May 15, 2003
Oceania's announcement yesterday that Regatta, its first ship, will use Miami as a seasonal home port has more implications than simply offering a convenient domestic U.S. base for winter cruising. The 684-passenger Regatta was formerly part of Renaissance's 8 vessel R-series fleet -- and these ships have never carried passengers into or out of U.S. ports. Which means that the company then was not required to conform its vessels to U.S. standards. Such as? Ships that pick up passengers at U.S. points are required to post a bond with the Federal Maritime Commission in case of insolvency. Oceania says it received that vital certificate last month. Oceania will, like all other cruise lines that call at American ports, be subjected to the U.S. government's very discriminating procedures and policies regarding cleanliness and safety. Indeed, the cruise ship will be receiving the same surprise inspections by the Centers for Disease Control's Vessel Sanitation Program and the U.S. Coast Guard as any other passenger vessel. Regatta's first sailing out of Miami departs November 25. The ship's planned Caribbean-Central America-Panama Canal itineraries reflect Oceania¹s effort to distinguish itself from the competition by offering not only a smaller-ship experience but also calling at more offbeat ports. Among those that will be visited on Regatta's winter season of 12-to 14-day sailings include Port Antonio (Jamaica), Virgin Gorda and Tortola (British Virgin Islands), St. Barts, and La Romana (Dominican Republic).