We’re only four months into 2011, and it has 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.”
Having 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!
Team members welcome Bruce to the Oceania Cruises family.