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Q&A With Oceania Cruises CEO Frank Del Rio


Oceania Cruises Regatta


(January 31, 2003)

"With an unparalleled level of personalized service and 5-Star cuisine at surprisingly affordable rates to make Oceania Cruises THE best value in cruising."  ~ Frank Del Rio, CEO Oceania Cruises

Earlier this week, AnitaVacation conducted an interview with the dynamic Frank Del Rio, CEO of Oceania Cruises and former CEO of Renaissance Cruises. With the upcoming launch of Oceania's first vessel, Regatta, AnitaVacation wanted to find out what Oceania is all about and what kind of product it will offer to cruise vacationers.

Q. In this ultra-competitive cruise industry environment, what is going to distinguish Oceania Cruises from the rest of the pack?

Frank Del Rio: "Our best in class cuisine, itineraries, and extremely competitive pricing and outstanding value will define Oceania Cruises' five-star product and quickly position the company as the cruise line of choice for traditional premium and luxury category cruisers.

We've put a stake in the ground and we are committed to having the best cuisine at sea, no exceptions. We're spending, on average, 25% more per day, per passenger on food than the top luxury lines. And our 684 passenger ships are the perfect size; we can offer a level of personalized service and amenities that you normally only find on ships costing $500 per day or more."

Q. What clientele is Oceania targeting?

Del Rio: "I think you'll find the typical passenger aboard Oceania Cruises is a discerning, well traveled passenger that is in search of a true premium experience that encompasses personalized service, exceptional cuisine and an overall, enriching experience that you just can't find on ships that are 1500-2000 passengers."

Q. What is the price range for Oceania Cruises?

Del Rio: "Our fares average $200-$250 per passenger per day in Europe and $105-$175 per passenger, per day in the Caribbean and South America for a stateroom with veranda."

Chairman Joe Watters & CEO Frank Del Rio

Q. What are the focus itineraries for Oceania?

Del Rio: "During the inaugural season, Oceania Cruises will spend the summer and fall in Europe (Scandinavia, The Baltic, Western Europe, and Mediterranean) and The Americas for the Winter/Spring 2003/2004 season. After that, both ships will transit back to Europe."

Q. What changes will be most evident to former Renaissance Cruises passengers?

Del Rio: "The biggest changes you'll find on board will be our gourmet cuisine, upgraded service, and all new bedding accommodations in the staterooms. Penthouse, Vista Suite and Owner's Suite passenger will also be tended to by a private butler. In fact, we'll have 6 butlers to service our 62 suites."

Q. How are former R-class vessels being upgraded?

Del Rio: "Even though the ships are in exceptional condition, we're spending several million dollars per ship on upgrades and refurbishing. Carpeting, draperies and upholstery and will be replaced as needed and each ship will receive a comprehensive technical inspection and overhaul during a 2 week dry dock period. 

As I mentioned previously, all of our staterooms will receive new bedding with the highest quality mattresses, 300 thread-count Egyptian cotton linens and comfy, plush duvets. Staterooms will also feature French-milled toiletries. All of our stateroom verandas and the pool area will feature new teak decking in place of the current synthetic decking. The pool area will also receive a lot of attention. In addition to the new teak decking, there will be new, high quality deck furniture and new stone and tile accents added to the pool itself."

"World-renowned chef Jacques Pepin is our Executive Culinary Director and he will be responsible for designing all of our menus and wine lists."
~Frank Del Rio 

Q. What will dining options be like?

Del Rio: "We've hired Jacques Pepin as our Executive Culinary Director and he will be responsible for designing all of our menus and wine lists. For those of you that are not acquainted with Jacques, he is a world renowned chef, cookbook author and food & wine columnist. He's also served as the personal chef to three French heads of state including Charles deGaulle.

Onboard, Oceania Cruises will feature four open seating dining venues, all available at no additional charge. Our main dining room, The Grand Restaurant, will feature French inspired continental cuisine. Toscana is our gourmet Italian Restaurant and the Polo Grill will feature top quality steaks, chops and seafood.

Tides Café will be open for casual breakfasts and lunches. What's really exciting here is how it will transform in the evenings into "Tapas at Tides". Passengers will be able to enjoy al fresco cocktails, live entertainment and a menu featuring a wide array of Tapas and authentic regional dishes from Spain and around the world."

Q. What type of entertainment options will be available?

Del Rio: "Evening entertainment will consist of a variety of evening shows; well known vocalists and headliners, comedy, magic shows, big band, jazz and blues. We'll also have a full casino onboard and a variety of specialty bars. What I'm really excited about is the Enrichment and Lecture series that Joe Watters is overseeing. We'll feature a host of world-renowned historians, politicians and experts in virtually every field of personal and professional enrichment you can think of."

Q. Since the R-class ships have some of the most beautiful spas at sea, will there be changes or upgrades? Also, who will operate the spa?

Del Rio: "We'll be upgrading the spas to give them a richer, more luxurious feel that is more in line with the luxurious nature of our product. Stone and wood accents, custom tile, work, etc. As for a spa operator, we haven't finalized that at the moment."

"Oceania Cruises wants to be one of, if not THE most travel agent oriented cruise line. We're developing a best in class commission structure and putting a professional team of District Sales Managers in place to service our Travel Agent Partners." 
~Frank Del Rio

Q. What is Oceania's relationship with travel agents?

Del Rio: "I'm extremely pleased with the tremendous amount of support we've received from the travel agent community and Oceania Cruises wants to be one of, if not THE most travel agent oriented cruise line. We're developing a best in class commission structure and putting a professional team of District Sales Managers in place to service our Travel Agent Partners. We'll be working closely with agents as we recognize the vital role they play in the success of the travel industry and I want them to share in the success of Oceania Cruises. Oceania Cruises has already joined several major industry organizations such as CLIA, NACTA and ASTA and we're working closely with several major consortia groups that hope to partner with us."

Q. What would you say to the loyal patrons of the former Renaissance Cruises, why should they cruise Oceania?

Del Rio: "Oceania Cruises recognizes how wildly popular these ships are and we're not just bringing them back, we're brining them back better than ever. We've retained the décor and country club casual atmosphere they all loved, the unique itineraries with overnight stays in the star ports and combined those elements with an unparalleled level of personalized service and 5-Star cuisine at surprisingly affordable rates to make Oceania Cruises THE best value in cruising."

Q. When can passengers book an Oceania cruise?

Del Rio: "Our reservations center opened on Monday, January 27 and can be reached at 800-531-5658. I encourage everyone to contact their professional travel agent to learn more about Oceania Cruises and obtain prices and availability for our 2003 Inaugural Season cruises. "

Q. Lastly, are there plans to Oceania to expand beyond two ships?

Del Rio: "Oceania Cruises has an option for a third R-Class ship. As we move forward, we'll evaluate that option."

Anita ~ Mr. Del Rio, thanks for taking time out for our readers!

For more information on Oceania Cruises visit their website at http://www.oceaniacruises.com 

Related AnitaVacation Features:

Oceania Cruises To Set Sail July 5
Cruising Tahiti in Ha'i Style
Farewell Renaissance Cruises


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