Q&A with Mark Conroy, Managing Director - Silversea Cruises (READ ONLY)
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Mark Conroy
Managing Director of the Americas

Mark Conroy, Managing Director of the Americas for Silversea Cruises, was here recently and answered all your questions. See what he had to say!

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#1
Maryland
287 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Could you provide some information regarding the Whisper in terms of future upgrades. We are going on the 2018 WC and have reserved the 2019 WC. We were on the 2014 WC and found the technology on board to be way outdated (on demand TV, lack of outlets, USB charging ports, etc). We also found that the fitness center was also outdated, especially with the poor quality TechnoGym equipment. Investments in high quality fitness equipment, such as Precor, LifeFitness, Cybex, should be made. On the flip side, we found the service and food to be outstanding. We also found the complimentary wines to be very good - kudos to the SS wine ambassador. Keep up the good work.
#3
32 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
DCCruiser57,

Appreciate you taking the time to comment and thank you for choosing Silversea for the upcoming World Cruise voyages in 2018 and in 2019.

I am making my way through each question on the forum and am aiming to provide as much information as I can. There are some that I'm waiting on more information for, including this one. Shortly I will have additional details on Silver Whisper to publish here.

Kind regards,
Mark
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Mark Conroy
Managing Director, The Americas
Silversea Cruises
#4
32 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
Sorry for the delay in responding been a bit busy plus with the lack of clarity last year I am waiting for specifically what we are doing in service before the 2018 Cruise and the extensive dry-dock which will take place in the late 2018 prior to the 2019 cruise.

Will get back as soon as I have the final details.
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Mark Conroy
Managing Director, The Americas
Silversea Cruises
#5
Maryland
287 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Mark - thanks for your reply. Very much looking forward to what SS will do for the 2018 WC & the extensive dry dock for 2019. Again compliments to the wine ambassador and also to the chefs for great & varied menus. We are Seabourn fans, but SS is way ahead with MDR lunch & dinner menu selections.
#6
UK
8,176 Posts
Joined May 2012
Originally posted by Mark Conroy
Sorry for the delay in responding been a bit busy plus with the lack of clarity last year I am waiting for specifically what we are doing in service before the 2018 Cruise and the extensive dry-dock which will take place in the late 2018 prior to the 2019 cruise.

Will get back as soon as I have the final details.
Hi Mark,

Can it safely be presumed that there will be no dry dock in either Q1 or Q2 for Whisper in 2018? Thanks.
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Jeff

#7
32 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
Jeff,

They are doing work in service but the next major dry-dock is not scheduled until early December of 2018. Should have the final list being done in a few days.
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Mark Conroy
Managing Director, The Americas
Silversea Cruises
#9
32 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
Hello Jeff,

Refurbishments for Silver Whisper is scheduled to take place in early November 2017.

Silver Whisper will incorporate technical improvements such as Cold Fresh Water Pipes renewal and the increase of outdoor Heaters for La Terrazza/Pool Grill to improve dining comfort.

The refurbishment will also incorporate significant and extensive redesign of public areas and suites. Many of the public areas will take its inspiration from the Silver Muse décor that will include:

· Outdoor Furniture – Balcony furniture
· Carpet Replacement – All Staircases/Hallways
· Observation Lounge – New carpet, new curtains & full furniture replacement
· La Terrazza – New carpet, new curtains/chair re-upholstery and new wall paper
· Panorama Lounge – New carpet replacement of chairs/sofas, new curtains, new wall paper, new ceiling
· Reception/Main Stair Mid Ships – New Wall Paper
· Suites – All standard suites, replacement of desk top with a new wood lamination
· Silver Suites upgrade


I’m positive you will enjoy the enhancements we are making to Silver Whisper, along with the rest of the fleet.

All the best,
Mark
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Mark Conroy
Managing Director, The Americas
Silversea Cruises
#10
Maryland
287 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Mark - thanks for the update. We got an e-mail from SS since we are on the 2018 WC about the planned drydocks in 2017 and 2018. Any insight as to the enhancements planned for 2018?

