December 17, 2002
Silversea’s first foray into resort-style cruise scheduling, an experiment with only one ship -- and which isn’t even slated to debut until February -- has already been so successfully received that the company is expanding ”Personalized Voyages” fleet-wide. “Personalized Voyages” is available for cruises beginning on various February dates on Silver Cloud, Silver Whisper and Silver Shadow; the program will begin in June on Silver Wind, which has been placed in dry dock until the beginning of the Mediterranean season. The concept is pretty simple. Travelers can pick and choose (almost any) part of any itinerary rather than be limited to a set schedule. For instance, Silver Cloud’s 10-night Bridgetown-to-Barbados itinerary (departing March 3) can be tweaked based on passengers’ individual schedules. Travelers can opt to embark, for instance, in Curacao (day two of the voyage) and disembark at St. Barthelemy (day nine) -- or choose any other combination -- rather than sail the entire ten-day journey to San Juan. The only caveat: passengers must book a five-day minimum. Pricing-wise, Silversea is keeping fares simple for “Personalized Voyages” bookings, setting a rate that begins at $595 (per day, per person, based on double occupancy) for a “vista” and $695 for a balcony. Just multiply the daily fare against days onboard. That price includes gratuities and port charges (though not airfare, hotel stays and transfers). Folks who opt for the more flexible “personalized voyages” choice do end up paying a slight premium (the ten day traditional-style cruise starts at $4,495 and includes air, a hotel stay and transfers, which works out to something less than a per diem of $450 per person). Still, believe it or not -- and we didn’t until we checked it out -- Silversea’s “Personalized Voyages” program represents a veritable bargain for luxury seekers wanting more flexibility than usually offered by traditional cruise lines. Comparable-style land resorts during the same prime time season in the Caribbean are charging pretty lofty tariffs; Barbados’ Sandy Lane offers room rates that begin at $900 while St. Barthelemy’s Le Toiny starts at $740. While these land rates are per room (not per person), it should be noted: they do not include Silversea’s notorious extras -- meals, open bar, and entertainment -- not to mention the opportunity to “island-hop” in comfort.