36 posts categorized " Officers & Crew "

October 31, 2013

PUMPKIN CARVING ON BOARD RIVIERA

Carving competition1 The holidays are always a festive time on board the ships of Oceania Cruises – and Halloween is no exception! The chefs embraced the spooky spirit of the season in a pumpkin-carving contest onboard Riviera. Everyone put their knife skills to the test to concoct the creepiest, craziest, most creative jack o’lantern in the galley. Podium

We’ve always known our chefs were gifted, but they really showed off their artistic talents in carving these fearsome faces. The grand prize went to Assistant Cook Emmanuel Paygane. Cook I Komang Pamatha took second place, and Assistant Chef de Partie Vishant Raut took third.

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Congratulations to each of them!

Of course, amidst the Halloween fun, our chefs continue to create the exquisite cuisine that our guests enjoy on board each day. In fact, Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger was putting the finishing touches on a new salmon en croute to be served at lunch. Is your mouth watering yet?

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Happy Halloween from your Oceania Cruises family!

September 16, 2013

10TH-ANNIVERSARY SAILING CONCLUDES A YEAR OF CELEBRATION

Nautica arrived in Athens today, marking the end of Oceania Cruises’ final 10th-anniversary sailing of the year. Hosted by Founding Chairman Joe Watters and his wife, Virginia, the cruise concluded with all the fanfare merited by this historic milestone.

Oceania Club Reception
On the evening of September 13, the Captain’s cocktail reception in Nautica Lounge was hosted by Captain Igor Bencina, Founding Chairman Watters, General Manager Carlo Gunetti, Oceania Club Ambassador Sharon Miceli and Cruise Director Nolan Dean (pictured above). Mr. Watters and the senior officers warmly welcomed each guest to the special event.

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At the celebratory reception, Mr. Watters expressed his gratitude for the patronage of all of Oceania Cruises’ guests over the past decade and for their loyalty in the years to come. He also recognized the individual officers and crew who have been with Oceania Cruises for its entire 10-year history, noting that these dedicated members of the Oceania Cruises family are certainly one of the reasons that guests continue to sail with us time and time again. 

10-Year Team Members
That evening Mr. and Mrs. Watters hosted several of Oceania Cruises’ most loyal guests for an exquisite dinner in Toscana, which of course included a celebratory toast. 

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Gala Tea with Chef

The celebration continued on September 14 at the Gala Teatime in Nautica Lounge. Executive Sous Chef Mario Santoro and the Nautica culinary team presented a magnificent event that included not only the artisan teas, delicious pastries and finger sandwiches that are guest favorites during the traditional daily teatime, but also ice sculptures, fine champagne, caviar and other special treats. Mr. Watters greatly enjoyed the opportunity to talk more with several of Oceania Cruises’ loyal guests. 

 

Mr. Watters and Guests enjoy Gala Tea Gala Tea with Guests
The year 2013 has been full of celebrations marking the landmark 10th anniversary of Oceania Cruises. As the final anniversary sailing concludes, Oceania Cruises’ founders, executives, officers, crew and guests continue to reflect on fond memories of the past decade at sea and look forward with great excitement to the next 10 years and beyond.

September 10, 2013

OCEANIA CRUISES FOUNDING CHAIRMAN JOE WATTERS HOSTS 10TH ANNIVERSARY SAILING

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Nautica General Manager Carlo Gunetti welcomes Joe and Virginia Watters onboard Nautica

The year 2013 marks a decade at sea for Oceania Cruises, and it has been a year filled with celebrations in recognition of this milestone. Events have included 10th anniversary sailings onboard Regatta, Marina and Riviera, and this week Founding Chairman Joe Watters and his wife, Virginia, boarded Nautica for the final anniversary sailing of the year. 

After Nautica set sail from Barcelona, the celebratory events were soon in full swing. Mr. and Mrs. Watters, Nautica General Manager Carlo Gunetti, and other officers and crew members welcomed guests to a cocktail reception in Nautica Lounge. Mr. Watters had the opportunity to thank Oceania Cruises’ guests for their loyalty and also recognize some of the team members who have been with Oceania Cruises for its entire 10-year history.

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Mr. and Mrs. Watters also hosted several guests at a Gala Anniversary Dinner in the Grand Dining Room. Guests included Mr. and Mrs. Kohel, who are Oceania Club Diamond members and Oceania Cruises’ most traveled guests.

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So far it has certainly been a celebration befitting the extraordinary milestone of a decade at sea!

 

July 15, 2013

10TH ANNIVERSARY SAILING ONBOARD REGATTA CONCLUDES

Chairman and CEO Frank Del Rio recently concluded Oceania Cruises’ 10th anniversary sailing onboard Regatta, the ship that started it all. Regatta sailed from Seattle on the Coastal Alaska voyage on July 5th, exactly 10 years after the ship set sail on her inaugural voyage. Mr. Del Rio hosted the sailing with his wife, Marcia, who is Regatta’s godmother.

The sailing featured numerous celebrations in honor of the milestone anniversary. The exceptional culinary team flexed their creative muscles at the Gala Tea. High tea is a time-honored tradition onboard the ships of Oceania Cruises and is held each day at four o’clock in Horizons lounge. But the Gala Tea was a unique celebration that went above and beyond the traditional teatime selections. The talented chefs spent many hours preparing not only a vast assortment of finger sandwiches and pastries but also exquisite sculptures made from ice, fruit and chocolate to adorn Horizons for the special event.

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On one evening Mr. and Mrs. Del Rio hosted a special dinner in Terrace Café for some of Oceania Cruises’ most loyal guests. Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger prepared a special menu that included Steamed Prince Rupert Wild Halibut “au Caviar” with a Fennel and Saffron Emulsion, as well as Roasted Veal Rack Loin with Cocotte Potatoes.

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One of the most special evenings was the 10th Anniversary Oceania Club Cocktail Reception in honor of all of Oceania Cruises’ loyal guests as well as the dedicated officers, staff and crew. Some of the most traveled guests in Oceania Cruises’ history were onboard this sailing, including Mr. and Mrs. Kohel, Diamond Oceania Club members who were on their 56th cruise. Also recognized were Mr. and Mrs. Starzman, Platinum Oceania Club members who had sailed on Regatta’s inaugural voyage on July 5, 2003.

Platinum Members

Mr. Del Rio took the opportunity to thank all of Oceania Cruises’ guests who have made the past decade possible. He also joined Captain Vitaliy Silvachynsky and General Manager Jason Gelineau in honoring the team members who have been with Oceania Cruises for its 10-year history.

 

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Frank Del Rio, Captain Silvachynsky and GM Gelineau
 
Culinary Director - Franck Garanger
Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger is recognized


Captain Silvachynsky himself was one of those congratulated, along with Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger. Several others were also recognized, including those pictured below.

Cabin Steward - Freddy Reyes
Steward Freddy Reyes
Bosun - Kosta Niolov
Bosun Kosta Niolov

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cellar Master - Marlito Medollar
Cellar Master Marlito Medollar
 
Chef De Cuisine - Edgar Valguna
Chef de Cuisine Edgar Valguna


 

 

Chef de Partie - Dindo Sabado
Chef de Partie Dindo Sabado
Chef De Partie - Jonathon Bravo
Chef de Partie Jonathon Bravo


 

 

Chief Purser - Doru Gherghin
Chief Purser Doru Gherghin
Jr Sous Chef - Amador Gutierrez
Jr Sous Chef Amador Gutierrez


 

Mechanic - Evgeni Popov
Mechanic Evgeni Popov
Night Auditor - Emily Flores
Night Auditor Emily Flores


 

Staff Captain - Damir Kurilic
Staff Captain Damir Kurilic

 

The sailing ended with a spectacular show in the Regatta Lounge, after which the entire crew paraded into the lounge to join guests in a final celebration. It was truly a historic and unforgettable 10th anniversary sailing – a wonderful celebration of the past 10 years at sea and the perfect way to kick off the next decade to come!

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July 13, 2013

A GRAND CELEBRATION AT SEA

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When Vice Chairman Bob Binder was on Oceania Cruises’ 10th anniversary sailing onboard Marina last month, he shared some photos from the gala anniversary brunch. After seeing the spectacular celebration created by Oceania Cruises’ talented chefs, I was especially looking forward to this event when I embarked the anniversary sailing onboard Riviera. As always, our brilliant chefs did not disappoint.

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This special “Colossal Brunch” was held during a beautiful day at sea. You could sense the festive atmosphere the moment you arrived in the Grand Dining Room, where the staff stood ready to greet all of our guests with a warm welcome to the celebration. The Grand Dining Room was adorned with ice sculptures, floral arrangements and amazing displays of “edible art.” From the pastries, breads and fruits to the carving stations and the seafood, every creation was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. 

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Guests were treated to an array of culinary delights. There were crab claws, gravlax, colossal shrimp and grilled lobster tail. Prosciutto and Virginia ham were sliced to order. Caviar was served with the traditional accompaniments, and there was a selection of cheeses from around the world as well as a colorful assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. The bread onboard is always baked fresh daily using only the finest French flours, and each baguette, bagel and croissant was carefully crafted into a masterpiece.

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IMG_0315The only challenge was saving room for the splendid desserts, each a work of art. A delicious anniversary cake was accompanied by a towering sculpture designed in chocolate. What better way to celebrate Oceania Cruises’ 10 years of culinary excellence at sea than with a spectacular brunch as we sailed the Adriatic from Dubrovnik to Venice. It was the perfect beginning to a wonderful day, and the day concluded with an equally special celebration.

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While exceptional cuisine has always distinguished the Oceania Cruises experience, our guests tell me time and again that it is the officers, staff and crew that make every Oceania Cruises voyage feel like coming home. Last night was the Oceania Club cocktail reception in honor of our cherished guests and dedicated team members that are such an important part of our Oceania Cruises family.

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I welcomed guests to the event with (pictured above left to right) General Manager Thierry Tholon, Oceania Club Ambassador Carol Harrington, Captain Gunnar Romtveit and Oceania Club Ambassador Cary Arias. It was an emotional event as we honored some of the most loyal guests, officers and crew that have sailed with us over the past 10 years.

DSCN1295-2 DSCN1306-2In the above photo are pictured Ms. Deanne Abram and Mr. Stanley Smith, who we welcomed on their 13th voyage with Oceania Cruises. To the left are Mr. and Mrs. Louis Abrams, who were recognized for reaching the Bronze level of Oceania Club membership on their fifth cruise with us. In total, nine guests received their Bronze pins for having sailed five cruises, and six guests received their Silver pins in recognition of their 10th voyage with us. It was truly a pleasure to meet so many of our loyal guests and have the opportunity to thank them for being a part of our Oceania Cruises family.

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We also recognized Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Fraterman, who were on their 14th cruise and were our most traveled guests on this sailing. One of the most special moments of the evening was when we honored Cruise Director Leslie Jon, who has been with Oceania Cruises for our entire 10 year history. This day was truly the pinnacle of an unforgettable 10th anniversary sailing, and we look forward to making more fond memories in the next decade to come.

July 9, 2013

A MEMORABLE 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION IN TOSCANA

Toscana PhotoOn a sailing that has already created so many fond memories for me, last night was the most memorable yet. As Riviera set sail from Taormina, Sicily, I headed to Toscana with my wife, Daniela, to host some of our most loyal guests for a dinner in celebration of Oceania Cruises’ 10th anniversary. Through the windows of Toscana, we could see the beautiful sunset behind Mount Etna, a perfect backdrop for a very special evening.

Riviera’s string quartet played as our guests arrived. Daniela and I welcomed each guest, as did Captain Gunnar Romtveit and General Manager Thierry Tholon. We were also joined by several of the senior officers, each of whom hosted a table for the evening. Our guests were more than 50 of our most loyal Oceania Club members, from Bronze level through Platinum, and we were honored to be celebrating 10 years at sea with some of the guests who had made it all possible.

Senior Executive Chef Alexis Quaretti prepared a six-course dinner befitting the exclusive event. The menu was printed for each guest as a keepsake to remember not only the exquisite meal but also the wonderful company we all enjoyed as we celebrated this special occasion together. It was such a pleasure to be able to talk with our guests in this intimate setting and to hear their delightful stories and fond memories of their voyages with Oceania Cruises. I was pleased to hear that, while the ships are beautiful and the cuisine exceeds their highest expectations, it is our officers, staff and crew Toscana Photo-2that truly differentiate the Oceania Cruises experience from any other. As one guest put it, “It’s like coming back to see family every time.”

