Oceania Cruises

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Oceania Cruises fleet

Review of Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises is a Miami-based passenger shipping company operating a fleet of premium liners. Between April 2007 and September 2014, Oceania was owned by Apollo Management. Company's owner since 2014 is NCLH (Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings) - the owner of NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) and RSSC (Regent Seven Seas Cruises), The Oceania cruise line offers predominantly luxury cruises with relatively shorter itineraries, but is also known for its long Around The World voyages lasting up to 180 days.

Oceania was founded in 2002 by cruise industry veterans Frank Del Rio (ex- vice president of Renaissance Cruises), and Joe Watters. The company chartered former Renaissance Cruises vessel R Two from Cruiseinvest and in October 2002 named Insignia. In April 2003 the ship was chartered for three months to the French travel agency TRM, during which Oceania operated no ships. On June 15, 2003 the line re-commenced service with two cruise ships: Insignia was renamed Regatta; a new ship (R One, sister ship of Regatta, also chartered from Cruiseinvest) debuted as the new Insignia.

Oceania Cruises logo

In the end of 2005, a third R-class ship entered Oceania Cruises fleet when the line chartered R Five from Cruiseinvest and named Nautica. At the naming ceremony, Frank del Rio announced a plan of to add a fourth ship, Marina, in July 2007. However, this didn't come to pass.

The majority of Oceania's stock were sold in February 2007 to the New York-based Apollo Management. The next month Oceania Cruises made a memorandum agreement with Fincantieri shipyard, Italy to construct a couple of new 1,260-passenger vessels. The contract was finalised in June the same year, with delivery dates set for January and July 2011. The contract also included an option for a 3rd ship of the same type to be delivered in May 2012, but the line declined the option.

After being leased out to Hapag-Lloyd as Columbus 2 for two years, Insignia returned to the fleet of Oceania in 2014. In May 2014 Oceania cruises and Fincantieri were close to making a deal on two additional ships. On September 2, 2014 NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) purchased Prestige Cruise Holdings, parent company of Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, for USD 3,025 billion, thus becoming the official owner of all vessels in both fleets.

On November 25, 2014 Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd revealed a definitive agreement with Princess to purchase Ocean Princess (now Sirena) for Oceania, upon delivery in March 2016. The ship will therefore undergo a 35-day, US$40 million refit in Marseille, France to become "MS Sirena".

Cruising experience

Oceania Cruises bills itself as upper-premium  line, positioned squarely between the luxury and the premium segment, which essentially distills into “pay less, get more.”

Oceania brings to sea the country club lifestyle, with an elegant but relaxed onboard atmosphere that is never formal or stuffy. The guests of the line are well-traveled and looking for world-class cuisine, personalized service, and destination-focused experience. The line delivers on these requirements by promoting exotic itineraries to remote world-wide destinations, frequently providing overnight stays so passengers can fully immerse themselves in the cuisine, culture and history during port calls. The Executive Culinary Director of Oceania, acclaimed master chef Jacques Pepin, has created a menu of culinary delights which are the highlight of every evening.

Oceania Cruises' ships already serve an extensive vegan menu and offer vegan smoothie bars featuring cold-pressed raw juices. Guests can belly up to pool deck's raw juice and smoothie bar any morning and find a variety of choices like Coco Island juice, cold brew lattes, tropical green smoothies, chia cashew yogurt bowl or an acai berry bowl. Oceania's brand new vegan menu, with over 250 dishes, is featured in the main dining rooms of line's ships and includes appetizers, salads, soups, entrees and desserts. Vegetarian, kosher and gluten-free meals are also offered.

The new vegan menu gives cruisers 5 dishes and 4 sides to choose from at breakfast, such as a Spanish tortilla dish with tofu, potatoes and onions; vanilla waffles with fresh berries; cream of wheat or oatmeal; apricot and pistachio muffins; and sides like Lyonnaise potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and vegan link sausage. At lunch, passengers might have an Italian salad with assorted greens, Tuscan-style bean soup and toasted garlic bread followed by a spinach-stuffed involtini with pasta and olive tapenade sauce, tofu and a chocolate vegan-ricotta pie. Oceania's dinner menu is a 5-course meal including a truffle-flavored parsnip soup, quinoa salad and vegetable tartare, Thai red vegan curry with rice, shortbread dessert with strawberries and passion fruit cream.

Why to choose Oceania ships?

  • Cuisine: Oceania Cruises’ chefs prepare noteworthy cuisine in all onboard restaurants.
  • Destinations: Oceania itineraries offer overnights in top ports and are destination-oriented.
  • Midsize Ships: The deluxe ships of Oceania are quite manageable in size: even the largest one has fewer than 1,300 guests.
  • No Smoking: Oceania vessels are almost entirely smoke-free. There are small, designated areas for smokers.
  • Surprisingly Affordable: Oceania cruises approach true luxury in style, but are quite affordable when it comes to fares.

