Yesterday during our day at sea I took a culinary lesson at the Bon Apetit kitchen.
I just have to say, the instructor, Katherine Kelley was so outstnding. Frank Del Rio was telling us that she has a PhD in medicine as well as being an accomplished chef - her specialy is health, and so she is constantly thinking nutrition" along with her cooking.
We worked in pairs, and condensed whar woukd normally be a 2-hour class into just 45 minutes so they could fit more people in - but the lesson was learned. I will have more about this later - but what fun and how instructional this all was - so much more than just watching a cooking demonstration - you realize how easy and yet exceptional well-prepared food can be.
Following that we had unch at Jacques. I mentioned the CEO of Oceania and Regent, Frank Del Rio. I sat at a table with him during that three hour lunch and really got to lern about the man behind all this - fascinating.
Much of it was off the record - but he told one thing that amazed me - he has never seen the ships of his competition and he says he has no interest in seeing them. Can you imagine owning some of th most beautiful ships at sea and never havbg seen a Joe Farcus decor? Or never seeing the Indoor Promenade on Oasis? It baffles me, but he says he has no interest.
Of course, those are entirely different ships than Oceania - but still, the curiousity would kill me. Along the same lines, he has never invited another company president to come and see his ships (although as a courtesy most cruise lines do host other lines - which I believe is aa civil and smart busiiness practice). I don't think it is bad thaat Frank does not participate in this - I just find it unusual that it doesn't enter into his curiousity.
Rather, he just believes that what other lines do is not his style of cruising and so he just does not care.
Now, I met Frank for the first time in 1999, and I recall from back then that he said to me he is not personally concerned with the "overall" cruise industry. His concern is his own ships. He does not copy anyone else (yet has just created some of the most amazing ships). He is happy to carve out his own niche within thhe cruise industry - aand leave it at that.
So - while other cruise lines are competing for the Australian market, or to capture the emerging European cruise market, Frank continues on his course of providing destiination oriented cruises - generally for Americans who want to see Europe and other exotic locales.
US, Canadian aand Australian passengers make up 91% of Oceania clientele (while Royal Caribbean is now saying the majority of its passengers come from outside the U.S.) - That means less tht 10% come from Great Britain, and the rest of Europe, South America, Asia, etc.
The biggest revelation he had this year was that with his beautiful new ships he had to add a day at sea to every cruise. He had many 2012 itineraries with each day in port (something I personally like in a cruise), but he realized that the new Oceania ships, as opposed to the older and smaller ones, demand time onboard.
H says he figured it out when he took a sampling of who was off the ship on night in Monte Carlo - at 8:00 pm - only 11% of passengers.
That is the atttraction of these new ships. And I understand it, although I have been on more "luxury ships" where I was bored stiff by days at sea, with this ship I certaily do understand the need to just relax for a day.