By Michael Coleman
Oceania Cruises christened Marina this week during a lavish ceremony in Miami.
The unveiling brings the vision of Frank Del Rio, the founder of Oceania Cruises and chairman & CEO of parent company Prestige Cruise Holdings, to reality with the line’s first newly-built ship measuring 66,000 tons and accommodating 1,250 guests.
“The saying goes, ‘good things come to those who wait’ although Marina’s arrival has been long awaited she’s more than just good,” said Del Rio at the christening ceremony. “She’s the most beautiful, sophisticated and stylish ship launched in the modern era of cruising — a span of some 50 years.”
Marina is a ship of firsts featuring the first Bon AppÃ©tit Culinary Center; Master Chef Jacques PÃ©pin’s first namesake restaurant at sea; Ralph Lauren Home-furnished Owner’s Suites; luxurious accommodations by Dakota Jackson; a Wine Spectator wine program and a Lalique grand stairway.
“Marina is not just another ship, she is special in so many ways,” said Bob Binder, Oceania Cruises’ president. “When we set out to design and build our first new ship, we wanted it to set new standards for comfort, service and culinary excellence.”
The ship’s godmother, Entertainment Tonight anchor Mary Hart, helped host the christening ceremonies.
Marina arrived in Miami last week following her maiden voyage from Barcelona. The ship has been purposefully designed to carry guests to the world’s most alluring ports in elegance and style. Marina is full of rich woods, marble and granite, fine wool carpets and lustrous leathers which adorn public rooms.
Facilities include 10 dining venues — six of which are open-seating gourmet restaurants, an array of bars and lounges, a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub and fitness center, swimming pool and hot tubs.
She will soon depart on the first of two 18-day Panama Canal transits that visit San Francisco and San Diego, both new ports for Oceania Cruises. Marina then operates a 12-day Caribbean cruise, round-trip from Miami, departing March 16, before sailing along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and on to Europe to begin her inaugural Mediterranean season.
Marina is the fourth vessel in the Oceania Cruises’ fleet consisting of Regatta, Insignia and Nautica, each carrying 684 passengers, to locales around the world since 2002. Her sister ship, Riviera, will be christened in April 2012.
The line bills itself as an “upper-premium’’ brand offering “gourmet cuisine, gracious service and award-winning itineraries at an exceptional value’’.
On the web: oceaniacruises.com