47 posts categorized " Regatta "

September 9, 2014

OCEANIA CRUISES UNVEILS NEW 2015-2016 WINTER COLLECTION

Today Oceania Cruises is thrilled to unveil our new collection of itineraries for the 2015-2016 winter season. Of these 42 destination-rich sailings, 27 are unique new itineraries never before offered, featuring 12 exciting new ports of call:

Reservations open on September 17, at 8:30 am EST, so now is the perfect time to begin planning your dream voyage to whichever corner of the globe intrigues you most. Here are the regions where each ship will sail and highlights of some of the fascinating new itineraries.

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Tierra del Fuego, South America

REGATTA: The Americas

In addition to Caribbean sailings and four voyages traversing the Panama Canal, Regatta explores South America at length, including two new Amazon River cruises and the new Alluring Andes & Majestic Fjords itinerary, departing Lima on February 7, 2016, and sailing around the southernmost tip of the continent. Marvel at Machu Picchu perched high in the Andes, cruise the magnificent Chilean Fjords and Tierra del Fuego, and explore vibrant cities from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires.

INSIGNIA: Around the World

For the most adventurous explorers seeking the journey of a lifetime, Around the World in 180 Days sails roundtrip from Miami and circumnavigates the globe. If your time is more limited, shorter segments of this journey also traverse oceans and continents. Departing from Barbados on January 14, 2016, Atlantic Ocean Exploration calls on Caribbean and South American destinations such as Belém, the gateway to the Amazon, before crossing the Atlantic to Africa. Explore the new port of Luderitz, Namibia, the vast sand dunes of Walvis Bay, and the exotic island of São Tomé.

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Walvis Bay, Namibia


NAUTICA: Africa & Asia

Nautica calls South Africa and Asia home for a series of eight unique itineraries, six of which are new routes. The new Dynasties & Empires, departing March 4, 2016, sails from Beijing to Hong Kong and features six overnight stays to allow ample time to explore fascinating cities such as Shanghai and Tokyo. Beautiful new ports on this voyage include Shimizu, Japan, nestled in the shadow of Mount Fuji, and Jeju, South Korea, known as the “Island of the Gods” for its beautiful beaches and dramatic landscapes.

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Bora Bora, French Polynesia

 

MARINA: South Pacific

Opening the season with two South American voyages, Marina then sails for the South Pacific to explore lush Polynesian islands and the treasures of Australia and New Zealand. Embark in Tahiti on February 4, 2016, for the new South Pacific Serenity sailing, and you can experience the pristine beaches and sapphire lagoons of Bora Bora, Fiji and Norfolk Island, a new port of call in Australia, as well as the architectural icons of cosmopolitan Sydney.

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Sydney, Australia

 

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Castries, St. Lucia

RIVIERA: Caribbean

Riviera explores the sunny Caribbean from the ancient Mayan ruins along the western shores to the idyllic islands of the east. What better way to spend the holiday season than on the new cruise Celebrate the Sunshine, which sails roundtrip from Miami on December 22, 2015, and spends 12 glorious days in gorgeous locales such as St. Barts, Martinique, St. Lucia and Antigua.

July 9, 2014

ALASKA AND REGATTA: THE PERFECT COMBINATION

By Jason Lasecki, Senior Director of Public Relations

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

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

Regatta

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

Baristas(New)

Horizons(New)

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

Sunset

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

Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier 2

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

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Orca Pod

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

Bird

June 10, 2014

REGATTA REFURBISHMENT COMPLETE – GUESTS EXPERIENCE THE OLIFE IN ALASKA

By Kunal S. Kamlani, President

Regatta Alaska

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

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

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

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

 

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

March 5, 2014

2015 SUMMER SEASON OPENS FOR BOOKINGS

A recent study suggests that the planning stages can be one of the most pleasurable parts of a vacation. When it comes to a voyage with Oceania Cruises, nothing can possibly beat the vacation itself, but I do love all the steps leading up to the vacation. Perhaps the most exciting is the initial planning as I dream of what part of the world I might explore next. That is why this is one of my favorite times of year, because today Oceania Cruises unveils its new 2015 Summer Collection, a whole new array of itineraries that will inspire all of us to begin planning our next Oceania Cruises adventure.

