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8 posts from October 2012

October 29, 2012

A TRANQUIL AFTERNOON IN CHARMING PROVENCE

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Haystacks in Provence by Van Gogh
If you have ever had the great fortune to find yourself in the countryside of Provence, you may have felt, as I did even upon my first visit, that there is something very familiar about it. This is undoubtedly because history’s greatest artists have painted these landscapes for centuries, and I have admired their work in countless books and museums. Traveling the winding roads
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Mont Sainte-Victoire by Cézanne
through the hills of Provence, it is immediately apparent why masters such as Cézanne, Van Gogh, Renoir and Matisse found such inspiration here.

As Blogger-at-Large, I recently had the opportunity to visit Provence, a popular stop for the ships of Oceania Cruises thanks to the charms of the port of Marseille and numerous other towns throughout the region. On this trip, I decided to join the shore excursion called Charming Castellet. I will try to minimize my use of the word “charming” here, but let’s just say the excursion was aptly named.

It was about an hour and a half by motorcoach from the port of Marseille to Castellet, and the drive through Provence was gorgeous. Along the way we passed vineyards, olive groves and quaint towns and farms.

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When we arrived at the base of the town, the views were stunning. As we began our walk up the road into the village, I knew I had picked the right excursion to try out my new camera. In the French countryside, I’m not sure it’s even possible to take a bad picture.

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According to records, Castellet has been in existence since at least 1030. Originally a walled town, some ancient ramparts remain, leading through old gateways to narrow cobblestone streets.

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Beautifully restored, brightly colored old houses line the streets and are accented with gorgeous flowers, vines and bright green foliage. It was everything that I had imagined a French country village would look like.

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Castellet is a popular tourist town, and delightful little shops can be found around every turn. Art galleries showcase local artists, and artisan workshops sell local pottery, ceramics, candles and leather crafts. Gift shops offer all the icons of Provence – lavender, herbes de Provence, olive oil, pastries – so I purchased all of my gifts for family and friends here! There are also plenty of adorable cafés and restaurants in which to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.


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As we meandered the streets, every corner unveiled another spectacular view of Provence. 

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IMG_6035As we approached the top of the hill on which Castellet is perched, we came upon the one church in Castellet and took a look inside. 

IMG_6036Near the church stood the Castellet castle built 2,500 years ago. The views from its position atop the hill made this castle ideally suited to keep a close watch on transportation routes thousands of years ago. Today the castle houses government offices, and in an era in which invasion is no longer a constant threat, the location now provides the perfect opportunity to simply relax and enjoy the scenery. 

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I have seen sprawling ancient cities, grand historic churches and renowned museums on my European travels, and these are certainly experiences not to be missed. But there is another European experience that is equally enjoyable – leisurely exploring the charms of the little towns that dot the countryside, chatting with the locals, sampling their wares and savoring the extraordinary views under the warm summer sun.  

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Life tends to move at a hectic pace, and even when on vacation, we sometimes forget to slow down. So if your travels with Oceania Cruises offer the chance to meander the streets of one of the many quaint villages to be found along the shores and throughout the hillsides of Europe, I would encourage you to take that opportunity. I imagine you will be smitten as I was with the charms of Castellet. 

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View of La Sayne by Renoire


 

October 24, 2012

CHEF KELLY HOSTS A PERFECT FAREWELL DINNER FOR MYRIAD GUESTS AT LA RESERVE

Before I hopped off Riviera in Livorno to join Marina in Athens and host our second Bon Appétit Signature Sailing, I had the chance to have one final meal with our wonderful guests from Myriad Restaurant Group. To bid a fond farewell, General Manager Thierry Tholon and I hosted a table for Drew Nieporent, Ted Rozzi and Chris Messina at La Reserve. To dine with one of the most famous restaurateurs in the world was a real treat for both of us, and to showcase our food and wine pairing restaurant, La Reserve, a collaboration between Oceania Cruises and Wine Spectator magazine, was very special indeed!

We started the evening with a glass of champagne on the deck outside of La Reserve and had a lovely time relaxing before dinner and meeting the rest of the 24 guests dining that night at La Reserve. 

After being seated, we began with an introduction to the night’s “Exploration Menu” from Christophe Belin, the senior executive chef of Riviera. (La Reserve offers three menus: Exploration, Connoisseur and Discovery.)

