You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Every other Friday we will bring you a piece of reader feedback and our response. Have a question about cruising? Notice an error on our site? Want to just drop a comment for our consideration? Submit your own feedback by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe we’ll select your submission for our next Feedback Blog.
This Week’s Feedback:
“You may want to update your Oceania review to correct the reference to ‘Insignia being under charter through 2014.’ In fact, it sails its inaugural cruise back under the Oceania flag in May of 2014.”
Correct. Insignia will return to Oceania Cruises in April after a two-year identity change, with its first cruise in May. So where did the ship go?
You may have heard of chartering a ship — perhaps when organizations rent out a vessel for luxe company meetings or when theme cruise companies take over an otherwise “normal” sailing. What you may not know is that sometimes cruise lines charter other cruise lines’ ships, filling that sailing with their passengers and branding the experience with their style.
Fairly unusual for mainstream lines, this cruise-ship-switcheroo mostly happens among smaller, expedition vessels and river ships (especially in exotic destinations).
In the case of Oceania’s Insignia, an offer from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises to charter the ship as Columbus 2 coincided perfectly for both the lines.
Luxury line Hapag-Lloyd was looking for a ship to attract younger passengers — think working professionals with families who have plenty of cash to spend — while it built a new ship, Europa 2. For Oceania, the charter offer came at an ideal time. When the charter was announced in 2011, we asked Tim Rubacky, former senior director of corporate communications for Prestige Cruise Holdings (on behalf of Oceania Cruises), how the charter would benefit Oceania. He told Cruise Critic that the charter coincided with the launch of the line’s new and larger Riviera, so giving up an existing ship for a few years would allow Oceania to increase capacity a little more slowly (adding roughly 600 new berths rather than 1,250 in 2012). Even better, the charter started at the end of Insignia’s published schedule so no passengers had to be displaced.
As for Insignia, well, sometimes ships, like cruisers, just need to see what else is out there.
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