On the Deck: Conrad Combrink, Silversea

Conrad Combrink
Conrad Combrink

Silver Discoverer was announced as your new ship earlier this year. Can you tell us more about the ship and its itineraries?

Silver Discoverer will join the fleet on 1 March 2014 and will accommodate up to 128 guests with 98 crew including expedition staff. It has 12 zodiacs and will really allow our guests to see some of the most remote destinations in the world.

The ship will operate from Bali to various destinations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, French Polynesia, Russia, Papua New Guinea, Alaska and Japan.

Many of these destinations are U spoilt and unique; we are getting permits in visit places that people don’t know even exist. In some cases we are working with traditional tribal leaders to get permission and at times our guests will be able to see their festivals. We are trying to go back to the grass roots of expedition with unknown destinations.

The places we’ve included are areas I’ve been dying to go back to and Silver Discoverer gives us the opportunity to do that.

Our new ship Silver Galapagos joined the fleet earlier this year and will focus on the Galapagos Islands to explore the destinations and culture more there.

 

How do you decide which destinations to add next?

I read a lot about destinations; build up the research and then try to match and connect the dots. I normally find a place the cruises can bolt around and go about putting a puzzle together.

We don’t fill from point to point but look at the content of the destinations in the area.

I will reposition ships empty as I don’t want the expeditions to just offer anything.

 

Are there any parts of the world Silversea is yet to explore which it could?

I’m conscious of some ports that are less politically stable; I’m mindful of that so we won’t go to particular areas such as where pirates are.

Most cruise lines will go to ‘tried and tested’ destinations but we would prefer to step out and need to find destinations that keep it real.

I hate the idea of sitting behind in a bus and a guide talking to you. For me it’s about the real experience, seeing the food and immersing yourself into something not staged.

Silver Discoverer allows us to achieve that, it is so genuine and refreshing.

 

What is it that makes Silversea’s expedition programme different to its regular sailings?

Expeditions are 100% destination driven and the luxury is a bonus.

Instead of setting the timing around meal times our cruises are dependent on the activities and mood of the group.

There is only a start and end point to each expedition; the rest is up to them.

Our captain and staff are completely flexible in the itinerary and plot the route themselves depending on the activities onshore or factors such as the weather.

 

What is a typical Silversea customer like?

It is difficult to brand, as our customers are more active than most but are not just young.

There is a perception that our clientele is young but it is the inquisitiveness that really makes a Silversea expedition customer.

People who have time and the money to go away, and who want to immerse themselves in these cultures are typical of the type of customer we have.

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