Insignia seen at the Northsea Canal passage from Amsterdam to the North Sea at the 13th of june, 2004.
Insignia was built for Renaissance Cruises as the first ship of a class of six. Renaissance Cruises was sailing with eight smallish cruiseships of around 4200 tons, that were built during the beginning of the 1990's as ultra luxurious vessels sailing with just 114 passengers. In the middle of the same decade, the company ordered the second class of ships, that were to be replacements for the earlier eight. With the first ships, the company used a not very innovative naming system, the ships were named Renaisance I to Renaissance IIX. In the second class of newbuilds, everybody hoped for more sophisticated names, but the first ship entered service in july 1998 under the name R One. Renaissance Cruises did announce that real names would be given to the ships in time, but sadly, theyt never had the opportunity to do so.
R One was built at the Chantiers de L'atlantique wharf at Saint-Nazaire, France, under yardnumber H31. She measured 30.277 tons, still smallish but in comparissement with the earlier Renaissance Cruises ships it was massive. The lenght of the ship is 181 meters, her width is 25,50 meters and her draft 6 meters. On a two per cabin basis, the ship offered accomedations to 684 passengers,but the maximum amount of passengers that could be sailing her was 824. These people were cared for by 373 crewmembers. The normal speed for the new ship was 20 knots, very moderate, and she was registered at Monrovia, flying the flag of Liberia. For Renaissance Cruises, she offered cruises to the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and the South Pacific.
She wasn't able to sail a long while for Renaissance Cruises, because after three years of service, her company was declared bankrupt at the 25th of september of 2001. The class of ships, dubbed the 'R-class' because of the shipnames (the following ships were named R Two to R Eight as the original six-ship class was extended to eight ships) was built in a time when the company wasn't too sure about their financial future and the attacks of september the 11th of 2001 in America gave the company the last push into liquidation.
Another picture from the same day as the above one.
The ships of Renaissance Cruises were laid-up, most of them at Gibraltar (only R Three and R Four were sailing in the Pacific at the time), and were transferred to a company that was formed by her builders, Cruise Invest, to be chartered out or sold to other companies. Unofficially, R One was renamed CruiseInvest One. Of course, non of the new class of eight were unattractive ships for exsisting companies. It mostly is hard to find secondhand tonnage of this size that is reletively new (no one older then 3 years) but the market was very unstable just after the september 11th attacks and the beginning of the global war on terror, so most of the ships were not sold, but chartered out. A new company had been formed out of the ruïns of Renaissance Cruises by their former vice-President Frank del Rio and Joe Watters, who was the former CEO of Crystal Cruises, and they chartered one of the former R-class ships for a new venture called Oceania Cruises. This was not R One, but R Two and this ship was re-named Insignia for them. But before the ship was sailing for Oceania, she was sub-chartered to the French company TMR from april 2003 onwards. The ship was marketed as the Vaisseau Renaissance for TMR, although her name was not officially changed from Insignia. When this Insignia was ending her charter for TMR at the end of june 2003, she was returned to the Oceania Cruises fleet, but because they did have chartered the R One also now and renamed her as Insignia, the former R Two had her name changed to Regatta.
So our Insignia started her sailings as the first Oceania Cruies ship, although still owned by Cruise Invest untill 2006 when the ship was bought by Oceania Cruises. The ship was named in Monte Carlo by Virginia Watters, before starting her first cruise for Oceania in april of 2004. For them, she mostly sailed European cruises in summer, Mediterranean as well as northern European, and Pacific cruises in winter, just as the former ships of Renaissance Cruises had done. In 2012, after the first true newbuilds were introduced by Oceania Cruises, it was announced that Insignia was chartered for two years to Hapag-Lloyd as the Columbus 2 from the 2013-season onwards. For them, she sailed a variety of European cruises, as well as a compact world cruise in the winter of 2013/2014. On the 24th of april 2014, the ship again was handed back to Oceania Cruises under her former name Insignia at Barcelona.
Her smooth service was interrupted at the 11th of december 2014, when in an engineroom fire while she was docked at Saint-Lucia three people died. At the time, the ship was sailing a 10-night cruise from San Juan to Miami. Luckily, the fire could be contained within the engine room, but one crewmember and two subcontractors sadly lost their lives because of the incident.
At the 8th of july of 2015, the ship departs for the longest cruise in the history of the industry, as she sails a worldcruise of 180 days visiting 52 countries at five continents. The voyage is exclusively sailed by 650 passengers. The cruise will end at januari the 4th, 2016 in Miami, Florida.