They both are big contenders in the luxury cruise segment. 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 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’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 and Northern Europe. With the Ventures by Seabourn program, optional kayaking and Zodiac tours are available.
- Seabourn will launch its first purpose-built expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, in 2021. Seabourn Venture will feature 132 guest suites, with all the luxury you would expect from Seabourn.
- 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, with two on the way, Silversea is split between classic luxury ships and luxury expedition ships.
- Silversea’s upcoming ships, Silver Dawn, debuts in September of 2021; and Silver Moon debuts in August of 2020.
- The Flagship, Silver Muse, debuted in 2017. The design of this all-suite ship focused on enhancing guests’ onboard experiences with an impressive eight dining venues.
- The line has also heavily refitted Silver Cloud, converting it into an expedition ship, Silver Spirit, which was recently stretched, adding a new prefabricated midsection to increase the number of suites and public rooms available onboard, Silver Shadow, completely overhauled decor in suites and public spaces in 2019, the new Atrium & Arts Cafe was added to align her with the newer vessels and Silver Whisper was just refreshed in 2018.
- 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, refurbished in 2017. Silver Galapagos also refurbished in 2017, currently is the most elegant expedition ship in the Galapagos and Silver Origin will replace her summer of 2020.
- Silver Wind was recently refurbished in 2018, but in 2020, she will be refitted with an ice-class hull. This ship will be highly versatile, with the ability to voyage from the polar regions and iconic ports between.
- Silversea features butlers throughout its fleet across all accommodation levels.
- Service staff is primarily Asian, including many Filipinos and Indians
- The company, and its vessels, have an Italian heritage, evident in officers, food (think homemade pasta) 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.