November 6, 2015

Guest Lecturer Post: Barbados – George Washington Slept Here

Guest lecturer Sandy Cares has been sharing her engaging lectures aboard Oceania Cruises voyages throughout the Caribbean and Central America since January 2014. Below, she shares an interesting slice of Barbadian history.

1The gentle folks of Barbados wish more visitors from North America knew a juicy tidbit about their enchanting island. George Washington slept here.

In his entire life, the United States’ first president made only one voyage outside of the original colonies – and it was to Barbados!

3The year was 1751 and a strapping 17-year-old George Washington accompanied his older half-brother, Lawrence, to Barbados, where the tropical air promised the hope of relief from a virulent case of tuberculosis.

Since the family that they had planned to stay with was quarantined against a tropical disease, the Washington brothers headed to the Garrison Savannah on the outskirts of town where they lodged at a British officer’s home, now known as Washington House.

 Barbadians like to point out that George Washington’s visits to sugar plantations opened his eyes to new farming techniques, and that their cosmopolitan capital city, Bridgetown afforded him his first-ever encounter with live theater. He even sampled “Forbidden Fruit,” a citrus bred in Barbados we call grapefruit. He did not dislike it.

2Washington contracted smallpox in Barbados. An attentive physician brought him through it unscathed except for the telltale pocks that bedeviled his nose thereafter. Ironically, that setback immunized him so years later he was unfazed when smallpox coursed through the Continental Army. What serendipitous hand of fate may have dealt Barbados a part in shaping the fledgling nation of the United States!

Washington House is a gracious two-story Georgian estate with large, airy rooms upstairs converted into a museum.  The main floor features the bedrooms where Lawrence and George slept, travel trunks at the ready and curtains billowing lazily in the trade winds.

4A long mahogany dining table, polished to a high gloss with orange rinds and beeswax is set lavishly for two dozen as if the family and guests are about to gather around at any moment.  The West Indies-style detached kitchen with its fireplace, kettles, bowls and water-filtering dripstone, belie an era long since vanished.

George Washington wrote in his journal that he found Barbados “ravishingly beautiful.”  The brothers parted ways at the end of their stay as George headed back to Virginia and Lawrence sailed on to Bermuda chasing yet another desperate hope of relief from his disease. 

Join Sandy’s lectures in the Caribbean this winter:

November 5, 2015

The Art of the Appetizer – Results Unveiled!

The votes are in, the ballots have been counted, and we have the winners for our Oceania Cruises “Favorite Appetizers.” Tantalize your taste buds and pique your appetite with these delicious appetizers. If you haven’t sampled them all yet, be sure to order them next time you’re on board!

In first place, we have a tie with two delectable dishes from Red Ginger and Jacques.

Avocado Lobster Salad
Avocado Lobster Salad
 Escargots à la Bourguignonne
Escargots à la Bourguignonne

Avocado Lobster Salad (Red Ginger) – A salad of diced avocado, tuna and hamachi marinated with sesame seeds, shiso vinegar, yuzu juice and maldon salt, placed on top of a crispy lotus root and garnished with a slice of poached rock lobster tail. This dish is served with den miso sauce and garnished with affila cress.

A suggested wine pairing would be a white wine such as the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand.  The tropical fruits aromas add complexity to the dish, and the lemon zest notes pair with all of the seafood elements.

Escargots à la Bourguignonne (Jacques) –Tender, cooked escargots baked in their shell with a Burgundy  garlic herb butter and served with a crusty baguette, which is perfect to soak up the melted garlic herb butter.

A perfect match for this savory dish is the earthy Joseph Drouhin Pommard from Burgundy, France.

Appetizers from Toscana and Grand Dining Room were voted second and third on the poll. 

Carpaccio di Manzo
Carpaccio di Manzo

Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Roasted Cherry Tomato Aioli
Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Roasted Cherry Tomato Aioli

Carpaccio di Manzo (Toscana) – A very thinly sliced raw beef tenderloin served with an olive oil and lemon emulsion with aged Parmigiano Reggiano, cracked black pepper, fleur de sel and garnished with baby arugula leaves.

The soft tannins and confined cherry aromas of Antinori Castello della Sala Pinot Nero IGT from Umbria, Italy is the perfect match for this exquisite dish.

Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Roasted Cherry Tomato Aioli (Grand Dining Room) – This soft-shell crab is dipped in a delightful tempura batter and then deep fried until golden and crispy. The dish is served with a roasted cherry tomato aioli – an emulsion of egg yolks, garlic, olive oil, lemon and roasted cherry tomatoes.

Our chefs recommend pairing this appetizer with a full-bodied chardonnay such as the Lincourt Vineyards Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills from Santa Barbara, California to balance the flavor with the acidity of the roasted tomatoes and the tempura. 

October 30, 2015

The Mystery of Easter Island

Easter Island

Over 1,200 miles from the nearest inhabited island and over 2,000 miles from Tahiti and Chile, Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. The name “Easter Island” was coined by a Dutch explorer who encountered the island on Easter Sunday in 1722. The Polynesian name, Rapa Nui, is said to refer to its resemblance to the Island of Rapa in the Bass Islands, but some claim that Rapa was the original name given by settlers.

Uninhabited by humans for millions of years, it is believed that a group of seafarers, perhaps from the Marquesas, landed on Easter Island in 300 AD. With very few safe places to disembark, legend has it that King Hoto Matua landed a double-hulled canoe on Anakena Beach and founded the first settlement.

What draws more than 50,000 visitors each year are the 887 mystical moai statues carved by the island’s ancient inhabitants. The tallest statue is nearly 22 feet high and weighs 82 tons, and thus a mystery surrounds the methods that would’ve been used to construct and transport these impressive monuments, built long before the benefit of modern machinery.

Easter Island

The other half of the known statues were completed and moved across the island. No one is sure exactly how this miraculous feat was accomplished. Legends tell of people enlisting divine powers to command the statues to walk, while other theorists describe an intricate system using ropes, trees and human labor.

By 1868 all of the statues on the island had been toppled. Some accounts recall an island clan pushing a statue over, but others refer to “earth shaking,” and it is believed that an earthquake may have been responsible for the toppling of the statues. Today, because of preservation efforts, about 50 moai have been re-erected on their ceremonial sites.

EI3Explore mysterious Easter Island aboard Marina:

Portrait of the Pacific | December 22, 2015

Polynesian Pearls | January 7, 2016

Pacific Serenade | January 7, 2016

Beaches, Bungalows & Broadway | April 11, 2016

Pacific Journey | April 11, 2016

October 27, 2015

Soothing Winter Spa Treatments

With the leaves rapidly falling and temperatures already dipping, daydreams of sunshine and warm weather begin to tempt us all.  A winter cruise vacation invites you to escape the freezing temperatures and harsh weather – and our luxurious Canyon Ranch SpaClub® on board helps you take your vacation from winter to summer.

Enjoy the extensive menu, which offers an array of indulgent treatments that help to reduce the effects of cold winter weather – brightening your skin, boosting your immune system and more. Treat yourself this holiday season!

Naturally Nourishing Ritual


This Naturally Nourishing Ritual creates radiance in dull winter skin, while reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It reduces toxins that build up from being less active during cold, winter months. It also heals dry and damaged winter skin, improves your lymph flow, boosts your mood and relieves muscle tension and joint pain.

Ocean Scrub

Ocean scrub

Body scrubs are a great way to stimulate your body’s circulation. This renewing Ocean Scrub repairs, firms, softens, soothes and protects winter skin. It also boosts your immune system and promotes respiratory health to keep those winter colds at bay.

Detoxifying Ritual


What better way to begin your vacation than with a Detoxifying Ritual that detoxifies your entire body and reduces cellulite and varicose veins developed during cold winter months? This treatment also brightens your complexion and heals dry and damaged winter skin while toning and firming it. Plus, it boosts your immune system and your mood.

To make an appointment, simply call Canyon Ranch at 877-329-1924 up to 60 days prior to sailing. Book a treatment now for the ultimate restorative winter vacation! 

October 23, 2015

Guest Lecturer Post: An Eye-Level View of the Panama Canal

Panama CityGuest lecturer Sandy Cares has been sharing her engaging lectures aboard Oceania Cruises voyages throughout the Caribbean and Central America since January 2014. Below, she shares her fascinating experience transiting the Panama Canal.

My most recent adventure started out from glamorous Regatta with a fantastic shore excursion to Gamboa where we boarded Islamorada for a half-transit through the Panama Canal, affording a unique eye-level perspective.

We cruised southward through the famous Gaillard Pass, regarded as the most difficult – and dangerous – stretch for excavators. At the canal’s completion, enough earth had been excavated to build a pyramid 4,200 feet high!

          Entering lock chamber  Locks opening

American engineers conceived a locks-and-lakes system for the passage through the extremely tough terrain compounded by endless rainfall.  A series of locks elevate ships 85 feet above sea level to a man-made lake across which the ships traverse to be lowered back to sea level on the other side. Simply put, it works like a water elevator. 

The genius of the system is its simplicity. It harnesses what nature already provides in abundance: rainfall and gravity. Rain keeps the man-made Gatun Lake full, which provides water to fill the lock chambers. Ships are guided into position with powerful locomotive “mules” on parallel rails and once in the chamber, the gates close and the lock fills up. It takes about ten minutes to fill or empty a chamber of 26 million gallons of water.

Locomotive MuleAs our ferry nosed into a chamber, we saw one of 46 behemoth miter gates that close and open like bi-valves. Weighing up to 662 tons apiece, these hollow and watertight doors literally “float” requiring only a simple 40-horsepower outboard engine to work! Inside the lock, handlers tethered our boat to the wall as our guide propagated the local myth – couples who touch the canal walls together enjoy eternal marital bliss! 

In under ten minutes, we emerged from the Pedro Miguel lock, looking up at the Centennial Bridge, the monument marking the Panama Canal’s first hundred years: 1914 to 2014. Skimming the canal surface, we scanned the edges for lazy crocodiles while enjoying some local fruit including Panama-grown pineapple and those sweet Panama bananas!

Bridge of the AmericasNext, we dropped down the two “flights” at the Miraflores locks, and the stunning Bridge of the Americas dominated our view, spanning two great continents. We took in the misty watercolor scene of enormous container ships from every corner of the world waiting their turn through the 50-mile passage – saving them the 8,000-mile journey around South America. The lights of Panama City began to twinkle against the early evening sky, beckoning us to return to Regatta with unforgettable memories of our rare “inside view” of the Panama Canal. 

Experience the Panama Canal with Oceania Cruises:

Sand, Sea & Stars | December 19, 2015
Bridge of the Americas | January 20, 2016
Picturesque Panama | June 15, 2016
Panama Canal Passage | August 31, 2016

For Sandy’s expanded history on the Panama Canal, visit

October 16, 2015

New Winter Ports Part II: South America & Caribbean

As a continuation of last week’s spotlight on a few of our exciting new ports, we’re turning our focus on vibrant South America and the sun-drenched Caribbean. From the bliss of Punta Cana to Arica, Chile’s fascinating northernmost city at the edge of a desert, our new 2016-2017 Winter Collection introduces unique ports throughout South America and the Caribbean.

Top Experiences in Featured South America & Caribbean Ports


Arica, Chile: A lush city situated at the edge of the famed Atacama Desert, Arica offers beautiful beaches, verdant valleys filled with olive groves, fascinating archaeological sites and more.

  • Take in sweeping views of the city and ocean from El Morro
  • Discover excavated mummies at Museo de Sitio Colón 10
  • Browse the craft shops and studios of Poblado Artesanal
  • Don’t miss the impressive San Miguel de Azapa Archeological Museum


Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Powderly white sands, swaying palms, the gentle lap of ocean waves and the radiant sun on your shoulders – that’s the bliss of Punta Cana, but plenty of other diversions abound.

  • Visit freshwater lagoons and observe indigenous wildlife at the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve
  • Travel to a countryside ranch to learn how local products are produced
  • Witness the colorful variety of marine life on a glass-bottom boat or snorkeling tour
  • Stop at the Ponce de Leon Fort Museum for a glimpse of the explorer’s life

There’s more – discover the rest of our new ports in the Caribbean & Mexico on our website:

Golfito, Costa Rica
Harvest Caye, Belize
Ensenada, Mexico
La Paz, Mexico
Manzanillo, Mexico

Get inspired to plan your winter voyage with Oceania Cruises today!

October 13, 2015

Flavors of Finland: Helsinki Culinary Discovery Tour

1“If I could go everywhere in the world on a Culinary Discovery Tour, I would!”
- Ron Burk, Naples, Florida guest

2Summer is the season of bumper crops in Finland, so when I was on board last month, it was the perfect time to head out to the overflowing farmers markets.

Our Culinary Discovery Tour started at the Kauppakalli market in central Helsinki. Here the indoor and outdoor markets were brimming with smoked salmon pickled herring, Lapland cheeses, caviars and berry preserves. The air was filled with the sounds and smells of sizzling sausages, salmon and new potatoes on the outdoor grills.

3Given Helsinki’s importance as a Baltic gateway trading port, the peasant traditions of Finland are laced with influences from both the East and West. As a result, the cuisine is straightforward and relatively uncomplicated, but the methods for preparing Finnish cuisine are highly technical. Smoking, preserving, pickling and curing are commonplace. Butchering, sausage making and classic charcuterie are forgotten crafts in many parts of the world, but not in Finland. Bears and reindeer are as common as beef and lamb. Salmon - double the size of what we see in most markets outside of the Baltic - are cured and seasoned with herbs, spices and peppers. Baking is also an important part of Finnish cuisine, and sweet buns, pancakes, pastries, rye bread and berry desserts are all part of the daily fare.

4With our market bags full, our small group and enthusiastic chef headed to a second market - more popular with chefs and locals - for fresh baked goods and seasonal forest berries and produce. We gathered black bread, fresh chanterelle mushrooms, Karelian pastries and cloudberries. And dill - lots of dill!

5After a panoramic tour of Helsinki highlights, we returned to The Culinary Center for a 90 minute Finnish cooking class and luncheon. Each tour results in different recipes depending on what’s fresh, but a few favorite recipes we learn are pan-seared wild salmon with cucumber salad, Kalakeitto (creamy fish soup) with dill, Perunasalaatti (new potato salad) and champagne & lingonberry sparklers. Plus, after each tour, we always enjoy a smorgasbord of tastings that we pick up along the way - gravlax with classic pink peppercorn, dill and fennel; cranberry pickled herring; dark brown bread with artisanal butter; Lapland cheese with cloudberry jam; cured boar and reindeer; giant chocolate meringues; licorice - and of course, Finnish beer!

As one of our guests, Jackie Holzman from Ottawa, Canada, put it, “It was exactly what I hoped it would be - a real Finnish experience!”

