57 posts categorized " New Ship Construction & Design "

July 9, 2014

ALASKA AND REGATTA: THE PERFECT COMBINATION

By Jason Lasecki, Senior Director of Public Relations

The hottest thing on cable television these days seems to be America’s 49th state. With shows ranging from Alaska State Troopers and Deadliest Catch to Buying Alaska and Wild Alaska, there is a never-ending fascination with America’s last frontier, and with good reason. Alaska offers some of the most picturesque and pristine natural settings in the world, and there’s no better way to experience the wonderment of Alaska than on board the newly refurbished Regatta.

Having recently sailed on the 10-night Majesty of Alaska voyage, it’s clear to me that the beauty and splendor of Alaska coupled with the elegance and style of Regatta create a magical and memorable combination.

Regatta

The ship itself was immaculate, and the additions made during the refurbishment, such as Baristas coffee bar and the cook-to-order grill at Terrace Café, were a huge hit with guests sailing on Regatta. Many guests congregated at the redesigned Horizons bar to soak in some musical entertainment and incredible Alaskan vistas, while others enjoyed sipping a cocktail at the restyled Martinis.   

Baristas(New)

Horizons(New)

Oceania Cruises is well known for having the finest cuisine at sea, and when it’s paired with one of Alaska’s stunning late evening sunsets, you’re assured an amazing dining experience. While enjoying an exquisite dinner one particular evening at Toscana, we were treated to a painted sky sunset as the ship sailed a scenic fjord, passing by glimmering waterfalls and soaring bald eagles.

Sunset

The intimate nature of Oceania Cruises’ mid-size ships allows the staff to provide attentive personalized service to each guest, and the ideally sized ships offer an additional advantage when cruising Alaska because the captain can provide closer and more breathtaking views of one of Alaska’s premier attractions—the glaciers! During our visit to Hubbard Glacier, we were so close we could hear popping sounds as sheets of ice calved into the ocean.

Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier 2

One of the highlights of any Alaska cruise is the wildlife. Whales, bears, eagles, otters and seals are abundant, and Oceania Cruises offers a wide array of shore excursions that provide you the best opportunities to see these majestic animals. Definitely a sight to remember was a pod of orcas that paid our boat a visit during a whale-watching tour in Juneau. Wildlife is everywhere and it’s common to spot whales, eagles, seals and sea lions from the comfort of Regatta.

Orca Pod 2

Orca Pod

Speaking of wildlife, we came across this guy while on a nature hike in Hoonah. Readers, any clue on what species of bird this is?

Bird

June 10, 2014

REGATTA REFURBISHMENT COMPLETE – GUESTS EXPERIENCE THE OLIFE IN ALASKA

By Kunal S. Kamlani, President

Regatta Alaska

Regatta Deck-WebWe’ve celebrated several significant milestones at Oceania Cruises over the past few years, from the launch of our first newly built ship, Marina, to the celebration of ten years at sea. This week I joined Regatta as she emerged from dry dock to embark on a 10-day Alaskan voyage from Vancouver to Seattle.  It was immediately apparent that another pinnacle had been reached.

From the moment you step on board, you are struck by Regatta’s amazing transformation. She possesses a renewed sense of style and grace, but maintains that elegance and warmth our guests love. Regatta’s return to service marks the culmination of the most massive refurbishment in Oceania Cruises’ history – a $50 million makeover of our original trio of ships from bow to stern.

The true joy of being on board was seeing the reactions of our guests. Feedback on Insignia and Nautica has been overwhelmingly positive, and that same excitement was evident on Regatta. Comments ranged from the beauty and comfort of the suites and staterooms to the casual elegance of a completely new Terrace Café.

Terrace-GrillOne key objective of the refurbishment plan was to incorporate some amenities and experiences we introduced with Marina and Riviera, such as Baristas coffee bar and the cook-to-order grill in Terrace Café. Given that all elements of a refurbished ship must be fully tested, I took it upon myself to ensure that the new grill delivered on its promise. The steaks, lamb chops, shrimp, scallops and lobster tails did not disappoint. And I found the illy espressos in Baristas to be just as popular as they are on Marina and Riviera. It was truly gratifying to watch our guests aboard Regatta experience the beauty of Alaska while enjoying what we endearingly refer to as the OlifeTM.

 

The new upgrades to Regatta and her sisters, Insignia and Nautica, reflect our commitment to continually raising the bar on the Oceania Cruises experience and exceeding the high expectations of our guests. It was a pleasure to meet so many of you on board, and on behalf of the entire Oceania Cruises family, I thank you for sharing your excitement and feedback on the refurbishment. For others who are sailing or will soon sail with us, we hope you’ll share your impressions here on the blog. We look forward to hearing from you!

May 16, 2014

NAUTICA EMERGES WITH MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR RENOVATIONS AND ENHANCED BULGARI AMENITIES

Main-loungeOceania Cruises continues a massive $50 million refurbishment of its fleet as Nautica emerges from dry dock today. We shared some of the new enhancements when Insignia rejoined the fleet last week, but to recap, some of the highlights include elegant new decor in suites and staterooms, luxurious new furnishings in lounges, and beautiful new mosaics in the Canyon Ranch SpaClub®. Several popular features from Marina and Riviera are also being added to the other ships in the fleet, such as Baristas coffee bar, putting greens on the upper deck, and the specialty grill in Terrace Café offering cooked-to-order steaks, chops and lobster tails. Regatta will soon undergo a bow-to-stern renovation as well.

As the ships emerge fresh from their massive makeovers, guests will find some luxurious new amenities to go along with their newly appointed accommodations. The onboard selection of exclusive Bulgari amenities is being expanded and will be offered in all suites and staterooms. The expanded Bulgari program will also be featured on Marina and Riviera beginning in August.

BULGARI FINAL IMAGEBest known for its designer watches, jewelry and fragrances, Bulgari partnered with several luxury hotels to create a line of lavish bath products made with essential plant oils and silk proteins. While it has long been an amenity featured in Oceania Cruises suites and Concierge Level staterooms, Bulgari will now be available in all suites and staterooms on board all ships.

Staterooms will feature “The Blanc” amenities with a white tea scent, including shampoo, lotions, hand soaps and more. Guests in Penthouse suites and Concierge Level staterooms will now enjoy eau de cologne and aftershave balm in addition to the other products, all with “The Vert” fragrance of green tea. Guests in Owner’s, Vista and Oceania suites will choose from a new selection of three different scents and will receive a Bulgari gift set as well.

Elegance and comfort have always been hallmarks of the Oceania Cruises experience. With the multimillion-dollar renovations on Insignia, Nautica and Regatta as well as the expanded Bulgari amenities offered fleetwide, guests will feel even more pampered than ever before.

May 8, 2014

INSIGNIA RETURNS TO THE FLEET WITH A MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR MAKEOVER

Pool Deck(New)
An exciting and emotional day for the entire Oceania Cruises family, today we welcome our beloved Insignia back to the fleet. We are especially excited because her return from a two-year charter marks Oceania Cruises’ first season with a five-ship fleet. But that isn’t the only reason Insignia is generating such excitement. She arrived in Barcelona today with even more style, grace and elegance than ever before, fresh from a multimillion-dollar makeover.

With $50 million in renovations distributed among the three sister ships, Insignia is the first to undergo the most massive refurbishment in Oceania Cruises history. Four weeks from now, Regatta and Nautica will also have completed their bow-to-stern transformation.

Upon Insignia’s arrival in Barcelona this morning, we received a few photos that capture the stunning renovations, and we are thrilled to be sharing them here. You can see Insignia still possesses the same elegance and charm but now glows with a new polish and shine, courtesy of luxurious new fabrics and furnishings, as well as many new amenities.

PenthouseSuite(New)
Penthouse Suite

All of the suites and staterooms have been appointed with stylish new furnishings, and a new color palette in soothing shades of the sea, sun and sky completely transforms the Penthouse Suites. The Owner’s and Vista Suites are outfitted with lavish new oversized showers that are as big as an entire bathroom at home!

Public spaces also embody the new look. The expansive windows of Horizons lounge continue to offer spectacular sunsets, while the interior now features shades of sea blues, cocoa brown and mint, freshly complementing the view. And be sure to check out the new digs of Martinis and enjoy – what else? – a signature Big O Martini. For those who thought the Canyon Ranch SpaClub® on board couldn’t possibly be any more serene, don't miss the beautiful new mosaics that enhance the sense of tranquility even further.

Horizons(New)
Horizons

Rich new decor isn’t the only renovation on Insignia. Innovative features unveiled with the launch of our newest ships, Marina and Riviera, generated unprecedented excitement, so Oceania Cruises has taken this opportunity to add several of these features to Insignia, with Nautica and Regatta soon to follow. You can now enjoy an illy® cappuccino in Baristas on any ship in the fleet, and with the new specialty grill in Terrace Café, you can savor succulent surf and turf or grilled-to-order chops any night of the week. You can also take in fantastic views from the upper decks as you play nine holes of miniature golf, a feature found on no other ships in this class.

Baristas(New)
Baristas

Perhaps most exciting of all, the return of Insignia means that you can explore more of your world than ever before. Oceania Cruises wholeheartedly embraced this opportunity by debuting two never-before-offered 180-day World Voyages, which Insignia will sail beginning in January 2015 and again in July 2015. These amazing journeys are sure to inspire your inner artist, which is why the Artist Loft, another popular feature on Marina and Riviera, has been added to Insignia exclusively for these special voyages. Express your creativity with the world as your muse and artists-in-residence as your guide.

For those of you who set sail from Barcelona this afternoon on board the newly renovated Insignia, we’d love to hear your impressions in the comments here on the blog. Welcome home, Insignia, and bon voyage!

January 31, 2014

REGATTA, INSIGNIA AND NAUTICA: IMPROVING ON PERFECTION

As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I have had the great fortune to sail on Regatta, Insignia and Nautica several times over the past few years. With only 684 guests on board, these ships feel as warm, welcoming and intimate as smaller vessels while also offering the conveniences and amenities of the larger ships. In other words, they are perfect. So it was hard for me to imagine how Oceania Cruises could improve on perfection.

But the folks at Oceania Cruises never stop striving to improve and innovate, and they will soon further enhance the already beloved Regatta, Insignia and Nautica by implementing the largest refurbishment program in the company’s history. The award-winning ships will undergo a $50 million transformation during the second quarter of 2014.

For those who, like me, feel the ships are perfect as they are, no need to worry. They will retain all the warmth, intimacy and charm that guests have come to cherish, but they will shine even brighter thanks to elegant new decor throughout the ships. And having received an overwhelmingly positive response to the innovations featured on board Marina and Riviera, Oceania Cruises will add many of those best-loved amenities and design elements to Regatta, Insignia and Nautica during the refits.

When the updates are complete, all guests will be welcomed with rich new decor in their suite or stateroom, imbuing their home away from home with a new sense of style, elegance and flair. Specific changes include new bathrooms with a lavish oversized shower and new onyx and granite vanities in the Owner's and Vista Suites. The Penthouse Suites will be transformed into virtual replicas of those on Marina and Riviera. All staterooms will feature luxurious new fabrics and furnishings.

Swatches

Penthouse Suite

Veranda Stateroom

Inside Stateroom

One of my favorite haunts on board is Horizons, the perfect place for socializing, relaxing or simply taking in the stunning views, and this lounge will also undergo a transformation with a new color palate and new furnishings. The Main Lounges will be completely refurbished with new carpeting, chairs and elegant new fabrics and upholstery. Martinis and the Pool Deck will both receive new furnishings, and the Canyon Ranch Spa Club® will have new steam rooms and changing rooms decorated with dramatic new mosaics and intricate custom tile work.

The Terrace Café will feature all new decor as well as a new state-of-the-art grill similar to the one on Marina and Riviera, so guests can dine on made-to-order specialties like juicy steaks, succulent lobster tails and mouthwatering chops any night they wish. As a coffee drinker, I was especially thrilled to hear that Baristas will be added in the Grand Bar area. This coffee bar is a guest favorite on Marina and Riviera and will certainly be a welcome addition to the other ships. Here master baristas prepare complimentary illy® espressos, cappuccinos and lattes and also serve fresh pastries and finger sandwiches throughout the day.

Baristas

The upper decks of the ships offer some of the greatest views of the sea, sky and coastlines, so what better place to enjoy an array of new deck games? Guests can take in the lovely vistas during a rousing game of shuffleboard or while playing a round of miniature golf on the 9-hole putting green, a feature unique to ships in this class.

Miniature golf

Fortunately we won’t have to wait long to experience these fabulous changes. Insignia will debut on May 8, 2014, in Barcelona for her 7-day Jewels of Europe cruise, and we’ll be especially excited not only to see her splendid new refurbishments but also to welcome her back to the fleet after her two-year charter. Nautica will be unveiled on May 16, 2014, in Civitavecchia for the 10-day Cliffs & Coves cruise, and Regatta will debut on June 7, 2014, in Vancouver for the 10-day Majesty of Alaska cruise. We hope to welcome you on board these refreshed, rejuvenated and resplendent ships very soon!

May 15, 2012

COUNTDOWN TO RIVIERA: 1 DAY TO MAIDEN VOYAGE!

Riviera in Venice01
It seemed as if the entire city knew the historic significance of Riviera’s arrival in Venice yesterday. The morning at sea was hazy and overcast, but as the ship approached Venice, the clouds parted and the sun shined brightly on the city in which Riviera’s Maiden Voyage would soon embark.

Riviera in Venice03Sailing into the port of Venice is one of the most stunning scenes you can witness from a cruise ship. You first see the city skyline from quite a distance away, and as the ship enters the canal, beautiful views and renowned landmarks await you at every turn. The ship literally sails right into the heart of the city, passing icons such as St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the famed Campanile.

Riviera in Venice02

I found the view from Riviera’s decks to be a photographer’s dream and any traveler’s treasured memory, made all the more special by Cruise Director Leslie John’s narration of the historic sights – and the celebratory Bellini cocktails being served on deck! It was a welcome befitting the spectacular new Riviera.

