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6 posts from March 2013

March 27, 2013

EXPERIENCING THE MAYAN MYSTIQUE

As snow continues to fall in many places around the world, Oceania Cruises’ Riviera is cruising in the warm waters of the Caribbean on the popular Mayan Mystique voyage. Guests are enjoying not only the beautiful weather but also the opportunity to explore some of the fascinating remnants of the ancient Mayan civilization, renowned for its fully conceived written language as well as remarkable advancements in architecture, math and astronomy.

Yesterday in Costa Maya, guests were treated to a wonderful day exploring Kohunlich, the magnificent, multileveled Mayan ruin best known for its Temple of the Masks. Kohunlich was settled in 200 BC, but most of the structures date from 250 to 600 AD.

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Named after the Cohune Ridge where Cohune palm trees grow, the ruins include a sunken palace, acropolis, ball court and several courtyards. Kohunlich’s broad range of architecture, natural beauty and seclusion set it apart from the more widely toured sites in the area.

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The main attractions are the large humanized stucco masks that flank the central stairway of the Temple of Masks. Built around 500 AD, it is one of the oldest structures at Kohunlich. In the 700s, the temple was covered with another structure, which protected the masks and left them remarkably well preserved.

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Guests climbed the pyramid-like temple and got an up-close look at the 10-foot sculpted masks of the Sun God Kinich Ahau, while also enjoying stunning views of the forest surrounding the ruins.

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After a remarkable day exploring Kohunlich, guests enjoyed a tasty lunch of regional favorites at the Lagoon Club.

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A few days prior during Riviera’s call on Santo Tomas, several guests had the chance to explore the famed Mayan ruins of Tikal. One of the greatest Mayan cities known and studied to date, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tikal is nestled in the rainforests of Northern Guatemala. The journey to get to the ruins began on a chartered one-hour flight to the northern region of El Peten, followed by a scenic one-hour drive along forest-lined roadways.

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After a one-mile hike through the rainforests surrounding Tikal, the Great Plaza comes into view. The magnificent architecture is still intact after thousands of years. Inhabited since the 6th century BC, the city reached its zenith from 200 to 900 AD. During this time Tikal was one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya.

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It took the University of Pennsylvania 13 years to uncover 10 square miles of the city, and much of it is still buried in the jungle. The city’s 3,000 structures are largely built with limestone, including temples that are more than 230 feet high, huge royal palaces, smaller pyramids, palaces and homes, as well as administrative buildings and inscribed monuments.

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Following a fascinating day at Tikal, guests enjoyed lunch and beautiful views of Lake Peten Itza and the Island of Flores at the Maya International Hotel in Santa Elena.

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Because of its immense popularity, the Mayan Mystique cruise will be offered several times in 2014 as well, with departures on January 3, February 2 and March 18. Don’t miss the chance to explore the magnificently preserved ruins of one of the greatest ancient civilizations.

March 21, 2013

SIGNATURE SAILINGS: A CRUISE … AND THEN SOME

I love sailing with Oceania Cruises. From the food to the familial atmosphere to the incredible destinations, I just can’t get enough. And the Oceania Cruises experience is enhanced even further when you travel on a Signature Sailing. I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a couple of these sailings, and the featured dinners, guest lecturers and other special events gave me an even greater appreciation for both the onboard experience and the fascinating destinations we were exploring. My favorite Signature Sailings are the ones with a focus on wine and food. On these cruises you can interact with some of the world’s most renowned chefs, sommeliers and culinary experts.

There are three Signature Sailings coming up this summer that offer this fantastic opportunity. The first one departs in less than two months, so if a cruise vacation is in your upcoming plans, don't miss this chance to experience one of these unique voyages.

Wine & Food Celebration

There will be two Signature Sailings for wine and food lovers: Marina’s Grand Panama Canal, a 20-day voyage from Lima to New York City beginning on May 6, 2013, and Riviera’s Mediterranean Grandeur, a 10-day voyage from Monte Carlo to Rome beginning on June 23, 2013.

The Wine & Food Celebration on Marina will take guests on a culinary adventure from South America through the Caribbean, ending in New York. South American wine expert Daniel Soto will host wine lectures and tastings featuring the best of South American wines. Joining Daniel Soto is renowned culinary author Chef Paulette Mitchell, who will demonstrate classic South American dishes that guests can learn to prepare and enjoy at home.