6 7

October 9, 2015

New Winter Ports Part 1: Australia

As Destination Immersion Specialists, we never stop seeking captivating new destinations to share with our guests. From extraordinary landscapes and rare wildlife to indigenous art and ancient history, our exciting 2016-2017 Winter Collection introduces an array of exotic ports of call throughout Australia. Below are just a few highlights to look forward to on your next Oceania Cruises voyage.

Top Experiences in Featured Australian Destinations


Broome, Australia: A celebrated gateway to the Kimberley region in the northwest corner of Australia, Broome offers spectacular Indian Ocean sunsets, gorgeous white sand beaches and much more.

  • Ride a camel on Cable Beach
  • Admire indigenous art at Short Street Gallery
  • Visit the Japanese pearl divers’ cemetery
  • Glimpse ancient dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume


Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island), Australia: Brimming with wildlife and wilderness, Kangaroo Island enchants with a range of parks, preserves and beaches, not to mention its welcoming, small town charm.

  • Learn about Little Penguins at Penneshaw Penguin Centre
  • Travel to Flinders Chase National Park for bush walks, to observe the fur seal colony and more
  • Explore Penneshaw Maritime & Folk Museum
  • Sip a glass of sauvignon blanc at Sunset Winery

There’s more! Discover the rest of our new ports in Australia on our website:

Burnie (Tasmania), Australia
Exmouth, Australia
Perth (Fremantle), Australia
Portland, Australia

Plus, stay tuned for a spotlight on our new destinations in the Caribbean and South America next week!

October 7, 2015

NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!

 NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!Reservations are now open for our new 2016-2017 Winter Collection! With 89 sailings, including 60 unique new itineraries and 19 new ports of call, it’s truly an extraordinary collection of voyages. Live the OLife™ as you discover the best of Asia & Africa, Caribbean, Panama Canal & Mexico, South America, South Pacific & Australia, plus exciting, remote destinations on our Transoceanic Voyages.

Our Winter Collection features an excellent new amenity package, OLife Advantage*, for all bookings made by December 31, 2015.

  • FREE Shore Excursions
  • FREE Unlimited Internet
  • FREE Pre-Paid Gratuities

Be among the very first to reserve the voyage and accommodation of your choice, and receive exceptional savings.

From Perth to Patagonia: 2016-17 Winter Collection Highlights

Sirena sets sail on her inaugural winter journeys, including an exciting 34-day Southern Cross Sojourn, featuring eight stunning new ports of call in Australia and Papua New Guinea, including Perth and Alotau. Join Sirena in Polynesian Paradise, the Outrageous Outback, or on other journeys throughout the South Pacific and Down Under.

            NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!     NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!

Riviera spends the winter in the sunny Caribbean with voyages ranging from 7 to 14 days in length – simply perfect for escaping the dipping temperatures. Discover Caribbean Hideaways, Islands in the Sun and more.

            NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!     NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!

Marina invites you to uncover the magic of the Incas & the Andes in South America, followed by Seaswept Breezes and Tropical Tempos on a series of relaxing journeys among the palm-lined islands of the Caribbean.

           NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!     NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!

Nautica enchants with Safaris, Temples & Jewels, Imperial Grandeur and Far East Mysteries on an array of exotic journeys throughout Asia and Africa.

            NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!     NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!

Insignia departs Miami on January 6, 2017 on our exciting Around the World in 180 Days voyage. Our magnificent new route follows the sun west, heading from  the Caribbean and Pacific Riviera to the South Pacific, continuing on to explore the vast marvels throughout Asia and several favorites along the Mediterranean before crossing the high seas to New England and Canada.

            NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!     NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!

Regatta explores the diverse coasts of the Americas at length. All-new South American and Caribbean itineraries take you on a thrilling Amazon Exploration, a Patagonian Odyssey circling Chile and Argentina, through the iconic Panama Canal and beyond.

            NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!     NEW 2016-17 Winter Collection: Reservations Now Open!

Start planning your dream journey now!

*See Terms & Conditions.

October 2, 2015

Curious Traveler Webisode 8: Destination Specialists

Our shore excursion collections offer insight into the culture, history and cuisine of the fascinating ports of call our guests visit. In the final webisode of Emmy Award-nominated Curious Traveler, host Christine van Blokland explores Italy, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia. 

As Destination Specialists, we design tours with as much time in port as possible, including overnight stays in popular destinations. Christine began her Mediterranean voyage with a pre-cruise tour of Rome, the Eternal City, before embarking on an unforgettable journey aboard Riviera.  From touring sprawling expansive wineries in Italy and truffle hunting with a Master Chef in Slovenia to exploring ancient ruins in Greece and hiking a medieval fort in Montenegro, the possibilities of maximizing your time in each port are endless.


Delve deeper into a region’s culture and history with Oceania Choice and Oceania Exclusive Excursions for unique, one-of-a-kind experiences. Use our Find a Shore Excursion tool on to discover countless ways to explore the world.

To watch all eight Curious Traveler webisodes, visit Oceania Cruises’ YouTube Channel. Learn more about premier journalist Christine van Blokland and the award-winning PBS program Curious Traveler

October 1, 2015

Exciting New Culinary Experiences Unveiled for Sirena

Tuscan-steakSince Oceania Cruises has long been recognized for having the finest cuisine at sea, what better way to honor our newest ship than with some exciting new culinary offerings? As we move closer to welcoming the elegant Sirena to our fleet, set to debut in April 2016, we're pleased to share a few exciting new details. 

Sirena will feature two specialty restaurants: the all-new Tuscan Steak and one of our guests’ favorite, Red Ginger. Tuscan Steak, inspired by Polo Grill and Toscana, is destined to become an instant classic, offering succulent steaks and seafood with a Tuscan flair.  Its eclectic menu will offer authentic favorites that celebrate the passion and tradition of Italian dining, while continuing to offer savory steakhouse fare. Among its varied and delectable offerings will be the signature Tuscan porterhouse, Bistecca alla Fiorentina; Iberico de Bellota pork chop with Gaeta black olives; and Maine lobster Fra Diavolo.

And considering the overwhelming popularity of Red Ginger, the beloved Asian-inspired restaurant currently available on Marina and Riviera, we are thrilled to add this remarkable dining experience aboard our newest ship.

Logo-jacques-bistroAdditionally, the Grand Dining Room aboard Sirena will transform into Jacques Bistro during lunch, offering guests the opportunity to be transported to an authentic Parisian bistro.  Inspired by Oceania Cruises’ Executive Culinary Director and world-renowned Master Chef Jacques Pépin’s namesake restaurant on Marina and Riviera, the bistro offers simple and elegant French fare.  As evidenced by its hand-written chalkboard displaying the day’s specialty items, Jacques Bistro is certain to entice you with its comfortable and warm mid-day charm.

Sirena1Sirena offers diverse and destination-rich itineraries appealing to both seasoned world travelers and passionate cruisers who crave a more intimate and luxurious cruise experience.  Prior to her inaugural season, the 684-guest ship will undergo a 35-day, $40 million refurbishment so that she will shine like the rest of the fleet. Sirena’s decks will be resplendent in the finest teak, custom stone and tile work; and her lounges, suites and staterooms will be completely refreshed including major design changes to the Owner’s Suites, Vista Suites and Horizons Lounge. 

For more information on the stellar culinary offerings aboard Sirena, please visit  

September 28, 2015

Q & A with Artist-in-Residence W. Andre Allen

W. Andre Allen The bold hues and intricate grid-like patterns on glass have likely caught your attention on board before – they are the trademark of artist W. Andre Allen. Hundreds of this artist’s intriguing works are aboard our five ships, and he has been delighting guests with his techniques at Artist Loft for several years. An accomplished self-taught artist, he is based in Miami, Florida and has gained significant recognition for his unique craft and eye-catching imagery in recent years. W. Andre Allen is currently aboard Marina, hosting workshops in Artist Loft as he sails with guests among the Mediterranean during the next month. We caught up with him to discover insight into his artwork and the inspiration he brings to Artist Loft.

Andre - Wall of HopeOur ships feature a range of your acrylic and glass artwork. Can you describe your process for developing those works? I have dyslexia, so I actually paint backwards. Because the “front” surface of the glass can easily become scratched, I leave it covered and paint on the reverse. Once the painting is completely sealed, I take off the protective front covering to see what the image looks like. This process really works for my mind – I can start with the forefront and work backwards. It’s a complete flow. Out of thousands that I’ve done, I think probably only one or two haven’t worked.

Andre Williard 9What inspires the aesthetics of your artwork?

Everything is about grids – from living in New York for so long. I’ve been flying there all my life. I looked down one day, and the aerial view just struck me. Cy Twombly, an abstract artist, has also made an impact – his expressive style and drip techniques have been an inspiration. I often use textured cloths and other materials to create additional layers. The process is one of adding and subtracting to give the works more layers and depth.

Tell us about your workshops in Artist Loft – what do you focus on?
We paint glass plates with acrylic and just have a fabulous time. There are always guests who believe they can’t paint, or have never painted before – and their work comes out better than they ever would have imagined! It’s so inspiring. The classes are always full which I just love.

Andre Williard 2What are some of your newest projects?
About a year ago, I began printing my artwork on silk and other fabrics for scarves and pocket squares. I take a piece of the painting, have it photographed and then transfer it onto silk, so they’re all really unique. The scarves and pocket squares are available in Artist Loft every time I’m on the ship – Oceania exclusives! In fact, I’m currently working with a luxury department store on the development of a fabric line and another furniture company is interested in working with me on other projects. It’s an exciting time.

What’s your dream destination or voyage?
I’ve been wanting to go to Africa for a really long time, and now I’m actually getting the chance to aboard Marina – it’s a big dream come true. I always say, if you believe, it will happen.

Join W. Andre Allen in Artist Loft this fall or on an array of exciting Mediterranean voyages next summer:

Andre Williard 10

September 25, 2015

Curious Traveler Webisode 7: Exciting Entertainment

If you're an aficionado of the arts, you'll find Oceania Cruises’ entertainment captivating and personally satisfying. From Broadway-style productions and Bridge competitions to jazz night at Martinis and Team Trivia at Horizons, there are plenty of unique entertainment options available on our voyages.

This week, Curious Traveler host Christine van Blokland takes a look at the immense variety of entertainment aboard Riviera. Among her favorites were listening to the beautiful sounds of a classical string quartet fill the halls of the Grand Bar and learning about interesting Mediterranean insights at a guest lecture. 


Each ship features a unique line-up of onboard shows and entertainers, where no two voyages are ever entirely alike. For a list of entertainment options available during your voyage, please visit

The final Curious Traveler webisode will be unveiled next Friday, when Christine highlights our shore excursion collection, which offers insight into the culture, history and cuisine of each fascinating port we visit. To catch up on previous Curious Traveler webisodes, visit Oceania Cruises’ YouTube Channel.

September 21, 2015

Recipe: Crepes with Jam à la Pépin

The recipes of our Executive Culinary Director, Jacques Pépin, always celebrate tradition. The dishes are filled with style, but yet are comforting and familiar. In his book, Essential Pépin, Jacques tells how he and his brother would sit and watch his mother prepare crepes, eating them as soon as they came out of the pan. He liked butter and jam, as well as chocolate sprinkles on occasion. So with this dish, we are recreating Jacques’ French childhood and those cozy afternoons in the kitchen!

Jp-post(serves 4)

Jacques’ crepes

3/4 cup flour

2 large eggs

½ teaspoon sugar

¾ cup milk

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon clarified butter or canola oil


Jam or preserves (strawberry, apricot, quince, blackberry, plum)

Grated chocolate

FOR THE CREPES: Combine the flour, eggs, sugar and a ¼ cup of the milk in a bowl (or blender) and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining milk, along with the butter, and mix until smooth. If using a blender, be certain not to over mix! Check that batter is the consistency of cream, and pour into a creamer for easy pouring into the pan.

Heat a nonstick 10-inch sauté pan or crepe pan over high heat. Brush the pan with just enough clarified butter or oil to lightly coat the pan. Pour about ¼ cup of crepe batter into the hot pan, quickly tilt the pan and swirl with your wrist to thinly and evenly distribute the crepe. When the crepe is lightly browned on one side, flip the crepe and brown the other side. Total cooking time will be about 30 seconds to one minute. Transfer the crepe to a plate and hold in a warm oven. Add more batter to the pan and repeat the process until all the crepes are finished, brushing the pan with more butter as needed.

TO SERVE: Fill the crepes with 2 teaspoons of jam or sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons grated chocolate. Fold the crepes in half and then in half again to form triangles. If you wish, garnish with powdered sugar. 

Join our special Pépin class at The Culinary Center to celebrate our Master Chef’s 80th birthday and learn more recipes like this one!

September 18, 2015

Curious Traveler Webisode 6: Elegant Accommodations

Our loyal guests experience the ultimate luxury of our spacious and elegant suites and staterooms with every extraordinary voyage, and this week, Curious Traveler host Christine van Blokland discovers exactly why our sophisticated accommodations are second to none. From the lavish amenities and rich fabrics to fine furnishings and original art, it’s easy to see why our suites and staterooms are a home away from home.

Eagerly awaiting your next voyage? You’ll be transported right back to your heavenly Prestige Tranquility Bed and your serene private teak veranda as you watch Curious Traveler webisode 6:  


Next week, Christine highlights the variety of onboard entertainment in the seventh installment of this eight-part series. Watch previous Curious Traveler webisodes by visiting Oceania Cruises’ YouTube Channel, and be sure to visit our blog every Friday as we continue to debut a new webisode until October 2nd.

To explore the fine amenities and luxurious comforts of our suites and staterooms, please visit

September 16, 2015

Five Fascinating Falls of South America & the Caribbean

While cruising to multi-faceted destinations in South America and the Caribbean, you don’t have to go looking for wondrous new experiences – they await you at every turn. Significant rainfall in lush tropical settings and emerald rainforests produce an immense amount of flowing water, creating cascades of majestic scenery. This winter, stand in awe at any of the memorable waterfalls below.

Iguazú Falls
Argentina & Brazil

Iguazú Falls
Iguazú Falls

One of the great natural wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the powerful Iguazú Falls spans the border between Argentina and Brazil at 80 meters high and 3 kilometers wide. The falls are made up of countless cascades that generate vast sprays of water producing one of the most spectacular waterfalls known to mankind.

Petrohué Falls
 Puerto Montt, Chile

 Petrohué Falls
Petrohué Falls

In the Lake District of Chile, hundreds of picturesque lakes and dozens of active volcanoes dominate the landscape which makes for a striking backdrop of the Petrohué Waterfalls, formed by the descent of the Petrohue River through the volcanic rock deposited there centuries ago.

Puma Waterfalls
Puerto Limón, Costa Rica

Puma Waterfalls
Puma Waterfalls - Photo Credit: Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure

Just outside of Limón, head to the Veragua Rainforest and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Trail of the Giants, named for the surrounding gigantic 300-year-old trees, before walking down to the spectacular 20-meter-high Puma Waterfalls.

