Cruise Line Review
Oceania Cruises - Cruise Line Review provided by Cruise Critic
The brainchild of cruise industry veterans Frank Del Rio and Joe Watters, former heads of Renaissance Cruises and Crystal Cruises respectively, Miami-based Oceania Cruises emphasizes a destination-intensive floating-hotel experience with top-notch food and superior service. The cruise line has chartered Renaissance Cruises' 684-passenger R1 and R2, renaming them Regatta and Insignia. It also has signed an agreement to operate a third Renaissance R-class vessel. Already named "Nautica," the ship will begin sailing for Oceania on November 28, 2005.
Regatta was the first ship to launch, in summer 2003. Insignia, its nearly identical sibling, was introduced in spring 2004. The company spent some $10 million-plus to refurbish these late-1990s vessels, and it shows. Public rooms, including restaurants, are graceful and elegant. The newly redone pool area is now surfaced in teak and boasts teak furnishings (including a fabulous double sunbed). Cabins have been tweaked with much more comfortable bed-wear and mattresses.
Overall, Oceania has managed to create a luxury experience -- particularly in the areas of cuisine and service -- at a mid-market price point. Ultimately, the company offers one of the industry's best value-for-money options in cruising.The Fleet
At 30,277 tons and with a 684-passenger occupancy, Regatta, Insignia and Nautica fall firmly in the mid-ship size range yet offers a wide range of amenities and options usually found on deluxe-priced lines.Onboard Atmosphere
Decor is "traditional luxe" with the requisite polished dark mahoganies, muted fabrics and rich-colored carpets. By virtue of the ships' sizes, it's not difficult to find yourself oriented by the first day at sea. It is no surprise that these ships bear Renaissance's visionary (at the time) high ratio of standard balcony cabins.
Service is enthusiastic as well as gracious, courtesy of a well-trained and young European staff.
The dress code is flexible-country club casual, intended to partner perfectly with their "whatever you want whenever you want" mindset. Oceania neither encourages nor discourages children onboard; however, there are no kid's programs in place and little else to keep boredom at bay apart from the customary Ping-Pong, shuffleboard and Monopoly in the Game Room.
There are four restaurants. In addition to the traditional main dining room scenario (albeit with no set tables or seating times), there are three specialty restaurants -- sans additional charges. Menus were crafted by master chef Jacques Pepin as Executive Culinary Director (a James Beard Foundation trustee, well-known author and once personal chef to three French heads of state, including de Gaulle).
The spas offer premium services at rather reasonable prices and the Thalassotherapy whirlpool is complimentary. The fitness center offers Pilates and yoga along with the usual aerobics classes.
Casinos are small, making it impossible to install a craps table, but there are plenty of slot machines. There are eight bars and lounges, and an elaborate afternoon tea is served daily.Itineraries
Regatta, Insignia and Nautica ply the waters of Europe (Eastern and Western Mediterranean, Western Europe and the British Isles, and Northern Europe's Baltic and Norwegian Fjords) during warm weather months. The company is broadening its cold weather itineraries this year with the addition of South America to its itinerary of Caribbean, Panama Canal and Central America voyages. Another exciting new addition has been voyages that sail in the Far East.Fellow Passengers
Fellow passengers tend to fall into the older age ranges (50 and up), are extremely well traveled and, almost entirely, hail from the U.S.
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