BARCELONA — It's been a busy spring at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Oceania Cruises recently christened the newest member of its fleet, the Sirena, while Regent Seven Seas unveiled its newly renovated Seven Seas Navigator.
The Sirena, an R-class ship with a double-occupancy capacity of 684, was originally built for the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises. It has sailed under several different monikers, most recently the Ocean Princess with Carnival Corp.'s Princess brand. It joins three sister ships in Oceania's fleet: the Regatta, the Insignia and the Nautica.
For Oceania president Jason Montague, the Sirena's April 27 naming in Barcelona brought back memories: It was 13 years ago when the cruise line christened the Regatta.
"We are making history here today," Montague said to the crowd. "It's pretty rare that you will christen sister ships 13 years apart, but that is exactly what we are doing here today."
Public spaces on the Oceania Sirena have dark wood paneling, creating a warm atmosphere. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada
The Sirena made its debut after undergoing a monthlong, $50 million renovation, Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio said. Speaking aboard the ship before it left port here, Del Rio said the overhaul was all about keeping the ship's core but updating it with everything from fresh carpeting to new dining concepts.
"Some ships have soul," he said. "These [R-class ships] have soul."
Claudine Pepin, a chef, author and the daughter of the cruise line's executive culinary director, Jacques Pepin, did the honors as the ship's godmother.
Fittingly, the Sirena's key differences from Oceania's other R-class ships lie in its dining experiences.
On Deck 10, there are two specialty restaurants: Tuscan Steak, new to Oceania, and Red Ginger, an Asian restaurant new to the R-class ships. Tuscan Steak was inspired by Toscana and Polo Grill, both specialty restaurants on the other R-class vessels.
Also new to the cruise line, every day at lunchtime, the Grand Dining Room features a pop-up restaurant: Jacques Bistro. With both a seasonal menu and daily specials, the eatery, inspired by Jacques Pepin's family recipes, offers a variety of options.
The pool area on the Oceania Sirena. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada
The Sirena's passageways and public stairways' off-white walls are given a punch of color thanks to artwork that ranges from traditional to modern and abstract, most chosen by Del Rio.
Public spaces such as the library, casino and lounge areas also have a variety of artwork. The warm spaces have dark, wood-paneled walls and fireplaces.
Structural changes to the Horizons lounge on Deck 10 make the space more open. New lighting, including bar lights and chandeliers, also helped update the room.
While the Sirena's staterooms received new carpeting and furniture, the Owner's and Vista suites got a significant overhaul; instead of their previous incarnation as open-concept spaces, they now resemble one-bedroom apartments with a door dividing the bedroom from the rest of the suite.
Del Rio was more than pleased with the Sirena's new look and feel, but he said that Oceania won't be pursuing any more R-class ships in the future.
"I think four is enough," he said.
The Sirena will sail in the Mediterranean before heading west to New York this fall, where it will offer a few East Coast sailings before moving on to Los Angeles at the end of November.
The Seven Seas Navigator’s smoking lounge was transformed into the ship’s library, complete with a faux fireplace. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada
Seven Seas Navigator renovated
Meanwhile, Regent's Seven Seas Navigator has been sailing for a few weeks following its own renovation.
It was the first ship to go into drydock as part of a $125 million fleetwide refurbishment program that Regent announced in January.
Tillberg Design of Sweden was responsible for the renovation of the Navigator's public spaces, while its suites were completed in-house by Regent.
Compass Rose, the Navigator's flagship restaurant, underwent a complete overhaul. Handmade crystal chandeliers and customizable lighting set the mood in the bright, open room, where tables are adorned with Versace chargers and plates.
Tables at Compass Rose, the Navigator’s main dining room, are set with Versace chargers and plates. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada
The ship's reception area features contemporary design elements and a new floor.
The former smoking lounge has become the ship's library, accented by a faux fireplace.
La Veranda restaurant, Galileo's Lounge and the Navigator Lounge/Coffee Connection all got some upgrades during the renovation. For example, at Galileo's, the stage is now centered, and patrons can relax on new furniture.
The ship's suites have new headboards, mattresses, linens, carpet, furniture and high-definition televisions.
The Navigator will be sailing in the Mediterranean this summer, then head to South Africa in the fall. In 2017, it will embark on a world cruise beginning and ending in Miami.