November 21, 2014

Holiday Wines: Our Favorite Red & Favorite White

Holidaywine1With the holidays just around the corner, and parties and gatherings filling your calendar, there are plenty of excuses to try a few new wines. Plus, with our new “Wine by the Bottle” program, sampling fine wines aboard our ships is more convenient and affordable than ever. Click for details.

Below, our Executive Cellar Master recommends one of Oceania Cruises’ favorite red wines and favorite white wines that make wonderful gifts, and are great to enjoy with loved ones during the holiday season – both aboard our ships and ashore. Cheers!

Angelo Gaja Chardonnay Rossj-Bass Langhe DOC
Piedmont, Italy 2008
For the modern Chardonnay lover, there are finally competitors for the classic Burgundies and Gaja wines that are reaching high. The Rossj-Bass Chardonnay is all about elegance, finesse, minerality – and it’s perfectly balanced by a crisp dryness.

Sourced from a vineyard named for Angelo's youngest daughter, Rossana (known as Rossj for short) Rossj Bass is a clearly defined, graceful Chardonnay – enhanced by just a touch of Sauvignon Blanc – that spends less time in barrique than the Gaia & Rey.

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Almaviva Baron Philippe de Rothschild Viña Concha y Toro 
Maipo Valley, Chile 2010 

The newly created league of the “Super Chilean Wines” has a unique wine addition – Almaviva. The expression of new world meets old in a memorable bottle made from a blend of classic Bordeaux varieties in which Cabernet Sauvignon predominates.

Chile offers its soil, its climate and its vineyards, while France contributes its winemaking savoir-faire and traditions. The result is an exceptionally elegant and complex wine. The blend says is it all: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Cabernet Franc and Merlot bringing in perfect balance finesse, strength and elegance. Its complex and intense ruby red color with purple tones and long aftertaste make this a superb wine, precise in its character, accessible and remarkably balanced.

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November 19, 2014

Pop Tiki Culture: The Fascinating History

Pop Tiki Culture: The Fascinating HistoryMention the South Pacific and one of the first images conjured is nearly always the iconic carved Tiki. Long a revered symbol of the South Pacific, the Tiki has a rich history rooted in ancient civilization. Tiki statues have been found throughout the South Pacific dating back at least 3,500 years. Their appearances vary according to the region, though they usually feature a stylized masculine form with large eyes and an often menacing expression which is meant to scare away evil spirits.

Pop Tiki Culture: The Fascinating HistoryA number of island groups have their own legends and mythology that explain the significance of Tiki statues. According to many Polynesian legends, Tiki was believed to be the first man on earth and the statues carved to honor this were considered sacred and powerful. Throughout the Hawaiian islands, Tiki statues were carved to pay homage to several ancient gods identified with elements like the sea, light and war. Meanwhile in ancient Maori culture, Tiki is considered the goddess of childbirth and the Tiki symbol was often worn to protect against infertility. Across cultures and regions, statues often marked sacred sites, signifying that the location was a place of worship or was otherwise a revered spiritual location.

The Origin of Pop Tiki Culture

Pop Tiki Culture: The Fascinating HistoryTiki culture made the leap to the U.S. in 1934 with the opening of Don the Beachcomber, a Polynesian themed restaurant in Hollywood, California. The restaurant served Cantonese cuisine and exotic rum punches and décor capturing the island escape ambiance: carved Tikis, masks, torches, rattan furniture, flower leis and vibrantly colored fabrics. The proprietor, Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt, was a young man who had sailed throughout the South Pacific and found inspiration in the dreamy Polynesian islands and their enigmatic Tiki carvings and mythology. 

Pop Tiki Culture: The Fascinating HistoryThe restaurant was immediately a hit among Hollywood stars and the elite, and garnered attention from LIFE Magazine. Others, like Trader Vic (created by Victor Bergeron) in Oakland, quickly adopted the Tiki theme for their restaurants. Tiki-themed bars and restaurants rapidly became a sensation throughout the country. With the return of soldiers from the South Pacific after World War II, Tiki culture skyrocketed in popularity even further. The romanticized version of Tiki culture spread into other aspects of American culture, influencing everything from home décor and architecture to music and clothing. The island fervor peaked in the late 1950s and early 1960s, booming with attractions such as Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. By the early 1970s, the widespread exposure and popularity of Tiki culture seemed to finally cause the enchantment to begin to fade.

Pop Tiki Culture: The Fascinating HistoryOver time, the relationship with Tiki culture transformed into one of nostalgia and fondness, and it is now often appreciated for its kitsch appeal. The Tiki splendor of the earlier era continues to live on today, such as with San Francisco’s iconic Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar in the Fairmont Hotel which was built in 1945, and features an artificial lagoon, Tiki torches and island “rainstorms” on the half-hour.

