Just as Silver Nova is the most sustainable ship in the Silversea Cruises fleet, careful considerations are also taken in planning shore excursions for the new ship, with meaningful experiences that support local communities and showcase traditions being a top priority.
Walter Barinaga, senior director, destination experiences with Silversea Cruises, told TTG Asia that such a goal required a different approach to curating shore programmes.
“The way we develop shore excursions is quite different from others in the industry,” said Barinaga. “Rather than simply selecting pre-existing excursions from a list, we endeavour to work with local operators who have deep, local roots in the destination to identify the unique experiences we want to provide for our guests. We then challenge the operator to build a programme around these experiences.”
Barinaga said the team is able to “develop deep, proprietary knowledge of the destinations we visit, which allows us to identify the experience, and also understand the role it plays in delivering the larger destination story”.
Justin Poulsen, vice president, itinerary planning & destination development with the luxury cruise line, pointed out that “the ship must function as the best platform from which to experience the destination”.
With Silver Nova, for instance, Silversea Cruises hopes to present local communities and heritage through culinary experiences.
“Some considerations that influenced our deployment and itinerary planning decisions were to find destinations where our S.A.L.T. Lab could provide an opportunity to get hands-on with regional ingredients and dishes. We also sought destinations that would amplify the experience in the public venues, such as sunset aperitifs anchored off Sorrento, and destinations that could come alive and in which guests can take advantage of unobstructed views from the ship, such as Alaska’s famed Inside Passage,” shared Poulsen.
S.A.L.T. Lab is part of Silversea Cruises’s signature dining programme, Sea And Land Taste, hence S.A.L.T, which showcases flavours of the destinations and region the ship calls at. It was conceived by Adam Sachs, former editor-in-chief of Saveur and who is now director of the programme. S.A.L.T is an exclusive programme, available only on Silver Moon, Silver Dawn, Silver Nova.
S.A.L.T, according to Sachs, is an “ecosystem” that comprises S.A.L.T shore excursions, which are in-depth tours led by food experts who delve into local culinary traditions; S.A.L.T onboard dining through S.A.L.T. Bar and Kitchen, where the menu changes with the ports of call and local recipes are made with local products; and S.A.L.T Lab, where small groups of guests will learn local recipes in a professional kitchen. On Silver Nova, guests have the added benefit of the first-ever S.A.L.T Chef’s Table, where a chef duo who will serve, interact and feed an exclusive group of just 18 guests.
Some of the meaningful experiences that have been created for Silver Nova guests were birthed from a unique collaboration with the three Michelin-starred restaurant Mirazur in Menton, a town on the French Riviera, headed by celebrated chef Mauro Colagreco. Tailor-made for Silversea Cruises’s guests, the experiences take guests closer to the heart of French culinary traditions and offer a deep-dive into local food and drink culture.
Guests will join Mirazur’s talented chefs, bakers, and gardeners to explore the central market in Menton’s old town, and meet with Mirazur’s local producers; visit chef Colagreco’s artisanal bakery, Mitron, where they will learn about ancient grains and taste a range of traditionally baked breads and pastries, all produced sustainably through certified organic agriculture; learn about the research being undertaken at the Sanctuaries del Mirazur, five biodynamic vegetable gardens at varying altitudes that are owned by the restaurant; and enjoy a nine-course tasting menu in Mirazur’s private tasting kitchen.
Other carefully crafted ways to appreciate ports of call through fine flavours include a half-day tour of the Karst region to visit a herbal farm and for brunch with wine tasting; and an intimate day with a natural wine master in the medieval town of San Miniato, which features a visit to a wine estate, wine tasting, and a three-course lunch with wine pairing.