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Aris Zarpanely Silversea Cruises aims in Luxury

Aris Zarpanely, Executive Vice President International Markets of Silversea Cruises, analyzes in TravelDailyNews International the future plans of the company as well as the booming markets in the cruise industry worldwide.

TravelDailyNews: What are Silversea Cruises’ targets for 2006?

Aris Zarpanely: In Silversea Cruises we wanted to develop something that did not exist and we targeted in the luxury because there were a lot of gaps in the luxury area. The ships we have today are all new and they have all suites accommodation. We introduced theme cruises two years ago. Now, we have 60% US passengers and 40% European passengers and our target is to manage 50% passengers from USA and 50% from Europe. We used to be expensive but not anymore and now we are very competitive relating to hotels rates. Lawyers, accountants, business men are the main passengers that travel with Silversea Cruises. They are looking for total relaxation and to be in command of the daily program that we offer to them, so Silversea Cruises are orienting in more personalized programme.

TDN: What are the main nationalities of Europe that come to your cruises?

A. Z.: United Kingdom comes first, with Germany and France in the second place and they are followed by Italy. Greece has a potential for us but not as a destination because we come to Greece for 11 years. The extension of cabotage is more important issue for us in order to be in Athens more often. I think that it could make a big difference to us. It will allow us to be more weeks in Athens during the year and produce our concept Athens – Athens. Cabotage is still a ‘hot’ issue for us and we had extended talks about it with the ministers. Nothing has finished yet. For Silversea the raise of cabotage will benefit the cruise line because then we can enter to smaller islands, but it can also benefit Greek islands too, as more visitors will reach those islands. Now we have cruises that concerns Greece-Turkey and we want to expand the Greece-Greece concept. Worldwide we reach 387 ports for our four ships during the year.

TDN: Which Mediterranean countries attract more cruises?

A. Z.: The three countries that are doing a great job in attracting cruises are Spain, Italy and Yugoslavia. They sent us an in regular basis their regional news and we have built a constant communication with those countries. There is a good cooperation in many fields and we know what their needs are and what is new in the Mediterranean area. Also, we have a good collaboration with Turkey and actually they have a strategic approach as they promote their country and give gifts to the passengers when they reach the destination. The little things that have great importance to the passengers and make them feel like their home are good thoughts because people want to get spoiled.

TDN: Silversea cruises have a luxury programme. Which destinations best serve your programme?

A. Z.: The service in the Caribbean is fantastic. Dubai has done a great strategically approach and Singapore. Dubrovnik is blooming too. The competition is growing. If there are lot activities that our passengers can follow in the destination port, then we stay. We stay in many ports overnight. In Alaska we stay many overnights but it is a very short season. This year we are launching in Japan because we think it is a booming market. Also, we reach Alaska every two years. We launched a new luxury brochure and in twenty – one days of launching the programme all the cruises had been sold out. We look in to the future. Every year we do a world cruise. This year will start from New York and maybe in the future Athens will be the first to start. A very successful cruise is Athens to Dubai and we do it every year for 10 days which is sold out seven months in advance.

TDN: Do you have a strategic expansion plan for the next years?

A. Z.: Last year we launched Libya, Beirut, Syria with great success. The Gulf region has a great potential for us and we launched Dubai – Dubai itinerary. We will launch for the first time the India – Singapore itinerary which is completely different concept for us as well as Bombay – Bombay cruise for 2008. We believe India is a booming market as it opened its doors to the world with its new government policies regarding the tourism industry. We also launched in Russia, India, Poland but we don’t target in one specific region. “New markets and future markers” we can call it our motto. Our efforts are based to introduce our ships to the clients as we did in England. Every travel agent in England brought ten couples from which eight couples had booked with our ships and this is what we do in many countries in order to highlight our product.

TDN: Tell us about the future plans of Silversea Cruises?

A. Z.: We are finalizing our future folder and our itineraries programme for 2008 will be ready in the next weeks. We launched Silver Whisper and Silver Shadow and now we are reaching Norway. We are very young and we have already a good name but we have still a lot of work to do. We will certainly stay in the luxury area. We are looking very seriously to introduce more heath services like spa, massage and these areas may cover the half of our new ships’ deck. Value is becoming very important and we base our strategy in that area. We have already the Silversea University and we create travel agents and we have done an excellent job in England and Switzerland. We rent rooms in universities and the travel agent spends time with us and we inform them at all levels about Silversea products. We did the same in Dubai.