7 posts categorized " Polo Grill "

April 26, 2013

50 DAYS AT SEA FOR 50 YEARS OF MARRIAGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

December 10, 2012

OCEANIA CRUISES WINS CRUISE CRITIC AWARDS FOR BEST CUISINE AND BEST SUITES

The 2012 Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks were recently announced, and if you’ve ever been onboard an Oceania Cruises ship, you won’t be surprised to learn that Oceania Cruises was chosen for Best Cuisine and Best Suites.

Upon hearing this exciting news, I took a moment to go through the many photos I have taken over the years as Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises and select a few of my favorites of the beautiful suites and incredible meals I’ve enjoyed during my adventures onboard the ships. If you’re wondering what inspired the Cruise Critic editors to select Oceania Cruises, here are just a few of the reasons why these awards are so richly deserved.

BEST CUISINE 

Blogger and Chefs
The men behind the menus: Senior Executive Chef Christophe Belin and Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger (pictured with Pancake, Blogger-at-Large)

GRAND DINING ROOM

One of the sure signs that Oceania Cruises is perfect for foodies is that the Grand Dining Room is just as wonderful as the specialty restaurants. In fact, I’ve spoken with several guests who say it’s their favorite restaurant onboard. The menus change daily, but you will always find European-inspired continental cuisine as well as delicious Canyon Ranch SpaClub® dishes. Here are some photos of a few of my favorite dishes.

GD Zuch
Grilled Turbot with Zucchini and Tomato
GD SHrimp Asp Risotto
Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto
 
GD Lobster
Lobster Thermidor 

TOSCANA

As exquisite as The Grand Dining Room is, I highly recommend pulling yourself away for a taste of Tuscan-inspired Italian cuisine at the wonderful Toscana. The simple but elegant ambiance elicits the romance of the Italian countryside, and quite a few of the recipes are inspired by mothers and grandmothers of Oceania Cruises culinary staff. Also, many of the sommeliers are from long lines of wine-producing families, further enhancing the Italian experience.

Italian food is comfort food for me, and Toscana is definitely one of my favorite restaurants – onboard or ashore. I’ve had the privilege of celebrating two birthdays in Toscana, and if I had my choice, I’d celebrate all of them here! Just look at some of the incredible dishes I have enjoyed at Toscana.

 

TOS Octopus
Carpaccio di Polpo con Patate al Vapore e Vinaigrette allo Champagne (Octopus Carpaccio with Champagne Vinaigrette and Warm Potato Salad)
TOS Eggpland
Involtini di Melanzane alla Ghiotta (Sliced Eggplant rolled and sautéed with Roasted Minced Veal Stuffing and Basil, baked in Fresh Tomato Sauce)


TOS Artichoke
Sformatino di Carciofi in Salsa Tartufata e Olio Aromatizzato all’Arugula (Artichoke and Parmesan Cheese Timbale with Black Truffle Sauce and Arugula Infused Oil)
TOSLinguini Cioppino
Linguine Cioppino (Linguini Pasta with Little Neck Clams, Black Mussels, Calamari, Shrimp, and Monk Fish sautéed in a Light Pinot Grigio and Cherry Tomato Sauce)

POLO GRILL

I admit, when writing about my dining experiences, it is almost impossible not to claim that each restaurant is my favorite. If you have dined with Oceania Cruises, I think you know what I mean, and you’ll understand when I say Polo Grill is another one of my favorites. Polo Grill offers the classic steak house experience with time-honored favorites done the way only Oceania Cruises can, perfectly. The steaks are USDA Prime and dry-aged for at least 28 days.

On a recent cruise, we had reservations at Polo Grill for the last night of the voyage, and my friend spent the entire trip in anticipation of devouring the signature 32-ounce prime rib. Some people claim that a steak this size couldn’t possibly be eaten in one sitting, but I have found the person for whom this cut of beef was designed. He savored every bite, and he was the first one to finish his entrée!

For those of us with daintier appetites, there are plenty of options as well. I find the 7-ounce filet mignon is more my size. And if you prefer seafood, Polo Grill has plenty of excellent options. How does Maine lobster with drawn butter, grilled mahi mahi or jumbo shrimp cocktail sound?

