Mega cruise line teams up with small luxury operator

Royal Caribbean Ltd. buys big stake in Silversea Cruises

Patti Pietschmann 

dd18c-muse
Silver Muse joined Silversea fleet in April 2017 two sister ships are on the horizon

Although some insiders suspected that small, luxury ship operator Silversea was ups for grabs, he news last week  that giant cruise ship operator RCCL was buying a major stake in the little luxury line, sent shock waves through the cruise industry. 

What’s happening, pending approval from various sources, is Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is buying a 66.7% stake in Silversea Cruises–the tony cruise line that operates intimate luxury liners and expedition ships designed for discerning seafarers.

Royal Caribbean’s stake has an enterprise value of somewhere between one and two billion dollars depending on your source. The purchase price of the equity being acquired is approximately $1 billion. RCL plans to finance the purchase through debt.

In addition, Silversea chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio will qualify for an estimated contingent consideration of approximately 472,000 RCL shares, payable upon achievement of certain 2019-2020 performance metrics.

 

“Silversea is a crown jewel, and the acknowledged leader in luxury and expedition cruising, two key markets that are poised for growth,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Uniting our two companies presents an extraordinary opportunity to expand vacation options for guests and create revenue in strategic growth areas.” Fain added: “We are proud to welcome aboard Manfredi Lefebvre, a visionary leader whose high standards and history of innovation we deeply respect. Manfredi will remain Executive Chairman of Silversea, continuing to lead its strategy long term.”

 

“This partnership will bolster the growth of this exceptional brand founded by my father,” said Lefebvre. “I have always been kindred spirits with Richard and we share a vision of offering excellence and leadership to our guests. This new partnership gives Silversea the opportunity to accelerate the growth of the most successful luxury and expedition cruising brand in the world.” The strategic rationale for the partnership includes:

  • Driving long-term capacity growth in the burgeoning luxury and expedition segments at a much larger scale than what Silversea would achieve independently;
  • Diversifying Royal Caribbean’s portfolio and increasing its expedition offerings by adding a premiere ultra-luxury brand;
  • Leveraging the global footprint of the combined companies to generate demand and increase vacation and destination options for the guests of both companies;
  • Realizing significant synergies related to global market access, supply chain, purchasing power and other economies of scale.
     

Lefebvre said he is confident that the significant investment stake he is retaining will sizably increase its value through the growth this long-term partnership will enable.

 

Lefebvre and Fain also confirmed that Silversea’s CEO Roberto Martinoli will continue in his role, working with the existing Silversea management team.

 

Silversea’s sterling fleet covers the world sailing to more than 1000 global destinations. The company’s  unique luxury expedition vessels add a pioneering ultra-luxury brand to RCL’s industry-leading brand lineup.

RCL’s largest brand, Royal Caribbean International, is a contemporary brand focused on adventure-seeking families, Celebrity Cruises is a premium brand providing a modern luxury experience to discerning global travelers, and Azamara Club Cruises is a destination immersive brand offering luxury voyages to unique ports. The company also operates the regional TUI Cruises and Pullmantur brands as part of long-term joint ventures.

The closing is expected to be completed later in the year, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval.


Some of Silversea’s shining ships

For more about Silversea click www.silversea.com. You can also find many articles about its ships on this blog or at www.cruiseable.com and  https://pattipietschmannthecruiseguru.blogspot.com/2018/03/silver-muse-launches-new-chapter-for.html


Royal Caribbean International
 is a cruise line brand founded in Norway and based in Miami, Florida, United States. It is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.As of May 2018, the line is operating 27 ships, has five additional ships on order, and controls 21.9% of the cruise market worldwide.[3] All ships under the Royal Caribbean International brand have names ending with “of the Seas” (e.g. Freedom of the Seas) a practice which began in 1991.