We are so grateful to have these cherished guests as part of our Oceania Cruises family, and I offered a toast to their health and happiness. I was glad to have the opportunity to personally thank them for choosing to explore the world with us and for making it possible for us to expand our fleet and deliver even more dream vacation experiences. We raised our glasses to the wonderful journeys we’ve enjoyed over the past 10 years and to creating more treasured memories onboard Oceania Cruises in the years to come.

Everyone in Toscana last night said they are looking forward to the next decade with great excitement, and in fact, we made a commitment to each other that we would reunite the group and celebrate Oceania Cruises’ 20th anniversary together as well. In the meantime, we will always cherish our memories of this special evening, and I hope our paths cross again many times.

July 7, 2013

ANNIVERSARY SAILING CELEBRATES 10 YEARS OF SPECTACULAR DESTINATIONS AND FINE CUISINE

Riviera Sorrento
Greetings from the Italian Escapade sailing onboard Riviera and the ongoing celebration of Oceania Cruises’ 10th anniversary. It has been a wonderful cruise so far, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet many of our past and first time guests. I couldn’t be more proud of the officers and crew who continue to make everyone onboard a part of the Oceania Cruises family.

DSCN1004-2Oceania Cruises was founded on the vision of a group of people with a passion for spectacular destinations and fine cuisine, and we are enjoying both as part of this anniversary sailing. In celebration of 10 years of culinary delights, Senior Executive Chef Alexis Quaretti and Bon Appétit Culinary Center Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly hosted a culinary demonstration. I welcomed guests to the event and shared a bit about the culinary history of Oceania Cruises before turning it over to the experts to share some of the secrets behind our exquisite cuisine.

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As we were celebrating 10 years at sea, it seemed appropriate that the chefs would prepare dishes from the sea. They demonstrated three guest favorites: Salmon Gravlax with Cucumber Salad, Poached Halibut with Lemon Cream Cuisson on a Quinoa Cake, and the ever-popular Red Ginger specialty – Miso-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass. It was both educational and heartwarming to see Chef Quaretti and Chef Kelly, two special members of the Oceania Cruises family, working together to share their knowledge with our guests and illustrating one of the reasons that our guests have continued to return to us for the past 10 years: the finest cuisine at sea prepared by some of the most talented – and entertaining – chefs in the culinary world.

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Soon after the demonstration, Riviera dropped anchor in Sorrento with the impressive Mount Vesuvius looming in the background. Situated on a terrace overlooking the splendid Amalfi coastline, Sorrento is imbued with charm and echoes of the ancient past.

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There are a number of appealing ways to spend a day in Sorrento, from going to see the ruins of ancient Pompeii to visiting the Blue Grotto in Capri to simply walking around the rustic, sun-drenched town of Sorrento. The Blue Grotto was on the bucket list of many guests, so a group of us boarded a ferry and headed to Capri for the afternoon.

The grotto is a uniquely beautiful sea cave on the coast of the island of Capri. A small opening in the cave at the surface of the water and a larger opening beneath the surface provide the only light sources. We entered the grotto through the small opening, just large enough for a rowboat to pass through. Inside the cavern itself was dark, but the water was illuminated with a brilliant blue glow. The effect was absolutely dazzling. It’s difficult to fully capture the beauty of the experience in a photograph, so if you haven’t visited the Blue Grotto, I highly recommend you add it to your own bucket list.

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After a spectacular day in Sorrento, we returned to the ship and enjoyed an excellent dinner at Jacques. Then everyone gathered on the pool deck for a sail away party.

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Cruise Director Leslie Jon was emcee of the event, and General Manager Thierry Tholon led the entire crew in a parade around the decks. This was truly an emotional evening as the officers and crew of Riviera celebrated Oceania Cruises' 10th anniversary with our cherished guests.

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I look forward to more celebrations with our guests, officers and crew, and I’ll share further stories here on the blog as our Italian Escapade continues.

June 18, 2013

10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY RECEPTION HONORS LOYAL GUESTS, OFFICERS AND CREW

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Last night was a truly special evening on the 10th Anniversary Sailing onboard Marina, as we hosted a cocktail reception in honor of our Oceania Club members. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to greet many of our loyal guests, including Mr. Ken Reycraft and Ms. Sheila Brohman (above), who are on their 27th cruise with us.

I always enjoy attending these receptions when I am onboard, but last night’s event was especially memorable for me because we also recognized the onboard team members who have been with us for the company’s entire 10 years. 

 

GM and Captain
GM Dominique Nicolle introduces team
 
10-year team
10-year team members


We opened the Miami office on January 5th, 2003, with less than 20 employees. Our telephones weren’t working yet, and we did not have any computers. Our first ship, Regatta, was due to arrive in only six months and we were still planning her itineraries. 

Most importantly, only six months before delivery of the ship, we were in the process of building a team to operate the vessel. For a cruise line, the most important asset we have is our onboard team, and we needed to quickly recruit 400 officers and crew members. 

The cruise industry is dominated by a few very large players, and we had to convince 400 team members to take a chance on a startup company run by a small group of investors with big dreams. Those initial crew members that we were able to recruit were so much more than a crew of 400. They quickly became a strong team that would shape the future success of our company.

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Cabin Stewardess Mayra Lisseth Valle
 
10-year employee 2
Asst. Chef de Partie Rojello Ozoria Rincon


10-year employee 3
Asst. Electro Technical Milen Dimitrov Dimitrov
 
10-year employee 4
Head Baker Valmarino Abad Alberto


Captain FlokosI am so pleased that many of those inaugural team members are still with Oceania Cruises. Fifteen of them are here with us on this anniversary sailing, including Captain Dimitrios Flokos (left). It was my honor and privilege to recognize each of them at the reception last night and to have the chance to shake their hands and thank them for being a cherished part of our Oceania Cruises family. I wanted to share their names here and to offer my congratulations and heartfelt thanks to all of the officers and crew across our fleet who have provided a decade of dedicated service. You are the reason that we welcome so many loyal past guests onboard our ships with every sailing.

10-Year Team Members onboard Marina's 10-Year Anniversay Sailing:

Head Baker Valmarino Abad Alberto

Cellar Master Ramona Caracas

Asst. Cabin Stewardess Ancizar Franco Chamorro Guacales

Maitre D' Toscana Paul Mihai Climescu

Asst. Electro Technical Milen Dimitrov Dimitrov

Butler Fabian Mascarenhas

Asst. Chef de Partie Rojello Ozoria Rincon

Provision Master Diosdado Jr Pilongo Pacot

Chef de Partie Esteban Racadio

AB Fireman Sammuel Capati Rugayan

Deputy Head Waiter Vedran Stanojevic

Cabin Stewardess Mayra Lisseth Valle

Chef de Partie-Pastry Jhon Jairo Romero Vaca

Restaurant Manager Borislav Sijan

Master Dimitrios Flokos

April 26, 2013

50 DAYS AT SEA FOR 50 YEARS OF MARRIAGE

A few days ago I received an email from Peter and Pauline Pretty, loyal Oceania Cruises guests from Oakville, Ontario, sharing several photos from their 50-day Grand Voyage to celebrate 50 years of marriage. You may remember the Prettys from a previous blog post I wrote on their South Pacific cruise or from the article in the January 2013 Your World Your Way brochure. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to share their wonderful photos as well as congratulate them on this amazing milestone.

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The Prettys feel at home on the ships of Oceania Cruises, one of the many reasons they return year after year, and celebrating such an important anniversary did not go unnoticed on this momentous sailing. Nautica General Manager Jason Gelineau arranged a special celebration at the Polo Grill, Pauline’s favorite restaurant, and the social director, Emmanuelle, serenaded the couple.

Of course, the best part of the Grand Voyage for these adventurers was the nearly two months spent exploring Africa and Asia onboard Nautica. As Nautica prepares to sail for Europe for the summer, the Prettys’ stories provide a lovely recap of some of the highlights of a wonderful winter season.

The Prettys got a feel for the history and culture of Mozambique during a tour of its capital on the Discover Maputo shore excursion. Stops included the Central Train Station designed by Gustav Eiffel, famous for conceiving the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and also the Museum of Natural History, Independence Square and City Hall. Highlights for the Prettys were the opportunity to observe semi-wild lemurs and a visit to a local market where they shared a moment with these adorable kids.

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In Colombo, Sri Lanka, the Prettys took the Ingiriya Tea Plantation shore excursion, where they got an insider’s look at how Sri Lanka’s most important cash crop is cultivated. They watched harvesters pick the fresh tea leaves – 65 to 75 pounds a day are collected – and saw how the leaves are processed. Afterward they enjoyed a freshly brewed cup of tea and were able to purchase some to bring home.

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The Prettys frequently enjoyed tea onboard the ship as well because afternoon tea is one of Pauline’s favorite activities. Longer voyages provide the chefs the time to really flex their creative muscles and create an extraordinary event even more splendid than the traditional teatime – the Grand Gala Tea Party. The pastries and cakes were not only beautiful to look at but scrumptious too. Jason and Emmanuelle were among the crew members who were in attendance to celebrate the special occasion.

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Back ashore on the Scenic Phuket & Elephant Camp excursion, the Prettys had the chance to ride an elephant after enjoying an impressive show put on by the elephants and their handlers. In this photo the elephant is hoping that the Prettys will tip with bananas.

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As a contrast to their adventures in the countryside, the Prettys also visited some of Asia’s grandest cities. Known as the “Garden City,” Kuala Lumpur is a modern urban environment with an abundance of greenery and beautifully landscaped parks. The Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, are an indelible feature of the city’s skyline.

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The Prettys also enjoyed a day exploring Singapore and the truly unique modern landscape.

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We’re so pleased the Prettys shared their photos and these wonderful highlights of Nautica’s season in Africa and Asia. If their adventures have inspired you, now is the perfect time to reserve a voyage for next season. Nautica will be back in Africa starting in December with Lands of Grandeur, and then in Asia starting in February with Pagodas & Palaces.

A special thanks to Peter and Pauline for sharing this special occasion with us, and congratulations on 50 years of marriage!

 

February 6, 2013

THE SECRETS BEHIND THE FINEST CUISINE AT SEA

For the past eight months, Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger and the rest of the Oceania Cruises culinary team have been designing and testing new menus for the fleet’s flagship restaurant, the Grand Dining Room. The menus in the Grand Dining Room change daily, and in total, Garanger has created 85 new recipes for 14 different menus.

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One of Garanger’s latest creations: Zucchini-Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp with Parmesan Cheese and Angel Hair Pasta al Limone

“If you just copied other recipes or used a cookbook, you could do this rollout in two months,” Garanger says. “But we try to be unique in every single recipe we create, and that is a lengthy process requiring the dedicated efforts of the entire team.”

Photo 21So what is Garanger’s creative process for conceiving all of these unique recipes? “I start to think about the recipe and then I start to make notes. Then I prepare it once. If I’m lucky, I only have to prepare the dish three or four times before it’s finalized. But often I have to try it eight or ten times before it’s perfect. And sometimes I give up!” Garanger chuckles. “Sometimes I say, okay, this one is never going to work – and then maybe it works a few years later. It happens sometimes.”

Garanger’s conception of the recipes is only the first step in a launch of this scale. Once the recipes are designed, a great deal of product research must be done to secure all of the new ingredients. This is one of the challenges facing restaurants operating onboard a ship versus restaurants ashore.

“Fresh products are purchased in every port, and the availability changes depending on whether you’re in South America or Europe or Asia, so the executive chefs have to plan ahead and make adjustments,” Garanger explains. “Meanwhile, dry goods and frozen items are delivered via shipping containers, which can take a long time to reach the ship. If a container is traveling from Miami to Europe, it may take three weeks. To ensure we have all the necessary ingredients for these new recipes, we had to begin scheduling these shipments months in advance.”

Onboard restaurants are open seven days a week, 365 days a year, another aspect of shipboard operations requiring ingenuity in management. Galleys operate around the clock, and shifts must be staffed accordingly. Training and oversight must be constant and diligent.

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As an example of the team’s commitment to the ingredients, design and process of recipes from start to finish, consider the dinner baguette in the Grand Dining Room. Only the finest (and most expensive) French flour is used – Viron flour harvested in the Beauce region – because it has a lower gluten content and thus more flavor. The flour is shipped direct from France, and each batch of dough goes through a two-stage proofing process to release the full aromas of the flour. The dough is refrigerated to proof overnight and then worked, formed into baguettes and proofed again before baking. And this is just to create the dinner baguette, one of thousands of items prepared onboard each day.

