When Silversea Cruises was launched by the Italian Lefebvre family 25 years ago, the line consisted of one ship, the 254-passenger, all-suite Silver Cloud. It was christened in Monaco, Silversea's headquarters, in the presence of Prince Albert II, and is still going strong today as a fully converted member of Silversea's Expedition fleet.
Silversea now runs a fleet of nine – five "classic" ships and four expedition vessels – and has five more on order. The company employs more than 2500 onboard crew and land-based staff and prides itself on its sense of family. Fifteen Silversea workers have been with the line since its inception.
Guests are equally loyal. The Venetian Society, which guests can join after taking one cruise, has 490,000 members and one of them has clocked up 2280 days sailing with Silversea. Fernando Barroso de Oliveira, the Chairman's Ambassador to the Venetian Society, said guests often ask which captain or crew members will be on a voyage before booking.
"A very important part of my job is to socialise with our guests and I have developed strong bonds," he said. "In fact, many guests have come to stay with my family and me in Portugal over the past 25 years, and I have stayed with them. For me, it's easy to understand why Silversea is so special to so many people: friendliness, luxury, and service."
Next year, Silver Origin will set sail in the Galapagos archipelago and Silver Moon, a sister to flagship Silver Muse, is due in August. As executive chairman Manfredi Lefebvre says, "This is just the beginning."
VIKING'S NEW MIX
Viking has launched seven new ocean cruise itineraries in Australia, Asia, India, the Middle East and Europe. Departing in January, February, March, April and May 2021 and ranging from 22 to 40 days in length, these diverse, open-jaw itineraries will allow guests the opportunity to explore an unusual mix of destinations such as India, Oman and Egypt; or Australia, Cambodia and the Philippines, on one voyage. Book before August 31, 2019 and save up to $1000 per couple, plus receive flights from $395 per person, one way. See vikingcruises.com.au
MARDI GRAS DELIGHT
Visit New Orleans at the height of its famous Mardi Gras festival next February on an eight-night river cruise from New Orleans to Memphis. The American Queen Steamboat Company's American Queen cruise includes a day and night in the Big Easy before it heads north on the mighty Mississippi, calling at historic river towns and plantation mansions. The 436-passenger paddle-wheeler is the largest river steamboat built and while it looks like an original American Victorian vessel, it is equipped with all the mod cons. Book by December 31, 2019 to save up to US$2000 per couple. See cruisetraveller.com.au
WINDSTAR DOWN UNDER
Boutique small-ship line Windstar Cruises is sailing in Australia and New Zealand for the first time in 2020-21. The newly stretched and refurbished 312-passenger Star Breeze will offer nine departures between November 2020 and February 2021 and guests will be able to sample the line's new Signature Expeditions. This program delivers small-scale expedition-style adventures – kayaking, Zodiac trips, hikes – led by the onboard expedition team. Windstar's 148-passenger motor-sailing ship Wind Spirit, currently based year-round in French Polynesia, will also visit Australia in 2020 on four cruises between February and June. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Which Australian city is getting a new, $158 million cruise terminal next year? Last week's answer: The Galapagos Islands
TAKE STUFF ANYWHERE
Ultra-Sil lightweight, durable Dry Sacks are waterproof bags with a roll-top closure that prevents water from getting inside – ideal for protecting your camera, smartphone or extra clothing when you're on a kayaking trip, Zodiac ride or going anywhere your stuff is likely to get wet. You can also use the containers as toiletry, laundry or shoe bags and packing organisers. Available in seven sizes, from $13.95 (1-litre) to $39.95 (35-litre). See travelgear.com.au
WARREN FAHEY, ELIZABETH BAY, NSW
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN 70-plus and still counting.
LAST CRUISE Earlier this year I joined Seabourn Sojourn for a Gems of Asia itinerary starting in Singapore and heading east to Cambodia, Vietnam, Sanya, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and then back across to Shanghai. It was good to have overnights in Saigon and Hong Kong and we made the best of the opportunities to explore the nightlife in these culturally rich cities.
NEXT CRUISE I am a big fan of cruising over the Christmas and New Year period, and this December we will join Seabourn Ovation for a 14-day circuit of Asia. This time it's more about the onboard life, holiday celebrations and my birthday.
DREAM SHIP Small enough to be friendly and large enough to be fully serviced. I find Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas deliver on both fronts and I am a sucker for their all-inclusive luxury. Most attractive are 450 to 750-passenger ships and, of course, the professionalism and enthusiasm of staff who are determined to make your journey a wonderful experience.
DREAM CRUISE Although I travel extensively, I still haven't made it to the very top or very bottom of the world. The Arctic and Antarctic await me.
DREAM PORT There are so many memorable port experiences. Montenegro, Dubrovnik and Split always thrill, but I'll say magical Istanbul on the Bosphorus.
BEST CRUISE TIP Leave all your mental baggage at the dock and go with the flow.
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