They both begin with the letter “S,” and they’re both big contenders in the luxury cruise segment. Of course, we’re talking about Seabourn and Silversea.
Seabourn Quest and Silver Wind anchored of Saint-Tropez. © Ralph Grizzle
To the casual observer, these two lines may appear to be a lot alike. After all, both operate all-inclusive (we’ll get back to that in a moment) vessels, each carrying fewer than 600 guests (we’ll come back to that in a moment too).
Service and hardware on both vessels will make you feel like royalty. You’ll enter an elegant environment where the word “no” is hardly ever uttered, unless you hear it from the person you’re traveling with.
Complimentary champagne pours as freely as water, and you’ll never sign a check when you belly up to the bar for a cocktail. Dining? It is as elegant as it gets. Lines or queues? Are you joking? You will hardly ever, if ever, encounter a wait of any sort on board the vessels operated by these companies.
Despite their similarities, however, Seabourn and Silversea have marked differences. Here are a few differentiating factors for each:
Aft marina on Seabourn Quest. © Ralph Grizzle
- Operates the industry’s youngest fleet of luxury cruise vessels, all having been built between 2009 and 2018 (Seabourn Ovation launches this spring).
- Seabourn’s ships carry between 450 and 600 guests.
- Seabourn’s two newest vessels, Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation, carry 600 guests apiece (told you we’d get back to the statement we made about the vessels carrying fewer than 600 guests; in fact, over the years Seabourn and Silversea have built larger and larger vessels, though still tiny by industry standards).
- Seabourn’s service staff is largely European, with a smattering of South Africans.
- Seabourn’s vessels feature marinas that lower into the sea for water sports activities from the back of the vessel. Say “aft” for “back” if you want to be taken seriously when on board.
- Seabourn operates expeditions in Antarctica, and features full-fledged Ventures by Seabourn expedition team members in other destinations, like Alaska.
- Seabourn has Nordic influences, in both ship design and in its heritage.
- Seabourn is part of the Carnival Corporation family of companies, with brands that include Carnival, Cunard, Holland America Line and Princess.
Everyone gets a butler on Silversea. © Ralph Grizzle
- Operates nine vessels, split between five classic luxury ships and four luxury expedition ships.
- Silversea’s newest ship, Silver Muse, debuted in 2017. The line has also heavily refitted Silver Cloud, which was converted into an expedition ship, and Silver Spirit, which was recently stretched, adding a new prefabricated midsection to increase the number of suites and public rooms available onboard.
- Silversea was one of the first companies to pioneer the concept of the luxury expedition cruise, starting with a single ship – Silver Explorer -in 2008.
- Silversea features butlers throughout its fleet across all accommodation levels.
- Service staff is primarily Asian, including many Filipinos and Indians
- Silversea is family owned, headquartered in Monaco.
- The company, and its vessels, have an Italian heritage, evident in officers, food (think homemade pastas) and, of course, coffee served on board.
- Offers complimentary wi-fi internet access (as of 2018)
Both companies feature large accommodations on their ships, multiple dining venues and five (heck, maybe even six)-star service. Both companies feature generous space ratios on their ships (meaning more space per guest), with expansive lounges, bars, and showrooms.
What cruisers will note between Silversea and Seabourn are:
- Silversea’s Asian service staff vs. Seabourn’s European service staff
- Silversea’s expedition fleet vs. Seabourn’s single ship dedicated to expeditions
- Seabourn’s Nordic heritage vs. Silversea’s Italian heritage
- Silversea’s butlers for all vs. Seabourn’s marinas
- Silversea’s free wi-fi for all vs. Seabourn’s additional-charge packages.
The bottom line is that both of these companies offer five-star cruise experiences.
One factor that may go into which line you choose may come down to your choice of loyalty privileges. We’ll talk more about Silversea’s Venetian Society and the Seabourn Club in a future post.
Oh, we promised to get back about the all-inclusive aspect. These two companies are “mostly inclusive.” Shore excursions and spa treatments will cost you extra on both Seabourn and Silversea, but things like gratuities, beverages and the like are all complimentary.