PG Shimp
Colossal Chilled Shrimp Trio with Spicy Cocktail Sauce
PG Prime Rib
King’s Cut 32 oz Prime Rib – Bone-in, Seasoned to Perfection, Slow Roasted and Served Medium Rare

TERRACE CAFÉ

If you’re looking for something slightly more casual, or if you just can’t decide what type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, Terrace Café offers a whole array of international selections in a buffet-style setting. The food is just as spectacular, and you can try a little bit of everything! You will find things like Marinated Fennel Salad, Cold Poached Salmon with Herbed Mayonnaise, Breaded Pork Parmigiana and Creamy Carrot and Pumpkin Soup. Onboard Marina and Riviera, there is even a sushi bar, which I try to visit daily. And good luck trying to decide on just one dessert! Whether you choose to dine indoors or alfresco on deck, the views are stunning in every direction.

TC Desserts
Dessert Selection
TC outside
Outside Seating

JACQUES

If you haven’t had a chance to take a voyage onboard Marina or Riviera, I highly recommend you do so. In addition to all of the amazing offerings onboard Regatta and Nautica, you will find two new restaurants, including Master Chef Jacques Pépin’s namesake restaurant. I recently had the pleasure of dining here and can’t say enough about the whole experience. Everything was just perfect, from the classic French cuisine to the charming French bistro ambiance.

Here are some photos of the amazing dishes my husband and I enjoyed on a recent trip:

JA Mussels
Moules Marinières (Fresh Mussels with Shallots, White Wine and Parsley)
JA Onion Soup
Gratiné à l’Oignon (Baked Onion Soup with Gruyère Cheese Crust)
JA Chicken
Poulet Fermier Rôti aux Herbes (Herb-crusted Black Foot Free Range Chicken au Jus with Gratin Dauphinois and Haricots Verts)

RED GINGER

The other new restaurant onboard Marina and Riviera is the Asian-inspired Red Ginger. The restaurant itself is beautifully decorated, the centerpiece being three gorgeous busts of Buddha, each carved from a single piece of glass and lit from within.

Complimenting the stunning décor is an equally creative menu with contemporary interpretations of Asian classics. Rich, bold flavors are perfectly balanced with delicate subtleties. This is one of the most distinctive and delicious restaurants I have ever experienced, and the moment I finish a meal here I am already hoping for the opportunity to return as soon as possible.

RG Tuna Tataki
Tuna Tataki (Seared Tuna Filet, Shiso Sesame Crust, Wasabi Cream)
RG Lobster
Lobster Pad Thai (Rice Noodles, Bean Sprouts, Lime, Tamarind, Peanuts)
Seafood Stir-fried
Seafood Stir-fried (Scallops, Squid, Tiger Prawns, Mussels, Spring Onions, Ginger)

LA RESERVE

One of my favorite indulgences is dining at La Reserve by Wine Spectator. The restaurant seats only 24 and has an elite spot high atop deck 12. Each course is meticulously created, often before your very eyes, and great care has gone into pairing each dish with the perfect premium wine.

Dining at La Reserve is much more than a meal; it is a special event. When you finish an evening here, you feel like one of the most important and well cared for people on the planet.

LR Short Rib
72-Hour Slow Braised Short Rib with Gnocchi au Jus
LR Cab w Ribs
Paired with Gordon Brothers Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA
LR Rasb
Chef making the Raspberry Caramelized Mille Feuille with Madagascan Vanilla Cream
LR Rasb Chat
Paired with Château la Varière, Les Melleresses Bonnezeaux, Loire Valley, France 

BEST SUITES

After a fabulous dinner onboard – and maybe a little dancing at Horizons lounge – there is nothing more perfect than retiring to what Cruise Critic editors called “the most sumptuous suites at sea.”

OWNER’S SUITE

The Owners’ Suites were designed by Susan Bednar Long of New York-based, award-winning Tocar Interior Design and are completely furnished with Ralph Lauren Home Collection. Feeling almost as big as my house, the closets are one of my favorite parts!

OS 1 OS 2 OS 5

OS 3 OS 4 OS 6

VISTA SUITES

When Marina first debuted, I had the great privilege of spending time in the suites with a few honored guests, including Dakota Jackson, the renowned American designer who created the Vista Suites.

