Dispatch from Cruise Shipping Miami: New Details about Riviera and Oceania's 2012 Itineraries

Oceania’s 1,250-passenger Riviera, the sister ship to the premium line’s new Marina, “has a tough act to follow,” says Frank Del Rio, chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, parent company of Oceania Cruises. In a press conference at Cruise Shipping Miami, Del Rio said “Marina is just about a perfect vessel” – given guest feedback on the ship’s initial three cruises.

Still under construction, the new Riviera will be essentially the same ship in layout, with just a few tweaks. Guests will discover a bit larger gym area and a narrower hallway outside that gym; a higher ceiling in the ship’s Barista coffee bar; and different artwork.

The single biggest complaint from guests, Del Rio said, is the positioning of electrical plugs in some staterooms. “We’re addressing that on Riviera,” he said, and noted that better positioned plugs will be “retrofitted on Marina as quickly as possible.”

Riviera’s christening will be somewhere in Europe said Del Rio, noting that the line hadn’t yet decided upon the locale. The ship’s maiden voyage is April 14, 2012, from Barcelona to Athens, and the ship will sail in the Mediterranean during summer and fall before repositioning to Miami; it will arrive Nov. 29, 2012. At that point, it will replace Marina in operating Caribbean voyages from Miami and then a winter 2012-2013 South American program.

The line also opened reservations for its 2012 season this week. In addition to the introduction of Riviera, giving the line a five-ship fleet, Oceania has unveiled 41 itineraries that sail to 145 ports of call.

The big news according to Oceania's President Bob Binder is that the line will operate at least one overnight in port on every single voyage in 2012. That’s designed to give Oceania’s experienced travelers more time to explore exotic locales. The line will also stay later into the night at some ports.

In addition, the line will include a complimentary pre-cruise overnight hotel stay on 2012 voyages, a feature that drew the immediate applause of Brad Anderson, co-president, America’s Vacation Center, who was seated in the audience. “It’s huge,” he said, noting that it makes the guest experience better, guests are more relaxed when they board, and it’s a plus if flights are late or luggage is lost by the airline.

Oceania also said it will call at Greenland for the first time in 2012. The new itineraries feature 12 new ports in 2012. Among them are Cherbourg, France; Vigo for Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Batumi, Georgia; Akureyri, Iceland; and Trapani, Sicily.

And, the line – which typically has voyages of 10 nights or more – is adding three seven-night cruises in fall 2012.

Del Rio said he was particularly pleased with guest response to Marina’s upscale accommodations including its pampering suites. “Some day I want to live in an Owner’s Suite,” he told reporters, quipping that “they sell so quickly, I can’t even get to stay in one on my own ship.”

For more information, visit www.oceaniacruises.com.

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