Interviewing Silversea’s Kristian C. Anderson about the line’s newest luxury offerings
Ultra-luxury line Silversea has called the Mediterranean home for all of their two-decade existence. Now, they’re rolling out the red carpet and inviting their guests to experience the Mediterranean, on them. The line recently unveiled a brand-new offering for 2015, available on each and all 52 Mediterranean voyages they offer this year: complimentary shore excursions and included Wi-Fi internet access.
The program is a tremendous one: two hours of complimentary Wi-Fi internet access offered to each guest, each and every day of the cruise. For those guests who are booking Medallion and higher-category suites, unlimited complimentary internet access is your reward – perfect for keeping in touch with home or showing off your sumptuous Grand Suite to friends and family.
On shore, guests are able to select from an extensive list of complimentary Silver Shore Select shore excursions that are offered in each of the line’s Mediterranean ports of call.
Some of Silversea’s excursions even include a very river cruise-like feature: Quietvox audio systems that allow for guided touring in places like Casablanca’s Hasan II Mosque that might otherwise not be allowed.
The only tours that aren’t included in this offer are, unsurprisingly, the more immersive Silver Shore Collection Tours, or Silver Shore Privato, Silversea’s customized touring option that gives guests their own car and exclusive driver for the day for self-directed explorations.
We recently sat down with Kristian C. Anderson, Silversea’s senior vice president and general manager for the Americas, to chat with him about the new program and find out how it all began.
Tell me about Silversea’s new “Included Shore Excursion/Wi-Fi” program. How does it complement Silversea’s existing product offerings?
Living in 2015, without question Wi-Fi is becoming an expectation of our guests. So, if we are listening to our guests and our potential guests, we’re looking at ways that we can build not just a new ship – that’s always a possibility – but ways we can continue to refine and enhance our core product offerings.
Our excursions are capacity controlled. They’re civilised. They’re quality experiences. So to offer both Wi-Fi and complimentary shore excursions is just the next evolution of the Silversea product offering. I think it refines the overall experience and guests are appreciating that when they make the purchase, they’re not just receiving a quality cruise but they’re receiving another extension of their cruise experience – a quality shore excursion.
It’s the details that make the difference. I was at a conference once, and the question was asked, “What’s one of the enhancements between a cruise and a land vacation? You only have to unpack once. With a land vacation you’re unpacking again and again.” I simply stated I didn’t understand the entire concept of unpacking because on Silversea your butler does that for you!
How did the new complimentary shore excursion program come about?
Our guests – our Venetian Society guests – were asking for it. And when our Venetian members speak and voice their feelings and their views, it’s our responsibility to listen. After pretty significant feedback, we also modeled the proposition to potential guests and in both segments [prospective and past Silversea guests], it was a resounding “Yes!” to the question of exploring this new program.
It took a lot of work – it was several months of very labour-intensive work to pull this all together. Everyone worked together, and one of the unique things that I appreciate about our corporate culture at Silversea is that we really do have a family mentality. We are the only privately held ultra-luxury cruise line that’s been in existence for close to 21 years, and we consider our guests and our co-workers family. I think we move rather cautiously compared with some of our peers, and we didn’t t want to rush this. We want to be far more cautious and pragmatic in our approach. But we decided the time was right to launch it for the 2015 Mediterranean season.
What has the reaction been to the new Included Shore Excursion program? Has it resonated with past and future guests?
So far, Mediterranean bookings are up almost double year-over year. In the trades [tr