25 posts categorized " Home Office "

November 29, 2013

A MESSAGE FROM KUNAL S. KAMLANI: THE STORY BEHIND THE ODYSSEY

SELECT_Kunal1 tan copyOn behalf of everyone at Oceania Cruises, we hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving yesterday and continue to enjoy spending time with friends and family. 

In this season of giving thanks, I reflect on many things for which I am grateful and one of them is being a member of the Oceania Cruises family.  I not only get to work with the most talented and professional individuals both on land and at sea, but I also exchange ideas on a daily basis with guests and travel partners, many of whom have become close friends. The 180-Day World Odyssey cruise is a classic example of an idea that comes to life when guests and travel agents keep pushing us to create something new. We check the world map all the time and we haven’t found a new city or island. But, trust me, this wasn’t going to stop us. 

As Destination Specialists, if anyone was going to find out if there was a group of people who truly wanted to explore the world without constraints, it was going to be us. We began by sitting around a table with the objective of creating a fantasy voyage that will excite and inspire. We ignored all the conventional wisdom that typically constrains itinerary development; in particular we ignored the element of time.  The final product was a collection of destinations that encourage exploration and discovery – Around the World in 180 Days.  Even with the ultimate itinerary in hand, we were nervous. In our 10-year history, Oceania Cruises had never offered a world cruise and did not know what to expect. But within the first hour of opening the sailing for reservations, it became apparent that our passion for travel had come through loud and clear in the itinerary. And eight hours later, we sold out the entire sailing.

As you can imagine, this unprecedented response gave us a great deal to be excited about. But at the same time it left many guests and travel partners asking for another epic journey.

A few weeks later, we found ourselves sitting around the conference room table once again. This time, with a different task: Create another unique journey that will break the mold we just set.

During the brainstorming for the Around the World in 180 Days cruise, we focused on sailing to the most exciting ports while circumnavigating the globe. Now that we had accomplished this feat, we focused on just the destinations without requiring the “around the world” component. To further break from industry tradition as it relates to world cruises, we considered the possibility of scheduling our new fantasy voyage in the summer season, and suddenly we realized that we had found the formula to create another truly differentiated itinerary. Immediately, we focused on how the warmer weather opened the door to new destinations – most notably two of them in Greenland, Nuuk and Paamiut. Then, we shifted our attention to the number of iconic places that we collectively had traveled to or remain on our bucket lists. As our itinerary came together, we noticed that made it possible for our guests to visit more than 100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

With all of the logistics in place, the only thing left was to give it a proper name - a name fitting of a new grand adventure.

And that’s how the 180-Day World Odyssey cruise was born.

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This extraordinary voyage aboard Insignia will visit five continents, 52 countries and 100 ports of call and will feature 14 overnight stays plus 2 two-night calls in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) and Mahé, Seychelles. I hope you take a moment to visit OceaniaCruises.com/180day for the complete itinerary and details. We are very proud of this voyage and hope that we have piqued your interest in exploring the world.

Although the 180-Day World Odyssey cruise will be difficult to outdo, we never stop dreaming of exciting new voyages because your desire to experience the world’s wonders never wanes.

And for that we are grateful.

September 11, 2013

REGATTA HOSTS MASTER CHEF JEAN-LOUIS DUMONET

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Jean-Louis Dumonet, Karen Dumonet and Eric Barale

Regatta
has been playing host to two very special guests onboard the current Ultimate Panama Canal cruise. Master Chef Jean-Louis Dumonet and his wife, Karen, boarded Regatta in San Francisco for their first cruise ever and presented several cooking demonstrations during the sailing.

 

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Barale, Dumonet and Macouin
Chef Dumonet is executive chef of the Union Club in New York City and president of the North American region of Maîtres Cuisiniers de France. This prestigious association of some of the world’s leading chefs is dedicated to preserving and spreading the French culinary arts, encouraging training in cuisine and assisting in professional development. Maître Cuisinier, or Master Chef, is one of the most esteemed titles that a chef can aspire to attain. Oceania Cruises Culinary Director Eric Barale and Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger are also members of this eminent organization.

 

 

Chef Dumonet and his wife were joined by Barale as well as Traveling Senior Corporate Chef Renald Macouin in presenting entertaining and informative culinary demonstrations that were greatly enjoyed by guests throughout the voyage. As an additional treat, the Grand Dining Room menu featured one of Chef Dumonet’s special dishes each evening. Guests enjoyed creations such as Foie Gras Crème Brûlée, Sweet Corn Soup with Lobster, and Dumonet’s signature Chocolate Mousse.

July 9, 2013

A MEMORABLE 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION IN TOSCANA

Toscana PhotoOn a sailing that has already created so many fond memories for me, last night was the most memorable yet. As Riviera set sail from Taormina, Sicily, I headed to Toscana with my wife, Daniela, to host some of our most loyal guests for a dinner in celebration of Oceania Cruises’ 10th anniversary. Through the windows of Toscana, we could see the beautiful sunset behind Mount Etna, a perfect backdrop for a very special evening.

Riviera’s string quartet played as our guests arrived. Daniela and I welcomed each guest, as did Captain Gunnar Romtveit and General Manager Thierry Tholon. We were also joined by several of the senior officers, each of whom hosted a table for the evening. Our guests were more than 50 of our most loyal Oceania Club members, from Bronze level through Platinum, and we were honored to be celebrating 10 years at sea with some of the guests who had made it all possible.

Senior Executive Chef Alexis Quaretti prepared a six-course dinner befitting the exclusive event. The menu was printed for each guest as a keepsake to remember not only the exquisite meal but also the wonderful company we all enjoyed as we celebrated this special occasion together. It was such a pleasure to be able to talk with our guests in this intimate setting and to hear their delightful stories and fond memories of their voyages with Oceania Cruises. I was pleased to hear that, while the ships are beautiful and the cuisine exceeds their highest expectations, it is our officers, staff and crew Toscana Photo-2that truly differentiate the Oceania Cruises experience from any other. As one guest put it, “It’s like coming back to see family every time.”

We are so grateful to have these cherished guests as part of our Oceania Cruises family, and I offered a toast to their health and happiness. I was glad to have the opportunity to personally thank them for choosing to explore the world with us and for making it possible for us to expand our fleet and deliver even more dream vacation experiences. We raised our glasses to the wonderful journeys we’ve enjoyed over the past 10 years and to creating more treasured memories onboard Oceania Cruises in the years to come.

Everyone in Toscana last night said they are looking forward to the next decade with great excitement, and in fact, we made a commitment to each other that we would reunite the group and celebrate Oceania Cruises’ 20th anniversary together as well. In the meantime, we will always cherish our memories of this special evening, and I hope our paths cross again many times.

July 7, 2013

ANNIVERSARY SAILING CELEBRATES 10 YEARS OF SPECTACULAR DESTINATIONS AND FINE CUISINE

Riviera Sorrento
Greetings from the Italian Escapade sailing onboard Riviera and the ongoing celebration of Oceania Cruises’ 10th anniversary. It has been a wonderful cruise so far, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet many of our past and first time guests. I couldn’t be more proud of the officers and crew who continue to make everyone onboard a part of the Oceania Cruises family.

DSCN1004-2Oceania Cruises was founded on the vision of a group of people with a passion for spectacular destinations and fine cuisine, and we are enjoying both as part of this anniversary sailing. In celebration of 10 years of culinary delights, Senior Executive Chef Alexis Quaretti and Bon Appétit Culinary Center Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly hosted a culinary demonstration. I welcomed guests to the event and shared a bit about the culinary history of Oceania Cruises before turning it over to the experts to share some of the secrets behind our exquisite cuisine.