Here Garanger and Senior Executive Chef Alexis Quaretti discuss the finer points of the baguette wafer that will accompany the new Grand Dining Room dish: Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Artichoke Salpicon, Tomato Coulis and Poblano Chili Aioli.

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Considering the complex methods required to make an exceptional baguette, you can imagine how involved the process is when launching entirely new menus for the Grand Dining Room. The rollout will take nearly four months to complete across the entire fleet, with each ship requiring a full cruise for initial implementation and another full cruise for follow-up training.

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The new dishes are a feast for the senses. The flavor profiles are rich and diverse, and the presentation is spectacular.

Photo A - Beef Carpaccio with Fried Shallots, Parmesan and Lemon Vinaigrette
Beef Carpaccio with Fried Shallots, Parmesan and Lemon Vinaigrette

 
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Baby Shrimp and Avocado Cocktail with Marie-Louise Sauce
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Warm Duck Pâté in Puff Pastry with Port Wine Sauce

 

The new menus also include an assortment of Canyon Ranch® Healthy Living Choices that meet the Canyon Ranch standards for balanced nutrition from a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains and lean proteins. The calories, fat grams and fiber grams for each Canyon Ranch selection are included on the menu. If healthy living means eating dishes like this, then I’m becoming a health nut!

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Canyon Ranch Vegetable Caponata on Roasted Red Pepper Dressing with Crispy Sardinian Bread
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Canyon Ranch Wild Salmon Tartare with Sushi Rice and Avocado

 

Having created so many exquisite dishes, does Garanger have a personal favorite?

“My signature dish is my mashed potatoes,” Garanger says. With the new rollout, Franck’s Mashed Potatoes will always be available as a side in the Grand Dining Room, and you really must try them. Absolute heaven!

“The pâté en croute on the new menu is also very close to my heart,” Garanger continues. “This is a recipe from my childhood for the classic dish that the French enjoy around the family table.” Here Franck prepares his Childhood Paté en Croute: French Family-Style Encrusted Paté with Smoked Ham and Pheasant.

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Until you’ve visited the Grand Dining Room, you can only imagine the amazing selection of delectable new dishes to be tasted. And the Grand Dining Room is only one of four gourmet restaurants on Regatta and Nautica and six restaurants on Marina and Riviera! When you reserve your next voyage with Oceania Cruises, I suggest you make it a lengthy one, so you have plenty of time to sample all of the spectacular cuisine!

February 5, 2013

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH OCEANIA CRUISES’ FLEET CORPORATE CHEF FRANCK GARANGER

Photo 11Any fan of Oceania Cruises knows that esteemed master chef Jacques Pépin is our executive culinary director and the inspiration behind our extraordinary cuisine. But even Chef Pépin knows that it takes more than one person to create a culinary program for a cruise line that can successfully rival the cuisine of even the best restaurants ashore. As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I recently had the privilege of interviewing one of the other culinary team members responsible for creating the finest cuisine at sea.

Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger might modestly resist the label of “creative genius.” But after tasting the exquisite dishes he has conceived for Oceania Cruises’ ships, I can’t think of a more appropriate moniker.

While many cruise lines employ a single corporate chef, Oceania Cruises has an entire team of culinary directors and executive chefs committed to realizing its culinary vision. Thus Garanger is free to focus his creative genius – there, I said it – on designing recipes that uphold Oceania Cruises’ reputation for the finest cuisine at sea. 

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An example of the finest cuisine at sea: Tamarind-Braised Black Cod with Sweet Ginger Sauce and Vegetable Ragout

While Garanger was born in the Normandy region of France, his family moved to Angers in the Loire Valley when he was two years old. His father owned a bakery, and after being exposed to the culinary world at a very young age, Garanger began working with his father and learning the pastry trade at age 16. One year later he began studies in hospitality and hotel management. French universities are very specialized, and the training involved one week of classes alternating with two weeks of hands-on restaurant experience, at which time Garanger worked with a French master chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Angers.

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Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger
After passing his first exams, Garanger worked at one of the world’s most famous hotels, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, followed by the equally renowned Hotel de Cap Eden Roc, a palace on the French Riviera in Antibes. He then returned to school for two years to complete his degrees and after exams, at the age of 24, began officially working as a chef.

His first position on a cruise ship was with Silversea Cruises in 1995. When he was asked to join Oceania Cruises in 2003, he did not hesitate to accept. “I liked the vision they had for the line,” Garanger says. “And I really liked the passion of all the people involved. They were so into food that, in everything we were creating, they were not only behind me but also tasting the food with me. When you have the CEO and the president coming onboard just to taste the food to see if we can put it on the menu, it applies a little pressure, but it is also very rewarding because you can really see how important the food is to the company.”

Much like the passionate commitment of the executives, many aspects of Garanger’s tenure with Oceania Cruises have been both challenging and rewarding. “Regatta was a challenge because we had to start from scratch, and we were working with a ship we didn't build, so we had to make adjustments. We built Marina ourselves, but it was also challenging because we opened eight different restaurants – each a completely different concept – and had 160 cooks onboard to manage. In both cases, there were very high expectations, and we had to deliver in a short period of time. Both debuts were a huge success, and so of course, we’re very happy.”

So what is the secret to continuing to deliver the finest cuisine at sea? For one thing, most members of the culinary team, such as Executive Culinary Director Jacques Pépin, Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Franco Semeraro, Culinary Director Eric Barale and Assistant Culinary Director Pascal Lesueur, have been with Oceania Cruises since its very beginnings. And the line’s commitment to cuisine has ensured that the team is provided every tool they need to succeed.

“I’ve always been asked what I needed, and whatever I asked for, I got,” Garanger says. “Of course, then you have to make sure you deliver, and so far, I’ve succeeded. That’s why I’m still here!”

Each restaurant onboard provides its own unique challenges. Jacques is perhaps the most challenging because of the technical precision required to execute true, authentic French recipes using traditional, time-honored methods on a daily basis. Toscana is also technically challenging because of the à la minute preparation of all the fresh pasta and risotto.

Red Ginger is one of Garanger’s favorite concepts because it is truly “his baby.” Garanger traveled in Asia for two years and then spent time in both London and San Francisco researching ideas before developing the restaurant concept and recipes.

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One of Red Ginger’s signature dishes: Miso-Glazed Sea Bass in Hoba Leaf

While Jacques and Red Ginger are featured on Oceania Cruises’ newest ships, Marina and Riviera, guests will be excited to know that they can soon get a taste of these restaurants onboard Regatta and Nautica as well. These ships will soon feature an entrée from both Jacques and Red Ginger each night in the Grand Dining Room. The new features are just one small part of Garanger’s latest large scale project, the rollout of new menus for the Grand Dining Rooms on the entire fleet.

In my next blog post, I’ll share Garanger’s insights into the creative process, training and implementation involved in this extensive menu rollout. Check the blog again soon for more behind-the-scenes stories.

February 1, 2013

MEET THE TEAM BEHIND THE FINEST CUISINE AT SEA

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Executive Culinary Director Jacques Pépin
While most cruise lines employ a single corporate chef that oversees the creation, organization and implementation of menus, Oceania Cruises has an entire team at the helm of its culinary program. Of course, renowned master chef Jacques Pépin has been the inspiration for the program since he became executive culinary director when the line was founded 10 years ago. But consistently delivering the finest cuisine at sea requires a large group of dedicated chefs committed to this vision.

“No one person can be in charge of all the food and beverage for a cruise line and do it well,” says Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Franco Semeraro. “It’s  creativity, it’s administration, it’s logistics and human resources; it’s sourcing and tracking and training and quality control. And then there’s bread and pastry. From a culinary point of view, that’s like another planet! How could one person do all that?”

As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of meeting several members of the culinary team, including Semeraro, who led the team in one of its most ambitious projects to date: the launch of entirely new menus for the Grand Dining Room. Semeraro has been a key player in the creation of Oceania Cruises’ renowned cuisine since the line’s founding in 2003. In fact, most of the culinary team has been onboard since the company began with a handful of employees a decade ago, which accounts for the family atmosphere amongst the entire team and translates to a warm camaraderie amidst the crew and guests onboard the ships. It truly is a family affair, as several of the original recipes served in the Italian restaurants have come from Semeraro and his wife, Packy, and their mothers.

Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger has certainly found his niche within the team. His sole responsibility is creating innovative new menus that keep Oceania Cruises at the forefront of culinary excellence. Meanwhile, Culinary Director Eric Barale handles the logistics of implementing Garanger’s creations, from purchasing fresh ingredients and acquiring new equipment to assembling the necessary staff and designing menus. Interestingly, Barale used to be Garanger’s teacher at culinary school, and when Garanger was invited to come onboard with Oceania Cruises when the line was founded in 2003, Barale was the first person he called to join him.

“Eric does all the work I don’t like to do,” Garanger says, chuckling. “I am the right brain and he is the left, so it makes a great partnership. When you don’t have to take care of all the logistics and you’re free to just create the recipes, it’s fantastic. It allows me to keep a clear head and to simply create. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be enough hours in the day.”

Of course, the right brain and left brain wouldn’t function without a lot of neurons flashing in synchronicity. Several other team members help execute this culinary vision, not to mention the hundreds of chefs and sous chefs working onboard the ships. Assistant Culinary Director Pascal Lesueur and Senior Executive Chef Alexis Quaretti were both heavily involved in the new menu rollout in the Grand Dining Room. Senior Executive Chef Christophe Belin oversaw implementation on Riviera, while Senior Executive Chef Laurent Trias will oversee Marina, and Executive Chef Renald Macouin will oversee Regatta and Nautica

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Senior Executive Chef Christophe Belin, Blogger-at-Large Lisa Pancake Fossland and Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger
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Senior Executive Chef Alexis Quaretti

 

If you saw yesterday’s blog, your mouth is probably still watering over the photos I shared that revealed the fruits of the team’s labors. There are so many delicious dishes on the new Grand Dining Room menus that I wanted to share a few more with you today. 

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Grilled Vegetable Terrine with Creamy Pesto and Crispy Focaccia Bread
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Prosciutto-Wrapped Monkfish Fillet with Saffron Mussel Sauce

 
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Herb-Crusted Cornish Hen alla Diavolo with Bacon and Shoestring Potatoes
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Dorado and Tuna Ceviche with Cilantro and Heirloom Tomatoes

In my next blog post, read my behind-the-scenes interview with Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger and learn where he gets his inspiration to create the finest cuisine at sea.

January 31, 2013

OCEANIA CRUISES DEBUTS EXCITING NEW MENUS IN THE GRAND DINING ROOM

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Fresh Sea Bass on Ratatouille Sauce with Chickpea Croutons and Tomato Petals

Oceania Cruises has long held a reputation for cuisine that is not only the finest at sea but also rivals that of the best restaurants ashore. If you’ve dined onboard an Oceania Cruises ship, then you know we take fine dining to an entirely new level. Creating truly exquisite cuisine requires more than just the freshest and highest-quality ingredients. It requires passion, creativity, à la minute preparation and careful attention to detail. 

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Pancetta-Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp with Kalamata Olive Sauce and Vegetable Julienne
Oceania Cruises has further solidified its reputation as the cruise line for foodies by successfully rolling out entirely new menus, including 85 new recipes, for its Grand Dining Room onboard Riviera. The remainder of the fleet will receive the new menus over the course of the next three months.

As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, my job has a lot of perks, but in this case I have to say, it involved a bit of torment. For the last few weeks, I’ve been receiving mouthwatering photos of all the fabulous dishes that the chefs have been creating, testing and, most importantly, tasting. I can’t wait to sail again to try all of the new dishes. Your taste buds are about to sit up and take notice.

The new menus for the Grand Dining Room are an ode to classic European-inspired cuisine, while also giving a whole new meaning to dishes such as steak au poivre and moules marinières. The team has taken the execution of classic dishes to a higher level, and the vision of Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger has revealed interpretations such as Palermo-Style Grilled Swordfish over Crushed Red Bliss Potatoes with Eggplant Caviar, Traditional French Beef Tartare with Toasted Baguette Wafer, and Grilled Veal Chop with Rustic Tomatoes and Lemon Confit. 

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Moules Marinières: Fresh Black Mussels with Shallots, White Wine and Parsley

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Palermo-Style Grilled Swordfish over Crushed Red Bliss Potatoes with Eggplant Caviar

 

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Traditional French Beef Tartare with Toasted Baguette Wafer
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Grilled Veal Chop with Rustic Tomatoes and Lemon Confit

Menus also include three exquisite new lobster dishes, such as the Lobster and Spring Vegetable Crepe with Langoustine Bisque. If, like me, your craving for Italian food is never satiated, you will love the 10 new pastas and risottos that are featured. How about Fettuccine with Wild Sea Bass in Rustic Tomato and Peperoncino Sauce? Or perhaps Rigatoni alle Melanzane e Ricotta Affumicata, a delicious dish of rigatoni pasta served with sautéed eggplant in a tomato basil sauce and topped with smoked ricotta?

