Monday, 29 July 2013

Trusting Silversea

Last week's news that deluxe all-inclusive line Silversea failed - in epic fashion - their snap CDC sanitation inspection aboard the six-star Silver Shadow (above) has caused major ripples in the cruise world.

The fact one of the luxury cruising fleet could be caught out in this way was the initial shocker, followed by the details behind the case, which included galley crew hastily moving trolleys with food waste items and other dirty leftovers into crew cabins to try to hide them from the CDC inspectors.

The overall episode, which resulted in a score of 82 - where anything below 86 is marked as failing an inspection - has caused many media outlets to question Silversea's viability as a cruise line, amid lurid headlines and the usual array of criticism, much of it from lawyers eager to make a buck or two out of it by persuading passengers to sue (yawn).

Silversea have certainly and unforgivably dropped the ball on this occasion, but there are other facts that need to be outlined about this incident:

  • Had a Silversea ship ever failed a CDC inspection before in the 20-year history of the line? No.
  • Was passenger safety or health compromised by this bungled episode? No.
  • Has the line been honest and up front in admitting what happened? Yes.
  • Have they taken steps to ensure this won't happen again? Yes.

All in all, it is a chastening experience for the line and a real eye-opener for the industry. Failed scores can - and do - happen from time to time, including the Golden Princess in February and even one of the SeaDream vessels in January. CDC inspectations are rigorous and all-encompassing, and every ship is tested on a random basis twice a year, and some failing marks are on distinct technicalities that are highly unlikely that passengers would even notice. 

The simple fact is, with hundreds of ships now in the world cruising fleet, these kinds of failures remain a rarity and it therefore creates headlines when they happen.

Experienced commentator and cruise specialist Ralph Grizzle, otherwise known as the Avid Cruiser, has already posted chapter and verse on what happened, why and how Silversea are dealing with it subsequently, and you can see it on his latest blog on this link.

Silversea CEO Enzo Visone has also posted a full account of what happened and the company's reaction to it on their facebook pages, and you can that here:

It is a surprisingly fulsome and candid apology, along with a rigorous list of how Silversea will go forward and ensure they rebuild their reputation as one of the finest cruise lines out there.

As a final question, it is something I have already been asked by a number of readers, as well as online on our Twitter account: Would you be happy to sail on Silversea again anytime soon?

The answer is a very simple Yes. Firstly because you can be 100 per cent sure the line is now paying maximum attention to the matter of cleanliness and all CDC matters (as, of course, they should), but mainly, because it is such an aberration, I would be extremely confident you just won't see Silversea slipping up on anything like this again.