Over the past few years, we’ve seen sweeping corporate consolidation across industries from tech to media and television. The hotel industry hasn’t been immune to mergers, either (hello, Marriott and Starwood). Now, cruising has its own corporate marriage to celebrate—one worth approximately $2 billion. Royal Caribbean Cruises, which operates Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises, now has a fourth brand to add to its portfolio: Silversea. Owned by Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre, the Italian company operates in the luxury and expedition cruise space, an area that Royal Caribbean was looking to enter. The deal is expected to close later this year.
“Our focus at Royal Caribbean is that the brands should be at the top of the market segment,” Chairman and CEO Richard Fain told DEPARTURES. “And Silversea is simply without a doubt the best at what it does in ultra-luxury and expedition cruising. And for us to be able to be a part of that success is a thrill to me.”
Added Lefebvre, whose father founded Silversea in 1994: “I respect Richard, and we’ve always worked well together. The potential of Silversea is far superior to where it was in the market. I realized that by partnering with Royal Caribbean, it would allow Silversea to grow more—and faster.”
Silversea currently has nine all-suite ships in its fleet, four of which are categorized as expedition vessels. These intimate ships, which range in size from 100 to 254 passengers, sailing to destinations such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Micronesia, and the Galápagos. As travelers seek to go further afield, they are increasingly looking for cruise ships to take them to these exotic places—albeit in the height of comfort. Silver Cloud Expedition, an older Silversea ship that just went through a complete remodel, runs voyages to Antarctica. Guests can set out on Zodiacs to see penguins, but they can also return after a day of excursions to martinis in the Panorama Lounge and grilled lobster at a Relais & Chateaux-approved restaurant.
Both executives stressed that there would be cost-synergies involved with the partnership, particularly in sourcing food and supplies. And as Silversea looks to expand and build more ships, there is now more capital to do so. But another benefit for travelers is the exposure to something new: a loyal Silversea couple may decide to take their grandkids on a Royal Caribbean cruise, where there are Broadway-style shows and surf simulators. Or a Royal Caribbean client may be inspired to try an expedition voyage with Silversea. “It opens up new worlds, both ways,” added Fain.