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Tourism hit hard by the volcano but life goes on in Hawaii

 

No cause for alarm is you remain under the radar or

Under the volcano

While the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau continues to assure visitors of their safety and aggressively communicate that the Kilauea activity is limited to the summit and a very small part of the island of Hawaii – less than 10 square miles. There is still much concern for people in the affected area. However it is safe to visit the island of Hawaii and all the other Hawaiian Islands. For the most up-to-date informationcheck: www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/news/special-alert/.

What’s more some travelers have canceled their visits  or cruises, or are considering doing so.  But it really is only that small area that’s affected, although fall  out of ashes is seen in Kona and as far away as Maui. Never the less, life goes on and Hawaii remains a tropical paradise  of sand, surf, palm  trees, restaurants and Aloha spirit.

The good news is that Norwegian Caribbean has resumed its Pride of America cruises to all Big Island ports.  So think carefully before skipping that trip or voyage.

Oh how cruise industry has changed since the 1990’s

What a difference decades have made on cruise styles

 Patti Covello Pietschmann

Silversea  helped redefine luxury cruises in 1994
Silver Muse debuted in 2017 raising the bar higher on  top of the line cruising
The following article, by me, was published in 1992, just after Crystal Cruises (1990)  and before Silversea Cruises (1990  redefined luxury cruises.  Many of the ships and cruise lines are long gone, but it is interesting to read about cruises back in the day…..so much has changed. There are now more balconies, freebies such as your tips, drinks, WiFi, higher standards but it was still fun to cruise….


Top Ships For Cabins, Food, Fitness And More Cruising  published April 05, 1992 |By Patti Covello Pietschmann. Special to the Tribune.

Once upon a time, back in the 1990s, a savvy seafarer set out in search of the best cruise ship. Not an easy task, considering the number of passenger vessels, around 150 at last count, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Relentless in his quest for quality, this seafarer (hereafter to be called S.S.) booked voyages on dozens of luxury liners. She scrutinized each ship from stern to bow, top deck to lower, outside cabins and suites to below- waterline closets that pass as berths.

From ship to ship S.S. searched until she could no longer stand to elbow her way through another midnight buffet, watch one more magician pull a rabbit out of a hat, listen to another off-key singer belt out oldies or endure one more washed-up comic trying to revive his career. When her mission was accomplished, S.S. concluded that while all cruise ships had something going for them, some did a few things better than others. Eager to share the knowledge with other potential seafarers, S.S. jotted down a few important categories (such as food) and matched them with the ships that excel in each.


In this old Chicago Trib piece the S.S. went public in this exclusive Savvy Seafarer`s Somewhat Scientific Ship Survey:

The best nautical cuisine (remember we’re talking the 1990’s

Sure there`s always plenty of chow on a cruise, but only a handful of galleys dish out the quality fare of a Crystal Harmony (Crystal Cruises), Sea Goddesses I and II (Cunard), Seabourn Pride and Seabourn Spirit (Seabourn), Wind Star and Wind Song (Windstar Sail Cruises) or Song of Flower (Seven Seas Cruises). We`re talking tasty, creative, beautiful dishes designed for discerning palates, gourmets, gastronomes, foodies who know their way around quail soup, pheasant and foie gras.

Also recommended: Paquet`s Mermoz (for fabulous French Provencal food); Alas this line has since bit the dust, but it was wonderful.

Princess Cruises` Star Princess, Crown Princess and Regal Princess for homemade pasta dishes, Royal Cruise Line`s Golden Odyssey and Crown Odyssey`s Greek salads and entrees and Holland America for its fresh fish and outstanding pastries.

Most civilized meal hours (This has completely changed with many lines now offering dine when you like options and/or reserved or open seating alternative dining venues)

Usually you have only one choice in this matter: early sitting (6:30 p.m.) or late (between 8 and 8:45 p.m.). The savvy seafarer just hates that. If you feel the same way, these are the ships best suited to your taste:

Sea Goddesses I and II (now under the SeaDream Yachts moniker), Wind Song, Wind Star, Wind Spirit, Seabourn Pride and Spirit (expanded in several more ships such as Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn EncoreSeabourn Quest, Seabourn Ovation) , Club Med 1 and Seven Seas Cruises` (now Regernt Seven Seas) Song of Flower and Crystal Harmony. If you don`t feel like going to the dining room, you can have a full-course meal served in your stateroom, and, in most cases, in courses.