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Chef Belin explained each of the seven courses, focusing especially on the pairing of specific elements in the food with distinct attributes of the wine. Chef Belin is from Brittany and is as engaging and informative as he is entertaining and knowledgeable, so the guests enjoyed his personal touches.

Before the amuse bouche, the waiters explained the four salts served tableside. Drew, Ted and Chris each tasted the salts with the delectable baguette slices and French butter.

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The first course was the amuse bouche, which literally translates from French, "amuse the mouth" – and that it did! We savored a bay scallop on a seared hot rock with lava salt and rock chive cress. The scallop was paired with a prosecco from Veneto. The white pepper and citrus finish of the sparkling wine was a perfect match!

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The appetizer was a stuffed brioche with foie gras paired with a chenin blanc from the Loire Valley. The slight note of quince jelly in this wine paired perfectly with the buttery brioche and the creamy, earthy foie gras. Chef Rozzi and I had a great time photographing the food and its elegant plating – I even managed to snap a photo of him snapping a photo of his brioche. 

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Next came one of my favorite pairings, the risotto primavera with a Gewürztraminer from Alto Adige. The risotto was finished with a smoky scamorza di bufala (smoked mozzarella cheese) that brought it all together, both food and wine.

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Our fish course was a grilled turban of wild salmon and turbot, a dish that Oceania Cruises Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger, the architect of this menu, has won many awards for. A California Chardonnay, with butterscotch, vanilla and melon notes was the perfect match for the flavorful fish accompanied by a seaweed casserole.

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We rounded the corner on the dinner with a Chateaubriand with bordelaise sauce paired with a full-bodied Bordeaux. The beef was perfectly cooked and so soft we could cut it with our forks!

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The cheese course was one of my favorites – gorgonzola, Napoleon style, with poached pear. Light, savory and sweet, it was the perfect cheese dish for this menu. It was paired with a voluptuous, golden Fonseca Porto from Portugal, with a light touch of acidity. Perfection!

As the pastry chefs filed in to finish the dinner, we watched Chef Bruno dip cherries in sugar for the plating of his Chocolate Mousse. This airy and rich mousse is served with a simple and refreshing Moscato d’Asti from the Piedmont region in Northern Italy.

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The test of a great food and wine pairing menu, according to Thomas Keller of the famed restaurants French Laundry and Per Se, is that the dinner leaves you feeling satisfied but not stuffed. This was certainly the case with our group. We had progressed through seven delicious and inventive pairings and left satisfied yet comfortable. What better way to end this amazing voyage than a lovely evening, great company, excellent food and wine and the gentle sea air?

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We are all so grateful for the generosity of Drew Nieporent, David Gordon, Ted Rozzi and Chris Messina. Riviera guests had a wonderful time and learned a lot from all of them. We are already trying to figure out how we can have them back next year for another fabulous Signature Sailing.

October 22, 2012

OCEANIA CRUISES HOSTS CULINARY AND WINE INDUSTRY ICONS FOR SIGNATURE SAILING

October is an exciting month for the culinary and wine teams here on Riviera and Marina. We are hosting several industry icons on our Signature Sailings, the Bon Appétit Wine & Food Festivals, with daily events devoted to food and wine.

Drew_nieporentToday I am writing from Riviera, where we are hosting a team from the Myriad Restaurant Group. About 6 months ago, I met with Drew Nieporent, the founder of Myriad and the undisputed Pavarotti of the restaurant world, to invite him to join us on a food and wine themed cruise. Not only did he graciously accept, but he also volunteered to bring along his master sommelier, David Gordon, and two Myriad chefs, Ted Rozzi and Chris Messina. Over the past few months, we planned a series of wine tastings and wine lectures, Q&A sessions with Drew on the restaurant industry and cooking demonstrations with his renowned chefs.

Guitar-vincenzo-martinelliTo kick off this cruise on October 14th, just after embarkation from Athens, we hosted our first wine tasting, featuring four sparkling wines selected for the event by David. (My favorite was the sparkling rosé from 22Roussillon.) As guests tasted the sparkling wines in the Grand Bar before dinner, guitarist Vincenzo Martinelli, an acclaimed guitarist who has performed all over the world and as a headline act on several luxury cruise lines, entertained the group with lively and romantic favorites.

On the 15th, as we sailed away from Kusadasi, David held a wine lecture on white wines of France and California. He shared his views on Old World and New World wines, as well as attributes to look for when tasting and pairing foods with white wines.

