ULTRA-LUXURY Silversea Cruises hops to boost passenger traffic from the UAE, and later, the Middle East, following a recent agreement with its general sales agent Dnata, says the company’s Sergio Dell’Acqua.
He estimates that 500 passengers from the region – or one per cent of capacity – would be an achievable target for 2007. “Sixty per cent of people cruising with us come back for another trip, so once we reach a certain critical level, the market will grow itself.”
Besides stopping at various spots in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and at Dubai in the UAE, the company will make an inaugural call in Bahrain next year. Silversea’s 2007 schedule has been released and the company has started taking bookings for next year. “Our 2006 schedule is almost full,” says Dell’Acqua.
The region offers a large potential for the cruise market, he says, and market penetration will be aided by a change in perception. “A lot of people still see ships as a means of transportation, and believe that a cruise is a week or two on the open sea, when in fact, every two days you’re visiting a new country. In monetary terms, the Middle East is a big market for us, but there is no cruising culture here. So we are working closely with our GSA Dnata on strategies to increase travellers from the Middle East,” says Dell’Acqua.
And then of course, there is the myth that cruising is for retirees. “The average age of cruise travellers is dropping as people realise they can visit at least three countries on a cruise and not have to worry about mounting incremental expenses on all-inclusive packages like ours,” he says. Silversea’s target passenger, he says is the high-level, high net-worth couple aged between 45 and 50 years of age.
Besides the all-inclusive rate, what sets Silversea apart, he says, is the ship size. The company’s smaller vessels, with their capacity around the 300 mark, can easily enter and dock at ports, whilst creating a camaraderie among passengers.
In 2007, Silversea is offering its most diverse collection of worldwide itineraries with a record number of 350 destinations on 137 different itineraries ranging from six to 126 days. Calling in nearly 120 countries, the line’s four award-winning, all-suite ships will visit 29 new ports in an exciting year of firsts, including the company's long-anticipated first world cruise to completely circle the globe.
Besides Manama in Bahrain, in the Middle East and Indian Ocean, inaugural ports of call are Latakia in Syria,and Tulear in Madagascar and Curieuse in the Seychelles, while Pare Pare, Indonesia and Guangzhou, China will debut in the Far East. Other new destinations include Antibes and Cherbourg in France, Sibenik in Croatia, Oye in Norway, Lulea and Ornskoldsvik in Sweden, Oban in Scotland and Plymouth in England. The line will also debut new island destinations in the South Pacific.
The company offers guests large-ship amenities aboard four intimate vessels, Silver Shadow, Silver Cloud, Silver Wind and Silver Whisper.
Other attractions next year include the company’s first world cruise, romantic tours across Italy, golf cruises and nearly 40 cruises in the Mediterranean.