For this interview, we sat down with Mark Conroy, the Managing Director for the Americas with Silversea Cruises. He is no stranger to the cruising business; after serving as the president and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises from the line’s creation in 1992 to early 2013, he went on to serve in leadership positions for other cruise lines. Now, Conroy is happy in his role at Silversea Cruises and made time to speak with us about what sets the luxury cruise line apart from its competitors.
Conroy is highly skilled at not talking up Silversea at the expense of others. Our initial question — What sets Silversea apart from its competitors? — was brushed aside in a lighthearted manner. “I think it better serves us to talk about subjective features instead of objective. For instance, the size of our ships is small. Not too small, our ships can carry as few as 295 guests and as many as 608. But, the passenger-space ratio means there are no crowds during disembarking or embarking on the ships with each port.”
He continued to point out other benefits to the ships’ more intimate capacity. “We can fit into canals in Venice and Mykonos. Our cruises in Northern Europe that sail to Russia can dock right at the port in St. Petersburg, whereas most cruise ships are too big and have to dock at the cruise terminal, and then get ferried to shore. On certain cruises to the United Kingdom, we can actually go up to the Tower Bridge and tie up against the HMS Belfast in London!”
He also added that the space ratio means you’ll never fight for a deck chair on their European-designed ships, another benefit to a smaller ship.
We asked what he thought passengers’ favorite things about Silversea ships are. “The food,” Conroy replied. “We’re known for having amazing cuisine aboard every ship. We have multiple dining options to meet all tastes. There are the classic-style dining rooms, The Grill has an outdoor bar, and there are Asian fusion and teriyaki restaurants. Spaccanapoli is the traditional Italian restaurant that serves Napoli-style pizza and entrées. There’s a jazz club, Silver Note, which serves tapas and drinks while artists perform. There’s something for everyone.”
As for the level of service guests experience aboard the ships, Conroy is quick to attribute that to the satisfaction of the crew and staff. “Once crew members work for Silversea,” Conroy explains, “they stay. Crew members take special care to remember the names of the guests. Every suite includes butler service. It’s the personal attention to detail that sets luxury cruises apart from others, but Silversea takes it even further.”
We couldn’t help but to ask Conroy what he thought might be misunderstood about the brand. “Our prices include everything,” he responded. “Most other cruise fares leave out the taxes, reservation fees and more in their amounts. Our prices include everything from gratuities to beverage or meal prices to coach airfare to and from your final embarkation ports. The only prices not included are shore excursions, spa treatments and the casino charges. So, there are no hidden surprises when you book with Silversea.”
Speaking of hidden surprises, we had to know — since Silversea has more than 900 itinerary destinations throughout all seven continents, what would he recommend for guests who believe they have done it all?
“Well, our major cruise types are classic cruises and expedition cruises. I would recommend expedition cruises for people who think they have done everything and there’s nothing new to see. They’re wrong! I had the opportunity to go on a Silversea Expedition cruise to the Galapagos Islands. I could ask a group of well-educated people to point out the Galapagos on a map and they’d have trouble finding it, which just tells you how fewer people have actually had the opportunity to go there. Going to the Galapagos is as close to leaving the planet as you can get. The crew on the expedition cruise is from Ecuador. The islands are their national treasure and they love to protect the land and share the experience of its beauty and wonder.”
“Another Silversea Expedition cruise I went on was to Antarctica, which is also otherworldly. One of our destination experts on the ship had her Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences and meteorology, and even she was amazed when we arrived on land. We got about half a foot of snow there, which is extremely rare in Antarctica.”
One question had Conroy particularly stumped: of all the included shore excursions, which was his favorite?
“I loved St. Petersburg—we were able to get into the State Hermitage Museum after it was closed to the public…but then again I love, love, love visiting Ephesus, the ancient Greek city rumored to be where Apostle John took Mother Mary after Christ’s resurrection… and I also love going to Alaska to see the polar bears and to Antarctica to see the whales!”
Needless to say, Conroy is a huge fan of the Silversea Cruises brand and everything the line has to offer.
Ready to book your Silversea Cruise? Speak to a dedicated Cruise Specialist, like Danielle Carlson, who will be happy to plan your next dream vacation. All Silversea Cruises are listed on our website.