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What a thrill we had on the following day as we sailed away from the enchanting Monemvasian landscape at sunset. Drew joined me in the Riviera lounge for a Q&A about his impressive career in the restaurant industry. He has opened dozens of restaurants – the most famous being Tribeca Grill with his partner, Robert De Niro, and his many Nobu restaurants around the world. He also owns Crush, a fabulous wine store on 57th Street in New York City.

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His Q&A started with a short video that was prepared when Drew won the “Innovator of the Year” award from Cornell School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. Drew was wonderfully engaging and charismatic, and our guests asked him questions ranging from how to keep a waiter from prematurely busing your plates to what it’s like to partner with super-star chefs. It was a lively conversation that went on for over an hour, after which we all migrated to a second wine tasting featuring Italian wines.

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Later that evening we enjoyed a special featured entrée, Loup de Mere, from chefs Ted Rozzi and Chris Messina and took a walk through the dining room so our guests could meet the Myriad team.

On the 17th, our senior executive chef Christophe Belin and I hosted a culinary demonstration by chefs Rozzi and Messina, where they made a succulent braised short rib dish with fresh pappardelle pasta. They chose the dish because we are in the early part of fall, and they wanted guests to have recipes to take home that would be perfectly suited to the season.

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We are off to a fabulous start here on Riviera, enjoying foods and wines with our celebrity guests, chefs and wine experts! Stay tuned for more updates from the cruise.

October 19, 2012

JAMES BEARD AWARD-WININING CHEF BARBARA LYNCH JOINS CHEF KELLY ON RIVIERA

Barbara_lynch_hdsht1As summer in the Mediterranean turns to fall, we celebrate the produce in local markets by creating comforting autumn dishes. Who better to share the season with than one of Boston’s (and the country’s!) leading chefs and restaurateurs, Barbara Lynch? Chef Lynch is the only female chef in the United States to hold the distinguished title of Grand Chef Relais and Chateaux. In 1998 she opened No. 9 Park in Boston’s Beacon Hill and from there has gone on to create a culinary dynasty, including six restaurants plus ventures in catering, sustainable produce, demonstration kitchens and artisanal butchery. I invited Chef Lynch on Riviera with the hope of enticing her back to host a culinary tour in the fall of 2013.

Truth be known, I have been a fan Chef Lynch since I dined at No. 9 Park in December of 2005. The snow was falling on the Square, the Scotch was single malt and the food and wine pairing was as close to perfection as it gets. In 2008 I was fortunate enough to visit No. 9 Park and see how the back-of-the-house operation works – including an opportunity to make a late night BLT for a tall blonde star making a movie in Boston with Tom Cruise. Since then I have gotten to know Chef Lynch through our mutual friend and Bon Appétit Culinary Center chef instructor, Annie Copps. Chef Lynch and Chef Copps worked on the line together for Todd English in the 1990s.

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Chef Lynch’s cookbook, Stir, combines “practical simplicity with charming sophistication” for the home cook. Known for her silky pastas, my favorite is her gnocchi, which she demonstrated in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center for our guests and in the galley for our chefs!

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During the Accent on Italy cruise, we took five of our popular Culinary Discovery Tours – the favorite was a trip to the market in Nice followed by lunch at the wonderful Chateau Eza. Leaving from Monte Carlo, we traveled the stunning road along the Cote d’Azur to Nice. The market was brimming with flowers, fresh produce, herbs and cheeses. 

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IMG_0111After a few hours shopping in the market and eating socca (a chickpea flour pancake and a typical mid-morning snack of Nice), we climbed the winding stairs to Eze. This charming village is home to Chateau Eza, one of the most famous restaurants in France, if not the world. I designed this Culinary Discovery Tour because I wanted to share this very special venue with our foodie guests. We have booked a table for 24 about 16 times this season, and many of our guests have told me it was the highlight of their vacation!

Our first course was a quail egg on a poached carrot round with a fresh seasonal root vegetable sauce.

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The second course was a chickpea flour panisse in a reduced fresh tomato sauce with charred fresh lavender. 

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Course three was braised pork belly with bacon foam followed by course four, a tagine of guinea hen and North African vegetables.

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For dessert we had white peaches poached in Sauternes wine and topped with crème fraîche.