Summer is always an exciting season for Oceania Cruises as the ships explore all corners of the globe, from Alaska to Scandinavia and from New England to the Mediterranean. And 2015 is no exception with 24 new ports, 40 new itineraries in Europe, five new itineraries in Alaska and autumn cruises up and down the Eastern Seaboard during the height of the beautiful fall foliage. The season’s itineraries sail from April through November, and I was thrilled to discover that a few itineraries for the 2015-2016 winter season are being unveiled early and will also be available for bookings today!

The first thing I like to do when new itineraries are released is research the new ports to find out what fascinating places have been added to an already enormous list of destinations that Oceania Cruises visits. It would be impossible to pick a favorite from the array of new destinations, but I did find myself particularly excited about Liverpool. Here in the hometown of one of history’s greatest rock bands, The Beatles Story exhibition offers a walking tour narrated by John Lennon’s sister. More distant history is revealed at the Liverpool Cathedral, which looks positively stunning in the photos I’ve seen, and I’ve read that the views from the bell tower are unbeatable.

Liverpool Cathedral
Liverpool Cathedral

If you read my recent blog on Barcelona, highlighting several works by Gaudí, you can probably guess that I’m a big fan of art nouveau architecture. So I was also happy to see that Glasgow, birthplace of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, will be a new port of call in the British Isles. His buildings can be found throughout the city, the most famous and perhaps the most beautiful being the Glasgow School of Art.

Another new port that caught my eye was the Solovetsky Islands, located in the White Sea off the coast of Northern Russia. After learning about Russian history on my amazing visit to St. Petersburg, I feel drawn to this isolated archipelago just a hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle, as it is home to one of the most powerful monasteries of the Russian Empire. If the history isn’t enough to intrigue you, the islands’ natural beauty alone will make this an unforgettable call.

Solovetsky Islands Monastery
Solovetsky Monastery

Of course, while I may be Oceania Cruises’ Blogger-at-Large, I have not yet lived enough years to visit all of the marvelous destinations to which the ships sail. So beyond the new ports, there are also several other places the ships visit regularly that remain on my bucket list. I’ve already mentioned my fascination with Russia, and the recent Winter Olympics have showcased the beauty of Sochi, framed dramatically by the Caucasus Mountains. Departing September 7, 2014, Riviera’s Black Sea Sojourn offers the opportunity to explore this picturesque city as well as other enchanting ports along the coasts of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.

The voyages to Iceland and Greenland have always called to me as well, and I can only hope that 2015 may be the year I make the trip. I like to venture off the beaten path, and the pristine wilderness of these northern treasures is sure to offer an experience like no other on board the luxurious – and newly renovatedNautica. If the raw beauty of nature appeals to you as well, you’ll have a tough time choosing between the icy grandeur of the Arctic and the untamed majesty of Alaska. There is no better way to experience Mother Nature at her best than to explore Alaska on board Regatta, also newly renovated.

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Glacier Lake near Wrangell, Alaska

One of the most exciting things about the new 2015 summer season is that Oceania Cruises will be offering Grand Voyages in Europe. These extended voyages have been very popular in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific during recent winter seasons, and now guests will have the opportunity to linger in Europe and beyond on voyages of up to 39 days. One of the most irresistible aspects of these longer voyages is that they offer additional savings and Exclusive Prestige Package amenities, such as a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, free laundry service and other great offers.

On the heels of the overwhelmingly positive response to Oceania Cruises’ first-ever world expedition unveiled last summer, Insignia’s 180-Day World Odyssey was announced in November, and individual cruises within the 180-Day World Odyssey are now open for bookings with the launch of the 2015 summer season. Also available are another series of Grand Voyages featuring combinations of these itineraries ranging from 35 to 70 days.