Thanks
#11
UK
8,176 Posts
Joined May 2012
Mark, I hope you are still willing to respond to questions, and I have posted my question here as the forum appears to have disabled new threads. I've held back asking because I feel we all ought to have a fair crack at asking questions!

Can you share what Silversea management policy is to the dissemination ie process and speed when changes are made to ports or dates of future cruise or when cruises are cancelled in favour of charters.. The issue I am seeking clarity on is how soon after a port or date change or cancellation has been decided does SS (a) change the web site and (b) inform the customer. Sometimes - rarely - whole cruises are cancelled and customer inconvenienced when SS decides to charter instead. I have currently noticed by chance a port change on a cruise I have booked and no one has informed me. The particular port was a deciding factor when we chose this cruise and I am I feel understandably irritated that SS hasn't proctively informed me which I think it reasonable of me to expect it to do.

Following on from this, understanding that the relevance of SS's booking terms restrictions have variable degrees of applicability in different geographies depending on local consumer laws, what is SS's overiding policy with respect to (a) allowing penalty free cancellations and (b) compensating for out of pocket expenses due to changes.

It seems to me that SS policies are both unclear and appear to be a bit of a lottery and I hope you agree it shouldn't be that way.

I look forward to you clarifying SS's position on these issues.
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Jeff

#12
wakefield england
523 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by UKCruiseJeff
Mark, I hope you are still willing to respond to questions, and I have posted my question here as the forum appears to have disabled new threads. I've held back asking because I feel we all ought to have a fair crack at asking questions!



Can you share what Silversea management policy is to the dissemination ie process and speed when changes are made to ports or dates of future cruise or when cruises are cancelled in favour of charters.. The issue I am seeking clarity on is how soon after a port or date change or cancellation has been decided does SS (a) change the web site and (b) inform the customer. Sometimes - rarely - whole cruises are cancelled and customer inconvenienced when SS decides to charter instead. I have currently noticed by chance a port change on a cruise I have booked and no one has informed me. The particular port was a deciding factor when we chose this cruise and I am I feel understandably irritated that SS hasn't proctively informed me which I think it reasonable of me to expect it to do.



Following on from this, understanding that the relevance of SS's booking terms restrictions have variable degrees of applicability in different geographies depending on local consumer laws, what is SS's overiding policy with respect to (a) allowing penalty free cancellations and (b) compensating for out of pocket expenses due to changes.



It seems to me that SS policies are both unclear and appear to be a bit of a lottery and I hope you agree it shouldn't be that way.



I look forward to you clarifying SS's position on these issues.






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#13
UK
8,176 Posts
Joined May 2012
Thanks. A timely reminder.

It wasn’t as though I hadn’t anticipated in prinsiple material changes, but ominously didn’t get a reply.
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Jeff

#14
32 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
Jeff,

My apologies for the delay inresponding, with so many things happening here I have not kept up on my CruiseCritic Threads.

When we have an itinerarychange/cancellation due to circumstances under our control like a charter orthe recent Silver Spirit dry-dock that took longer than originally expected, ourinternal staff is notified and given the details including what is being offerto the displaced guests.

A notification of the changesand the details of the offer to re-accommodate the guests are emailed tothe travel agent of record to be shared with the guests so that alternativesailing arrangement can be made.

The typical offer to the guestscomes in the form of a list of alternative dates with a percentage or dollaramount discount offered due to the inconvenience. If the guest is notinterested in the dates offered they may request other dates and we try to workthe details out accordingly. If no date is selected then a full refund is madeand a Future Cruises Credit (FCC) of 10% of the fare they were paying for thecanceled cruises is issued.

If the guest incurspenalties/fees due to the change in departure we ask their travel agent tohelp us mitigate them but if they are unable to do so we will reimburse themfor reasonable documented expenses.