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The meal was served with wines from Provence, which we have been enjoying all summer. This has been one of our most popular Culinary Discovery Tours and is definitely on the agenda for 2013. Chef Lynch was especially delighted because she had attempted to dine here in 2010 and was not able to get a table. Imagine my delight at being able to impress the most impressive chef I know!

Chef Lynch was able to spend time with Chef Copps and her students in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center before arriving in Amalfi.

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The class menu included ricotta-stuffed zucchini blossoms and fresh pasta. Chef Lynch contributed her own fresh pasta recipe for capunti, a southern Italian specialty she learned when she studied in Italy. 

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Another highlight of the cruise was the Culinary Discovery Tour in Livorno. Guests enjoyed boarding a small boat and winding through the canals of Livorno, which is a lot like Venice. This is the port from which Catherine de Medici left to marry Henry, a Frenchman, bringing with her an entourage of cooks, butchers, bakers and pastry chefs as well as the famous fork, which she introduced to the reticent French.

After the canal tour, we visited the open market in Livorno where we sampled the cinque e cinque, a focaccia and chickpea sandwich referred to as “five and five,” and strolled through the aisles of fresh meats, cheeses, produce and pastas. I always look forward to a stop at a local cheese shop where the owner ages his own Parmigiano-Reggiano. He gives us luscious samples of local Tuscan charcuterie like salumi and lardo, drizzled with olive oil from his backyard trees, and a selection of heady sangiovese wines to complement our morning snack.

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Chef Lynch’s official host was our own Annie Copps, who shares her contagious passion for food, wine and travel with our guests, whether it is in class, on a Culinary Discovery Tour or as she wanders about the ship. On this tour she was in her element among the fabulous wine and food that she shared with her students.

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I believe when I cease to learn, I cease to live, and one of the best things about my fabulous job is that I continue to learn from our guest chefs and sommeliers. This cruise was no exception! We are all hopeful that Chef Lynch will join us again in 2013 and design a signature tour for foodies and her many fans around the world!

October 15, 2012

A DAY IN SEVILLE: THE AMAZING ALCÁZAR AND THE PATRON SAINT OF SAILORS

HotelNautica guests called on the beautiful city of Seville last week. As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I wanted to share some experiences from my recent shore excursion, Heritage of Seville.  

We docked in Cádiz on a bright, sunny morning, and the trip through the scenic Spanish countryside to Seville was a treat on its own. We drove through vineyards, olive and orange groves and farms where Spain’s bulls and horses are bred.

As we arrived in the city, we were greeted by altogether different but equally impressive scenery. Lavish mansions, ornate churches and elaborate government buildings lined the streets. Lush green palms and flowering bushes seemed to sprout from the sidewalks. I was instantly charmed.

Our first stop was the stunning Palace of San Telmo, currently the seat of the presidency of the Andalusian Autonomous Government. Constructed in 1682 as a school for orphaned children of sailors, it is a gorgeous example of Sevillian Baroque architecture.

One of the more captivating aspects of the building is the Churrigueresque entrance, which was completed in 1754. This Spanish Baroque architectural style features extremely elaborate sculptural ornamentation. The 12 sculptures on each side of the balcony represent the nautical arts and sciences, and the figure at the top is Saint Telmo, patron saint of sailors – an appropriate saint to pay homage to while on a cruise!

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As we continued through the city, we had the chance to see the lovely Hotel Alfonso XIII. It was completed in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, a world’s fair held in Seville.

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Finally we reached the destination I had been most eagerly anticipating: the Alcázar. The oldest royal palace still in use in Europe, the Alcázar of Seville is an ornate Moorish citadel that has been the residence of Spanish royalty since the Middle Ages. The outer walls and portions of the interior are part of the original Moorish fortress.

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The stunning Hall of the Ambassadors, one of the main rooms used for public events and affairs of state, is one of the areas remaining from the original palace, so the walls date from the 11th century. This is the room where Ferdinand and Isabella welcomed Columbus upon his return from his first voyage to the New World.

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I was mesmerized by the intricately detailed mosaics and the interesting mix of Moorish and European styles throughout the palace.

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The Courtyard of the Dolls is the focal point of the private section of the palace, and the patio leads to bedrooms and private halls. The hall is surrounded by a gallery with marble columns and Arab-influenced lobed arches.

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The gardens surrounding the Alcázar are just as enthralling as the palace buildings. Our guide clearly recognized that this was the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful day, and she gave us some free time to stroll through the gardens at our leisure.