Annandale Falls
St. George’s, Grenada

Annandale Falls
Annandale Falls

Enter an emerald paradise of rushing water and hanging ferns as you discover Annandale Falls just outside of St. George’s. Revel in the natural splendor and sounds of the falls and admire the surrounding species of tropical flowers, thriving plants and spices.

Trafalgar Falls
Roseau, Dominica

Trafalgar Falls
Trafalgar Falls

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Dominica by visiting the magnificent Trafalgar Falls. Stand in awe at the observation platform as you take in the amazing views of these twin falls, which are often referred to as "mother" and "father." The latter originates high in the mountains and eventually cascades into a hot mineral spring.

Diamond Waterfalls
Castries, St. Lucia

Diamond Waterfalls
Diamond Waterfalls

Located in the Diamond Falls Botanical Garden in Soufriere, the Diamond Waterfalls are considered one of the most colorful waterfalls in the Caribbean. The water contains a variety of minerals, giving the 17-meters-high falls a colorful appearance that seems to change often. Relax and take in the beauty and sultry warmth of the tropics as you stroll through lush fertile vegetation surrounding the spectacular Diamond Waterfall.

Visit any of the stunning waterfalls on a shore excursion during your Oceania Cruises voyage. To learn more about our extraordinary itineraries featuring the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, South America, Alaska Canada and New England, request a free copy of The Americas 2016 brochure

September 11, 2015

Curious Traveler Webisode 5: Culinary Discovery Tours

On this week’s Curious Traveler webisode, host Christine van Blokland puts her culinary skills to the test during our popular “What Mermaids Know” cooking class. Following a sequence of baking, poaching and sampling delicious varieties of fish in The Culinary Center, Christine joins Director of Culinary Enrichment and Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly on a Culinary Discovery Tour through Sicily, starting in Mercato del Pesce in Taormina, and later on a truffle hunt expedition in Slovenia. 

From learning how to make authentic Italian cannoli and a unique Sicilian lemon salad to a truffle luncheon and winery visit, Christine truly gets a taste of each Mediterranean locale with Oceania Cruises.


Join us again next Friday for the sixth installment of this eight-part series as Christine gets comfortable in our award-winning accommodations. Catch up on previous Curious Traveler webisodes by visiting Oceania Cruises’ YouTube Channel, and be sure to visit our blog every Friday as we continue to debut a new webisode until October 2nd

To learn more about The Culinary Center, and to view a full list of our cooking classes, please visit

September 9, 2015

Simmering Saigon

© Dr. John Freedman 2015

Simmering SaigonAs one of Oceania Cruises’ passionate guest lecturers, Dr. John Freedman thrives on sharing his in-depth knowledge of world history and international cultures while sailing around the globe. Combining his long career in medicine and fascination with faraway lands, Dr. Freedman has explored over 120 countries and been involved with numerous international medical volunteer programs and relief efforts. He is also an experienced expedition leader for university and museum educational travel programs, an accomplished travel photographer, and a much-followed travel blogger. With his lively presentation style, he is sure to bring our exotic destinations alive for you. Below, Dr. Freedman shares a snapshot of what makes Saigon such a special city. 

Simmering SaigonVietnam’s most vibrant city is not only on the short list of My Favorite Asian Cities – it’s also on the short list of My Favorite Cities Worldwide. It has a rich and emotionally involving history, friendly people, eminently walkable streets, unending diversity, a thriving economy assuring growth, and a local cuisine second to none. The ubiquitous pho (the city’s signature dish, an ultra-savory meal-in-a-bowl soup infused with fresh cut basil, chili and lime) is to me a metaphor for the city itself – always simmering day and night on every street corner, full of colorful ingredients, redolent of exotic spices, and offering something different in every spoonful.

Simmering SaigonThe city was officially re-named Ho Chi Minh City after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, but its historic name of Saigon has staying power – so you can use it without fear of political incorrectness.

Simmering SaigonThe area was first settled hundreds of years before the Vietnamese arrived, starting as the port town of Prei Nokor under the rule of ancient Cambodia’s Kings of Angkor. After falling under Vietnamese control in the late 17th century, it quickly became a bustling mercantile hub.
The hyper-industrious Viet people saw their city grow into the country’s largest city, both its major commercial center and gateway to the world.  Simmering SaigonThe French swiftly made Saigon the capital of their showcase Indochinese colony in the late 19th century, and today the city leverages the charming air of its “Indochine” aesthetic history with a rich heritage of French colonial architecture including the wedding cake City Hall, the General Post Office designed by Alfred Eiffel, the Franco-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Opera House – all within a leisurely walk of each other in the city’s central District 1.

Simmering SaigonThe French café spirit lives on too, offering the best coffee, baguettes, croissants and ice cream in Asia. The central district is home to the storied hotels of yesteryear like the Continental (1888), the Majestic (1925) and the Rex (1927) – all doing a brisker business than ever.

Simmering SaigonWithin a short stroll is Saigon’s iconic Reunification Palace – a 1960s-era structure which served as the Presidential Palace of South Vietnam’s leaders until it became the site where the Vietnam War decisively ended when a North Vietnamese tank bulldozed through the wrought iron front gate on April 30, 1975. The Cho Ben Thanh, one of Saigon’s largest and most interesting markets, is nearby, and Saigon’s energetic Chinatown is also just a short taxi ride away. Meanderings through the city take you to innumerable temples representing the region’s three major religions in all their syncretism: Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

Simmering SaigonMeanwhile, just a few blocks from Saigon’s convenient downtown cruise port is the Bitexco Tower, a sleek skyscraper symbolizing Saigon’s headlong rush into the future – but surrounded by historic buildings which anchor it to its intriguing past. And while urban improvement projects continually emerge, the community is seeing to it that the city remains one of the most walkable in the world, from its French-style tree-lined boulevards to its quaint alleys perfect for “people-seeing.” “Simmering Saigon” is always a most welcome stop on any voyage to Asia!

Join Dr. Freedman in Saigon on this fascinating fall journey aboard Insignia:

Pagodas & Palaces | October 10, 2015

September 4, 2015

Curious Traveler Webisode 4: Enrichment Programs

Christine van Blokland, host of the Emmy Award-nominated Curious Traveler, gets an exclusive look at the seemingly infinite enrichment programs available aboard Riviera. Under the direction of Artist-in-Residence Annelein Beukenkamp, Christine channels her inner artist to paint a beautiful picture before taking a cooking class with Executive Chef & Culinary Enrichment Director Kathryn Kelly in The Culinary Center, the first hands-on cooking school at sea. From art and entertainment to culture and cuisine, the enrichment programs are perfect for any curious traveler.


Join us again next Friday for the fifth installment of this eight-part series as Christine joins a popular Culinary Discovery Tour in Slovenia. Be sure to visit our blog every Friday until October 2nd as we continue to debut a new webisode.

To learn more about the Oceania Cruises experience, including the enrichment programs, visit  

September 2, 2015

Recipe: Baked Chilean Sea Bass in Miso Sauce

This is the most requested fish recipe at Oceania Cruises, and is served in abundance at Red Ginger. It is so simple to make and relies heavily on the quality of the sea bass. Chilean sea bass is often farmed and has a healthy amount of fat, which makes it super tasty. While I like this marinade, it can be sweet and overpower the fish, so don’t marinate it too long or you won’t taste the sea bass. 

Miso-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass(SERVES 6)

1 cup white miso paste

2/3 cup coarsely chopped palm sugar

1/2 cup dry sake

¼ cup mirin

6 center-cut sea bass fillets, 8 ounces each, boned and trimmed

6 large lime wedges

In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the miso paste, palm sugar, sake and mirin, and place over simmering water in the lower pan. As the mixture heats, whisk until the sugar and miso melt and the mixture is smooth. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Place the fish in a large air-tight plastic bag, pour in the marinade, press out any excess air, and seal the bag. Make sure the marinade is evenly distributed over the fillets. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Remove the fish from the refrigerator about 60 minutes before cooking and preheat the oven to 400° F.

Arrange the fish fillets in a single layer in a baking dish, leaving space between the fillets. Pour in enough of the marinade to reach one-fourth of the way up the sides of the fillets.

Place the fish in the oven and bake until fish is cooked and sauce caramelizes. Serve with lime wedges.  This fish is great with a coconut or jasmine rice.

Entertainment Tip: To make this before your dinner party, arrange the fish in the baking dish and make the marinade. When your guests arrive, pour the marinade on the fish and allow it all to come to room temperature (for about an hour). Preheat your oven to 400 o F and pop in the fish when you are ready. It dishes up beautifully if you bake it in a decorative oven-proof dish.  

August 31, 2015

A Honeymoon in Paradise

Newlyweds Jessica and Christopher C. celebrated their honeymoon aboard Marina, cruising through the flawless islands of French Polynesia on our Picturesque Polynesia itinerary. Below, Jessica shares her story.  

Sometimes when I let my mind wander, I am back on the linen white beaches of the South Pacific with a red flower in my hair, letting the sun nourish my skin and watching my husband Christopher lie by my side, consumed in sheer relaxation.

            A Honeymoon in Paradise       A Honeymoon in Paradise

They say most girls dream of their perfect wedding all their lives, but not me. I've always dreamt of my honeymoon. Having travelled on Oceania Cruises more than five times as a teenager and young adult with my grandparents, I knew I wanted to someday cruise through the picture-perfect French Polynesian islands with the love of my life.

Our spring wedding was nothing short of spectacular, though the months leading up to it were a blur of appointments and consultations. Exhausted from the preparations, we entrusted the gracious Oceania Cruises team with our honeymoon. Following our reception, we found ourselves in the most romantic part of the world, boarding the striking Marina for a roundtrip Tahiti voyage – ready to begin our very first adventure as newlyweds!

Honeymoon in Paradise

The itinerary included overnights in Tahiti and Bora Bora, with visits to Moorea, Raroia, Fakarava, Rangiroa, Raiatea and Huahine. Each morning, we’d part the blinds of our Penthouse Suite and discover a new breathtaking backdrop of lush, verdant mountains and glistening cerulean waters. And each evening, we watched the sun linger a little longer.

In Bora Bora, we opted for a romantic escape to InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. After a delicious lunch at Terrace Café, we were picked up from Vaitape and taken to the luxurious resort in Piti Au, a coral “motu” on the barrier reef. Our bungalow was superb, boasting dramatic views of the surrounding crystal waters. There were no schedules to follow or emails to check. It was as if time slowed and we were in a dream. Truly, the exquisite beauty could not have been part of this world.

             A Honeymoon in Paradise      A Honeymoon in Paradise

Fakarava was our favorite island for its botanical beauty and pristine atmosphere. We rented bikes from a jovial French man and explored the island on wheels, picking up fresh fruits and cheeses for lunch.

A Honeymoon in ParadiseWe raced around curved paths, rode past an unfinished lighthouse, collected small shells and enjoyed a picnic on the beach.

While in Raiatea, we boarded a boat and headed toward its sister island, Taha’a, for a drift snorkeling experience. Nothing prepared me for the scores of colorful tropical fish and intensely hued coral that produced a magnificent underwater maze. 

As the current carried us effortlessly through the shallow lagoon, I wished for this moment, drifting in an untouched paradise, to last forever.  

August 28, 2015

Curious Traveler Webisode 3: Gourmet Specialty Restaurants

Curious Traveler, an Emmy Award-nominated program, is spotlighting Oceania Cruises in a series of engaging webisodes. This week, host Christine van Blokland visits France, Italy and Asia by means of the extraordinary dining venues aboard Riviera. From Jacques, Toscana and Red Ginger to Polo Grill and La Reserve, Christine calls the Oceania Cruises specialty dining experience exquisite


Join us again next Friday for the fourth webisode in this eight-part series as Christine explores the onboard enrichment program. Be sure to visit our blog every Friday until October 2nd as we continue to debut a new webisode.

To learn more about our specialty dining restaurants, visit  

August 26, 2015

Guest Lecturer Post: The Skinny on the Fat Virgin

Guest Lecturer Post: The Skinny on the Fat VirginBy Sandy Cares

Guest lecturer Sandy Cares has been sharing her entertaining lectures aboard Oceania Cruises voyages throughout the Caribbean and Central America since January 2014. Below, she shares her experience in Virgin Gorda.

I should not play favorites. So when people ask which is my favorite Caribbean destination, I always say, “Wherever we are today,” and I truly mean it. But I must admit that when back home in Michigan, I conjure up visions of the most idyllic Caribbean island of all: Virgin Gorda.

Guest Lecturer Post: The Skinny on the Fat VirginThe laid-back, charmingly rustic British Virgin Isles abounds in beauty.    

In 1493 on his second New World voyage, Christopher Columbus sailed through a constellation of islands and named the whole lot the Virgin Islands after St. Ursula's 11,000 legendary virginal bridesmaids. One standout stole his heart. Its voluptuous silhouette resembled a maiden slumbering serenely on her Caribbean waterbed. He named it Virgin Gorda, the Fat Virgin.

Less than nine square miles and home to fewer than 4,000 locals, Virgin Gorda boasts world-class ultra-luxury properties like Little Dix Bay and Biras Creek. But hands-down, the Fat Virgin’s biggest draw is a geological curiosity called The Baths.

Guest Lecturer Post: The Skinny on the Fat VirginThe day we arrive, an open-air jitney conveys us from Spanish Town to the bluff over The Baths National Park at the island’s southernmost tip. A footpath leads down to the beach and along the way gnarled roots and slippery rocks are the playground for tropical birds, mongooses, and iguanas. Eventually the path spills onto a beach with diaphanous aquamarine water.

The house-sized boulders strewn about the beach confirm volcanic origins. These gigantic rock piles form caverns and hidden passages that secrete haunting lagoons. A driftwood sign stuck in the sand points to "The Grotto," a huge cavern beneath a jumble of boulders where the world darkens and the unremitting slosh and gurgle of water echoes.

Guest Lecturer Post: The Skinny on the Fat VirginWe grasp guide ropes as we slide across an enormous bosom of rock to begin the forty-five minute crawl to the other side. The obstacle course requires calculated calisthenics as it winds through tight passages, beneath rock overhangs, across scaffolding and through sandy puddles.

Finally, we scale a platform and shimmy between a couple more boulders where we escape to the white sand. Once my eyes re-adjust to the brightness, I head straight for the water—unbelievably refreshing!

However you decide to savor your visit to the Caribbean, the Fat Virgin will steal your heart. After all, she's been doing it for five hundred years and counting.

Join Sandy’s lectures in the Caribbean this December:

Sands & Shores | December 2, 2015
Mayan Mystique | December 12, 2015
Celebrate the Sunshine | December 22, 2015

Guest Lecturer Post: The Skinny on the Fat Virgin

August 24, 2015

At Sea & Staying in Shape

At Sea & Staying in ShapeDuring a recent voyage aboard Insignia, New York native Marissa M. found plenty of ways to take advantage of the days at sea and stay active. She shares her experience and a few of her favorite fitness classes below.

