(1:54 p.m. EST) -- In one of the most important milestones in the young line's history, Oceania Cruises today celebrated the floating out of Marina, its first ever new-build. The 65,000-ton, 1,252-passenger Marina is being built at Fincantieri's Sestri shipyard in Genoa.
Up to this point, Marina has sat, propped, on blocks in a dry dock. As the float out begins, the ship's dock starts to fill slowly with water. The process, according to a company spokesman, will take four to seven days as shipyard executives will start and stop the flood to do buoyancy checks.
Almost as exciting was a chance for the ceremony's attendees, including U.S.- and U.K.-based travel agents and journalists, to don hard hats and tour the ship for a first-ever look. Though the ship is far from being fitted out, and is literally a construction site, it was easy to see that it is both a fresh and innovative new design for Oceania -- and, as well, a very comfortable evolution of the line's much-loved trio of existing vessels.
What made the day even more monumental was a quite-unexpected twist. After the short floating out ceremony took place, Oceania president Bob Binder took to the stage to give participants an update on the fleet's next, as yet-unnamed newbuild. The name of the ship, he announced, would be Riviera, with construction beginning "very soon, very soon indeed -- in 10 minutes!"
The audience of 100 then enthusiastically trooped over to another section of the shipyard, where the ceremonial cutting of steel, the very first major milestone in the building of a new vessel, was to take place. "There's only one thing better than one new ship and that's two new ships," said a jubilant Frank del Rio, the line's CEO, before teasing "they say good things happen in three." Oceania had committed to purchasing two newbuilds from Fincantieri -- and has an option, as yet not exercised, for a third.
Throughout the day, details were revealed about Oceania's Marina, including the following new developments:
Marina's christening will be held on February 5, 2011.
La Reserve, an indoor/outdoor wine bar/small restaurant venue, will be located adjacent to the Terrace Café and cater to small groups of 24 or so. Del Rio told Cruise Critic that it was the perfect venue onboard to host Cruise Critic gatherings!
Another new dining concept is the cozy Prive, tucked between Polo Grill and Toscana. A special menu at the 10-seat private dining room will be offered to passengers who reside in the ship's priciest Owner's suites.
More details on Marina's full range of itineraries in 2011 will be announced on March 8; stay tuned.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
--Photo is courtesy of Carolyn Spencer Brown
Oceania Cruises' New-Build to Celebrate Major Milestone
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Oceania's Marina Floats!
February 26, 2010