OST LPF and DJ
Dakota Jackson pictured with Pancake, Blogger-at-Large

If you like to know where the ship is heading, you may prefer the view from these suites, which overlook the bow of the ship.

VS 1 VS 2

OCEANIA SUITES

Oceania Suites, also designed by Dakota Jackson, are so large you can comfortably host a cocktail party – and they even have the bar for it! Or, if you prefer, make it a quiet night and relax in the whirlpool tub on the veranda.

OST 5 OST 4

OST 2 OST 3

PENTHOUSE SUITES

Penthouse Suites are the smallest of the suites, but small is a relative term! Walk-in closets, marble and granite bathrooms, spacious and comfortable living quarters – one guest told me these suites were her favorite place onboard Marina.

One of the things I enjoy most onboard Oceania Cruises ships is lounging in the beautiful bathtubs. This is just one of many amenities that distinguishes Oceania Cruises suites, and on Marina and Riviera, bathtubs are also featured in most staterooms. There is a shower wand in the bath tub as well as a completely separate rainfall shower.

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With the perfect accommodations and the ultimate cuisine, Oceania Cruises offers an unrivaled cruising experience at an extraordinary value. Some may say that I’m biased, but the editors at Cruise Critic have confirmed what I’ve known for some time: Oceania Cruises truly stands head and shoulders above the rest!

August 24, 2011

Stuart Gregor's further adventures onboard Marina

Below is another post from Australian journalist, Stuart Gregor, who is currently sailing on Marina:

BORDEAUX AND BEYOND

So we left off somewhere in the west of France. I had not yet fully received my sea legs, but now, some five days later I am a veteran. I even crashed a party last night being hosted for Oceania Club legends who have cruised more than 10 times. Cool group, one day I suspect it will be me entering the main door, not slipping around the back when no one is looking.


Let’s go back to Bordeaux. Stu's lesson for cruising novices: Always check that you have the details of the port right. Saying you are going to dock in Bordeaux is in fact infinitely different from a port about 100km away... as the kids would say, my bad. But all was sorted out, and a day amongst the vines, tasting great wines, is not such a bad way to while away Ascension Day, August 15. Bad luck that, too, lobbing in the world's wine capital on a public holiday . . . and as my seriously good onboard concierge Daniel said, "They take their holidays very seriously in France.” Top day, bought some great wine – in fact two bottles of Comtesse Baron (CH#) from 1999 and 2004 and drank them the next night in the seriously delicious Polo Grill, which is currently leading the field in the "which one of the restaurants is our favourite.” We like them all, of course, but one thing you Americans do really, really well is an upmarket steakhouse.

Polo Grill
Talking of food, we must of course touch upon last Tuesday, one of the most memorable gustatory days of my considerably gustatorial life... lunch at Mugaritz. If Mugaritz means nothing to you, that’s fine but you don’t take food or your restaurants very seriously. Mugaritz is a restaurant in the hills behind San Sebastian. It is owned and run by Andoni Adurriz, a former disciple of the great Ferran Adria at El Bulli. Mugaritz is currently the number three ranked restaurant IN THE WORLD. And we were going... once we found a cab in St Jean de Luz. This was not easy but it added a certain frisson to the day’s adventure. That’s if you consider a frisson a mild, blind panic by an overwrought, overweight and slightly hysterical man, who could see his reservation at THE NUMBER THREE RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD being given away because HE CAN’T FIND A BLOODY CAB IN ST. JEAN DE LUZ. It came, of course, with enough time in the tank to have a quick wander around the streets of San Sebastian. That means of course, we headed for what I straight away declared as the best tapas bar I have ever seen. A quick beer, some anchovies and a bit of drool coming from the mouth at all the spectacular food and divinely rude, but spectacular bartender... I could have stayed all day. However, I had a RESERVATION AT THE NUMBER THREE RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD. So we go to Mugaritz, and it’s a humble brown, brick building surrounded by the most beautiful garden. I am seriously as excited as a grown man could be without his team being in the lead five minutes before full-time in a final. And then they smile, they ask us if we would like to have a drink in the gorgeous terrace, they bring out a bottle of beautiful cava that a friend back home has organised, we start eating, laughing and drinking and so begins one of the greatest lunches of my life. The food? Well it was weird and wacky, some sublime, some confusing, all a sensory challenge. But it was WAY more than food. It was superb and friendly service, it was the sense of whimsy and delight on the plate and in the restaurant, it was the sheer thrill of BEING THERE that made it so wonderful. And the four bottles of wine helped, too. There were four of us, and no that doesn’t include the cava so I guess I should be honest and admit to five...