The sophisticated ambiance of Oceania extends to the entertainment provided onboard. Guests can listen to a jazz band or 12-piece orchestra, watch a cabaret show or enjoy regional entertainment from the ports of call. The line regularly hosts guest lecturers, from former ambassadors to famous authors. Oceania cruises combines the best of new and old, preserving classic traditions, such as afternoon tea while offering contemporary services like 24-hour Internet access.

Oceania voyages are adult-oriented. These are not a good pick for families, particularly those sailing with infants and toddlers. There are no dedicated kids' facilities available onboard, and parents are completely responsible for children's behavior and entertainment. Some teenagers who don't mind the absence of video arcades might enjoy the unique ports of call.

Other advantages of Oceania include:

  • Many Oceania cruises include airfare in fare pricing.
  • Pre-/postcruise Hotel Collection Packages include private group transfers.
  • There is no dining charge on Oceania Cruises ships, but wine and cocktail prices are relatively high.
  • Guests may bring up to 3 bottles of wine per stateroom from ports of call, but have in mind the corkage fee  - it is $25 per bottle to bring wine to the restaurant.
  • Oceania offers shore excursion collections. These have to be reserved prior to sailing and save a lot.
  • Oceania Cruises was the first line to upgrade bedding to the highest standard. Passengers can count on a good sleep on these ships.

Early-booking cruise discounts (OLife Advantage)

Since September 2015, Oceania Cruises offers an extended early booking program (OLife Advantage). Discounts and benefits by this incentive program are available to all Oceania customers booking itineraries in Europe, Alaska and Canada New England.

OLife Advantage rewards all booked passengers, regardless of stateroom category. The list of bonus percs (complimentary amenities) may include unlimited internet, pre-paid gratuities, onboard credit, free cabin upgrades. The OLife Advantage program also provides free (complimentary) shore excursions per cruise, depending on itinerary's length: 3 tours (itineraries up to 9 days), 4 tours (itineraries 10-13 days) and 5 tours (itineraries 14+ days).

Wavenet (free, high-speed Internet) fleetwide

In April 2018, Oceania Cruises introduced the Wavenet (high-speed internet) fleetwide / on all ships. The service allows faster uploading / downloading of big files, watching Netflix movies, social media sharing, music and video livestreaming (Spotify  Facetime, Skype).

  • Oceania Cruises new Wavenet Internet service is free of charge and unlimited. As amenitiy, it is included in the ticket prices for all staterooms (suite and cabin categories) and on all itineraries.
  • The "Wavenet Prime" (Internet upgrade) is available for purchasing at USD 10 pp per day. It allows passengers to stream music, videos and movies.

Itinerary of Oceania Cruises

Award-winning Oceania Cruises itineraries visit over 300 ports in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australia and New Zealand aboard line's luxurious ships. Oceania's cruise vessels stand apart from other midsize ships with low 1-to-2 crew-to-passenger ratios and comprehensive itineraries. 

During warm weather months Oceania Cruises ships ply the waters of Eastern and Western Mediterranean, Western Europe and British Isles, Northern Europe's Baltic Sea and Norwegian Fjords. During the winter, Oceania spans the globe with sailings to Asia, Australia, South America, Panama Canal and the Caribbean.

Oceania Cruises appeals to affluent retirees who look for a no-frills and refined experience. That said, the sophisticated atmosphere of the line also attracts solo travelers and young couples who are looking for an experience sans kids. Regardless of which voyage you choose, expect to sail with American crowd.

Itineraries 2018-2019

During the first half of 2018, Insignia sails her 5th 'Around the World in 180 Days' cruise. 8 segments are available, including 20 days from Miami to Reykjavik via Greenland and 28 days from Rome to Montréal. A 180-day world cruise is scheduled to depart March 1, 2019 aboard MS Insignia. Oceania Insignia carries 684 passengers during the world cruise which covers over 45,000 nautical miles across 2 oceans, 5 continents and 16 seas. Travellers are able to visit 90 destinations in a total of 36 countries. For added flexibility, cruisers embark from New YorkMiami or Los Angeles. The 180-day voyage offers 14 overnight stays in cities including Bali, Hong KongYangon, and Luxor. There are also shore excursions in Tokyo, Jerusalem, and Bordeaux.

Select Oceania sailings to Asia and Africa offer the option of free 3-night pre- or post-cruise land tours. Examples include 'Roman Wonders,' to Rome and Vatican City; 'Beijing & the Great Wall,' exploring some of China's top historical sites and 'Winelands & Wildlife,' out of Cape Town.

In November 2016, Oceania Cruises revealed plans to homeport one of its smaller cruise ships, Insignia, in New York during summer and fall seasons in 2017 and 2018. This way Oceania became the only upscale cruise line to offer regular cruises from the city.