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Lobster and Spring Vegetable Crepe with Langoustine Bisque
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Rigatoni alle Melanzane e Ricotta Affumicata

 

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Fettuccine with Wild Sea Bass in Rustic Tomato and Peperoncino Sauce

If you prefer a light garlic and wine sauce, you must try the Pasta with Fresh Littleneck Clams and Pinot Grigio Sauce. Risotto lovers shouldn’t miss the Risotto Venere con Gamberoni All’Arrabbiata, a black risotto with a spicy shrimp ragout.

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Pasta with Fresh Littleneck Clams and Pinot Grigio Sauce
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Risotto Venere con Gamberoni All’Arrabbiata

 

Beyond the traditional dishes from countries such as France, Spain and Italy, you will also find European-inspired versions of other classics, such as the American barbecued pork chop and the Japanese crab tempura.

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Sweet Barbecued Pork Chop with Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Stuffed Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
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Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Roasted Cherry Tomato Aioli

Jacques Pépin has always said that the finest cuisine must start with the freshest, highest-quality ingredients, and Oceania Cruises’ unwavering commitment to this philosophy is evident in all of the new dishes. A new lobster and rice dish is made with saffron from the Castilla–La Mancha region of Spain, known for producing the finest of this priciest of all herbs. Fans of “the other white meat” will find some of the most renowned pork in the world, from roast Segovian suckling pig to jamón Ibérico de bellota, the famous Iberian ham that comes from pigs fed on acorns. 

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Steamed Maine Lobster on Castilla-La Mancha Saffron Rice
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Roast Segovian Suckling Pig with Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes

Unique international ingredients are also featured, such as the kadaif pasta in the Crispy Kadaif-Wrapped Tiger Prawns with Mango-Chili Salsa.

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Crispy Kadaif-Wrapped Tiger Prawns with Mango-Chili Salsa

There are also delectable new appetizers, such as the Molten Cheese Soufflé with Chive Velouté and the Quinoa and Vegetable Tartare with Salmon Gravlax and Sherry Vinegar Cream.

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Molten Cheese Soufflé with Chive Velouté
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Quinoa and Vegetable Tartare with Salmon Gravlax and Sherry Vinegar Cream

The salads are exquisite as well. Check out the colorful Roasted Butternut Squash with Arugula, Mango, Black Radish, Hearts of Palm and Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette and the work of art known as Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio and Sicilian Tomato-Basil Press with Cream of Buffalo Mozzarella. 

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Roasted Butternut Squash with Arugula, Mango, Black Radish, Hearts of Palm and Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette
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Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio and Sicilian Tomato-Basil Press with Cream of Buffalo Mozzarella

 

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Zen
Lest you think I’ve forgotten to mention the desserts, I’ve saved the best for last. The year 2013 marks Oceania Cruises’ 10th anniversary, and to celebrate this momentous occasion, Chef Garanger has created a dessert as extraordinary as this special milestone. Named “Zen”, the dessert begins with a Valrhona 64% cacao Manjari chocolate bar, made from the finest Madagascan cacao beans. That is combined with milky gianduja hazelnut chocolate and citrus yuzu fruit and accompanied by a hazelnut croquant. Now that’s a dessert befitting a celebration of a decade at sea!

If you haven’t already left the blog site to reserve your next Oceania Cruises voyage so you can indulge in these wonderful new dishes, now is the time! But do check back throughout the week for behind-the-scenes stories revealing the secrets to creating such extraordinary cuisine, including an interview with Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger. I’ll also share more mouthwatering photos that will have you wishing you could dine onboard every day of the year!

September 18, 2012

MEET THE OFFICERS: Marina General Manager Damien LaCroix

Of the many wonderful things I get to do in my role as Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, one of my favorites is getting to know the warm and generous officers and crew. From everything I see, hear and experience, the sense of family that the staff creates is one of the main reasons Oceania Cruises has so many loyal and returning guests.

DownloadOn a recent cruise, I had the great pleasure of meeting Damien LaCroix, who has been a part of the Oceania Cruises family for eight years. Though his official title is General Manager onboard Marina, Damien considers himself a conductor, and after watching him “perform,” it’s obvious he can hold a baton with the best. When Damien is in charge the show flows seamlessly. Indeed, one might be tempted to think that his job is easy, given how effortlessly things unfold.

Originally from Lyon, France, Damien started with Renaissance Cruises. It was a good product but not upscale. He left Renaissance and joined a luxury resort in French Polynesia. It was there that Damien first got a call from Oceania Cruises asking him to come aboard. At first he resisted, because he didn’t want to leave the elegant atmosphere of the resort.

Oceania Cruises coaxed him into visiting one of the ships. He was immediately impressed with the ship and its focus of fine cuisine – the elegance, the presentation and the quality of service. He knew he could be happy in this environment. So in 2004 he accepted a position as Food and Beverage Director, and in 2007 he was promoted to General Manager.

Onboard Marina, he says there is never a typical day. Each day begins with a ship inspection, followed by a meeting with department heads. But after that, it is Damien’s job to be prepared for anything. While there is always a plan for what the day should look like, changes inevitably arise. Something as simple as the weather can present a logistical challenge, because on a rainy day the outside venues aren’t used, and the inside venues are all much busier.

Listening to Damien talk and watching him work, he thrives on handling the unexpected. He told a story about when cruises first began originating in China years ago. Guests had arrived for their cruise and were scheduled to embark at 11 am, but authorities delayed embarkation. Damien didn’t want guests to spend precious vacation hours just milling about the cruise terminal, so he quickly pulled the crew together to organize activities and provide food and drink.

Damien is quick to credit the wonderful people working with him for helping make each day a success. It is clear that the reason Oceania Cruises feels like a home away from home for guests is that it is a home away from home for staff as well. There is a real sense of family within the organization that is easily passed on to guests. Damien can often be found entertaining guests, who clearly enjoy his company, as he hosts cocktail parties or tables for dinner.

Choosing a favorite port of call from the vast array of wonderful destinations is tough for Damien. He enjoys Venice and Buenos Aires because ships often stay overnight there, and he can spend an evening exploring and enjoying dinner ashore. He thinks Santorini and Rhodes are gorgeous. And because he worked in Vietnam for three years, he loves stops in East Asia where he still has favorite places he likes to visit.

Of course the best part of working for Oceania Cruises is that it is where he met his wife Jackie, a cruise director. Since both he and Jackie work for Oceania Cruises, they know the lifestyle and enjoy the months of time off they have together. They recently welcomed Elise, the newest Oceania Cruises baby, to the family. Oceania Cruises has a family program, so if accommodations are available, Damien can bring his family onboard with him.

I’ve had the privilege of speaking with several officers and crew members, and each one has been quick to tell me about Oceania Cruises’ commitment to family and to the happiness and well being of their staff. This is just one more reason that Damien and his team are so dedicated to the happiness of every guest onboard and to creating the warm, welcoming environment that makes guests feel so comfortable and cared for. No wonder so many guests say that each time they board an Oceania Cruises ship, it feels like coming home!

July 26, 2012

FRANCE VERSUS ITALY: Cooking and Comedy with the Chefs of Oceania Cruises

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The culinary team with Frank Del Rio, founder and chairman of Oceania Cruises.

Any fan of Oceania Cruises knows that our chefs are serious about cuisine. But did you know they can be funny about it too? Culinary demonstrations are offered onboard all of Oceania Cruises’ ships, and as Blogger-at-Large, I had the chance to attend one recently. It would be difficult to say which I enjoyed more – the cooking or the comedy.

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France v. Italy: Chef Garanger on the left and Chef Gjoka on the right.

Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger is one of the “head honchos” of Oceania Cruises’ culinary team and has created many of the recipes served onboard. And he’s French. Executive Chef Alban Gjoka, one of the culinary experts onboard Riviera, is Italian. The two of them decided it might be fun to engage in their ongoing friendly rivalry during a culinary demonstration that they called “France versus Italy.”

Chef Garanger became known for his mashed potatoes at age 17 when he was charged with making lunch for Sébastien Bonsignore, the last working disciple of the legendary chef Escoffier. Bonsignore described Garanger’s mashed potatoes as the best he’d ever eaten. Not surprisingly, Chef Gjoka’s specialty is fresh pasta dishes.

 

But first thing’s first. They begin by pouring the champagne.

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Once properly hydrated, Gjoka starts the demonstration by recommending Tipo 00 flour for the pasta. The flour is Italian, but Gjoka tells us we can buy it in the U.S. because the Italians actually produce and export things – unlike the French. The game is on.

Gjoka uses precisely measured flour and semolina but quickly adds that, “In Italy the recipes are good, but it’s just a guideline. Everybody cooks with the heart.”

“You cook with the heart?” Garanger asks.

“Yes.”

“I try to cook with my brain.”

Undaunted, Gjoka continues, adding eggs to the flour. But he checks the eggs before cracking them, informing us that when he and Garanger cook together, Garanger sometimes replaces them with hard-boiled eggs.

“Sabotage,” Garanger whispers, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He then artfully changes the subject by announcing, “So, potatoes!”

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Culinary Demonstration20Garanger started cooking the potatoes before the demonstration, and they are ready for the next step. “Very important…how do I strain my potatoes? I can use this one, the one from Italy?” he asks, requesting to borrow Gjoka’s ricer.

“No problem. We are good neighbors,” Gjoka says, but we all know he has another comment up his sleeve. “We are so good that we even gave you the wife of the former president.”

“You can have her back now. We don’t need her anymore,” Garanger responds, referring to Sarkozy’s election defeat.

“No, no you always need Italian women. It was another one that taught the French, Catherine
de Medici,” Gjoka fires back.

“Yes, because the Italians, they believe that Catherine de Medici, when she came to France, we were eating with the Huns, and she taught us how to use a fork and knife.” Garanger clearly disagrees with this Italian perspective, so he tosses out another zinger. “What can I say? The Italian girls fall in love with the French. Instead of cooking with your heart, you should use your heart for something else.”

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Amazingly, these gifted chefs are capable of cracking jokes and working their magic at the same time. Because pasta dough needs to rest, Gjoka has prepared some in advance, which he now feeds through a pasta machine. He confides that his grandmother considers this cheating, but he finds the machine useful. You must pass the pasta through at least 10 times, folding and turning it each time and working from level 10 down to level 2. I have the utmost respect for Gjoka’s grandmother, because I certainly wouldn’t want to do this process by hand!

 

Culinary Demonstration15Garanger has strained the potatoes and is letting them sit so the steam can evaporate. Meanwhile, he turns to his entrée, a zucchini-wrapped chicken breast. For the stuffing, he sweats some onions and then adds garlic, diced tomatoes and green olives.

While the stuffing simmers, Garanger begins to work the potatoes, putting them on the stove so the heat can release any remaining steam. When the potatoes are dry, he gradually adds some cream and milk and a touch of nutmeg while he continues to stir.

 

 

Culinary Demonstration13Meanwhile, Gjoka is now cutting cappellini and preparing to make pappardelle and fettuccine. As he works, Gjoka eyes Garanger, who has moved on to his chicken and is pounding it flat. “The chicken is French, and look how he’s beating it,” Gjoka says. “Imagine if the chicken was Italian what he would do.”

Rather than retort, Garanger lowers his voice. As if there were a chance Gjoka might not hear, he very quietly shares that he is layering the chicken with sliced zucchini and (blasphemy!) Parmesan cheese.

 

Culinary Demonstration23He quickly justifies his usage of Italian cheese by saying that it’s fine to cook with. But in France, the cheese is so good it is served as its own course.

Gjoka just smiles and moves on to his ravioli and tortelloni.

Garanger puts the chicken in the oven to roast. He is now ready for the final touches on the potatoes, but he looks concerned. He asks Gjoka if they have enough butter.

“I make sure we have enough,” Gjoka assures him. “One kilo of potato, five kilo of butter.”

The audience laughs, but Garanger seems to consider this a reasonable amount. “That’s good,” he says, taking another sip of champagne.

As far as Garanger is concerned, this is the moment of truth. “Now that I have the potatoes almost the consistency I want, I have to start to put in a little butter. You start to add the butter little by little and whisk it in. It requires a lot of work with your arms, the mashed potatoes.”

