Oceania Cruises has rebounded from a severe business lull during the war and is now logging 100 bookings a day, according to CEO Frank Del Rio. "There is now no question that we will sail with 100 percent occupancy this summer," he said, noting that current sales were in accordance with the original business plans and forward trends were so positive that "we're now seeing the opportunity to raise rates."
During the worst period of the war, when the company was down to a mere 20 bookings a day, Del Rio made the decision to delay delivery of the Insignia from fall 2003 to spring 2004. "I would not make the same decision today," he said recently, adding: "I did consider reversing that decision - it was awfully tempting - but in the end, I felt that would have appeared too herky-jerky, so we'll focus on getting everything perfect with our first ship, the Regatta."
As Oceania launches the Regatta this summer, it will actually be operating the Insignia too, but as part of a charter to a French tour operator, TMG France. Commenting on that arrangement, Del Rio explained, "I think there's a possibility of a long-term relationship with this company. France is the only country that doesn't have a cruise line of its own. It's very possible that Oceania could claim that distinction, by exercising the option we have on the third ship (in 2004) and dedicating it to the French market through TMG."