The ultra-luxury cruise operator Silversea is getting a boost from new majority owner Royal Caribbean with revamped products onboard and a complete overhaul of many of its ships.

The $2.9 billion partnership deal has just been approved and the companies have announced "Project Invictus," a multi-year initiative to transform Silversea's nine ships as they face intensifying competition in the high end cruise market.

The newest in the Silversea fleet, Silver Muse, is heading to New Zealand this summer and the company's recently appointed managing director for Asia-Pacific Adam Armstrong said the ship was setting the standard.

While competition was growing, more cruise companies and ships meant there was a growing awareness of what was available in the the luxury market.


He said Project Invictus, likely to cost more than $100 million, was aimed at "tweaking" the luxury.

The first thing done was to change the welcome drinks offering from Prosecco (Silversea was founded by an Italian family) to Champagne and caviar is now complimentary again and widely available throughout the ship. More lobster is also on offer.

During the first five months of sailing by the Muse guests have consumed 10,000kg of lobster and 20,000 bottles of champagne.

Ships are also being pulled out of service for extended dry dock work which has ranged from lengthening one ship to bow to stern interior refits.

Armstrong, who worked for Royal in this region for 10 years, said the company had deep pockets as it was highly profitable.

The ships carry between 100 and 600 passengers, who all have their own butlers, and call at more than 1000 ports worldwide.

The average rate per night for passengers starts at between $500 and $600 a night and up to several thousand dollars.

The Silver Muse will arrive in New Zealand next January, calling at ports including Dunedin, Akaroa, Picton, Napier and Gisborne before arriving in Auckland on January 19.