With all of these extraordinary voyages being released, your biggest challenge (and greatest pleasure!) will be choosing which one you wish to sail on. You may find your choice influenced by the Culinary Discovery ToursTM offered on select sailings on board Marina and Riviera. These unique excursions offer an in-depth look at the culinary culture of destinations worldwide, with the opportunity to dine in local restaurants, take cooking classes with renowned chefs, and visit local markets, farms and wineries. We’re thrilled to be offering several new Culinary Discovery Tours in the 2015 summer season, so be sure to check out which ones are available.

Reservations are now open, so you can begin the ever so pleasant process of selecting your cruise right away. I’ve found it’s always a good idea to book early for the best fares and availability. Following are links to some cruises that include the ports I mentioned here, and you can view the entire 2015 Summer Collection by clicking the Promotions link at the very top of this page.

 

January 31, 2014

REGATTA, INSIGNIA AND NAUTICA: IMPROVING ON PERFECTION

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

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

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

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

Swatches

Penthouse Suite

Veranda Stateroom

Inside Stateroom

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

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

Baristas

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

Miniature golf

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

January 14, 2014

SNORKELING ON THE ISLAND PARADISE OF GRAND TURK

In my recent Christmas Eve post, I mentioned that guests on board Riviera were celebrating in beautiful Grand Turk, and today it is Regatta’s turn to call on this lovely island paradise.

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Grand Turk Port 2

When I think of Grand Turk, I think of one word: blue. As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I’ve seen a lot of water in my day, but I’ve never seen water in such vivid, myriad shades of blue as I saw when I visited Grand Turk. Perhaps the light was just right, or perhaps I was so happy to escape the gray of my hometown winter that I was bedazzled by the bright colors, but Grand Turk had me in its spell from the moment the ship approached. It was as if the essence of every blue mineral and gemstone had been captured and splashed across the sea. I even took a close-up shot of the pure blue surface in a futile attempt to capture its brilliance.

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The island itself is as enchanting as the surrounding waters, and it is very guest friendly. There are several shops just off the pier offering everything from beachwear and jewelry to souvenirs and sundries. Abundant lounge chairs are available for sunning yourself on the beach, and the entire area is beautifully landscaped with swaying palms and fuchsia flora. And if lounging on the tranquil beach and gazing at the serene water somehow isn’t enough to relax you, perhaps a beachside massage will do the trick!

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Despite the allure of a relaxing beach chair, I chose on this visit to partake in one of Oceania Cruises’ more active excursions, the Ultimate Snorkeling Adventure. Our group was welcomed aboard our vessel by three enthusiastic and informative guides, who provided everyone with the requisite snorkeling equipment and explained how to use it for the novices in the group. Then we set off for our first destination, Horseshoe Reef, where I finally got to take a dip in the beautiful blue water. The colors underneath the surface were just as vivid, with various species of shimmering tropical fish too numerous to count. The guides provided us with cards to help identify several of the fish, which made the experience all the more interesting.

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Sail Boat

We then continued on to a second snorkeling site, a reef off of Round Cay. Here we saw another array of colorful fish, and our guide also introduced us to the friendly neighborhood nurse shark. The mellow nurse shark is nocturnal, sluggish during the day and generally harmless, and this nurse shark seemed accustomed to relaxing in this particular spot that the snorkelers frequent and content to be the center of attention.

After a wonderful snorkeling adventure, I stopped into Margaritaville, just a short walk from the pier, to enjoy a tropical cocktail under the warmth of the Grand Turk sun. The restaurant has a large pool with a swim-up bar for those who wish to enjoy their cocktails and the water at the same time. I decided to forego dining here because I knew their burgers couldn’t possibly be as good as those in Waves Grill on the ship. So after finishing my drink, I returned to the ship for a Kobe burger with black truffle sauce and baby cress – a delicious ending to a wonderful day on Grand Turk!

