Australian cruisers have upgraded to luxury cruise ships as never before, making the local market for no-expense-spared holidays at sea one of the world’s largest.

Steve Odell, Senior Vice President & Managing Director of the Asia Pacific region for Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, says his lines have had one of the strongest years, almost selling out of inventory for 2023 and experiencing huge demand for 2024 and 2025.

“When it comes to luxury cruising,  the Australian market has always been robust with enormous potential,” he says. “We are lucky to have a travel advisor network that supports and understands it.”

He added: “Its no surprise that the luxury sector has been the fastest to recover from the pandemic period. Loyalty and trust is paramount from both agents and consumers. Satisfaction – yes 200%!”

Mr Odell, a former chair of Cruise Lines International Australasia, was speaking after announcing his early retirement from the post which allowed him to pioneer Norwegian Cruise Lines’ local presence in Sydney seven years ago.

His move is part of a major reorganisation of Oceania and Regent, with Frank A. Del Rio, son of legendary NCL boss Frank Del Rio, taking the helm in the next president of Oceania Cruises, and  Regent getting its first female president in Andrea DeMarco.

Lisa Pile, current Vice President of Sales, Australia and New Zealand for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will expand her responsibilities to include the entire Asia Pacific region as Vice President Sales and General Manager APAC for Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Jason Worth, current Vice President of Sales, Australia and New Zealand for Oceania Cruises, will expand his responsibilities to the entire Asia Pacific region as Vice President Sales and General Manager APAC for Oceania Cruises.

“We are grateful to Steve for his strategic vision and significant contributions to the Company which have positioned us as leaders in the fast-growing Asia Pacific region,” Frank J. Del Rio, president and chief executive office of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, said.

Mr Odell pioneered the two lines’ success in the region, as first head of the company’s Asia Pacific business, managing the company’s three brands including NCL, and turning a single office into a new hub employing 150 people.

“I am proud to have been the start up leader for NCLH in Asia Pacific seven years ago, and to have steered this business to the top of the luxury sector in the region. We ended this year picking up all the major industry awards for luxury cruising and establishing our brands as the leaders in the market – the culmination is the arrival of Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer on 29 December.”

He recalls: “I was employee #1 and today  we have over 150 local based team members. I loved this whole journey and where it has taken the brands to  leadership in their segments.”

Mr Odell has over 40 years of cruise industry experience across the globe, 20 of them in the Asia Pacific region. He has held senior management roles for several international contemporary, premium and luxury cruise lines. This includes 17 years with luxury cruise line Silversea, where he was President,  Europe and Asia Pacific.

In 2018 he was named one of Australia’s Top 50 LGBTI Leaders in an initiative led by Deloitte  and Google to further develop workplace inclusion and create role models that are inspiring, visible and inclusive.

“I want to take a well earned break to spend quality time with our family plus tick off some bucket list destinations that have so far eluded us like South America. We want to include Antarctica & Galapagos in those plans.

“Later I am also keen to share my deep knowledge, global experience and network to help develop luxury travel & cruise further. I am passionate about the arts and also workplace diversity & inclusion issues. I hope I can make a difference.”

Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises have a combined fleet of 26 ships with approximately 54,400 berths, and they sail to more than 450 destinations worldwide. The Company will introduce eleven additional ships through 2027.The Norwegian Spirit will sail from Sydney later this month, while Regent Seven Seas Explorer will be in Sydney at the end of the month. Oceania Cruises Regatta is currently on a circumnavigation of Australia.

Ben Angell, Vice President and Managing Director APAC for Norwegian Cruise Line, will continue to represent the brand in the Asia Pacific region.