Oceania Cruises

History, Review, Itineraries, Ships, Deck Plans, News

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) - also owner of NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) and RSSC (Regent Seven Seas Cruises), The Oceania cruise line as brand offers a luxury product with relatively shorter cruisetour itineraries, but is also known for its Around The World voyages lasting up to 180 days.

Company history

Oceania was founded in 2002 by travel industry veterans Frank Del Rio (former VP of Renaissance Cruises) and Joseph Watters (Independent Director of MarineMax - brokerage company). Oceania Cruises initially chartered the ex-Renaissance Cruises vessel "R Two" from Cruiseinvest, which in October 2002 was renamed Insignia. In April 2003, the ship was chartered for 3 months to the French travel agency TRM, during which Oceania had no fleet. On June 15, 2003, the company re-commenced service with 2 liners - Insignia (renamed Regatta) and a new vessel (R One, sistership of Regatta, also chartered from Cruiseinvest) that debuted as the current 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 NCLH (Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd) 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, the parent company NCLH revealed an 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".

In September 2018, Oceania Cruises partnered with Luggage Forward (US-based luggage shipping company). The new service allows passengers to ship their luggage doorstep-to-stateroom (and back home again), thus truly travelling light. Luggage Forward provides premier door-to-door shipping services to 200 countries worldwide (including over 150 cruise ports). Company's own team of customs specialists handles the country-specific paperwork to ensure on-time deliveries. Travellers can track the shipment in real-time. Luggage Forward service can be booked online or via phone. Rates are fixed, without additional charges or fees applied. Luggage's arrival on time and safety is guaranteed. Luggage Forward offers money-back plus USD 500 on-time guarantee.

Cruising experience

The Oceania cruise line serves industry's upper-premium market, and as brand is positioned between its luxury and premium segments. Shipboard experience is country club-like, the atmosphere is elegant and relaxed, never formal or stuffy. Company's customers are well-traveled, looking for top-class cuisine, personalized service, destination-focused travel experience. Oceania offers exotic cruise itineraries to remote destinations worldwide. Often, port calls are with overnight stays so passengers can enjoy local cuisine, nightlife, culture.

Company's Executive Culinary Director is the renown master chef Jacques Pepin. He created a premier menu of gourmet delights which are highlighted during each onboard dinner. Oceania cruise ships serve an extensive vegan menu and offer smoothie bars with cold-pressed raw juices at Lido Deck.

  • Pool deck's raw juice and smoothie bar serves a variety of healthy drinks - like cold brew lattes, green smoothies, chia cashew yogurt bowl, acai berry bowl. Oceania's new vegan menu has over 250 dishes and is featured in Main Dining Rooms of all ships. It includes appetizers, salads, soups, entrees and desserts. Vegetarian, kosher and gluten-free meals are also offered.
  • The vegan menu has 5 dishes and 4 sides offered at each breakfast, such as Spanish tortilla dish (tofu, potatoes, onions), vanilla waffles (fresh berries), cream of wheat or oatmeal, apricot and pistachio muffins, sides (Lyonnaise potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, vegan sausage). At lunch are offered Italian salad (assorted greens), Tuscan-style bean soup, toasted garlic bread, spinach-stuffed involtini (with pasta and tapenade sauce), tofu, chocolate ricotta pie. Dinner menu is 5-course and include truffle-flavored parsnip soup, quinoa salad, vegetable tartare, Thai red curry with rice, shortbread dessert (strawberries, passion fruit cream).

OceaniaNEXT ship refurbishments (fleet-renovation project)

In August 2018, Oceania announced company's OceaniaNEXT fleet renovation project budgeted USD 100 million. It includes drydock refurbishments of all four R-Class liners - Regatta (September 2019), Insignia (December 2018), Sirena (May 2019) and Nautica (June 2020).

