Photo-page Oceanic, many interior photographs, click here
All text and photographs (unless stated otherwise) Đ Paul Timmerman
Oceanic - Present
In April 2004, we boarded the Oceanic in Barcelona, Spain, for a cruise in the Western Mediterranean, her familiar route for the last 3 years, calling at Tunis, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno and Villefranche.
Oceanic in Barcelona, April 2004
As we crossed the bridge to the outer harbour of Barcelona to reach the cruise terminal, she looked splendid with her majestic sweeping lines and her beautifully rounded aft superstructure. Not a streak of rust, she has been maintained with great care. Only her classic appearance set her apart from the nearby moored Norwegian Dream; she was just as immaculate as her 27 years newer collegue.....
Indoors, we were even more surprised, as she didnīt show her age in any way. Scrubbing and polishing went on around the clock. Oceanic features some really classic public spaces, among them the vestibule between the Lucky Star Salon and the Salon Broadway. Further more, the Lucky Star Salon itself with its elegant bar, casino and two of her larger shops are located in one large area covering the full width of the ship and are very nicely appointed with itīs heavy red leather chairs and the use of much brass, giving a very spacious feeling.
Bar, Salon Lucky Star
Another public space not to be missed is the pool area, an exceptionally large area, including two pools, where you can have buffet meals poolside (buffets were excellent by the way).
Pool area, magrodome open
It was on board the Oceanic that the first magrodome was installed, a retractable glass roof, used to cover the entire lido area in case of inclement weather. Nowadays, all the larger vessels feature magrodomes. During our cruise it was frquently used indeed, as in April, wather in the Mediterranean changes quickly indeed.
Oceanic - Short History
Ordered in 1965 from an Italian yard, her first owners Home Lines had for about two-third of the year service on the angry North Atlantic in mind, and Caribbean cruising for the remainder of the year. She would sail between Canada and Northern Europe (Cuxhaven, Le Havre, Southampton, Quebec and finally Montreal) in transatlantic service.
However, two other vessels Home Lines owned at the time, the Homeric and the Italia, were employed cruising on the New York - Nassau run and in the West-Indies whch proved to be a great succes. Home Lines probably foresaw passenger numbers decline in liner service on the North Atlantic, as many passengers decided to cross by aeroplane, thus saving an important amount of time and they decided that Oceanic would be used for cruising out of New York. A remarkable decision, as she would be by far the largest ship on the weekly Nassau run, measuring an impressive 29.000 GRT.
Oceanic started service in 1965 after a glamourous reception in her new home port. Instantly, she proved to be a great success, sailing at maximum capacity cruise after cruise (1200 passengers). In the first quarter of the year, she would head south for the Caribbean carrying fewer passengers on longer cruises (12 to 19 days).
Early seventies Home Lines brochure of Oceanic
As well in the caribbean as on the New York -Nassau run, Oceanic earned the reputation of being an impeccably run cruise ship, enjoying many repeat passengers.
in 1986 she was replaced by the new Homeric (today sailing as Costa Europa) and not much later she was sold to Premier Cruise Lines. They renamed her Starship Oceanic. She sailed for Premier from 1986 until 2000, some of the time in tandem with one of her fleetmates, the Starship Royale, Premierīs first ship. Starship Oceanic was refitted before she entered service for Premier, and emerged with a bright red hull. Almost immediately, she was nicknamed `Big Red Boat`.
Oceanic together woth Starship Royale in the port of Nassau, Bahama's
She sailed with Disney characters on board, as Premier had a contract with Disney Corp. concerning the use of these figures on the ship. A stay at the Disneyland park could easily be combined with a short cruise on the Starship Oceanic to the Bahamaīs because she sailed from nearby Port Canaveral, close to Disney World. She was such a succes, that Premier - just before the company collapsed in 2000- decided to rename three of their other ships to Big Red Boat 2, 3 and 4, all scheduled to sail from different US ports following the same family oriented concept. However, Premier only owned elderly, classic vessels and maintained these ships immaculately. None of these ships, the Island Breeze (1961), Seawind Crown (1961), Starship Royale (1958) and the Rembrandt (1959) looked their age. Keeping these ships in mint condition cost Premier vast amounts of money, and to make matters worse, inevitably these ships suffered occaisional breakdowns, costing the company much needed cash in the form of reimbursements to passengers whose cruise had been cancelled.....
Oceanic in Premier livery
In 2000, Premier Cruises collapsed, and apart from the Oceanic, none of their ships has seen further service, all of them ended up at the breakers yard (apart from the starship Royale, which sank en route to a shipyard of the coast of Virginia to be refitted). At the time of Premiersīs bankruptcy, one of their ships was chartered to Spanish Tour operator Pullmantur, the Seawind Crown. She was instantly laid up in the port of Barcelona, and her crew remained stranded on the ship for months before funds were raised to fly them back home. Immedeately, Pullmantour acquired the Starship Oceanic, shortened her name to Oceanic and had her refitted at Union de Levante in Barcelona. During her refit she was ironically just a few hundreds yards away from her laid up former fleetmate.
She was placed in service on week long cruises from Barcelona (as mentioned before) to Tunis, Naples, Civitavecchia , Livorno and Villefranche and immedeately attracted a loyal following of mainly Spanish passengers. This route is marketed under the name of `Brisas del Mediterraneo`.
Still often filled to capacity, let us hope that this stunning beauty will be able to compete successfully for many years to come with the newer vessels that sail in the Western Med for rival companies. Oceanic offers an interesting itinerary, she is a perfectly run ship at a competitive price.