For many of us, taking a vacation also means taking time off from your workout routine–but it doesn’t have to! Starting your workout routine again after a week or two off can feel like starting from scratch, so on my recent voyage, the first thing I looked for were ways to stay active.

Once I unpacked, I went straight to the fitness center in the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, where I found that a half hour on the elliptical or treadmill with serene ocean views made my workout go by in a breeze!

At Sea & Staying in ShapeThe class schedule for my cruise had so many classes to choose from that I realized I wasn’t going to have any trouble finding ways to help me stay on track. There are classes for everyone! They have everything from low-intensity workouts like yoga, all the way to high-intensity aerobic classes.

I loved the Stretch and Relax class, which focused on yoga-like and sports stretches, while using breathing techniques to assist and increase flexibility, plus improve the overall mind-body connection. This was a wonderful way to start a day.

I also took the Cardio Groove class, which definitely got my heart beating and my body moving. It’s a medium-paced aerobics class, which mixes new music and classic oldies that will make you dance the class away. Lots of laughs during this one!

To indulge my adventurous side one morning, I took the Cardio Combat class which is a high-energy class that mixes aerobic steps with hand combinations taken from boxing and martial arts training. Plus it’s mixed with upbeat music for a fun, stress-relieving class that actually left me wanting to go one more round.

At Sea & Staying in ShapeOne other great class that helps you stay ahead of the group while on shore excursions is the Muscle Max class. This class uses your body weight, resistance bands and hand weights to tone and strengthen the muscles important for everyday activities, increase overall strength and protect the joints.

I really enjoyed mixing my own workout routine with the 30 minute fitness classes. I especially enjoyed the yoga, Pilates and Zumba classes; they were worth every penny.

It’s great being able to work out while visiting so many interesting places and best of all I didn’t feel guilty about having dessert or that extra glass of wine after a delicious dinner.

August 21, 2015

Curious Traveler Webisode 2: Finest Cuisine at Sea

Curious Traveler, an Emmy Award-nominated program, is spotlighting Oceania Cruises in a series of exciting webisodes. This week, host Christine van Blokland gets a taste of the finest cuisine at sea – from exquisite Asian fusion and traditional steakhouse dishes to authentic Italian recipes and classic French Fare.


Christine, a premier travel journalist and arts and culture enthusiast, was drawn to Oceania Cruises for its renowned cuisine, alluring destinations and casually elegant ambiance filled with museum-quality art.

Join us again next Friday for the third webisode in this eight-part series as Christine visits our award-winning specialty restaurants. Be sure to visit our blog every Friday until October 2nd as we continue to debut a new webisode.

View sample menus and wine lists of the finest cuisine at sea.

August 19, 2015

11th Oceania Club Reunion Cruise Highlights & Memories

From left: Neli Arias, Joan Moran, Margaret Lawton, James Rodriguez, and Linda & Pino Minelli share an OLife moment
From left: Neli Arias, Joan Moran, Margaret Lawton, James Rodriguez, and Linda & Pino Minelli share an OLife moment

By Neli Arias, Manager of Loyalty Marketing

The Oceania Club Reunion Cruise is always an exciting voyage that I look forward to planning and celebrating, and this year’s was another tremendous success. James Rodriguez, Senior Vice President of Sales & Chief Marketing Officer, and I had the privilege of hosting nearly 500 loyal guests ranging from Blue Level to Platinum Level on the Artistic Discoveries voyage sailing from Venice to Barcelona aboard beautiful Riviera. 

From left: James, Sheri Wells, Alex Schlich and Judy Frantz
From left: James, Sheri Wells,
Alex Schlich and Judy Frantz

Once the guests were settled in, we hosted a welcome cocktail reception in the Sanctuary on Deck 14, complete with a stunning sunset as the backdrop. We savored delicious canapés and fresh cocktails accompanied by live music as we sailed away from Koper, Slovenia.

The next day, we  toured Zadar, including a visit to the Bibich Winery. We were all quite impressed with Croatia – truly breathtaking and much more than just a burgeoning travel destination.

Neli and James with Jack & Leah Cohen and Bill & Rhoda Baker
Neli and James with Jack & Leah Cohen and Bill & Rhoda Baker

This year, we were happy to host a number of Bronze-Level Members – so many, in fact, that we held a special dinner in Toscana. It was a jovial evening with plenty of Prosecco, pasta and great conversation.

James and I also hosted our Platinum- and Gold-Level Members at La Reserve where we enjoyed the seven-course Connoisseur Menu, and later in the cruise we hosted our Silver-Level Members, delighting in the seven-course Discovery Menu.

Neli hosting Oceania Club Members at La Reserve
Neli hosting Oceania Club
Members at La Reserve

I was able to hear so many stories and adventures from our guests over exquisite Champagne and wine – some of which are quite rare – all paired with truly artful dishes.

In Florence,  we toured the private Vasari Corridor in the Uffizi Gallery, which showcases a unique collection of 16th- and 17th-century artwork. Then we sat down for a traditional Italian luncheon with bruschetta, pasta, chicken on a bed of arugula, plus a warm custard for dessert, all accompanied by flowing wine!

Shelley Goldstein (left) with General Manager Damien Lacroix
Shelley Goldstein (left) with
General Manager Damien Lacroix

Our Oceania Club reception in Horizons was another highlight. The senior officers, James and I honored the milestones of several of our past guests. There were cocktails, relaxing music and gorgeous views – a very happy, celebratory evening for all.

It was such a privilege to meet so many of our loyal guests and hear about their wonderful experiences with Oceania Cruises. James & I look forward to seeing many of you on board again very soon!

August 18, 2015

Unspoiled Alaska | Q & A with Oceania Cruises President Jason Montague

Unspoiled Alaska | Q & A with Oceania Cruises President Jason Montague Oceania Cruises President Jason Montague recently visited the captivating land of Alaska. Though Jason has traveled throughout the world, this was the first time he took a step back and let nature vaunt its many wonders. From the breathtaking scenery of Juneau to the grandiose glaciers surrounding the Inside Passage, Jason described Alaska’s natural beauty in one word, majestic.

What was your initial reaction to the landscape in Alaska and what were the reactions of your family members?

Surprisingly, this was our first time to Alaska. My wife, son and I have traveled all over the world, visiting major iconic cities and exploring remnants of ancient civilizations, but we’ve never been to Alaska before.  It was absolutely amazing; I’ve never experienced such majestic and vast landscapes.

Though we may not be traditional outdoor people, we certainly got into the Alaskan spirit and enjoyed adventures such as fishing, camping in the wilderness, rock climbing and dog sledding on Mendenhall Glacier. These aren’t our typical vacation activities, but this was refreshing – we loved every minute of it.    

Unspoiled Alaska | Q & A with Oceania Cruises President Jason Montague What were your top 3 favorite ports?

It’s a bit difficult to play favorites – they’re all quite unique in their own way. Skagway was intriguing; it has such a spectacular natural setting and its gold rush history is so well-preserved.  The beauty of Alaska is in the layers of experiences it offers –there’s so much nature, history and culture to immerse yourself in each port.

Describe your experience cruising past the magnificent Hubbard Glacier.

I woke up a little late that morning and when I parted the blinds, Hubbard Glacier towered just beyond our balcony – or so it seemed.  You don’t quite grasp how immense it is until you’re cruising right next to it. We didn’t happen to hear any glaciers calving, but that’s another reason why I need to return. 

What was the most memorable shore excursion?

Without a doubt, it was taking a helicopter ride up to Mendenhall Glacier and mushing a dog sled — truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

        Unspoiled Alaska | Q & A with Oceania Cruises President Jason Montague      Unspoiled Alaska | Q & A with Oceania Cruises President Jason Montague

Did you see any exciting wildlife?

The wildlife seems to emerge everywhere; you never know when you’ll see a whale, a bald eagle or even a bear. During one excursion we witnessed orca whales and watched as sea otters wrestled and played.  At the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Seward, we walked alongside a brown bear for about 50 yards – fortunately, there was a fence separating us, though it was certainly surreal. My son was fascinated; he just loved it.

Are you planning to explore the last frontier aboard Oceania Cruises’ Regatta next summer? View a list of exciting voyages.

August 14, 2015

Curious Traveler Webisode 1: Indulge in OLife™

Curious Traveler, an Emmy-award-nominated television program, is spotlighting Oceania Cruises in a series of exciting webisodes highlighting the sophisticated OLife experience.

Host Christine van Blokland, a premier travel journalist and arts and culture enthusiast, was drawn to Oceania Cruises for its renowned cuisine, alluring destinations and casually elegant ambiance filled with museum quality art.

In the first websiode, Christine takes you behind the scenes for a closer look at the true elements of OLife. 


Join us again next Friday for the second webisode as Christine gets a taste of the finest cuisine at sea. And remember, mark your calendar for every Friday as we debut a new webisode in this eight-part series through October 2nd.

Experience the OLife yourself with these once-in-a-lifetime voyages:

Rome to Istanbul | 12 days | Nautica | September 22, 2015 – October 4, 2015

Venice to Barcelona | 11 days | Riviera | November 7, 2015 – November 18, 2015

Hong Kong to Bangkok | 20 days | Nautica | January 24, 2016 – February 13, 2016

Mumbai to Istanbul | 17 days | Nautica | April 11, 2016 – April 28, 2016

August 12, 2015

A Day in Cephalonia: Lake Melissani, Meze & Ouzo

Cephalonia viewThe largest of the Ionian Islands, Cephalonia is filled with rolling mountains, seaside cliffs, unique geological formations and small villages. One of our unique shore excursions, Lake Melissani, Meze & Ouzo (available from Argostoli, Cephalonia) gives you the perfect taste of this gorgeous Greek island.

Departing from the pier for Lake Melissani, the drive offers stunning views of the sea and the rugged landscape. Continuing towards the eastern edge of the island, the roads wind through dry, mountainous terrain and the ever-changing views sweep from sheer cliffs and rocky outcroppings to green valleys and tiny fringes of beach that slope into the perfectly blue Ionian Sea.

Melissani - insideCephalonia has long been renowned for its many unusual geological formations and one of its most notable is beautiful Lake Melissani, a subterranean sea lake created thousands of years ago. Upon arrival to the lake, you’ll enter a tunnel and immediately see the stunning aquamarine water sparkling in the sunlight ahead. Notably, the water is a mix of saltwater from the Ionian Sea and freshwater that originated in Argostoli and then flowed across the island to reach this lake.

Entering the lake by small boat, you’ll notice the jagged walls rise steeply, causing every sound to echo – even the slight paddling of water by the oars. Dramatic stalactites hang from the ceiling, and the only light streams down from one hundred feet above, imbuing the cavern-like interior with a soft glow that’s magical.

Also known as the Cave of Nymphs, Melissani Lake was named after Melissanthi, a nymph from Greek mythology who drowned herself because the God Pan didn’t reciprocate her love. First explored in 1951, the lake was the site of important Minoan relics, including a clay figure of Pan and clay plates depicting nymphs, which are now on display in the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli.

          Melissani - oar   Melissani tunnel   Cephalonia seaside restaurant

After a refreshing boat tour of the lake, you’ll stop at a picturesque waterfront restaurant in the village of Sami to enjoy traditional meze, a selection of small dishes that may include calamari, hummus, cheese pie and meat balls. There’s also ouzo, the classic licorice-flavored Greek liqueur or perhaps a refreshing glass of crisp white wine. After a memorable afternoon, now it’s time to simply sit back, relax and take in it all in, the gorgeous Ionian sea stretching out before you.

Spend an unforgettable day on Cephalonia and visit Lake Melissani this fall:

Riviera’s Roman Pathways voyage, departing October 23
Riviera’s Isles & Empires voyage, departing October 30

August 10, 2015

Guest Lecturer Post: Wine, Wonders & Whimsy in Chile

1With a horticultural career spanning four decades, Dr. Ken Beattie has become one of Canada’s most notable and approachable resources in the plant world. He has developed award-winning television programs including the documentary series, “The Earth’s Garden,” and also served as host of the live, Canadian television series, “Get Growing.” Below Ken shares a glimpse of the unique Chilean landscape, brimming with surprises.

Chile is an amazing place, offering a banquet for the senses and provender aplenty for stimulating conversation. How would I describe this country? A lengthy ribbon of mountains, abrupt shorelines, magnificent plants and cultures with roots deep in a mysterious past.

2Our stunning one-week voyage took us from Lima, Peru to Ushuaia on the Argentine border of Tierra del Fuego. To my delight, from the Pacific coast vantage, Chile was unbelievably beautiful and became more outstanding each day. Perhaps my most wondrous and thought-provoking find was in a tiny museum in Iquique, Chile: several well-preserved human mummies. Ten-thousand-year-old mummified human remains are still unearthed with incredible regularity from the Atacama Desert regions. These remains pre-date the Inca Empire by 6,000 years. The most famous of these finds were the Chinchorro mummies first unearthed by workers near Arica, Chile on the harsh desert coastline.

WineMeanwhile, the overall look of northern Chile was stark and desert-like, including abrupt landscapes jutting out of the Pacific with very little evidence of plants — in particular, grapes. Chile is known for its wine industry, which I was primed to sample. When in doubt, check with the excursion desk, or in my case, the senior sommelier onboard. The bustling coastal city of Valparaiso offered great hope as we ventured ashore with directions and a shopping list from the sommelier.

The landscape had changed dramatically, offering a “Vancouver-like” feel. Our map and directions took us to the very popular city region of Viña del Mar. As implied there was viña — or better yet, vino and a whole lot of mar. Robust reds abound with Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignons leading the pack – according to my taste buds. Oceania Cruises is known for its extensive wine list and as we travelled the wine country, the list expanded to feature several unusual vintages. I have a female vintner who plies her skills in the much publicized regions of southern France, and she once told me in a hushed whisper her best reds come from her vineyards in Chile! Chilean wines are not to be missed.

Sailing further south, the weather suited our latitude in mid-February, cool with steady winds laden with salt mist. The magnificent fjord lands started for us in the tiny city of Puerto Montt, continued to Punta Arenas and then on to the spectacular region of Patagonia. Just saying the name “Patagonia” brought excitement to my voice.

4Onward, Ushuaia is a city reminiscent of Jasper, Alberta. Straddling the Argentine border, it boasts the status of the most southern city. Charles Darwin sailed these waters on the famous Beagle of which the channel bears the name. He and his crew actually charted most of our itinerary, journaling the diversity of flora and fauna of this great southern continent. This was another thrill to sense – I was on a journey that one of my champions travelled almost two centuries ago.

