Oceania has reconceptualised its culinary and beverage offerings as part of the OceaniaNEXT programme
Navigating the way out of a global crisis that has changed the way the world travels was never going to be easy, but Oceania Cruises is not in the business to fall behind.
Since restrictions eased, the so-called foodies’ favourite line has been working with industry colleagues within Cruise Lines International Association across the UK, Europe and globally to ensure a smooth and successful transition back to normality.
And with returning and first-time customers booking well in advance across the board, 2023 is looking buoyant says Bernard Carter, vice president and managing director of EMEA at the brand. “It’s a big year for us as we celebrate our 20th anniversary and prepare to welcome Vista, our first new ship in more than a decade in May,” he says.
“Further to this, our ambitious OceaniaNEXT programme continues apace with the reinspiration of our two larger ships. Riviera has recently just come out of dry dock and the response from guests and crew has been incredible – she looks better than new!”
Vista’s sister ship, Allura, will join the fleet in spring 2025. Oceania Cruises’ fleet expansion is part of parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ ambitious growth plans for all three of its brands, with the group’s president and CEO Frank J. Del Rio saying: “We have many, many unserved and underserved markets that will bode well for our growth.”
Branching out to new destinations and increasing the group’s global footprint is where the premium brand sees the most opportunity. And in line with other cruise operators, it is seeing significant pent-up demand following the pandemic, with several record booking days in the past 12 months.
“Longer itineraries are proving extremely popular, specifically those in Asia and Australasia – people have missed visiting these parts of the world in recent years and are keen to get back,” says Carter. “Visiting by sea is one of the most immersive and relaxing ways of doing so. We are seeing people booking higher-end accommodations and also further in advance – having missed out on travel in the past couple of years, they are ready to get back out there, and are willing to pay for an upgraded experience.”
The successful OceaniaNEXT programme is a continual quest to evolve and elevate the fleet, products and experiences offered, to entice first-timers to sail and keep loyal guests returning time and time again.
Carter believes that the signature onboard experience is better than ever, with the reconceptualised culinary and beverage programmes elevating the onboard experience. He notes that there is still more to be revealed throughout the course of 2023.
In tandem with an ever-growing fleet, Oceania Cruises is also investing to meet its sustainability goals and initiatives. Along with the two other Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings brands it has committed to pursuing net-zero emission by 2050 and to developing short-term greenhouse gas reduction targets to support its path to net zero.
Oceania Cruises’ market-leading sustainability programme includes removing plastic straws and water bottles, introducing sustainable self-created water supplies onboard, using the cleanest available fuels based on each ship’s capabilities, and planning itineraries in a way that reduces the need for higher speeds, thus decreasing emissions.
When asked for his thoughts on what the future holds for the cruise industry, Carter says he firmly believes that there’s so much to offer both seasoned cruise guests and those choosing a holiday at sea for the very first time.
“Cruise is one of the most innovative and exciting parts of the global travel industry,” he says. “Looking at the innovation in onboard and land programmes, developments in sustainability initiatives, incredible itineraries on offer, and the value for money offered in comparison to land-based alternatives, the future is very bright.”
This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.