 

Daniel Soto
Daniel Soto
Paulette Mitchell
Paulette Mitchell

 

Valerie Elam
Valerie Elam
Karen King
Karen King

During the Caribbean segment of the cruise, Bacardi Rum’s Brand Ambassador Kate Dahlen will be onboard to share the rich history of rum in the Caribbean and give guests a chance to taste some of Bacardi’s best. The executive culinary team from Grand Cayman’s Ritz Carlton will also join Marina’s onboard team to demonstrate some favorite Caribbean dishes.

Bicardo Ambassador
Kate Dahlen

For the home stretch, guests will have the opportunity to attend wine lectures, tastings and pairing presentations featuring flavors of America with wine expert Karen King and the executive chef of Oceania Cruises’ Bon Appétit Culinary Center, Kathryn Kelly.

Throughout the voyage there will be wine tasting events where guests can sample and discuss different wines with Marina’s wine experts and sommeliers. Once they’ve found a favorite, guests can enjoy wine and conversation as they are serenaded by Valerie Elam, a recording artist and Cape Coral restaurateur.

Marina Canal Transit 1 Aft Suspension Bridge
Panama Canal Transit

 

Tony Didio
Tony Didio
Max McCalman
Max McCalman

Bon Appétit Culinary Center Executive Chef Kathryn Kellywill host Riviera’sWine & Food Celebration. She will be joined by several experts, including the Culinary Institute of America’s Master Baker Eric Kastel. An instructor and an author, Kastel will share the secrets of great bread making. 

Renowned New York wine educator, businessman and sommelier Tony Didio will lead a series of wine lectures, tastings and wine pairing presentations throughout the voyage. To complement the wine experience, Master Cheese Expert Max McCalman will be onboard to share the secrets of great cheeses and advise on pairings. Riviera’s onboard experts will also host events, and Valerie Elam will be on this voyage as well to serenade guests as they enjoy great wine and conversation.

Eric Kastel
Eric Kastel
Chef Kelly La Reserve
Chef Kathryn Kelly

Wine Connoisseur Cruise

 

 

Marina’s10-day Baltic Odyssey voyage from Copenhagen to Stockholm beginning on September 3, 2013, will be anchored by Armando Fumanelli, owner of the famed Italian winery Marchesi Fumanelli. A wine ambassador from the winery will also be onboard. Located near Verona, the setting of Romeo and Juliet, the Fumanelli winery has been creating exceptional wines since 1470. Young actors from Verona’s drama academy will be onboard to perform during select Fumanelli wine dinners offered at La Reserve.

This voyage will also feature many wine tasting events during which guests can taste different wines and discuss their attributes with Armando Fumanelli, the Fumanelli ambassador and Marina’s sommeliers. Meanwhile, guests can also enjoy the music of Italian guitarist Vincenzo Martinelli.     

St. Petersburg
Enjoy an overnight in St. Petersburg on the Baltic Odyssey voyage
Armando Fumanelli
Armando Fumanelli
Vincenzo Martinelli
Vincenzo Martinelli

 

 

March 18, 2013

THOROUGHLY MODERN SHANGHAI

Guests on the Pearls of the Far East voyage onboard Nautica had the opportunity to experience one of the most modern forms of transportation during an overnight stay in Shanghai. The Maglev Train & Pudong shore excursion includes a thrilling ride on the Maglev Train and visits the spectacular skyscrapers of the Lujiazui area in the new Pudong District.

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Using groundbreaking German technology, the Maglev Train, short for Magnetic Levitation Train, is Shanghai’s newest, state-of-the-art high-speed train and what many believe to be the 21st century’s revolutionary mode of transportation. With no wheels, the train floats on an electromagnetic cushion and is propelled along a guide way using electromagnetic fields.

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The Maglev runs 20.5 miles from Long Yang Lu Station to the Pudong International Airport and can reach speeds of up to 310 miles per hour. It regularly travels 268 miles per hour during daily service, making it one of the fastest commercial train services in the world. On an eight-minute ride to the Pudong Airport, passengers experienced the sensation of flying as the train instantly accelerated to maximum speed.

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Maglev Train & Pudong in Shanghai13At Pudong, guests disembarked for a fascinating tour of China’s financial center, which was developed from farmland only in the last two decades. Built in 1999 and towering over 1,300 feet above Shanghai, the Jin Mao building is the seventh tallest building in the world. From the 88th floor, guests had the opportunity to see the city from one of its highest vantage points, observing the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower and many others. 