When the decision to cancel orsubstantial change a sailing it is immediately closed for new bookings and whenthat occurs agents/guests making inquiries for new bookings on the date maylearn about cancellation/changes before the info can be disseminated to theguests who are currently booked.

We try to limit such changes to a minimum and out of the roughly300 cruises we offer in any given year typically 2 to 4 are effected and thechanges are usually made more than a year prior to departure. Of course weunderstand that if you are one of the guests that are inconvenienced it is amajor issue.

If there are minor schedule changes or changes beyond our controlguests are again notified as soon as possible and in most cases no compensation is offered.

I hope this address your question. If you have a specific issue with a booking please drop Frank Sansone an email with the details.

Kindest regards,


Mark
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Mark Conroy
Managing Director, The Americas
Silversea Cruises
#15
UK
8,176 Posts
Joined May 2012
Mark,

Many thanks for your reply which is appreciated.

I'm interested in Silverea policy with respect to large group bookings rather than charters. In particular at what point does Silversea feel that passengers have a right to be informed about group bookings - if ever- so that they have the necessary information in order to make an informed choice as to it's continued suitability.

For example, I wouldn't feel that if Silversea had a group booking for say 10 that it should need to tell others as 10 are fairly easily absorbed, depending of course who they are and how you might predict they might behave. But at the other extreme, do you feel that passengers on a brochure cruise should expect to be informed that 270 of their co-travellers out of a total maximum of 380 are in groups and the larger one being 220 - or do you feel that that this expectation is unreasonable? If you feel it is unreasonable can you say why.

Thanks.
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Jeff

#16
32 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
The vast majority of groups we carry are less than 100 guests so we don't have a specific policy concerning the size or the number of groups we accept on a particular sailing and we also don't have a specific program to advised other guests who are booked that there is a group on-board a particular sailing date.

As a rule of thumb we don’t take groups that are more than 50% of the individual ships capacity and most cases they are much smaller than that.

Typically if a group is larger than 150 to 200 guests we encourage them to charter one of our smaller ships which gives the organizer lots of flexibility to personalize the overall experience.

We also consider the make-up of the group and how we anticipate they would interact and affect their fellow guests.


So we might accept a large group from a university or a yacht or country club whose demographic match our regular guest profile and fit in well with their fellow guests while we would be more careful with the size say an incentive group where the guests have a totally different demographic.

We do carry thousands of group passengers annually and once or twice a year the guest feedback from a particular sailing makes us in hind-site re-think the decision we made to take the group. We just had one recently and provided a future cruise credit for our retail guests.

Hope that address your question.


Mark
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Mark Conroy
Managing Director, The Americas
Silversea Cruises
#17
UK
8,176 Posts
Joined May 2012
Hi Mark,

Thanks for the reply which I think raises several questions.

Some time ago we experienced a few consecutive disappointing cruises that weren't up to Silversea's normal high standards we left it for many years. Our first return to Silversea after many years away therefore was a leap of trust and sadly was on the ill-fated cruise, you may be I believe referring to. It would be difficult to see how Silversea did any checking whatsoever to see whether the group of 220 were demographically suitably matched for your other passengers as they were just about as unsuitable as it was conceivably possible to be. A simple Google would have shown that they were self-employed agents earning an average part-time income of less than £10 per week and being offered all they can drink for seven days in the luxurious surrounds of Whisper was as though they had died and gone to heaven.

https://www.theguardian.com/money/20...-joanna-lumley

The details of how that cruise "progressed" is fleshed out elsewhere on Cruise Critic in great detail if you wish to read about what it was like, by several passengers, so I won't repeat it all. Let me just say that by taking 220 low income agents that were not employed by the company that had paid for the trip and who therefore had no employment sanction control over them and who simply wished them to get as "smashed" as they possibly could and party as hard as they could whilst Silversea continued supplying them with alcohol 24/7 could only make the experience of anyone else who took that cruise with reasonable expectations, would be extremely upset, disappointed and angry with Silversea for not giving them the choice and putting them through it. The group were largely drunk from before the safety muster briefing onwards for all of the seven days and nights. With 220 of them there was effectively nowhere on the ship to escape from them except confining oneself on an almost permanent basis to the suite which really wasn't what we paid for and were expecting. We would have far preferred to have been at home than on that cruise. A ship isn't like a hotel where you can simply repack and check out and go to another hotel. So trust is very important. The promises made on the ship that Silversea at head office understood exactly what had happened and would be generously compensating us evaporated once we got home and I and others feel deceived.