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From the Courtyard of Flags at the Alcázar, there is a perfect view of the Giralda, a minaret that was converted into a bell tower for Seville Cathedral, the next stop on our itinerary. Completed in 1198, the tower is over 300 feet high and was one of the most important symbols of the medieval city.

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The largest Gothic cathedral and third largest church in the world, Seville Cathedral was completed in the early 16th century. Along with the Alcázar, the cathedral is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is the burial site of Christopher Columbus. The astonishingly large building was constructed on the former site of a grand mosque, parts of which were preserved, including the Giralda and the Moorish entrance. Both the size and the stonework are truly breathtaking.

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At the end of the excursion, we were given time to explore on our own, and after all the walking around, I was ready for some jamón Ibérico! I found a delightful little café and enjoyed the afternoon sun and a taste of Spain. As I sat completely sated after an incredible day of sightseeing and a delicious meal, I couldn’t help but think that Seville is my newest favorite place in the world.

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October 9, 2012

ICONS OF VENICE

As is so often the case in history, beautiful things are born of desperate times. Venice is one of those undeniably beautiful things. Centuries ago, when Italy was regularly invaded from the north, northern Italian refugees went in search of a safer home. They found that home on a group of tiny islands in the Venetian Lagoon. Though there is some evidence that these islands may have been occupied first by fishermen, the founding of Venice is identified with the dedication of the first church, San Giacomo, on the islet of Rialto in 421 AD.

As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I recently had the great pleasure of returning to this amazing city where Riviera began her maiden voyage. On this trip, I used my time to get more familiar with the story of Venice through its icons: bridges, churches, gondolas, markets and even the masks.

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One of my favorite parts of visiting Venice is the sail in. The view from the ship is extraordinary, and I tell anyone who will listen that they must add this experience to their bucket list. The icons of Venice beckoned the minute we hit the Grand Canal, starting with the gray dome of the Basilica of St. Mary of Health, or Salute. Referred to as a “plague church,” the basilica was constructed beginning in 1631, a year after an unusually devastating outbreak of the plague, as an offering to the Virgin Mary who was thought to be a protector of Venice.

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Sailing by St. Mark’s Square, or the Piazza, as the locals call it, we were greeted by the city’s most famous icons, if there is such a category. Like all of Venice, the Piazza is one of the few great urban spaces in Europe where human voices prevail over motorized vehicles.

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St. Mark’s Campanile is the bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica and stands as a sentry over the entire city. Originally constructed in the 9th century as a watchtower and lighthouse, it stood adamantly over the city for centuries despite damage caused by numerous fires. But on July 14, 1902, at 9:45 am, the campanile collapsed. That same night, funds for reconstruction were allotted, and on April 25, 1912, exactly 1000 years after the foundations of the original building had allegedly been laid, the new campanile was inaugurated.

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After disembarking the ship at the far end of the Grand Canal, I began a lovely walk through the canals and walkways. As I wandered through the narrow streets, I regularly came upon open piazzas, each with its own church or museum and charming cafés.

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San Simeon Piccolo, consecrated in 1738, is one of the last churches to have been built in Venice. Just to give you an idea of how high the standards of beauty are in this city, it has been much maligned over the years. Even Napoleon weighed in, saying, “I have seen churches without domes before, but I’ve never, until now, seen a dome without a church.” One of the four columns was replaced following enemy bombing of Venice during World War I.

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As I made my way through the city, I came across markets where one could buy fresh pasta, fish, spices, fruits and vegetables or any other number of delightful knick-knacks. The markets were a great way to get a feel for the character of this city and its people.

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Of course, no market would be complete without a generous selection of Venetian masks. No one knows exactly when or why people started wearing masks in Venice, but there are laws dating back to the 13th century that limit their use. Some have suggested that covering one’s face in public was the Venetian response to an incredibly rigid class structure. Now an important part of the Carnivale that draws 3 million visitors every year, they are a colorful addition to the Venetian experience.

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Food is an important part of Italian culture, and quaint restaurants and cafés can be found just about everywhere. At this delightful little restaurant, I was serenaded on the patio while I ate and drank and enjoyed the beautiful day.

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Not surprisingly, the City of Canals is also known as the City of Bridges. While many of Venice's more than 400 bridges are simple, practical constructions, each nonetheless adds character to the city. The views from every bridge I crossed were captivating, and yes I was that tourist who clogged up traffic as I tried to take photos.