 

Riviera in Venice04
Perhaps no other city in the world conjures images of as many icons as Venice – St. Mark’s Square, gondoliers, Rialto Bridge, Venetian masks….  And nowhere else is it easier to get lost amidst the maze of streets and happily encounter every cultural treasure you ever hoped to see.

Riviera in Venice07As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I’d had the privilege of visiting Venice once before. On my previous trip, I took an excursion to the island of Murano...twice. I signed up for the excursion one day and was then invited by a friend to join a tour of the highlights of Venice the next day. Unfortunately, the friend hadn’t read the tour description very carefully, so we boarded the boat and found ourselves right back at Murano watching a glass blowing demonstration for the second day in a row.

Fortunately, this is an experience not to be missed. These artisans are absolutely astounding. They essentially transform sand into a spectacular work of art made of intricately detailed glass in a matter of minutes. The lace makers on the island of Burano are also impressive, and the brightly colored houses that line the canals are utterly charming, as Oceania Cruises’ President Kunal Kamlani can attest after visiting the island and sharing this photo.

Riviera in Venice32
Riviera in Venice10But despite the amazing talents of these craftspeople, it was nevertheless a bit embarrassing to be asked how I spent my two days in Venice and have to respond that I visited Murano…both days. So during my current stay, I was determined to explore every curve of the meandering canals and absorb every bit of Venetian romance that I possibly could.

Riviera in Venice12

As soon as the ship was docked, I set off with my traveling companions. From the moment we crossed the bridge over the first canal, we found classic Venetian vignettes everywhere we turned. Sidewalk cafes, couples enjoying gondola rides, laundry drying outside shuttered windows alongside blooming flower boxes. Local markets bursting with every size, shape and color of produce you could imagine. Shops selling everything from pasta to Venetian masks to haute couture. There were so many photo opportunities that I had to remind myself to put down the camera now and then and just take it all in.

Riviera in Venice19

Riviera in Venice15

Riviera in Venice16
I grabbed that chance when we stopped into a streetside café. We of course chose to sit outside so we could bask in the sunshine and watch people stroll through the lovely square, but the inside was so charming I would’ve liked it just as well.

Riviera in Venice21Riviera in Venice08
After sipping a nice Chianti and people watching for a bit, we forged ahead. While one could easily fill a day just wandering the enchanting streets of Venice, there were a few historic sights that we wanted to be sure to see. Soon we arrived at the most famous of Venice's bridges.Riviera in Venice22The Rialto Bridge was bustling with people taking in the views of the canal and capturing images of the famed bridge itself.

Riviera in Venice23
Riviera in Venice27Next we headed south to what is surely the most famous sight in Venice – St. Mark’s Square. It’s hard to say which was more impressive – the panoramic view from the ship as we arrived or the details we could now see up close. If you want to see inside St. Mark’s Basilica, I recommend booking a shore excursion. This will allow you to avoid the line, which is usually quite lengthy as it was today.

We hadn’t yet had a slice of pizza in Venice, so considering the line to get into the cathedral, the pizza won out and we continued our walk. Along the way, I caught a photo you don’t see every day in Venice – an America’s Cup ship sailing along the Grand Canal! This weekend was the opening of the nine-day America's Cup festival in Venice, which will culminate with Championship Racing in the America's Cup World Series a few days from now. Riviera was not the only spectacular sailing vessel that could be spotted throughout the canals of Venice this week.

Riviera in Venice29
Next we crossed over the Accademia Bridge and discovered that, while it may not be as famous as the Rialto Bridge, the views from this bridge are just as impressive if not more so.

Riviera in Venice30

Riviera in Venice11Just past the Accademia Bridge, we found another lovely square and sat down in a café to enjoy a slice (or four) of pizza. I checked my watch and realized that we had dinner reservations onboard Riviera in three hours, but I just couldn’t keep myself from trying each of the four kinds we ordered – margherita, prosciutto e funghi, diavolo, and a bruschetta-style pizza they prepared specially at my friend’s request. Luckily, we were walking back to the ship so I was able to burn off a bit of the pizza on the way. I wasn’t going to miss out on Polo Grill!

It’s no wonder the Oceania Cruises team planned an overnight stay in Venice at the beginning of Riviera’s Maiden Voyage. Guests will want to explore this remarkable city at length before sailing. Whether you visit the magnificent cathedrals, discover the islands of Murano and Burano, or simply meander the narrow lanes experiencing the romance, what a wonderful way to celebrate Riviera’s debut.

I hope you all enjoy discovering the wonders of Riviera and her fascinating ports of call as much as I have during her Christening Cruise. To those embarking on the Maiden Voyage tomorrow, I wish you Bon Voyage!

May 13, 2012

COUNTDOWN TO RIVIERA: 3 DAYS TO MAIDEN VOYAGE

Tuna

Look what I caught!

Sport fishing is one of my favorite hobbies, and it’s always been a dream of mine to catch a fish this size off the back of the ship. This line-caught yellow fin tuna weighs 80 kilos and was the centerpiece of the Mother’s Day brunch onboard Riviera today.

Gala Brunch09Okay, I confess, it wasn’t my catch, but a guy can dream. And the tuna wasn’t the only catch of the day featured at this gala brunch. There were langoustines, crab legs, linguini with clams, salmon, the finest caviar, and bouillabaisse with shrimp, scallops and mussels. If it lives in the sea, we dined on it today at a celebration in honor of mothers everywhere. We even had World Champion Oyster Shucker Xavier Caille onboard to shuck these beauties.

The culinary team never ceases to amaze me, and today was no exception, especially considering this is the second gala brunch they have prepared in three days. On the day of the christening, we dined on jamon Iberico pata negra and roast suckling pig.

Gala Brunch04

 

It just doesn’t get any better than this, and I can't wait for all of our guests to experience Riviera on her Maiden Voyage, which sails just three days from today!

 

May 12, 2012

COUNTDOWN TO RIVIERA: RIVIERA IS CHRISTENED IN BARCELONA

May 10 2012 Cat_Cora-006It’s official! Oceania Cruises’ newest ship has been christened Riviera by Godmother Cat Cora. Chef Cora arrived onboard two days ago and was welcomed by Vice Chairman Bob Binder, President Kunal Kamlani, and Chairman Frank Del Rio with a reception in La Reserve. Frank presented Cat with the gift of a stunning diamond necklace and earrings.

The morning of the christening soon arrived, and we began the day with a gala brunch in the Grand Dining Room. As Riviera would be named in the great city of Barcelona, the menu included paella, jamon iberico, seafood of every variety, and tapas that were as beautiful as they were delicious.

Riviera Christening05

As we enjoyed our fantastic brunch onboard, the final details were being attended to ashore in preparation for the momentous ceremony that would soon take place.

  Riviera Christening13

In keeping with the Spanish theme, the port was decked in the vibrant reds and yellows of Catalonia. Flamenco dancers and Spanish guitarists created a jubilant atmosphere of celebration.

Riviera Christening25
Soon it was time for guests to disembark, and the festivities were underway.

Riviera Christening18

Cruise Director Leslie Jon would be Master of Ceremony for the event.

Riviera Christening27

Godmother Cat Cora was seated at the front of the stage with President Kunal Kamlani and Vice Chairman Bob Binder at her side.

Riviera Christening31

The celebration began with a brilliant performance of Barcelona by Soprano Alina Furman and Tenor Giorgio Olmo, followed by a flamenco dance by Rafael Amargo & Company. The charismatic leader of the troupe even convinced Cat Cora to join him for a dance. It was soon apparent that she is not only a talented chef, but an excellent dancer as well. 

Riviera Christening40

Riviera Christening59President Kunal S. Kamlani opened the remarks, pointing out that beautiful Barcelona – a center of arts and culture – was the perfect setting for the christening of Riviera, as she herself is a work of art. But he was also quick to point out, “Despite our excitement at Riviera’s debut, there is an even larger story here. This is much more than a celebration of a ship. This is a celebration of people. For Riviera has only come into existence thanks to all of you here today and to every guest that sails with Oceania Cruises.”

Kunal then introduced the founder of Oceania Cruises, Frank Del Rio.

Riviera Christening65

 

After sharing how proud he was of the accomplishment of the Oceania Cruises family in creating Riviera, he introduced the honorary commodore of the ship, Andrea Area. Area was the first general manager of Oceania Cruises’ first vessel, Regatta. He made an immeasurable contribution to the early successes of Oceania Cruises, and then tragedy struck. Area suffered a debilitating stroke from which it was doubtful he would recover. But after seven years of rehabilitation, Area was now able to walk to the stage to accept the honor from Frank, after an emotional embrace that touched everyone present.

Riviera Christening41b
It was a fitting time for Captain Luca Manzi to take the podium and introduce the officers and crew that are the heart and soul of Riviera. The senior officers came to the stage while the hundreds of other crew members emerged onto Riviera’s verandas to a an exuberant round of applause.

Riviera Christening44
Deacon Ricardo Rodriguez-Martos took the stage for the blessing of the ship, then Frank returned to introduce Riviera’s godmother, Chef Cat Cora. “When Bob, Kunal and I were debating who would be the godmother of Riviera,” he said, “we wanted someone whose life achievements, whose passions and whose values were aligned with those of the Oceania Cruises brand. Being the cruise line for foodies, we quickly zeroed in on this remarkable woman, who since making television history in 2005 as the first and still only female Iron Chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, has become one of the largest names in the culinary world. As an accomplished author, restaurateur, contributing editor, avid philanthropist and proud mother of four, her talent extends deeply within and far beyond the kitchen.”

Chef Cora was beaming as she approached the stage. “I want to say as the mother of four boys – finally I have a girl! And isn’t she a beauty!”

She went on to say how honored she was to be joining the Oceania Cruises family. “I couldn’t be more thrilled. With the Oceania family I feel like I share so many of their values: loyalty, friendship, and excellence as well as the best of travel, food and wine. I want to thank Frank, Bob and Kunal as well as…all of the hundreds of crew members that are the soul of this ship and that will be making me proud as it sails around the world.”

And now it was time for the grand finale. As Chef Cora reached for the jewel-studded lever that would release the custom-made Nebuchadnezzar of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin champagne, she declared, “I name this ship Riviera. May God bless her and all who sail with her.”

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Right on cue, the bottle swung from its perch and crashed spectacularly into Riviera’s hull, exploding into a million pieces as confetti and music erupted in celebration.

Riviera Christening 70
Photo by David Ramos Vidal

I took nearly 700 photos of this momentous occasion, and the one that best captures the true spirit and overwhelming joy of the day may be this picture of President Kunal Kamlani embracing his children.
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I have many more wonderful moments from the christening to share, so continue to follow the blog for more stories as Riviera sails for Venice where the first guests will embark on her Maiden Voyage.

May 10, 2012

COUNTDOWN TO RIVIERA: RIVIERA ARRIVES IN BARCELONA

The countdown to Riviera's Maiden Voyage continues as today Riviera arrived in Barcelona, the city where her godmother, Chef Cat Cora, will name the ship tomorrow in a gala ceremony.

Since we arrived in Valencia yesterday, the celebration of all things Spanish has officially begun. Oceania Cruises President Kunal Kamlani shared this photo of a delicious pan of paella he enjoyed in Valencia, the city where the dish originated.

Valencia Paella

The celebration continued last night with the World Latin Dance Party in Horizons. The bartenders were even decked in Spanish garb.

  Spanish Garb

Meanwhile, Chef Franck Garanger carved the finest Spanish ham, Jamon Iberico Pata Negra, in La Reserve as the senior management team finalized plans for the christening.

Pata Negra

Today Chef Kelly gave me a sneak peek of one of the Culinary Discovery Tours that will launch with Riviera. First we shopped at the Santa Caterina Market. Then we visited a cooking school where we tasted olive oils, learned to make tapas, and enjoyed a wine tasting as well.

I will share photos of our adventures with you soon, but for now I have to run to the flamenco show. The renowned Spanish flamenco group Los Mulero is performing for us onboard. The Spanish celebration promises to continue through tomorrow and Riviera's Christening Ceremony. Check the blog to read about all the festivities!

May 8, 2012

COUNTDOWN TO RIVIERA: 8 DAYS TO MAIDEN VOYAGE

New Riviera 15Greetings from the Blogger-at-Large! I’m here onboard Riviera helping count down the days to her Maiden Voyage, and we’re now only eight days away. Those of you joining us for the Maiden Voyage are in for a treat because Riviera is absolutely spectacular. It has been such a pleasure to explore the ship over the past few days. It seems like I discover some beautiful new detail around every corner.

New Riviera 16Many people have been inquiring on our blog and Facebook pages about the differences between Marina and Riviera. First, let me assure you that all the most important things have not changed. For instance, the staff is just as warm, friendly and enthusiastic as ever (as you can see in the photo above of our server, Newman, from last night in the Grand Dining Room). And it has been so wonderful to see so many familiar faces onboard.

Of course, the cuisine is as exquisite as ever. Take a look at the beautiful John Dory with tomato and cucumber we had in the Grand Dining Room last night. It was caught fresh that day in Marseille. Senior Executive Chef Christophe Belin and Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger continue to ensure that nothing but the finest cuisine is served onboard Riviera.

New Riviera 19
But while Riviera exhibits all the hallmarks you would expect of an Oceania Cruises ship, and while she is just as elegant and sophisticated as her sister ship, Marina, Riviera does have her own unique personality.  In fact, I’ve been told there are 727 differences between Marina and Riviera. I took myself on a scavenger hunt to find some of these differences, and although I didn’t have time to seek out all 727, I did find several.

We’ve already been touting the stunning new chandelier that hangs above the Grand Staircase. Professional and amateur photographers alike continue to try to capture the perfect picture of this beauty.

New Riviera02The furnishings in the Grand Bar have a different fabric, and the lamps are a similar style to those on Marina, but a different color.

New Riviera01The floor of the Grand Bar is laid with a beautifully patterned marble, rather than the carpet that adorns Marina.

New Riviera03
The furniture in Martinis lounge also differs in color and texture from that on Marina.

New Riviera04
The rich fabric of this deck chair is different from any I’ve seen onboard Marina.