Oceania Cruises' 2018-2019 program "Tropics & Exotics Collection" features as highlights:

  • 75 cruise itineraries, of which 53 are new - including 10x in the South Pacific (Australia New Zealand), 12x in Asia and Africa, 23x in the Caribbean Sea.
  • 24 "Extended Journeys" itineraries ranging in length 17-59 days and exploring North and South America, Caribbean, Asia, Africa, Australia.
  • Passengers are able to savor the beauty and joyful Polynesian culture of South Pacific aboard Oceania Marina.
  • Guests also explore the marvels of Asia and Africa aboard Nautica and Insignia, including on the "Far East Mystique" itinerary offering 2 overnights in Yangon and calls on India's most revered port destinations.
  • Regatta boasts thrilling Australia and New Zealand itineraries, with a new roundtrip Auckland cruise (themed "Tasman Traveler") with Sydney NSW overnight and visits to NZ - Rotorua (from Tauranga), Bay of IslandsNapier.
  • More options are offered to enjoy the island culture of the Caribbean with 28 itineraries on Regatta, Riviera and Sirena, 17 of which visit Cuba.

Starting January, Oceania Cruises offers a season of voyages dedicated to exploring the culinary cities of Asia. Oceania Insignia and Nautica are calling on over 50 ports in the region starting 2018. Itineraries include a 15-day Pagodas & Shrines cruise onboard Nautica sailing from Singapore to Hong Kong. From January 20, 2018 destinations along the way include Bangkok, Koh Samui, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Sihanoukville, before ending in Hong Kong. There is also a 15-day Eastern Escapade voyage, beginning February 4, onboard Nautica from Hong Kong to Bangkok. Passengers will sail through Ha Long Bay before stopping at Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City. Koh Samui and Singapore are the next ports of call before the vessel concludes its trip in Bangkok. Oceania Insignia cruises include a 20-day sailing from Singapore to Beijing starting March 15, as well as a 25-day journey out of Tokyo to Singapore starting March 31.

Oceania Cruises to Cuba

In December 2016, the line's owner NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings) received permission to operate cruises to Cuba, with two Oceania ships - Marina (starting in the end of 2016) and Regatta (starting in 2017). Cuba currently lacks the infrastructure to support large cruise ships, so the 684-passenger Regatta and 1,258-passenger Marina are small enough to work with what exists there now. Both ships sail a variety of itineraries, including circumnavigation of Cuba (with stops in Cienfuegos and Havana) and visiting Cuba as part of some Panama Canal transition cruises.

In March 2017 Oceania Cruises announced 10 new itineraries to Cuba in 2018. Cruises are roundtrip Miami, range 7 to 10 days in length and all include visits to Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos.

The current list of passenger shipping lines offering cruises to Cuba includes:

  • Carnival Paradise leaving from Tampa Florida - cheapest prices (from USD 480 pp)
  • Royal Caribbean (ship Empress of the Seas, leaving from Miami Florida)
  • Holland America (ship Veendam) leaving from Fort Lauderdale since December 2017
  • NCL (ship Norwegian Sky, 4-day itineraries with Havana overnights - starting May 2017.
  • MSC Cruises (ship MSC Opera, leaving from Havana)
  • Azamara Cruises (ship on Azamara Quest from Miami)
  • Thomson UK / Marella Cruises (ship Marella Dream) 7-day, leaving roundtrip from Jamaica (Montego Bay) to Havana
  • Compagnie du Ponant (yacht ship Le Ponant, leaving from Miami Florida)
  • Pearl Seas Cruises (ship Pearl Mist, leaving from Fort Lauderdale Florida)
  • Lindblad Expeditions (chartered sailing ship MS Panorama II, leaving from Havana)
  • Celestyal Cruises (ship Celestyal Crystal, leaving from Havana and Montego Bay Jamaica)
  • Grand Circle Cruise Line (ship MV Clio / ex Tere Moana) one-way from Miami to Havana, or the reverse from Havana to Miami (embarkation/disembarkation in port Cienfuegos).
  • International Expeditions (leaving from Havana, charter flights out of Miami)
  • Victory Cruise Lines - MS  Victory I (former MS Saint Laurent) - fly-cruises from Miami to Havana (home-port Cienfuegos /departures)
  • Note: According to the current Cuban law, US citizens of Cuban origin (born in Cuba) are not allowed to visit the island country (including on cruise ships). Regardless of their US citizenship status, Cuban-born Americans were denied booking on cruise itineraries visiting ports in Cuba. However, the situation changed in April 2016, after Carnival Corporation negotiated with the Cuban government for allowing ships with Cuban-born passengers, as such US citizens are allowed to visit the country on USA-Cuba charter flights. The Carnival-fathom line started Miami to Cuba cruises in May 2016.
  • Alaska Airlines offers regular nonstop flights to Havana from Los Angeles (California USA). An 80-min ling JetBlue flight from Fort  Lauderdale (Florida) to Havana costs less than USD 100. Previously, air travel from USA to Cuba was thought charter flights only.

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