Dawning of a more deluxe era with Seabourn Encore in the 2000’s

While the late great Crystal Harmony had two seatings in the main dining room, passengers had the option of dining at two other restaurants between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Today’s Crystal Cruises swank ships Symphony and Serenity have open seating and alternative  dining choices in an Italian, Asian and continental restaurants).

Classiest cruise ship

Back then it the 900- passengers Crystal Harmony since replaced by Crystal Serenity and Symphony. Most cabins on both boast balconies, free WiFi, spacious sitting areas, twin beds that convert to queen or king, mini-fridges, upscale toiletries, terry robes and round-the-clock room service. Bulters man accommodations on Penthouse decks.

In the small-ship division, it doesn`t get much better than Silversea’s fleet of fancy vessels:  Seabourn`s equally elegant chic offerings, Regent Seven Seas and for an amazing sailing experience  Windstar Sail Cruises four-masted, 440-foot sailing ships sport diving platforms and luxurious staterooms.

There was also the now defunct fledgling Song of Flower, (former Explorer Starship until Japanese-owned Seven Seas Cruises bought and renovated it), has garnered rave reviews since its debut a year ago. The 172-passenger luxury liner has a crew of 144 along with outside staterooms that range from 183 to 258 square feet. Ten larger suites (321 square feet) have private verandas and another 10 have 398 square feet.

Tops in entertainment

I wrote back then that this area is in dire need of improvement on most ships. Too often the

Gregory Porter performed  outstandingly on  QM2  last fall

“talent“ just doesn’t have any. I can’t tell  you how many shows we walked out of in the past (1990s).  But today’s another story with class acts appearing on Princess, Crystal Cruises, Cunard especially QM2 crossings, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas. Even Carnival’s gotten more into the act.

Back in the day my  exceptions included the SS Norway, a luxury liner that housed the Saga Theater, the best Broadway-style theater at sea and presented a floating jazz festival each fall. That year the 10th Annual Floating Jazz Festival took place Oct. 24-31 featuring 65 performers-among them: Dorothy Donegan Trio, Anita O`Day, Gary Burton and His Quintet and a special trio of Ed Higgins, Keter Betts and Jackie Williams.

Free-flowing booze and wine was pretty much a dream in the 1990’s but is now  a reality on Silversea, Seabourn, Crystal, Regent Seven Seas and SeaDream with lines like Viking Cruises offering complimentary beer and wine with lunch and dinner.  Even Champagne is free on Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal.

The then most exciting ship on the horizon was SSC Radisson Diamond, a twin-hulled, 354-passenger catamaran-like, hi-tech, knocked-your-socks-off , Today’s most exciting new launch to look forward to is Celebrity Edge which debuts with a blast in December 2018.

Shopping  has now  gone overboard on many ships with glitzy boutiques purveying high-priced goods, but back then the glitziest lobby/shopping arcades were  on Crystal Harmony`s showstopping Crystal Plaza atrium features glass sculpture, a waterfall and the 3,000-square-foot Avenue of the Stars shopping arcade. Princess Cruises` Crown and Regal`s three-story atrium lobby with its circle staircase and fountain sculpture is topped by a two-level Galleria shopping arcade. The Star Princess Plaza, another three-story affair, has a vivid kinetic sculputure with a circular staircase leading to shops and restaurants.

Boffo cinemas in the 1990s  for late run movies  was Crystal Harmony`s 270-seat Hollywood Theatre and the Star, Regal, Royal and Crown Princess theaters are some of the most comfortable and also offer the best sound systems and wide screens. Today Princess show films on a behemoth screen over the pool and in the theater. Crystal continues to run new releases, too, in its theaters.