If someone were to ask me what the highlight was, it was the sense of humour, the great fun we had being invited into the kitchen and talking with Andoni, who of course speaks no English and I speak no Spanish but who cared. We did lots of thumbs up, we had Oswaldo the interpreter and it was brilliant. Bloody brilliant. And the restaurant itself was beautiful, austere but characterful and totally unlike stuffy, formal top restaurants in France. I could go on and on but I fear I have already.

The rest of the day ends in something of a blur. Of course, there was the obligatory sprint (well shuffle/jog) to the tender at St Jean de Luz, another fine meal at Red Ginger with an extra couple of bottles of wine we most definitely did not need, and another encounter with Viya the Ukrainian croupier on the craps table, who by now I am seriously falling deeply in love with. She might be the funniest and shortest croupier on the seas. She reminds me of Natasha in “Boris and Natasha,” and she treats me equally poorly, but I keep coming back for more. Those Ukrainian blokes must live in a constant state of fear if there are more like her around!

The next morning, remarkably, I feel the need to exercise. I have taken on about 15,000 calories the previous day so I hit the treadmill for an hour. There is a fantastic gym on board, I just can’t change the miles to kilometres on the screen, so I go for 5 miles and spend most of the hour multiplying things by 1.6. It’s quite a clever diversion. Anything to keep my mind off the panting and the ugly silhouette.

Bilbao-2
The next day is Bilbao and the Guggenheim. Much has been written about this and I know less about modern art than I do about moderation and abstinence, so suffice to say, it’s a drop-dead wonderful experience. I understood as much about the art as I did most of the dishes at Mugaritz, but I just loved being there all the same and what a building. Great architecture can transform cities. I just wish a few of our local urban planners in Australia would learn that lesson.

Another night onboard and a marvelous, relaxed dinner on the terrace of the Terrace Cafe, just me and the wife, her hair blowing in the breeze. It was almost romantic. As close as an old married couple will get… until she spoils the moment by telling me I have sauce on my face.

La Coruña is next and this is a wonderful city, which I see for exactly 8 minutes as the day is all about golf in the hills at Real Club de La Coruna. Only 15 minutes in a cab from the ship and a glorious morning playing (and winning on the 18th) with a great mate from Oz and a couple called Antonio and Jules. I learnt all sorts of new Spanish words for "fore" and "look out I have a horrible slice" and "I don’t think you should stand there" and "Oh bloody hell Stuart that’s a terrible putt" and "lost" and "trees.” Antonio also lets me know, after he drills a 30-foot putt for a birdie on the 14th that Spanish for birdie is in fact "birdie.” A great day. And much more to share, but Cadiz arrives to my starboard and an afternoon in Seville beckons.

This cruising thing is good.
Real good.
I'll be back for that party real soon...

 

March 30, 2011

Avid Cruiser Praises Execs Hands-On Approach to Marina

 

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

Oceania Cruises Marina: A Personal Work of Art

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full Avid Cruiser Oceania Cruises Marina Ship Review.

 

 

March 15, 2011

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

        

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

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

Miso Sea Bass

Miso Glazed Sea Bass featured in Red Ginger

 

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

By Patti Pietschmann

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

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

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

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

Terrace Chandelier

A striking chandelier in Terrace Café


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

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

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

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

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

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

Costa Rican Sunset
A Costa Rican sunset captured by Curtis Hustace

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

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

Vista Living Room

The living room of one of the extraordinary Vista Suites

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

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

 

 

 

 

January 14, 2011

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

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

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

Caramelized Tiger Prawns - onions, chili garlic sauce, scallions

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

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

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

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

Polo grill jan 13

Polo Grill

 

Toscana jan 13

Toscana


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

August 18, 2010

Top Five Tips on What to Pack for an Oceania Cruise

As I'll be boarding Regatta for the Oceania Club reunion cruise in September, can you blame me for already thinking about packing? Others anticipating an Oceania Cruise often ask me for packing tips, so here are my Top Five on what to pack. Five more tips on how to pack will follow soon. I hope you find them helpful, and please feel free to share your own tips here as well!