At this point, he adds so much butter that the audience literally gasps.

Garanger looks at all of us as if to say, “What? You expect me to make mashed potatoes without butter?”

It is now obvious to him that none of us know a thing about mashed potatoes. “Listen!” he exclaims. “Very important. Minimum, minimum, minimum, minimum is three part of potatoes, one part of butter. Me, I put two for one.”

To which Gjoka responds, “And afterwards you go straight for a heart check-up.”

Garanger dismisses Gjoka. “No, because you do not need to eat a lot.”

Aaaaahh, there’s the rub. He plans to present us with all this buttery goodness and then insist on portion control. Clearly, Garanger is not aware that we’re all on vacation.

Culinary Demonstration27Gjoka somehow manages to distract us from the butter extravaganza and turn our attention back to the pasta. His selling point is that, unlike the French, the Italians cook very fast. Garanger started cooking at 11am and two hours later hasn’t even finished the potatoes. “Imagine if you had 50 people at home,” says Gjoka. “You need to start a week in advance.”

“It all depends who you invite,” Garanger argues.

“Yes,” Gjoka agrees. “If it is my mother I have at home, I make the risotto in 5 to 10 minutes. But if it is my mother-in-law, I need 45 minutes to 1 hour. You know why? Because I don’t need to talk to her.”

The audience roars at this joke, but Garanger looks indignant. "This is supposed to be my joke. He stole my joke.”

Gjoka tries to distract him, “I think you need some more butter.”

“Okay, one more little piece,” Garanger is easily drawn back to his masterpiece.

The potatoes are now ready to be tasted. Garanger scoops up a spoonful and turns to Gjoka, “Find me an Italian chef that makes mashed potatoes like this.”

“Actually, I can’t, because you know why? Because they are not mashed potatoes. This is butter mousseline with potato,” Gjoka shoots back.

But ultimately Gjoka has to concede, “It’s true. It’s very, very good.”

Culinary Demonstration31 copyFinally, it is our turn to try the potatoes, and we quickly realize Gjoka was right. These are not mashed potatoes, at least not the chunky, bland mashed potatoes that certain family members, who shall remain unnamed, served me in my youth. If ever there were a vegetable meant for butter, it is clearly the potato, because this is how potatoes were born to be served. Each bite melts in my mouth and fills it with warm, rich potato deliciousness. The amazing thing is that it doesn’t even taste like butter; it just tastes like the best darn potato you’ve ever had in your life.

But remember, we “do not need to eat a lot.”

Gjoka realizes he is losing us as we all swoon under the influence of Garanger’s potato glory. He tries to break the spell with a word of warning, “All these people who tried the mashed potatoes should go to the gym at least 15 minutes today.”

But his efforts are futile because he knows we would all happily climb on a stairmaster. These potatoes are worth every calorie we have to work off.

Culinary Demonstration25Garanger has no time for compliments because he is making the Kalamata olive sauce for the chicken, which we’ve all momentarily forgotten about. He announces he’ll be ready in 10 minutes, and Gjoka rallies, saying he can make 10 more dishes in that amount of time. He starts a fresh tomato pasta.

Garanger raises his eyebrows as Gjoka adds garlic. “That much garlic for one portion? Whew!”

“Yes, it’s healthy.”

“It smells bad, but it’s healthy… Don’t put garlic in my mashed potatoes,” Garanger warns anyone within ear shot.

“Don’t worry. I will not put healthy stuff in your mashed potatoes,” Gjoka promises.

The chicken is ready, and Garanger presents it with the sauce and a side of mashed potatoes, “Eh, voila!”

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Gjoka is proudly making his third dish – fettuccine with scampi. “And this is called productivity,” he says.

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Gjoka brings his point home by counting his dishes: “One, two, three.” He counts Garanger’s: “One.”

Garanger smiles. “But, is it better to do one perfect or three average?”

Garanger gets the last word, but as we all gather around to try the dishes, Gjoka’s pastas are getting just as many oohs and ahs as Garanger’s potatoes. And I have to admit, there is an advantage to delicious dishes that one could prepare in a few minutes on any given evening, versus Garanger’s more labor-intensive recipes.

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So who won, France or Italy? Call me spineless, but I’m calling it a draw.

 

June 21, 2012

OCEANIA CLUB MANAGER NICK DESANTIS SHARES STORIES OF THE REUNION CRUISE

Captain Luca Manzi - Gibraltar
Captain Luca Manzi and Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis

Greetings from the Oceania Club Reunion Cruise!

My team has spent the last several months planning special events for this cruise to show our appreciation for our loyal past guests. Over the past few days we have hosted dinners, sail-away parties, a Captain’s reception, shore excursions, cocktail parties – and this is just day five of the cruise! It has been such a pleasure to see past guests with whom I’ve sailed before. So many of them have become dear friends. It’s been equally nice to meet some of our Oceania Club members for the first time and to have the opportunity to thank them for their loyalty.

In short, everyone is having a wonderful time!

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From left: Mr. and Mrs. Doble, Kunal Kamlani, Sheila Brohman, Ken Reycraft, Mr. and Mrs. Grimwood, Daniela Kamlani, Mr. and Mrs. Addleson

On Monday evening, Oceania Cruises President Kunal S. Kamlani and his wife, Daniela, hosted a dinner in Privée for our most loyal Oceania Club members on this sailing. This elegant and intimate setting accommodates just ten guests for private dinners, so Kunal and Daniela invited some of our most frequent guests to join them for a truly memorable evening. These guests have sailed with us as many as 15 or 20 times! Sheila Brohman and Ken Reycraft become Platinum Oceania Club members on this voyage because it is their 20th cruise, which is free as part of the Oceania Club program.

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The next evening Kunal, Daniela, Captain Luca Manzi and General Manager Thierry Tholon greeted guests as they arrived for the Captain’s Welcome Reception, always a favorite event of our Oceania Club members.

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Kunal, Captain Manzi and the Senior Officers expressed their deep appreciation for all of our loyal guests, and Captain Manzi offered a toast in their honor. Following the reception, many of our guests enjoyed dinner in Toscana, and it was my great pleasure to join them!

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Nick DeSantis with Mr. and Mrs. Addleson

Toscana is one of my favorite restaurants, and here is one reason why: Sautéed Jumbo Shrimp wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma Ham with Candied Cherry Tomato. Delicious!

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Kunal and Daniela also enjoyed dining with several Oceania Club members in Toscana that evening.

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Captain Luca Manzi hosted guests in Toscana as well. They enjoyed their evening so much that they asked Toscana Chef Raffaele Saia and Senior Executive Chef Christophe Belin to sign their menus.

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What a wonderful cruise it has been so far, and this is only the beginning. I’ll be sure to share more stories and photos here on the blog very soon!

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.

March 23, 2012

A CELEBRATION OF THE FIRST OCEANIA CLUB DIAMOND MEMBERS

Kohel Privee3

 

 

Last week on Marina’s final Caribbean sailing of the season, the officers, staff and crew celebrated a tremendous milestone with two very special guests. The March 7th sailing of Caribbean Pearls marked the 40th cruise for Jerome and Elizabeth Kohel, making them the first guests to become Oceania Club Diamond members and the most frequent guests in Oceania Cruises history.

Kohel Privee1

While Marina was docked in Miami, Oceania Cruises President Kunal S. Kamlani hosted a lunch for the Kohels onboard in Privée. The guests of honor were joined by Executive Vice President of Passenger Services Victor Gonzalez, Manager of Loyalty Marketing Nick DeSantis, Oceania Club Ambassador Jennifer Faust, and Kunal's wife, Daniela.

Kohel Privee6
Victor Gonzalez, Jennifer Faust, Jerome Kohel, Elizabeth Kohel, Kunal S. Kamlani, Daniela Kamlani, and Nick DeSantis


The Kohels hail from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and they first sailed with Oceania Cruises onboard Regatta in March 2004. They have since cruised for over 520 days and visited more than 60 countries. While the Kohels have sailed all over the world, the Caribbean is one of their favorite destinations. They like the escape from the Michigan winters, and the relatively short flight to embarkation in Miami gives the Caribbean a slight advantage over transatlantic destinations such as Europe and Africa.

No matter what the itinerary, the Oceania Cruises family keeps the Kohels coming back time and again. “We came for the ships. We came back for the crew,” says Mr. Kohel.

DSCF1504
Captain Dimitrios Flokos, Mr. and Mrs. Kohel, and General Manager Damien Lacroix


Both Mr. and Mrs. Kohel sing the praises of the entire Oceania Cruises team, saying how much they look forward to seeing all of the familiar faces and warm smiles each time they return to the ships. So many of the officers, staff and crew have become dear friends that it feels as if they’re being welcomed home by family each time they embark on a new voyage. The Kohels say they have especially enjoyed watching staff members move up through the ranks, as they have seen so many promoted to new positions over the years.

On every Oceania Cruises voyage, past guests are celebrated and milestone cruises are recognized during the Oceania Club cocktail party. At this special event held in Horizons, Oceania Club Ambassador Jennifer Faust introduced the Kohels, and Captain Dimitrios Flokos presented them with their Diamond Oceania Club pins. General Manager Damien Lacroix also offered his congratulations, and Cruise Director Dottie Kulasa had a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Mrs. Kohel.

Kohels, Dottie, Jennifer
Mr. Kohel, Dottie Kulasa, Jennifer Faust and Mrs. Kohel


While the Kohels are not particularly fond of the spotlight, they graciously accepted the expressions of gratitude from the captain and senior officers and agreed to let us share their story with you here on the blog. Enjoy this short video of the momentous occasion.

 

January 5, 2012

MADAGASCAR: A FEAST FOR THE SENSES


Andilana BeachAs we ring in the New Year, it seems only natural to reflect on some of our favorite memories from 2011. As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I enjoyed the privilege of visiting many fascinating ports of call onboard Marina and collecting numerous photos from those traveling on the other ships as well. Most of my travels were in Europe, exploring grand cities, historic churches and monumental architecture. Perhaps that is why I so enjoyed these photos of Madagascar, which were shared with me by the Destination Services team onboard Nautica. A vivid contrast to the bustling cities of Europe, Madagascar is a haven for exotic wildlife and exquisite flora.

The island of Nosy Be lies just off the coast of the largest island of Madagascar. Created by an ancient volcano, Nosy Be is a land of beautiful beaches, such as Andilana Beach pictured above, as well as forested mountains and deep crater lakes. The lush environment breeds a variety of unique and colorful wildlife, which made for an amazing and adventurous excursion ashore for Nautica guests. Tree ClimberMadagascar is best known for its rare and endangered lemurs. Destination Services team members Sonja Altmann and Filippo Camerlengo were able to get up close and personal with a few of the famous primates. Sonja Altmann

Filippo Camerlengo

Whitey Ford Sleepy
Celebrity status aside, the lemur shares the Lokobe Nature Reserve on Nosy Be with many other indigenous animal, reptile, plant and tree species, all equally fascinating. 

Turtle

Snake

Gecko
The island is renowned for not only its vibrant hues, but also for the pleasant aromas that complement the vivid colors. Nosy Be is known as the "scented" or "perfumed" island due largely to the aromatic ylang-ylang trees spread across the landscape. The excursion continued with a tour of a distillery where the yellow flowers are steam-processed to extract the oil for perfume production as well as natural health products. Considering the wealth of fragrances that envelop the island, including not only ylang-ylang but also cocoa, vanilla, coffee, coconut, and cinnamon, you can see why Nosy Be is a living potpourri of nature's most pleasing scents.

Ylang-Ylang Distillery 1 Ylang-Ylang Distillery 2Hell-Ville was the final stop on this excursion through Nosy Be. Contrary to its name, Hell-Ville is a charming colonial town featuring a large, open-air marketplace where one can find local produce, trinkets, and smiles that make the visit quite memorable.

Hell-Ville 1

Hell-Ville 2

As you might imagine, Nosy Be also offers great snorkeling, fishing, scuba diving and other water sports. But the guests on this shore excursion were very pleased to have had the opportunity to experience Nosy Be's exotic wildlife, learn about its diverse flora, and even mingle with a few of the locals. 

Pier 2

While a bit reluctant to board the tender and leave this island paradise, guests know that more amazing destinations await them as Nautica sails into 2012 and explores the wonders of Asia.

September 27, 2011

MEET THE CREW: Desktop Publisher Jessica Domm

Jessica Domm - NYC
Jessica Domm loves her job. As a desktop publisher onboard Marina, Jessica says that even when she works long hours, she hardly notices the time passing. Her work is so enjoyable it doesn’t even feel like a “real job.” With her winning smile and boundless enthusiasm, one imagines she brings the same positive energy to all aspects of her life.

