Silversea to test laid-back cruise

When you think of a cruise line with no formal nights or attire, casual-style entertainment, and the freedom to plan your day as you wish, what name comes to mind? Norwegian. So if I told you I was actually describing luxury-line Silversea, would you call me crazy?

I would have, until today. Silversea has just announced that it is going to test out a new program, called Privileged Passage, to take some of the formality out of cruising. On the April 9, 2007, departure of the Silver Whisper, guests will be able to wear resort-casual clothing day and night, access the fitness center and spa during expanded hours, explore the ports on complimentary tours, and relax in the evening to jazz ensembles and DJs. Early embarkation and late disembarkation will be available at no extra cost.

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The goal is to attract first-time and nontraditional cruisers to Silversea with a more laid-back onboard lifestyle. Perhaps, the cruise line would like to steal the customers who book Norwegian's top-dollar suites. Or maybe the line has figured out that schlepping an extra suitcase full of evening clothes is a huge pain.

Whatever the line's motivation, I know that some loyal Silversea customers will be mad as heck if the cruise line converts all of its ships to cruise-casual. I'll eagerly await the results of the test to see if Silversea can pass. If you'd like to be a guinea pig for Silversea, early-booking prices for the test cruise—a 10-night cruise from Alexandria, Egypt, to Piraeus/Athens, Greece—start at $5,605 per person.

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