Image068EBADC-2C93-46DE-95CF-AB5DC060C6A9 Grand Turk Port

January 1, 2014

A HAPPY NEW YEAR: THE PANAMA CANAL CELEBRATES ITS 100TH YEAR

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Panama Canal Sunset

No matter how lofty your goals for the New Year, they will seem easily attainable compared to the remarkable effort that went into constructing the Panama Canal. Guests on board Regatta are getting a firsthand look at this incredible feat of mankind today as they ring in the New Year with Oceania Cruises.

One of the wonders of the modern world, the Panama Canal was completed in 1914 and changed maritime travel in the Western Hemisphere. Before the 50-mile canal was built, ships sailing from eastern coasts of the Americas to the west coasts had to sail around the southernmost tip of South America.

As simple and ingenious as the system might seem today, this canal was an extraordinary project in the making. As far back as the 16th century, when explorers first discovered the Isthmus of Panama, they began imagining a canal that would shave thousands of miles off their journeys. The French began the project in the late 1800s but found building a sea-level canal in the mountainous terrain of Panama beyond the engineering know-how of that time. In 1903, when the United States stepped in, it became clear the only way to get ships across the continental divide was to devise a system of locks that would raise ships above sea level.

Panama Canal 1 Panama Canal 2

To give you an idea of the Herculean effort required to complete this task, here are some astounding facts and figures about the project:

  • Over 56,000 people were employed to complete the project between 1904 and 1913
  • Total construction cost was $375,000,000
  • The French and the US cleared over 70,000,000 tons of material
  • More than 14,000 tons of explosives were used

Once the project was completed (two years ahead of schedule, I might add), a ship could travel from coast to coast in 8 to 10 hours. Entering from the Pacific side, the Miraflores Locks progressively lift ships 54 feet to Miraflores Lake. The Pedro Miguel Lock then lifts ships another 31 feet. After sailing nearly 8 miles through Gaillard Cut and 15 miles crossing Gatun Lake, the Gatun Locks drop ships in three stages down to the level of the Atlantic.

Today Regatta makes her transit through the Panama Canal in the daylight hours, so guests will have the opportunity to see the machinations of this ingenious system up close. They can also observe the progress on the massive multibillion-dollar expansion project that is underway, which is expected to double the capacity of the canal when the project is completed in 2015. The transit provides great views of the surrounding countryside as well, and the evening hours promise a beautiful sunset along the way.

Regatta Deck Night - Panama Panama Canal Sunset 1

As the Panama Canal enters its 100th year with an eye towards future expansion, Oceania Cruises winds down a momentous 2013 celebrating 10 years at sea and likewise looks forward to many new milestones in 2014. If you are like me, more travel is one of your New Year’s resolutions, so I hope to cross paths with you on one of the ships of Oceania Cruises. In the meantime, we wish you a happy New Year filled with joy and journeys to wondrous destinations!

December 24, 2013

OCEANIA CRUISES CELEBRATES THE HOLIDAYS IN FESTIVE SHADES OF BLUE

A holiday sailing is a wonderful way to celebrate this season, as the ships are decked out in their holiday finery, the atmosphere is warm and jubilant, and the spirit of the season is evident in the smiles of every guest, officer and crew member on board.

The holidays are ultimately about embracing peace, harmony and love for those with whom we share this planet, and what better way to celebrate this spirit than by traveling the world, experiencing diverse cultures and learning of our shared history.

Guests on board Riviera celebrate Christmas Eve today on the Caribbean island of Grand Turk. And while there isn’t any snow, there is no shortage of holiday glitter, for the sun shimmering on Grand Turk’s azure waters shines as brightly as any sparkling Christmas tree. In fact, while some might not associate a beach destination with the holidays, I find Grand Turk to be an excellent representation of the spirit of the season. Light is certainly one of the most powerful symbols of the holidays, from the Christmas tree lights to the Hanukkah menorah, inspiring reflection on the joys of the past year and hope for a bright future. And Grand Turk is nothing if not a testament to the beauty and power of light, as reflected in the brilliant blue waters that embrace the island.

