Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Italy Gives The Cruise Industry Another Black Eye: Oceania Riveria's Delivery Is Delayed

What I have known to be a somewhat chaotic maritime industry in Italy (sometimes truly unbelievably chaotic) as once again proven to be the rule rather than the exception.

Oceania Cruises has, unfortunately, announced that the Oceania Riviera's delivery has been delayed...a second time...now from April 24, 2012 to May 16, 2012.  The cause of the delay:  Strikes in Italy.

Being the delay is significant in time, there is simply no way that Oceania - being forced to cancel two cruises - can shift people who booked the Maiden Voyage to the new, anticipated, Maiden Voyage.  Instead they are being offered either a full refund, or if they rebook, a credit ranging from $250 to $1,000 per person.  (I, personally, think that is a bit on the cheeky side as most people booked to be on the Maiden Voyage and they will be given nothing if they request their money back.  Everyone should be given a future cruise credit of some sort, not just if you allow Oceania to keep your money.)

I was skeptical of Oceania's first announced delay of the Riviera's delivery when it said it was to allow the crew to get better acquainted with the ship.  I "knew" it was problems with the yard, but politics being what they are, a seemingly innocuous reason was given.

This raises some real concerns for me concerning the eventual fit and finish of Riviera; not that it is Oceania's fault...to the contrary.  I have seen the work of Italian yards when the yacht or ship is the last big project for the yard or there will be a significant cutback in staffing after delivery.  Pride in workmanship goes out the window and slapping it together with a rather arrogant "Who Cares?" attitude becomes pervasive...or, at least, pervasive enough to cause real issues.

This is truly unfortunate; especially because Oceania's Marina is a truly wonderful ship that has great ratings and truly pleases its passengers.

If there is silver lining for those who just found out they will not be on the Maiden Voyage, it is that those folks will miss what probably will be a host of issues and problems that will be the result of a rushed and not terribly well finished product.  That said, I am confident that given time and Oceania's now famous teamwork once Riviera is delivered she will be brought up to "ship shape" as quickly as possible.

Now, let's see how firm that May 16, 2012 date is!