'We believe NCLH's move could force RCL to make a decision with Azamara to either bulk up the competitive niche brand versus Oceania or divest the brand/ships,' analyst Tim Conder said in a note.
Both Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey were built as R-class ships, part of a series of eight newbuilds for Renaissance Cruises from 1998 to 2001.
Conder described the $82m acquisition of another former R-class ship, currently sailing as Ocean Princess for Princess Cruises, as 'a strong commitment by NCLH to Oceania's successful niche of midsize destination-orientated cruises.'
That makes four former R-class ships for Oceania in 2016, apart from its own larger, newer Marina and Riviera.
Conder speculated whether Norwegian would pursue the remaining R-class ships in the Carnival Corp. & plc fleet, Pacific Princess and P&O Cruises' Adonia, over the next six to 18 months to add further scale.
He expects Carnival to divest of relatively small, older vessels from its overall fleet.