Grand Turk Dock

Grand Turk

Grand Turk Sunset

As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I’ve sailed many seas in my day, and the waters always bring me a sense of peace, calm and awe. Perhaps that is why blue is one of my favorite holiday colors, and perhaps that is why the ships of Oceania Cruises often spend their holidays on some of the most spectacular seas in the world. Today Marina cruises the remarkable Chilean fjords, with their own shades of blue in the majestic glaciers rising from the sea. Nautica crosses the vast Indian Ocean, and Regatta sails from the Sea of Cortez, one of the most diverse seas on the planet and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Veranda Sunset Chile

From their verandas, guests will watch the sunset transform the turquoise blues of the bays into the midnight blue of the evening sea and reflect on a holiday of awe, joy and gratitude. While Elvis may have crooned melancholy lyrics about a blue Christmas, I’ll take a blue Christmas with Oceania Cruises any year!

If you’d like to spend the holidays with Oceania Cruises in 2014, take a look at the festive sailings below:

 

November 4, 2013

MORE OF THE BIG APPLE

This week Regatta made her final stop in New York for 2013 before sailing south to warmer waters for the winter season, so I am taking this opportunity to share the remainder of my photos from my most recent trip to this fabulous city as Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises.

On this trip I was very much looking forward to visiting to the 9/11 Memorial. Tickets to visit the memorial are free, but you do need to get them in advance if you are not on a prearranged tour. I highly recommend the Oceania Cruises shore excursion Downtown Manhattan and the 9/11 Memorial, which includes a harbor cruise past the Statue of Liberty and a walking tour of Lower Manhattan followed by a visit to the memorial.

Honoring the lives of those who were lost in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993, the memorial occupies 8 of the 16 acres of the former World Trade Center complex. Names of all the lives lost are inscribed in bronze plaques that surround the two waterfalls and reflecting pools set in the footprints of the twin towers. Like a beacon of hope, the new One World Trade Center being built to replace the twin towers rises over the memorial plaza. 

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There is no way to describe the feeling of arriving on this solemn scene. The roaring water of the fountains blocks out the ambient noises, so I was left with what felt like a very solitary experience of the monument despite being surrounded by visitors. I knew it would be a powerful tribute, but there is no way to really know how moving the experience will be until you are there. It is a poignant testament to the impact of the tragedy and the incredible strength and resilience of the American people, particularly New Yorkers, in the wake of the devastation.  

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After visiting the memorial, I spent some time walking the streets of Manhattan and just taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of this wonderful city. The skyscrapers soaring over historic churches nestled in their shadows. The car engines and taxi horns blending somehow harmoniously with the din of voices, within which I could discern any number of accents and languages as I strolled through the multitude of faces. Ultimately, the tempting aromas from the street vendors and local restaurants drew me to my final quintessential New York experience of the day – pizza!

When an Italian immigrant reinvented a Neapolitan staple food in 1897, New York–style pizza was born. In 1905 Lombardi’s was licensed by the city of New York, becoming America’s first pizzeria. There are now pizzerias on just about every street corner in New York (Ray’s and Original Ray’s being the most ubiquitous), but what makes Lombardi’s special, along with a handful of other pizzerias in the city, is the brick oven. In an authentic New York pizzeria, the ingredients are fresh and the pizza is baked to order in a brick oven.

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I “accidentally” ordered a large pizza and for a few minutes was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to finish, even with the help of my friend who had happily agreed to join me. But walking the streets of New York and the smell of Lombardi’s pizza have a way of making a girl hungry, and I am proud to say, there was not much left when we were finished.

Lombardis 4

One of the greatest things about New York is that, no matter how many times you visit, there is always more to see and do. If you’ve never been, you simply must add this city to your bucket list. And there are some distinct advantages to seeing the city on an Oceania Cruises voyage. New York is a city in which it’s easy to drop several hundred dollars on food and lodging in just a day or two, but with your Oceania Cruises home away from home awaiting you in port, you can sample the local fare, see the sights and then return to the luxurious accommodations and fine cuisine on board and take full advantage of Oceania Cruises’ incredible value. Plus, on these 2014 voyages, you can also visit a number of other wonderful cities along the American and Canadian coasts – and even the Caribbean!