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As we were celebrating 10 years at sea, it seemed appropriate that the chefs would prepare dishes from the sea. They demonstrated three guest favorites: Salmon Gravlax with Cucumber Salad, Poached Halibut with Lemon Cream Cuisson on a Quinoa Cake, and the ever-popular Red Ginger specialty – Miso-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass. It was both educational and heartwarming to see Chef Quaretti and Chef Kelly, two special members of the Oceania Cruises family, working together to share their knowledge with our guests and illustrating one of the reasons that our guests have continued to return to us for the past 10 years: the finest cuisine at sea prepared by some of the most talented – and entertaining – chefs in the culinary world.

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Soon after the demonstration, Riviera dropped anchor in Sorrento with the impressive Mount Vesuvius looming in the background. Situated on a terrace overlooking the splendid Amalfi coastline, Sorrento is imbued with charm and echoes of the ancient past.

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There are a number of appealing ways to spend a day in Sorrento, from going to see the ruins of ancient Pompeii to visiting the Blue Grotto in Capri to simply walking around the rustic, sun-drenched town of Sorrento. The Blue Grotto was on the bucket list of many guests, so a group of us boarded a ferry and headed to Capri for the afternoon.

The grotto is a uniquely beautiful sea cave on the coast of the island of Capri. A small opening in the cave at the surface of the water and a larger opening beneath the surface provide the only light sources. We entered the grotto through the small opening, just large enough for a rowboat to pass through. Inside the cavern itself was dark, but the water was illuminated with a brilliant blue glow. The effect was absolutely dazzling. It’s difficult to fully capture the beauty of the experience in a photograph, so if you haven’t visited the Blue Grotto, I highly recommend you add it to your own bucket list.

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After a spectacular day in Sorrento, we returned to the ship and enjoyed an excellent dinner at Jacques. Then everyone gathered on the pool deck for a sail away party.

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Cruise Director Leslie Jon was emcee of the event, and General Manager Thierry Tholon led the entire crew in a parade around the decks. This was truly an emotional evening as the officers and crew of Riviera celebrated Oceania Cruises' 10th anniversary with our cherished guests.

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I look forward to more celebrations with our guests, officers and crew, and I’ll share further stories here on the blog as our Italian Escapade continues.

July 5, 2013

FOUNDER FRANK DEL RIO BOARDS HISTORIC 10TH ANNIVERSARY SAILING

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The year 2013 marks a major milestone in the history of Oceania Cruises as we celebrate our 10th anniversary. Last week Vice Chairman Bob Binder shared stories of the special events onboard the first of four sailings in honor of this momentous occasion. This week two more Oceania Cruises’ executives board sailings to celebrate 10 years at sea with the loyal guests who have made it all possible.

Mr and Mrs Del Rio Regatta2 - Version 2Today, July 5th, marks the most historic of these sailings because the man who founded Oceania Cruises, Chairman and CEO Frank Del Rio, embarked Regatta on the very same date that she sailed her first voyage 10 years ago. On July 5, 2003, after being christened in Barcelona, Regatta set sail to explore Europe on the first voyage in Oceania Cruises’ history. Now 10 years later, Regatta sails from Seattle to discover the majestic wilderness of Alaska. Frank will host this very special anniversary sailing with his wife, Marcia, who is the godmother of Regatta and was warmly welcomed home today by General Manager Jason Gelineau and the other officers and crew.

When the anniversary sailings were being planned, Frank Del Rio had his choice of which ship he would like to sail on. For Frank, there was no question of which ship he would choose. “Regatta will always be my special ship,” he says. “If it wasn’t for her, nothing else would’ve been possible.”

L1070088Meanwhile, President Kunal S. Kamlani is celebrating the anniversary onboard Oceania Cruises’ newest ship, Riviera. He boarded the ship in Civitavecchia on Wednesday to host the Italian Escapade sailing. Several special events are planned in honor of the guests as well as the officers and crew that have been so loyal to Oceania Cruises over the years. Yesterday Kunal joined several guests, along with Chef Kelly and sous chefs Asif and Raj from the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, on a Culinary Discovery Tour. Check the blog tomorrow to read about their wonderful experience in Livorno, and watch for more stories of exciting anniversary sailing events in the coming days!

June 21, 2013

BEETS, SAUERKRAUT AND CHERRIES: Can you guess where Chef Kelly is?

L1050109-2One of the nicest things about our second season of Culinary Discovery ToursTM is returning to see the local chefs and culinary experts that we met last season in the Baltic and Mediterranean. 

Such was the case this week in Riga when Chef Karlis greeted us at the port with hugs and stories of the cold Latvian winter. Chef Karlis was born and educated in Seattle but moved to Latvia 10 years ago in search of the authentic “peasant” cuisine that he refers to as “Latvian fusion.” This balance of simplicity, Baltic ingredients and seasonality is the hallmark of the restaurants and food trucks for which Chef Karlis is now known in Riga.

The sky was blue, the temperature was perfect and we were off to the Central Market. This impressive collection of five 20th-century German zeppelin hangars was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses more than 3,000 vendors in 778,000 square feet. Each of the five hangars is dedicated to its own product: fish, dairy, meat, dried and pickled delicacies, or baked goods. The colorful and impressive displays held our attention, and until we looked up, it was easy to forget that we were in a building that was once a hangar for gigantic zeppelins! 

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We began in the fish pavilion, where Chef Karlis informed us that the fish in Latvia primarily come from freshwater streams. We then continued on to the pavilion dedicated to smoked fish and pickled vegetables to sample some sauerkraut, pickled carrots, garlic-infused pickles and curry-turmeric cabbage. We also tasted several local cheeses laced with nettles and herbs. 

 

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Since it’s spring in Latvia, the peas and cherries were abundant. There were also cups full of wild strawberries from the local forests.

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My favorite part of this market is the section devoted to flowers, and on this trip I found them to be just as beautiful as I remembered. The rows and rows of colorful begonias, petunias, hanging baskets and herbs were just breathtaking!

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After a lively stroll through the market, we were off to Chef Karlis’ teaching kitchen in the old city.  The kitchen sits on the second floor of a charming bed and breakfast that is typical of the café-bohemian style of this quaint neighborhood. 

Chef Karlis and his staff had set up his kitchen with work stations where we would help him prepare our Latvian fusion luncheon. The menu for the day was a chilled beet soup with quail egg and goat cheese, a braised pork belly with spring vegetables and a fruit salad with kefir and black bread crumble. 

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L1060927Our job as sous chefs was to peel and chop roasted beets, shuck fresh peas, shell quail eggs and scrub baby carrots. With aprons on and knives in hand, our tour group pitched in and had a lot of fun working together. Chef Karlis instructed us as to how to complete each task and also shared with us his culinary philosophy.

After about an hour in the kitchen, it was time to take a seat at the beautifully set table. This is one of my favorite times on any Culinary Discovery Tour – chatting with our guests, interacting with chefs and culinary experts in their home settings and relaxing in an authentically local environment. On this tour we were joined by Bob Binder, who is not only one of the founders of Oceania Cruises but also one of the creators of our Bon Appétit Culinary Center. Bob certainly enjoyed jumping in with the kitchen prep work and mingling with our guests in a relaxed atmosphere. And I have to say I was quite impressed with Bob’s knife skills!

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Lunch was delightful. The beet soup was an elegant combination of sweet from the beets, creamy from the goat cheese and texture from the quail egg – all topped with the spike of fresh and fragrant dill. 

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The pork was fork tender and lightened by the fresh, seasonal peas and baby carrots. Chef Karlis garnished this dish with pea shoots and a radish peel, which I thought elevated the rustic dish to the level of haute cuisine! The meal also included a tasting of three local beers that made for great conversation about which ones we liked best with which dishes. We finished our lunch with wild forest strawberries and other berries on top of a crumble made with dried black bread and a yogurt and berry coulis. 

