This year marks a milestone in luxury cruising. It is the 25th anniversary of Silversea Cruises, the company that pioneered the ultra-luxury experience at sea.
Today Silversea are renowned for their luxurious cruise ships. They offer an all-inclusive lifestyle with gourmet restaurants, resort-like amenities and impeccable service.
However, as Silversea mark the silver jubilee it is worth remembering that it is the unique experiences they offer that set them apart. Silversea visit more destinations than any other cruise line and they offer an unrivalled program of destination immersion and cultural connection. For Silversea, experiences are the new luxury.
Where it all began
It all started with the dream of an Italian shipping entrepreneur in the 1980’s. Antonio Lefebvre d’Ovidio was a maritime lawyer who owned cargo ships and ferries that sailed the Adriatic. He had the idea to create a new class of cruise ship. These cruise ships would be more intimate and luxurious than anything the World had ever seen.
On 30 May 1994 his dream came true with the launch of Silver Cloud. The Italian-built cruise ship set a new standard for luxury cruising. Indeed, Silver Cloud offered guests an unparalleled level of personal space with all-suite accommodation. In fact, almost every suite also had a private teak veranda.
The 298-guest Silver Cloud was also the World’s first all-inclusive cruise ship. For the first time, fine wines and champagne, gourmet meals, gratuities and port charges were all included in the cruise fare.
Indeed, it was a revolution in luxury cruising overseen by Antonio’s son, Manfredi Lefebvre. Manfredi had been involved in the family businesses from an early age. But by this stage he was managing Silversea’s ship operations. Within just a few years Manfredi would become chairman of Silversea Cruises.
The blue-water growth of Silversea
A year later Silversea launched a second ship named Silver Wind. She was almost identical to Silver Cloud and today is as popular as ever.
By the turn of the century two larger cruise ships were ordered – Silver Whisper and Silver Shadow. These sister-ships each carried an additional 90-guests, however they retained the intimate, club-like atmosphere for which Silversea was now famous.
The blue-water Silversea fleet continued to grow with the launch of the 556-guest Silver Spirit in 2009. The cruise ship was famously cut-in-half and lengthened in 2018, adding space for an extra 52 guests.
Silver Muse debuted in 2017. The flagship of the Silversea fleet raised the bar for luxury cruising once more. It offered additional dining venues and even more personal space.
In fact, Silver Muse was so well received it prompted the multi-million dollar ‘Musification’ of the entire fleet.
Two more vessels are set to enter the Silversea blue-water fleet by 2021. Named Silver Moon and Silver Dawn, they will be almost the same as the immensely popular Silver Muse.
Silversea Expeditions in luxury
While the blue-water fleet took off the team at Silversea saw another opportunity – luxury expedition cruising. Indeed, Silversea charted a pioneering course here too.
The first Silversea Expeditions vessel was Silver Explorer. The ice-class ship was launched in 2008. It pushed the boundaries of discovery in Antarctica, the West Coast of Africa and the Russian Arctic.
Silver Galapagos and Silver Discoverer joined the fleet in 2013 and 2014 respectively. As we’ve reported, the ultra-luxurious Silver Origin will join the Silversea Expeditions fleet in 2020.
Silvesea Expeditions now take guests to the most remote and rarely visited places on Earth. These lucky cruisers see remarkable wildlife and spectacular landscapes. It’s the ultimate luxury cruising experience.
A loyal following
Today Silversea have a loyal following. Indeed, Silversea guests return time-after-time and the cruise line actively fosters a family-like atmosphere onboard each of their luxurious cruise ships.
According to Silversea, their most loyal guests have each accumulated more than 2,300 sailing days. That equates to almost 7-years spent aboard Silversea’s vessels.
Smooth sailing for Silversea
When Silversea Cruises commenced operations it had just 25 employees. By 2018 there were over 2,500 employees – including crew and land-based employees in offices around the world.
The family-owned company had come a long way. Indeed, rumours swirled around the industry of potential takeover suitors.
In 2018 Manfredi Lefebvre agreed to sell a 66.7% stake in his company to Royal Caribbean. The deal was worth approximately US$1-billion. The new partnership enabled Silversea to realise its expansion plans. It also ensured Manfredi stayed on as Executive Chairman of Silversea to guide the company.
Manfredi Lefebvre acknowledged the Silversea silver jubilee yesterday. “I feel so proud when I consider what we have achieved in 25 years. From just one ship in 1994 to a fleet of nine vessels with at least five to come, we will soon realise the vision set out by my father when he brought innovation to our industry and founded our cruise line.”
As Silversea continue to push the boundaries of luxury travel it safe to assume that this is just the beginning.