New Riviera 14We’ve also talked a lot on the blog about the artwork onboard Riviera, and I’m sure you’re eager to see all the masterpieces we’ve been touting. Of course, a photograph simply cannot do justice to a painting, but I did catch some interesting close-ups of several pieces to give you a teaser of what you can find onboard.

New Riviera12

Everyone has their own personal taste in art, but whether you prefer the profound or the provocative, you will find at least one piece you love onboard Riviera and likely many more. The variety of works is astounding, from shockingly realistic to utterly abstract. If you enjoy exploring world-class museums ashore, you can do the same during a day at sea onboard Riviera! Below are some of the works of renowned artists you can see just by strolling along the decks.

  New Riviera 13Arcadio Cancio

  New Riviera06
Ismael Peralta

  New Riviera07C. Lunace


New Riviera08Mirabel

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Sandro D. La Rosa

New Riviera 18

A. F. Boyyell

More photos will be coming soon as we continue the countdown to Riviera’s Maiden Voyage!

 

 

 

 

May 7, 2012

COUNTDOWN TO RIVIERA: 9 DAYS TO MAIDEN VOYAGE

Riviera in Monte CarloYesterday was another big day amongst the many we’ve had onboard Riviera. First, it marked the beginning of the 10-day countdown to Riviera’s Maiden Voyage. And it was also the day Riviera arrived in Monte Carlo, where the first guests embarked who will sail with us on Riviera’s Christening Cruise. It was such a pleasure to welcome them onboard to share in our celebration of Riviera’s debut.

Guests Board in Monte Carlo

As you’ve probably already guessed, this was another occasion calling for celebration. Horizons was hopping all evening long with a cocktail reception and the sail-away party. Carlito poured the champagne.

Carlito Pours ChampagneSenior Executive Chef Christophe Belin created an array of beautiful hors d’oeuvres and delicious pastries for the events. 

Chef Belin PreparesVice President of Sales & Marketing James Rodriguez (far left) and Vice President of National Accounts Nathan Hickman (far right) were two of the Oceania Cruises team members offering warm welcomes to our guests.  Cocktail GuestsEven though many guests had just arrived in Monte Carlo after long flights, the excitement onboard Riviera inspired everyone, and the celebration continued well into the evening.

Finally we all had to get some rest because today Riviera arrived the port of Marseille, where the grand Notre-Dame de la Garde Cathedral overlooks the yacht-filled harbor.

Marseille Old PortMarseille is a bustling modern city with a colorful past. Bold, contemporary buildings are going up throughout the city even as the historic 19th century facades are being restored. Marseille is also famous as the origin of that delicious Provençal fish stew, bouillabaisse, and as Daniela and I disembarked this morning, we had one thing on our minds – seafood!

You can tell the city is serious about fish just by some of the beautiful custom tableware we came across.

Marseille DishThe sight of the escargot in the local market certainly whet our appetites.

EscargotWe found a lovely café in no time and were soon enjoying a gazpacho appetizer before we moved on to our seafood entrée.

GazpachoWe decided crustaceans were the order of the day, and we were quite pleased when the server brought out the lobsters for us to make our selection.

Choosing Lobster
It was a fantastic lunch in a beautiful city. The interesting thing is that despite how wonderful our day in Marseille was, I am still looking forward to our day at sea tomorrow so I can spend more time enjoying Riviera!

May 6, 2012

FINAL TOUCHES ON THE OWNER'S SUITE AS RIVIERA ARRIVES IN MONTE CARLO


Details in Owner's Suite

Many of you have asked to see more of the suites and staterooms onboard Riviera, so I have a few photos to share of the Owner’s Suites.

As with Marina, Susan Bednar Long of S. B. Long Interiors designed the Owner’s Suites with furnishings from the Ralph Lauren Home Collection. I offered to lend a hand yesterday as Susan was putting the final touches on the suites. 

 Final OS Touches

Fluffing pillows

The bedroom looks fantastic. The bedspread is part of the newest collection from Ralph Lauren — so new in fact, that the bedspread has not yet arrived. It will soon be making its premier here on Riviera.

OS Bedroom

Some followers of the blog have asked about the differences in the furnishings on Riviera versus Marina. While they are extremely similar, one difference is a slight change in the colors of the veranda furniture in the Owner’s Suite.

Installing OS Outdoor Furniture

We encountered one small hitch when hanging the final artwork in the Owner’s Suites. One painting wouldn’t fit because someone had installed an iPad volume control in the middle of the foyer wall where the painting was to be displayed. Luckily we had a team of electricians on hand who could quickly move it.

On the phone

Soon the issue was resolved and the painting was in place.

Problem Solved

But I confess I’m burying the lead here. We were especially eager to ensure the final details were in place in the Owner’s Suite because Riviera arrived in Monte Carlo today and welcomed her first guests onboard for the Christening Cruise. You can see some fog rolling in, but that did not deter one gentleman from going for a dip in the pool.

IMG_5944

We’re preparing for the sail-away festivities so I’m off to celebrate. Today is not only the first day of the Christening Cruise, but also the official start of the countdown to Riviera's Maiden Voyage. We're 10 days away, so we'll be sure to continue the countdown here on the blog.

 

May 3, 2012

KUNAL KAMLANI CELEBRATES RIVIERA'S FINAL NIGHT IN GENOA

Genoa View
What a day we had in Genoa! To begin the day, Master Luca Manzi and Staff Captain Andrea Catalani joined me for a coffee in Baristas, and then we took Riviera out for a test run.


Captains in Baristas
I am pleased to report that she performed beautifully, and I had the perfect view of the open sea from the balcony in one of our Vista Suites.


Open Sea
I couldn’t spend too long enjoying the view because the Christening Cruise is only four days away, and we are attending to the final details. There are still just a few pieces of art left to hang. You can see the one below is obviously one of Frank Del Rio’s favorites, as he is dressed to match!


Kunal and Frank
Today was a big day for everyone because tomorrow Riviera will sail on her three-day shakedown cruise. This will be her final dress rehearsal before guests for the Christening Cruise board in Monte Carlo on May 6. We will be at sea on May 4, stop in Cannes on May 5, and arrive in Monaco bright and early on Sunday. 

So tonight we decided it was time to celebrate! The shareholders, management team and several more good friends traveled just outside Genoa to a charming fishing village called Camogli.


Camogli
Here we dined at Ristorante Rosa with a beautiful view overlooking the sea. Ligurian food is known for its simple, traditional preparation using only the very finest ingredients. We enjoyed fresh baby artichokes, baby octopus, red mullet, and orata – one of the most sought-after fish in Italian markets. The best pesto in the world is also made in this region, so I was not going to miss out on the pennette in pesto sauce. It was absolutely wonderful.


Ristorante Rosa
Despite the delicious meal, it was hard to say which I enjoyed more – the food or the spectacular view from the restaurant. 


Italian Sunset
As the sun set along the Italian coastline, we all agreed this was the perfect celebration of Riviera’s final night in Genoa before she sets off to explore the world. We’re all looking forward to another exciting day tomorrow, and I will certainly continue to share all the latest news here on the blog.

May 1, 2012

PRESIDENT KUNAL KAMLANI BOARDS RIVIERA

Vista Balcony ViewThe moment I’ve been waiting for finally arrived. Today I set foot onboard Riviera for the first time. I arrived in Genoa a bit jet-lagged, but that didn’t dampen my excitement. And Riviera certainly did not disappoint. 

It’s been a frenzy of final preparations since I boarded the ship, but I did manage to capture a few photos. I’ve been sharing on the blog how excited I was to see the Grand Staircase, especially because above the staircase, Riviera has a custom-crafted Italian chandelier. Below you can see how brilliantly it glows; trust me, the photo still does not do it justice. 

Grand Staircase Chandelier Lit

Here is the Lalique vase on the famous Cactus Table at the base of the Grand Staircase.

Riviera Grand Staircase
As excited as I was to see Riviera, I was even more excited to meet the officers, staff and crew. As I entered my suite, I was greeted by two familiar fellows – Vijay and Sandeep. They are members of our top-notch butler staff and always have a warm smile. My family has sailed with them before so it was great to see them aboard. They represent the heart and soul of this ship, and it is their commitment and dedication that have brought Riviera to life. 

Two of Riviera's Finest
I cannot wait for all of our guests to have the experience that I did today of boarding Riviera for the first time and being welcomed by the Oceania Cruises family. However, you may not want to embarrass yourself as I did today when embarking. As I drove up the pier and got out of the car, I must have stood there for five solid minutes just staring at Riviera. I was simply reflecting on her beauty and on all that this team has accomplished. In his classic French accent, General Manager Thierry Tholon finally called from the gangway, "Are you joining us, or are you just going to watch us from the pier?" I realized I had stared a bit too long and made my way up the gangway.

I will continue to share stories and photos as we approach Riviera’s Christening Cruise and her momentous Maiden Voyage. I hope you’ll enjoy following the journey here on the blog, and please feel free to share your comments below.

BOB BINDER ON BURGERS AND BEGONIAS


Chef Garanger Prepares Tasting     Waves Tasting
If you read my post yesterday, you’ll recall that I was about to indulge in a burger tasting at Waves Grill. I am here to report that, as you might imagine, I was thoroughly impressed with the latest burgers from Chef Franck Garanger. As our Fleet Corporate Chef, he is responsible for many of the new recipes that will be unveiled onboard Riviera, and each dish we’ve tasted onboard has been better than the last.

Burger Tasting    Waves Fries
Of course, we’ve tried some exquisite dishes, such as the hoisin-sautéed duck foie gras with pecan and cucumber salad that will soon be featured in La Reserve. But some days you just want a great burger. And when Chef Garanger is involved, even a burger becomes a work of art. How does a Kobe beef burger with black truffle sauce and baby cress sound? Or perhaps the newest twist to be featured in Waves – the Alaskan salmon burger with Béarnaise tartar sauce and spicy slaw. And it goes without saying that Waves has the best fries anywhere.

While I love to take every possible opportunity to get involved in food tastings, one area in which I am definitely hands-off is the floral department. At home my flowers shrivel up after a day or two, so I’ve been sure to keep my “non-green thumbs” away from the plants onboard Riviera.

40 Varieties - 2
More than 40 varieties of flowers will be featured onboard. They come from all over the world – just like our international crew. And you will NEVER find an artificial plant onboard an Oceania Cruises ship.

Florist    Orchid
I’d better get back to work as we’re six days and counting from the sailing of Riviera’s Christening Cruise. President Kunal Kamlani joined us today and will be sharing his impressions of Riviera here on the blog as well. Hint: I think he’ll be pretty impressed.

April 30, 2012

VICE CHAIRMAN BOB BINDER SENDS GREETINGS FROM RIVIERA

New Artwork at Red GingerHello from Riviera!

As our president, Kunal Kamlani, announced on Friday, we have officially taken delivery of Riviera, and we're now putting on the final touches in preparation for her christening in Barcelona next week.

For the past few weeks, we've been sharing some of Riviera's unique design elements here on the blog, and I'm sure those of you booked on an upcoming voyage are eager to get onboard and experience the ship. Of course, Marina and Riviera were first and foremost designed for foodies, but our secondary goal has been to create floating museums that inspire and engage our guests with their sense of style and their striking, contemporary artwork. 

Our chairman, Frank Del Rio, holds a special place in his heart for all the Cuban artists featured onboard, which is understandable due to his Cuban heritage. My fascination with Asian art is not so easily explained, but it has likely evolved from my travels on that continent and my experiences with the beauty of not only the paintings and sculptures of Asia, but also the gardens, the temples and especially the people and their cultures. 

As you might imagine, I was especially pleased to be able to help with the installation of the artwork in Red Ginger. Below we are hanging a Vietnamese painting that reads "Celebrate."

Celebrate in Vietnamese
The next painting says "Serenity" in Thai. I especially like it because it reflects the harmony of Red Ginger's bold, yet tranquil, design.

Serenity in Thai
As with all of our restaurants onboard, every detail is a statement on the distinctive style of each venue. So in Red Ginger we had to make sure that the table settings were works of art in themselves.

Red Ginger Table
Frank, Kunal and I can't wait until Riviera welcomes her first guests onboard, and I hope you'll enjoy exploring every corner of the ship. In fact, we only have a few corners left to prepare. We'll continue to share photos here on the blog as we complete the finishing touches.

I hear Chef Franck Garanger is preparing a tasting for us in Waves Grill, so for now I'd better attend to the business at hand. Like I always say, it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

April 27, 2012

IT'S OFFICIAL! OCEANIA CRUISES TAKES DELIVERY OF RIVIERA

Displaying the flag
Oceania Cruises took delivery of the magnificent new Riviera today in Genoa. The flag of the Fincantieri Shipyard was lowered and the Oceania Cruises flag was raised as the ship was officially handed over to Oceania Cruises' founder, Frank Del Rio.

Lowering the Fincantieri flag

Lowering the Fincantieri Flag

Preparing to hoist the Oceania Cruises flag
Hoisting the flag

It's official!
Oceania Cruises flag flies
This marks another major milestone in the history of Oceania Cruises, and we will now be counting the days to when Riviera will be unveiled to the world. Two weeks from today, Riviera will be christened in beautiful Barcelona, and on May 16 she sails from Venice to Athens on her Maiden Voyage.

The official handshake
Watch the blog for more photos and stories on Riviera as she makes her exciting debut.

April 24, 2012

OCEANIA CRUISES TO TAKE DELIVERY OF NEW ‘RIVIERA’

Posted by Kunal S. Kamlani, President

RIVIERA 1a - ©PUBLIFOTO Genova-1
The excitement is growing by the hour here at Oceania Cruises because we are about to take delivery of the beautiful new Riviera. On the surface the exchange will be mostly formalities – the signing of final paperwork, a champagne toast, congratulatory handshakes – but this ceremony represents a milestone achieved thanks to the loyalty of our valued guests, the strong partnership with our travel agents and the dedication of every member of the Oceania Cruises family. It will certainly be a day of celebration for all of us. 