Grandstairs
 

1. Country club casual dress can be tailored to suit your tastes.

For me, an Oceania Cruise is an opportunity to explore my wardrobe. I confess that at home I'm one of those awful women who can often be found in sweatpants. What can I say? It's the uniform of a writer. But when on vacation, I embrace the country club casual lifestyle of an Oceania Cruise and bring out all the fun, stylish and neglected outfits in my closet. During the day I wear casual, comfortable clothes for exploring — khakis and cotton tops or even comfortable skirts and sundresses. Shorts are also fine for excursions. If we're at sea, I may spend the whole day in a swimsuit and cover up. Once the day's adventures have concluded, I usually shower (twice in one day — how decadent!) and dress for dinner. In my "normal" life I rarely dress up, so I love the chance to wear a cocktail dress to dinner every night.

For those of you who feel that ties and gowns have no place on a relaxing vacation, Oceania Cruises really is "Your World. Your Way." If the thought of changing clothes in the middle of the day does not excite you, it's easy to wear day-to-night outfits instead. A sundress or khakis can be dressed up for dinner with evening jewelry and a nice wrap. Gentlemen often need only add a sports jacket to be ready for the Grand Dining Room. And if you prefer to stay in shorts, simply dine at the Terrace Cafe. You can wear dressy shorts and casual shirts even in the evenings. So feel free to pack a wardrobe that suits your tastes, whether that means one cocktail dress for that special night at Polo Grill or a cocktail dress for every night of the week.

2. Pack comfortable shoes for exploring.

Once I've assembled the perfect outfit for an excursion ashore, I'm often tempted to complement it with some strappy sandals. Do not fall into this trap. When exploring a port, if you intend to do much walking, you'll want to wear comfortable, supportive shoes. Many European cities have cobblestone streets, which add to the enchantment but can also take a toll on one's feet. On one trip I decided to wear thongs —cushioned thongs, but thongs nonetheless — to wander about Messina. The next day I found myself hobbling around Rome with a terrible shin splint.

3. Some ports may have a dress code.

While the onboard ambiance is relaxed, be aware that some destinations do have dress codes. For instance, in Turkey there are many places where shoulders and knees must be covered. Women must cover their hair before entering the Blue Mosque, so if you don't want to use the wraps provided, be sure to pack a scarf. Oceania Cruises is very good about alerting you in advance to such dress codes so that you can plan accordingly.

4. Don't skimp on the essentials.

As you'll be traveling at least 12-14 days, ensure you have plenty of sunscreen, facial cleanser, hair products and other toiletries on hand. Travel-sized toiletries may not suffice, even for the men. While you can purchase products overseas, they are often more expensive, and many of us don't want to be trying out a new brand of lotion in the middle of a vacation. The ladies may also want to pack an extra eyeliner. It may be difficult to tell if you're near the end of one, and once I broke off a brand new eyeliner the first day of a cruise, forcing me to cruise the Baltic with undefined eyes. For the men, brand loyalty may not be a concern when it comes to toiletries, so you can rest assured that Oceania Cruises' ships stock many essentials in their boutiques. If you somehow manage to forget and/or lose your shaving kit, as my husband has done on more than one occasion, you won't have to go unshaven your entire vacation. Unless of course that's how you prefer it!

5. Don't forget your passport.

This one seems obvious, but if I don't mention it, someone will point out that I forgot the most important tip of all. Oceania Cruises usually collects all guests' passports when they board and holds them for the duration of the cruise to expedite customs procedures. So the good news is that you don't have to spend every minute of your vacation keeping track of your passport. But you do have to pack it, and while en route to the ship, be sure to keep it in a secure place. 

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One of the most wonderful things about Oceania Cruises is that they think of everything. If you forget to pack your umbrella, you'll find one waiting for you in your stateroom. And if you then forget to take that umbrella with you on the day that it rains, the ship's staff will ensure you receive a dry welcome home. So enjoy anticipating your cruise as you pack, and don't put too much pressure on yourself.
 

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