Asymmetry means the port and starboard sides are structurally different — it's not just a surface thing; the ship's 'skeleton' is changed. This facilitated the more open pool deck and innovative passenger flow.
Asymmetrical design is 'a cool thing ... but you really understand the groundbreaking difference it makes when you walk on the pool deck and it's like being on the rooftop of one of the hippest hotels you can find,' Silversea President Barbara Muckermann said during a preview cruise for the trade.
This is also a 'ship of light,' with 4,000 square meters of glass, while the horizontal layout facilitates greater ceiling heights. And there's always been demand for suites in the aft of the ship, Muckermann said, so Silver Nova's new top categories — including the Otivm Suites found there — will be 'easy to sell.'
She believes Silver Nova will entice resort-goers who may not have considered a 'traditional' cruise ship, especially now as the value of cruising is so clear compared to the 'insane' pricing of hotels and resorts.
Some 400 passengers on Silver Nova's inaugural voyage this week are new to Silversea.
Change can be hard for brand loyalists but, in Muckermann's view, 'We managed to achieve a balance.' She said the first response from Venetian Society members has been more positive than when the Muse class was introduced.
Royal Caribbean Group pushed the boundaries
Royal Caribbean Group's decades of shipbuilding experience enabled it to push the boundaries for Silver Nova's design, President/CEO Jason Liberty said.
Connecting the ship with the outdoors, the water views and the destinations was the key objective. And greater ceiling heights make a huge difference.
'A nine-foot ceiing is not the same as a 10-foot or 12-foot ceiling,' Liberty said.
Public spaces on Silver Nova were dramatically opened, giving the brand its first multi-story atrium (three decks high) and making other areas more impressive.
'Breathtaking' S.A.L.T. Lab
For example, moving the S.A.L.T. Lab test kitchen up to Deck 10, with one side open to the outdoors with sliding glass doors, created a space that made Liberty catch his breath when he saw it.
'Any guest chef would dream of cooking in this kitchen,' he said.
Besides serving as the chic venue for S.A.L.T. cooking classes, it hosts the new 18-seat Chef's Table experience which, for the ship's current Mediterranean deployment, serves an 11-course menu with cocktail and wine pairings.
Each course features local ingredients like Reblochon cheese from France, roasted pumpkin seed oil from Slovenia, piquillo peppers from Spain, red prawns from Sicily and black truffles from France, Italy and Spain.
40% more energy efficient
Roberto Bruzzone, SVP marine operations, said Silver Nova is 40% more energy-efficient than regulatory requirements and Silversea's prior ships, thanks to advances like LNG, waste heat recovery and batteries for peak shaving.
With dual-fuel capability — LNG and MGO — the intent is to operate 'whenever and wherever' possible on LNG. However, given Silver Nova's wide deployment, the MGO option is needed when LNG isn't procurable.
And with the LNG design, Silver Nova will be ready for eLNG when that becomes available at scale.
Battery banks enable peak shaving. They kick in whenever additional power is needed so it's not necessary to switch on another engine.
Fuel cell challenge
Silversea had aspired for Silver Nova to be the first cruise ship to supply its own emissions-free power in port thanks to fuel cells. The line worked with shipbuilder Meyer Werft and fuel cell manufacturer Freudenberg for many months toward this objective.
'We reached a status where all of us were pretty confident it was about to happen,' Bruzzone said. The fuel cell was ready, all the connections were in place and the infrastructure was there.
But, during the last stages of commissioning, there was an issue with the reformer, the component that converts LNG into hydrogen. (The fuel cell is powered by hydrogen, which isn't easy to store on board, so LNG converted into hydrogen is used instead.) Bruzzone noted it's common in cutting-edge research and development that something can go wrong.
The parties went back to the drawing board and are working on a new reformer design, evaluating new materials and the size of the device.
'As soon as the reformer is available, we are extremely confident we can go back to the original plan and have fuel cell on board and be fully independent from the main engine' to power the hotel plant in port, Bruzzone said. It's also planned to have this system on Silver Ray.
In other Silver Nova changes, even the tenders were upgraded. They have single seats, air conditioning, a lot of glass, sun shades, curtains and an outside camera.
Luxurious crew areas
The 728-passenger Silver Nova carries 556 crew.
Bruzzone called them 'the heart of our business,' adding: 'Thanks to them, we are able to deliver unforgettable Silversea experiences.'
Much effort went into elevating the crew areas, similar to what parent Royal Caribbean Group is doing on a much larger scale for Icon of the Seas.
'We did whatever possible to provide the greatest standard of comfort for our people on board,' Bruzzone said. This entailed selecting finer materials and providing more space 'to allow them to enjoy the vessel in a similar way to guests.'
There's even a small crew spa with a sauna, steam room and two large massage chairs.