After graduating with a degree in graphic design from York University in Toronto, Jessica’s first job was doing system administrator inventory, which did not challenge her in the way she wished. As her uncle was a retired cruise captain, she decided to pursue the family business and apply for a job in the cruise industry. While she did not take advantage of her uncle’s industry connections, she did take his advice, as he recommended she try Oceania Cruises. She applied online, and two days before Christmas, she received the news that she would be starting onboard Regatta in January of 2010.

Was she excited? “I was terrified,” says Jessica. “I’d never been outside of Canada before. But I got on a plane and joined Regatta in Miami and never looked back. Best decision I ever made in my life.”

Jessica is responsible for all of the onboard printed materials, from newsletters to menus to embarkation information to posters. Besides enjoying her design work, Jessica also sings the praises of her coworkers. Jessica says one of the great pleasures of her job is the fantastic group of people with whom she gets to work.

Jessica had only been onboard for three weeks when her 26th birthday came around. To her surprise, everyone threw her a big party with cake and champagne. “The first thing I thought was, if I can’t be with my own family, I’m so glad I’m here with my Oceania Cruises family. It was fantastic. I never felt more like I belonged some place." 

Jessica Domm - Miami Jessica with Social Hostess Margaret Lynn Scoggins and Oceania Club Ambassador Per Orren

Of course, the work is not without its challenges. Jessica was chosen to be on the team for the inaugural sailings of Marina, and preparing a new ship for its maiden voyage was no easy task. The staff and crew had been living on the ship for two weeks before the first guests came onboard, and they were still putting the finishing touches on Marina as the first guest set foot on her decks.

“It was challenging,” says Jessica, “but looking back now, it was worth it. It was worth all those hours I spent in my office and all the work put into it. It really turned out well, and it’s something that we’re all very proud of.”

When she was approached about participating in Riviera’s debut in April 2012, what was Jessica’s response? “I’ll be there with bells on!” she exclaims. 

September 12, 2011

Jacques Pepin Named Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by BU

Don Horner, one of Oceania Cruises' loyal guests and a graduate of Boston University's Metropolitan College (MET), recently shared on Cruise Critic his pleasure in learning that Jacques Pépin was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Boston University.

Please enjoy the article below from the Boston University website, which describes the honor bestowed on Pépin and the many achievements of the famed master chef:

Jacques The acclaimed chef, author, and television personality is being recognized for his contributions to the University, including his role as co-founder (with Julia Child) of the MET master’s program in gastronomy and the certificate program in the culinary arts, which established the tradition of integrating hands-on culinary experience with the serious academic study of cuisine in society. Pépin, who has been a part-time faculty member at MET since 1983, has taught hundreds of Boston University students. He has additionally drawn over ten thousand residents of greater Boston to the University by hosting informal seminars, demonstrations, discussions, and special cooking events through MET’s Lifelong Learning programs. In 2005, MET honored Pépin with the Roger Deveau Memorial Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Award.

Rebecca Alssid, director of Lifelong Learning at MET, says longtime friend and colleague Pépin “epitomizes the best of what a teacher, an artist, and humanist ought to be. He is recognized throughout the world for his culinary skill, his warmth of spirit, and his generosity as an educator and a person.”

Pépin’s career began with his exposure to cooking as a child in his parents’ restaurant, Le Pélican, in Bourg-en-Bresse, France. His training includes a formal apprenticeship at the distinguished Grand Hôtel de l’Europe and training under Lucien Diat at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris. Pépin served as personal chef to three French heads of State; honors conferred by the government of France include Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole, and in 2004, the National Order of the Legion of Honour. He earned his master’s degree in eighteenth-century French literature from Columbia University.

Pépin’s involvement with MET and BU reflects his accomplished background and his enduring commitment to culinary education. In addition to his many contributions to newspapers and magazines, Pépin has published twenty-six books and hosted eleven public television series, including the recent Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way, which is the companion piece to the book of the same title.

Pépin has established a teaching legacy at MET that approaches cuisine from a perspective in which creativity is enabled by skillfulness, and intellectual curiosity is enabled by practicality. Under his guidance, MET’s gastronomy degree and culinary arts certificate have developed into highly regarded academic and professional credentials.

In response to BU’s announcement of the award, Pépin remarked: “It is a great honor and I am humbled, gratified, and very happy. It validates the work of chefs and the importance of cooking, dining, and sharing food with family and friends. Julia would be very proud.”

Read more about Jacques Pépin’s honorary doctorate on BU Today.

 

 

June 16, 2011

MEET THE CREW: Deck Cadet Lloyd Shettle

      

Lloyd1
On one of my recent cruises onboard Regatta, I had the pleasure of meeting a Deck Cadet in training, Mr. Lloyd Shettle. At only 17 years old, Lloyd was by far the youngest crew member onboard Regatta. Hailing from the Isle of Wight in the UK, Lloyd had come to his position through his father, who worked as a recruiter for cadets in nearby Southampton. Like most of us, Lloyd was uncertain of what career he wanted to pursue after completing his primary schooling, so at his father’s suggestion, he applied for the Deck Cadet position. Impressed by his interview, Regent Seven Seas Cruises agreed to sponsor Lloyd but did not have space for him at the time. So Lloyd found a home onboard Regent Seven Seas’ sister line, Oceania Cruises.

Lloyd2 Lloyd’s training began with four months in the Maritime Academy in Southampton. He says he dreaded the first day at the university, but from the moment he started, he loved every minute of it. Cadets study all aspects of general ship knowledge, from the trigonometry of maps and charts to the lights and flags of navigation signals. After his initial university study, Lloyd came onboard Regatta to begin his hands-on experience. He will continue to alternate months of university study and time at sea until he accumulates a total of two years at the academy and one year of sea time. Then he can take oral exams with the British Coast Guard and become a Third Officer. 

Lloyd is the first hand on deck in the morning, awakening early each day to be on the Bridge an hour before the Captain and begin routine equipment checks. He generally starts around 4:00 a.m. and takes part in checking the radar, gauging the ship’s position using various charts, watching out from the bridge for any dangers ahead, checking the ballast, and other duties. He has an enormous training manual in which the Captain and Officers must sign attesting to Lloyd’s proficiency in tasks ranging from the deck to the engine department.

Lloyd will have many career options after completing his training. There are opportunities for work ashore in the maritime field, or he could continue to advance to Second Officer and Chief Officer onboard. With further study his career path could lead him becoming a Captain. Officers are needed on cargo ships as well, but Lloyd says he prefers the passenger ships as he is “quite a social person.” He also says he greatly enjoys life onboard since every day is different and offers a new challenge. And of course, there is the added opportunity of seeing fascinating ports of call the world over.

“Not many people can say they’ve sailed around the world on a cruise ship while working and earning money for it as well,” says Lloyd.

In his free time, Lloyd is a musician who plays guitar and drums and also likes to DJ at local nightclubs. But he won’t have much free time on his hands over the next few years. While most crew members enjoy a few months of vacation at the end of a contract, Lloyd returns to the university to continue his studies. Oceania Cruises is pleased to have such a dedicated and hard-working young man as part of their crew and looks forward to his ongoing successes.

Lloyd4
I can attest that Lloyd’s future looks bright, as I happened to board a tender the next day and find that he was in training at the boat’s helm. The seas were a bit rough that day, and maneuvering the tender alongside the ship would’ve been a challenge even for a more experienced crew member. But Lloyd performed very well. The guests onboard could observe that he was receiving instructions from a senior crew member, and as Lloyd successfully brought the tender into position next to the ship, a round of applause rose from the guests in a show of support. 

Lloyd3
Best wishes to you Lloyd as you advance in your career with Oceania Cruises!

 


May 31, 2011

AN EVENING AT LA RESERVE

   

La Reserve CrewDuring the recent Oceania Club Reunion Cruise onboard Marina, Executive Chef Tino Daab and his wonderful team treated a group of guests to an evening in La Reserve. As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I was privileged to join this group for a spectacular evening of fine food and wine.

La Reserve Table

La Reserve is an intimate dining venue in which fine wines from around the world are perfectly paired with a seven-course menu. 
Place Setting
The custom-designed china and elegant place settings promised an evening to remember. La Reserve ChefChef Steven Pegg explained to us the delicious courses and wine pairings that awaited us this evening.

Table OneMy husband and I were joined by three other delightful couples at one of the tables in La Reserve. Pictured above (clockwise from left) are Mr. and Mrs. Ing, Mr. and Mrs. Rose, my husband and myself, and Mr. and Mrs. Maston.

Table TwoOceania Club Ambassador Matilda Jerosimic (front row, left) and Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis (second row, left) hosted another table that evening. Oceania Cruises Senior Vice President of Business Development Jeff Drew hosted a third table. La Reserve accommodates a maximum of 24 guests for an intimate and personalized dining experience.

Salts

Everything is in the details at La Reserve, beginning with the four different kinds of salt presented to start the evening, one from Oregon, Peru, France and Hawaii. Each had its own distinct flavor and color, ranging from white to pink to black. The Hawaiian salt was volcanic with an intense smoky flavor.

Amuse Bouche

The amuse bouche was a Lobster and Mascarpone Pancake with Baby Carrot Emulsion and Rock Chive Cress. The flavors were exquisite, and this certainly whet our appetites for what was still to come.
Pouring Pommery

The delicate Pommery Brut Rose Champagne paired perfectly with the lobster.
Cream of Porcini

Mr. Leroy Maston displays one of our favorite courses - Cream of Porcini Soup with Sauteed Duck Foie Gras Bites and Freshly Baked Croutons topped with a Cappuccino Foam. This delicious soup was matched with the full flavored and well structured Cervaro Castello della Sala Chardonnay from Umbria, Italy. The chardonnay had just a hint of herbs in the background that paired perfectly with the aromas of the porcini cream. 
Scallops

Above you see the Seared Bay Scallops and Jamon Iberico Pata Negra over Tarbais Bean Cream, which was surprisingly paired with a red wine, the Valsanzo Vall Sanzo Crianza from Ribera Del Duero, Spain. This red had low alcohol and soft tannins that made it a great match for the delicate flavors of the scallops and bean cream.
Short Rib

The main course was a Slow-Braised Short Rib with Truffle Sauce and Gnocchi au Jus. It was prepared sous-vide, a cooking style that is ever growing in popularity, especially in high-end gourmet restaurants. The meat is vacuum sealed and cooked very slowly over a period of 72 hours at a temperature of about 149 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows the meat to cook in its own natural fats and to preserve the integrity of the flavors while creating an unbelievable succulence. It melted in your mouth, and the gnocchi was the perfect accompaniment.
Pouring Cabernet

The main course was paired with a Gordon Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley in Washington State, poured ever so carefully by the sommelier from an exquisite decanter. This cabernet had aromas of blackberry and a smooth, velvety texture that did not overpower the rich flavors of the beef.
Brie de Meaux

For our cheese course we enjoyed an AOC Brie de Meaux on a freshly baked baguette with Raisin-Onion Compote and Quince Jelly, paired with The Hess Collection Allomi Vineyard Cabernet. This cabernet had hints of minerals in the mouth that complemented the cheese perfectly. 
La Reserve Anniversary

The evening concluded with a special surprise - a cake to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Finkenstadt.
Mille Feuille
Somehow we found room for both the Raspberry Caramelized Mille Feuille that was our final course of the evening and also the delicious anniversary cake, which the Finkenstadt's so kindly shared with us all. This last treat was paired with a Loire Valley late-harvest chenin blanc from Chateau La Variere. The wine had a well-balanced sweetness and acidity that made it perfect for this dessert course.

Our evening in La Reserve will certainly be one of our most treasured memories from the Reunion Cruise. The food and wine were exceptional, the company delightful, and the staff commendable. If you are traveling onboard Marina or Riviera in the future, be sure to inquire about a fabulous evening of delectable cuisine and fine wines in La Reserve.

May 24, 2011

A SALUTE TO OCEANIA CRUISES' EXTRAORDINARY STAFF AND CREW

  

Dining Reservations

Anyone who has traveled with Oceania Cruises knows that a large part of what makes these voyages so special is the fabulous staff and crew onboard Oceania Cruises’ ships. Their warmth, enthusiasm and sincerity put you instantly at ease, and their genuine desire to anticipate your every need distinguishes Oceania Cruises’ team members from all others.