The great Southern Beech forests must have impressed Darwin, along with the bizarre Araucaria, or Monkey Puzzle, trees. Many of the plants in the furthest points south exhibit unusual floral structures and have unique adaptations to ensure pollination and survival under adverse climatic conditions.

6Fuchsia abounded, as did Barberry and a vast array of mosses and ferns, many which bear the names of explorers such as Magellan and Darwin. Fascinating, breathtaking and awe-inspiring are descriptors I use when asked to describe the area and my experience.

Once again, Oceania Cruises offered top-notch service and one of the most enticing itineraries I have ever taken. It was overflowing with excellent excursion choices, interesting ports that many ships can’t navigate and the hallmark “family” crew who spoil us time and time again. Gracias, mi amigos! 

August 7, 2015

Medieval Marvels in Kotor

Sail inGuests Jim & Sandy K. from Fort Collins, Colorado recently sailed aboard Riviera’s Isles & Empires voyage, and shared one of their most memorable experiences during the cruise – hikin g to the hilltop fortress in Kotor, Montenegro.

Before you even reach the harbor of Kotor, you begin to realize why it’s been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dramatically situated within the deepest channel of the Bay of Kotor, and ringed by impressive mountains, the sail in was breathtaking. The Bay of Kotor is often referred to as Europe’s southernmost fjord, and though not technically a fjord, the surrounding vistas of massive green slopes, narrow passageways and tiny villages were unforgettable.

From the ship, we could just barely make out the walls snaking along the mountain of San Giovanni which we planned to hike along to reach the fortress by the same name. The steep hike up to the fortress ascends nearly 4,000 feet via 1,350 steps. After an amazing dinner at Toscana the night before, we were ready!

Walls city viewJuly may not be ideal to hike up to the fortress – the temperature was in the low 90s – but my wife and I love to hike and are used to the heat in Colorado, so we armed ourselves with plenty of water and set out. We paid a few Euros at the entrance gate, and began the ascent. After just a few switchbacks, we were already taken aback by the views – postcard perfect.

Riviera viewAlong the way, we stopped for plenty of photos, taking in the sweeping vistas of the Bay of Kotor, Old Town (Stari Grad) and of course the beautiful Riviera. In surprisingly good condition, the walls were started in the 9th century and are a unique example of fortification architecture in Europe. By the 14th century the protective circle was completed, but the walls were added to until the18th century.

Kotor walls Bay of Kotor viewAs we continued on, we discovered numerous citadels, gates, bastions, lookouts and other sites – all testament to the turbulent history of Kotor, and offering us a chance to explore and get some unique photos. Before we reached the fortress, we came to a small church, Church of Our Lady of Remedy, which was built in 1518 by survivors of the plague and became a site of pilgrimage. The perfect place to pause and appreciate the moment.

Forging on, the panoramas around every corner continued to amaze us and by the time we reached the top it was mid-afternoon. The bird’s eye views were incredible. The crowning fortress that sprawled out before us contained traces of the Illyrian civilization and once housed soldiers that defended the city. The flag of Montenegro was blowing in the wind, and from a shady spot on the opposite side of the fortress, we mused on what a special day it’d been so far.

                Montenegro flag      Hike up

On the way back down, the breeze cooled us a bit more as we talked about how we were going to reward ourselves – with tall, cold drinks and a hearty bite to eat at one of the restaurants in Old Town. Just another day with Oceania Cruises. 

Birds eye view

August 5, 2015

Guest Lecturer Post: Marooned on Roatan Island

Guest Lecturer Post: Marooned on Roatan IslandBy Sandy Cares

Guest lecturer Sandy Cares has been sharing her engaging and entertaining lectures aboard Oceania Cruises voyages throughout the Caribbean and Central America since January 2014. Below, she shares the fascinating story of an 18th century castaway on Roatan Island. 

This little cigar-shaped island lying about 30 miles from Honduras and home to about 60,000 “islanders,” was discovered by Columbus in 1503 and subsequently possessed by pirates, the British, and finally Honduras since 1859.  Upwards of half a million cruisers visit this little island yearly, mostly to take advantage of the unsurpassed diving and snorkeling opportunities, but what many don’t know is that in 1722 Roatan Island was home to a castaway: a castaway without shoes that self-exiled in order to escape the atrocities aboard a pirate ship where he was captive. 

Guest Lecturer Post: Marooned on Roatan IslandDuring a shore adventure with guests from the elegant Insignia, our local guide took us around to some of the highlights of the little island that is roughly about thirty miles long and five miles wide. And as a stunning view of the famous barrier reef, the Mesoamerican Reef, came into view, I found myself wondering what life was like on Roatan Island in the days of Philip Ashton.  

The story goes that Philip Ashton was a young Puritan man catching cod off the coast of Nova Scotia in his uncle’s sloop. On a quiet Sunday when he and his crew of cousins were sitting around enjoying some coffee and a well-earned rest, an unidentified ship hove into view. Before they knew what was happening, that ship grappled onto theirs and suddenly they were taken over by a gang of pirates. 

When Ashton found out the pirate ship belonged to the nefarious Edward “Ned” Low, he knew his days were numbered. Ned Low was one of the most insidious pirates plying the waters between North America and the Caribbean. It wasn’t long before Pirate Low tried to recruit Ashton into the “Brethren of the Coast” but Ashton rebuffed his overtures and vowed he would escape Low’s clutches at any cost.  

Guest Lecturer Post: Marooned on Roatan IslandThe ship sailed over twenty-five hundred miles from Nova Scotia into the Western Caribbean where it stopped at Roatan to top off with fresh water and local fruit. It was there that Ashton impulsively joined a crew going to fetch water. His plan was to escape into the jungle – and in his haste, he forgot his shoes, a move he would sorely regret for the next two years!

 Completely alone at Roatan, Ashton survived on turtle eggs cooked in the hot sun.  Plagued by mosquitoes, gnats and no-see-ums, he spent his days floating on reeds until a shark nearly took him under. Nearly two years after his ordeal began, Ashton was miraculously rescued from Roatan, only to find his rescue ship smack in the crosshairs of none other than Ned Low! Fortunately, they dodged that bullet and Ashton was safely conveyed back to New England where he lives on in the local lore as the “Robinson Crusoe of Marblehead Massachusetts.” 

I emerge from my reverie looking forward to an icy glass of tropical fruit punch and refreshing dip in the palm-fringed beach. We are at Las Palmas, one of the many beautiful seaside resorts that grace Roatan Island’s picturesque shoreline.  Mere steps from where the barefoot Philip Ashton spent nearly two years almost three hundred years ago, but worlds apart in circumstances. How lucky we are!    

August 3, 2015

Jacques Pépin’s Sweet Cheese Medley & Champagne on Fruit Rocks

From gingerbread cookies and delicious desserts to egg nog and fine wine, the holiday season is quickly approaching with all of its palatable glory, and it’s never too early to start planning. For the endless holiday celebrations, we pair two of Oceania Cruises Executive Culinary Director Jacques Pépin’s recipes perfect for entertaining friends and family.

Jacques Pépin’s Sweet Cheese MedleyJacques Pépin’s Sweet Cheese Medley

(Makes about 30 appetizers)

½ pound assorted cheeses (such as feta, blue, Gouda, Gruyère, or Camembert), room temperature

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (see tips)

1/3 cup dark raisins (soaked in port, if desired)

1/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Freshly ground black pepper

Kosher or sea salt (optional)

1 baguette, thinly sliced and toasted

Cut or crumble the cheeses into pieces about ¼ to ½ inch in size. Place in a medium bowl.

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly and watching to ensure they do not burn.

Add the pumpkin seeds, raisins, honey, and lime juice to the cheeses. Stir to combine. Season to taste with pepper and salt, keeping in mind that salty cheeses may not need any additional salt.

Serve on top of toasted baguette slices.

Jacques Pépin’s Champagne on Fruit RocksJacques Pépin’s Champagne on Fruit Rocks

(serves 4)       

1 (12-ounce) package frozen unsweetened raspberries

½ cup blackberry preserves

1 bottle sparkling wine

Defrost the raspberries overnight in the refrigerator. 

Pass the berries and preserves through a food mill. If you want seedless ice cubes, pass the fruit through a fine mesh strainer after the food mill. You should have about 1 1/3 cup of berry purée. Pour the purée into ice cube trays and freeze overnight (see tips). Once frozen, remove the cubes from the tray, place them in a freezer bag, and keep frozen until ready to use.

About 30 minutes before serving, place 2 to 3 cubes into each of 4 glasses. Place the glasses in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or on the counter for 15 minutes to soften the cubes. Pour the sparkling wine over the cubes and enjoy.

July 31, 2015

Around the World 2015 in Photos

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give,
to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.”
-Hans Christian Andersen

Many of our guests recently returned from our first Around the World voyage – a true journey of a lifetime. From magnificent cities and quaint coastal towns to soaring mountains and island paradises, Insignia explored a stunning range of the world’s greatest treasures on one unforgettable voyage.

Guests enjoyed ample time to explore each fascinating destination ashore and indulged in all of the comfortable amenities onboard during tranquil days at sea.

Below are a selection of photos highlighting a few of the special moments during this extraordinary journey.

Photos courtesy of David Smith

Insignia | Huahine, French Polynesia

Insignia | Huahine, French Polynesia

Marquesas, French Polynesia

Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Huahine, French Polynesia

Huahine, French Polynesia


 Cruise Director Andy Heath, Guest Lecturer David Smith with Insignia Photo Contest Winners


Insignia | Huatulco Port

1940s event on the Battleship USS Missouri | Honolulu, Hawaii

(Photos courtesy of Atlantic Adventure)

1940s event on the Battleship USS Missouri | Honolulu, Hawaii  1940s event on the Battleship USS Missouri | Honolulu, Hawaii

1940s event on the Battleship USS Missouri | Honolulu, Hawaii  1940s event on the Battleship USS Missouri | Honolulu, Hawaii

July 27, 2015

Around the World 2017 - Extraordinary Adventures Await

Oceania Cruises invites you to experience one of travel’s most time-honored traditions: circumnavigating the globe by sea, with our new 180-day Around the World Cruise aboard Insignia. Scheduled to depart on January 6, 2017, the voyage is the fourth in a series of epic globetrotting adventures and represents the longest and most comprehensive world cruise itinerary in the entire industry.


Embarking on an exciting new route in 2017, Insignia takes her cue from the sun and sails west, chasing balmy days and endless sapphire seas. Departing the Caribbean via the iconic Panama Canal, Insignia charts the legendary Pacific Riviera before bringing you to the golden shores of the Hawaiian Islands, dramatically framed by velvety green mountaintops. Further south, relax on stunning French Polynesian beaches and explore some of Australia and New Zealand’s most alluring destinations.

Sydney   Hawaii

Arriving in Asia, immerse yourself in the rare spirit of Bali, the thronging night bazaars of Hong Kong, and the temples of Rangoon and Mumbai. Stroll among the opulent wonders of Abu Dhabi and the ancient treasures of Israel and Egypt before taking in the masterpieces and monuments of several classic Mediterranean destinations. After leisurely days on the high seas, close your epic voyage with a grand exploration of Canada and New England’s most charming harbors and celebrated cities.

Bali   India

For those with a passion for exploring the far corners of the globe, Around the World 2017 is an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover the very best your world has to offer. Guests reserving this journey will receive 2 for 1 Cruise Fares with Free First Class Roundtrip Airfare* and Bonus Value of up to 71%. They will also enjoy the Exclusive Prestige Package. 

Reserve your space on the Around the World 2017 voyage now!

July 20, 2015

Q&A with Travel Industry Veteran Ana Parodi: Mediterranean Favorites

AnaParodiWith more than 27 years of experience in the cruise industry, our Vice President of National Accounts, Ana Parodi, has spent plenty of time at sea and traveling around the world. It all began with a cruise at the age of 15, and by now Ana can’t quite remember how many times she’s visited the Mediterranean, but it remains one of her favorites to explore.

Below, Ana shares her top picks throughout the Mediterranean for cuisine, history, art and more.

SantoriniWhat are your favorite destinations for food and cuisine?
Barcelona is one of my favorites – there’s such a range of food, and it’s so cosmopolitan. There’s a particular place I always try to go back to – it’s called Los Caracoles. It really gives you a taste of Spain. It’s down a small little alley, and as soon as you enter you see the small little pork roasting. The interior is decorated with traditional Spanish tiles and they have live entertainment. They make the best seafood dishes that I’ve had.

And then in Santorini, which I just love, you have all of the cafes overlooking the sea. The squid is amazing, and the white wines are incredible. The setting is breathtaking – being able to sit and enjoy a meal while you look out upon this beautiful sea. And the sunsets in Santorini are to die for.

EphesusWhat are your top picks for historical destinations?
Definitely Ephesus. If you take a tour, you can really imagine the society and the way people lived. The civilization was so advanced during this time period. You can relate to it and understand the organization - there’s a library, a central shopping area, a living area and so on. You can also visit a street in Ephesus that Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony walked down which is fascinating.

Having an opportunity to travel to Egypt and visit the Valley of the Kings with King Tut’s tomb is also remarkable. I remember going into one of the temples and discovering there was actually a room devoted to recipes for perfumes! In Cairo, the Egyptian Museum is unbelievable. It showcases so many original artifacts m you can actually see King Tut’s throne. All of these details about the culture that come alive when you visit are just incredible.

SistineChapelWhere do you recommend for art?
There’s so many! Rome – of course you have to see the masterpieces in the Sistine Chapel. And then in Barcelona, the Sagrada Família is an experience – it’s really special to see the immensity of a project that has now been going on for over a hundred years. And then if you can do one of our land tours to Madrid, the museum El Prado is a must!

What keeps you going back to the Mediterranean?
There’s a different feeling in the air when you get there. People enjoy life in a different way than we do here. The culture – and the priorities in life – are different from the way we live here in the U.S. It’s more about enjoying time with friends and family, enjoying a good bottle of wine and good food. There’s also just so much to learn from the region, so many historic places – and there’s always somewhere more to visit that you haven’t been.

July 17, 2015

Caveat Emptor: All About Truffles by Chef Kelly

My most rewarding and memorable days are always spent in local markets with our guests – from Helsinki to Istanbul, Hobart to Tortola, Athens to Amsterdam. There is so much to be learned in these markets (and from these farmers) about the seasonality of food, and the joy of travel for many of our guests is learning the authentic cuisine, ingredients, wines, food traditions and culinary Truffles-closeuptechniques of the places we travel. Our Culinary Discovery Tours always begin with a 30-minute immersion into what’s truly unique about the cuisine we’ll investigate that day.

On a recent Culinary Discovery Tour in Slovenia, we had the chance to observe an authentic truffle hunt for their prized spring black truffle. The handler – and his dogs – were informative hosts, Truffles-dogshowing us the base of the trees where the truffles grow beneath the surface (like underground fungus). The dogs sniff out the truffle and the handler delicately removes it with a special shovel.

