Oceania Cruises unveils stately Marina

The stately 1,250-passenger Oceania Marina, the fourth ship in Oceania Cruises’ fleet, debuted this week in Miami. Image courtesy Oceania Cruises

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 Appétit Culinary Center; Master Chef Jacques Pépin’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

Oceania Cruises taps Mary Hart as godmother for Marina

The 1,250-passenger Oceania Marina will debut in February, 2011. Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart will serve as godmother.
Image courtesy Oceania Cruises

By Michael Coleman

Entertainment Tonight (ET) host Mary Hart has been named godmother for the unveiling of Oceania Cruises’ new 1,200-passenger vessel, the Marina.

Hart will name the ship in Miami at a lavish christening ceremony February 5, 2011 culminating with a 15-liter Nebuchadnezzar of champagne, custom-made by Armand de Brignac, commemoratively crashing against the hull.
 
A beloved television personality, this year marks Hart’s final season as host of ET – the number one syndicated entertainment newsmagazine show in the world. Hart joined the popular show as a correspondent in June 1982, and within weeks was named co-anchor.
 
In her personal life, Hart has been involved with philanthropic causes devoted to children. A member of the board of trustees for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, she currently serves as Leadership Chair of the New Hospital Campaign. Hart is also an ambassador for Childhelp USA, which combats child abuse. For many years she served on the board of directors for the National Childhood Cancer Foundation and continues her affiliation with the Children’s Miracle Network, for which she was telethon co-host for 15 years.

Hart is the recipient of the Samaritan Award from the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation for her work on behalf of several children’s charities. In 2001, she was honored with the first-ever Children’s Miracle Achievement Award for her “long-standing commitment to children and contributing in many ways to bettering the lives of children everywhere.”
 
“Mary Hart personifies elegance and style, just like our magnificent Marina,” said Frank Del Rio, chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, the line’s parent company. “We especially salute her philanthropic work devoted to children’s causes and we are proud to welcome her to the Oceania Cruises family.”

“It’s very exciting, and a bit humbling,” said Hart in a statement. “I’m truly honored to serve as the Godmother for Marina — she will be a very special ship. And, I look forward to smashing a great bottle of champagne as we let the celebration begin!”
 
After christening festivities in Miami, Marina sets sail Feb. 8 on the first of two 18-day Panama Canal transits that visit San Francisco or 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.
 
At 66,000 tons and carrying 1,250 guests, Marina features an array of stylish bars and lounges and 10 dining venues — six of which are open-seating, gourmet restaurants — including Jacques, the first restaurant at sea for Chef Jacques Pépin.

Other highlights include a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub, Bon Appétit Culinary Center, Owner’s Suites furnished exclusively in Ralph Lauren Home, and a grand stairway custom-crafted by renowned French glass master, Lalique.

Oceania presently operates a three-ship fleet. Each carrying 700-passengers, Regatta, Nautica and Insignia offer global itineraries.

On the web: oceaniacruises.com

Oceania unveils new Marina

The 1,250-guest Oceania Marina made her debut this week during a float-out ceremony at Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente shipyard in Genoa, Italy. Marina’s inaugural voyage will take place in late January, 2011. Artists rendering courtesy Oceania Cruises

By Michael Coleman

Oceania Cruises’ stylish new 1,258-guest flagship, Marina, was unveiled this week in Italy.

Although her inaugural voyage is still 10 months away, the debut has cruise aficionados abuzz as Marina, Oceania’s first-ever new ship, will feature an array of elegant accommodations, bars, lounges and dining venues.

Oceania presently operates three, 684-passenger ships — Regatta, Insignia and Nautica – each a former vessel in the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises fleet. Over the course of the past half-decade, Oceania has carved a successful niche in the upper-premium cruise travel category and has enjoyed a loyal following.

Marina guest accommodations are comprised of 629 staterooms and suites, 96 percent of which feature private verandas. The 65,000-ton, 16-deck vessel (11 passenger decks) will also include a Bon Appétit Culinary Center, Owner’s Suites exclusively furnished with Ralph Lauren Home, a Grand Stairway and lobby area custom-crafted by Lalique and a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub and fitness center.

Marina, however, was purposefully designed for epicureans in mind. Look for 10 dining venues, including six open-seating, gourmet restaurants including Jacques, the first restaurant at sea for Chef Jacques Pépin.

Pépin’s namesake restaurant will draw inspiration from bistros in his home town of Lyon and the fabled bistros of Paris.

