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January 24, 2011

MARINA SAILS! ...and sails....and sails!

    

Hustace Photo-1-Barcelona Pano
We've said "bon voyage" to Barcelona, and what an eventful couple of days it has been! It is such a thrill for Frank and I to welcome all of our guests onboard and to get to talk with so many of you. After sharing so much on the blog and hearing all of your comments, it has been wonderful to meet so many of you in person and experience Marina together. Below is a shot of lovely Marina in port in Barcelona before sailing on the Maiden Voyage.

Marina-Barcelona Port

And a spectacular shot of Marina at night.

Hustace Photo-12-Upper Deck Night
Apparently Marina is fond of the seas, because she has decided to enjoy another sea day! Inclement weather prevented us from calling at Malaga today, so as an alternative we tried for Gibraltar. But that did not work out because they closed the port, so we are off to Morocco. Frank and Marcia Del Rio were supposed to disembark today in Malaga, but instead they will be sailing on with us to Casablanca. So much for my taking some time off when Frank wasn't around!

Despite the rough seas, Marina is handling them very well. Mother Nature can cause some challenges though, so we are staying on our toes. Tonight will be the premier one of our new shows - Con Molto. We were supposed to do River Rhapsody, but those costumes are still in Malaga.

This afternoon's Chocolate Decadence class in the Bon Appetit Culinary Center should be a sweet spot on a sour day! As we suspected it would be, every day is a new adventure onboard Marina. 

Hustace Photo-9-Grand Staircase

You may have noticed that the quality of today's photos is quite impressive. No, my photography skills have not improved that much, but it appears that they would if I took classes onboard at the Artist Loft from Curtis Hustace, our Photo Coach. He captured today's photos, and we thank him so much for sharing!  We can't wait to learn from your expertise.

Hustace Photo-7-Vase

Hustace Photo-8-Terrace Chandelier

The first rave reviews are also coming in. Below I've shared some comments from David on the Cruise Critic message boards. It's his first voyage with Oceania Cruises, and if his impressions are any indication, we're meeting with great success! The links to the Cruise Critic pages are also included below if you'd like to read more:

The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
It is beautiful.

It is more than you can imagine.

It is Marina….and before I’ve even had my first night on board, I can tell you that you will want to be onboard. 

Work is still being done….minor things and only to be expected.

First Impressions:

1. The public spaces are more grand and beautiful than any picture you’ve seen so far.
2. Even the carpet is more plush..every step is cushioned.
3. Staff is very friendly, but do not seem harried.
4. Everything is designed with an emphasis on home or perhaps an upscale boutique hotel.
5. The penthouse rooms are VERY nice…if you need more space than that, please feel free to donate to me!
6. Our balcony room is quite adequate. Slightly smaller than the R & S class balcony rooms on Holland.
7. The gel bed feels fantastic and you literally sink in slowly to a comfortable level.
8. They have crammed a lot into a little space.
9. Jacques and Red Ginger standout in terms of design..the designers did a great job creating great atmosphere there.
10. Small touches like soft close drawers are quite nice. In other words, there is a “cushion” feel to closing them.
11. Horizon’s lounge is REALLY nice. The smoking area is glassed off and to the port side. It’s a very expansive space.
12. The library is BEAUTIFUL, beautiful, beautiful. My wife will get lost in there.
13. Lunch service was paced well and very fresh in taste and appearance. Dishes everywhere are gorgeous.

Okay..I’ll be sending some photos of menus, etc. along the way (don’t want to show you EVERYTHING on the first day  I have to have some reason for you to come back to read more!

First shocker: house wines and spirits…FREE this first cruise for those who enjoy such a thing. Even mixed drinks, etc.

We are promised more surprises as we go along.

Dinner was great. The Grand Dining room at night was like gold spun butter poured into a crystal mould. There were bites of steamed dumplings, shrimp, wonderful salads and great entrees. Our favorite was definitely the Veal Oscar. We arrived at 630pm before the pre-dinner drinkers arrived (i.e. noisy/loud). I caught a glance of FDR patrolling the dining room.

I’ll post a few pics each day. I’ll certainly try to keep the menus coming!

In summary, this is a ship for adults with all the trappings of someone’s home. Even in public spaces we were met very few people and nothing seemed crowded.

Marie in the dining room was efficient, Anton the sommelier was quite engaging..and Mia and Dannielle from the entertainment staff were so so friendly.

Tomorrow, the menu at Waves grill looks GREAT…and I’m at the Bon Appetit culinary center in the afternoon.

Toscana for dinner tomorrow night.

By the way, they were handing out extra specialty dining venue reservations this afternoon on a first come first serve basis. 

We were delayed on our sail away for a few moments(didn’t bother us) as they were looking for a few folks…all were found.

In summary, if you haven’t booked your Marina trip, do it now! I can safely say that based on the first day experience. I look forward to more reports as we go.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1339111&page=4

 

Daddy Sang Bass, Mamma Sang Tenor

Me and little brother just joined right in!