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Maglev Train & Pudong in Shanghai17

Maglev Train & Pudong in Shanghai18

After enjoying breathtaking views of this thoroughly modern city, there was time to do more sightseeing in the area.

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If you haven’t had the chance to explore some of Asia’s most exciting ports, including Shanghai, there are several opportunities to do so on Oceania Cruises sailings, including Pearls of the Orient on February 22, 2014, and Ode to the Emperors on March 10, 2014. We’ll look forward to seeing you on the high seas or perhaps high above Shanghai!

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March 14, 2013

PUNTA DEL ESTE, CHEF’S PATIO DINNER AND A CAVIAR BRUNCH ONBOARD THE REUNION CRUISE

Greetings from Brazil and the 9th Oceania Club Reunion Cruise. It’s hard to believe there are only 6 days left, and we still get to visit Porto Belo, São Paulo, Parati, Ilha Grande, Buzios and Rio de Janeiro.

The past few days have been extraordinary and full of wonderful experiences. On Saturday we visited the delightful city of Punta del Este, or the “Peninsula of the East,” where several of our Reunion Cruise guests took the exclusive shore excursion The Iconic Art & Flavor of Punta del Este. This lovely city on a scenic peninsula is known for its beautiful beaches. We started the day at Brava Beach where there is an open-air collection of sculptures, including the famous Mano de Desierto, or “Hand of the Desert,” by Mario Irarrázabal.

Brava Beach
Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis at Mano de Desierto

Our next stop was the Ralli Museum, which has several galleries all over the world. The first was established here in Punta del Este in 1988; the second in Santiago, Chile, in 1992; the third (Ralli 1) in Caesarea, Israel, in 1993; the fourth in Marbella, Spain, in 2000; and the fifth (Ralli 2) in Caesarea, Israel, in 2007. The Ralli Museums house one of the most important collections of contemporary Latin American art in the world.

Ralli Museum

Then we moved on to the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by renowned artist Pablo Atchugarry in 2007 to promote visual arts, literature, music and other creative pursuits. Atchugarry, a prolific artist, began sculpting when he was only eight years old and had his first show at age 11.

Before the end of the tour, we stopped for lunch at Finca Narbona, where we ate wonderful locally made cheeses and fresh cold cuts and enjoyed some delicious wines. Punta del Este is one of my favorite stops so far!

The following evening, we had a special Reunion Cruise Chef's Patio Dinner for a few of our guests who have sailed with us the most. It was hosted by Senior Vice President of Sales Michael Hirsch, Oceania Club Ambassador Cary Arias, Chief Purser Gurdep Besla, Human Resources Manager Maria Cormane and myself. The six-course meal was selected by Executive Chef Lisa Anne Jones and prepared by Sous Chef Thorsten Czap. We started with a crispy polenta with olive tapenade and cherry tomato confit, followed by a main course of either Chilean sea bass with palmito salad or roast veal rack with rosemary and glazed vegetables.

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The dessert, chosen especially to celebrate Oceania Cruises’ 10th anniversary, was a Manjari chocolate bar with milky yuzu-flavored gianduja chocolate and hazelnut croquant. Everything was incredible. It was an evening to remember!

The next day we had another very special event – a caviar brunch in the Grand Dining Room. Everyone onboard had an opportunity to enjoy this delicious feast. There was a full brunch menu, including caviar, as well as complimentary mimosas and Bloody Marys. If you are on a Reunion Cruise in the future, I highly recommend attending this event. Everyone had a wonderful time!

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Later that morning there was a one-hour Town Hall Meeting for guests that was hosted by Michael Hirsch, General Manager Carlo Gunetti and yours truly. The turn-out was great, with more than 100 guests in attendance. Cruise Director Leslie Jon moderated the Town Hall and asked our panel a variety of questions based on past guest feedback.

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One request was that I talk about some of the exciting new features in our enhanced Oceania Club loyalty program. The new program started at the beginning of this year with the introduction of a new “Blue” level of membership, plus additional benefits for all existing levels. This information can found in the Oceania Club section of Oceania Cruises’ website, as well as in many of our brochures.

We still have a lot of planned activities for the remainder of the cruise, including an evening pool deck party and an Oceania Club cocktail party. We will also be honoring our 14 Silver level Oceania Club members and 56 Bronze members, 26 of whom will be receiving their Bronze pins! There are still more exciting days to come on the 9th Oceania Club Reunion Cruise!