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The day was such fun and was perfectly capped off with a return to the Bon Appétit Culinary Center onboard Marina for a class on crepe making, using cheeses, mushrooms, meats, tomatoes and herbs purchased at the market earlier that day.

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We topped our dessert crepes with my new recipe for salted caramel ice cream, which I’ve included below in case you’d like to try it at home.

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 8 egg yolks, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon plus ½ teaspoon Maldon salt

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream and milk. Heat, stirring frequently, until nearly boiling, but do not allow the mixture to boil. Meanwhile, in a separate medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar caramelizes to a light brown color, about 3 to 5 minutes. As soon as the sugar caramelizes, stir the hot cream mixture into the caramel. Decrease the heat to low.

In a medium bowl, stir together the beaten eggs and a small amount of the hot caramel mixture to temper the eggs. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining caramel mixture. Cook on low for about 10 minutes to form a custard.

Add ½ teaspoon of the salt to the mixture. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If using an ice cream maker with a frozen bowl, let the mixture cool slightly before transferring to the bowl, but be careful not to cool the mixture too much or the caramel will solidify. When the ice cream is prepared, sprinkle it with the remaining ½ teaspoon of Maldon salt.

I hope you enjoy the recipe, and I hope you have the chance to join us on a Culinary Discovery Tour in Riga on an Oceania Cruises voyage in the near future!

June 18, 2013

10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY RECEPTION HONORS LOYAL GUESTS, OFFICERS AND CREW

Ken and Sheila
Last night was a truly special evening on the 10th Anniversary Sailing onboard Marina, as we hosted a cocktail reception in honor of our Oceania Club members. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to greet many of our loyal guests, including Mr. Ken Reycraft and Ms. Sheila Brohman (above), who are on their 27th cruise with us.

I always enjoy attending these receptions when I am onboard, but last night’s event was especially memorable for me because we also recognized the onboard team members who have been with us for the company’s entire 10 years. 

 

GM and Captain
GM Dominique Nicolle introduces team
 
10-year team
10-year team members


We opened the Miami office on January 5th, 2003, with less than 20 employees. Our telephones weren’t working yet, and we did not have any computers. Our first ship, Regatta, was due to arrive in only six months and we were still planning her itineraries. 

Most importantly, only six months before delivery of the ship, we were in the process of building a team to operate the vessel. For a cruise line, the most important asset we have is our onboard team, and we needed to quickly recruit 400 officers and crew members. 

The cruise industry is dominated by a few very large players, and we had to convince 400 team members to take a chance on a startup company run by a small group of investors with big dreams. Those initial crew members that we were able to recruit were so much more than a crew of 400. They quickly became a strong team that would shape the future success of our company.

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Cabin Stewardess Mayra Lisseth Valle
 
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Asst. Chef de Partie Rojello Ozoria Rincon


10-year employee 3
Asst. Electro Technical Milen Dimitrov Dimitrov
 
10-year employee 4
Head Baker Valmarino Abad Alberto


Captain FlokosI am so pleased that many of those inaugural team members are still with Oceania Cruises. Fifteen of them are here with us on this anniversary sailing, including Captain Dimitrios Flokos (left). It was my honor and privilege to recognize each of them at the reception last night and to have the chance to shake their hands and thank them for being a cherished part of our Oceania Cruises family. I wanted to share their names here and to offer my congratulations and heartfelt thanks to all of the officers and crew across our fleet who have provided a decade of dedicated service. You are the reason that we welcome so many loyal past guests onboard our ships with every sailing.

10-Year Team Members onboard Marina's 10-Year Anniversay Sailing:

Head Baker Valmarino Abad Alberto

Cellar Master Ramona Caracas

Asst. Cabin Stewardess Ancizar Franco Chamorro Guacales

Maitre D' Toscana Paul Mihai Climescu

Asst. Electro Technical Milen Dimitrov Dimitrov

Butler Fabian Mascarenhas

Asst. Chef de Partie Rojello Ozoria Rincon

Provision Master Diosdado Jr Pilongo Pacot

Chef de Partie Esteban Racadio

AB Fireman Sammuel Capati Rugayan

Deputy Head Waiter Vedran Stanojevic

Cabin Stewardess Mayra Lisseth Valle

Chef de Partie-Pastry Jhon Jairo Romero Vaca

Restaurant Manager Borislav Sijan

Master Dimitrios Flokos

February 25, 2013

OCEANIA CRUISES LAUNCHES FIRST-EVER TV ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN

Today Oceania Cruises reaches another milestone in the company’s history. We are launching our first ever television advertising campaign. Airing on national networks in cities on the East and West coasts, the new 30-second spot begins running today and showcases the brand’s pillars of destinations, cuisine, onboard experience and value. 

The first scene opens on an Oceania Cruises ship at sea and highlights the experiences guests can “wake up” to every day, like visiting the Taj Mahal in India or the Meteora monasteries in Greece, whale watching in Alaska or a gondola ride in Venice. The ad transitions to the onboard experience and Oceania Cruises’ extraordinary cuisine, focusing on the freedom guests have to decide when, where and with whom they will dine.

 

The ad campaign is timed to coincide with the launch the 2014 Summer Collection, the largest offering in Oceania Cruises’ history. Unveiled on February 13th, the collection encompasses 90 voyages, an almost entirely new line-up of European itineraries and the highly anticipated return of Insignia. The five ships in the fleet – Marina, RivieraRegatta, Insignia and Nautica – will sail to more than 330 destinations throughout the world.

The Oceania Cruises family is always growing, and with this television campaign, we hope more people than ever will hear about the fascinating destinations, luxurious ships, exquisite cuisine and extraordinary value of the Oceania Cruises experience.

October 1, 2012

PRESIDENT KUNAL S. KAMLANI ANNOUNCES ENHANCEMENTS TO OCEANIA CLUB LOYALTY PROGRAM

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Kunal S. Kamlani with guests

Loyalty. It’s a word that seems to have lost its importance to some in today’s modern world. Consumers are increasingly switching brands they once trusted for years. Companies have introduced "Loyalty" benefits that expire annually unless you achieve certain milestones every year. These companies argue that expiration dates should apply if there is no annual commitment. Perhaps that’s true elsewhere, but certainly not at Oceania Cruises. Our past guests continually show their loyalty by returning to us again and again. That dedication has built Oceania Cruises into what we are today and allows us to deliver the most value-packed cruise vacation in the industry. That is also why we’ve always sought to recognize such commitment by offering the best loyalty program in travel, the Oceania Club. 

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Town Hall

I’ve spent the past few months talking with our guests about our loyalty program. In fact, on the most recent Reunion Cruise aboard Riviera from Lisbon to Rome, we spoke at length on the subject in our Town Hall, and I was greatly inspired by your insight and suggestions.

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Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis with guests

That’s why I’m excited to announce today that we are expanding the Oceania Club program to deliver even more value to you every time you sail with us. We are adding a new entry membership level called "Blue" for guests to start earning rewards as quickly as their first cruise. And we are significantly enhancing every milestone level with added benefits such as FREE Air Deviation Fee Waivers and substantial savings on onboard activities, including Internet access. Many of these changes are a direct result of your feedback.

Oceania Club Blue Pin
Introducing the NEW Oceania Club Blue Pin

From the very first time you sail with us, we want you to know how much you are appreciated and that we hope to welcome you back time and again. If you don't sail every year, don't worry; our Loyalty doesn't expire.

The new Blue Level membership allows you to earn benefits faster than ever before. With just two cruise credits earned, you will receive benefits such as savings on Oceania Cruises logo merchandise and a complimentary cocktail reception with the Captain and Senior Officers. We’ll also ensure you are always “in-the-know” with advance notice of new itineraries and exclusive members-only offers.

