Written by 8:39 pm Oceania

Cruise Guide: Oceania eyes Down Under voyages

By Michael Coleman 

Oceania Cruises likes what it sees Down Under.

Dubbed the worlds largest upper-premium cruise line by company officials, successful first-ever voyages to Australia and New Zealand last month prompted the line to introduce additional sailings in 2009 and 2010 aboard the 684-passenger Nautica.

Australasia was the most requested new destination in our companys history and subsequently became the fastest-selling voyages we currently offer, said Bob Binder, President of Oceania Cruises.

The upstart, award-winning line debuted in 2002.

Were eagerly anticipating the day we can dedicate one of our ships for a full-season of voyages Down Under, Binder said.

In the meantime, potential guests can mull over four future itineraries to the region aboard Nautica.

Look for a Southern Cross Holiday, an 18-day voyage from Singapore to Sydney, departing December 20, 2008. Port calls include Semarang, Padang Bay, Komodo, Darwin, Thursday Island, Cairns (Great Barrier Reef), Townsville, Whitsunday Island and Brisbane.

A Splendors of Down Under voyage features a 15-day sailing from Sydney to Auckland, departing January 7, 2009 and January 22, 2009 (Auckland to Sydney). Calls include an overnight in Sydney followed by visits to Melbourne, Hobart, Milford Sound, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Napier, White Island, Great Mercury Island and Tauranga.

A 21-day Coral Seas and Asian Jewels voyage, from Sydney to Bangkok, departs February 6, 2009. Ports include Brisbane, Whitsunday Island, Townsville, Cairns (Great Barrier Reef), Thursday Island, Darwin, Komodo, Padang Bay, Semarang, Singapore, Ko Samui and Bangkok (overnight).

Oceania is offering free airfare from 20 North American gateways and 2-for-1 cruise fares, starting at $4,599 per passenger.

Nautica recently completed a $5 million refit at the Union Naval shipyard in Marseille, France. Soft furnishings were replaced or renewed, new carpeting was laid throughout the public rooms and cabins and more than $1 million was spent installing new bathrooms in the ships 52 penthouse suites.

The suites feature new granite and marble bathrooms, boasting new flooring, countertops and vanities, bathtubs and fixtures. In addition, new 20 and 26 flat-screen LCD televisions with DVD players were installed in all penthouses, concierge level veranda staterooms and stateroom accommodations.

The line sails to more than 180 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean. Featuring three intimate and elegant mid-sized ships, Regatta, Insignia and Nautica, look for heady expansion plans in the near future.

The line will introduce two new 1,260-passenger mid-size Oceania Class ships to its fleet in 2010 and 2011.

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