She’s Italian, so it is not surprising that she is easily excited, gesticulating each point she emphasizes.
This week, however, Silversea Cruises gave Selvaggia Rimoldi, cruise consultant on Silver Cloud, something to get excited about: the most significant savings she’s seen come across her desk during her six years with the company.
Silversea only yesterday rolled out “unprecedented” 60 percent savings for 2010 voyages, plus free air. The luxury operator calls the promotion the “biggest savings incentive in its history.” But is 60 percent off really significant? Or is it just a marketing gimmick designed to make people feel they are saving big? The truth is not as apparent as it may seem, and the answer falls somewhere in the middle.
“Before we had the Silver Savings with up to 50 percent off, but only on select voyages,” Selvaggia remarks in Italianized English that is as much song as conversation. “The new offer is on every single voyage – a 60 percent savings – with air included.”
As an example, Selvaggia ran the numbers to calculate the savings on a 2010 voyage on Silver Spirit, which will begin service in December. The total per-diem came to $400 per person for the nine-night voyage from Barbados to Fort Lauderdale: $3680 per person with all port charges, taxes and air included.
That $400 per person/per day does not seem at all pricey when you consider that luxury cruises once commanded per diems of $700 or more per person/day. Plus, Silversea’s new fare is air-inclusive. Moreover, $400 per day could represent a good value when you consider that it also includes complimentary beverages served throughout the ship – including fine wines, spirits and champagnes, in-suite bar and refrigerator stocked with your preferred beverage selections, open-seating dining, 24-hour complimentary room service, and all on-board gratuities.
Checking another cruise, Selvaggia ran the numbers to compare rates in one of her favorite cruising regions, Rome to Venice, during one of the priciest times of the season and again on the new Silver Spirit. With the savings, the fare came to $4,770 per person with air and other charges included. You can take an $800 air credit if you choose to use frequent-flier mileage or book your own air. Taking the air credit would bring the cruise-only rate to $3,970. “It’s unbelievable,” Selvaggia says.
There is no question that Silversea is competing in a tough economy at a time when it and competitor Seabourn are bringing additional capacity into the market. And while some would question the logic of a 60 percent reduction across the board, reminding people of the savings is probably a good idea at a time when consumers are extra careful about how they are spending discretionary dollars. An easier way of doing the math and save some ink would be to publish fares that are only 40 percent of the total of what Silversea would like to receive.
There are additional savings that you will not find in the brochures. Booking on board with Selvaggia and her colleagues saves you an additional 5 percent. And if you’re a Venetian Society member, you can save up to 75 percent off published rates.
A real savings? For those who have the time and the money, absolutely.
Following is the fine print and a few other sample savings provided by Silversea.
The free air package is available from 22 gateway cities in the U.S. and Canada on most voyages in 2010 (excluding expedition cruises). It is a capacity-controlled program valid only for new bookings made by December 31, 2009. Additionally, there are specially priced air programs available from another 50 cities.
- AFRICA: Silver Wind’s January 23, 10-day cruise (#2003) sailing roundtrip from Cape Town with calls in East London, Maputo, Richard’s Bay, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Mossel Bay. Silver Savings fares start at $4,238 per person, including roundtrip air.
- CARIBBEAN: Silver Shadow’s March 30, 7-day cruise (#3007) sailing roundtrip from Barbados with calls in St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Bart’s, Tortola and Bequia. Silver Savings fares start at $2,758 per person, including roundtrip air.
- FAR EAST: Silver Whisper’s February 5, 9-day cruise (#4003) from Singapore to Hong Kong with calls in Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Hue/Danang (port of Chan May), Ha Long Bay and Haiphong. Silver Savings fares start at $4,918 per person, including roundtrip air.
- MEDITERRANEAN: Silver Spirit’s May 29, 7-day cruise (#5015) from Rome to Venice with calls in Sorrento, Sicily, Kotor and Dubrovnik. Silver Savings fares start at $4,358 per person, including roundtrip air.
- SOUTH AMERICA: Silver Cloud’s February 4, 8-day cruise (#1003) from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro with calls in Punta del Este, Itajai, Sao Paulo (port of Santos) and Parati. Silver Savings fares start at $4,238 per person, including roundtrip air.
All fares listed above are per person based on double occupancy for a Vista Suite and do not include port charges and handling fees that can range from $100 to $275 per person on these sailings, depending on the itinerary. (Note, Selvaggia’s calculations include port charges and handling fees.)