Skift Take

Royal Caribbean Cruises wants to be a bigger player in the luxury and expedition cruise space. One surefire way to do that, now that it owns a majority stake in Silversea: build more ships.

Months after acquiring a majority stake in Silversea Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises is doubling down on its luxury play.

Silversea Cruises will add three more new ships to its growing fleet, the operators said in an announcement Monday.┬áIncluding ships that are already in the works, that will bring Silversea’s total number of luxury and expedition vessels to 14.

One of the ships will be a 100-passenger expedition vessel destined for the Galapagos Islands called Silver Origin, due in March 2020. Another ship, Silver Galapagos, sails that itinerary now; its future was not clear Monday.

The other two ships will be a new design for Silversea, called “Evolution Class.” The first is expected by 2022; no other details have been released yet.

This is the second Silversea investment Royal Caribbean has revealed since the company announced in June that it was spending $1 billion for a 67 percent stake in the luxury line. That transaction, meant to give Royal Caribbean a piece of the growing luxury cruise market, closed at the end of July.

Royal Caribbean already said in July that Silversea’s existing ships would be upgraded as part of a multi-year plan, but did not reveal the cost of those upgrades.

“We are excited to get to work helping Silversea grow and realize its ambitions,” Royal Caribbean Cruises CEO Richard Fain said in a statement Monday. “There is tremendous potential in the ultra-luxury and expedition markets of the cruise industry, and we believe discerning travelers will embrace the exciting designs Silversea is imagining for them.”

The companies did not reveal how much the new ships will cost. Silversea’s most recent contract┬áin May, for the 596-passenger Silver Dawn, was valued at more than 320 million euros, or $367 million at today’s exchange rates.

Silversea is growing as the luxury and expedition cruise market continues to expand. Seabourn, the luxury line owned by Carnival Corp., announced earlier this year it had ordered two expedition ships for delivery in 2021 and 2022. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, part of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, has a new luxury vessel coming in early 2020. French line Ponant started sailing the first of six luxury expedition ships in June. And the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is expecting its first ship at the end of 2019.

“We believe that there is a real opportunity for Silversea to expand its leadership in ultra-luxury and expedition cruising,” Rob Zeiger, global chief communications officer for Royal Caribbean Cruises, said in an email. “And adding three state-of-the-art ships to the fleet is an important step to growing the business.”

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Tags: luxury, royal caribbean, silversea

Photo credit: Silver Explorer is shown in the Canadian Arctic in this photo from 2016. Silversea is adding three ships to its fleet. Fiona Paton / Flickr

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