I do not believe it is possible for anyone who wasn't on the cruise to really understand what a truly dreadful experience it was. And by not offering them reasonable even if not generous compensation AND perhaps a future discount to reestablish trust seems to miss the point entirely and feels like contempt. Service recovery is all about firstly putting right what went wrong, and then seeking to create an opportunity to rebuild trust by incentivising future business when trust and confidence has broken down. Just using a customers loss as a marketing opportunity and not properly compensating seems to me to be an inappropriate response of a company with Silversea's credentials and reputational aspirations.

With respect to your comments about you warning customers and allowing them the opportunity of making an informed choice whether to book the cruise or not, then it seems to me from your general comments and approach that if ever there was a time that Silversea ever should have warned it's other customers then this group booking should have been it. But Silversea didn't do so and it seems therefore failed it's customers badly, and really from my contact Silversea's position is that it did nothing wrong in accepting this group booking and did nothing wrong when it failed to inform Venetian customers when considering booking the cruise so that they could make an informed choice and book a different one if they were concerned, and that Silversea had no responsibility for the light or more accurate no-touch management of the resulting carnage of a cruise that clearly wasn't what customers would have expected and shouldn't have been forced to endure.

Every company makes mistakes. Great companies admit there mistakes quickly and honestly and then does all it can to genuinely put things right. When they do so, the honesty and the situation handling should result in most rational customers being impressed and forgiving and even more loyal. Silversea's customers shouldn't be forced into litigation just to force Silversea to take responsibility for it's own failings. It should behave honourably towards it's customers and your people should treat your customers in the way that they would like to be treated as customers.
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Jeff

#18
291 Posts
Joined Mar 2018
How nice to see you on here Mr Conroy.
I sincerely hope that you have some honest explanations for my friends that were subjected to the far from 6 star ultra luxury cruise that they had paid for. The cynic in me, based purely upon my personal experience of Silversea, sincerely hopes that you have not just decided to re-engage in this forum after several months absence because the company has recently been acquired by a company that does give a damm about Its image.

Perhaps you would like to apologise publically to them regarding Silversea’s misjudgement on this occasion? Perhaps you would like to apologise to them publically also that the promises made to them during the cruise weren’t followed up on.

Perhaps at the same time you might consider apologising to myself and my partner for firstly being mislead, secondly being treated with contempt and thirdly being openly threatened by a ceo of your company. As my last communication with a paorticular ceo of Silversea made clear, unless I give you several more thousands of pounds, I will receive nothing in recompense for your absolute failure to provide what we paid dearly for and your company failed to provide.

I do Sincerely hope that you are willing to engage in a serious conversation either publicly or privately with your guests that feel they have been treated extremely poorly. I do however respect your choice should you wish to bury your head in the sand and await litigation.

I apologise if my tone comes across as being rather bitter but unfortunately after receiving extremely poor customer services whilst upon the ship, having repeatedly broken promises of when we would receive a response from Silversea, having my repeated requests for our case to be considerd upon its own merits and then my partner left feeling extremely threatened by a perceived threat to his career from a ceo of your company, i’m Sure you will understand why we feel that our treatment has been slightly less than ultra luxury.

I look forward to a frank engagement with you upon these points.
#19
32 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
As I put in every signature on every thing I have put on Cruise Critic I am happy to respond to any complaint you might have but I am unwilling to do it in a chat room. If you have a complaint please send it directly to my email at [email protected]

Mark
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Mark Conroy
Managing Director, The Americas
Silversea Cruises