Explore the lands of the true Tiki on a dream getaway in the South Pacific in 2015:

November 17, 2014

Oceania Cruises Voyages Give New Meaning to "Holiday Travel"

Have you ever wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the holidays and celebrate the season with a relaxing getaway? On these Oceania Cruises voyages, you can enjoy a festive holiday celebration while lounging on pristine beaches and exploring cultural wonders.

PACIFIC SERENADE, Valparaiso to Papeete, December 17, 2014

18 days on board Marina

Easter IslandWhether you celebrate on board Marina with the Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremonies or the Christmas Eve carolers, this voyage promises a special holiday treat with a call on a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has intrigued travelers for centuries. One of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, mystical Easter Island is famous for its hundreds of monolithic statues created between the 10th and 16th centuries. These moai were carved in the volcanic crater of Rano Raraku and then moved to sacred ceremonial platforms, the most colossal being Ahu Tongariki. Much mystery surrounds the methods used to construct and transport these impressive monuments, which reach up to 33 feet high and weigh up to 82 tons. Mull over this conundrum later in the voyage as you celebrate the New Year on the pristine beaches of Tahiti and Bora Bora.

SOUTH AFRICAN HOLIDAY, Cape Town to Cape Town, December 22, 2014

15 days on board Nautica

Holiday TravelSpend the holidays exploring the wonderful sights of South Africa, including a stop in the bustling city of Port Elizabeth on Christmas Eve. The city’s parks and museums offer great appeal, but many visitors are drawn to the game reserves just outside Port Elizabeth. About 45 miles north of the city, Addo Elephant National Park stands as living proof of the success of South Africa’s conservation efforts. When it was proclaimed a park in 1931, a mere 11 elephants lived in the area. Today the sanctuary is home to more than 350 elephants, as well as lions, rhinos, zebras and other indigenous wildlife. Enjoy a game drive through the park to observe these magnificent creatures. Then marvel at other natural wonders as you cruise along the Cape of Good Hope and ring in the New Year with a celebratory gala on the decks of Nautica.

HOLIDAYS IN THE TROPICS, Miami to Miami, December 23, 2014

12 days on board Riviera

CaribbeanNothing relieves holiday stress like a serene cruise along sapphire blue waters embraced by the elegant comforts of Riviera, beautifully decked in her most festive finery. Watch the warm sunshine sparkle like holiday lights on the sea as you cruise toward the idyllic islands of the Caribbean. Without you even lifting a finger, a splendid holiday feast with all of your traditional favorites will appear, created by Riviera’s master chefs. Who needs snow to enjoy a white Christmas when you can celebrate the season on the white sands of St. Barts and Antigua? As you greet the New Year on the spectacular beaches of the British Virgin Islands, you just might create a new holiday tradition.

November 14, 2014

Gaudí’s Magnificent Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, the sun-drenched Mediterranean city known for its diverse international culture, a thriving arts scene and world-class cuisine, has always allured travelers quite unlike any other city in Europe. The capital of Catalonia attracts an endless stream of visitors for so many reasons, but none are quite as inextricable from the place itself as its legendary architecture. And rarely does a single architect become so deeply intertwined in a city’s identity that he or she becomes nearly synonymous with it – as Gaudí is with Barcelona.

Madman or Genius?
Born in Reus in 1852, Antoni Gaudí was the son of a boilermaker and became fascinated with architecture at a young age. In fact, he has said that his early observations of the boilermakers at work influenced his understanding and skill in working with three-dimensional space. He was often in weak health as a child and had to spend much time recuperating at home. This led to his many hours of contemplating nature and drawing, which later came to deeply influence his architectural style. He went on to study in Barcelona, and later graduated from the Provincial School of Architecture in 1878. Upon signing Gaudí’s certificate, the director of the School of Architecture, Elies Rogent, reportedly remarked: “We have given this degree to a madman or a genius; only time will tell.”

Parc Güell
Parc Güell

The Fated Rise
The same year of his graduation, a fateful introduction at the Paris World’s Fair to industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship and important professional relationship – Güell would become his main patron and sponsor. The introduction led to Palau Güell, and later, the renowned Parc Güell and many other structures. Deeply influenced by nature and organic forms, Gaudí placed an emphasis on designing structures with a very fluid and organic aesthetic early on. He also became known for popularizing the colourful mosaic tilework, an ancient Catalan tradition and a signature on many of his structures.

Around 1914, La Sagrada Família became his all-consuming obsession and Gaudí withdrew from his social life and abandoned all other work to focus on it. During the last years of his life as funds rand out, he contributed to the project and was often seen asking for donations from anyone likely to contribute. In 1926, Gaudí was run over by a tram and died.

