Checking out exotic spots in cruise style

Checking out exotic spots in cruise style
Refitted in Singapore: The Silver Discoverer is the third and latest luxury expedition cruise ship by Silversea and will carry about 100 people each time

SINGAPORE - Planning a trip to exotic locations such as the Kimberly region of Western Australia or Micronesia is no easy task - it's expensive and many of these remote locations lack the infrastructure such as airports and hotels to support tourism.

That is set to change from April 2 when the Silver Discoverer starts offering cruises that give its passengers the chance to visit the remote corners of the Pacific in style and comfort.

The third and latest luxury expedition cruise ship by Silversea, the Silver Discoverer is also an intimate ship, carrying about 100 people each time; compared to regular ones that can take more than 1,000 people at a time.

"We only have 60 rooms on the ship, which gives our guests a more private yacht-like experience," says Steve Odell, president of Silversea.

Silversea Cruises is a luxury cruise line with a total of eight ships in its fleet. It offers both expedition cruises and regular cruises to many parts of the world. The

Silver Discoverer is the first ship to be christened in Singapore in 20 years. "The ship was refitted at Sembawang shipyard, the government has been strongly supportive of the cruise business and we work closely with them; so it was only natural to have the christening here. Singapore is also a sophisticated city that we can bring the media and our agents to for the launch," explains Mr Odell.

The Silver Discoverer's maiden voyage next Wednesday will be to Broome, Australia. The cruise will also allow its passengers to get up close with nature and the culture of each stop. "We have 12 zodiac boats that can hold 12 people each. Many of the trips ashore will be done using them because most destinations don't have the infrastructure for us to anchor," says Mr Odell.

Depending on location, the daily rate of joining an expedition cruise on the Silver Discoverer, ranges from US$800 (S$1010) to US$1,000. According to Mr Odell, the response has been encouraging, with the first seven cruises sold out. He notes that while growth of the cruise industry has taken place worldwide, Asia has experienced a significant increase in the market.

"Singapore is a very mature and sophisticated market in Asia. There's a lot of private wealth here and these people want exclusive experiences. Sometimes it's just in the bragging rights - telling people that you've been to a place like Antarctica. We try to play on exclusivity and the 'must-have' kind of travel," says Mr Odell.

Ted Blamey, principal of Chart Management Consultants and whose recent White Paper analysed the Asian cruise industry, agrees with Mr Odell, saying: "Luxury cruises are in a better position to grow than downmarket cruises because Asians have great aspirations. It's very important to come back home and tell people where you've been (and) if you tell them that you've been to an exotic place, now that's impressive!"

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