Royal Caribbean Cruises has taken a majority stake in one of the industry’s most enduring luxury brands with a $1 billion controlling interest in Silversea.
The money gives RCL a 66.7% stake in Silversea Cruises, a deal described in America as “the most far-reaching acquisition in the cruise industry in over a decade”.
And in what looks like an extraordinary fortuitous move, former Royal Carribean MD Australia and New Zealand Adam Armstrong has recently been announced as the new local head of Silversea, based in Sydney.
While still to take up the post in August, it augurs an easy transition in the region, where the luxury cruise market is growing significantly out of Asia and Australia.
Silversea has recently expanded its luxury and expedition fleet – allowing Royal Caribbean a much bigger footprint in areas competitors have also put in heavy investment.
Norwegian Cruise Lines has expanded and refurbished Regent and Oceania fleets, while Carnival has made additions to Seabourn and Cunard. PONANT is also expanding its small luxury fleet.
Royal Caribbean has invested hugely in its fleet and has been testing the boundaries between premium and family/contemporary crusing with innovation and amenities.
It already has Celebrity and Azamara. But nothing in the fast-expanding expedition sector, and in what some regard as “true” luxury.
“Silversea is a crown jewel, and the acknowledged leader in luxury and expedition cruising, two key markets that are poised for growth,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
“Uniting our two companies presents an extraordinary opportunity to expand vacation options for guests and create revenue in strategic growth areas.”
Manfredi Lefebvre of Silverseas will remain Executive Chairman of the line, continuing to lead its strategy long term.”
“This partnership will bolster the growth of this exceptional brand founded by my father,” said Lefebvre.
“I have always been kindred spirits with Richard and we share a vision of (more) offering excellence and leadership to our guests. This new partnership gives Silversea the opportunity to accelerate the growth of the most successful luxury and expedition cruising brand in the world.”
Silversea was founded in 1994 by the Lefebvre family of Monaco. It has five luxury ships, with another on order for 2020, and four expedition vessels.
The deal is the first $1 billion acquisition in the cruise industry since the $3.025 billion consolidation of Prestige Cruise Holdings into Norwegian Cruise Line in 2014.