A new era in expedition cruising began this morning when Silversea Cruises' eagerly anticipated Prince Albert II sailed under the landmark Tower Bridge to welcome her first guests aboard.
In a display of the importance of this special event, all officers and crew stood on the bow of the vessel as she glided through the opened bridge at 9:30 a.m. (local time) with crowds of onlookers cheering and welcoming them to the English capital. The ship sailed directly from the naming ceremony held in the port of Monte Carlo last week, which was presided over by her namesake, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Along with many onlookers and well-wishers, Silversea Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre and President and CEO Amerigo Perasso were both present on the pier to see the company's latest innovative venture take up her challenge to be the world's first ultra-luxury expedition ship.
"It is indeed a wonderful sight to see this morning, our Prince Albert II sailing under Tower Bridge, with all the crew proudly escorting her into London to welcome their first guests," said Lefebvre. "It is our aim that this ship will not only offer guests the highest level of comfort and service, but also enlighten them to the rarity and beauty of the most remote places on earth."
Added Perasso, "In keeping with the environmental work of our ship's namesake, we are delighted to announce that Silversea has signed an agreement to support the Prince Albert II Foundation, whose aim is to highlight and take tangible action to protect and preserve the most vulnerable inhabitants and landscapes on Earth."
Fresh from a multimillion dollar renovation, the Lloyd's Register 1A ice-rated Prince Albert II weighs just 6,072 gross tons and will accommodate a maximum of 132 guests with a 1:1.2 crew-to-guest ratio, compared to the mass-market ships weighing in at over 150,000 gross tons with up to 5,000 passengers and a crew-to-passenger ratio of 1:3. Despite her small size, the Prince Albert II boasts the largest average size accommodations of any expedition ship. All 66 ocean-view accommodations feature luxurious living space and private marble bathrooms with bathtubs. Select suites offer double private French balconies or large private verandas, and additional elite amenities including butler service.
Silversea is a provisional member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), dedicated to managing respectable, environmentally friendly and safe expedition cruising in the Arctic. The company has also joined the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO). This important organization promotes and practices safe and environmentally responsible travel to Antarctica. In addition, Silversea plans to voluntarily adopt and apply similar operating procedures in all other destinations where the Prince Albert II will operate.
The Prince Albert II welcomes her first guests on Thursday, June 12, as she sets sail from London at 5:00 p.m. to embark upon an Inaugural Season of voyages of 10 to 22 days focusing on polar adventures. Sailing first to the Arctic Circle, Svalbard, Iceland and Greenland for the summer, the ship will then reposition to South America and Antarctica for autumn and winter voyages.
Silversea Cruises is recognized as an innovator in the luxury segment, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard four intimate vessels, Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, and Silver Whisper, all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. With the addition of the regal expedition ship Prince Albert II, the company's itineraries encompass all seven continents.
In the U.S., Silversea has been voted "World's Best" by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler nine times and six times by the readers of Travel & Leisure. International awards include "World's Leading Luxury Cruise Line" from World Travel Awards (2007); "Five Star Diamond Award" from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences (2007); "Number One" small-ship line in the Readers' Choice" survey conducted by Britain's Condé Nast Traveller magazine (2007); "Best Luxury Cruise Line" by Spain's Cruceros & Destinos magazine (2008); "Best Small Cruise Line" by Australia's Luxury Travel Magazine (2007); and "Best Luxury Cruise Operator" according to Asia's Travel Weekly (2007).