Guests frequently ask me if they should buy truffle oil when we visit markets in the north of Italy, south of France and here in Slovenia. Unfortunately, I have to tell them no because truffle oil is actually a perfumed oil and contains no truffles. With the exception of a few artisans, truffle oil is no more than a mid-grade oil with a compound called 2,4 dithiapentane added to produce the aroma of the truffle.

Truffles-pastaAs a chef, my inclination is to encourage our guests to refrain from the truffle oil and taste a fresh truffle when in season (at your favorite restaurant or online seasonally at D’Artagnan). Fresh truffles are typically shaved with a truffle slicer into paper thin shavings and placed on top of carpaccio, risotto, pasta and my personal favorite, scrambled eggs.

SilverTrident-wineIf you are fortunate enough to purchase a white truffle in season, here’s my recipe for a decadent midnight supper. Since my birthday is during white Alba truffle season, these eggs have become a tradition for me! This year to make it a true Oceania Cruises moment, I’ll pair my eggs with a glass of Silver Trident Cabernet.




1 tablespoon unsalted butter

8 farm fresh eggs, mixed but not whipped

1 teaspoon freshly snipped chives

Maldon salt

Freshly ground white pepper

1 white truffle

In a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When butter is melted, pan is at medium heat and eggs are room temperature, add the eggs.

Stirring constantly with your favorite wooden spoon on medium heat, cook the eggs. Be careful not to let the eggs set, continually stirring. When eggs start to solidify, add the chives. Keep stirring.

Be careful not to overcook the eggs. They should be creamy and just curdled. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and white pepper to your taste. Shave just a few truffle sliced on top – remember that white truffle are quite strong. (Save your remaining truffle to shave over risotto!). Enjoy!

July 15, 2015

Discover a World of Pearls

Discover a World of PearlsWith stunning turquoise beaches and breathtaking surroundings, Rangiroa is a “natural aquarium” brimming with colorful undersea life and farms boasting an impressive production of delicate pearls.  

While visiting Rangiroa during your South Pacific cruise next winter, get an exclusive look at pearl cultivation with our Discover a World of Pearls shore excursion.

Drive along Rangiroa's main road, on your way to a black pearl farm. Most pearl farms are small, and the number of workers at this Rangiroa farm is quite representative of the farms in the South Pacific region.

Upon arrival, the staff will teach you about the farming and production of black pearls. Get an inside look at the chronology and evolution of the industry, and how oysters are selected, grown and then grafted for production. Then, proceed to the work sheds where oysters are sorted and cleaned, and watch a grafter at work as he skillfully plies his trade.       

         Discover a World of Pearls  Discover a World of Pearls

The highlight of the excursion will be an opportunity to view a selection of unset black pearls that are available for purchase. Here, you’ll realize how important the shape and luster are when your guide discusses the criteria for grading pearls in terms of quality. Discover round, baroque and semi-baroque pearls ranging in grades from C to A.

Get an unforgettable look at one of nature’s finest gifts with our South Pacific cruises aboard Marina:

July 13, 2015

Guest Lecturer Post: The Final Days of Simón Bolívar

Guest lecturer Sandy Cares has been sharing her insightful and entertaining lectures aboard Oceania Cruises voyages throughout the Caribbean and Central America since January 2014. Below, Sandy provides a fascinating portrait of Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan statesman and leader instrumental in the revolutions against the Spanish empire, along with highlights of his legacy in Santa Marta, Colombia.

Santa Marta, Colombia, is where the Great Liberator of South America, Simón Bolívar, finally succumbed to the toll of tuberculoses. That coupled with the punishing physical strain his body endured during decades of fighting battles, leading entire armies across the snow-capped Andes mountains, forging torrential rivers flooded to chest-height and riding on horseback over 75,000 miles, (the same distance from Anchorage, Alaska to the tip of South America five times)

1.	La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

Bolívar faced as many setbacks as victories in his lifelong pursuit of releasing South America from the clutches of Spanish rule. He went into exile three times and freed the slaves of South America a half century before slaves knew freedom in North America. By the end of his life, Bolívar had liberated and governed the six modern day nations of Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and his namesake, Bolivia.  Heartbroken at failing in his ultimate pursuit of a unified South America, he died at 47. He was a wisp at 77 pounds.

A view of the room where the clock stopped at Bolívar's death and was never re-set
A view of the room where the clock stopped at Bolívar's death and was never re-set

A guided excursion to Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in Santa Marta, Colombia, sheds light on the closing chapter of Bolívar’s tumultuous life while offering a wonderful opportunity to experience the joyously fresh and temperate climate and vibrant scenery of this idyllic spot. Bolívar only enjoyed the crisp bright air and mountain views at Santa Marta for a few days before he died here on December 17, 1830. 

It is said that this working sugar plantation estate reminded Bolívar of the familiar smells of sugar processing from his childhood days. The amenities of the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino were offered to the ailing general as a comfortable place to stay while awaiting the vessel intended to take him on a final voyage to Europe. In his final days, his doctors watched over him. Bedridden and severely consumptive, he insisted on greeting his visitors while soldiers and guards gambled and played cards loudly in nearby rooms, often keeping him awake at night. His favorite cook served meals he relished in healthier days but could barely touch any more. Meanwhile, his nephew Ferdinand took hasty and sporadic dictations as Bolívar spelled out his last wishes and expressed his enduring vision for South America. He instructed his trusted Irish aide de camp, Daniel O’Leary, to burn the entirety of his extensive writings upon his death, a request O’Leary wisely disregarded. 

Bolívar’s bed with the Venezuelan colors
Bolívar’s bed with the Venezuelan colors

Born to arguably the richest family in Caracas, Venezuela, and quite possibly one of the richest families in all of South America, Bolívar inherited immeasurable wealth from family mines, plantations and properties by the time he was orphaned at nine years of age. He managed to spend the vast majority of it on the Revolutionary cause, leaving some paltry crumbs to his sisters and nephews.  He died a virtual pauper.

A great-grandnephew of George Washington felt compelled to send Bolívar a token in the spirit of solidarity during the Liberator’s glory years.  General Lafayette encouraged the gesture, avowing his high esteem of Bolívar. A little locket containing a strand of hair with Washington’s cameo on the cover was dispatched with a note declaring Bolívar the “George Washington of South America.”  Bolívar received it and wore the treasured locket as the pinnacle of honor, and it is now depicted on Bolívar’s chest in statues and paintings.

A Bolívar statue on the grounds featuring the George Washington locket on his chest
A Bolívar statue on the grounds featuring the George Washington locket on his chest

The grounds at Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino also provide a glimpse into the lavish lifestyles of the colonial Spanish era that sugar cultivation afforded the privileged planters. The rooms are filled with examples of period furniture, carriages and relics in situ, just as they were during Bolívar’s brief stay, including the famous clock that stopped when he died after one o’clock and was never re-set. A thoughtful collection of paintings, valuable art and artifacts in nearby rooms all make this museum a testament to Bolívar’s colorful life and mythic accomplishments inspiring curiosity and igniting the imagination.

The Simón Bolívar monument in Santa Marta, Colombia
The Simón Bolívar monument in Santa Marta, Colombia

At a leisurely stroll away, the stark marble Bolívar memorial glimmers achingly white against the sapphire sky, commemorating his life achievements and last days at Santa Marta. He was buried in the nearby Santa Marta Cathedral.  His wish to be reburied in Caracas came true twelve years later.

Simón Bolívar’s quest for a free and unified South America is a circuitous story rife with unexpected twists and turns that blaze with flames of victory and crumble with the ashes of defeat while steadily rolling through a chunk of South America the size of Europe. 

Inside the Cathedral of Santa Marta where Bolívar was buried upon his death in 1830
Inside the Cathedral of Santa Marta where Bolívar was buried upon his death in 1830

Today, his legacy is misunderstood as often as it is misused by contradictory political factions invoking him as their own legitimate precursor in an attempt to garner support under the aegis of his hallowed name. The meteoric rise and plummeting fall of imperfect leaders across the recent political landscape of South America is quintessentially “Bolivarian.” 

Join Sandy’s talk, “Simón Bolívar: A Great American,” for a portrait of the daunting rise and fall of Simón Bolívar on these voyages in 2016:

Sunny Getaways:  Riviera | March 20-April 3, 2016

Caribbean Charisma:  Regatta | November 17-29, 2016

Pacific Holidays: Regatta | December 22, 2016 – January 7, 2017

July 10, 2015

Jacques Pépin’s Signature Sailing: Ringing in The Master’s 80th Birthday

JacquesSailing-FranckAs our beloved Executive Culinary Director and Master Chef Jacques Pépin celebrates his 80th birthday this year, we’re thrilled to be honoring this momentous occasion on board. Sailing from Lisbon to Rome this week aboard Riviera, Jacques is joined by his lovely wife, Gloria; his daughter, Claudine and his granddaughter, Shorey on this special 10-day Signature Sailing. Just a few days into the cruise, guests are already partaking in range of special events and celebrations.

Earlier in the week, during a cooking demonstration that featured recipes from Claudine’s new book, Kid’s Cook French, JacquesSailing-CookingDemoguests enjoyed a glimpse of the special family bond that Jacques, Claudine and Shorey share in the kitchen as they cooked up some classic French dishes. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed sweets and a befitting cake – in the shape of umbrellas – in honor of Jacques. Franck Garanger, Fleet Corporate Chef; along with Kathryn Kelly, Director of Enrichment and Executive Chef; and Noelle Barille, Chef Instructor, all joined in the festivities.

Yesterday Riviera called on Málaga where Jacques and guests strolled the central market, touring stalls filled with local meat and seafood, fresh fruits and regional treats. Afterwards, Jacques, accompanied by friends, family and guests, enjoyed lunch at one of his favorite restaurants in the city – El Tintero.













Later in the cruise, Jacques will take a trip down memory lane with our guests as he recounts some of his favorite culinary moments during a special lecture. He also plans to host book signings, special Q&A sessions and photo opportunities.

In addition, the Grand Dining Room is featuring one of Jacques’ signature dishes each evening to honor him, along with his namesake restaurant. The voyage is certain to be a wonderful celebration of Jacques and his special history with Oceania Cruises.

JacquesSailing-ChefsThe Culinary Center Celebrates Jacques
The Culinary Center has been celebrating Jacques and his glorious career through a special cooking class, Happy 80th, Jacques Pépin. The class will continue to be offered throughout the year, and features recipes that embrace Jacques’ lifelong passion for culinary technique, while emphasizing the basic techniques that chefs have learned from him over the past six decades. Drink a glass of Jacques' favorite champagne as a toast to the master, and send a happy birthday photo to him at the conclusion of the class!

JacquesSailing-PepinClassJoin all of us at Oceania Cruises in wishing Jacques a very happy 80th birthday!

July 8, 2015

The Indian Ocean: Crossroads of the World

As one of Oceania Cruises’ passionate guest lecturers, Dr. John Freedman thrives on sharing his in-depth knowledge of international cultures while sailing around the globe with our guests. Combining his well-established career in medicine with a fascination with faraway lands, Dr. Freedman has led a number of medical volunteer programs and relief efforts throughout the world. Below, Dr. Freedman offers insight on the compelling role of the Indian Ocean – economically, geopolitically and historically.

image from Indian Ocean is a spectacularly beautiful destination. Sun- and sand- and sea-lovers will find more than their fill of joy in this part of the world. But beyond its magnificent beauty, the Indian Ocean is also a region of unique geopolitical and economic significance - perhaps moreso than any other ocean on our planet, and perhaps now more than ever.  

Of course there is really only one ocean on planet Earth, the saline hydrosphere that covers three-fourths of the earth’s surface and contains 97% of our planet’s water. That’s a lot of water – billions of billions of gallons – and it is roughly, if artificially, divided up by geographers into 3 major ocean systems: the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean. (Some geographers count the circumferential ocean around Antarctica as a separate “Southern Ocean” and the northernmost arms of the Atlantic and Pacific as a separate “Arctic Ocean”, but we’ll just consider the Big Three for now.) The Indian Ocean is the smallest of the 3 major oceans - but still of impressive extent: it covers over 27 million square miles and is over 5 miles deep at its deepest point in the Java Trench. It is the warmest of the planet’s oceans, and it is getting even warmer as the heat energy from global warming is transferred into it from the Pacific via a massive oceanic heat transfer mechanism known as the Indonesian Throughflow. The warm waters of the Indian Ocean combined with its relatively low salinity and its exquisite clarity and soft aquamarine tones make it my favorite ocean for swimming, be it in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, the Seychelles, or Zanzibar.

The picture postcard beauty of the Indian Ocean: Zanzibar
The picture postcard beauty of the Indian Ocean: Zanzibar

The Indian Ocean has long been the least studied of the world’s great ocean systems, yet that seems to be changing as more and more attention is focused on its economics and the overlay of geopolitics. Indeed, the Indian Ocean connects the Atlantic and Euro-African and Middle Eastern worlds to south Asia and ultimately through the Strait of Malacca to the greater Asian and Pacific worlds. Ancient Egyptian mariners traveled from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean via man-made canals which connected the Nile Delta to the Red Sea (pre-dating the Suez Canal by at least 3000 years). At the dawn of the first mil lennium, Greek sailors of the Alexandrian world were the first to grasp and master the unique and powerful monsoon system of the Indian Ocean. Understanding how to harness the energy of the monsoon was revolutionary, in that it made truly long-distance sea travel practical for the first time in human history. We think of the monsoon as a terrestrial rain phenomenon, but at sea it is actually a seasonally reversing wind regime of prodigious power over a vast ocean expanse. Every summer the warm air over the Asian landmass creates a low-pressure zone, and cooler air over the Indian Ocean comes rushing toward the Asian continent. That pattern reverses itself in the winter. For centuries, seaborne traders harnessed the powerful reversing winds of the monsoon to go back and forth to India, the “Spice Islands” of Indonesia, and to and from the exotic realms of Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. Persian and Arab traders dominated these routes for centuries, and many grew spectacularly rich from the enormous profits on ivory and gold from Africa and spices, silk and porcelains from the Orient. Their extensive trade activity went hand in hand with the Islamicization of much of south and Southeast Asia, a legacy which exists to this day. The monsoons also propelled immense Chinese treasure ships to and from Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Horn of Africa. Indian and Sri Lankan traders rode the winds to Southeast Asia, where both Hinduism and Buddhism followed in their wake, with Buddhism’s profound influence throughout Asia enduring to this day.

Famed medieval traveler/explorers such as the Venetian trader Marco Polo and the Moroccan pilgrim Ibn Battuta sailed across the Indian Ocean en route to China and wrote of its charms and mysteries – and its mercantile importance. They and other navigators since the 2nd century AD depended on maps created by the great Alexandrian mathematician and astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy. Ptolemaic maps depicted the Indian Ocean clearly enough, but incorrectly showed it to be a giant landlocked sea. Ptolemy and his centuries of disciples in the ancient cartographic world believed the southern end of Africa was connected to a large landmass known as Terra Australis Nondum Cognita (Southern Land Not Yet Known).