  • As supervision company for the project was contracted Studio DADO Inc (Miami-based designer firm). Other contractors include Baker and Donghia (furnishings), and Rubelli and Kravet (fabrics, custom-made carpets).
  • As result, the fleet will be expanded with 1368 new staterooms, and all shipboard restaurants, bars and lounges will be redesigned and redecorated.
  • New public spaces on these ships will include open-floor designed Lobby with Reception Hall (lower level) with Upper Hall (2nd level). They will be connected with Grand Staircase (decorated with railings and balustrades) and featuring a large crystal chandelier (with hanging pieces of hand-painted glass).
  • Grand Dining Room (aft restaurant on Deck 5) on each ship will receive new premium dining furniture (leather chairs with metallic bronze threading) and new crystal chandelier.
  • Martinis (piano bar lounge on Deck 5) will be redesigned, new silver-white marble bar top and walnut paneling will be added.
  • All old staterooms will be completely overhauled (redesigned and re-furnished) and upgraded with custom-made furniture, polished wood, stone finishes, designer accessories, smart HDTVs (infotainment system with movies-on-demand and Internet), USB ports, LED lighting. All cabin bathrooms will be overhauled and receive new tiling, surfaces and fixtures, designer accessories, vanities and glass shower enclosures. Penthouse-Vista-Owner suite bathrooms will be enlarged and upgraded with Carrara marble tops, onyx and polished granite.

Works on the fleetwide refurb project involve over 1000 artisans and craftsmen, and will result in 1368 new cabins, 8000 new light fixtures, 12000 new sofas and chairs.

In September 2018, as part of OceaniaNEXT program, cruise company's website was redesigned and upgraded. Now customers (travel agents and cruise passengers) can use shipboard credits before departure. OBC can be used for purchasing tours / excursions and shipboard activities and amenities (culinary classes, drink packages, specialty dining at the Privee and La Reserve)

Oceania's new website has greatly improved navigation via groups of 4 tabs (at page top) - "Plan Your Cruise”, “Onboard Experiences”, “Explore Ashore” and “Ultimate Value”. Website's "Travel Agent Center" was also updated (marketing tools, tips and training, travel advisor benefits). Oceania also launched new pre-cruise savings program, allowing customers booking within 30-days prior departure to receive in advance savings and "Best Price Guarantee". Repeat travel agency bookings are credited back automatically.

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

Ь 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. Shore excursions are also offered 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.

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.

Oceania Cruises 2019 program in the Americas and Europe includes 104 itineraries. The cruise line's capacity is split between Alaska, the East Coast of the United States and Canada, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

  • Regatta spends 2019 summer in Alaska, with turn ports both Vancouver and Seattle. Across the continent, Insignia offers summer itineraries from Miami and New York, with a number of Cuba itineraries.
  • During peak summer season, Marina and Nautica offer deployments in Northern Europe, while Sirena and Riviera in the Mediterranean.
  • In Northern Europe, Marina inaugurates two new ports of call for the cruise line in Norway, Haugesund and Bodo, both on a 12-day cruise from Oslo.
  • Nautica is also exploring the wild, via a 20-day trip from the UK visiting Iceland and Greenland’s ports of Qaqortoq and Paamiut.
  • Riviera features early-season Western Mediterranean itineraries, with niche ports on Iberian Peninsula.
  • Venturing east, the vessel moves to Venice and then sails to Athens early July, on a 10-day cruise featuring Adriatic and Greek ports of call.
  • That is followed by a departure from Greece on July 14, which has port calls booked into Cyprus and Israel. The 19-day itinerary turns back West to Barcelona. It is the only Eastern Mediterranean itinerary offered by Oceania in 2019.
  • Oceania Sirena follows her next Mediterranean deployment, full of Western Mediterranean and Adriatic ports.
  • In October, Sirena offers late season itineraries in the Mediterranean, as do Nautica and Marina. Insignia is based in Miami while Riviera offers fall foliage cruises from Montreal and New York. Regatta repositions to Miami FL from Alaska in September 2019, with a return trip to San Francisco in mid-October.

Oceania Cruises to Cuba

In December 2016, company's owner NCLH (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.

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

The company offers a number of departures from Miami FL in 2019, including the “Timeless Cuba” itinerary, sailing 7 days with visits to Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos. A twice-offered 10-day cruise adds a visit to Great Stirrup Cay.

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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