Silversea was founded in 1994 by a joint venture made up of V-Ships (previously known as Vlasov Group) of Monaco and the Lefebvre family of Rome. The joint ventures’ had previously been the co-owners of Sitmar Cruises. Silversea’s business model was to operate ships in the small, all-suite, ultra-luxury category. According to John Bland, Silversea’s President in 1993–94.
…we have a different ship design. It’s larger, very seaworthy and very comfortable for ocean crossings–but small enough to do the things you want a small luxury vessel to do, to get into small islands where big ships can’t go, to travel up rivers like the Thames.
The new line’s all inclusive fares included such features as gratuities (none were allowed), beverages (including selected wines at lunch and dinner), port charges, travel insurance, and one or more complimentary shore events in every itinerary. As about 80 percent of Silversea’s customers were expected to come from North America, the line established its 25-person marketing office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In September 2000, the line launched Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper in January 2001. Both of these ships were enlarged versions of the original two ships, but carrying about 100 more passengers. In December 2009, Silversea launched the Silver Spirit.
It was announced on June 18, 2012 that Silversea acquired Canodros S.A., the premier Ecuadorian tourism company that operates in the Galapagos Islands. The purchase of the line also includes the former Renaissance ship the Galapagos Explorer II. The vessel will continue on its planned schedule of cruises and will continue to be operated by Canodros, which is based in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Canodros will also continue handling reservations for Galapagos Explorer II, as well as sales and marketing through its established network of travel companies and tour operators. She will be moved into the Silversea Expeditions brand along with the Silver Explore. The Silver Galapagos is expected to enter service on September 28, 2013.
On September 10, 2013, Silversea Cruises confirmed that it will be adding a third vessel to the Silversea Expeditions brand, the Silver Discoverer, currently sailing as the Clipper Odyssey for Zegrahm Expeditions that the Inaugural voyage will be on March 1, 2014