Oceania Cruises’ Vista in a class of its own, says Upshaw

New upper-premium category ship hits the sweet spot

Oceania Cruises‘ compelling new high-end ship, Vista, sits in a league of its own, suggests the cruise brand’s Head of Sales, Nikki F Upshaw.

Speaking with Australian media onboard Vista yesterday off the coast of Sardinia, Upshaw says Oceania Cruises has “raised the bar” in the upper-premium category to the point where there “aren’t any direct competitors.”

Upper-premium is a cruise category Oceania Cruises’ pioneered, Upshaw says, adding that travel partners of the food-centric cruise line would likely say Viking Ocean was the closest competitor, in terms of ship size and their focus on destinations.

“We each have our own nuances,” she said from the comfort of the new Library aboard Vista.

The Library, Vista

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Upshaw said the attention to detail in the design of the new ship has been taken to the next level, comparing the experience to a beautiful elegant home.

“The artwork, the flow of the ship, natural wood, natural stone – you may see it in a home rather than a commercial business.”

“The depth of activities onboard, such as the Artist’s Loft and the Culinary Centre, it’s taken to a whole other level than whoever else is in the Premium space.

“Then of course the culinary experience and the range of restaurants,” she continued.

Oceania Cruises Jason Worth, VP Sales & GM Asia Pacific, Jason Sitter, BDM Queensland; Nikki F Upshaw, SVP, Sales; Martine Nunes, BDM AU-NZ (Home based travel networks) & Oceania Club Ambassador; and Ryan McPherson, BDM VIC,NSW/ACT/TAS

LATTE suggested to Upshaw perhaps Vista now positions the brand within the upper-upper-premium segment.

“We feel like we pioneered upper-premium, or upper-upper-premium, space and it’s really our sweet spot to be able to engage cruise guests to move from a premium experience on a smaller ship, to something more sophisticated etc.”

Paramount to Oceania Cruises is the connection of ambiance, presentation, style, and service, and that every restaurant differentiates itself from any other brand in the same category, she explained.

Upshaw, who has been with Oceania Cruises for 12 years, also clarified the subject of Vista encroaching on the space of sister-brand Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which is a leader in the luxury cruise segment.

“The feedback is you’re blending into luxury,” she said. “And when do you start saying you’re luxury?”

“We’ve always felt we offer a luxurious experience, but the premise of not going into luxury is primarily because – with intent – we aren’t all-inclusive.”

“In our minds, there are many affluent travellers that want to travel ala carte, that they want an experience where they’re designing what they’re spending their vacation dollar on, and that’s where we sit,” Upshaw defined.

“We offer a luxurious experience, but in a casual and more relaxed atmosphere, and that’s the space that we’ll always sit in.”

Nikki F Upshaw, Head of Sales, Oceania Cruises

And with the departure of the OLife Choices in the coming months, Upshaw said “we’re not going full bore” with inclusions, but it’s all about “simplification” of the current offers.

“Ideally, we’re going to have each one of our brands to be at the upper end of every one of their categories.

“So NCL to be at the upper end of contemporary, frankly, inching into premium – arguably they might already be at premium. Oceania, at the upper end of upper premium. Regent, at the upper end of luxury – so that we’re always at the pinnacle of every cruise category, and that’s certainly our mission,” Upshaw said.

Quizzed about pricing for Vista compared to her fleet mates, Upshaw told LATTE the 1,200-passenger ship was commanding rates of between 2%-5% more than the R-class and O-class vessels.

Oceania Cruises intends to open sales for Vista‘s sister ship, Allura, in August 2023 for bookings in 2025, with the full program across all other ships foreshadowed to be released in September.

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