Once we have taken delivery from the shipyard, Riviera will remain in Genoa for a few days while the officers and crew make final preparations. Then less than two weeks from today, Riviera will embark on her Christening Cruise, and the countdown to her Maiden Voyage will officially begin. My family and I will be onboard for the Christening Cruise as we sail for Barcelona, where Godmother Cat Cora will name the ship during a gala ceremony. We will then continue on to Venice, where Riviera’s first guests will embark on the momentous Maiden Voyage. I’m sure those of you booked on this remarkable voyage are as excited as I am to set foot onboard Riviera for the first time.

RIVIERA - 2a - ©PUBLIFOTO Genova
Our anticipation has been building with each photo we receive from the shipyard. While Riviera is the sister ship to Marina, she has some unique design features that distinguish her. You may have seen our announcement on Facebook that Riviera will showcase some of Latin America’s most accomplished and admired contemporary artists. Included are renowned artists from Cuba’s Vanguard Movement, such as Wilfredo Lam and Cundo Bermúdez.

One of the most spectacular pieces onboard Riviera is the custom-crafted Italian chandelier that hangs above the Grand Staircase. The 1,300-pound chandelier features 380 glowing crystal spheres that will reflect off the beautiful Lalique crystal staircase. Riviera’s reception area is certain to make a stunning first impression on guests as they board the ship. Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Franco Semeraro shared this photo with me a few weeks ago when they were finishing the installation. We can’t wait to see what it looks like when illuminated above the Grand Staircase.

Atrium Chandelier-2
I’ll be posting here on the blog during the Christening Cruise as we count down to the Maiden Voyage, so I hope you will share in my excitement as we unveil the latest magnificent addition to the Oceania Cruises fleet.

April 3, 2012

OCEANIA CRUISES SHOWCASES ART AND ARTISTS

Marina Art1
It’s no secret that Oceania Cruises has created the first ships at sea designed especially for foodies. Fine cuisine has always been one of our hallmarks, but did you know that Marina and the new Riviera are also havens for art lovers?

Oceania Cruises’ founder, Frank Del Rio, has a passion for fine art. He and Vice Chairman Bob Binder hand-selected the masterpieces currently featured onboard Marina, and Del Rio took a special interest in the works selected for Riviera as well. In fact, we are anticipating an exciting announcement later this week about the artists to be featured on Riviera, which debuts next month.

Marina Art4Marina and Riviera feature paintings, sculptures and prints to suit every taste, from the classic to the contemporary and from the referential to the abstract. Del Rio claims he wants the art to “spark conversation and contemplation” among the guests onboard. Based on my observations as Blogger-at-Large, he has certainly succeeded in this goal. One evening I was in Martinis lounge onboard Marina discussing a painting that myself and a guest found particularly fascinating. A few minutes later another guest approached the painting and commented, “The guy must have been on drugs when he painted that.” Some works are simply beautiful, and others are more provocative, but they all inspire conversation. 

Many of us who enjoy contemporary artists have an equal passion for creating art ourselves. While our efforts may not be museum worthy, we can certainly appreciate the need to express our creativity. And when traveling on a voyage with Oceania Cruises, the beautiful ships and marvelous ports of call provide ample inspiration for anyone with an inner artist clamoring for recognition.

 

Artist Loft - Anne B11
That is why Oceania Cruises created the Artist Loft enrichment center, currently featured onboard Marina and soon to be unveiled on the new Riviera as well. In the Artist Loft, talented artists-in-residence teach classes on everything from photography to needlepoint to painting to creating your own t-shirts and postcards.

Artist Loft - Anne B01

Artist Loft - Anne B03

Award-winning watercolorist Annelein Beukenkamp was just onboard Marina sharing her skills with a packed house of aspiring artists. I was able to enjoy some of Annelein’s classes, such as ABC’s of Drawing and Paint a Tropical Sunset Scene. Marina was sailing her final Caribbean itinerary, so there was no shortage of vibrant tropical sunsets to inspire our paintings.

For the ABC’s of Drawing class, Annelein gathered everyone around to observe as she created a still life drawing of a wine bottle, an apple and a teacup. As she progressed, Annelein pointed out the choices an artist is constantly making regarding position, perspective, light and shading. Guests then created their own masterpieces with Annelein’s guidance. Annelein also offered open studio hours when guests could experiment in any medium they wished – pigments, graphite, pastels, pencils – or they could continue work on a project begun earlier in the voyage.

Artist Loft - Anne B06
It’s hard to say what the guests enjoyed more – expressing themselves in the Artist Loft or gazing at the masterworks throughout Marina that make her feel like a floating museum. Whether you’re an aficionado or an amateur, a cruise onboard Marina or Riviera is a treat for any art lover. Be sure to check our Facebook page later this week for the exciting announcement about the collection to be featured onboard Riviera.

March 27, 2012

POST FROM THE PRESIDENT: RIVIERA COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL SEA TRIALS

AerialRiviera
I am pleased to report that Riviera completed her sea trials today, and she has passed with flying colors. Our executive vice president of vessel operations, Robin Lindsay, was onboard for the trials and described them as “a resounding success.” He said that Captain Luca Manzi was exceptionally pleased with Riviera’s performance and that she handled perfectly in all situations.

And sea trials are no walk in the park. This is the first time that a new ship is really put to the test to ensure she will perform. During the final set of trials, Riviera sailed the Mediterranean for three days, encountering various sea conditions and employing all power settings. Meanwhile, an entire team of technicians and engineers from both Oceania Cruises and the Fincantieri shipyard were onboard evaluating her every move. The teams assessed not only Riviera’s speed (she easily cruised at more than 21 knots with ample reserve power), but also her maneuverability, hydrodynamics, propulsion and safety systems.

Each time I receive news of Riviera’s latest success, my anticipation of her christening and maiden voyage grows. Now that sea trials are finished, the team can focus their undivided attention on the final details of the interior, which is sure to be as stunning as that of her sister ship, Marina. I thought we’d share a few pictures from Italy while we wait for Riviera to be unveiled in all her glory.

A dramatic image of the crest adorning Riviera's bowRVA bow crest

A sunset view from the bridge
Riviera Bridge

The pool deck glows at night

Riviera Pool

Watch for more photos and updates from the shipyard soon.

January 11, 2012

LALIQUE AND OCEANIA CRUISES: A PERFECT PAIR

Hustace Photo-9-Grand StaircaseThe Grand Staircase is an icon onboard all the ships of Oceania Cruises and a signature element of our brand. To create this extraordinary centerpiece for Marina, we looked to the master artisans from Lalique, a company renowned for its unique expertise in the artistry of fine crystal. As the interior begins to take shape on Marina’s sister ship, Riviera, that same Lalique staircase will be the dramatic focal point of the reception area. 

Founded over a century ago, Lalique continues the legacy of the incomparable René Lalique. First renowned for his innovative Art Nouveau jewelry pieces, René Lalique was intrigued by the medium of glass. It became the focus of his mastery and his primary means of artistic expression, even as he expanded into the realm of architecture.

Today’s Lalique artisans are known as “sculptors of light,” embracing the strange alchemy that takes place between the sensitivity of the artist and the know-how of the craftsman. One easily recognizes the style of Lalique through its hand-finished form, intricately sculptured detailing, and vivid contrasts between clear and matte crystal.

“We’re very overprotective of the brand, to a fault at times,” says Maz Zouhairi, President and CEO of Lalique North America. “When this partnership came about, or the idea was born, we had to do our research and make sure that the two names, the two brands were compatible with each other.”

They certainly are. Both the ships of Oceania Cruises and the crystal masterpieces of Lalique are renowned for their elegance and artistry, and the partnership has been a perfect pairing.

Riviera November Grand Stair  Grand Staircase-Wide
Riviera's Grand Staircase as it appeared a few months ago and as it will appear a few months from now

The Grand Staircase of Riviera features ornate double stairways with balustrades of crystal medallions. The dramatic centerpiece is Lalique’s highly prestigious Cactus Table crowned with an exquisite Lalique vase. The creation of the Grand Staircase involved 37 French artisans working 1,600 hours to handcraft 4,600 pounds of pure Lalique crystal.

Guests onboard Marina have been amazed by the results of the artisans’ craftsmanship, and when Riviera is unveiled in April, the Grand Staircase will certainly have the same impact. In fact, one guest was so impressed with this Lalique creation, he had the same staircase built into his own home, complete with the lit newel post at the base.

  Stair Column  Upper rail  Balustrades
There is certainly no greater compliment than that!

November 30, 2011

RIVIERA WILL SOON BE SHIPSHAPE!

Riviera November 17 Exterior-2

Excitement continues to build in anticipation of the maiden voyage of Oceania Cruises' newest ship, Riviera. The April christening is just a few months away, and if you've already booked a cruise on Riviera for her inaugural season, you must certainly be curious about how she is progressing.

While there is still much work to be done for Riviera to evolve into the stunning vessel that will be sister to Marina, these photos from the shipyard indicate that Riviera is coming together right on schedule. The graceful balustrades of The Grand Staircase are taking shape, and with a little imagination, one can envision the ornate Lalique crystal that will soon adorn them.

Riviera November Grand Stair
Furnishings already in place are carefully protected while work continues around them. Concentric circles designate the spot where the Grand Dining Room's magnificent chandelier will be mounted. 

Riviera November 17 GDR

Craftsmen work under cover to create what will soon become the beautiful pool deck.

Riviera November 17 Pool Deck
It is fascinating to conceive how a talented team of designers, engineers and shipbuilders can turn raw materials into such a vision of elegance and sophistication. We will continue to share updates from the shipyard as Riviera transforms into the majestic ship she is destined to become. 

 

November 4, 2011

RIVIERA TO BE CHRISTENED IN MONTE CARLO

Monte Carlo1
We are very excited to announce that Oceania Cruises' stunning new ship, the 1,250-guest Riviera, will be christened in Monte Carlo on April 19, 2012. The lavish, invitation-only gala ceremony will take place pier-side at Monaco’s Port Hercules overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Design plans call for trellises of fresh local flowers, plants and columns to transform the pier into a garden taking its inspiration from the famous Princess Grace Rose Garden. Following the ceremony, guests will enjoy a gala reception and dinner onboard Riviera.

“We are delighted that Oceania Cruises has chosen Port Hercules as the spot to launch its new Riviera,” said Maguy Maccario, consul general and director, North America, Monaco Government Tourist Office. “We look forward to welcoming Riviera and her invited guests to the Principality of Monaco for what will surely be an exciting event, set against the backdrop of one of the most glamorous destinations in the world.”

Following the christening cruise, Riviera will embark on her maiden voyage, the 12-day Ancient Grandeur itinerary. Departing Athens on April 24, Riviera will visit fascinating and diverse ports of call such as Alexandria, Egypt; Haifa, Israel; Rhodes, Greece; and Istanbul, Turkey. Riviera will spend the summer and fall cruising the Mediterranean and then cross the Atlantic to spend the winter in the islands of the Caribbean.

Ever since Marina debuted to wide acclaim in January, we have been anticipating the arrival of her sister ship, Riviera. The excitement is building throughout the Oceania Cruises team as Riviera's christening is now just a few short months away.

 

July 17, 2011

Riviera Floated Out At The Fincantieri Shipyard in Genoa

Oceania Cruises celebrated a major milestone on Saturday, July 16, as the Riviera was afloat for the first time and moved from the construction dock to her fitting-out berth. 

What a difference a month makes! Compare these photos to those posted at the end of June during the last construction update.  Riviera is Starting to Take Shape!

RIviera Launching Ceremony 003 
“The float out of a ship is a beautiful occasion which marks the beginning of her life and we are eagerly anticipating the day next spring that we can unveil her to the world,” stated Frank Del Rio, Chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings and founder of Oceania Cruises.

RIviera Launching Ceremony 015 
The sequence of events began last Wednesday as the ship was blessed by shipyard clergy.

RIV_Afloat 
Then the shipyard workers opened dozens of sluices and thousands of gallons of seawater began to enter the building dock.

IMG_6373 
Three days later, Riviera is fully afloat.

IMG_6403 
Then Riviera begins her very first voyage, albeit not under her own power. Here, the shipyard tugs have just completed their first task, towing her very gently from the building dock into the harbor.

IMG_6408 
The tugs then begin the task of turning her around so that she can be properly positioned at her fitting out berth.

IMG_6417 
She is now turned almost 270 degrees and ready to begin her short journey across the harbor.

IMG_6428 
Almost there...

IMG_6442 
Home at last!

IMG_6447 
Here is another view of the immense fitting-out pier that will be Riviera's home for the next nine months as thousands of craftsman begin fitting out and finishing her magnificent, designer interiors. You can see the gargantuan crane which is capable of lifting hundreds of tons and they have just begun securing the tower of exterior construction elevators to the port side of the ship.

Stay tuned for the next update in which we will give you a tour of the massive warehouse at the shipyard that will house everything that is used to fit out the interiors.

 

June 22, 2011

RIVIERA IS STARTING TO TAKE SHAPE!


       

Riviera 1
Many fans of Oceania Cruises have been requesting updates on our new ship, Riviera, which is scheduled to debut in April 2012. We are happy to announce that construction is right on schedule, and Riviera is really starting to take shape.

Riviera 2
You can already imagine how Riviera will continue to evolve into a ship of great beauty and elegance as the work progresses. 

Riviera 3 
Riviera is almost structurally complete, and we expect her to reach her next big milestone in about three weeks, when she is floated for the first time.

Yes, Riviera will touch the sea for the first time and be moved from her building dock to the outfitting pier. While making sure she floats is extremely important, the bigger story is the official change from "construction" to "finishing work."

Once she moves to the outfitting pier, thousands of contractors will start installing her exquisite hand-crafted interiors — a process that will take more than eight months. But then again, you can't rush perfection!

The Oceania Cruises family is always excited to receive updates from the shipyard, as we are all eagerly anticipating Riviera's arrival on the scene. She is certain to follow gracefully in the footsteps of her sister ship, Marina, and be welcomed with equally wide acclaim. As Oceania Cruises' founder Frank Del Rio likes to say, "There's only one thing better than one new ship — and that's TWO new ships!" 