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There are several iconic bridges, but none more so than the Rialto Bridge, where people lined the walkways to get a peek from the top. Completed in 1591, it is the oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal.

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Of course, nothing is more emblematic of Venice than gondolas and gondoliers. For centuries they were the primary means of transportation in the city but now serve primarily to carry tourists through the canals. Down from an estimated 10,000 gondolas in the 18th century, today there are just over 400 in active service.

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The gondoliers are easy to spot in their traditional red and blue striped shirts. The profession of gondolier is controlled by a guild that issues a limited number of licenses. Gondoliers are put through rigorous training, apprenticeships and a major exam that covers Venetian history and landmarks, foreign language skills and practical skills in handling a gondola.

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My exploration of Venice ended at St. Mark’s Square, home to the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica

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It is remarkable that what started as a desperate escape from conquering invaders could have resulted in such grandeur. But certainly not overnight. St Mark’s Basilica was first built in 828 and was destroyed several times, including being burned to the ground in a rebellion in 976. The basic structure of the current iteration was consecrated in 1094. Great wealth and worldly influences contributed to its adornment over the years.

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The Doge’s Palace was the center of all civic activity in Venice, which accounts for its size. Ironically, like many famous icons of this city surrounded by water, the palace has been destroyed by fires several times over the centuries. Despite numerous repairs and rebuilds, it has remained largely faithful to the Gothic style first used in the reconstruction in the 1300s.

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Despite great hardships, invasions, wars, rebellions, plagues and many fires, these iconic buildings now stand as spectacular symbols of Venetian wealth and the city’s position as a major maritime power and an important center of commerce and art during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

In good times and in bad, Venice is testimony to the triumph of the human spirit, and as I wandered the streets, I definitely got a sense of what Venice must have been like in its heyday. Everything about the city feels like a historical monument to extraordinary people in extraordinary times. I hope all of our readers have the opportunity to experience this remarkable city on an Oceania Cruises voyage.

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October 4, 2012

CULINARY STARS AT THE BON APPÉTIT WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL ONBOARD RIVIERA

Bon App Culinary Center logoAs Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I’ve had the privilege of dining in each of the exquisite restaurants onboard the ships, and I can say we are not overstating our case when claiming to serve the finest cuisine at sea. Renowned as the cruise line for foodies, Oceania Cruises even features the only custom-built, hands-on cooking schools at sea: the Bon Appétit Culinary Centers onboard Marina and Riviera.

As if a typical voyage weren’t already an epicurean’s dream come true, Oceania Cruises also offers food and wine themed sailings hosted by some of the culinary world’s greatest luminaries. Guests are especially excited about the upcoming Bon Appétit Wine & Food Festival onboard Riviera that will sail from Athens on October 14.

 

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Drew Nieporent

Renowned culinary stars and wine experts from the Myriad Restaurant Group, including founder and celebrated restaurateur Drew Nieporent, will be onboard to dazzle guests with their expertise in food and wine. Over the last 26 years, Myriad has opened and operated over 35 restaurants in cities around the world, including Seattle, Louisville, Providence, Boca Raton, London, Moscow and New York.

 

IntroductionNieporent is perhaps most famous for partnering with celebrity restaurateurs such as Robert De Niro, Robin Williams and Frances Ford Coppola to open some of the most recognized restaurants in the world, including Tribeca Grill, Nobu New York City, Rubicon and Corton. Recently, Nieporent was featured with chef-partner Paul Liebrandt on the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary, A Matter of Taste.

 

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Joining Nieporent is Myriad Wine Director David Gordon, who will give a series of wine lectures and tastings for guests. As a young manager at Gotham Bar and Grill, Gordon was seduced by a bottle of Penfolds Grange and never looked back. He has created stellar wine lists for top restaurants in New York and across the country, including the list at Tribeca Grill, which has won Wine Spectator's Grand Award every year since 2002. He frequently participates in the New York Times wine panel and produces and distributes his own wine under the Jeanne Marie and Bacchus labels.

Rounding out the events, Myriad Corporate Chef Ted Rozzi will lead a series of culinary demonstrations in the Riviera Lounge. Rozzi currently oversees the 400-seat Acela Club at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute, Rozzi has

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spent time at New York hotspots The Waverly Inn and Crown and has worked with world-class chefs like Daniel Boulud at Café Boulud, Terrance Brennan at Picholine and Juan Mari Arzak of the famous Arzak in San Sebastián, Spain.