For our Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond members, we are offering more benefits and greater savings on those aspects of your cruise that you have told us you enjoy the most. Whether you like to sip a fine wine, surf the Internet, relax in the Canyon Ranch SpaClub® or venture out on a shore excursion, the more you return to enjoy the Oceania Cruises lifestyle, the more savings we offer on all of the above. 

Oceania Club Bronze Pin
Oceania Club Bronze Pin
Oceania Club Silver Pin
Oceania Club Silver Pin
Oceania Club Gold Pin
Oceania Club Gold Pin


Oceania Club Platinum Pin
Oceania Club Platinum Pin
Oceania Club Diamond Pin
Oceania Club Diamond Pin

We also offer a combination of loyalty benefits that no other cruise line provides, BOTH shipboard credits and prepaid gratuities. And while other cruise lines might offer reduced specialty dining surcharges as part of their loyalty programs, we simply cannot as we NEVER charge a dining supplement to begin with. So we start by offering an incredible value upfront, and then we add to that value the more you sail with us.

The new program is effective with the first 2013 sailings, and you can click here to learn more about the new benefits.

Simply put, we’d like to say “Thank You.” We are so grateful for all of our loyal guests, and we want to ensure you know how deeply you are appreciated. Whether you’ve sailed with us one time or 50 times, you are a treasured part of the Oceania Cruises family.

On the eve of our 10th Anniversary, we made these enhancements to the Oceania Club because we believe our guests’ ongoing commitment should be mirrored by the same passion and appreciation in return. Our guests deserve nothing less than the best, so we will continue to ensure that is always what we deliver. 

On behalf of all of us at Oceania Cruises, Thank You.

Kunal S. Kamlani

President

May 12, 2012

COUNTDOWN TO RIVIERA: RIVIERA IS CHRISTENED IN BARCELONA

May 10 2012 Cat_Cora-006It’s official! Oceania Cruises’ newest ship has been christened Riviera by Godmother Cat Cora. Chef Cora arrived onboard two days ago and was welcomed by Vice Chairman Bob Binder, President Kunal Kamlani, and Chairman Frank Del Rio with a reception in La Reserve. Frank presented Cat with the gift of a stunning diamond necklace and earrings.

The morning of the christening soon arrived, and we began the day with a gala brunch in the Grand Dining Room. As Riviera would be named in the great city of Barcelona, the menu included paella, jamon iberico, seafood of every variety, and tapas that were as beautiful as they were delicious.

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As we enjoyed our fantastic brunch onboard, the final details were being attended to ashore in preparation for the momentous ceremony that would soon take place.

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In keeping with the Spanish theme, the port was decked in the vibrant reds and yellows of Catalonia. Flamenco dancers and Spanish guitarists created a jubilant atmosphere of celebration.

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Soon it was time for guests to disembark, and the festivities were underway.

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Cruise Director Leslie Jon would be Master of Ceremony for the event.

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Godmother Cat Cora was seated at the front of the stage with President Kunal Kamlani and Vice Chairman Bob Binder at her side.

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The celebration began with a brilliant performance of Barcelona by Soprano Alina Furman and Tenor Giorgio Olmo, followed by a flamenco dance by Rafael Amargo & Company. The charismatic leader of the troupe even convinced Cat Cora to join him for a dance. It was soon apparent that she is not only a talented chef, but an excellent dancer as well. 

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Riviera Christening59President Kunal S. Kamlani opened the remarks, pointing out that beautiful Barcelona – a center of arts and culture – was the perfect setting for the christening of Riviera, as she herself is a work of art. But he was also quick to point out, “Despite our excitement at Riviera’s debut, there is an even larger story here. This is much more than a celebration of a ship. This is a celebration of people. For Riviera has only come into existence thanks to all of you here today and to every guest that sails with Oceania Cruises.”

Kunal then introduced the founder of Oceania Cruises, Frank Del Rio.

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After sharing how proud he was of the accomplishment of the Oceania Cruises family in creating Riviera, he introduced the honorary commodore of the ship, Andrea Area. Area was the first general manager of Oceania Cruises’ first vessel, Regatta. He made an immeasurable contribution to the early successes of Oceania Cruises, and then tragedy struck. Area suffered a debilitating stroke from which it was doubtful he would recover. But after seven years of rehabilitation, Area was now able to walk to the stage to accept the honor from Frank, after an emotional embrace that touched everyone present.

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It was a fitting time for Captain Luca Manzi to take the podium and introduce the officers and crew that are the heart and soul of Riviera. The senior officers came to the stage while the hundreds of other crew members emerged onto Riviera’s verandas to a an exuberant round of applause.

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Deacon Ricardo Rodriguez-Martos took the stage for the blessing of the ship, then Frank returned to introduce Riviera’s godmother, Chef Cat Cora. “When Bob, Kunal and I were debating who would be the godmother of Riviera,” he said, “we wanted someone whose life achievements, whose passions and whose values were aligned with those of the Oceania Cruises brand. Being the cruise line for foodies, we quickly zeroed in on this remarkable woman, who since making television history in 2005 as the first and still only female Iron Chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, has become one of the largest names in the culinary world. As an accomplished author, restaurateur, contributing editor, avid philanthropist and proud mother of four, her talent extends deeply within and far beyond the kitchen.”

Chef Cora was beaming as she approached the stage. “I want to say as the mother of four boys – finally I have a girl! And isn’t she a beauty!”

She went on to say how honored she was to be joining the Oceania Cruises family. “I couldn’t be more thrilled. With the Oceania family I feel like I share so many of their values: loyalty, friendship, and excellence as well as the best of travel, food and wine. I want to thank Frank, Bob and Kunal as well as…all of the hundreds of crew members that are the soul of this ship and that will be making me proud as it sails around the world.”

And now it was time for the grand finale. As Chef Cora reached for the jewel-studded lever that would release the custom-made Nebuchadnezzar of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin champagne, she declared, “I name this ship Riviera. May God bless her and all who sail with her.”

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Right on cue, the bottle swung from its perch and crashed spectacularly into Riviera’s hull, exploding into a million pieces as confetti and music erupted in celebration.

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Photo by David Ramos Vidal

I took nearly 700 photos of this momentous occasion, and the one that best captures the true spirit and overwhelming joy of the day may be this picture of President Kunal Kamlani embracing his children.
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I have many more wonderful moments from the christening to share, so continue to follow the blog for more stories as Riviera sails for Venice where the first guests will embark on her Maiden Voyage.

March 27, 2012

POST FROM THE PRESIDENT: RIVIERA COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL SEA TRIALS

AerialRiviera
I am pleased to report that Riviera completed her sea trials today, and she has passed with flying colors. Our executive vice president of vessel operations, Robin Lindsay, was onboard for the trials and described them as “a resounding success.” He said that Captain Luca Manzi was exceptionally pleased with Riviera’s performance and that she handled perfectly in all situations.

And sea trials are no walk in the park. This is the first time that a new ship is really put to the test to ensure she will perform. During the final set of trials, Riviera sailed the Mediterranean for three days, encountering various sea conditions and employing all power settings. Meanwhile, an entire team of technicians and engineers from both Oceania Cruises and the Fincantieri shipyard were onboard evaluating her every move. The teams assessed not only Riviera’s speed (she easily cruised at more than 21 knots with ample reserve power), but also her maneuverability, hydrodynamics, propulsion and safety systems.

Each time I receive news of Riviera’s latest success, my anticipation of her christening and maiden voyage grows. Now that sea trials are finished, the team can focus their undivided attention on the final details of the interior, which is sure to be as stunning as that of her sister ship, Marina. I thought we’d share a few pictures from Italy while we wait for Riviera to be unveiled in all her glory.