Phi Phi Islands in the Andaman Sea off the west coast of Thailand, the northeast region of the Indian Ocean
Phi Phi Islands in the Andaman Sea off the west coast of Thailand, the northeast region of the Indian Ocean

This purely mythical land, amazingly, did turn out to exist – we know it today as Antarctica.  But we know today that Antarctica is actually a separate stand-alone contine nt. It was not until 1488 that the intrepid Portuguese sailor Bartolomeu Dias was able to definitively prove all the mapmakers wrong by rounding the southern tip of Africa by sea – a feat which changed the world forever by showing there was indeed an oceanic route between the Atlantic world of Europe and the Indian Ocean, which would then serve as the great crossroads and gateway to all of Asia. Vasco da Gama took the next giant step when he made it from Lisbon all the way to India in 1498. This opened the way not just for a new Age of Imperialism by the Portuguese and a host of other European powers who followed quickly and rapaciously, but also for world-changing globalization of trade and cultural diffusion between East and West – processes which continually accelerated over subsequent centuries and which are today more robust and of more importance than ever.

Steamships freed traders from the tyranny of the monsoon regime in the 19th century, and trade increased exponentially, a pattern which shows no sign of slowing down today or long into the future. Today the Indian Ocean is a vital shipping lane for the world’s goods and is also an energy superhighway. China, for example, gets 80% of its petroleum products from the Gulf States, via the Indian Ocean. The key geographical “choke points” of the Indian Ocean trade route have for centuries been coveted geopolitical loci, and remain so to this day.

Dr. John Freedman looking for lemurs on the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar (Found one!)
Dr. John Freedman looking for lemurs on the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar (Found one!)

Two of the most important – the Strait of Hormuz which is the “neck of the wine bottle” of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca which is the “funnel to East Asia” – have been sites of great strategic value, continued political intrigue, and intermittent warfare for over 500 years.

The Indian Ocean has long been a major theatre for global geopolitics, and this is especially true today as China definitively assumes the mantle of a world superpower. China and India are two Asian giants who vie for economic dominance and political hegemony in the Indian Ocean sphere. China’s “soft power” approach through robust economic and diplomatic initiatives has been carried out on a massive scale in Africa over the past decade – so much so that some pundits have gone so far as to call Africa “China’s second continent.”  The Indian Ocean is China’s sea bridge to Africa and the Middle East. Along the route there are numerous countries whose political and economic kinship China is very actively courting, such as Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Bangladesh, and Pakistan (Karachi itself, the second most populous city in the world, is a major Indian Ocean port city). China has developed what the U.S Defense Department has referred to as a “String of Pearls” of naval bases spanning the Indian Ocean from Asia to Africa. The U.S. has a major naval base on the remote Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia and it is likely inclined to pursue establishing more bases in this important region in the future. The Maldives, a stunningly beautiful archipelagic nation in the northern Indian Ocean, is today in the throes of a dynamic internal confrontation between democratic and authoritarian forces – China, India, the U.S. and other western powers have all begun jockeying for an advantageous position as the political drama plays out.

So while the Indian Ocean is indeed spectacularly beautiful and “exotic” and a destination full of picture postcard natural beauty, we should not forget its dynamic economic and geopolitical importance throughout human history and into the present day. As the “crossroads of the world” it will surely play a large and pivotal role in the future evolution of world history.

Dr. Freedman invites you to join him this fall for fascinating explorations throughout Asia, Africa and the Indian Ocean on these voyages:

Pagodas & Palaces: Insignia | October 10, 2015

Sultans & Safaris: Insignia | October 26, 2015

Wonders of the Atlantic: Insignia | November 30, 2015

July 6, 2015

NEW OLife Advantage: Experience the Benefits of Sailing with Oceania Cruises

Olife2We are excited to introduce OLife Advantage, our brand new collection of amenities that enhances your vacation experience and brings you generous savings when you book early. For guests in Veranda Staterooms and above, OLife Advantage includes FREE Shore Excursions, FREE Unlimited Internet, and FREE Pre-Paid Gratuities, all designed to make your vacation experience even more carefree.

OlifelogoThis special offer, featured on all spring, summer and fall 2016 voyages in Europe, Alaska and Canada & New England, is valid now through September 30, 2015 when you book a Veranda Stateroom or above. Take advantage of a range of exciting free excursions which allow you to experience incredible destinations more fully, along with unlimited Internet so you can stay connected with friends and family back home. The number of free excursions is based on the length of your voyage:

Voyages up to 9 days: 3 FREE Excursions
Voyages 10-12 days: 4 FREE Excursions
Voyages 14+ days: 5 FREE Excursions

Expertly-crafted shore excursions focused on history, culture, nature and cuisine invite you to discover the destination more deeply – whether it’s in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Alaska or beyond! Just a few highlights are below.

Olife6The Hermitage, A Wealth of Art & History (available from St. Petersburg, Russia)

No visit to St. Petersburg would be complete with a tour of the world-famous Hermitage Museum – the “Crown Jewel” of the museum list in St. Petersburg. Founded in 1764 as a private museum of Catherine the Great – to which only she and her closest courtiers had access – it is now Russia’s largest art museum, housing an astounding collection of art. Explore the splendor of the collection, spread among four buildings: the Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage, the Old Hermitage, and the New Hermitage.

Olife3Hills of Lucca & Wine Tasting (available from Florence/Pisa/Tuscany, Italy)

Take in the rolling hills and beautiful valleys of the Tuscan countryside as you drive toward the wonderful medieval town of Lucca for a fascinating glimpse into the region's winemaking traditions. Explore this charming old world city on your own, perhaps strolling along the amazingly well-preserved Renaissance-era city walls. Afterwards, visit a local wine cellar to learn about traditional process and bottling methods and enjoy an exquisite tasting of red and white wines, accompanied by local salami, olives and bread.

Olife4Ephesus & Terrace Houses (available from Ephesus, Turkey)

Ephesus is esteemed as one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world, and during your walking tour, you will see the remains of its glorious Roman architecture. Behold excavated treasures such as the Odeon Theater, public baths, the two-tiered Celsus Library, and the nearly 24,000-seat Grand Theater, where St. Paul once preached. You will also have the opportunity to visit the Terrace Houses, which were inhabited by Ephesus' wealthiest residents and are richly decorated with mosaics and frescoes.

Olife5Mendenhall Glacier Explorer (available from Juneau, Alaska)

Discover Juneau’s scenic natural beauty, along with the astounding Mendenhall Glacier. Admire Juneau’s picturesque waterfront and then take in gorgeous vistas of the glacier, one of 38 flowing from the massive 1,500-square mile Juneau Icefield. Note the mystical blue hue of the glacier, caused by a unique crystalline structure that absorbs and reflects light. You can also venture out on the trails for a firsthand glimpse of this relatively new ecosystem once covered by ice.

Start planning your 2016 voyage today!

Please note: The above list is only a sample of shore excursions typically offered. Every effort is made to finalize shore excursions 180 days in advance of the sailing. For the OLife Advantage offer, free shore excursions vary by voyage and exclude Oceania Choice and Oceania Exclusive excursions. 

July 2, 2015

Celebrating Independence Days Around the World

Celebrating Independence Days Around the WorldParades, kite-flying, torch-running – freedom festivities take shape in many ways. As millions of Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, honoring the declaration of independence from Great Britain in 1776, we’re taking a look at other countries’ days of freedom and how they celebrate.

Happy Birthday Canada | July 1

Canada’s Independence Day is frequently referred to as "Canada's birthday" or “Canada Day.” This event marks the union of the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867. Canadians celebrate their Independence very similar to that of the U.S. with parades, fireworks, summer picnics and a whole host of other fun activities.

Celebrating Independence Days Around the WorldGrito do Ipiranga | September 7

Brazil won its freedom after Portuguese prince Dom Pedro I declared it independent from his father's rule on September 7, 1822, in one of the most peaceful Latin American revolutions. The Brazilians did not have to go to war for their independence; the King himself declared in the Grito do Ipiranga, "By my blood, by my honor, and by God: I will make Brazil free" with the motto "Independence or Death!"

On this day, thousands of Brazilians gather throughout the streets to celebrate with banners, balloons and streamers. They proudly fly their flag, sing songs and enjoy the day with their friends and families.

India Flies As Free As the Wind | August 15

India won their independence on August 15, 1947, after more than 200 years of British colonial rule. To celebrate their freedom, saffron, white and emerald-green kites evoking the young country's tri-colored flag are flown all over, and parades and pageants are also popular.

Celebrating Independence Days Around the WorldArriba Mexico | September 16

On September 16, Mexico will celebrate 203 years of independence, since the legendary priest Miguel Hidalgo sounded "El Grito de la Independencia" – a cry for freedom that set in motion the Mexican War of Independence from Spain. Mexico’s celebrations start the night of the 15th and carry on into the next day. Some of the traditions include the national military parade, which marches through various memorials, the ringing of the National Palace bell in Mexico City, fireworks, civic festivals and family gatherings.

Guatemala, Honduras & Beyond: Freedom for All | September 15

Inspired by the results of Spain's defeat in the Mexican War for Independence, Guatemala declared all of Central America free on September 15, 1821. Beginning in Guatemala City and ending in Costa Rica’s former colonial capital Cartago, the “running of the torch” relay is still a much-loved Independence Day tradition and attracts large crowds every year.

Happy 4th of July from all of us at Oceania Cruises!

June 30, 2015

It’s All in the Details: La Reserve by Wine Spectator

2Ohio natives Marge and Robert R., frequent Oceania Cruises guests and wine enthusiasts, cruised aboard Riviera through the turquoise waters of the Caribbean and indulged in a seven-course meal paired with fine wines during an unforgettable evening at La Reserve by Wine Spectator.

Someone once told me the best wine is the one we drink among great company.  My husband Robert and I, self-proclaimed wine connoisseurs, chose a roundtrip Miami voyage aboard Riviera last winter, to relax, enjoy the sunshine and experience the perfect pairings and delectable cuisine aboard La Reserve by Wine Spectator. We read the premium wines were selected in consultation with wine experts from Wine Spectator, so as soon as we booked our cruise, we reserved our seats at the restaurant.  

1I remember looking at the beautifully designed china on the table, and preparing for a remarkable evening at the intimate setting on Deck 12. Robert settled in across from me as couples from different parts of the world joined us. Our chef for the evening soon introduced himself, and provided an overview of the enticing courses and wine pairings that awaited us.

The wine and fine dining at La Reserve by Wine Spectator was much more than an upscale meal; it was an unforgettable experience.  Among the three different menus to choose from: Discovery menu, Odyssey menu and the Connoisseur menu, we chose the Connoisseur menu and savored every single bite of the seven-course dinner.

3I loved the butter poached Brittany blue lobster with vegetable nage and beetroot cress which was paired with a crisp and lively California white – Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay. I loved the way the bright citrus flavors and acidity balanced the richness of the lobster.  Robert enjoyed the seared Kobe beef sous vide with Valrhona sauce, Franck’s mashed potatoes and edamame beans paired with an elegant Italian red – Marchesi Fumanelli Octavius Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva – which perfectly complemented the delicate flavor of the beef. The care and attention to detail by each staff member in the restaurant enhanced the evening, making us all feel as if the night had been planned just for us.

When the spectacular evening came to an end, Robert and I could not stop raving about the cuisine, and more importantly, the wine. As we strolled out onto the open deck, the stars shining brightly above, we began dreaming about our next Oceania Cruises voyage. We are looking forward to another evening at La Reserve, this time aboard Marina as we sail through Baltic in July!  

June 26, 2015

Guest Post: Top Tips to Capture Stunning Sunsets

David Smith
Sunset Over Rethymno, Crete (David Smith)

David Smith, a world travel & fine art photographer from Vancouver, is joining Insignia on several segments of the 180-Day World Odyssey, which departs July 8. His photography has been published in the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler, Geo Saison Magazine and USA Today. Below, David shares the key to taking gorgeous sunset photographs.

On a recent visit to the Greek Islands (happiness is a scooter, sandals and a bathing suit!) we watched an amazing sunset being created from our balcony in Rethymno on the northwestern coast of Crete. This sunset was visible all over Crete and the locals still talk about it weeks later. Casual travel photographers rarely capture sunset sunsets properly since the camera light meter gets confused by the combination of bright, bright sun and dark clouds. One needs to underexpose sunset photographs to create a dramatic sky, better exposed sun and bright highlights and increased color saturation. In the film camera days, good photographs would set exposure to the sky behind the sunset and then set cameras settings in manual to -2 stops. With digital cameras its easy, just set your exposure value (UV) to – 2.0 but you have to be off automatic mode on most digital cameras to be able to change your EV settings.

Istanbul Sunset – A Call to Prayer
Istanbul Sunset – A Call to Prayer (David Smith)

When the captain moved Marina from the pier in Istanbul, he could not have picked better timing. As she swung about to slip by the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace, an intense and vivid red sunset was punctuated by a Muslim call to prayer echoing among the minarets. On deck, some tears were shed, cameras clicked furiously and it was all over in a few minutes as dusk faded into night and the ship moved southwards down the Bosphorus. Being the start of a memorable voyage to Turkey and Greece, is this memorable event a sign of more to come?

I cringed as I saw most cameras capturing this lifetime moment with just a few shots in automatic mode. Light meters, even in today’s sophisticated digital cameras, can’t handle the complexity of both the intense bright spots around the sun lit clouds and the dark moods of the burnt ember colored sky. In automatic mode, the inability of a camera’s sensor to capture both bright and darks at the same time results in a rather flat looking image with blown out bright areas and not so colorful clouds. To capture better sunsets with your camera, you must underexpose the shot to reduce blown-out brights and increase the saturation of the brilliant colors.

EV control button
EV control button

The magic elixir that makes this happen without having to know anything about shutter speeds and f-stops is the Exposure Value (EV) button. Often a plus/minus symbol with a diagonal line or a menu setting control in almost all digital cameras have this control, sometimes enabled only when you are NOT in automatic or scene modes.

To underexpose your shot set the EV control to a negative number. The default setting is EV=0.0 so take a shot at the auto or default setting, then move the EV setting to -1.0 take a shot, then move it to -2.0 take a shot, etc. Better cameras have EV setting ranges of up to + or – 5.0 so go lower than EV=-2.0 if you can. An EV of -2.0 is the same as underexposing by 2 stops in the old film camera world. You can see the results instantly on your camera’s LCD. By bracketing you can select the best shot to show later. This sequence of photos of the same scene shows the dramatic difference of the sunsets by underexposing the shot in 1 EV increments. In my honest opinion, the most dramatic image is the -2 EV shot.