When asked about his upcoming voyage onboard Riviera, Nieporent responded that he was very much looking forward to it. “Oceania Cruises’ reputation for fine cuisine has intrigued me for quite some time, and my team and I are excited to be part of this special sailing. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and work with Oceania Cruises’ guests, as well as sample the food we’ve heard so much about.”

Guests onboard Riviera for this exciting sailing are certainly in for a treat. Please share your stories of the cruise with us here on the blog, and we’d love to see your photographs on our Facebook page.

October 1, 2012

PRESIDENT KUNAL S. KAMLANI ANNOUNCES ENHANCEMENTS TO OCEANIA CLUB LOYALTY PROGRAM

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Kunal S. Kamlani with guests

Loyalty. It’s a word that seems to have lost its importance to some in today’s modern world. Consumers are increasingly switching brands they once trusted for years. Companies have introduced "Loyalty" benefits that expire annually unless you achieve certain milestones every year. These companies argue that expiration dates should apply if there is no annual commitment. Perhaps that’s true elsewhere, but certainly not at Oceania Cruises. Our past guests continually show their loyalty by returning to us again and again. That dedication has built Oceania Cruises into what we are today and allows us to deliver the most value-packed cruise vacation in the industry. That is also why we’ve always sought to recognize such commitment by offering the best loyalty program in travel, the Oceania Club. 

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Town Hall

I’ve spent the past few months talking with our guests about our loyalty program. In fact, on the most recent Reunion Cruise aboard Riviera from Lisbon to Rome, we spoke at length on the subject in our Town Hall, and I was greatly inspired by your insight and suggestions.

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Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis with guests

That’s why I’m excited to announce today that we are expanding the Oceania Club program to deliver even more value to you every time you sail with us. We are adding a new entry membership level called "Blue" for guests to start earning rewards as quickly as their first cruise. And we are significantly enhancing every milestone level with added benefits such as FREE Air Deviation Fee Waivers and substantial savings on onboard activities, including Internet access. Many of these changes are a direct result of your feedback.

Oceania Club Blue Pin
Introducing the NEW Oceania Club Blue Pin

From the very first time you sail with us, we want you to know how much you are appreciated and that we hope to welcome you back time and again. If you don't sail every year, don't worry; our Loyalty doesn't expire.

The new Blue Level membership allows you to earn benefits faster than ever before. With just two cruise credits earned, you will receive benefits such as savings on Oceania Cruises logo merchandise and a complimentary cocktail reception with the Captain and Senior Officers. We’ll also ensure you are always “in-the-know” with advance notice of new itineraries and exclusive members-only offers.

For our Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond members, we are offering more benefits and greater savings on those aspects of your cruise that you have told us you enjoy the most. Whether you like to sip a fine wine, surf the Internet, relax in the Canyon Ranch SpaClub® or venture out on a shore excursion, the more you return to enjoy the Oceania Cruises lifestyle, the more savings we offer on all of the above. 

Oceania Club Bronze Pin
Oceania Club Bronze Pin
Oceania Club Silver Pin
Oceania Club Silver Pin
Oceania Club Gold Pin
Oceania Club Gold Pin



Oceania Club Platinum Pin
Oceania Club Platinum Pin
Oceania Club Diamond Pin
Oceania Club Diamond Pin

We also offer a combination of loyalty benefits that no other cruise line provides, BOTH shipboard credits and prepaid gratuities. And while other cruise lines might offer reduced specialty dining surcharges as part of their loyalty programs, we simply cannot as we NEVER charge a dining supplement to begin with. So we start by offering an incredible value upfront, and then we add to that value the more you sail with us.

The new program is effective with the first 2013 sailings, and you can click here to learn more about the new benefits.

Simply put, we’d like to say “Thank You.” We are so grateful for all of our loyal guests, and we want to ensure you know how deeply you are appreciated. Whether you’ve sailed with us one time or 50 times, you are a treasured part of the Oceania Cruises family.

On the eve of our 10th Anniversary, we made these enhancements to the Oceania Club because we believe our guests’ ongoing commitment should be mirrored by the same passion and appreciation in return. Our guests deserve nothing less than the best, so we will continue to ensure that is always what we deliver. 

On behalf of all of us at Oceania Cruises, Thank You.

Kunal S. Kamlani

President