Best casino bets were on Crystal Harmony`s Caesars Palace at Sea which at the time was  the most authentic Las Vegas-like casino afloat, with a staff direct from the gambling capital of the world. Now Carnival Cruises is king of the gambling game.

Best pools for swimming i the 1990s

Crystal Serenity pool  2016 by Richard Pietschmann
Not all ship pools were made for swimming. Notable exceptions include Carnival`s Ecstasy`s attractive 50- by 16-foot pool, complete with water slide and two Jacuzzis.
The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line`s (RCCL) Monarch of the Seas (to debut in November), Sovereign of the Seas and Majesty feature two 13- by 46-foot pools on deck. Crystal Harmony also has twin pools: the Seahorse, measuring 40 feet long and the 21-foot-long Neptune, an indoor/outdoor arrangement. Princess Cruises` Royal Princess boasts a true lap pool that measures 14 by 33 feet, in addition to its 50 by 16-foot main pool. The main pool on the Star, Crown and Regal Princess sports two Jacuzzis, a swimup bar and measures 18- by 27-feet. On the Crystal Harmony, there are Jacuzzis at either end of the Seahorse pool while the ship`s indoor/outdoor pool (the Neptune) is about 21 feet long and has a swimup bar.

Today best pools are on Silversea Silver Muse and Crystal’s two ships. The water’s inviting also on some of the behemoth builds from NCL, RCL  and Carnival.

Best tipping policy was pretty nebulous back then  and tedious, passengers used to fill envelopes with cash to dole out. Then came automated adding to your shipboard tab and on Crystal,  Silversea, Regent Seven Seas and Seabourn a no tipping policy.

There was little or no WiFi in the early 1990s but now every ship offers it for a fee or free.

Want to read more about cruising in the 1990s? Go here.

A little yacht that feels like a fare floating around Bora Bora

Sailing on the Haumana in like being in a floating fare

Patti Pietschmann

Over water fares in Bora Bora by Richard Pietschmann

Over water bungalows aka: fares, are the preferred accommodations for most people visiting French Polynesia–but they do come with a price. However, it just doesn’t get any better than being able to slip into the water off your porch or view the azure-colored lagoons from your coffee table. Except possibly taking an all-inclusive cruise on a tiny luxury yacht from beautiful Bora Bora. The fares start at $1,800 a person for three nights accommodations, all meals, a selection of free wines, a half-day excursion to Taha’a, the Vanilla Island; and activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, a barbeque on a motu and other aquatic and cultural experiences. It may sound steep, but this is quite a bargain when you factor in all the extras.

Otemanu in Bora Bora by Richard Pietschmann

Before we go any farther, let me say that French Polynesia is very expensive and doing it a la carte can break most people’s bank accounts. But this cruise includes all extras so you don’t have to worry that a drink will cost a fortune (it does at some bars) or dinners will be a set back to your kid’s college fun or your mortgage payment.

The little boat follows the routes of the ancient Polynesians and is manned by a 100% Tahitian crew who impart their love of their islands — as well as its music and crafts. Having been to the area many times I can tell you that the food served on the islands is exceptional. After all, it is French Polynesia and the French are fussy about their food. So I believe it when they tell me the chefs do a fabulous job of fixing meals on the Haumana. Obviously I have yet to sample the fare.

The yacht is cozy and comfy more barefoot than spikes and a great way to pay a leisurely visit to the one of the most stunning destinations in the world.

Of course you woudn’t want to fly all the way to French Polynesia just for three nights. There are many hotels from which to choose but be sure to take the American Plan which comes with three meals or the Modified American Plan that comes with two, because as I said, it can be very expensive. Met many unsuspecting couples who wished they have booked their room with meals. One couple was practically living on French bread (which is really crusty and good but not that nutritional) when they realized how expensive lunch and dinner were.