 

October 29, 2013

NEW YORK STATE OF MIND

Regatta arrived in New York City today, and guests will enjoy an overnight stay in the city that never sleeps. Overnight stays are one of the hallmarks of Oceania Cruises itineraries, and if any city merits two full days of exploration, New York City certainly does.

As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I’ve had the privilege of traveling to cities all over the world, and each one holds a special place in my heart. But when I visit New York, it’s a different experience than disembarking in a city on distant shores. I know the language; I know the culture; I know the traffic laws. But no matter how familiar it may feel, each visit fills me with new excitement at the prospect of further exploring this wonderful city.

As I’ve previously visited New York’s most famous sights, on my most recent visit I decided to dig deeper into the quintessential New York experience. I began by heading uptown to 112th Street and Amsterdam to get a glimpse at the spectacular Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. One of the largest Christian churches in the world, construction began on the cathedral in 1892. The original design was Byzantine-Romanesque, traces of which can be seen in the dome, but was changed to a Gothic style in the early 1900s. A fire in 2001 badly damaged the inside and it was closed to the public until 2008. Although yet unfinished, the cathedral is just as breathtaking on the inside as it is on the outside.

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St John the Divine 4 St john the Divine 3

As a foodie, I was especially looking forward to my next stop. From 112th street, I made my way down to 80th Street and Broadway to Zabar’s grocery store. In 1934, Louis and Lillian Zabar opened a small counter in the Daitch Market with the idea of selling the highest quality smoked fish at a fair price (a philosophy that Oceania Cruises can appreciate, as the company was founded on offering a luxurious cruising experience at an exceptional value). Almost 80 years later this market is a celebration of everything good about food: barrels of olives, walls of cheeses (some hanging from the ceiling), fresh bread, and I lost count after 15 different kinds of butter from all over the world.

Zebars

Zebars Cheese Zebars Bread

Zebars Butter

Zebars Olives

I might still be standing in the chocolate section, but after being surrounded by so much amazing food, it was time to eat. So I headed south to Carnegie Deli, across the street from Carnegie Hall. There is usually a line out front, but if your party is small, it moves fast. And if you are as hungry as I was, fear not, because right away you can enjoy a generous serving of an assortment of real New York pickles.

Carnegie Deli 3 Carnegie Pickles

Family owned and operated since 1937, the restaurant has several rooms, the walls of which are covered with hundreds of photos of famous people who have eaten here. There is nothing romantic about it, but if what you want is great New York deli food, you can’t go wrong here. The menu is enormous but I came for the basics: matzo ball soup and a pastrami sandwich on rye. The portions are generous to say the least, so I recommend sharing! The soup was heavenly and the pastrami was perfect. They just don’t make pastrami like that where I come from!

Carnegie Soup Carnegie Sandwich

These highlights of my day are just the beginning of my New York experience, and I look forward to sharing more with you soon. If you are hoping to explore this amazing city for the first time or return for more, there are several opportunities to sail there with Oceania Cruises in 2014:

September 18, 2013

OCEANIA CRUISES UNVEILS THE 2014-2015 WINTER COLLECTION

Today, Oceania Cruises announced its 2014-2015 Winter Collection, the largest winter launch in the company’s history. As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, this is one of my favorite times of year as the future becomes full of new opportunities to see the world! And on Insignia’s Around the World in 180 Days voyage, you can, quite literally, sail around the entire world.

With new ports in Asia, Africa and the Americas, Oceania Cruises’ five ships—Riviera, Marina, Nautica, Insignia and Regatta—will visit five continents. The launch features a record-breaking 86 voyages, 44 of which are new itineraries, plus 19 all-new Grand Voyages ranging from 24 to 71 days and 15 Around the World itinerary combinations as part of Insignia’s epic Around the World in 180 Days cruise.