A dramatic image of the crest adorning Riviera's bowRVA bow crest

A sunset view from the bridge
Riviera Bridge

The pool deck glows at night

Riviera Pool

Watch for more photos and updates from the shipyard soon.

March 7, 2012

POST FROM THE PRESIDENT: ANNOUNCING NEW 2013 ITINERARIES

Venice

One of the most exciting days of the year for Oceania Cruises is the day we release our new itineraries. And I’m happy to announce that day has arrived, as our fabulous new 2013 itineraries are now open for bookings. We have spent months designing the sailings for the summer and fall of 2013 to showcase the very best of Europe. Our ships will sail throughout the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and the Baltic, calling on historic cities such as Barcelona, Venice, Istanbul, Stockholm and St. Petersburg.

Those of us who love cruising know that, while the destinations are fascinating and often determine which sailing we select, life onboard is one of the things that makes cruising the best way to travel. That is why we work so hard to create an Oceania Cruises experience that exceeds your expectations in every way. But with so many exotic destinations to explore, our guests tell us they often wish they had more time to enjoy all the amenities and activities onboard. So in our new European itineraries, we’ve incorporated more days at sea and ensured there is at least one sea day on almost every sailing to allow plenty of time to appreciate the pure joys of cruising.

Alaska - DenaliBut Europe isn’t the only continent we will visit. You may have already seen on Facebook or in the USA Today article that after a one-year hiatus, Regatta will return to Alaska in the summer of 2013. Regatta’s size makes her perfect for exploring the Inside Passage, so we just had to give her another opportunity. There is simply no better way to experience the magnificent landscapes of Alaska. Several of these Alaskan voyages embark in Seattle, a new port of call for us. I love Seattle, and I’m thrilled that guests will have the chance to experience it as part of a journey with Oceania Cruises. When summer comes to an end, Regatta will sail for eastern shores, as I can’t think of a better place to be in the fall than Canada and New England. If you haven’t been there in autumn, you can’t imagine the brilliant display of color from the fall foliage. Daniela (my wife) and I have spent at least one week a year over the past ten years taking a fall foliage trip. It’s simply not one to miss.

While my wife and I have had the privilege of enjoying several cruises to regions all over the world, I can tell you we never tire of planning our next cruise. I hope you’ll visit the Oceania Cruises website and look over the new itineraries and take a moment to envision your next dream vacation. And then of course, I hope you’ll let us make that dream a reality!

July 17, 2011

Riviera Floated Out At The Fincantieri Shipyard in Genoa

Oceania Cruises celebrated a major milestone on Saturday, July 16, as the Riviera was afloat for the first time and moved from the construction dock to her fitting-out berth. 

What a difference a month makes! Compare these photos to those posted at the end of June during the last construction update.  Riviera is Starting to Take Shape!

RIviera Launching Ceremony 003 
“The float out of a ship is a beautiful occasion which marks the beginning of her life and we are eagerly anticipating the day next spring that we can unveil her to the world,” stated Frank Del Rio, Chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings and founder of Oceania Cruises.

RIviera Launching Ceremony 015 
The sequence of events began last Wednesday as the ship was blessed by shipyard clergy.

RIV_Afloat 
Then the shipyard workers opened dozens of sluices and thousands of gallons of seawater began to enter the building dock.

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Three days later, Riviera is fully afloat.

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Then Riviera begins her very first voyage, albeit not under her own power. Here, the shipyard tugs have just completed their first task, towing her very gently from the building dock into the harbor.

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The tugs then begin the task of turning her around so that she can be properly positioned at her fitting out berth.

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She is now turned almost 270 degrees and ready to begin her short journey across the harbor.

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Almost there...

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Home at last!

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Here is another view of the immense fitting-out pier that will be Riviera's home for the next nine months as thousands of craftsman begin fitting out and finishing her magnificent, designer interiors. You can see the gargantuan crane which is capable of lifting hundreds of tons and they have just begun securing the tower of exterior construction elevators to the port side of the ship.

Stay tuned for the next update in which we will give you a tour of the massive warehouse at the shipyard that will house everything that is used to fit out the interiors.

 

July 8, 2011

FILMING WITH MARY HART IN LOS ANGELES

Mary Hart-1
Followers of our blog will recall that beloved television personality Mary Hart officiated as Godmother to Oceania Cruises’ Marina at the Christening Ceremony for the new ship earlier this year. As Senior Vice President of Marketing for Oceania Cruises, I have now had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Hart several times. But today was certainly the most exciting, as I was able to join Ms. Hart in front of the cameras!

Mary Hart 2
Ms. Hart, myself (pictured right) and Vice President of Corporate Communications Gary Gerbino (pictured left) spent today in Los Angeles recording her voice-overs and filming her camera appearances for our upcoming DVD. While I’ve filmed marketing pieces before, I’ve not often done so in a Burbank studio with a pro like Mary Hart, and I usually choose to stay behind the camera. It was quite exciting to be in the middle of all the action and get a taste of what it’s like to be in the spotlight. (But I don’t plan to quit my day job.)

Mary Hart 3
Ms. Hart is truly passionate about Oceania Cruises, so passionate in fact, that she took liberties with the script when she felt it necessary to express more strongly her appreciation for the Oceania Cruises experience. She was even wearing the Cartier necklace that she was given as Godmother of Marina. It was presented to her by Oceania Cruises Founder and CEO Frank Del Rio before the Christening Ceremony in February.

I’ve worked with Mary on several occasions since she first accepted our invitation to be Godmother of Marina, and each time has been a pleasure and a privilege. I look forward to our next meeting in person, and also to seeing Ms. Hart in the Oceania Cruises DVD!

June 13, 2011

Oceania Cruises' Founder Frank Del Rio Featured in New York Times

       

Frank Del Rio
Frank Del Rio, founder of Oceania Cruises and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, was featured in the New York Times yesterday. He tells the story of how his family emigrated from Cuba when he was almost seven years old. After being processed at the Freedom Tower in Miami, the family went to Connecticut to stay with an uncle. They came to the U.S. with just one suitcase each because Del Rio’s parents thought that Fidel Castro couldn’t possibly remain in power in Cuba for very long.

They stayed in Connecticut for nine years before moving to Miami. Del Rio goes on to tell how he met his wife, Marcia, built a career in the cruise industry, and learned the keys to creating a successful cruise line.

Read more of the article and learn Frank’s whole story at the link below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/jobs/12boss.html


May 7, 2011

Messages from Marina: REUNION CRUISE GUESTS ARRIVE IN VENICE

CanalAlong the Adriatic Sea on the coast of northeast Italy lies the city of Venice, floating upon a maze of intricate canals lined by charming cafes, regal cathedrals, and palatial estates once inhabited by a wealthy aristocracy. Vaporettos and water taxis zip along the waterways, while gondolas offer leisurely tours of a city famous for romance. 

Gondolas

In this lovely city I would soon embark on a marvelous journey, the 7th Annual Oceania Club Reunion Cruise onboard the extraordinary new ship Marina. This voyage is a wonderful event for everyone onboard, and is especially exceptional because it features hosted dinners, special excursions, exclusive cocktail parties and other surprises for Oceania Club members. As Oceania Cruises’ Blogger-at-Large, I had been looking forward to this sailing for many months.

My husband and I took advantage of Oceania Cruises’ Pre-Cruise Hotel Program so we could fly in a day early, spend some extra time exploring Venice, relax for a bit and then board Marina refreshed and ready for our adventures. 

 Bruschetta

A priority on our agenda was to indulge in some authentic Italian cuisine. We found a little out-of-the-way café where we shared a delectable bruschetta and caprese salad.

