Frank Del Rio, the founder of Oceania Cruises and Chairman & CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings spoke at Oceania Cruises’ new ship Marina christening in Miami. // © 2011 Oceania Cruises
If a perfect start guarantees a great future, Oceania Cruises’ elegant new Marina should continue the company’s spectacular growth. Marina’s dockside christening day was gorgeous, with sparkling seas, wonderful weather and infectious music. At the event, women in skin-tight white dresses, the Violin Divas, played the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean on electric violins. They were followed by the bravura of flamenco guitarist, Alex Fox, and his two sons, as well as a rendering of the Star Spangled Banner by DeeDee Wilde that should have been heard at Super Bowl XV the next day.
Anything but an ordinary cruise line christening, Marina’s was familial, with bouquets handed out to the 500 attending agents who executives said provide 95 percent of Oceania’s business.
“If it weren’t for our travel agent partners, we wouldn’t be inaugurating this ship,” president Bob Binder.
When Rabbi Loring Frank, who blessed the ship, said he wished to cruise on Marina, Frank Del Rio, Oceania founder and chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, drew a round of laughter and applause as he immediately grabbed a microphone and urged him to contact his travel agent.
Godmother Mary Hart of “Entertainment Tonight” launched Marina with a 15-liter bottle of champagne signed by guests as they boarded, and guests danced and drank champagne before reboarding the ship.
In later sessions with agents and press, Del Rio underlined Oceania’s intention to keep its smaller ships despite the recent announcement of the charter of Insignia to Hapag-Lloyd for two years, starting in April 2012. He also emphasized Oceania’s upper-premium position, saying that he doesn’t want the line to be considered luxury.
In discussing overbooking, executives said the line has never bumped any guest who didn’t choose to go, instead making them very aggressive incentives.
“Guests won’t be bumped involuntarily — ever, ever, ever,” Del Rio assured the agents.
Concerning the move in which Oceania and Regent will be headquartered in the same building, agents were told the companies will remain distinct and separate. The motivation was less about cutting costs and more about the efficiencies involved in not having to travel back and forth. Oceania will have one floor, Regent a second and Prestige a third.
Del Rio commented that Regent had a record year in all respects in 2010 and is getting close to a new ship order. Marina’s sister ship, the Riviera, remains scheduled to debut in April 2012.