One of Princess Cruises’ smallest ships, the 672-passenger Ocean Princess, soon will be joining the Oceania Cruises fleet.
Oceania’s parent company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), today announced a definitive agreement to buy the 15-year-old vessel from Princess with the transfer set to take place in March 2016.
Originally designed for now-defunct Renaissance Cruises, the Ocean Princess is a sister to three other former Renaissance vessels already in the Oceania fleet: Insignia, Regatta and Nautica. The vessel entered operation in 1999 under the flag of Renaissance Cruises. The ship was not owned by the company; instead she was owned by a group of French investors. When Renaissance declared bankruptcy in 2001, the ship was seized by creditors, along with the other seven vessels in the fleet.
In 2002, Princess Cruises secured a two year lease for R Four and her sister ship R Three (now Pacific Princess). The vessel entered operation at the end of 2002, and was renamed Tahitian Princess. At the end of the lease, Princess Cruises purchased both vessels.
In November 2009 the Tahitian Princess was renamed Ocean Princess to “reflect a more global theme.”
Upon joining Oceania, the Ocean Princess will undergo a massive, 35-day, $40 million overhaul in dry dock that will be similar to the recent makeover of the Insignia. The ship also will be renamed Sirena.
“The acquisition of Sirena provides measured capacity growth based on the proven platform of Oceania Cruises’ highly regarded mid-size ships,” Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Kevin Sheehan says in a statement accompanying the announcement.
The announcement comes just days after Norwegian’s takeover of Oceania and sister line Regent Seven Seas in a previously announced acquisition. The $3.025 billion deal combined one of the world’s biggest mass-market lines with two leaders of the upscale side of the cruise market.
The acquisition of the Ocean Princess will allow Oceania to offer an array of new itinerary options, Oceania president Kunal Kamlani says in a statement accompanying the announcement . Oceania currently has just five vessels that carry 684 to 1,250 passengers a piece, with no new ships on order.
At 30,277 tons, the Ocean Princess and sister Pacific Princess are far smaller than most of Princess’ 18 ships and, some say, increasingly out of place as the line focuses on ever-bigger vessels. Princess acquired the two ships in 2002 after the collapse of Renaissance Cruises and has often used them for off-the-beaten-path itineraries in Asia, Africa and the South Pacific as well as Europe.
The itinerary schedule for Sirena’s first season with Oceania will be released in late February 2015 with reservations opening on March 4, 2015, the company says.