I finally got it last night. I got the fascination with O.

Prior to dinner time last night, the ship hosted a special toast to the maiden voyage. Several venues were full of merry makers as staff were moved in to the area to deliver wine, champagne, mimosas, and rum punch drinks. Additional staff flooded, and I mean flooded, the area with hot and cold bites. The puff pastries with warm, melted cheese were my favorite. 

They were coming around at an average of one every 90 seconds to offer bites. I’ve been on other lines and have not been nearly so impressed with the service when it was time to do something like this. O made sure everyone was taken care of in this respect. I do not know if this is standard on most voyages or just because of the nature of this one.

Dinner was in Toscana. I have taken several pictures of the different dishes we ordered and will post them soon enough. I am not one to give away everything  So you won’t see all of them.

The waiter was appropriately from Italy. We liked the olive oil and balsamic vinegar choices..but it would have been nice to have had a menu, much like the dessert menu, to be able to read/see the descriptions. This would have been especially true of the olive oils. That being said, lemon, chili, rosemary, garlic, basil, were just some of the flavors.

ALL of the dishes were good, but if you are looking for room in the cavern called your stomach, you might want to skip the salads.

Some of the favorites: the eggplant stuffed with veal, the Trio Toscana and the Veal Marsala.

I need to clarify another issue. It is more than just Mr. Binder and Del Rio taking care of business. There are obviously engineers and the man responsible for the ship building running around. They are ALL working hard and attending to details. However, to the untrained eye, I haven’t the foggiest notion what those might be. If I didn’t know any better, Riviera, is probably getting a few adjustments planned because of this sailing.

Now, I started this post with an interesting observation. Daddy Sang Bass & Momma sang tenor. I believe I now get it. I know why Oceania doesn’t want to be a luxury line. Luxury implies self indulgent opulence. Premium means one places a high value on something. From the design of the ship to the nature of the approach to dining and spaces, this is all about family. The ship is meant to be home, not a resort. You don’t spend all day at your home trying to 1000 activities. In fact, especially from a man’s perspective, home is where you relax and have peace/calm.

I’m sure 90% or more of the passengers are repeat O cruisers. If I didn’t know any better, they are here to support Oceania! That’s what family does. They help each other during birth pangs and departures, through graduations, and moves to bigger houses.

Thus, Daddy does sing bass here and mamma does sing tenor. Because in the familiar words of the Johnny Cash tune, the circle won’t be broken. 
Thus, I think that is the real reason we refer to the line as “O”.

David C
__________________

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1339111&page=6

Hustace Photo-11-Pool Night
Thank you again to Curtis for the fabulous photos and to David for sharing his experiences on Cruise Critic. And of course, I will continue to keep you posted here on the blog as Marina's Maiden Voyage continues!

Comments

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Thank you for the update and the wonderful photos.

Not sure I can wait until 2012 to cruise on Marina now!

Enjoy the rest of the cruise!

We are thrilled to read these wonderful reviews, as we are anxiously awaiting our turn to cruise on the Marina from SFO on Feb 26th thru the Panama Canal!
We are booked in the suite at the very back on deck 7, and were wondering if there is public access to the outside deck at the back of the ship on Deck 7? Our suite is the last one and our deck would be rigth at the stern. Would love to hear from you regarding this matter. ENJOY your wonderful cruise and we will watch your blog daily and look forward to more information and photos! cheers Mary from Vancouver BC/ Canada

Take me with you.

Your dialogue about the Marina is intoxicating! Can't wait until we jump on board in July for our lovely cruise (July 15-29) and beyond! My mouth is salivating for the food and many treats along the way. It would be swell if the Marina offers a few wines and spirits to us as they did for you on our trip!

Update us on the SPA and the workout room soon.

We are hoping to see some familiar faces (crew) from our past trips on the Regatta and Insignia.

Congrats to the Marina personnel!
Cheers and thank you for sharing. Lovely job.
Kimberly Overton from Los Angeles area, CA, USA

Mary, I just now had a moment to respond to your inquiry about the verandas on Deck 7. The verandas of the last suites at the stern do wrap around toward the back of the ship, and they are completely private, although there is a portion of that back deck that is crew-only access. I hope this helps, and enjoy your cruise in February!

As always, thank you to all of our guests for your comments. I'm so glad you all are enjoying the blog!

la foto de MARINA es mia que menos que un reconocimiento

I am so looking forward to our cruise on Tuesday (Feb. 8th). I have already booked two cooking classes. I am also looking forward to the library... Oceania has the most beautiful libraries of all the lines. I too hope that Oceania extends the free drinks policy for this inaugural cruise... that would be so nice. We've been on the Regatta twice and the Nautica once... can't wait for the Marina.
Cindy Schwartzman from Maryland.

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