Competitors are Seabourn, Silversea and Crystal Cruises; the average cruise fare starts at $599 per person per day, according to the company. Even though it is privately held, the line reports financial results because it carries public debt. The quarter ending Sept. 30 showed strong results: revenue of $159 million, an increase of more than 5 percent from the same time 2011, and a nearly eight percent increase in profits to $21 million.
Del Rio said the possibility of the company going public exists if Apollo wants to monetize its investment — but he doesn’t know when it would happen.
“I personally believe, as an investor myself, that there is a dearth of investment opportunities in the cruise space,” he said. “For the longest time, there’s always been two [publicly held cruise lines]; I think there’s opportunity for more than two.”
Since Apollo acquired the line, executives have spoken openly about their hope that new ownership could mean a new ship. The newest Regent vessel debuted in 2003 and the oldest, launched in 1999, was just renovated. The line received kudos for best dining and best suites in Cruise Critic’s 2012 Editors’ Picks Awards.
“We have no concrete plans yet to announce a new build. We are considering it,” Del Rio said.
Oceania, on the other hand, launched critically acclaimed 1,250-passenger sister ships in 2011 and 2012. Marina and Riviera feature details such as a Lalique staircase, Bon Appétit Culinary Center, Canyon Ranch SpaClubs, suites by Dakota Jackson and Owner’s Suites furnished by Ralph Lauren Home.
“They’re gorgeous ships, they’re just elegant and classy,” said Jeff Gordon, owner and president of The Gordon Group — Luxury Cruise Planners in Davie. “Doesn’t matter where I take people on those newer ships, they cannot stop raving about how gorgeous the facilities are, how great the food is, how good the service is.”
About to celebrate its 10th year in 2013, Oceania is “luxurious but not luxury,” Del Rio said. Unlike Regent, Oceania is not an all-inclusive product and staterooms are smaller.
Del Rio founded the line with a partner in 2003 a couple years after he was fired as co-chief executive of Renaissance Cruises by new investors. That company soon went into bankruptcy and within a couple years, Oceania was sailing three former Renaissance 684-passenger “R class” ships, now called Regatta, Insignia and Nautica.
While Insignia is chartered to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises until spring of 2014, the other two ships are still sailing with Oceania.
Oceania’s focus has always been food; chef Jacques Pepin is executive culinary director and the new ships feature restaurants devoted to French, Asian and Italian cuisines as well as a classic steakhouse and an intimate seven-course wine pairing option.
“There’s much more of a pop and a jazzy vibe to Oceania,” said Cruise Critic’s Spencer Brown. “And a lot of that revolves around the restaurants. I think the food is dramatically different; the food on Oceania is maybe dramatically more upscale. Whereas on Regent, it’s very very good, but it’s not Jacques Pepin. It’s not shouting at you.”
Oceania’s main competitors are Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, SeaDream Yacht Club and Princess Cruises. But, as Del Rio points, out: “They have a cheaper price point.”