Increasingly strong rumours are circulating that Oceania Cruises is about to announce an order for a pair of new builds. The two ships are expected to be built in the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy.
The two ships are said to be similar to the previous two Fincantieri new builds, the 66,000 ton sister ships, Marina and Riviera. With a capacity for around 1260 passengers each, these two vessels provided a significant upgrade for the line. Since their introduction in 2010 and 2011 respectively, the two sister ships have garnered rave reviews for their food, service and elegant, sophisticated ambiance. A continuation on the same theme thus seems infinitely sensible.
Oceania Cruises was formed in 2003. Under the stewardship of industry stalwarts Joe Watters, formerly of Crystal, and Frank Del Rio of Renaissance, the company began operations with a pair of 30,000 ton, ex-Renaissance ships, relaunched as the Regatta and Insignia respectively.
From the beginning, Oceania placed an emphasis on excellent service and stellar dining. At the time, the company had the highest per passenger spend on food in the entire cruise industry. In the early years, the ships were sent on longer, twelve nights plus cruises all over Europe and the Caribbean.
So popular did their intimate style prove that the company took on a third of the ex-Renaissance ships. Restyled as the Nautica, they sent her on more extensive itineraries, centered around the Far East. Meanwhile, Insignia was chartered out to Hapag Lloyd Cruises for a two year term. That recently ended and the ship, after a substantial refurbishment, is once more back in the Oceania fold.
The debut of Marina and Riviera showcased a pair of sister ships more than twice the size of the original trio, without sacrificing the elegant largesse of the original concept. The new design allowed for the inclusion of several separate dining areas, such as the highly acclaimed Red Ginger, and permitted the inclusion of some truly spectacular, top drawer suites in excess of 2,000 square feet. These easily rank as some of the most sumptuous apartments anywhere at sea.
These two spectacular ships have been so successful that all three of the original trio have now been tweaked to incorporate design elements of the Marina/Riviera. Little wonder that the two new ships are expected to be a continuation on what has been a hugely popular theme, rather than an attempt at creating something radical.
Oceania is not really a line for those looking for extensive night life and top drawer entertainment. Rather, it has carved out a solid niche for itself as an operator of highly styled, well fed and superbly served ships. And the addition of another two ships would take the company to seven, giving it quite an extensive deployment handle.
As always, stay tuned for any developments.