Riviera 4
While we all await Riviera's arrival, the beautiful ships in our current fleet continue to sail to intriguing destinations worldwide. If you follow the blog, you recently enjoyed stunning photos from Regatta's adventures in Alaska. Insignia has been exploring the charming towns and majestic fjords of Norway, while guests onboard Nautica enjoyed an overnight stay in Jerusalem where they could witness the myriad of sacred religious sites. Marina will spend tonight in St. Petersburg, so guests can linger over the vast art collections of the Hermitage or marvel at the beauty of Catherine's Palace. We hope to be able to bring you more "photo voyages" in the very near future.

Thank you to all of our loyal guests who continue to share their stories of past adventures with Oceania Cruises as well as their excitement for upcoming voyages.

May 19, 2011

Messages from Marina: FOND MEMORIES OF THE 2011 REUNION CRUISE

  

Veranda Sunset
The sun set all too quickly beyond Marina's decks as the 2011 Reunion Cruise drew to a close, but those of us who traveled on this marvelous journey have returned home with many fond memories. From the romance of Venice to the sun-drenched beaches of the Greek Isles to the fascinating legacy of the ruins of Ephesus, this was a voyage that none of us will soon forget.

OC Cocktail Hosts

As memorable as the ports of call were the many friends we made onboard, both with the wonderful staff and crew and our fellow passengers as well. The Oceania Club Cocktail Party was a celebration of these friendships and of all the loyal guests who sail with Oceania Cruises time and again. Some of the people who made this event such a success are pictured above: General Manager Thierry Tholon, Cruise Director David Shermet, Manager of Loyalty Marketing Nick DeSantis, and Oceania Club Ambassador Matilda Jerosimic.

OC Cocktail Decor

Guests were welcomed to the party with friendly smiles and of course, cocktails!

Captain's Greet
The party was hosted by Captain Dimitrios Flokos, who greeted the arrival of each guest. Captain Flokos hails from Greece and has been with Oceania Cruises since the company's inception.

Captain's Welcome

Jeff Drew Speaks Captain Flokos shared a few words of appreciation for all of Oceania Cruises' loyal guests, and Senior Vice President Jeff Drew also expressed how much we value our Oceania Club members. Nick DeSantis and Matilda Jerosimic introduced the guests who were celebrating their 5th Oceania Cruise and presented these guests with their Bronze milestone pins. We also recognized guests who were sailing on their 6th, 7th, 8th, 12th, 14th, and even 17th cruises!

 

Blogger and Captain

As the festivities concluded, I was thrilled to be invited to join the Captain and a few other Oceania Cruises team members for a tour of Marina's bridge.

Captain Gives Bridge Tour
Captain Flokos explained the many instruments and gauges on the ship's control panel.

Bridge Instruments
We learned that Marina has two large and two small engines, which generate a total of 48,000 horsepower. This allows her to sail at speeds of up to 22 knots, and it also supplies the electricity for the entire ship. Captain Flokos noted that Marina has more power at her disposal than she should ever need — which is a good thing!
Officers on Bridge
There are two officers and two quartermasters on the bridge at all times. Each works shifts of four hours on and eight hours off.

Spare Anchor

One of the most interesting stories the Captain shared was of the installation of the ship's spare anchor. Pictured above, this all important piece of equipment is required for any ship to sail. The spare anchor was the very last piece to be assembled during Marina's construction, and in fact, it was completed in the late evening on the day that Oceania Cruises was to take delivery of Marina and sail for Barcelona. Captain Flokos and the entire crew were ready to depart, but they could not sail until this last piece was put in place. 

As the anchor was secured and Marina finally pulled away from the dock in Genoa, Oceania Cruises' founder Frank Del Rio noticed that Marina's hull was exceptionally dirty from resting in the dock at the construction site. Therefore the crew had one more task at hand: to give Marina a fresh coat of paint for her arrival in Barcelona!

Captain Flokos smiles now looking back at the challenges that were overcome leading up to Marina's debut. Every extra effort that had to be invested was most certainly worthwhile and only made Marina's immense success all the more rewarding.

Thank you so much to Captain Flokos and to all of the staff and crew onboard Marina for a magnificent and unforgettable Reunion Cruise. As Blogger-at-Large, I so enjoyed the privilege of meeting so many of the crew and other guests onboard, and I hope we cross paths on another voyage with Oceania Cruises in the very near future. 

As each day onboard the Reunion Cruise brought so many new adventures, I still have more stories to share, so continue to check the blog in the days ahead!

May 2, 2011

Post from the President: EXCITING NEWS FROM OCEANIA CRUISES

   


Marina Sculpture
We’re only four months into 2011, and it has Marina Statue Sign already been an exciting year for Oceania Cruises. There isn’t a more thrilling event for a cruise line than the launch of a new ship, and Marina’s debut in January was everything we had hoped for and more. Marina just visited Monte Carlo, and some guests venturing out to the French village of Eze captured this unbelievably appropriate photo. It's as if they stumbled upon the sculpted incarnation of our lovely ship Marina —  elegantly beautiful, "similar yet different" from Oceania Cruises' other ships, and "most certainly unique."

Marina SFHaving had some time to reflect, I am only now realizing how much I learned from the wondrous experience of envisioning and creating a new cruise ship. I’ve always been especially appreciative of the value of two resources – time and personnel. You definitely want both of these working in your favor when undertaking a project of this scope, and realizing our vision for Marina has given me an even deeper appreciation of this truth. Frank Del Rio likes to tell the story of how we only allowed ourselves eight days between taking delivery of the ship in the shipyard and the first guests coming onboard. Note that most cruise lines allow themselves four to five weeks. In fact as we were finishing construction on Marina, a ship for another line was completed, sailed across the Atlantic empty, and then sat in its home port for a few more weeks for final preparations before the first guest boarded.

Meanwhile, in mid-October the shipyard had informed us that they were a bit behind on Marina due to the complex design of her suites. Our eight days were dwindling. When all was said and done, we had 69 hours between taking possession of the ship and the first guest coming onboard in Barcelona. The most amazing part of this story is that Marina and her staff performed flawlessly from day one. I have never been so impressed by the dedication of our Oceania Cruises family as I was when they so seamlessly executed Marina’s inaugural sailing. The entire crew did an absolutely exceptional job, rising to every occasion and meeting every challenge. Thanks to the unfaltering commitment of our staff, we experienced great success despite the time deficit.

Nevertheless, we do plan to allow ourselves a bit more time for preparing Riviera for her first guests. We aren’t gluttons for punishment after all! While we could not be more thrilled with Marina, we have taken numerous lessons from the experience that will make Riviera’s debut an even greater success. I intend to personally invest even more of my time in ensuring that one year from now Riviera will emerge as the spectacular beauty we are all expecting. To allow myself the time so essential for this commitment, I will be assuming the new role of Vice Chairman and working closely with our founder and Chairman Frank Del Rio to assure the continued success of Oceania Cruises’ vision.

This brings me to the latest exciting news in an already exhilarating year for Oceania Cruises. Please join me in offering a warm welcome to the newest member of our Oceania Cruises family, Mr. Bruce Himelstein. Bruce is taking over the role of President of Oceania Cruises, bringing his unbridled enthusiasm and brilliant vision to the helm. He has held senior sales and marketing positions at several of the world’s most respected hospitality companies and was previously senior vice president of sales and marketing at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company during the most ambitious expansion in the brand’s history. Needless to say, we are thrilled to have him onboard.

Bruce is looking forward to getting to know all of our guests both onboard and on the blog, and I’m sure he will be checking in here frequently as he gets settled in. Of course, I can’t wait to start sharing updates on Riviera’s progress, so you will be hearing from me often as well. So far there has not been a dull moment in 2011, and with all the excitement on the horizon for Oceania Cruises, that trend promises to continue!

Welcome Bruce
Team members welcome Bruce to the Oceania Cruises family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 30, 2011

Avid Cruiser Praises Execs Hands-On Approach to Marina

 

Vista Living Room Art
Ralph Grizzle, Editor of Avid Cruiser, recently shared some complimentary remarks about Marina and even caught Bob Binder and Frank Del Rio on video. Check out his post below:

Oceania Cruises Marina: A Personal Work of Art

On Oceania Cruises’ new Marina an unusual scene plays out. Bob Binder, the company’s president, and Frank del Rio, the founder of Oceania Cruises, are performing a job normally reserved for the ship’s carpenters. Dressed in custom-tailored suits, del Rio and Binder heft heavy pieces of framed

Polo Grill Sculpture art, arranging and rearranging, moving one frame of art from a wall in the hallway into a space they’ve chosen in the main restaurant.

Carpenters stand by ready to help, but clearly the cruise executives are in charge. After all, Binder and del Rio chose every piece of art on Marina, and that in itself is telling. Seldom, if ever, will you find executives with such a strong and, literally hands-on, approach. When I remind del Rio that I had seen him a few years earlier measuring spaces on Regatta for art pieces, he replied, “Yeah, we do that all the time,” and then jokes as he is helping Binder place a piece of art on the wall: “They just don’t trust us with a hammer.”

Marina debuted with a big splash in February 2011. The naming ceremony represented a victory for Frank del Rio. In less than a decade, del Rio and his team have built a highly successful cruise line in the upper-premium segment, positioned between premium cruise lines like Holland America, Celebrity and Princess and luxury lines like Silversea, Seabourn and Regent.

As the first ship ever built for the Oceania brand, Marina could be defined as a game-changer. The new ship, however, is something much more than that. Oceania’s Marina is a league-changer, furthering blurring the lines between upper-premium and luxury.

Read the full Avid Cruiser Oceania Cruises Marina Ship Review.

 

 

March 15, 2011

MARINA GETS 5-STAR REVIEW from Patti Pietschmann, National Cruise Examiner

        

Travel writer Patti Pietschmann has given rave reviews after cruising onboard Marina during her 18-day Inaugural Passage. Below we've shared some of her glowing remarks, along with some photos captured by our Blogger at Large and one from our onboard Photo Coach, Curtis Hustace.

You can read this and other articles on Marina from Patti at examiner.com/cruise.

Miso Sea Bass

Miso Glazed Sea Bass featured in Red Ginger

 

OCEANIA CRUISES' MARINA WHETS THE APPETITE IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE

By Patti Pietschmann

The first evening out of Miami set the tone for the maiden voyage of Oceania Cruises’ gunshot-across-the-bow in mid-size luxury cruising.  A woman at the table next to ours in Red Ginger, one of four no-charge alternative dinner restaurants onboard, looked down at her miso-glazed sea bass wrapped in a ti leaf closed with a tiny green clothespin and then up at her dining companion with misty eyes. “I think I could eat here every night,” she said with a note of awe in her voice.

Eavesdropping that first evening aboard the brand new Marina on her 18-day inaugural voyage from Miami through the Panama Canal to San Francisco (via Los Angeles, where we disembarked), may not have been polite. But listening while our fellow passengers praised the food on the fourth vessel and first new build in Oceania Cruises’ four-ship fleet pretty much gave away the headline for the 1,250-passenger ship. We heard the 20-ounce prime porterhouse served in the Polo Grill compared to those found in New York City’s renowned steakhouses, the beef carpaccio in Toscana extolled as exemplary, and the smoked salmon-wrapped salmon tartar in Jacques compared to a dish that might be served at Patina in downtown Los Angeles.

Which of the four was best? That was like asking fraternity guys which of the Victoria’s Secret models they favor.

That’s the food-forward way Marina, whose culinary godfather, after all, is the celebrated French chef Jacques Pepin (he of the eponymous Jacques) means to sail.

Terrace Chandelier

A striking chandelier in Terrace Café


Even dinner at the Terrace Café, the ship’s three-meal buffet restaurant—usually an afterthought on other cruise ships—strived for and often achieved a culinary level far loftier than might be expected. Aboard other ships, this restaurant is often an afterthought. Not here. At breakfast one morning, a passenger who had dined there the previous night buttonholed the maitre d ‘ and told him his meal had been “fabulous.” And one of your faithful reporters himself waxed ecstatic over lamb curry that was ideal in every way save for the odd absence of chutney, a touch that one comes to expect aboard Marina.

Frank Del Rio, the Miami-based cruise line’s CEO, quoted in Taste of the World coffee table book given to all inaugural cruise passengers, clearly enunciates Oceania’s battle cry. “We decided to budget more per guest for food than any other cruise company. Some spend that money on stage shows and dancing girls. We put it on the plate. We want the food to be the show, and the dining experience to be the entertainment.”

To that end, fully one-quarter of the ship’s crew work in the galleys, meaning approximately one cook for every ten passengers. It shows.

Just as much attention is paid to dining service, and on the decks too. Sometimes servers swarm to fill coffee cups and water glasses. It all gets a bit frantic at times. Plates are bussed perhaps too eagerly when a dining companion has not yet finished—an overlooked nuance that can get annoying.

What also quickly becomes annoying, or simply mysterious, is the reservation system for the alternative restaurants. Each stateroom gets one crack at each of the four, but then something akin to a free-for-all ensues. Dining slots are then assigned on a daily basis, beginning at eight in the morning, and a call almost always results in a sold-out shrug over the phone and placement  on a waiting list that sometimes results in a coveted reservation and sometimes not. The arcane system is explained nowhere.

This is a cruise ship designed as its own foodie destination, with virtually everything else—entertainment, ports of call—assigned a secondary role. We attended one show and then decided our time was better used for reading books from the elegant library. As for ports, we found it almost extraordinary that a cruise from Florida through the Caribbean didn’t stop at a single island. The Colombian port city of Cartagena was the only stop prior to transiting the Canal—always a highlight for many passengers except those who, like us, had made the transit numerous times.

Costa Rican Sunset
A Costa Rican sunset captured by Curtis Hustace

After the Canal, we stopped at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, where we bought a kilo of good shade-grown XXXXXX from Coffee John, who for years has set up a stand and sold his Shady Lady coffee whenever a cruise ship docks. We also bought coffee in Puerto Chiapas, the next port, where what later turned out to be a log snagged in the starboard propeller as we sailed away. That forced the captain to shut down propulsion on that side and to bypass Huatulco. At Acapulco, the next scheduled stop, divers freed the propeller. Aside from the skipped port, the glitch was hardly noticed by passengers.