Underexposing sunset shots increases color saturation and adds drama
Underexposing sunset shots increases color saturation and adds drama

David looks forward to meeting many of you aboard Insignia very soon. For more photo tips, visit David’s blog. Also explore more of his beautiful photography on his gallery and his Fine Art America website.  

June 24, 2015

New Slovenia Culinary Discovery Tour: An Emerging Food & Wine Destination

1What distinguishes a gourmet explorer from a tourist? A true sense of culinary adventure. Nowhere is that more true than in Slovenia. This summer Oceania Cruises’ popular Culinary Discover Tours will include several calls to Koper where guests are treated to a truly epic “deep dive” into the emerging food and wine landscape.

2We start our tour at the Fonda Fish Farm, where this second generation dynasty leads the industry in sustainable aquaculture. In preparation for the tour, I re-read Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg, an insightful book about salmon, cod, tuna and sea bass. I recommend it to anyone with a serious interest in the status of our seas and the fish who call them home. 

Dr. Fonda greets us, whose father, a deep-sea diver, founded the business after noticing that the larger species of fish from his youth were disappearing. This family of biologists presents a compelling case for responsible fish husbandry – challenging you to rethink your preconceived notions of farmed fish. 

3Dr. Fonda takes us on an incredible journey from the purchasing of 200,000 baby sea bass to the 2-year care of the fish and eventually to their responsible harvesting.

4After a tour by boat through the fish farm, we enjoy a sample of the Branzino –  from ceviche to smoked varieties, along with local salt and olive oils. They are welcoming and informative hosts, truly leaving you with a new appreciation for the art and science of aquaculture.

5After a morning on the water, we venture into the Slavnic mountains to the BRIC winery. Privately owned, this property is a commitment to viticulture in its most pristine and authentic form. We arrive at the winery, and are escorted to a scenic lookout above the buildings for a glass of wine so aromatic and unique that it takes your breath away. The wine smells of honeysuckle, and spring has just arrived so we stand with a 360-degree vista of the countryside. Barely-emerging vines with purple wisteria in full bloom are all around us. What a magical way to start our tour of the winery and a sumptuous lunch.

8As we finish our last sip of wine, we are called back down from the lookout by the enthusiastic bark of three dogs, who will (with their owner) take us on a short truffle hunt!  Off under the oak trees we go and find some gorgeous black truffles. We learn that truffle hunters carry a special shovel to dig out the truffles without injuring the roots of the tree, and lucky Maggie winds up finding all of the truffles today. 

7After praising the dogs and marveling at the truffles, we head inside the winery for a tour of the facility.  After witnessing the operation and hearing the philosophy of the wine maker, we head to a glass-walled dining room for a truffle-themed lunch. We enjoy several red and white wines as we sit atop the gorgeous mountain amongst the vineyards, and it’s hard to imagine a more inviting setting to acquaint ourselves with the traditions and hospitality of our new Slovenian friends.

June 20, 2015

Happy Birthday to Chef Jacques Pépin!

Oceania Cruises partnered with Food & Wine magazine to celebrate and honor legendary Chef, and our Executive Culinary Director, Jacques Pépin on his 80th birthday during the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. The gala event, comprised of 500 of the country’s leading culinary influencers and enthusiasts, took place on the spectacular Aspen Sundeck at the pinnacle of Aspen Mountain.

Oceania Cruises President Jason Montague, Culinary Executive Chef Jacques Pepin, Claudine Pepin and Dana Cowin, Editor of Food & Wine Magazine
Oceania Cruises President Jason Montague, Culinary Executive Chef Jacques Pépin, Claudine Pépin and Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine Magazine

Oceania Cruises' President and Chief Operating Officer Jason Montague delivered a heartfelt address touching upon Jacques’ many contributions to Oceania Cruises, which was followed by a celebratory Champagne toast. The event hit a crescendo when a custom croquembouche cake, festooned with sparklers, was wheeled out for revelers’ enjoyment and Jason presented Jacques with a commemorative Champagne sabering sword.

Happy Birthday to Chef Jacques Pépin!
Happy Birthday to Chef Jacques Pépin!

This July onboard Riviera promises to be a family affair as Jacques’ daughter Claudine, co-Host of Jacques’ award-winning “Cooking with Claudine“ television series, and his granddaughter Shorey will join Pépin and his wife Gloria on the 10-day Iberian Inspiration departing Lisbon for Rome on July 7, 2015.

Oceania Club Members Ronald & Donna Thompson with Senior Vice President James Rodriguez
Oceania Club Members Ronald & Donna Thompson with Oceania Cruises Senior Vice President James Rodriguez

Jacques’ birthday festivities will continue in Marina and Riviera Culinary Centers throughout the year with the addition of “La Technique: A Celebration of Jacques Pépin’s 80th Birthday.” The class will showcase his life and legacy and teach his world-renowned cooking techniques. 

June 18, 2015

Summer in Paradise Aboard Sirena

Summer in Paradise Aboard SirenaImagine the moonlight sparkling on the sea, the twinkling lights of historic cities lining the coast and the glorious sight of vineyards stretching inland as far as you can see.  With Sirena’s alluring summer itineraries, you don’t have to imagine paradise because we’ll take you there. Capturing the best and most interesting gems throughout the Mediterranean, each voyage offers a spectacular collage of cultural treasures

Idyllic Ionian – Venice to Rome

On this idyllic voyage that embarks along the distinctive canals of Venice, crosses the Ionian Sea and arrives at the immortal Seven Hills of Rome, you will experience the many joys of life in Italy and beyond. Stand on the stage of an ancient amphitheater with a sweeping view in Taormina, savor a plate of gnocchi at a bougainvillea-framed sidewalk café on Capri, and stretch out on Shipwreck Beach on gloriously Greek Zakynthos.

3Divine Tides – Rome to Istanbul

As you will discover on this voyage through the hallowed sites of antiquity, the Mediterranean transcends time, its tides having seen the rise and fall of Greek, Roman and Ottoman empires.  While in Rome, visit the world-famous Vatican Museums, where an exceptional collection of artwork from every era is on display. On the island of Crete, discover Knossos Palace, the center of the ancient capital of the great King Minos and explore the village of Rabat in Malta, where St. Paul is said to have lived in 60 AD.

4Cradle of History – Athens to Istanbul

Visit historic places that defined who we are today on this sweeping journey through the cultural, spiritual and philosophical touchstones of the Mediterranean. Explore the seemingly immortal pyramids of Egypt and unearth the legends of the pharaohs. During an overnight stay in Jerusalem, learn the importance of this remarkable and turbulent city to the foundations of Christianity, Judaism and Islam and let the voices of Greek philosophers ring across the centuries at the Acropolis of Athens.

Mediterranean Collage – Valletta to Barcelona

As you embark in Malta, the sweeping views of the sea will offer a panorama of the region into which you will delve. Contrast the sleek yachts and chic boutiques of Monte Carlo with the charms of a sidewalk café serving bouillabaisse in Marseille. Be uplifted by Palermo’s famed Piazza Pretoria and its fountain adorned with dozens of white marble figures and sip a glass of limoncello in seaside Sorrento.

5Wineries & Waterways – Lisbon to Paris

With an overnight stay in Bordeaux, visit the Médoc vineyards and the cellars of one of the region's esteemed chateaux. During another overnight visit, you’ll discover that Paris lives up to its City of Light moniker when the Eiffel Tower is reflected in the rippling waters of the Seine. From Oporto, visit the fascinating city of Guimarães, the first capital of Portugal and the birthplace of the nation's first king.

View a complete list of Sirena’s itineraries

June 12, 2015

Cruise Director Dottie Kulasa: 27 Years at Sea

1It was the winter of 1978 when Cruise Director Dottie Kulasa took her very first cruise, trading Pennsylvania’s harsh winter weather for the balmy Caribbean. As the ship sailed to San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and other ports throughout the Caribbean, Dottie knew she was hooked. She remembers watching the staff during the voyage and thinking, “I can do this.”

“I just fell in love with being on a ship and the travel aspect of the industry,” she said.

Following her graduation from college, Dottie went into public relations in Pittsburgh, eventually becoming the Director of Public Relations for McKeesport Hospital where she worked for seven years. During this period in her life, every vacation Dottie took was a cruise. Nearly ten years after her very first cruise, she began her career at sea in 1988. In fact, this spring marks Dottie’s 27th anniversary at sea, and all of these years later, she says she enjoys her role now more than ever.

2“Here at Oceania Cruises, I am so engaged with the guests and we are blessed to have wonderful, appreciative guests,” Dottie said. “I love being the spark that allows them to relax and have a wonderful vacation.”

Dottie’s life at sea is also what led her to meet her husband, stand-up comedian Tom Drake, nearly 19 years ago aboard a ship. They worked together for about three years before getting married, and still enjoy traveling and working together since Tom is a comedian for Oceania Cruises.

“Of course, being married to a comedian means I am the subject of a few of Tom’s jokes but they are all in good fun,” Dottie said. “He is constantly adding new material to his show and all of it is tested out on me…he makes me laugh all the time!”

6As Cruise Director, Dottie is at the center of activities aboard the ship and has had her share of memorable moments on board – some of which have a way of returning again and again. One such memory was aboard Nautica when in port at Salalah, Oman in 2011. Dottie recalls how they had a special deck party called “Sheik, Rattle & Roll Deck Party,” and that guests were encouraged to buy a traditional outfit in one of our ports of call.

“To our amazement, the majority of the guests arrived dressed in traditional outfits,” Dottie said. But even more remarkable, now years later, two of these guests on a recent voyage pulled up the photos they had taken at the party to show Dottie.

4“The pictures go everywhere they go as a reminder of the great times they’ve had on their Oceania Cruises voyages,” Dottie said. 

After traveling throughout the world for all of these years, Dottie also has some distinct favorites when it comes to destinations. She loves the markets of Shanghai and enjoys doing her holiday shopping there, while Edinburgh is one of those rare travel discoveries for Dottie that enchants with its haunting familiarity.

“This might sound strange but in another life I know I lived in the Edinburgh Castle,” Dottie said, laughing.  “I feel as if I were once a handmaiden there.”  

5Meanwhile, a little further south on the Adriatic, it’s the irresistible ambiance of Venice that lures her back again and again.

“I just love the romance of Venice and the food,” she said. “I’ll never tire of sailing into Venice.”

In fact, Dottie looks forward to visiting The Floating City once again this autumn aboard Marina, continuing her fascinating life at sea. 

June 8, 2015

Guest Lecturer Post: Nothing Sweeter! Behind Sugarcane Processing at a Costa Rican Hacienda

1Guest lecturer Sandy Cares has been sharing her insightful and entertaining lectures aboard Oceania Cruises voyages throughout the Caribbean and Central America since January 2014. Below, she shares her unique experience at a century-old hacienda in Costa Rica.

I don’t know about you, but in my life, sugar constitutes a major food group. I can’t get enough of it, so when the opportunity arose to join a Regatta excursion to see how sugar is processed in Costa Rica, the proverbial wild horses couldn’t keep me away.

2The action started at Hacienda Tayutic after a pleasant narrated ride through Costa Rica’s lush countryside. Strolling around the idyllic grounds we got lost –and found – in an amazing old maze, met up with some mystical ancient spheres and found a little chapel with a breathtaking view.

But the pièce de résistance was the little open-air theater where a pair of oxen sharing a decorative wooden yoke awaited our arrival before strutting their stuff around the old-style animal mill the hacienda uses to crush the sugarcane.

4Unknown to many, sugarcane is actually a type of grass, and is not indigenous to the Caribbean. Sugarcane came as a guest aboard Columbus’s ship, reportedly from his mother-in-law’s garden in the Canary Islands. Of course that may be fuzzy history, part-truth and part-legend – but indigenous to India, sugar started its Caribbean presence in 1492. 

Directly on the heels of Columbus, Sephardic Jews escaping the Spanish Inquisition left Spain and Portugal to introduce the New World’s first large-scale sugar plantations in Brazil. In no time, this crop that found a welcome environment with the rich volcanic soil and frequent rains – and an insatiable demand in Europe – rolled through the Caribbean islands fueling the economy of the British Empire for centuries.

5In Costa Rica, the method for sugar processing today is not far removed from that used originally by the Sephardic Jews. Initially, sugar has to be harvested with a machete. It is tough and labor intensive, which gives pause to the unavoidable fact that without the free labor provided by African slaves, about four million in the Caribbean alone by the mid-19th Century, the Caribbean sugar enterprise would have failed. 

6As our small group watched the sugarcane process, a couple of volunteers fed stalks of sugarcane into crushers as the oxen lumbered around and around the mill. It was amazing how much juice gushed out of the cane stalks passing through the crushers.

7Our hosts boiled the syrup in a round-bottom “copper” kettle over an open fire.  “Coppers” were used universally in this process and I have seen old coppers strewn across the Caribbean from Antigua to Tortola, from neglected fields to museum exhibits…everywhere! 

Now the clear cane juice was turning dark brown and the distinctive smell of molasses permeated the air. Our host checked the concoction intermittently with his paddle to determine its readiness.  From a “soft ball” stage, it quickly graduated to the “hard ball” stage, when it’s ready for crystallization. 

8Sugar must be crystallized very quickly or it spoils; therefore, during the colonial era no one could leave the plantation during harvest season. For this reason, plantations were planned as self-contained communities including a greathouse, mill, boiling house, livestock barns, rum distillery, even a chapel, infirmary and jail. 

The boiler master had only a brief opportunity for crystallization or risked losing the entire batch. Our hosts proved this point by quickly pouring the dark and viscous liquid from the copper into a wooden vat. 

9While entertaining us with the hacienda’s history, they added some mineral lime while constantly paddling the sugar. Before our very eyes, the paddling transformed the thick mass into rich, beautiful crystal sugar, deep brown with the consistency of damp sand. 

10To some of the still-liquid sugar mass they added powdered milk and stirred in chopped macadamia nuts until it thickened into irresistible pralines. Meanwhile, they had poured liquid sugar into wooden molds and “thumped out” some beautiful sugar “loaves” they cleverly wrapped in banana leaves for an artful photo op.

11A couple of weeks later, I am writing this at home in my kitchen in Grand Rapids, Michigan at about 4:00 am. I am sipping my first morning cup of coffee delectably sweetened with pure brown sugar from that day in Costa Rica at Hacienda Tayutic. Besides the sweet memory, what souvenir could be sweeter than…sugar?

This December, Sandy will be a guest lecturer on Riviera’s Sands & Shores, Mayan Mystique and Celebrate the Sunshine voyages. Join her for the talks listed below and more.

  • “Confessions from a Sugar Plantation Greathouse”
  • “Breadfruit and Cou-Cou Sticks: New World Meets Old World For Dinner”
  • “Tropical Torahs: History of the Caribbean Jews”