Marina the very first day it was in operation and wondered, "What's up with Ralph Grizzle?"  Read my post "I Hate Stupid Comparisons:  Seabourn Odyssey vs. Silversea Spirit!"

Now I know why.  The Avid Cruiser (Ralph Grizzle) is, without question, being paid by Silversea to spread positive comments about the new build.  Check out Silversea's blog and check out who produced its video interview of the chef, the video of the Silversea staterooms, etc. It is Ralph Grizzle.  He has become nothing other than a walking infomercial! 

The problem is that he has never disclosed this in his "journalistic" pieces which are distributed around the internet.  (How many times have you heard CNN note its relationship with an entity it is reporting on?  Regularly, right.)  Why has he not disclosed this?  The answer is unavoidable:  It is to mislead you into thinking you are receiving impartial information regarding whatever it is he is reporting on.

Is there anything wrong with being paid to promote a product?  Absolutely not.  Is there a law against doing what Mr. Grizzle is doing?  Probably not.  But the ethics of it to me just stink.  Folks you want all the information you can get and you want it to be reliable.  But, more importantly, you want to be able to honestly and fairly weigh the information.

I make no bones about my being one of the world's top sellers of Seabourn cruises.  While I may be that because many factors, it clearly has been seen by some as causing a bias in my comments being favorable to Seabourn (or anti-Silversea).  I clearly disagree with that (and don't even understand how a travel agent makes more money being critical of a particular cruise line), but at least you have the information available to you to make your own decision.

Now, if you will, go back and read Mr. Grizzle's "news" reports and, in fact, re-read this post.  Let me know what you now think.  Join the discussion on The Gold Standard Forum!