Ishmael

I am constantly amazed at how they remember my name after meeting me once, and then remember me again when seeing me several months later on another cruise. My husband and I first met Ishmael, pictured above left, on our honeymoon cruise when he was our server in the Grand Dining Room. We've since seen him on two subsequent cruises and were pleased to discover he is now a Butler for the Suites!

Toscana Crew
Toscana Celebration When the staff onboard feel so much like dear friends, it truly elevates the entire vacation experience in a way that I have not seen matched anywhere else at sea or ashore. It is one of the reasons that an Oceania Cruise is such a great place to celebrate a special occasion. Of course, every Oceania Cruise is a special event, but if you happen to have a milestone to commemorate or any occasion you want to remember fondly for years to come, Oceania Cruises’ staff will ensure that you celebrate in style. I turned 40 this month during the Grecian Glory cruise onboard Marina, and while most of my family was back in the States, my Oceania Cruises family made me feel right at home, and I was so pleased to be celebrating with them. You can see the fun we had with all our friends who took such good care of us in Toscana.

Casino Bartenders
My experiences onboard have been made so special by so many Oceania Cruises staff members that I hesitate to point out any one in particular. But I would be remiss were I not to share at least a few photos as a salute to the team so dedicated to Oceania Cruises’ success and the happiness of every guest. In honor of the entire Oceania Cruises family, I share a few of its esteemed members:

Irina
Irina's warm smile has greeted me at Reception on several cruises.

Julia
I so enjoyed seeing Julia each day in the halls of Regatta last September.

Gerry De la Paz
Gerry is someone whom most of you will never see, but as Blogger-at-Large I was privileged to meet him while onboard Regatta last fall. Think of all the luxurious fabrics you see on the ship. Gerry is one of three upholsterers onboard responsible for keeping the chairs, draperies and other fabrics shipshape. Having trained with his father who was also an upholsterer, Gerry has been with Oceania Cruises over five years now. He describes the position as a "dream come true."

Marie
Marie was not only immensely patient in helping me with my dining reservations, but also provided exemplary service during our dinners in the Grand Dining Room. 

  Churchill
Churchill is one of the Butlers who cares for guests in Oceania Cruises' Suites. He delivers delicious canapes every afternoon.

DiogoDiogo greeted my husband and me by name each and every day during our recent cruise onboard Marina.

Dr
Affectionately known as Dr. Smitthedge, this gentleman was of utmost assistance with getting the blog posts up while I was onboard.

Anabelle Waje

My friends and I have seen Anabelle in Horizons on several cruises, both for afternoon tea and for the after-dinner disco entertainment. She says her favorite thing about Oceania Cruises is that guests return time and again, so happy to see her on every cruise and addressing her by name just like an old friend. She certainly holds a special place in our hearts, and we hope to see her again very soon!

My sincere thanks to all of the Oceania Cruises team members who have made every moment spent onboard so memorable. I know those guests following the Blog have stories to share of how an Oceania Cruises’ team member made your cruise unforgettable, so please don’t hesitate to post a comment here on the Blog!

 

 

 

 

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 7, 2011

Messages from Marina: REUNION CRUISE GUESTS ARRIVE IN VENICE

CanalAlong the Adriatic Sea on the coast of northeast Italy lies the city of Venice, floating upon a maze of intricate canals lined by charming cafes, regal cathedrals, and palatial estates once inhabited by a wealthy aristocracy. Vaporettos and water taxis zip along the waterways, while gondolas offer leisurely tours of a city famous for romance. 

Gondolas

In this lovely city I would soon embark on a marvelous journey, the 7th Annual Oceania Club Reunion Cruise onboard the extraordinary new ship Marina. This voyage is a wonderful event for everyone onboard, and is especially exceptional because it features hosted dinners, special excursions, exclusive cocktail parties and other surprises for Oceania Club members. As Oceania Cruises’ Blogger-at-Large, I had been looking forward to this sailing for many months.

My husband and I took advantage of Oceania Cruises’ Pre-Cruise Hotel Program so we could fly in a day early, spend some extra time exploring Venice, relax for a bit and then board Marina refreshed and ready for our adventures. 

 Bruschetta

A priority on our agenda was to indulge in some authentic Italian cuisine. We found a little out-of-the-way café where we shared a delectable bruschetta and caprese salad.

Fish stewReturning to Hotel Saturnia, we stopped into the hotel restaurant, La Caravella. We tried their famous fish stew, which was absolutely exquisite. 

St. Mark's SquareJust a few blocks from our hotel was St. Mark’s Square, where we saw two of Venice’s most famous landmarks, the Basilica di San Marco and the Doge’s Palace. We were planning to revisit the square for a full tour the next day, but we later found out that a more important guest would be visiting – the Pope! The city was bustling with excitement in preparing for the Pope's arrival.

St. Mark’s Square was closed for security reasons, so we were unable to see the inside of these beautiful facades, but we were happy for the excuse to return to Venice again!

Two glass blowersThere were plenty of other interesting things to see and do in this city, such as observing the glass blowers on the island of Murano. The families on this island have been perfecting this art for hundreds of years. We visited the Vetreria Bisanzio Gallery, where the Ballarin family had been blowing glass since 1483. 

Master DemosThe Master showed us how he incorporates mosaic pieces and even gold foil into the glasswork.

 Master Glass BlowerThe process was absolutely amazing to watch. A master glass blower is assisted by several others in a process of constant motion, heating, blowing, and manipulating the glass into elaborate designs. 

Murano Statue
  Murano GlassAfter the demonstration we were given a tour of the studio featuring magnificent chandeliers, beautiful sculptures, fine glassware, and the trademark statuettes of this particular master.

Marina in Venice
We had a fantastic time in Venice, but the excitement was even more palpable when it was finally time to board Marina. As we approached the port in our water taxi, the view of Marina was magnificent. 

Marina Crew
I was joined by Nick DeSantis, Manager of the Oceania Club, and Jeff Drew, Senior Vice President of Sales, who would be hosting this fabulous voyage. We were welcomed by several key staff members who have been responsible for Marina’s flawless performance and who would ensure that the Reunion Cruise was a wonderful success.

Pictured above are: Front row, left to right — Food & Beverage Director Filipe Martins, Chief Purser Michele Gullick, Chief Housekeeper Beata Antas, General Manager Theirry Tholon, Desktop Publisher Jessica Domm, Oceania Club Ambassador Matilda Jerosimic, Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis. Back row, left to right — Cruise Director David Shermet, Destination Services Manager Phil Leech, Executive Concierge Javier Cortes, Senior Vice President of Sales Jeff Drew.

Boat and Hosts

To celebrate the first day of the Reunion Cruise, several guests were invited to a special dinner. Two classic Italian theater characters welcomed my husband and I to the boat that transported us all to one of Venice’s charming little islands.

San Clemente
The dinner was held in a lovely garden setting outside the San Clemente Palace.

Venice dinner group
We dined on eggplant parmigiana and loin of lamb with rosemary potatoes.  The cuisine was delicious, and the pleasant company of the other Oceania Cruises’ guests made for a delightful evening.

We’ve enjoyed a splendid couple of days in Venice, and the Reunion Cruise has only just begun. I look forward to sharing more tales of our adventures as the journey continues!

 

 

 

 

 

April 27, 2011

Messages from Marina: THE 2011 REUNION CRUISE APPROACHES

 

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After completing a fourth transoceanic crossing, Marina arrived in Europe last week, where she will sail her inaugural summer season. While docked in Livorno, hundreds of guests ventured out to explore the treasures of Florence, Pisa, and the Tuscan countryside. Nearly six hundred guests returned from their excursions to Marina's first "Welcome Back" party, in which a host of jovial crew members, a band and cool beverages celebrated the guests' return to the ship. It appears each new "first" for Marina continues to be a jubilant event enjoyed by all.

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Having explored the shores of Spain and France, Marina will now linger a bit in Italy before continuing on to the lovely Greek Isles. Next week marks the beginning of the 7th Annual Oceania Club Reunion Cruise, always a marvelous journey for all onboard and featuring exclusive cocktail parties, dinners, excursions and other surprises for Oceania Club members. 

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Guests will be able to linger on the lovely beaches of several Greek islands such as Zakynthos and Mykonos.

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They can also meander the streets of lovely towns like Corfu and visit historic sights like the Achillion Palace.

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Santorini is an especially scenic island of Greece, offering spectacular views over the whitewashed towns as well as of the ship anchored in the glistening bay.

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You can see below that Mykonos is the perfect place to enjoy dinner ashore at a seaside cafe.

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Charming coastal towns aren't the only appeal of Greece. There are also grand cities of immense historical significance such as Athens, where the voyage concludes. From the crest of the Acropolis, one can capture spectacular views of the impressive temples and amphitheaters that draw visitors to this beautiful city time and again. 

Acropolis View
The Reunion Cruise promises to be an amazing voyage, and as Blogger-at-Large, I am thrilled to be joining this sailing. I will keep you up to date on the exciting events onboard and share my own perspectives and insights on the stunning new Marina. I hope you will follow my adventures on the blog and share your comments here as well!

January 10, 2011

MEET THE CREW: Regatta's Crew Administrator, Elery Dumandan


    

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You may not see Elery Dumandan very often during a cruise onboard Regatta, because while other crew members are taking care of Regatta’s guests, Elery is behind the scenes taking care of the crew.  Elery says that the crew onboard Regatta is very happy, and he intends to keep it that way.

“The crew here, they’re all very nice,” says Elery. “They’re happy. That’s the first thing I noticed.  Everybody’s smiling. They’re happy with what they’re doing…That’s the good thing about this company, that they care about people.”

In 2000, Elery began his cruise ship career as a dishwasher, washing over 10,000 plates a day. After gaining experience in several other positions, he started his first contract with Oceania Cruises in September 2010 as Crew Administrator. He performs services for the crew similar to what Reception does for the guests, and having worked in Reception before, he said the transition to Crew Administrator was not difficult. He attends to all of the crew’s concerns, including disembarking and embarking when in port. He is one of only two people handling the logistics of this process - managing head counts, getting landing cards and shore passes, and ensuring everyone is accounted for.

One of the most fun parts of Elery’s job is reading all of the guest comments. He keeps track of how many compliments are given to each crew member, and commendations are given to those who receive the most positive comments.

Elery says that Oceania Cruises offers many advantages over other cruise lines he’s worked for. He much prefers the food and accommodations. And while he previously worked contracts of 10-12 months, with Oceania Cruises his contract is only 6 months; thus he spends less time away from his family in the Phillipines. There are also more opportunities for advancement here, and he is interested in moving to Reception again at some point, as he does miss the interaction with the guests. In the meantime, he is very happy in his current position and enjoys taking care of the fantastic crew onboard Regatta.

We know that one of the reasons guests onboard Regatta are so happy is that the staff and crew are happy as well.  It is no wonder considering that they are in the capable hands of Crew Administrator Elery Dumandan.

December 21, 2010

DECK THE DECKS! Nautica is ready for the holidays!

There is nothing like celebrating the holidays onboard an Oceania Cruises' ship. The Grand Staircase is draped with garlands, the decks are adorned with wreaths, and the tree is trimmed with glittering lights. It is a festive and joyous time onboard, when all are inspired with the holiday spirit. Enjoy these photos of Nautica's bedecked decks!  

Nautica Christmas Tree

Nautica Holiday Staircase

Nautica Wreath

 

The pastry chefs celebrate by creating those special holiday treats that are a true sign of the season.

  Nautica Gingerbread

Carrying Nautica Gingerbread

Carrying Nautcia Gingerbread-2

Carrying Nautica Gingerbread-3

Nautica Gingerbread Neighborhood

Happy Holidays to you and yours from all of us here at Oceania Cruises!

 

December 14, 2010

MEET THE CREW: Regatta's Chief Butcher, Everal Morris

    

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The success of Oceania Cruises can be largely attributed to our fantastic team of crew members. We could not create the Oceania Cruises experience were it not for the skill, talent and dedication of our staff. Impeccable service is one of our hallmarks, and to achieve this high standard, we rely on not only the people who greet you with a smile each day, but also those whose smiles are behind the scenes. Even though you may never see Chief Butcher Everal Morris during your cruise onboard Regatta, you enjoy the results of his attentive service every time you dine.

Everal hails from Jamaica and has been with Oceania Cruises since the very beginning when our fleet debuted. He truly loves his job and says his biggest challenge is coming to the end of a contract! "That's the biggest challenge, when you have to leave all of this. It's a nice life onboard."