Fish stewReturning to Hotel Saturnia, we stopped into the hotel restaurant, La Caravella. We tried their famous fish stew, which was absolutely exquisite. 

St. Mark's SquareJust a few blocks from our hotel was St. Mark’s Square, where we saw two of Venice’s most famous landmarks, the Basilica di San Marco and the Doge’s Palace. We were planning to revisit the square for a full tour the next day, but we later found out that a more important guest would be visiting – the Pope! The city was bustling with excitement in preparing for the Pope's arrival.

St. Mark’s Square was closed for security reasons, so we were unable to see the inside of these beautiful facades, but we were happy for the excuse to return to Venice again!

Two glass blowersThere were plenty of other interesting things to see and do in this city, such as observing the glass blowers on the island of Murano. The families on this island have been perfecting this art for hundreds of years. We visited the Vetreria Bisanzio Gallery, where the Ballarin family had been blowing glass since 1483. 

Master DemosThe Master showed us how he incorporates mosaic pieces and even gold foil into the glasswork.

 Master Glass BlowerThe process was absolutely amazing to watch. A master glass blower is assisted by several others in a process of constant motion, heating, blowing, and manipulating the glass into elaborate designs. 

Murano Statue
  Murano GlassAfter the demonstration we were given a tour of the studio featuring magnificent chandeliers, beautiful sculptures, fine glassware, and the trademark statuettes of this particular master.

Marina in Venice
We had a fantastic time in Venice, but the excitement was even more palpable when it was finally time to board Marina. As we approached the port in our water taxi, the view of Marina was magnificent. 

Marina Crew
I was joined by Nick DeSantis, Manager of the Oceania Club, and Jeff Drew, Senior Vice President of Sales, who would be hosting this fabulous voyage. We were welcomed by several key staff members who have been responsible for Marina’s flawless performance and who would ensure that the Reunion Cruise was a wonderful success.

Pictured above are: Front row, left to right — Food & Beverage Director Filipe Martins, Chief Purser Michele Gullick, Chief Housekeeper Beata Antas, General Manager Theirry Tholon, Desktop Publisher Jessica Domm, Oceania Club Ambassador Matilda Jerosimic, Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis. Back row, left to right — Cruise Director David Shermet, Destination Services Manager Phil Leech, Executive Concierge Javier Cortes, Senior Vice President of Sales Jeff Drew.

Boat and Hosts

To celebrate the first day of the Reunion Cruise, several guests were invited to a special dinner. Two classic Italian theater characters welcomed my husband and I to the boat that transported us all to one of Venice’s charming little islands.

San Clemente
The dinner was held in a lovely garden setting outside the San Clemente Palace.

Venice dinner group
We dined on eggplant parmigiana and loin of lamb with rosemary potatoes.  The cuisine was delicious, and the pleasant company of the other Oceania Cruises’ guests made for a delightful evening.

We’ve enjoyed a splendid couple of days in Venice, and the Reunion Cruise has only just begun. I look forward to sharing more tales of our adventures as the journey continues!

 

 

 

 

 

May 2, 2011

Post from the President: EXCITING NEWS FROM OCEANIA CRUISES

   


Marina Sculpture
We’re only four months into 2011, and it has Marina Statue Sign already been an exciting year for Oceania Cruises. There isn’t a more thrilling event for a cruise line than the launch of a new ship, and Marina’s debut in January was everything we had hoped for and more. Marina just visited Monte Carlo, and some guests venturing out to the French village of Eze captured this unbelievably appropriate photo. It's as if they stumbled upon the sculpted incarnation of our lovely ship Marina —  elegantly beautiful, "similar yet different" from Oceania Cruises' other ships, and "most certainly unique."

Marina SFHaving had some time to reflect, I am only now realizing how much I learned from the wondrous experience of envisioning and creating a new cruise ship. I’ve always been especially appreciative of the value of two resources – time and personnel. You definitely want both of these working in your favor when undertaking a project of this scope, and realizing our vision for Marina has given me an even deeper appreciation of this truth. Frank Del Rio likes to tell the story of how we only allowed ourselves eight days between taking delivery of the ship in the shipyard and the first guests coming onboard. Note that most cruise lines allow themselves four to five weeks. In fact as we were finishing construction on Marina, a ship for another line was completed, sailed across the Atlantic empty, and then sat in its home port for a few more weeks for final preparations before the first guest boarded.

Meanwhile, in mid-October the shipyard had informed us that they were a bit behind on Marina due to the complex design of her suites. Our eight days were dwindling. When all was said and done, we had 69 hours between taking possession of the ship and the first guest coming onboard in Barcelona. The most amazing part of this story is that Marina and her staff performed flawlessly from day one. I have never been so impressed by the dedication of our Oceania Cruises family as I was when they so seamlessly executed Marina’s inaugural sailing. The entire crew did an absolutely exceptional job, rising to every occasion and meeting every challenge. Thanks to the unfaltering commitment of our staff, we experienced great success despite the time deficit.

Nevertheless, we do plan to allow ourselves a bit more time for preparing Riviera for her first guests. We aren’t gluttons for punishment after all! While we could not be more thrilled with Marina, we have taken numerous lessons from the experience that will make Riviera’s debut an even greater success. I intend to personally invest even more of my time in ensuring that one year from now Riviera will emerge as the spectacular beauty we are all expecting. To allow myself the time so essential for this commitment, I will be assuming the new role of Vice Chairman and working closely with our founder and Chairman Frank Del Rio to assure the continued success of Oceania Cruises’ vision.

This brings me to the latest exciting news in an already exhilarating year for Oceania Cruises. Please join me in offering a warm welcome to the newest member of our Oceania Cruises family, Mr. Bruce Himelstein. Bruce is taking over the role of President of Oceania Cruises, bringing his unbridled enthusiasm and brilliant vision to the helm. He has held senior sales and marketing positions at several of the world’s most respected hospitality companies and was previously senior vice president of sales and marketing at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company during the most ambitious expansion in the brand’s history. Needless to say, we are thrilled to have him onboard.

Bruce is looking forward to getting to know all of our guests both onboard and on the blog, and I’m sure he will be checking in here frequently as he gets settled in. Of course, I can’t wait to start sharing updates on Riviera’s progress, so you will be hearing from me often as well. So far there has not been a dull moment in 2011, and with all the excitement on the horizon for Oceania Cruises, that trend promises to continue!

Welcome Bruce
Team members welcome Bruce to the Oceania Cruises family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 18, 2011

OCEANIA CRUISES' 2012 EUROPEAN COLLECTION OPENS TO RECORD BOOKINGS!

   

MarinaWelcome web
It's been an exciting week here at Oceania Cruises. On Wednesday, reservations opened for the collection of European cruises we'll be offering in 2012, including the Maiden Voyage of our newest ship, Riviera. By mid-afternoon we had already broken Oceania Cruises' record for the most reservations in one day. People are extremely excited about Riviera's debut and also about all of the fantastic special offers we will feature next year.

As part of our continual commitment to exceeding guests' expectations, we are constantly looking for ways to take the Oceania Cruises' experience to an even higher level of excellence. We realized that, especially when guests are traveling overseas to board our ships, the journey prior to embarkation can be a source of anxiety. Flight delays or lost luggage can make for a rocky start to an otherwise perfect vacation. We at Oceania Cruises decided to help alleviate this challenge for our guests by offering a FREE one-night pre-cruise hotel stay in the port of embarkation for all of our Europe 2012 itineraries. Now guests can fly in a day ahead, relaxed in the knowledge that they have plenty of time to meet the ship, even if unforeseen circumstances delay their travels.

Of course, once onboard the ship, the ability to relax and savor each moment is equally important, especially with so many alluring ports of call to explore. As specialists in destination-rich cruising, we have ensured that each of our 2012 European itineraries has at least one overnight stay in port, and many itineraries feature several overnight visits. We also offer numerous departures late in the evening, allowing guests time to fully experience every fascinating destination.