The ship itself is a sharp departure for Oceania, formed in 2003 with repurposed previously owned vessels Insignia, Nautica and Regatta that are half the size of the 65,000 ton Marina and carry half the number of passengers. How roomy is Marina? It took us a week before we ran into Joe and Carol, who live in West Hills and we’ve known for years. Their stateroom was two away from ours.

Vista Living Room

The living room of one of the extraordinary Vista Suites

The Marina’s extra room is reflected in the number of balcony cabins (95% of the total), their size (standard staterooms measure 282 square feet, hardly spacious but bowling alleys compared 216 square-foot standard staterooms of the other ships), and the sprawling deck space including a huge-for-sea swimming pool whose length we could never learn (much head scratching and helpless shrugging) but pace-estimated at 35 feet.

The increased room also means Marina has those four no-charge alternative restaurants compared to two (Polo Grill, Toscana) on the other ships. Marina also has two specialty restaurants that do carry a surcharge--$75 to cover wine-pairing in La  Reserve, $1,000 for up to eight persons for a multi-course menu degustation in Privée.

 

 

 

 

February 16, 2011

THE EXQUISITE DESIGN OF OCEANIA CRUISES' MARINA

    

Marina Metal Art
It's been said many times already, but as Blogger at Large, please allow me to repeat it once more: Photographs simply can't do justice to Marina. You have to be onboard to truly comprehend the full extent of her splendor. On Marina's Christening Cruise, I realized the truth of this time and again as I would take a photo, look at the result, and be sadly disappointed at my failure to capture her exquisite detail.

Having said that, words are my primary occupation, and I am at best an amateur photographer, so there is a flip side to this coin. For the professional or the aspiring novice, the breadth of detail encompassed in Marina's stunning design is nothing short of a photographer's paradise. And while it may not be possible to capture the actual experience of sailing on Marina, a gifted photographer has infinite opportunities to create brilliant interpretations of Marina's beauty. The photo above is a perfect example and also an illustration of why photographer Curtis Hustace is currently onboard Marina leading photo workshops for guests at the Artist Loft.

So Marina is at once beauty beyond capture and beauty that demands capturing, as is perhaps the goal of any artistic design. (You will most likely be struck by the former in photos of mine that follow and the latter in photos from Curtis.)

Any discussion of Marina's design immediately brings to mind Dakota Jackson, the visionary behind Marina's Oceania and Vista Suites. The talented touch of this famed designer is evident in these suites everywhere you turn. Below are some shots of one of the Oceania Suites.

Oceania Suite Chair

Oceania Suite Living Room
Oceania Suite Bath-2

Mr. Jackson was onboard for the Christening Cruise, and I had the privilege of meeting him during my tour of the Oceania Suite. 

Blogger and Jackson

Jackson says, "The furniture has to be beautiful, it has to be provocative, it has to be meaningful."  I can attest that these suites are all of that and so much more.  And it's worth noting that every space is not only strikingly elegant, but also immensely comfortable, as illustrated below by Oceania Cruises' senior vice president of marketing, James Rodriguez, taking a moment to lounge in the cozy Entertainment Room. 

James on Couch

You will most definitely want to host friends in a suite this spectacular, so even the ensuite wet bar has been designed to impress.

Oceania Suite Bar

There are thousands more examples of Marina's stunning design to be discovered, and if you wish to develop the skills to capture this beauty on film, you can do so in the Artist Loft. And let's not forget that Marina's exquisite design goes even beyond the bounds of her hull, for ultimately, her entire design has been conceived as a vessel to explore the most alluring ports of call the world over. While one could spend days on end just enjoying the amenities and activities onboard Marina, she is meanwhile sailing to exotic destinations that also demand exploration. 

Yesterday Marina called on Puntarenas, Costa Rica, and Curtis Hustace led his Artist Loft class on an excursion to discover the art and design of this lovely city on the Pacific Coast. Below are some of the impressive images he captured during the group's experience.

White Faced Monkey Costa Rica

Costa Rican Flower

Costa Rican Pigeon - Green Parrot

Of course, a group from the Artist Loft could not visit Costa Rica without seeing one of the famed oxcart factories where local artists create some of Costa Rica's most splendid designs. 

Ox Cart Artisan

Ox Cart Painter 2

A local sculptor was also kind enough to invite the Artist Loft group into his shop to observe his technique. It was the first time he had been observed by tourists.

Costa Rican Sculpture

The artistic excursion culminated in a lunch hosted at a local Costa Rican home.

Lunch at Costa Rican Home

You can see that for anyone interested interior design, exquisite architecture, natural beauty, or artistic exploration in general, a voyage onboard Marina is a must. When attempting to convey the beauty of the ship or the stories of your journeys ashore, you may or may not achieve your desired results, but the process is always a joy - even just capturing the view of a Costa Rican sunset from your veranda. I hope you have the opportunity to sail onboard Marina soon. 

Costa Rican Sunset


 

February 11, 2011

THE EXCITEMENT ONBOARD MARINA CONTINUES!

     

Bob, Chefs

Whew! What a week it has been here onboard Marina! I've hardly had a moment to check in on the blog, so I thought it was time for an update. If you saw the post by our Blogger at Large on the Christening Cruise, you know that last weekend was an exciting and emotional event for all of us. You may not know that on the final night of that cruise, we celebrated with a grand performance by Willy Chirino. And Frank Del Rio may not know that I caught a couple of photos of him, his wife Marcia, and their grandkids dancing the night away. Frank was also thrilled to be invited to the stage to sing a few lines with Chirino!

Frank Dancing

Frank and Willie

The festivities ended all too soon - but just in time for more festivities to begin. Our guests disembarked the Christening Cruise on Tuesday morning, and by Tuesday afternoon more guests had embarked for the Inaugural Passage through the Panama Canal. It is amazing to watch the staff and crew ready the ship for the next cruise in just a few short hours. Before we knew it, it was time for the Sailaway Party as Marina departed for Cartagena, Colombia.

Inaugural Sail Champagne

Inaugural Sail Away

You may think that I will now have a chance to relax and take some time to enjoy all of our successes with Marina. But the work continues. While Marina is elegant, stunning and a whole other list of superlatives, Frank and I will settle for nothing short of perfection. For instance, yesterday we were raising the Buddha heads in Red Ginger so they would be more prominently displayed.

Raising Buddha

The other day Frank was walking down the stairs from his stateroom and suddenly stopped in his tracks. He pointed out the center post of the stair railing to myself and a couple other staff members that were nearby. The post and railing were painted black with some simple scrollwork, and Frank said, "That's not good enough." He decided a Moroccan silver overlay perhaps would improve the stair railing's appearance. It's all in the details!

Meanwhile, we also have film crews, models, editors, and a host of other Oceania Cruises team members onboard to film and photograph shots of Marina. One of our Owner's Suites has been taken over by crew members capturing Marina's beauty from every angle.

Working at Owner's Bar


Elise in Mirror

Editing on Bar

One of our butlers gets a touch up before going in front of the camera.

Delinting Butler

Butler Video Video

Chef awaits his big moment.

Chef on Set

Speaking of chefs, I haven't mentioned our cuisine lately, but it continues to impress. I had to share a photo of this beautiful brioche.

Brioche

And below is the spinach and goat cheese salad I had in Toscana last night.

Toscana Goat Cheese Salad
I had to make up for my morning during which I had my usual chocolate croissant, however a guest showed me how to make it even better. I now slather it in peanut butter.

No matter how hard we may be working, we certainly continue to eat well! 

 

 

February 9, 2011

GODMOTHER MARY HART CHRISTENS MARINA AT A GALA EVENT IN THE PORT OF MIAMI!

    

The mood was festive and jubilant in the port of Miami this weekend as Marina was officially christened by Godmother Mary Hart. The excitement was palpable at this joyous celebration.

The planning of the gala event began over a year ago, and a frenzy of preparations ensued even before Marina arrived in port. An enormous screen was erected on which all of the festivities were broadcast live, so that every guest had an excellent view. 
Chairs and Screen

 

The stage was set up to the forward starboard side of Marina.

Stage

  Setup w:Marina

 

Two crew members hoisted the bejeweled lever to the stage. 

Loading Lever

 

This sparkling lever would soon release the champagne bottle that would christen the ship.

Lever Close

 

The nebuchadnezzar of champagne was custom designed for the occasion by Armand de Brignac.

The Bottle

 

Of course, there were also cases of fine champagne for the guests to enjoy.

Loading Champagne

 

And hundreds of glasses in which to serve it.

Unpacking Glasses

 

Pedestals were placed around the staging area where musicians would perform. Two gentlemen perched precariously to install the decor atop the pedestal to the right of the curtained entrance where guests would be welcomed.

Ladder Decor

 

Oceania Cruises team members were eager to welcome the guests' arrival.

Welcome Wagon

 

Photographers stood ready to capture every moment of the grand event.

Photographers

 

As Blogger at Large, I was privileged to have my photograph taken with the Violin Divas, who provided some of the evening's entertainment.  Guess which one is me.

Violin Divas

 

One of the beautiful Violin Divas aloft on her pedestal.

Diva on Pedestal

 

The white-gloved staff prepared to greet guests with champagne.

Champagne Welcome

 

The stage was set, the lights were up, and everyone was in position. It was finally time for the guests to disembark Marina and let the celebration begin!

Guests Arrive

 

Oceania Cruises Senior Director of Marketing Jim Lida, Senior VP of Marketing James Rodriguez, and guest Camilo Montecillo.
Jim and James

 

The crowd grew quickly as enthusiastic guests filled the seats.
Crowd 1

Crowd 2

Manager of Loyalty Marketing Nick DeSantis with Captain and Mrs. Flokos.

Nick, Captain, Mrs

 

Stylish and stunning, Godmother Mary Hart made a grand entrance with President Bob Binder.

Mary and Bob

 

Ms. Hart returned the warm greetings of the crowd.

Mary Greeting

Flamenco Guitarist Alex Fox kicked off the entertainment, serenading Master Chef Jacques Pépin, President Bob Binder, Godmother Mary Hart, and an enthralled audience of hundreds.

Fox Serenade

Marina Cruise Director Leslie Jon was Master of Ceremonies.

Leslie John

The Miami Color Guard stood at attention as Dee Dee Wilde sang the National Anthem.

Color Guard

Dee Dee Wilde

It was now time for President Bob Binder to take the stage. "We would not be here today," he said, "if it were not for the vision of Frank Del Rio. Frank more than anyone else has really driven us to be the best, and his passion and all of his dreams have come to life today in the form of this extraordinary ship.

"I've known Frank 18 years, and there's never been a dull moment," Bob quipped. "Sometimes maybe I could've used a dull moment or two."

President Binder had high praise for all of the Oceania Cruises team members, their shareholders, and their travel agent partners, without whom the dream of Marina would never have been possible. "When we started the company, many people said that we were crazy, but we didn't think so. Our shareholders didn't think we were crazy. Our travel agent partners didn't think we were crazy, and that's why they got behind this great product. And here we are today, and I have to say, I think things worked out pretty well."
Bob Speaks

Steve Martinez of Apollo Management remarked, "Some people will say that money built this ship. Money is the commodity. The foundation of this ship is the vision and the passion of a group of very, very special people. As I stand here today, I can honestly say, Frank and team, I am humbled by what you have created. And I am grateful and thankful that I have been a part of it. And I am excited about the many successes that lie in our future."

Mr. Martinez then welcomed to the stage Chairman and CEO, Frank Del Rio. Frank's remarks were both heartfelt and inspiring. "In the summer of 1998," he said, "I was in...France at a cruise ship naming ceremony much like today's. After the ceremony, my son Frank Jr., who was 20 years old at the time, and knowing the professional trials and tribulations I was going through at the time, took me aside and said, 'Dad, we need to start a cruise line of our own with a new ship.' I remember turning to him as any father would in those circumstances and saying to him with conviction, 'Son, I promise, someday we will.'"

Mr. Del Rio then stepped out from behind the podium, gestured to his son, and with a sweep of his hand toward Marina proclaimed, "At last!"


Frank Speaks

Frank continued, "The saying goes, 'Good things come to those who wait,' and although Marina's arrival has indeed been long awaited, she's more than just good. She is the most beautiful, sophisticated, stylish, elegant ship launched in the modern era of cruising, a span of some fifty years.

"Just eight years ago Oceania was a start-up cruise line in an industry dominated by two titans. Not many gave us a chance to survive, much less succeed, but we persevered and we triumphed. We triumphed because we had a clear vision, an exact plan, the desire and will to execute flawlessly, and most important, a group of men and women who sought excellence and refused to falter...I never tire of thanking them and acknowledging them for their herculean achievement."

Marina Captain Dimitrios Flokos then took the stage to introduce the Senior Officers and a parade of the staff and crew members that are so essential to the success of Marina and of Oceania Cruises.
Captain Speaks
Staff 1

  Staff 2

The blessing was given, and then it was time for Mary Hart to speak. Ms. Hart is not only a beloved television personality, but also a woman with a longstanding personal commitment to bettering the lives of children, serving on the Board of Directors for the National Childhood Cancer Foundation, as a Telethon Cohost for the Children's Miracle Network, and as an Ambassador for Child Help USA. After 29 years at Entertainment Tonight, this will be Ms. Hart's final season, and everyone at Oceania Cruises is thrilled that she is taking on a new role as Marina's Godmother.

Ms. Hart was exceptionally impressed with the ship and deeply honored to be named Godmother. "Walking onboard Marina today...when I got to the very first step onboard, walked in and came down that staircase and started to meet the staff and the crew, I was so touched. I could tell right there, that is the best test of quality of the ship, because the personnel, everybody is so kind, so welcoming, so in love with this ship and so proud that it made me feel proud to be her godmother too."

Ms. Hart expressed thoughts that were on the minds of many guests as they gazed upon Marina. "I am thrilled to be here. She's incomparably beautiful...For everybody going on this and future cruises, you are in for the time of your life."

