The announcement this week of a long awaited new build from luxury cruise operator, Silversea, has gone a huge way to confirm the resurgence of the luxury cruise market which is now evident to even the most cautious of commentators. Due for delivery in 2017, the 40,000 ton, 586 guest Silver Muse will be the largest ship yet for the fleet.
We know that she will be a ‘slightly improved’ version of the very popular Silver Spirit of 2009. Rumours say that the main difference will be the relocation of the popular main bar back to its traditional aft location on the main deck. On Silver Spirit, this same room was given a midships location, just behind the reception area, which was not well received by some
In any event, this new ship- one tenth larger than Silver Spirit- represents a logical evolution of the line’s highly styled philosophy. And her genesis is the final shot (for now at least) in a very salubrious volley of new builds announced and set in motion by the main players.
New tonnage became something of a priority with the debut of Hapag Lloyd Cruise Lines’ stunning Europa 2 back in 2013. With all suite accommodation, including the largest standard balconies of any line, and no less than eight restaurants, the 42,000 ton, 516 guest ship threw down the gauntlet in truly spectacular style. This stunning ship (see previous blogs) upped the ante by light years for every rival line. She is, quite simply, without peer.
So, when Regent Seven Seas came out of the blocks and announced the construction of the brand new, all-suite Seven Seas Explorer, people really sat up and took notice. At 54,000 tons, this 700 guest vessel is due to emerge from the Fincantieri shipyard next year. She will give the Regent fleet it’s third all balcony new build- quite a stunning coup in its own right.
The Seven Seas Explorer will represent evolution rather than revolution; all the tried and trusted trademarks that have made the line so popular- wildly so over the last few years- will be present, with some subtle fine tuning, to provide what will be a truly remarkable ship. The claim that she will be ‘the most luxurious ship in the world’ can be taken with a pinch of salt, though as a statement of aspiration, it’s entirely understandable.
And the opposition might have something to say about that, too. No doubt Crystal Cruises, who have finally announced a long awaited, third vessel, will do so in it’s usual, subtly elegant style. This is possibly the most eagerly awaited new ship of them all.
Little has been said about her but, like the Seven Seas Explorer, I expect that she will represent evolution rather than a seismic shift from the beautiful, highly personalised style of voyaging that Crystal does so well. For sure, we may well see larger cabins and suites, perhaps an extra deck, and one or more new eateries. But essentially, I think the as yet un-named vessel will represent gracious, genteel expansion and emphasis of the current Crystal philosophy. I certainly hope so.
Thus it is against the backdrop of these splendid new competitors that Silversea, after a long period of deliberation, has finally gone for a new ship, too. And anyone who thinks that the line will sit quietly back and play second fiddle to any competitor in the luxury market does not understand the basic ethos of Silversea, which is always about being, quite simply, the very best.
This exciting trio of vessels will take six star cruising into the next realm. Each will be a spectacular, floating fantasy island, swathed in sybaritic levels of luxury that few land based hotels can get near.
So, who will be the real winner in this glorious, gilded maritime equivalent of an arms race?
Quite simply, the customer.