Undoubtedly, his legacy lives on today. His groundbreaking works have left an enduring impact on the world of architecture and seven of his structures have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their exceptional creative contribution – genius it most certainly was.

Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló
Palau Güell
Palau Güell
Parc Güell
Parc Güell
Parc Güell
Parc Güell
Casa Milà
Casa Milà
La Sagrada Família
La Sagrada Família

Gaudí’s Top Sites in Barcelona

La Sagrada Família
La Sagrada Família

La Sagrada Família: Under construction for more than 100 years, La Sagrada Família is an expiatory church; that is, it has been built solely from donations since the very beginning. The massive structure features a highly symbolic façade with sections devoted to representations of the Nativity and the Stations of the Cross, and the soaring bell towers are dedicated to the 12 apostles.

Casa Batlló: An unusual house originally designed for a wealthy aristocrat, Casa Batlló’s fantastical features have made it one of Barcelona’s most emblematic structures. The undulating façade shimmers with glazed tiles and ceramic discs, hinting at marine life and the striking iridescent tiles composing the roof are reminiscent of a dragon’s scales.

Parc Güell: A must-see in Barcelona, Parc Güell is a landscaped park designed by Gaudí that features his signature mosaic tilework, the infamous Gaudí dragon and a terrace with sweeping views of the city.

Casa Milà
Casa Milà

Casa Milà: Also known as La Pedrera (The Quarry), the sinuous building comprises two apartment blocks connected by interior courtyards. It is recognized by its rippling gray stone façade that resembles an open stone quarry.

Palau Güell: A mansion designed for the industrial tycoon, Palau Güell is one of Gaudí’s earlier works. The sprawling home has 18 fanciful chimneys and centers on a grand entertaining room with soaring arches. Guests would enter in horse-drawn carriages through the front gates, which are composed of intricate ironwork patterns resembling seaweed.

Explore Gaudí’s magnificent Barcelona in 2015 during one of these extraordinary voyages aboard Riviera:

Beaches, Blooms & Bluffs from Miami to Barcelona | April 1, 2015

Coastal Hideaways from Barcelona to Rome | April 25, 2015

Artistic Discoveries from Venice to Barcelona | May 11, 2015; July 25, 2015; November 7, 2015

Pearls of the Mediterranean from Rome to Monte Carlo | Jun 16, 2015

November 12, 2014

Celebrating Jacques in 2015: How the “Finest Cuisine at Sea” Came to Be

Celebrating Jacques in 2015Executive Culinary Director and Master Chef Jacques Pépin will be hosting his much-anticipated annual Signature Sailing aboard Riviera’s Iberian Inspiration voyage departing Lisbon July 7, 2015. Sailing with Chef Pépin is always memorable, but the 2015 voyage is certain to be extra special—Chef Pépin will be celebrating his 80th birthday on board. He will be joined by his daughter Claudine, co-host of Chef Pépin’s award-winning “Cooking with Claudine” television series, his granddaughter, as well as his wife, Gloria.

The legendary Chef Pépin has been working closely with our chefs for over ten years to continually offer inspired cuisine that rivals that of the finest shoreside restaurants. Bob Binder, Vice Chairman of Oceania Cruises, shares how Chef Pépin and Oceania Cruises first came together years ago, noting that the company vision was always rooted in creating the best dining at sea.

Celebrating Jacques in 2015   Celebrating Jacques in 2015

After some correspondence, Chef Pépin, personal chef to three French heads of state, invited Binder to his home to discuss the concept.“We made our fantasy list, and Jacques was at the top,” Binder said. “And quite honestly, we didn’t think we’d get him.”

 “We played boules, drank a few glasses of red wine and suddenly Jacques was on board,” Binder recalls. “He had never been interested in working with a cruise line before, but he thought it was a very unique concept – we wanted to use the best ingredients, and really be true to the regional cuisines in the areas we were sailing.”

Celebrating Jacques in 2015    Celebrating Jacques in 2015

That was just before the launch of Oceania Cruises.  Now, more than ten years later, Chef Pépin’s upcoming Signature Sailing honors the story of how the “finest cuisine at sea” began. It will feature exclusive cooking demonstrations, specially designed signature menus, celebratory events, book signings and more.

Celebrating Jacques in 2015Guests will even have a chance to take part in Chef Pépin's 80th birthday celebration. Binder notes that it’s sure to be a lively celebration, and any guests who have sailed with him in the past can attest – Chef Pépin loves a good fête and doesn’t shy away from karaoke!

We invite you to join Chef Pépin on Riviera’s 10-day Iberian Inspiration voyage next summer for exciting festivities, enriching discoveries in the best Mediterranean ports – and of course, unforgettable culinary experiences and the finest cuisine at sea.