For those guests with more limited time available for travel, we are offering in this collection our first 7-day voyages in Europe. Each still features the overnight stays and late evening departures that will allow guests to explore in depth at every port of call.

We are thrilled to see that these offers have been so well received by our guests and that bookings are filling at an unprecedented pace. If you would like more information on these fabulous cruises and Riviera's Inaugural Season, click the Promotions link above. Our 2012 European Collection brochure will go out soon, and I've shared a sneak peek of the cover below.  

Europe 2012 Mini Cover
Thank you again to all of our loyal guests, and we look forward to seeing you onboard in 2012!

 

February 11, 2011

THE EXCITEMENT ONBOARD MARINA CONTINUES!

     

Bob, Chefs

Whew! What a week it has been here onboard Marina! I've hardly had a moment to check in on the blog, so I thought it was time for an update. If you saw the post by our Blogger at Large on the Christening Cruise, you know that last weekend was an exciting and emotional event for all of us. You may not know that on the final night of that cruise, we celebrated with a grand performance by Willy Chirino. And Frank Del Rio may not know that I caught a couple of photos of him, his wife Marcia, and their grandkids dancing the night away. Frank was also thrilled to be invited to the stage to sing a few lines with Chirino!

Frank Dancing

Frank and Willie

The festivities ended all too soon - but just in time for more festivities to begin. Our guests disembarked the Christening Cruise on Tuesday morning, and by Tuesday afternoon more guests had embarked for the Inaugural Passage through the Panama Canal. It is amazing to watch the staff and crew ready the ship for the next cruise in just a few short hours. Before we knew it, it was time for the Sailaway Party as Marina departed for Cartagena, Colombia.

Inaugural Sail Champagne

Inaugural Sail Away

You may think that I will now have a chance to relax and take some time to enjoy all of our successes with Marina. But the work continues. While Marina is elegant, stunning and a whole other list of superlatives, Frank and I will settle for nothing short of perfection. For instance, yesterday we were raising the Buddha heads in Red Ginger so they would be more prominently displayed.

Raising Buddha

The other day Frank was walking down the stairs from his stateroom and suddenly stopped in his tracks. He pointed out the center post of the stair railing to myself and a couple other staff members that were nearby. The post and railing were painted black with some simple scrollwork, and Frank said, "That's not good enough." He decided a Moroccan silver overlay perhaps would improve the stair railing's appearance. It's all in the details!

Meanwhile, we also have film crews, models, editors, and a host of other Oceania Cruises team members onboard to film and photograph shots of Marina. One of our Owner's Suites has been taken over by crew members capturing Marina's beauty from every angle.

Working at Owner's Bar


Elise in Mirror

Editing on Bar

One of our butlers gets a touch up before going in front of the camera.

Delinting Butler

Butler Video Video

Chef awaits his big moment.

Chef on Set

Speaking of chefs, I haven't mentioned our cuisine lately, but it continues to impress. I had to share a photo of this beautiful brioche.

Brioche

And below is the spinach and goat cheese salad I had in Toscana last night.

Toscana Goat Cheese Salad
I had to make up for my morning during which I had my usual chocolate croissant, however a guest showed me how to make it even better. I now slather it in peanut butter.

No matter how hard we may be working, we certainly continue to eat well! 

 

 

January 20, 2011

THE PRESIDENT'S COUNTDOWN: 1 Day to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

   

Flag Raising
The past 10 days have certainly flown by, and today we find ourselves just 1 day away from Marina's Maiden Voyage. It has been such an amazing experience watching all of Marina's details come together over the past couple weeks, and now I am just so eager to see our guests onboard experiencing Marina for themselves. After all, we built her for you!

Yesterday we made it all official.  All of the i's have been dotted and the t's have been crossed. Pictured above are Robin Lindsay, Executive Vice President of Vessel Operations; Frank Del Rio, Chairman and CEO; myself; and Captain Flokos at the flag raising ceremony. Below Robin and Mario LeBouef, Director of the Sestri Ponente shipyard, sign the final papers to take official ownership of Marina, and Frank raises a toast to Marina's success and all of her future guests.

Lindsay Signing

Frank Toast
The staff and crew are likewise ready to welcome our guests onboard. They, too, have spent many hours preparing for this momentous occasion and are eager to do what they love - provide impeccable service to our wonderful guests. Below are are our esteemed Butlers, each of them trained in the absolute highest standards of personal service so that they can anticipate every wish of the guests in our suites. 

Butlers Ready for Guests

I also have many more photos to share, but time is short today, so I will leave you with one I find most impressive, the Ultimate Chef's Table, the centerpiece of Privée. 

Privee Table

I have seen some other requests here on the blog for certain photos and menus, and I will certainly share those with you as soon as possible. It seems everywhere I turn on Marina I see a thing of beauty, so there will be many more images to share with you as the Maiden Voyage sets sail.  Thank you again to all of our loyal guests and followers of the blog, and check back tomorrow for updates as we arrive in Barcelona!

December 6, 2010

MARY HART NAMED GODMOTHER of MARINA

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ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT host Mary Hart is confirmed as the godmother of Oceania Cruises’ new cruise ship Marina. Hart will name the ship in Miami at a lavish, invitation-only christening ceremony February 5, which will culminate 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 ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT – the number one syndicated entertainment newsmagazine show in the world, which enters its 30th season this year. 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.”

“It’s very exciting, and a bit humbling,” said Hart, “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!”

”Mary Hart personifies elegance and style, just like our magnificent Marina,” stated 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.”

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.

November 3, 2010

Meet Regatta General Manager Christian Krempl!

    

Regatta General Manager Christian Krempl joined Oceania Cruises in 2008, after waiting two years for an interview. He first became interested in Oceania Cruises in 2005 after hearing that they served the "finest cuisine at sea." Considering Mr. Krempl's passion for food, he was intrigued by a company that had the confidence to make such a claim and could also support it. In 2006 he submitted his CV to the Vice President of Hotel Operations, but unfortunately there were no positions open at the time. Two years later Mr. Krempl received the call to come to Venice for an interview. He started with Oceania Cruises the next day.

GM Others Grand StaircaseChief Housekeeper Gaby Cabello, Receptionist Alina Ciobica, Concierge Conny Hammelmann, Assistant Housekeeper Nataliya Kotlenko, and General Manager Christian Krempl on the Grand Staircase of Regatta

At the young age of 14, Mr. Krempl began his training at hotel school in Austria, the country he still calls home today. From age 16 to 20, he trained as a waiter and chef at leading hotels in Austria and Switzerland. In 1988 he landed his first job with a cruise line and has never looked back. He moved from dining room waiter to sommelier, cellar master, head waiter, chief steward, maitre d’, and hotel manager. He is now General Manager onboard Regatta and oversees the hotel operations of the entire ship. He is thrilled to be working with such a wonderful crew.

“We have a fantastic team,” says GM Krempl. “We have 396 hard-working crew members…We have 45 different nationalities, so that’s very rewarding, and that’s the most interesting part to work with them on a daily basis to try to give the best service that we can to our guests.”

GM Krempl’s workday begins early and lasts well into the evening. He starts by ensuring breakfast service is properly set up and enjoys a cup of coffee himself. Then he is off to various inspections, checking maintenance of staterooms, tasting food, meeting with department heads, keeping up with emails, and many other duties. He ensures everything is shipshape in the spa, the casino, the restaurants, and all other venues onboard, and he also checks to see that the shore excursions are running smoothly. Soon it’s time to begin dinner service and to make sure everyone is enjoying the evening entertainment. Of course, a large part of GM Krempl’s job is interacting with the guests, one of the most important ways he ensures that everyone’s experience is up to Oceania Cruises' high standards.

