Special Report: ‘Silver Cloud is given a new lease of life’

Special Report: ‘Silver Cloud is given a new lease of life’

Silversea’s newly refurbished expedition ship was put through its paces last week. Harry Kemble reports from Uruguay

The multimillion-pound refurbishment of Silver Cloud has extended the ship’s life by 10 years, according to the chairman of operator Silversea.

Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio said the ship needed to be updated to keep “loyal” customers sailing with the luxury cruise line.

In August, Silver Cloud went into drydock in the Palumbo shipyard in Malta for a $40 million revamp to transform it into a polar-class ship – one of four Silversea expedition vessels.

Speaking to Travel Weekly on Silver Cloud’s shakedown cruise from Montevideo to Buenos Aires, Lefebvre d’Ovidio said: “The refurbishment has given her a new life. The work we have done on this ship has extended her life by 10 years.

“It is a rejuvenated ship not only in looks, but how it is. It has increased its capabilities and can go everywhere in the world. It is a super ship.

“Some loyal guests have told me they love Silversea cruises because they love to travel in comfort, but they had not seen many of the destinations they wanted to visit on Silversea itineraries.

“Now they can go on a ship that can get them to new destinations such as Antarctica.”

Silver Cloud is now Silversea’s largest expedition vessel, with capacity for 200 passengers.

The ship has undergone several changes including the installation of thermal and sonar navigation equipment, the addition of 16 Zodiacs and the opening of a spa and photo studio.

Lefebvre d’Ovidio said the market had “responded very well” since Silver Cloud’s itineraries were announced.

Following the shakedown cruise Silver Cloud travelled to Antarctica via Ushuaia from Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Lefebvre d’Ovidio revealed he hoped to expand Silversea’s fleet to “at least 12” vessels.

After signing a £277 million contract with Fincantieri Shipyard in Italy the line has options to build two more 600-passenger ships.

He said: “The reason why we have an option is because our intention is to fulfil it. It is something we are looking to do.”

Russia, Nepal and Mongolia head for Couture Collection

Silversea is looking to expand its pre and post-cruise programme in Russia, Nepal and Mongolia.

Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio and expeditions director Conrad Combrink will visit destinations in the three countries in May 2018 with American photographer Steve McCurry.

If they are deemed suitable they will be added to the line’s top-of-the-range Couture Collection, which was unveiled in October. It offers bespoke land and ocean ‘adventures’ for the most discerning travellers.

Combrink confirmed the Couture Collection’s deployment for 2019 would be finalised in the first half of 2018.

He said: “The Couture Collection is distinctly different from any pre or post-cruise programme other brands offer.

“We think it is going to appeal to the market. We think it is a different approach.”

Lefebvre d’Ovidio said: “We want innovation – things that stimulate your curiosity and your interest to learn when you are on vacation.”

Silverseas prefers to build but could buy

Silversea has not ruled out buying a smaller cruise line as it looks to grow the fleet to “at least 12 ships”.

Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio said it was the wish of his dying father, who previously owned Silversea.

However, he said he would prefer to grow the fleet by building ships rather than buying other companies or their vessels.

“We can outgrow the market by building better ships and having better marketing,” he said.

“If something comes along and we think it is better to do this by acquisition, then maybe, but we cannot do everything.”

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