Silversea Cruises has become the latest cruise line to abruptly change a planned season of cruises with the news this week that it will cancel Prince Albert II's inaugural series of French Polynesia-based sailings. It had planned to begin six month's worth of voyages from there in March. Instead, the ship will return to the Arctic to spend the warm weather months, such as they are.
The luxury line's change of plans bucks the tradition of cementing itineraries at least a year in advance -- and then pretty much sticking to them. Silversea is the first mainstream luxury line to make what is considered to be a relatively last-minute change, but other lines have made similarly abrupt redeployments. Carnival, for instance, this fall replaced Carnival Liberty's summer 2009 European season with a stint in the Caribbean, and it moved up by four months its previously announced redeployment of Carnival Pride from Long Beach to Baltimore. Celebrity Cruises has put a halt on its Australia/New Zealand 2009 - 2010 cruises, and American Safari, a boutique line specializing in soft adventure trips, opted out of its plan to offer winter cruises in Hawaii this year.
In Silversea's case, what is more perplexing than its change of mind this week is the idea that Prince Albert II, an ice-rated expedition ship with no pool and only a handful of cabins with private balconies would be a good choice in the tropical South Pacific in the first place.
Silversea has said that it will offer a full refund to passengers who booked cruises during Prince Albert II's maiden Tahiti season or offer an extra 10 percent discount on a 2009 voyage on any of Silversea's ships. Upping the ante, the line has also said that affected travelers can get a 20 percent discount on two Silver Shadow sailings in the South Pacific.
After its current season of Antarctica and South America voyages, Prince Albert II will reposition to the U.K. in March to visit the Channel Islands, Scotland and Ireland. It will launch its "new" season of Arctic cruises on June 1 with seven-night sailings to Svalbard or Greenland and 10- to 16-night, more in-depth explorations of the Arctic lands. Central and South America itineraries are scheduled for the fall. Silversea's Web site is currently showing itinerary details for Prince Albert II's summer Arctic and fall Central and South America cruises, but it is missing details for spring repositioning cruises from South America to the U.K. and fall repositioning cruises between Canada and the Caribbean.
--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor, and Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
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Silversea Latest to Announce Abrupt Redeployments
November 20, 2008