Oceania Cruises capitalising on early booking bloom

New Tropics & Exotics program release comes several months earlier than normal

Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki, Japan (supplied)

If you thought the launch last week of Oceania Cruises‘ 2024/25 Tropics & Exotics Collection was earlier than normal, you’d be right. The program’s release on 3 November 2022 was four months ahead of the regular release schedule, with Oceania Cruises taking advantage of the strong early booking demand of cruisers keen to secure their future voyages now.

“This is the earliest we’ve ever released a season,” Jason Worth, Vice President Australia and New Zealand, Oceania Cruises said. “Normally we would have opened the Tropics & Exotics four months later, but we moved everything early this year because we saw such high demand of people wanting to book further out”.

The Tropics & Exotics program spans late 2024 through to mid-2025, and features 157 voyages through the Caribbean, Mexico, Panama Canal, South America, Asia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Cruises range from 7-days through to Grand Voyages of 200 linking multiple regions.

Dutch Harbor, Alaska

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“We’re seeing a lot of interest in the Grand Voyages which are still the most popular,” Worth told LATTE this week based on reports from the first few days after sales opened.

The 34-day around Australia voyage on Regatta and a 26-day Cape Town to Barcelona sailing along the west coast of Africa aboard Nautica, have also been received well.

Worth said Oceania Cruises’ annual circumnavigation of Australia – sold as the ‘Essential Australia’ itinerary – generates strong interest from abroad, primarily the US and UK, but over the past few years since the pandemic, the cruise line had seen renewed interest from local cruisers who want to see their own backyard, staying closer to home.

The New Zealand market, which was initially a little slower to recover from the pandemic than Australia, is “doing well”, with Worth saying more turnaround sailings starting and ending in Auckland are proving to be of increased appeal.

Amazon River, Brazil

Another itinerary Worth says that is proving popular is the 79-day Ultimate Pacific Traveller voyage from Los Angeles to Sydney on Regatta. The cruise heads north to Canada and Alaska, across to Japan, where there is a heavy focus spread over 13 days, onto Southeast Asia, into Darwin, down to Sydney, a Trans-Tasman crossing to New Zealand before returning and concluding in Sydney a few days before Christmas.

“What is unique about this season is the number of ships in this Hemisphere. We have Riviera in Asia and that allows us a newer, larger ship that is fully refurbished in our own backyard. We’ll also have Regatta around Australia and New Zealand, Nautica in the South Pacific and Insignia comes through Australia on a world cruise.”

“We’ll have four ships in the region and we’ve never seen that many so we’re quite excited,” Worth said.

There are a dozen new ports of call in the collection, with new locations in Japan (Hitachinaka and Takamatsu), Indonesia (Kupang and Waingpu), Argentina (Camarones and Isla de los Estados), Taiwan (Hualien), the Canary Islands, Grenada, Vanuatu (Champagne Bay), Sri Lanka (Hambantota) and more.

“The exciting thing about Hambantota is that it’s off the beaten path in the southern part of Sri Lanka. It’s all about biodiversity and getting in touch with nature, and a gateway to Sri Lanka’s

Jason Worth, Vice President, Australia and New Zealand, Oceania Cruises

National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries where guests can potentially see elephants, leopards and sloth bears. Sri Lanka is exotic in its own right, but to go to one of these smaller ports, is more enticing than a big city,” he said.

Another new port is Edinburgh of the Seven Seas in Tristan da Cunha with a population of around 300 islanders, and rarely visited because of its remote location.

Terrace Cafe, Vista

The 2024/25 Tropics & Exotics Collection also features Oceania Cruises’ newest ship, Vista, which is launching in mid-2023. With Vista‘s debut season sailings in 2023 almost fully sold-out, Worth said there are now new opportunities with this new season release that guests can book onto.

“People always like the newest option, and with Vista‘s additional restaurants the longer voyages are popular as those sailings give guests more time to experience all the specialty options onboard.”

Meanwhile, Riviera and Marina will receive top-to-tail upgrades in the coming months, bringing them to a “better-than-new” level. Both ships will have a pizza oven and a milkshake bar fitted during their month-long facelifts, which will be unique among Oceania’s existing fleet.

See oceaniacruises.com/special-offers/tropics-and-exotics/

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