While his spare time is limited, GM Krempl does like to go ashore when possible, especially to sample the local fare at a particular port. Recently in Honfleur, he was able to enjoy some cheese, sausage, and moules frites (mussels and fries) at a shoreside restaurant. When asked if he has a favorite port of call, GM Krempl has a tough time choosing. After all, he has visited nearly every country in the world, although he says the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador are a notable exception. He has even visited Antarctica on four different occasions, all of which were fascinating (although he does admit that four visits are probably enough). He looks forward to all of Regatta’s upcoming itineraries including the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Amazon, and Oceania Cruises’ first venture into Alaska. GM Krempl hasn’t visited Alaska since 1997 and is excited to return and see what has changed. 

Running a cruise ship does sometimes have its challenges, and GM Krempl has been around for the biggest ones of the past few years, from a labor strike to an earthquake to an Icelandic ash cloud. Krempl has high praise for the support they received from Oceania Cruises’ corporate office during these events.

“It was incredible how much help we had from shoreside. Everybody was there, for the earthquake, for example, in Valparaiso they right away flew in some executives from Oceania. [They were] there making sure everything runs smooth, assisting us and helping the guests, getting a whole picture of the situation, so this was done very, very quickly. In a couple of hours they were on a plane on their way to us and the same way with the ash cloud….It’s incredible how fast we get a response if we need help. Within hours, sometimes even less.”

GM Lisa Server
GM Krempl, Blogger-at-Large Lisa Pancake Fossland, and Grand Dining Room Waiter Francisco Lopez Molina

Happily, such occurrences are rare, and for the most part life onboard the ship is smooth sailing. GM Krempl and his staff work hard to ensure that the experience of all guests onboard Regatta meets Oceania Cruises’ high standards of excellence in every way. The secret to maintaining such high standards starts at the top. 

“I think what makes the biggest difference, I mean, I’ve worked for some other nice companies, good companies, but here you only have nice people that you work with, and the way we can treat each other, respect each other, this message comes from the office in Miami. It starts with Mr. Del Rio; it’s just the way he allows us to manage here onboard…And more than 75% of the crew members, they’re coming back to Oceania because they enjoy it.”

The truth of this philosophy is evident in the warm, genuine smiles of the crew and their eagerness to ensure that every guest’s experience is flawless.  It is why inevitably on an Oceania Cruise, you will find that some crew members become friends, and on your next cruise they are often there to welcome you back onboard. GM Krempl and his staff are most definitely an essential part of what sets Oceania Cruises apart from all others. If you’re planning to be onboard Regatta soon, be sure to say hello!

 

 

 

 

September 27, 2010

Marina Goes To Sea for the First Time

This past Friday, Marina took to the seas for the very first time under her own power and performed magnificently! Onboard, there were representatives from the shipyard along with our Marine and Techicnical teams who were measuring and evaluating hundreds of different items, systems and performance factors.

She cruised up to 22 knots without even trying, was able to spin a full 360 degrees in 40 seconds and there was virtually no vibration or noise. She is a very quiet, smooth ship and both the yard and our team are just thrilled with how she handles.

After spennding three days at sea, she returned to Genoa to undergo a routine drydocking.

Overall, the ship looks magnificent and is coming along very nicely. They are outfitting the suites, staterooms and public areas and the progress they are making is in incredible. Below are some great images from this past weekend, I hope you all enjoy them and they bring as much excitement to our blog fans as they did to our entire team!

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Marina takes to the sea for the very first time

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The commanding view from the bridge

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The beautiful, terraced upper decks

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The expanse of open decks is very, very impressive. Lots of elbow room and places to sit in sun or shade.

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This is the deck outside Baristas and the Library. We are installing wind breaks and awnings to create a wonderful, alfresco coffee area.

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This area already has a very stately feel to it, I can not imagine how stunning it will look once the elevator fronts are done and the Lalique crystal is installed.

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Jacques is already starting out as the favorite room of many. The charm and detailing of this space is unlike anything found at sea. Most of the antique elements such as the oak flooring which came from a century old French barn, or the 18th century console in the foyer have yet to be installed. C'est magnifique!

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This is the view from the top deck as we sailed back in to Genoa on Sunday. We're looking forward from the area where the fitness track and croquet court are.

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Marina arrives in the Genoa drydock where the final outfitting work will be carried out.

September 19, 2010

The President's Tales from the Annual Oceania Club Reunion Cruise

Bob and Friends Martinis
Oceania Cruises' President Bob Binder (second from left) and guests

Myself and other members of our Oceania Cruises' team joined our guests this week onboard Regatta for the annual Oceania Club Reunion Cruise. We departed London on Thursday and began our journey of 14 days during which we'll explore the coasts of France, Spain, and Portugal. Last evening Captain Jahn Rye hosted his Champagne Reception to officially welcome everyone to the ship. Introductions of the Captain and senior crew members were followed by entertainment from the 12-piece Regatta Orchestra. As you can see from the photo above, I had a quite enjoyable evening, as did everyone onboard.

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Cruise Director David Shermet welcomes guests to the Captain's Champagne Reception in Regatta Lounge.

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General Manager Christian Krempl, Blogger-at-Large Lisa Pancake Fossland, and Captain Jahn Rye

Captain and Crew
Captain Rye and senior crew members greet Regatta's guests

Captain's Champagne Servers
The bartenders and service staff stand ready to entertain.

Elegant Dancers
This talented couple enjoyed dancing to the music of the Regatta Orchestra, and we all enjoyed watching their performance.

After the Champagne Welcome Reception, I savored a splendid dinner in the Grand Dining Room.  As usual Executive Chef Mickael Tocchetto presented an exquisite menu offering such an array of delectable courses, it was difficult to decide between them.

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Chef Tocchetto with Oceania Club Ambassador Robert Kinkhorst (right) and guests Jack and Kathy Mundy from Toronto.

Today we arrive in Lorient, where I shall continue to pursue my favorite French pastime - the search for the perfect pastry.  Yesterday I found one with chocolate and almonds that is definitely in the running. I'll keep you posted on my progress and on other events onboard and ashore as Regatta continues her journey in the days to come.

 

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June 23, 2010

Meet Lisa Pancake Fossland, Oceania Cruises’ Blogger-at-Large


Pancake on Steps in Crete

Meet Lisa Pancake Fossland, Oceania Cruises’ Blogger-at-Large

I should probably begin by addressing the question foremost on everyone’s mind. Yes, “Pancake” is my real name. It’s my maiden name, which I kept as my middle name when I married. Hyphenating might have worked if I had married Kevin Bacon, but unfortunately he was taken. If it makes it easier, feel free to think of me as simply “Pancake.”

So who is this woman blathering on about nomenclature, and what does she have to do with Oceania Cruises? The answer is that I am Oceania Cruises’ Blogger-at-Large. I love everything about Oceania Cruises, and I also happen to be a writer, so the powers that be thought I would be a great contributor to the blog. After all, no one ever accused a blogger of being unbiased.

I’ve cruised on all three of Oceania Cruises’ ships — Insignia, Regatta, and Nautica — and I can’t wait to get onboard Marina and Riviera. I’ve explored the Mediterranean, the Aegean, and the Baltic seas. I’ve visited Athens and Istanbul and St. Petersburg. I will continue exploring the world with Oceania Cruises, and I’ll share every escapade with anyone who wishes to follow along. I hope you’ll enjoy my stories of life onboard the ships and explorations ashore. If you’re a fan of fine cuisine, exotic destinations, and relaxing days at sea…well really, who isn’t a fan? Feel free to share your own experiences with us here as well. We’d love to hear from all the fans of Oceania Cruises.


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