Mary Speaks

The time for the grand finale had arrived. The drum roll sounded, and Marina was officially christened with the crashing of the enormous champagne bottle against her hull. Double click the image below to view a video of this extraordinary moment.

Mr. Del Rio threw his arms in the air in celebration, and he, Mr. Binder, and Ms. Hart enjoyed a congratulatory hug.

Hooray
Group Hug

Mr. and Mrs. Del Rio toasted Marina's success.
Frank and Mrs

The grandchildren joined the stage, and the real celebration began, led by the Marina Choir.
Celebrate

  Dancing

Celebration Song

Mr. Del Rio, Ms. Hart, and the hundreds of other people in attendance continued to celebrate into the evening, toasting the extraordinary success of the Christening Ceremony, of Marina, and of Oceania Cruises. It was a grand affair befitting the elegance and beauty of the stunning new Marina.

Frank and Mary

 

February 5, 2011

MARINA ARRIVES IN MIAMI!!

    

Marina and Flag

Nick DeSantis woke up at 4:00 a.m. yesterday morning. “I tossed and turned all night, and so finally I just decided to get up. I was so excited for Marina’s arrival I couldn’t sleep!”

Nick, Manager of Loyalty Marketing for Oceania Cruises, arrived at the office early yesterday morning, as did many other Oceania Cruises team members who were eager to greet Marina as she arrived in Miami. A bus departed the Miami offices at 8:00 a.m. to transport a group to Smith and Wollensky restaurant on Miami Beach where they joined other staff ready to welcome Marina’s arrival. Over 100 team members rose in the wee hours of the morning so they could be at the port for this momentous occasion.

Marina Welcome Sign 

The signs were everywhere – on tshirts, on flags, and in the letters spelled out on huge cards in sports fan fashion – and they all said the same thing: Welcome Marina. She sailed into port just as the sun crested the horizon.

Marina with Spray 
Senior VP of Marketing James Rodriguez admitted to tearing up a bit as Marina sailed into the harbor. “Marina is the culmination of years of hard work. It’s a bit overwhelming to see her come to life with even more grace and beauty than we could have imagined.”

James Flag 

James wasn’t the only one with tears in his eyes. One imagines there are few if any other cruise lines whose employees would come out at sunrise to welcome their new ship in such an emotional and heartfelt celebration. It was certainly a morning to remember.

MarinaWelcome web 

Marina’s arrival in the port of Miami was just the first of many grand events that will take place over the next few days. Last night all of the Oceania Cruises team members were welcomed onboard for a party to celebrate Marina’s success. The atmosphere was jubilant as everyone enjoyed the beautiful ship, and every team member in attendance had a hand in making the vision of Marina a reality.

Employee Party 

 

One of the most special moments of the evening was the announcement of the Employee of the Year Awards for Oceania Cruises, her sister line Regent Seven Seas cruises, and their parent company Prestige Cruise Holdings.

Employees of the Year 

Oceania Cruises' Employee of the Year Dayami Lazo and Regent Seven Seas' Dawn Argo receive their congratulations.

David and Vicki 

David William Kelly has recruited Prestige Employee of the Year Vicki Diez to work in Vessel Operations.

The festivities continue today, as Marina will be christened this afternoon by her godmother, Mary Hart, with all the proper fanfare one would expect of such a momentous occasion. Ms. Hart was onboard this afternoon filming a segment for Entertainment Tonight.

Mary Hart Filming Far 

Mary Hart Filming Close 

The Christening Ceremony promises to be a grand occasion, to be followed by a sail away party as Marina departs for Nassau on her three-day Christening Cruise. There will be a gala dinner this evening and continued celebration throughout the night. Be sure to check the blog for more news and photos of all the exciting events.

 

 

 

 

January 27, 2011

A SNEAK PEEK OF A DIFFERENT SORT...RIVIERA!

    

Riviera 1

I admit this photo is a bit shocking after all the ones we've seen of Marina in her finished, polished state of elegance and beauty. But our EVP of Vessel Operations, Robin Lindsay, is in Naples today and shared these photos of Riviera in progress, and I thought it an apt time to remind everyone that we have another new ship in the works as well. Just think, we get to relive all of this excitement in 2012 when Riviera sails on her Maiden Voyage!

Riviera is being built in a slightly different fashion than her elder sister. Whereas Marina was constructed in one building dock over a period of three years, Riviera is being built concurrently in large sections around Italy. These sections will then be towed to Genoa where they will be joined together, and she will be finished by the same craftsmen that outfitted Marina. I have certainly learned a lot about the day-to-day process of shipbuilding over the last few years!

Riviera 2

Riviera 3

Riviera 4

I can't leave you without a few more pictures of lovely Marina. Below is a photo of the Grand Bar seating and one of Horizons set for High Tea.

Grand Bar Seating (Medium)

Horizons Tea

Below is another great shot of the pool. And have I mentioned that Marina has an 18-hole golf putting course?

Pool-2

Golf-2

The seas were a bit rough this afternoon, but the Grand Dining Room was full of guests enjoying their lunch. We appear to have a lot of experienced cruisers onboard, because few have batted an eyelash when the weather has refused to cooperate. Or perhaps like me, they are so excited about exploring Marina, there is little time to notice any rolling waves. 

We are told to expect sunnier skies ahead, which is no surprise because today I must disembark the ship for a week. Just my luck. But I will return for Marina's christening and her Inaugural Passage and continue to share my photos, thoughts, and insights with you here on the blog. In the meantime, we do have three other wonderful ships sailing the seas, so check back for more updates!

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!

January 21, 2011

MARINA'S OWNER'S SUITES: The Best at Sea

    

Yes, I know I've already posted today's final countdown, but I had to share two more photos. And yes, I know claiming that Marina's Owner's Suites are the best at sea is a bold statement, but take a look at the photos below and see if you agree. I thought the artist's renderings created when we designed the Owner's Suites were fantastic, but these suites are more impressive than I could have imagined.

I'm beginning to sound like a proud papa boasting about his child, so I'll stop and let the photos speak for themselves.

Owner's Suite Foyer

The Foyer

Owner's Suite Living Room
The Living Room

THE PRESIDENT'S COUNTDOWN: 0 Days to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

    

Glowing O-2

We are now just hours away from welcoming our guests onboard for Marina's Maiden Voyage. I cannot wait to see all of your reactions when you see Marina for the first time. Of course, if you've been following the blog, you have some idea of what's in store for you, but even the most stunning photos can't do justice to Marina's beauty. You really have to see her for yourself.

I will be onboard welcoming guests and meeting and mingling with as many of you as possible tomorrow. I'll sail with Marina as far as the Canary Islands, when sadly, I will have to depart and attend to other Oceania Cruises business. But with all of my amazing experiences onboard Marina, January 2011 is a month that I will not soon forget.

I still have SO many photos to share. There just doesn't seem to be enough time to post them all. So many of our classic spaces you still haven't seen...

The Grand Staircase

Grand Staircase-Wide Grand Staircase-Detail


Martinis

Martinis-2Martinis

Terrace Cafe

Bob in Terrace Terrace Cafe

And I know at least one of you out there has been waiting ever so patiently for photos of the pool.

Pool-1 Pool-4-Above

Considering how much I've touted all of the new restaurants, it seems appropriate to also share one more menu with you before the Maiden Voyage sets sail.  One of our guests requested a peek at the Red Ginger menu, so I've posted it below.  Also, another guest inquired about the webcam onboard, which unfortunately will not be operational for the Maiden Voyage, but we will get it posted as soon as it's up and running!

RGP1

RGP2

RGP3a

RGP4

RGP5

Some guests commented that they are in Barcelona awaiting our arrival and feel like children on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa. Perhaps I'm Santa in that scenario, but I certainly feel more like the children, as I can't remember having been so excited for a day to arrive in a long time. Tomorrow promises to be a grand finale to the countdown, and yet it is really just the beginning of the experience onboard Marina for all of our guests. I will do my best to share some photos of the festivities if I can catch my breath!

 

January 20, 2011

THE PRESIDENT'S COUNTDOWN: 1 Day to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

   

Flag Raising
The past 10 days have certainly flown by, and today we find ourselves just 1 day away from Marina's Maiden Voyage. It has been such an amazing experience watching all of Marina's details come together over the past couple weeks, and now I am just so eager to see our guests onboard experiencing Marina for themselves. After all, we built her for you!

Yesterday we made it all official.  All of the i's have been dotted and the t's have been crossed. Pictured above are Robin Lindsay, Executive Vice President of Vessel Operations; Frank Del Rio, Chairman and CEO; myself; and Captain Flokos at the flag raising ceremony. Below Robin and Mario LeBouef, Director of the Sestri Ponente shipyard, sign the final papers to take official ownership of Marina, and Frank raises a toast to Marina's success and all of her future guests.

Lindsay Signing

Frank Toast
The staff and crew are likewise ready to welcome our guests onboard. They, too, have spent many hours preparing for this momentous occasion and are eager to do what they love - provide impeccable service to our wonderful guests. Below are are our esteemed Butlers, each of them trained in the absolute highest standards of personal service so that they can anticipate every wish of the guests in our suites. 

Butlers Ready for Guests

I also have many more photos to share, but time is short today, so I will leave you with one I find most impressive, the Ultimate Chef's Table, the centerpiece of Privée. 

Privee Table

I have seen some other requests here on the blog for certain photos and menus, and I will certainly share those with you as soon as possible. It seems everywhere I turn on Marina I see a thing of beauty, so there will be many more images to share with you as the Maiden Voyage sets sail.  Thank you again to all of our loyal guests and followers of the blog, and check back tomorrow for updates as we arrive in Barcelona!

January 19, 2011

THE PRESIDENT'S COUNTDOWN: 2 Days to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

  

Damien Hirst Painting in CR Spa
We are now just two days from Marina's Maiden Voyage, and what an amazing journey it has been already. Today has been especially exciting, as we set sail from Genoa on our way to Barcelona! Marina is officially at sea! We will be at sea tomorrow and arrive in Barcelona on Friday. One of the guests who will be joining us commented here on the blog that she was losing sleep due to the mounting excitement, and I can certainly understand why.  I'm having a bit of trouble winding down in the evenings myself.

As the countdown nears its finale, I realized I have not yet shared any photos of the Canyon Ranch SpaClub. I confess I got a bit distracted by all of the fine cuisine featured in the new restaurants. But Canyon Ranch SpaClub is an equally important part of the Oceania Cruises lifestyle, largely because it is so much more than a spa.  You can of course enjoy a wonderfully relaxing massage or a pampering pedicure, but the Canyon Ranch SpaClub enhances the entire Oceania Cruises experience, offering a wide array of services that promote resilience, serenity, and all-around well being. From fitness classes and personal training to the Canyon Ranch cuisine, Canyon Ranch SpaClub allows you to appreciate all the indulgences of an Oceania Cruise while still maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle. 

Above you see me hanging a Damien Hirst painting, and below are photos of the ceramic beds and the lovely water wall featured at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub.

Cr spa ceramic beds

Cr spa water feature

Before we sailed, I also caught some shots of the final plants being lifted onboard and the garden on the pool deck being planted. I thought you might find those interesting as well.

Plants being loaded

Planting Garden

Tomorrow will be another exciting day, as only a very short time remains to get Marina's final touches in place. We can't wait to welcome to all of our guests onboard very soon!

January 18, 2011

THE PRESIDENT'S COUNTDOWN: 3 Days to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

  

Rotisserie

Jacques Menu P1

 

 

 

Only 3 days remain until Marina's Maiden Voyage, and as I mentioned yesterday, we are dining in and fine-tuning each of the restaurants. If you've followed the countdown at all, you can probably imagine how much I've been looking forward to this part. Today we dined in Jacques, and as I know there has been a lot of anticipation leading up to the debut of this restaurant, I wanted to share with you the first preview of Jacques' menu. Above you see a selection of meats from Jacques' show rotisserie. The rotisserie itself is a work of art, done in gleaming glass and brass, not to mention the culinary creations featured within. You see the rotisserie menu to the left along with the sauces and sides offered.

Below you see all of the delicious hors d'oeuvres on the menu, followed by the soups and salads. As you can probably guess, Pauline is serving the Crème de Potiron, a scrumptious creamy pumpkin soup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacques Menu P2

Pauline and Pumpkin

Jacques Menu P3
Of course, each entree is likewise exquisite, and you know that a French bistro bearing Jacques Pépin’s name is going to feature fabulous pastries. I no longer need search the French ports of call for the perfect pastries, as I can now enjoy them onboard. Maybe now I'll get around to visiting a few more museums!

Jacques Menu P4

Jacques Dessert

Jacques Menu P5

I'll end today's post with one more shot of Jacques' lovely interior. Fine dining is not only about delectable cuisine, it's also about an elegant yet comfortable ambiance, and as you can see, Jacques has it all.

Jacques3 (Medium)

January 17, 2011

THE PRESIDENT'S COUNTDOWN: 4 Days to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

The launch of Marina's Maiden Voyage is growing ever so close, and today I have a very special sneak peek behind the scenes. I believe these may the very first photos ever shared of the interiors of our two new exclusive dining options, Privée and La Reserve.

Privee%20(1)

Privée is one of Marina's never-before-seen venues where you can host up to eight guests for the most opulent, indulgent experience we have yet envisioned - the Ultimate Chef's Table. You and your guests will enjoy a seven-course Menu Degustation; you can even meet privately with Marina's Executive Chef to make special requests. Above and below are glimpses of the exquisite space and brilliant view featured in Privée.


Privee%20(2)
We realized that while our cuisine rivals that of the finest restaurants ashore, we were lacking one amenity that so many of these restaurants offer - private dining. Privée gives you the chance to enjoy the company of dear friends along with the pleasure of superb cuisine and impeccable service that is truly all about you, no distractions, as if you're hosting your guests in your own fine estate home. It's just one more way that Marina will become your home away from home, and one more way we are elevating the Oceania Cruises experience to a level so exceptional, it has never before been achieved at sea.

