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
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.
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.
Grilled Turbot with Zucchini and Tomato
Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto
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
Carpaccio di Polpo con Patate al Vapore e Vinaigrette allo Champagne (Octopus Carpaccio with Champagne Vinaigrette and Warm Potato Salad)
Involtini di Melanzane alla Ghiotta (Sliced Eggplant rolled and sautéed with Roasted Minced Veal Stuffing and Basil, baked in Fresh Tomato Sauce)
Sformatino di Carciofi in Salsa Tartufata e Olio Aromatizzato all’Arugula (Artichoke and Parmesan Cheese Timbale with Black Truffle Sauce and Arugula Infused Oil)
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)
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
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?
Colossal Chilled Shrimp Trio with Spicy Cocktail Sauce
King’s Cut 32 oz Prime Rib – Bone-in, Seasoned to Perfection, Slow Roasted and Served Medium Rare
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.
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:
Moules Marinières (Fresh Mussels with Shallots, White Wine and Parsley)
Gratiné à l’Oignon (Baked Onion Soup with Gruyère Cheese Crust)
Poulet Fermier Rôti aux Herbes (Herb-crusted Black Foot Free Range Chicken au Jus with Gratin Dauphinois and Haricots Verts)
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.
Tuna Tataki (Seared Tuna Filet, Shiso Sesame Crust, Wasabi Cream)
Lobster Pad Thai (Rice Noodles, Bean Sprouts, Lime, Tamarind, Peanuts)
Seafood Stir-fried (Scallops, Squid, Tiger Prawns, Mussels, Spring Onions, Ginger)
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
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.
72-Hour Slow Braised Short Rib with Gnocchi au Jus
Paired with Gordon Brothers Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA
Chef making the Raspberry Caramelized Mille Feuille with Madagascan Vanilla Cream
Paired with Château la Varière, Les Melleresses Bonnezeaux, Loire Valley, France
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.”
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!
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.
Dakota Jackson pictured with Pancake, Blogger-at-Large
you like to know where the ship is heading, you may prefer the view from these
suites, which overlook the bow of the ship.
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.
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.
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.
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!