|Its all about ships
PROFILE AND REVIEW
Cruise line profile - Oceania Cruises - - Azamara Cruises - R class - profile and review
Above: Regatta (R-Two).
Above left: Nautica (-Five)
Above Right: Azamara Journey (R-Six). Arcadia.
Left: Regatta in New York City.
Below: Azamara Pursuit off the
Amalfi Coast, Italy. (Photo
courtesy of Azamara).
Right: Insignia (originally R-One).
Left: Pacific Princess (R-Three).
Above: Sirena (R-Four) when she was Ocean
Above: Azamara Quest (R-Seven).
Below: Azamara Pursuit (R-Eight).
The R-class is a series of eight small cruise ships originally built for
Renaissance Cruises. Following the bankruptcy of Renaissance in 2001, the eight
ships were dispersed across the cruise industry. However, now they have settled
with four each at two up-market lines: Azamara (Azamara Journey, Azamara
Quest, Azamara Pursuit and the recently-purchased Pacific Princess); and Oceania
(Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and Sirena).
Each of the ships is approximately 30,000 gross tons and can accommodate
684 passengers at double occupancy. Although the various ships have undergone
several refits over the years, they all still maintain an atmosphere of sophisticated
elegance. Indeed, despite having had a number of owners, the ships remain
remarkably similar in appearance and atmosphere.
These ships have no gee-wiz features and no shock and awe décor. Rather,
they are for travelers who are looking for elegant but casual vehicles in which to
explore the world. Wood paneling interspersed with wrought iron give the ships
the feeling of a country house hotel.
Each ship has a main dining room, two specialty restaurants, a buffet and a
poolside venue. For entertainment, there is a show lounge and an observation
lounge as well as a small casino and a pair of intimate bars. The beautiful library
is a highlight of each ship. There is also a spa, a fitness center, a salon and an
The R-class ships travel the world. They can be seen in the major cruise
ports but they also visit smaller ports that the large cruise ships cannot or do not
visit. Consequently, they tend to attract experienced travelers who have already
seen the tourist sights. Most passengers are mature and there are few children.
All of the ships were built by Chantiers d'Atlantique in St.
Nazaire, France and originally entered service between 1998 and
2001. The ships are diesel-electric with traditional propeller
shafts. Despite their small size, they have good seakeeping
qualities, which enable them to undertake itineraries that stretch
across major oceans. However, with a top speed of less than 20
knots, they are slower than average.
The ships are called “R-class” because the original name
for each ship began with the letter “R” followed by the by the
ship's number in the sequence in which they were built. Thus,
the first ship built was “R-One”; the second ship built was “R-
Following Renaissance's demise, the ships were laid-up. Most were
owned by Cruisevest, which chartered and later sold them to various
lines. R-One and R-Two were sold to Oceania in 2006 where they
became Insignia and Regatta. These two ships have remained with
Oceania since then although, R-One spent some time (2012-2014)
chartered to Hapag-Llyod, sailing under the name Columbus 2.
In 2002, R-Five was chartered to the Spanish cruise line Pullmantur
where she was marketed under the name “Blue Dream.” In 2006, she was
purchased by Oceania, which renamed her Nautica.
Like R-Five, R-Six was chartered to Pullmantur, marketed first as
“Blue Star” and later as “Blue Dream.” In 2006, R-Seven, which had
been chartered by the German line Delphin Seereisen, joined Pullmantur
where she was known as “Blue Moon.” After Royal Caribbean acquired
an interest in Pullmantur, the ships were slated for transfer to Royal's
premium brand Celebrity Cruises. However, the decision was made to
use the ships to create a new luxury brand Azamara Cruises. In 2007, R-
Six became Azamara Journey and R-Seven became Azamara Quest.
A third major player in the R-ship saga was Princess Cruises. In
2002, Princess acquired R-Three, which it renamed Pacific Princess and
R-Four, which was renamed first Tahitian Princess and later Ocean
Princess. In 2007, Princess acquired R-Eight, which had been on charter
to Swan-Hellenic as “Minerva II”. R-Eight became Royal Princess.
Unlike Oceania and Azamara, Princess never marketed its R-ships as
luxury ships. As a result, passengers were able to enjoy an R-ship
experience at mass-market prices.
By the next decade, however, Princess had lost interest in having a
series of small ships in its fleet. In 2011, it transferred Royal Princess to
sister brand P&O Cruises where she became Adonia. The ship was later
used briefly by Carnival Corporation's ill-starred social-impact brand
Fathom but was returned to P&O after Fathom's demise. In 2018, she
was sold to Azamara where she became Azamara Pursuit.
In 2014, Princess announced that it was selling Ocean Princess and
in 2016, she joined Oceania as Sirena.
During the pause in operations caused by the COVID 19 pandemic,
Princess announced that Pacific Princess had been sold to an undisclosed
buyer. The buyer turned out to be Azamara.
Thus, the R-class ships are now evenly distributed between Oceania,
a subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, and Azamara, which is
now owned by Sycamore Partners after the line's sale by Royal
Caribbean. It should be noted that following the various changes in
ownership, substantial amounts were invested in the ships. As a result,
the R-class ships remain first-tier luxury cruise ships.