Oceania Cruises Celebrates 10 Years

| 1.09.13

The scrappy and independent upstart, Oceania Cruises, is actually growing up!

A bowl of caviar on Marina

Most articles about company birthdays never see the light of day because everyone has them. Why did we write this one?

Because this anniversary, Oceania Cruises' 10th, truly means something, to me and to a lot of people in the cruise industry. I was aboard one of the line's first sailings in 2003, aboard Regatta as it sailed near the south of France, up the Garonne River to dock in the city of Bordeaux for two nights. We held an online chat session in the CruiseMates chat room with company co-founder Joe Watters, formerly a vice president with Crystal Cruises.

Joe Watters isn't around much anymore; day to day activities are largely guided by the other co-founder Frank Del Rio. Frank was more involved in creating the concept for Oceania, anyway, and it was largely based on his prior experience with a previous cruise line with a very similar philosophy but without the excellence in execution; Renaissance Cruises.

Renaissance declared bankruptcy not long after 9/11. At the time the line was operating eight identical ships; which it called the "R-Ships" and named the R1, R2, etc.

To start Oceania, Frank Del Rio first hired a small staff. He took one of our CruiseMates' editors, Tim Rubacky, to head up its public relations team. Tim had been working for American Express, right across the street from the Twin Towers on 9/11. He was there and lived to see it up close, a little too close. So, Tim was more than ready for his first move to Fort Lauderdale when he was offered the job.

The eight R-ships, built by a French shipyard, had been repossessed by the company that financed their construction. For almost a few months after 9/11 the cruise industry was uncertain and the ships sat idle, but Frank took a chance and was the first to lease back one of the R-Ships. He called it Regatta. At first the cruise line was going to be named Oceana, but they ran into a slight trademark issue, so they modified it to Oceania.

The rest is history; they soon expanded the fleet to three ships, each of them former R-ships. The other five R-ships were quickly snapped up, two by Royal Caribbean International (to become the Azamara brand) and three by Princess Cruises.

Eventually one of the three Oceania R-ships was leased out, but most importantly, the Oceania fleet was expanded with two exquisite new builds freshly designed from the keel up; Marina and Riviera. Most of the design was done by Frank Del Rio - who swears he has never even stepped aboard a cruise ship owned by a competing line.

Are you a fan of Oceania Cruises? Tell us here: Oceania Forum

The Anniversary Celebration

In the words of Frank Del Rio:

"Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Oceania Cruises is an achievement made possible by the loyalty of our guests, employees, crew and travel partners. Because of their support, the next 10 years - and beyond - are filled with just as much promise and opportunity to continue to evolve the Oceania Cruises experience and the modern cruise vacation for our guests."

Guests will have the opportunity to sail with company founders and top executives on four specially designated "Anniversary Sailings." Each voyage will feature a different executive who will host an anniversary cocktail reception, celebratory caviar brunch and gala dinner with private label 10th anniversary wine served complimentary. Frank Del Rio, Joe Watters, Bob Binder, vice chairman of parent company Prestige Cruise Holdings, and Kunal S. Kamlani, Oceania Cruises president, will sail. Anniversary sailings are:

  • Marina's 14-day Scandinavian Serenade departing from London to Stockholm on June 11, 2013 with Bob Binder. In addition to a 3-day stay in St. Petersburg, Russia, the cruise visits Amsterdam, Netherlands; Oslo, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin (Warnemunde), Germany; Riga, Latvia; Tallinn, Estonia and Helsinki, Finland.
  • Riviera's Italian Escapade with Kunal S. Kamlani, departs on July 3, 2013, from Rome for a 10-day voyage to Venice. Ports include Florence/Pisa/Tuscany (Livorno), Italy; Sorrento/Capri, Italy; Amalfi/Positano, Italy; Taormina (Sicily), Italy; Corfu, Greece; Kotor, Montenegro and Dubrovnik, Croatia.
  • Regatta's 7-day Coastal Alaska with Frank Del Rio on July 5, 2013 from Seattle to Seattle with calls at Ketchikan and Wrangell, Alaska; and Prince Rupert, Canada.
  • Nautica's Roman Legends with Joe Watters, departs September 6, 2013 for a 10-day voyage from Barcelona to Athens. Visits include Provence (Marseille), France; Portofino, Italy; Florence/Pisa/Tuscany (Livorno), Italy; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Sorrento/Capri, Italy; Taormina (Sicily), Italy; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey and Santorini, Greece.

The company will celebrate fleet-wide with a special 10th Anniversary dessert called ZEN, a Manjari Chocolate Bar with Milky Gianduja-Yuzu and Hazelnut Croquant featured in the Grand Dining Room and a menu of Canyon Ranch SpaClub® 10th anniversary treatments available on all ships.

Throughout the year, Oceania Cruises' fans will find profiles of crew members who will also pass the 10-year mark with the company on the line's Facebook page. Nearly 100 crew members are reaching this milestone and past guests will find a number of pictures and stories from many of their favorite officers, staff and crew.

Oceania Cruises' past guests will also be invited to share pictures and memories from sailings over the past 10 years on the company's Guest Book on its Facebook page. The company will be tweeting 10th Anniversary updates and news throughout the year at #OceaniaCruises10.

For more information, visit www.OceaniaCruises.com. To make a reservation, see your travel agent or call toll-free 800-531-5658.

Are you a fan of Oceania Cruises? Tell us here: Oceania Forum

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