To book your cruise or get meet information click on https://haumana-tahiti.com/en/itineraries/ and to find other packages with hotels and yacht go to https://www.tahititravel.com.au/haumana-poerava-cruise-10-night-package/, You will find one great sounding deal for $7,699 for 10-days all inclusive. After you sample French Polynesia for the first time, you’ll want to go back. Once is never enough in this tropical paradise, trust me.

Tahiti by Richard Pietschmann 

Are you ready to find paradise?

Four faces of food created by clever cruise line chef

 

‘Food Faces’ by Chef Rudi Sodamin of Holland America

Patti Pietschmann

 Foodies and cruise fans have to love this.  Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin just released a coffee table art cookbook called “Food Faces” that  illustrates more than 150 vibrant images of edible creations that display a cast of unforgettable characters expressing a whimsical spectrum of human emotion.

Sodamin, who  began to design and photograph his stylized Food Faces several years ago as a labor of creative love, has since captured hundreds of distinctive characters through his lens. His artistic inspiration comes from culinary ingredients and human expression, and he created each plate personality from food items including vegetables, fruit, meats, fish, grains and sweets.

Fish toast
Sodamin captured the images in his photography studio, working with his perfectionistic approach to bring each piece of art to life, fine-tuning the emotional coloring of each Food Face as he adjusted lighting, depth and focus.

Hair, hair

 

Thomas Keller, chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, wrote the forward to the book saying, “Rudi has a keen eye, playful sensibility and a willingness to let inspiration take him where it will. Rudi puts happiness front and center.” “Rudi is an icon in the cruise industry for his culinary talent and creativity in the kitchen and is regarded as the hospitality industry’s most innovative chef, but today we congratulate him for his innovation as an artist with his beautiful new book,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Rudi is esteemed throughout the world for his passion for his craft and his ability to translate that creative energy into serving thousands of guests each day on our ships. ’Food Faces’ allows people to be inspired by Rudi’s work every day in their homes.”

Holland America passengers that dine in Rudi’s Sel de Mer pop-up restaurant can enjoy his dynamic Food Faces on exclusive limited-edition plates made by Bernardaud, the leading French manufacturer of Limoges porcelain. Each plate charger features a different image from the “Food Faces” book, creating a table setting unlike any found anywhere in the world.

“Food Faces” was published by Welcome Books, an imprint of Rizzoli, and is available for purchase in bookstores nationwide.  Sodamin will be exhibiting his Food Faces art in Miami, Florida, and in Europe in 2018.

For more information on HAL call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (1-877-724-5425) or visit hollandamerica.com.

Star Princess sparkles after her facelift

The 17-year-old liners is all gussied up

Patti Pietschmann

She debut in 2001 weighing in at 109,000 gross tons and passenger capacity of 3,100.  Seventeen years later the  Star Princess has reemerged after a two-week multi-million-dollar renovation that graced her with some of the latest Princess Cruises product innovations and enhancements.  She is now offering  15-day Hawaiian Island cruises roundtrip from Los Angeles and Vancouver through April before heading north to Alaska for the summer. 

“Star Princess now offers many of the signature product innovations our guests have come to love, including the Princess Luxury Bed, Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center and revamped Sabatini’s,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “These enhancements continue our $450 million multi-year ship renovation campaign, ‘Come Back New Promise’, enhancing our onboard guest experience.” 

Some changes and upgrades include:

Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria – the signature specialty restaurant now offers updated décor and a new menu developed in collaboration with Chef Angelo Auriana, Executive Chef and partner at the authentic Italian restaurants, The Factory Kitchen and Officine BRERA, in Los Angeles.  Inspired by fresh Northern Italian flavors the menu features handmade pasta dishes from Chef Auriana, as well as family recipes from Italian Princess executive chefs.

Princess Luxury Bed – available in every stateroom aboard Star Princess, the Princess Luxury Bed was developed by Princess Cruises in collaboration board-certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus and renowned HGTV designer Candice Olson. The bed offers the ultimate night of sleep at sea combining the science of sleep with the pinnacle of design.

Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center – for cruisers ages 3-17, Star Princess now offers a reimagined youth center – Camp Discovery – created in partnership with Discovery Consumer Products, the licensing arm of Discovery Communications™, as part of the cruise line’s Discovery at Sea program. Catering to specific age groups, there are three center themes where kids and teens can make new friends and participate in activities specially designed to help them discover, play, create and huddle.

Enhanced Boutiques  guests will enjoy aesthetic enhancements to the Shops of Princess, offering an upgraded shopping experience, such as a branded Effy Fine Jewelry boutique and a modern Fragrance & Cosmetic shop. There will also be new products to choose from such as a new collection of Princess and Under Armour branded athletic wear and Princess logo apparel featured in a newly designed Logo shop. 

Lotus Spa & Fitness Center  in a space where guests can relax and invigorate, salon and treatments rooms have been upgraded and the latest in fitness equipment is now available.

Casino – for guests ready to take a gamble, reconfiguration of machines and tables, as well new carpet tempt them to roll the dice. 

Other general refurnishing upgrades of carpet and upholstery are found throughout Star Princess.

Rainbows are part of Hawaii’s magic

If you’ve never sailed from the mainland to Hawaii, I highly recommend  the journey. (Photo above  shot by Richard Pietschmann while sailing out of Kauai).

On Star Princess you can sail from LA now through April. Be aware that the first three days out could be chilly, so bring wind breakers or sweaters, but as you approach paradise the weather warms. It’s a great way to visit four islands hassle free while living on the spiffy ship. or   enhancements, there is live entertainment, world-class cuisine, island-inspired activities and endless ocean views.

Awesome shot of Hawaii
Maui wowie by Patti Pietschmann

 Cruise fares start at $1,299. To learn more about our Hawaii cruises, visit www.princess.com/hawaii.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS or by visitingthe company’s website at www.princess.com.

Holland America chef creates  many faces of food

‘Food Faces’ is  perfect gift for cruise lovers and former HAL passengers

Patti Pietschmann

 Foodies and cruise fans have to love this.  Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin just released a coffee table art cookbook called “Food Faces” that  illustrates more than 150 vibrant images of edible creations that display a cast of unforgettable characters expressing a whimsical spectrum of human emotion.

Sodamin, who  began to design and photograph his stylized Food Faces several years ago as a labor of creative love, has since captured hundreds of distinctive characters through his lens. His artistic inspiration comes from culinary ingredients and human expression, and he created each plate personality from food items including vegetables, fruit, meats, fish, grains and sweets.

Fish toast


Sodamin captured the images in his photography studio, working with his perfectionistic approach to bring each piece of art to life, fine-tuning the emotional coloring of each Food Face as he adjusted lighting, depth and focus.

Hair, hair

Thomas Keller, chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, wrote the forward to the book saying, “Rudi has a keen eye, playful sensibility and a willingness to let inspiration take him where it will. Rudi puts happiness front and center.” “Rudi is an icon in the cruise industry for his culinary talent and creativity in the kitchen and is regarded as the hospitality industry’s most innovative chef, but today we congratulate him for his innovation as an artist with his beautiful new book,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Rudi is esteemed throughout the world for his passion for his craft and his ability to translate that creative energy into serving thousands of guests each day on our ships. ’Food Faces’ allows people to be inspired by Rudi’s work every day in their homes.”

Holland America passengers that dine in Rudi’s Sel de Mer pop-up restaurant can enjoy his dynamic Food Faces on exclusive limited-edition plates made by Bernardaud, the leading French manufacturer of Limoges porcelain. Each plate charger features a different image from the “Food Faces” book, creating a table setting unlike any found anywhere in the world.

“Food Faces” was published by Welcome Books, an imprint of Rizzoli, and is available for purchase in bookstores nationwide.  Sodamin will be exhibiting his Food Faces art in Miami, Florida, and in Europe in 2018.

For more information on HAL call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (1-877-724-5425) or visit hollandamerica.com.