Everal especially likes the atmosphere in the galley - people of all different cultures working together in a fast-paced environment to achieve a common goal - service, service, service. He started as a roast man in the galley, but back in 2002, the ship he was onboard had no room for him in the galley, so he found himself working on the deck instead. One day a hiring manager came by and saw him on deck and asked, "Aren't you my roast man?" Everal told him that yes, he had been, but now there was no room for him in the galley.  The manager talked to the food and beverage department, and by four o'clock that afternoon, he was offering Everal a position as a butcher. Everal said that he'd never done that kind of work, but he would sure give it a try! And he's been working in the galley ever since.

Everal began as a utility butcher and then moved up to assistant butcher and on to chief butcher. He's a quick study, and he enjoyed each new challenge along the way.  "Once you show me stuff one time, you don't have to show me two times," he says. "I just like to challenge myself. It doesn't take me long to adapt to things."

At different ports the ships acquire various meats - beef, fish, poultry - and Everal is in charge of getting these cuts of meat into the refrigerator, and then cutting and portioning each consistently and distributing the product to the various restaurants and galleys onboard. He underwent special training on the use of a band saw, but otherwise he says his only tools are his knives and his knowledge. 

Everal has high praise for all of his fellow crew members and says that the way the crew all works together is one of the things he admires most about Oceania Cruises. At the end of their work days, everyone comes together to relax, listen to music, and enjoy conversations with their friends. And when you combine happy team members with a positive, supportive environment, you cannot help but achieve great success. 

 

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 3, 2010

Meet Regatta General Manager Christian Krempl!

    

Regatta General Manager Christian Krempl joined Oceania Cruises in 2008, after waiting two years for an interview. He first became interested in Oceania Cruises in 2005 after hearing that they served the "finest cuisine at sea." Considering Mr. Krempl's passion for food, he was intrigued by a company that had the confidence to make such a claim and could also support it. In 2006 he submitted his CV to the Vice President of Hotel Operations, but unfortunately there were no positions open at the time. Two years later Mr. Krempl received the call to come to Venice for an interview. He started with Oceania Cruises the next day.

GM Others Grand StaircaseChief Housekeeper Gaby Cabello, Receptionist Alina Ciobica, Concierge Conny Hammelmann, Assistant Housekeeper Nataliya Kotlenko, and General Manager Christian Krempl on the Grand Staircase of Regatta

At the young age of 14, Mr. Krempl began his training at hotel school in Austria, the country he still calls home today. From age 16 to 20, he trained as a waiter and chef at leading hotels in Austria and Switzerland. In 1988 he landed his first job with a cruise line and has never looked back. He moved from dining room waiter to sommelier, cellar master, head waiter, chief steward, maitre d’, and hotel manager. He is now General Manager onboard Regatta and oversees the hotel operations of the entire ship. He is thrilled to be working with such a wonderful crew.

“We have a fantastic team,” says GM Krempl. “We have 396 hard-working crew members…We have 45 different nationalities, so that’s very rewarding, and that’s the most interesting part to work with them on a daily basis to try to give the best service that we can to our guests.”

GM Krempl’s workday begins early and lasts well into the evening. He starts by ensuring breakfast service is properly set up and enjoys a cup of coffee himself. Then he is off to various inspections, checking maintenance of staterooms, tasting food, meeting with department heads, keeping up with emails, and many other duties. He ensures everything is shipshape in the spa, the casino, the restaurants, and all other venues onboard, and he also checks to see that the shore excursions are running smoothly. Soon it’s time to begin dinner service and to make sure everyone is enjoying the evening entertainment. Of course, a large part of GM Krempl’s job is interacting with the guests, one of the most important ways he ensures that everyone’s experience is up to Oceania Cruises' high standards.

While his spare time is limited, GM Krempl does like to go ashore when possible, especially to sample the local fare at a particular port. Recently in Honfleur, he was able to enjoy some cheese, sausage, and moules frites (mussels and fries) at a shoreside restaurant. When asked if he has a favorite port of call, GM Krempl has a tough time choosing. After all, he has visited nearly every country in the world, although he says the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador are a notable exception. He has even visited Antarctica on four different occasions, all of which were fascinating (although he does admit that four visits are probably enough). He looks forward to all of Regatta’s upcoming itineraries including the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Amazon, and Oceania Cruises’ first venture into Alaska. GM Krempl hasn’t visited Alaska since 1997 and is excited to return and see what has changed. 

Running a cruise ship does sometimes have its challenges, and GM Krempl has been around for the biggest ones of the past few years, from a labor strike to an earthquake to an Icelandic ash cloud. Krempl has high praise for the support they received from Oceania Cruises’ corporate office during these events.

“It was incredible how much help we had from shoreside. Everybody was there, for the earthquake, for example, in Valparaiso they right away flew in some executives from Oceania. [They were] there making sure everything runs smooth, assisting us and helping the guests, getting a whole picture of the situation, so this was done very, very quickly. In a couple of hours they were on a plane on their way to us and the same way with the ash cloud….It’s incredible how fast we get a response if we need help. Within hours, sometimes even less.”

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GM Krempl, Blogger-at-Large Lisa Pancake Fossland, and Grand Dining Room Waiter Francisco Lopez Molina

Happily, such occurrences are rare, and for the most part life onboard the ship is smooth sailing. GM Krempl and his staff work hard to ensure that the experience of all guests onboard Regatta meets Oceania Cruises’ high standards of excellence in every way. The secret to maintaining such high standards starts at the top. 

“I think what makes the biggest difference, I mean, I’ve worked for some other nice companies, good companies, but here you only have nice people that you work with, and the way we can treat each other, respect each other, this message comes from the office in Miami. It starts with Mr. Del Rio; it’s just the way he allows us to manage here onboard…And more than 75% of the crew members, they’re coming back to Oceania because they enjoy it.”

The truth of this philosophy is evident in the warm, genuine smiles of the crew and their eagerness to ensure that every guest’s experience is flawless.  It is why inevitably on an Oceania Cruise, you will find that some crew members become friends, and on your next cruise they are often there to welcome you back onboard. GM Krempl and his staff are most definitely an essential part of what sets Oceania Cruises apart from all others. If you’re planning to be onboard Regatta soon, be sure to say hello!

 

 

 

 

October 21, 2010

A View from the Bridge: Behind the Scenes With Captain Rye

DSC04401Few people have enjoyed the privilege of a view from the bridge as Regatta sails away from a port. Even the number of crew members allowed on the bridge is quite limited, as this is the center of the ship's navigation and operations, and thus a place where all present must be intently focused on the task at hand. When departing Lisbon a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to sneak behind the scenes on Regatta’s bridge and capture some photos to share on the blog, thanks to the generosity and cooperation of Captain Jahn Rye (pictured above). It was a fascinating experience and a beautiful view.

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Many important instruments are used to navigate the ship, including of course, a compassDSC04359

Crewmen reel in the ropes that have secured us to the dock along the Tagus River (Rio Tejo)DSC04363

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Captain Rye on the bridge deck portsideDSC04360

We move away from the dock and turn around to sail out the mouth of the riverDSC04372

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General Manager Christian Krempl and a member of the crew on the starboard deckDSC04366

You can see all the way down to the water through the floors of the outer decks. Not a view for those with a fear of heights. DSC04391    

We'll soon sail under the 25th of April Bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril), named after the date of the Carnation Revolution in Portugal in 1974. (If you think the sailboat seems a bit close to the ship, you would be correct. It received a blast from Regatta's horn!)DSC04384

As we pass underneath, note the resemblance to the Golden Gate Bridge. The American Bridge Company, who built this bridge in Lisbon, actually built San Francisco’s Bay Bridge and many other famous bridges.

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We can now see the pilot's boat approaching. Pilot Boat Approach 2

In every port, a pilot boards the ship to assist in communications during our arrival and departure. Now that we are safely underway, the pilot dons his lifejacket and leaps onboard the boat that has come to retrieve him. Look closely at the photos below and you'll see him emerge and hop aboard. DSC04407 DSC04408 DSC04409 DSC04410

Our pilot waves goodbye. DSC04415

One more shot of the lovely Lisbon coast. DSC04395

Captain Rye sees clear seas ahead. DSC04400

Now it’s back to the pool deck for the sail-away party! Thanks again, Captain Rye, for the glimpse behind the scenes!

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October 1, 2010

President Bob Binder Raises Toast to Our Oceania Club Members

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Ms. Sheila Brohman shakes the hand of General Manager Christian Krempl as he presents her Oceania Club Gold Pin signifying her 15th cruise. Behind her Mr. Ken Reycraft waits to receive his Gold Pin as well.

While onboard Regatta this past week, it was such a treat to chat with guests who were on their fifth, tenth, and even fifteenth Oceania Cruise. Of course, I also enjoyed meeting several guests who were on their first voyage, but as this was the Oceania Club Reunion Cruise, the majority of the guests had traveled with us before. It was such a privilege to welcome these guests onboard again and to hear the stories of all their journeys with Oceania Cruises. Cocktail Shrimp Display
Captain Jahn Raye and myself hosted a cocktail party in the Regatta Lounge to show our appreciation for all of our Oceania Club members and to recognize those guests who have traveled with us many times. It was a festive affair with an ice sculpture, floral fruit carvings, champagne, and of course, great company.  

Pictured below are some of our guests who received their Bronze Oceania Club Pins commemorating their fifth cruise.

Belasco & Nirenblatt
Mr. Richard Belasco, Mrs. Susan Belasco, Mr. Norman Nirenblatt, Mrs. Rebecca  Nirenblatt

Coverdale
Mr. Glen Coverdale and Mrs. Linda Coverdale

Teron & Ferraro
Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis, Mr. William Teron, Mrs. Jean Teron, Mr. Richard Ferraro, Mrs. Wendy Ferraro

Tymkiw & Doherty
Mrs. Tamara Timkiw, Dr. Stephan Timkiw, Mr. Paul Doherty, Mrs. Nancy Doherty

We also had guests onboard celebrating another milestone. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Battaglia received their Silver Oceania Club Pins in honor of their tenth cruise. 

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Mrs. Anita Battaglia receives her Silver Pin from General Manager Christian Krempl while Social Hostess Kami Rodgers and Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis look on.

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Myself, Mr. Robert Battaglia, General Manager Christian Krempl, Mrs. Anita Battalgia, Captain Jahn Rye, Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis

For our grand finale, Mr. Kenneth Reycraft and Ms. Sheila Brohman received their Gold Oceania Club Pins in recognition of their fifteenth cruise with us.  It was such an honor to have all of these guests onboard and to celebrate such memorable milestones with them. I look forward to my next opportunity to join one of our cruises and meet so many of our wonderful guests.

Ken Sheila Guests
Mr. and Mrs. William Teron pictured with Mr. Reycraft and Ms. Brohman

 

 

 

 

September 19, 2010

The President's Tales from the Annual Oceania Club Reunion Cruise

Bob and Friends Martinis
Oceania Cruises' President Bob Binder (second from left) and guests

Myself and other members of our Oceania Cruises' team joined our guests this week onboard Regatta for the annual Oceania Club Reunion Cruise. We departed London on Thursday and began our journey of 14 days during which we'll explore the coasts of France, Spain, and Portugal. Last evening Captain Jahn Rye hosted his Champagne Reception to officially welcome everyone to the ship. Introductions of the Captain and senior crew members were followed by entertainment from the 12-piece Regatta Orchestra. As you can see from the photo above, I had a quite enjoyable evening, as did everyone onboard.

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Cruise Director David Shermet welcomes guests to the Captain's Champagne Reception in Regatta Lounge.

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General Manager Christian Krempl, Blogger-at-Large Lisa Pancake Fossland, and Captain Jahn Rye

Captain and Crew
Captain Rye and senior crew members greet Regatta's guests

Captain's Champagne Servers
The bartenders and service staff stand ready to entertain.

Elegant Dancers
This talented couple enjoyed dancing to the music of the Regatta Orchestra, and we all enjoyed watching their performance.

After the Champagne Welcome Reception, I savored a splendid dinner in the Grand Dining Room.  As usual Executive Chef Mickael Tocchetto presented an exquisite menu offering such an array of delectable courses, it was difficult to decide between them.

Chef Jack Cathy Robert
Chef Tocchetto with Oceania Club Ambassador Robert Kinkhorst (right) and guests Jack and Kathy Mundy from Toronto.

Today we arrive in Lorient, where I shall continue to pursue my favorite French pastime - the search for the perfect pastry.  Yesterday I found one with chocolate and almonds that is definitely in the running. I'll keep you posted on my progress and on other events onboard and ashore as Regatta continues her journey in the days to come.

 

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