Sunday, February 27, 2011

Revisiting Silversea Cruises: With Good Things Being Done By Good People, Silversea Just May Be Worth A Closer Look

Is it time to revisit Silversea as a true luxury cruise option? I think it just may be.

After all I have had to say that wasn’t so nice, why would I be saying this now? Silversea is listening….and doing much to improve what needs to be improved.

On Friday I flew down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to meet with Silversea’s executives at its U.S. headquarters (Monaco is its home base, but most of the operations occur here.)

With the former arrogant management gone, the present team headed by Ken Watson and Christian Sauleau is not only downright friendly, they ooze caring and enthusiasm. And that approach trickles down throughout Silversea’s offices. (An interesting side note: Everyone was quite casual; quite surprising considering Silversea operates one of the more formal cruise lines out there.)

I received the expected dog and pony show, being introduced to everyone, and spending some quality time with Ken Watson, Christian Sauleau and others.  However, for the most part we discussed what Silversea is doing to get better in the one area I have been harping on: Consistency.  I don’t care if you are selling hamburgers or cruises, the customer needs to know that each time he purchase one the quality is exactly the same.  (We also discussed what the future may hold for Silversea.)

Silversea knows its luxury product was slipping a bit (presumably because of the financial issues it was facing and the problems associated with its former management) and that something needed to be done. With the financial issues well on its way to being a thing of the past with its stronger performance of late, Silversea has quietly set out to make sure that the quality in each department (cuisine, housekeeping, service, etc.) is the same on each ship from the Silver Cloud to the Silver Spirit.

This is being done by sending out heads of the various departments to virtually live on the ships; going from one ship to another supervising and overseeing the implementation of consistent standards and practices fleetwide. This shows a commitment that is far more invested than sending out memos and barking orders from the main office. If executed properly, it should be paying dividends in the near future.

Further, each of Silversea’s ships either have recently or will be undergoing significant refits in the near future, including the Silver Cloud who had one previously scheduled delayed due to the past fiscal issues. But now the plan is to expand the refurbishment and to be installing the very popular (if not luxurious) Hot Rocks restaurant on all of Silversea ships in the coming months.

There are also little things that, for reasons unknown, Silversea doesn’t really publicize; like mattresses that have two sides (soft and firm), so you can have your stewardess flip your mattress to the type you prefer. 

The problem is, as I pointed out to Silversea, is that a number of people have had a less than wonderful experience say two or three years ago, but they don’t know what it is that Silversea is doing to make things right. Since then they may have tried other luxury lines and found the consistency they were looking for, but unless they know what Silversea is doing to improve itself the less than fond memories will continue to sway future cruise decisions. Silversea needs to get the word out. (To be sure recently the Silver Spirit has taken a good bit of the publicity; some good, some not so good. And, as we all know, timing is everything.)

So, no, this is not a warm and fuzzy article on why Silversea is the best. It is more of a wake-up call to say that now may be a great time to plan a Silversea cruise because it most definitely is working on getting better…challenging for the title of The Best.  And, let's face it, with some excellent itineraries, spiffed up ships and consistency being focused on, considering Silversea just might make some sense.

I am doing just that…and I will let you know which Silversea cruise I will be hosting soon.