Australian cruisers, now busily booking their favourite ships as the deadline for the return of foreign liners approached on April 17, are switching to small luxury vessels in droves.
Oceania Cruises, the luxury small ship line renowned for offering The Finest Cuisine at Sea, has been inundated with bookings from cruisers who usually sail on mega liners. More than “40 per cent of bookings are new to the brand,” says Steve Odell, senior vice president and managing director Asia Pacific.
Oceania and Regent Seven Seas both have vessels arriving later this year, and report a surge in demand from passengers who would normally be on bigger ships.
“There’s a bit of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and our season in Australia and New Zealand in 2023/2024 has sold out – except for a few cabins,” said said Mr Odell.
“I’ve had phone calls from people wanting to book local itineraries and they can’t believe that we have sold out most of our sailings around Australia and New Zealand.”
Oceania Cruises’ fleet of seven ships can each accommodate a maximum of 1250 guests. They are taken on destination-rich itineraries, calling at more than 450 ports across the world from Europe, Alaska, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific to Bermuda, the Caribbean and North America.
The growing interest from Australian cruisers wanting to sail closer to home has also prompted Oceania Cruises to consider sending more ships Down Under.
“It’s definitely a possibility,” Mr Odell said. “We are now planning for sailings in 2025, so we will definitely consider sending more ships here.”
He also noted that cruisers are picking longer cruises and booking better cabins. “They are upgrading their cabins and booking bigger suites,” Mr Odell said.
Mr Odell was speaking at an Oceania Cruises Dom Perignon event, where guests were served a five-course degustation lunch menu matched with three vintages of Dom Perignon champagne – similar to the line’s exclusive dining experience offered on two of its ships, Marina and Riviera.
“Oceania Cruises guests appreciate unique opportunities to enjoy the finest food, both at sea and on shore, and our itineraries are designed to take travellers’ tastebuds on an immersive culinary tour on every sailing,” he added.
“Our expert culinary team is constantly innovating to create new epicurean experiences for our guests with a gastronomic palate to discover, including one-of-a-kind culinary journey they will treasure long after disembarking the ship.
“This bucket list experience has a sommelier in attendance and epitomises the French “joie de vivre.”
Mr Odell also mentioned that bookings for European sailings have been holding up very well, with a strong 2023 and 2024 season.
The line’s newest ship, Vista, which will debut early next year will have new dining experiences among the 12 culinary venues onboard. There will be a new signature restaurant, Ember, serving American cuisine in a casual setting. Aquamar Kitchen will focus on wellness, offering guilt-free healthy dining and the new Culinary Center Dining Room available for private group dinners for exclusive food and wine pairing experiences.
Vista will also have a new bakery located next to the coffee corner with freshly baked bread and croissant made with flour from Normandy.
“Food is in the DNA of Oceania Cruises, where we take a new approach to food offerings including shore excursions with chefs, onboard cooking lessons to sommelier-led wine tasting programs,” said Mr Odell.
For more information, visit oceaniacruises.com or you can call 1300 355 200 or contact your preferred travel advisor.