The menus continue to evolve as our Executive Chef can hardly resist the opportunity to test the limits of his culinary skills and creativity in envisioning new features for Privée. But the photos below give you an idea of the gastronomic delights awaiting you and your guests should you decide to indulge in an evening at Privée.

Privee post

The other photos I have to share with you today are of La Reserve by Wine Spectator

LaReserve(1)

This industry-first onboard wine tasting center will offer several seminars and tastings designed to enhance your appreciation of fine wine and perfectly paired cuisine. In the evening, La Reserve can accommodate up to 24 guests for an intimate, seven-course gourmet dinner delightfully paired with premium wines.

La Reserve(2)

As we near Marina's debut, I've finally had the opportunity to taste some of the wonderful food I've been raving about. Below you see the chef preparing one of my favorite courses - dessert.  He is presenting the "Gold Bullion" of Valrhona Jivara Chocolate Mousse, which will be paired with a lovely Prunotto Moscato d'Asti.

La reserve bullion
The excitement and anticipation are building daily, so keep checking the blog as we count down the final days to Marina's Maiden Voyage! 

 

January 16, 2011

THE PRESIDENT'S COUNTDOWN: 5 Days to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

 

St. Malo Jog
If you’ve been following our countdown to Marina’s Maiden Voyage, you’ve noticed that I’m exceptionally excited about the new restaurants onboard, as well as the Bon Appétit Culinary Center. I also mentioned that I’m an avid jogger, but a few have (good-naturedly) expressed doubts about my veracity. So I'd like to confirm that I do indeed appreciate all of the pleasures of Oceania Cruises even beyond the cuisine. Above I’ve shared a photo that I took during the Reunion Cruise of September 2010. I jogged four miles along the coast of St. Malo during sunrise, and the view was simply spectacular.

Which leads me to my latest sneak peek as we find ourselves only 5 days from Marina’s Maiden Voyage. No, it is not a photo of the Fitness Track, although I will mention that 13 laps around the track is a mile, and it is a pleasant jog or walk whether we are in port or at sea. However, today I actually give you the insider’s track on that which follows a glorious day of fine cuisine, exciting excursions, and healthy, balanced living - an evening of repose in your suite or stateroom. Below is a photo of me and some craftsmen helping with some of the final touches in one of the Owner's Suites.

Bob Installing Owner's Suite
Every suite and stateroom features our Prestige Tranquility Bed and 1000-count Egyptian cotton linens to ensure that all guests enjoy a restful, restorative sleep after their adventures onboard and ashore. In Marina's Owner’s, Vista, and Oceania suites, we will also offer the ultimate indulgence — a Pillow Menu.  From this menu you can select the perfect pillow to provide all of the comfort and therapeutic benefits you desire. Below is a sneak peek at some of the featured pillows.

PM P1 PM P2

PM P3 PM P4

PM P5 PM P6

PM P7 PM P8

PM P9 PM P10


I would love to try one for myself tonight, but after all the work we did today, I think I'm going to be asleep before my head even hits the pillow! 

 

January 14, 2011

THE PRESIDENT'S COUNTDOWN: 7 Days to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

Red Ginger Jan 11
We are officially one week away from Marina’s Maiden Voyage, and I have to say this countdown is making me hungry!  Still, I keep getting great shots of the new restaurants and the fabulous menus, and I just have to pass them on to you as part of the final sneak peeks before Marina’s unveiling.

The photo above is of Red Ginger, the contemporary new Asian-fusion restaurant onboard Marina. You’ll see the décor is strikingly modern, and the menus are done in a sharp, minimalist style that complements the décor. Some of the dishes you can look forward to are: 

Caramelized Tiger Prawns - onions, chili garlic sauce, scallions

Avocado Lobster Salad - lobster, crispy lotus, avocado, tuna, hamachi, den miso, shiso vinegar

Thai Vegetable Curry - green curry sauce, sweet potato, aubergine, fried tofu, mushrooms, basil, cherry tomatoes

Malaysian Beef Penaeng - beef short rib, nutty curry paste, coconut, paratha roti

Below are photos of Polo Grill and Toscana, two specialty restaurants featured on all of our ships. If you've cruised onboard Regatta, Insignia, or Nautica, you'll notice that the décor of these restaurants differs on Marina, but once you try them, you'll immediately recognize Polo Grill's classic steakhouse fare and Toscana's authentic Italian.

Polo grill jan 13

Polo Grill

 

Toscana jan 13

Toscana


I don't know about you, but my mouth is watering. If you've already booked a voyage on Marina, you can go online now to make reservations for Red Ginger, Polo Grill, Toscana, or Jacques. And check back here on the blog for my next sneak peek on Day 6 of our countdown tomorrow!

January 13, 2011

VIDEO FROM GENOA: Marina's Grand Dining Room

 

  

I have already posted the countdown for today, but I had to share this video as well.  Some of you may have seen it on Facebook or YouTube, but I wanted to make sure none of the followers of the Blog missed out.  

Okay, so it's not exactly up to Spielberg's standards of directorial excellence, but it is a nice glimpse into Marina's Grand Dining Room.  I hope you enjoy today's bonus sneak peek!

THE PRESIDENT'S COUNTDOWN: 8 Days to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

 

Jacques Portrait

We are now just 8 days from the sailing of the Maiden Voyage, and as promised, I offer you another one of the final sneak peeks at Marina before she is revealed to the world. Today I share with you the portrait and podium at the entrance to Jacques, one of Marina’s new restaurants and the first to bear Jacques Pepin’s name. The eclectic styling gives the space the feel of a Parisian bistro. Notice the exquisite detail on the chair.

Jacques entrance Jan 11

Jacques Chair Jan 11
For the menu, Master Chef Pepin reinvented several French classics, and the restaurant will also feature a glass and brass show rotisserie where succulent meats will be roasted to perfection.  You will not want to miss the Saucisse de Lyon aux Pistaches - Jacques’ signature Truffle and Pistachio Warm Sausage over Lyonnaise Potato Salad.  Or the Coquilles Saint-Jacques au Four – Gratinated Traditional Scallops in Shell with Mushroom Duxelle. And of course you won’t be able to pass up Jacques’ Favorite Apple Tart with Hazelnut Cream. This restaurant will no doubt give new meaning to the phrase, “Bon Appetit!”

Check back tomorrow for another sneak peek as we enter the final week prior to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

 

January 12, 2011

THE PRESIDENT'S COUNTDOWN: 9 Days to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

 

Marina at Sunset 1-12-11
While those of you in the States are enjoying your afternoon, here in Genoa the sun has set behind Marina's lovely silhouette. Today marks 9 days until Marina's Maiden Voyage, and here is another sneak peek as promised, this time of Marina's beautiful exterior.  It's shortly after 9:00 p.m. here, but work continues as we grow ever closer to Marina's inaugural sailing. 

Below I'll also share one more photo of the Grand Dining Room. It is definitely one of my favorite spaces on the ship, and in this photo you can really see the radiance of the chandelier. More photos to come tomorrow as we continue the countdown!

GDR Chandelier

January 11, 2011

PRESIDENT BOB BINDER BEGINS THE COUNTDOWN: 10 Days to Marina's Maiden Voyage!

 

After all of the work that has gone into Marina, and with all of the excitement that has surrounded her impending debut, it’s still hard to believe that we are just 10 short days from her Maiden Voyage. But I am here in Genoa now, watching as the finishing touches are being put in place, and I can attest to the fact that Marina has indeed come to life. And she is a beauty. As I walk through her restaurants and stroll across the pool deck and inspect the new venues, I find myself a bit awestruck thinking not only of how far we’ve come on this journey to her creation, but also of all the amazing voyages that await her in the future. Most of all, I can’t wait until those first guests come onboard and get to experience Marina for themselves. For those of you who are booked on the Maiden Voyage, the excitement and anticipation must be growing every day.

Only so many “sneak peeks” remain before Marina is officially unveiled to the world. In fact, exactly 10 “sneak peeks” remain, as each of these final 10 days leading up to the Maiden Voyage, we will share one more preview with our loyal guests who follow the blog.

GDR Jan 11
As the countdown to Marina’s sailing begins, I receive fewer and fewer calls requesting “Final Approval.” Menus have been printed. Wine cellars have been stocked. As you can see above in the photo I took today, even the tables in the Grand Dining Room have been set. Below you see the lovely detail of the Casino entrance, where the cards are ready to be dealt. There is little more that can wait to be done “a bit closer to her sail date.” That date is about to arrive.

Casino Entrance Jan 11
So keep checking the blog and help me count down the days to Marina’s Maiden Voyage. I hope you all are as excited as I am, and I hope you have the opportunity to experience Marina for yourselves very soon.

 

 

December 8, 2010

MARINA - 45 DAYS AND COUNTING

Marina is only 45 days from her debut and she is shaping up quickly and beautifully. It is truly remarkable how quickly areas of the ship are being transformed. One day, you have exposed steel and wires hanging from the ceiling and 24 to 48 hours later, the room is all but finished.

I wanted to provide our loyal readers and guests with a photo update from the shipyard so that you can see how much progress has been made in the last few weeks.

Marina December 2010 119 (98) 
They are laying the carpet in the Reception Hall and on the Grand Staircase.

Marina December 2010 119 (20) 
The Casino Bar is coming along nicely. When you see the finished space, you will really be "wowed". The chandelier only hints at what to expect from this room.

Marina December 2010 119 (13) 
These are the beautiful wine display cases inside the entrance to the Grand Dining Room.

Marina December 2010 119 (16) 
The elegance of the Grand Dining Room is really begining to shine through.

Marina December 2010 119 (18) 
A detail shot of one of the beautiful fluted wall sconces.

Marina December 2010 119 (19) 
One of the smaller, individual chandeliers being hung.

Marina December 2010 119 (127) 
This is Jacques. The flooring is antique French Oak that was reclaimed from an old barn we came across near Lyons, Jacques' hometown. This is the first time anyone has ever gone such an unorthodox route in terms of flooring on a ship. The yard and the architetcts were somewhat stunned that we wanted to do this but I am glad we did as it adds to the authenticity of the restaurant.

 Marina December 2010 119 (112)
They are in the midst of unpacking all of the chairs for Red Ginger. I am going to bet that this restaurant will be the most stunning of them all. When the lighting is set to the proper levels and the tables are set, it will be a visual feast.

There will be more to come in the next post - including the Terrace Cafe, the Culinary Center, Artist Loft and the Canyon Ranch Spa Club.

December 6, 2010

MARY HART NAMED GODMOTHER of MARINA

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ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT host Mary Hart is confirmed as the godmother of Oceania Cruises’ new cruise ship Marina. Hart will name the ship in Miami at a lavish, invitation-only christening ceremony February 5, which will culminate with a 15-liter Nebuchadnezzar of champagne, custom-made by Armand de Brignac, commemoratively crashing against the hull.

A beloved television personality, this year marks Hart’s final season as host of ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT – the number one syndicated entertainment newsmagazine show in the world, which enters its 30th season this year. Hart joined the popular show as a correspondent in June 1982, and within weeks was named co-anchor.

In her personal life, Hart has been involved with philanthropic causes devoted to children. A member of the board of trustees for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, she currently serves as Leadership Chair of the New Hospital Campaign. Hart is also an ambassador for Childhelp USA, which combats child abuse. For many years she served on the board of directors for the National Childhood Cancer Foundation and continues her affiliation with the Children’s Miracle Network, for which she was telethon co-host for 15 years. Hart is the recipient of the Samaritan Award from the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation for her work on behalf of several children’s charities. In 2001, she was honored with the first-ever Children’s Miracle Achievement Award for her “long-standing commitment to children and contributing in many ways to bettering the lives of children everywhere.”

“It’s very exciting, and a bit humbling,” said Hart, “I’m truly honored to serve as the Godmother for Marina – she will be a very special ship. And, I look forward to smashing a great bottle of champagne as we let the celebration begin!”

”Mary Hart personifies elegance and style, just like our magnificent Marina,” stated Frank Del Rio, chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, the line’s parent company. “We especially salute her philanthropic work devoted to children’s causes and we are proud to welcome her to the Oceania Cruises family.”

After christening festivities in Miami, Marina sets sail Feb. 8 on the first of two 18-day Panama Canal transits that visit San Francisco or San Diego, both new ports for Oceania Cruises. Marina then operates a 12-day Caribbean cruise, round-trip from Miami, departing March 16, before sailing along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and on to Europe to begin her inaugural Mediterranean season.

At 66,000 tons and carrying 1,250 guests, Marina features an array of stylish bars and lounges and 10 dining venues – six of which are open-seating, gourmet restaurants – including Jacques, the first restaurant at sea for Chef Jacques Pépin. Other highlights include a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub, Bon Appétit Culinary Center, Owner’s Suites furnished exclusively in Ralph Lauren Home, and a grand stairway custom-crafted by renowned French glass master, Lalique.

November 30, 2010

Bringing Out the Fine China

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We here at Oceania Cruises hope that everyone enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with your loved ones over this holiday weekend. Many of you may have brought out the fine china to serve dinner on this special holiday. So it seems appropriate timing that we too are rolling out our new custom-designed china for Marina's specialty restaurants, Jacques and Red Ginger.

For the first restaurant to ever bear his name, Master Chef Jacques Pepin created exquisite dishes that merit presentation on only the finest of place settings. So we have ensured that the china on which each course is served will reflect the creativity and sophistication of the menu as well as the comfortable, eclectic ambiance of the Parisian-style bistro. Jacques China-3

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Oceania Cruises gave thanks this holiday for its talented group of chefs and culinary directors who created the contemporary interpretations of Asian classics for Red Ginger. The china for Red Ginger had to hold its own amidst the striking, modernist decor while complementing the elegant menu. We think these sharp, eye-catching patterns succeed at both.Red Ginger China-1

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Red Ginger China-3 Our Oceania Cruises family has much to be thankful for this holiday season. We are certainly thankful that Marina is nearly ready for her maiden voyage, but most of all, we are thankful for all of our guests who will travel with us onboard this year and for years to come.

Happy Holidays!