Oceania Cruises, renowned for serving the finest cuisine at sea, is expanding after quietly conquering Australia.
Early next year, the line launches Vista – a brand new vessel which will bring the fleet up to seven. A sister will launch in 2025.
It is planning to debut the next series of “bigger” ships in 2027 and 2029 which will have two additional restaurants, offering a total of nine epicurean experiences onboard.
The new dining venues will focus on sustainable food sources, healthy eating and the quality ingredients which the elegant line is known for, Howard Sherman, President and Chief Executive of Oceania Cruises told Cruise Passenger.
The new style of ships will take the Oceania Cruises’ fleet to the next level.
“We have been talking to the shipbuilders at Fincantieri in Italy to build Oceania’s next series of new ships in 2027 and 2029 which will be larger than the 1200-guest Allura-Class. This will mean we will be able to have two new, epicurean experiences on top of the seven dining venues currently available. The new ships will form part of our next evolution of ship design”
Right now, Mr. Sherman is focused on the Vista, which begins sailing in May 2023.
The Vista will introduce Ember, a new addition to the line’s family of restaurants; Aquamar offers organic and gluten-free breakfast and lunch by the pool, and Kitchen serves a variety of indulgent and well-inspired dishes.
“We will offer 400 new menu items, new color palettes and a stunning spa on Vista,” he added.
Besides being known for its finest cuisine at sea, Oceania is also famous for its expensive, artworks worth millions of dollars, including masterpieces by Picasso and Spanish painter Miro, which have been meticulously chosen by Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings.
“When I’m back in Florida, I have a meeting with Frank Del Rio next week to choose the artworks and paintings for Vista. Whenever we discuss what pieces should be selected for a new ship, Frank will always pick something he dislikes with the idea that others may like it. It is so interesting to see how much Frank knows about each piece of artwork on display, which gallery he bought it from and the price paid.
“Next year we will introduce an App onboard the Vista so that our guests will be able to do an art enrichment tour of the ship’s artworks on their own.”
As Steve Odell, Sydney-based senior vice-president and managing director Asia Pacific, Oceania Cruises added: “Our customers are very interested in art.”
This week, Mr. Odell launched a partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. The line is supporting the major summer exhibition by South Korean artist Do Ho Suh as part of the 2022-23 Sydney International Art Series. He is known for large sculptures and architectural installations.
“Our two O-class ships, Marina and Rivieraare home to some of the most extensive art collections at sea which have been personally collected and curated by our brand’s founders and acclaimed by critics and art enthusiasts alike,” says Mr Odell.
Marina, Riviera and Insignia have a space called The Artists Loft where artists-in-residence can share knowledge and learning with passengers.
Bookings are at a record for Oceania, with pent-up demand driving forward bookings by more than 50 percent than before the pandemic. Australia is now the line’s second biggest market.
“We are close to 65 percent to 70 percent sold in 2023 and already 20 percent sold in 2024 – well above where we need to be,” Mr. Howard said.
The line’s core destination market is the Mediterranean and there is already a high demand for bigger suites, more bookings for back-to-back itineraries, more new-to-cruise choosing to holiday on smaller ships and more flying premium and business-class to their cruise destinations, Mr. Odell added.
Since the pandemic, a growing number of Australians are buying cruises closer to home so that they don’t have to fly too far on long flights. But there is still a liking for cruises in the Med, UK and Northern Europe.
He said that the brand resonates well with Australians because they like the casual atmosphere and the elegant ship surrounds with attentive service. But most of all, they are “foodie” travelers who are knowledgeable and very interested in art.
As a brand, Oceania continues to attract retirees aged in their early 60’s who have made their money, want to travel in style, enjoy the best cuisine at sea and visit a new port every day.
“We are not all-inclusive as many of our older customers do not drink because of health reasons. They want a five-star experience onboard and at every port destination, but they will pay for all the bells and whistles if they want to,” Mr Howard added.
Oceania offers a wider range of healthy eating options with an elegant experience onboard and immersive shore excursions.
“We still buy our flour from France, our butter from Normandy and because of the Ukrainian war, we have stopped buying our vodka, caviar and seafood from Russia,” he said.
So when Regatta sails into Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay on December 12 to mark the start of its Australian summer cruise season, she will spend more than a month here.
And if the line is able to homeport in Sydney, Mr Howard said Oceania will definitely send a ship Down Under.
For more information, visit oceaniacruises.com