The ship will also feature a state-of-the-art culinary studio with fully-equipped individual work stations, each with induction cook tops, a first at sea, affording guests the opportunity to gain a hands-on learning experience.

Oceania Cruises’ curriculum, designed in part by Bon Appétit, will appeal to a wide range of tastes and incorporate regional cultures and cuisines. Depending on the itinerary, classes may range from 45 minutes to three hours, and cater to all levels of aptitude, from beginner to master-chef level. The culinary experience will also be brought ashore with market tours where guests will shop for local ingredients with the chef.

Marina will also introduce Red Ginger, a Pan-Asian specialty restaurant featuring Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine. Red Ginger will offer both traditional and fusion dishes amid comfortable, visually stunning surroundings, with seating for just 126.

The Canyon Ranch SpaClub, meanwhile, will feature a visually stunning state-of-the-art spa, wellness and fitness facility, plus a luxurious full-service beauty salon. SpaClub will offer a host of spa amenities from 16 massage, body and skin-care treatment rooms, a gym and weight room with more than 50 pieces of cardio and weight training equipment to a juice bar, men’s and women’s locker rooms, thalassotherapy pool, two whirlpools and Thermal Suite.

Marina’s inaugural voyage is a 13-day transatlantic crossing, beginning January 22, 2011 from Barcelona to Miami.

Company officials are so pleased with the debut of Marina – even before a single passenger has enjoyed her amenities – they have approved the construction of a sister-ship, Riviera, scheduled to debut in April, 2012.

Oceania visits more than 300 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the Americas each year.

On the Web: oceaniacruises.com

Cruise Guide: Luxury passengers eye Caribbean

caribbean cruises

By Michael Coleman

The premium and luxury cruise lines, like their mass-market counterparts, are preparing for another busy Caribbean season. Here’s what’s ahead for those who seek to be pampered under a hot Caribbean sun in 2010.

Azamara Cruises – Azamara Journey will sail a variety of Caribbean, Panama Canal and first-ever Sea of Cortez voyages beginning in November 2010. The season features 23 ports in 13 different countries. The 12-night Caribbean itineraries are roundtrip from Miami, visiting ports in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, St. Kitts, Guadeloupe, St. Barts, St. Lucia and Dominica. Sixteen-night Panama Canal voyages sail between Miami and San Diego.

Celebrity Cruises – The 2,850-passenger Celebrity Equinox, the company’s newest arrival, makes her debut in the Caribbean this winter with 10- and 11-night cruises from Port Everglades. Celebrity guests also have more East Coast ports to choose from, including Baltimore, Charleston and Bayonne (for Bermuda cruises) and can take advantage of lower airfares to San Juan where Celebrity Summit visits no fewer than five ports in a week. Celebrity Solstice will sail year-round in the Caribbean starting this winter.

Holland America Line – Offering diversity and a breadth of itinerary lengths from seven to 14 days, Holland America has nine ships sailing the Caribbean on 126 cruises from January to May and October to December. The line’s newest ship, Nieuw Amsterdam, will offer seven-day western and eastern itineraries. Homeports are Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa. Some cruises include the Panama Canal and nearly all include the line’s award-winning private island of Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

Oceania Cruises – Three of Oceania’s seven Caribbean itineraries for 2010/2011 will be new, including a 10-day “Mayan Mystique” voyage of the western Caribbean; a 14-day “Southern Treasures” cruise featuring overnights in Bermuda and Charleston; and a new springtime Panama Canal sailing. In addition, there will be two departures —November 27 and March 19 — for the 24-day “Amazon Adventure” and a 12-day holiday voyage. An introductory offer expiring March 31 includes free air and two-for-one pricing.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises — Ultra-luxury Regent will be offering a full season of Caribbean cruises from December to April this winter aboard the newly-refurbished Seven Seas Navigator. The ship is presently in dry dock receiving two brand new restaurants (Prime 7 and La Veranda) as well as a Canyon Ranch SpaClub. All roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, the cruises feature 2-for-1 fares, free air from 22 North American gateways and free unlimited shore excursions.

Windstar Cruises — The line will be introducing a new 7-day St. Martin roundtrip itinerary this winter on the 148-guest Wind Spirit. Each week from December through March, look for port calls to include St. Kitts, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda and St. Barts. The 312-guest Wind Surf will be offering 7-day roundtrip sailings from Barbados.