Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Now we are six – Oceania adds another ship to its fleet

Ocean Princess
Name-changer: Ocean Princess, soon to become Oceania Cruises' Sirena
Oceania Cruises is to grow again – with the addition of a ship bought from Princess Cruises for $82 million (£52 million). The vessel, currently sailing as Ocean Princess, is virtually identical to Oceania’s Insignia, Nautica, and Regatta – all were originally built for the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises.

The 684-passenger ship joins Oceania in March 2016 when it will be given a $40m (£25.5 million) refurbishment in dry dock at Marseille before being re-named Sirena.

The work includes fitting Oceania’s trademark speciality restaurants, Toscana and the Polo Grill, along with a coffee shop and cook-to-order grill at the Gerrace Café.

Sirena is expected to carry her first Oceania passengers in late April 2016.

The announcement of the deal came from Oceania’s new owners, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, who completed the takeover just days ago. Kevin Sheehan, president and CEO of Norwegian, said it was his company’s belief in the Oceania brand and its commitment to the “growing base of loyal guests” that were the rationale behind the decision.

Kunal S Kamlamni, president of Oceania, said Sirena “opens up an entire array of new itinerary options.”

In addition to the former Renaissance ships, Oceania also operates two larger newbuilds, Riviera and Marina, carrying 1,250 passengers each. The line’s total capacity will grow to 5,236. The newly-enlarged Norwegian group, which also includes Regent Seven Seas, now totals 21 ships with a combined capacity of approximately 40,000.

Princess still operates another ex-Renaissance ship, Pacific Princess, which is also believed to be for sale. P&O’s Adonia is almost identical, and the other two – all built between 1998 and 2001 at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique yard in France – are sailing as Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey.

Azamara is likely to be making its own announcement about expansion very soon, but insiders believe the line – owned by Royal Caribbean International – is going for a newbuild rather than buying a “pre-owned” vessel.