March 10, 2013

NICK DESANTIS SHARES STORIES FROM THE OCEANIA CLUB REUNION CRUISE IN SOUTH AMERICA

Greetings from the 9th Oceania Club Reunion Cruise, sailing from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro on the lovely Regatta! As manager of the Oceania Club, I am always so pleased to see past guests onboard with whom I have sailed before, and many have become dear friends. I also love meeting other Oceania Club members for the first time and having the opportunity to thank them for their loyalty.

In short, everyone is having a wonderful time and it has only just begun! Though a lot of work went into the planning of the cruise, one thing my team cannot control is the weather, but this has not been a problem because the weather in Buenos Aires was better than we ever could have planned. Of course, there are a lot of things we can control, so the day I arrived, Oceania Cruises Senior Vice President of Sales Michael Hirsch and I met with the senior staff to go over the itinerary, make sure we were all on the same page and see if there were any final details that needed to be ironed out. We all want this voyage to be unforgettable!

I was happy to find that there are a few members of the Regatta team with whom I've had the pleasure of sailing on previous Reunion Cruises: Captain Jurica Brajcic, Oceania Club Ambassador Cary Arias, Cruise Director Leslie Jon and Restaurant Manager Vladimir Cavic. Everyone understands what an important and fantastic event this Reunion Cruise is, especially in the year of our 10th anniversary, a milestone we attribute to the unprecedented loyalty of Oceania Cruises’ guests.

On our second day in Buenos Aires, we hosted one of the first Reunion Cruise tours, Discover Historic Buenos Aries. It was a half-day tour and included a stop at the Plaza de Mayo, the site of the salmon-colored presidential palace known as Casa Rosada with its famed balcony where Eva Peron once addressed adoring crowds.

Across from Eva buliding Eva Peron-Presidental buliding

We had the chance to sip coffee at the oldest café in Argentina where notables from Jorge Luis Borges to Albert Einstein once gathered. Before heading back to the pier, we explored El Zanjón de Granados, believed to be the site of Buenos Aires’ first settlement.

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To kick off our first night at sea, we gathered for an exclusive dinner at Toscana with most of our 70 Oceania Club guests who have reached the Bronze level or above. I had the pleasure of hosting three couples, all of whom have traveled extensively throughout the world (even beyond the 30-plus countries I’ve visited, which I once thought was an impressive total!). These three couples will be staying onboard for several subsequent cruises. In fact, there are about 95 guests staying onboard Regatta until the ship arrives in Miami in April.

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Starting from the left: Mrs. Dunn (Bronze), Mr and Mrs. Hopkins (Silver), Nick DeSantis, Mr. and Mrs. Lindley (Bronze) and Mr. Dunn (Bronze)


It was a truly wonderful evening, followed by a beautiful sunrise that greeted us in Montevideo the next day. I can’t wait to share more of our exciting exploration of the east coast of South America.

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March 6, 2013

YOUR WORLD ON SALE

The worldwide celebration of our 10th Anniversary continues! Today, we announced that we have earmarked 10 sailings across four continents with special savings as part of our 10th Anniversary Your World on Sale promotion. The new promotion includes a $500 shipboard credit, free pre-paid gratuities, a free unlimited Internet Package, 50 percent off deposits and Business Class air upgrades from $799 per person, one-way, on select sailings.  

As always, guests will receive two-for-one cruise fares and free airfare, delivering additional value. The new Your World on Sale promotion is available for new cruise reservations booked now through May 31, 2013.

The Your World on Sale promotion is applicable on the following 2013 sailings:

Riviera

August 16: Treasures & Monuments | Istanbul to Rome | 12 days

September 29: Romance & Rivieras | Lisbon to Monte Carlo | 12 days

October 25: Paths of the Byzantines | Venice to Istanbul | 12 days

November 6: Continental Quest | Istanbul to Barcelona | 12 days

Regatta

August 22: Ultimate Panama Canal | San Francisco to New York | 21 days

Marina

October 29: Glorious Shores | Venice to Barcelona | 12 days

November 10: Treasures of the Ancients | Roundtrip Barcelona | 10 days

December 8: South American Holiday | Rio de Janeiro to Valparaiso | 20 days

December 28: Pacific Paradise | Valparaiso to Papeete | 18 days

Nautica

November 4: Classic Mediterranean | Roundtrip Barcelona | 10 days

We hope you will be able to join us on one of these fantastic voyages. To make reservations or for more information, visit www.OceaniaCruises.com, call Oceania Cruises at 800-531-5658 or contact your travel agent. Please refer to promotion code YW02013.