Posted by: cruise2 | 14 May, 2012

Oceania Cruises’ Riviera Confirms Positioning in the Market

by Kevin Griffin writing for cybercruises.com

Oceania Cruises’ Riviera, a sister ship of  Marina delivered in January 2011, was christened in Barcelona on Friday. At 66,084 tons, she would have been one of the largest in the world two decades ago, but is now just a footnote in an age where cruise ships have exceeded 225,000 tons and carry more than 6,000 passengers. In fact, more than 100 cruise ships exceed the size of these two sisters.

But those big ships, with all their children’s attractions (and we know that some adults are just grown up children), are much more like fun fairs than the cruise we used to know.

Riviera and her sister ship, however,are built on a more human scale, retaining their attachment to the sea. They are not like the big ships, travelling engineering marvels. But they are sophisticated.

As in days of yore, these ships exude quality on board and offer a quality cruising experience, reminiscent of the type of thing New Yorkers used to experience in Home Lines’ Oceanic, the first large purpose-built cruise ship, and Holland America Line’s once Transatlantic liner Rotterdam in the 1960s and 70s, and Brits knew with P&O’s traditional Canberra and Oriana, while both sides shared Cunard Line’s Caronia.

Riviera and Marina are very similar in dimensions if not in tonnage to these well-remembered ships, much as if this style of ship has returned after half a century:

Oceania Cruises has furthermore pulled a brilliant coup by positioning their ships as upper premium rather than utra-luxury. This means that it is easier to exceed passengers’ expectations when the ships’ position in the market is understated.

This formula has won the day for Oceania and the proof of it is in the 2012 issue of the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships. Not only has Marina, the first of the twins, scored highly, achieving a full five stars and 1701 points out of 2000, but she has eclipsed her own supposedly more upmarket stablemates over at Regent Seven Seas Cruises, the all-inclusive arm of Prestige Cruise Holdings.

Ironically, I’m sure this is not what Prestige intended but the three Regent ships have been given only four-plus stars and an average of 1633 points out of 2000.

The reviews for both of the new ships have been consistently good, with the only criticism being that unlike the traditional cruise ships named above the new sisters have no walkaround promenade deck. However, the new Oceania sisters measure an impressive 52.8 tons per passenger, offering about a third more space per passenger compared to the average of about 40 on most contemporary ships to-day.

Riviera will offer a total of twenty Mediterranean cruises before heading for her new home port of Miami in November. Meanwhile, with two new ships now delivered to Oceania, it was reported that the top executives from both Prestige Cruise Holdings and the Italian shipbuilders Fincantieri who built the latest pair, were back on board Riviera negotiating the next newbuilding for Regent Seven Seas.

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