As always, luxury meets value with Oceania Cruises, and all 2014-2015 Winter Collection voyages feature two-for-one cruise fares and free airfare. Guests who book a veranda or higher category by December 31, 2013, will enjoy the added value of free pre-paid gratuities, free unlimited Internet and early booking savings of up to $5,000.

Riviera in the Caribbean 

Riviera offers 12 itineraries exploring the lovely islands of the Caribbean. Relax on one of my favorite beaches, Cane Garden Bay on Tortola, or take a shore excursion from Tortola to Virgin Gorda and the famous Baths during the new 10-day cruise, Heart of the Caribbean.

Cane Garden Bay Tortola The Baths Virgina Gorda
 

Marina in Paradise

Marina begins the season in Rio de Janeiro with two South American voyages before heading to the South Pacific and Australia. Quickly making it onto my wish list for 2015 is the new 10-day cruise Picturesque Polynesia, which leisurely explores the Polynesian islands, including an overnight in Papeete, two overnights in Bora Bora and calls on other idyllic isles such as Moorea and Huahine.

Moorea
 

Nautica from Africa to Asia

Nautica returns to Africa and Asia with eight itineraries ranging from 15 to 35 days, stopping in ports from Cape Town to Beijing and Dubai to Tokyo and featuring two new ports in South Africa: Mossel Bay and Port Elizabeth. One of the best things about visiting Africa and Asia onboard Nautica is the abundance of overnight stays. You’ll especially appreciate the extra time when exploring the grand metropolises of Asia and savoring spectacular views like the Hong Kong skyline at night.

Hong Kong-2
 

The Panama Canal & South America on Regatta

Regatta spends the season exploring the Caribbean and South America with several cruises through the Panama Canal. If you have never sailed across the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal, this is the perfect opportunity to check this astounding experience off your bucket list.

Around the World with Insignia

INSIGNIA_008After a Caribbean and an Amazon cruise, Insignia departs on Oceania Cruises’ first-ever Around the World in 180 Days cruise. This extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime voyage sails round-trip from Miami and circumnavigates the globe, visiting five continents, 44 countries and 89 ports of call.

Around the World itinerary combinations, ranging from 34 to 128 days, will open for bookings with the 2014-2015 Winter Collection launch, offering a unique array of exotic ports in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia and the South Pacific.

Guests booking these combinations will receive complimentary amenities from the Exclusive Prestige Package. Depending on the length of the voyage reserved, amenities include a one-night pre-cruise luxury hotel stay, access to exclusive shoreside events, a comprehensive visa package, laundry service, luggage delivery, round-trip transfers, Internet service and pre-paid gratuities.

All New Grand Voyages

Included in the unveiling of the 2014-2015 Winter Collection are 19 new Grand Voyages that blend multiple itineraries for in-depth exploration. These voyages feature two-for-one cruise fares and free airfare as well as Exclusive Prestige Package amenities, depending on the length of the voyage reserved. For bookings made by December 31, 2013, these voyages also offer free pre-paid gratuities and free unlimited Internet for all suite and stateroom categories.

For more information on the 2014-2015 Winter Collection, visit OceaniaCruises.com or call 800-531-5658. We look forward to welcoming you onboard one of these fantastic sailings!

September 11, 2013

REGATTA HOSTS MASTER CHEF JEAN-LOUIS DUMONET

Dumonet Demo1
Jean-Louis Dumonet, Karen Dumonet and Eric Barale

Regatta
has been playing host to two very special guests onboard the current Ultimate Panama Canal cruise. Master Chef Jean-Louis Dumonet and his wife, Karen, boarded Regatta in San Francisco for their first cruise ever and presented several cooking demonstrations during the sailing.

 

Dumonet Demo2
Barale, Dumonet and Macouin
Chef Dumonet is executive chef of the Union Club in New York City and president of the North American region of Maîtres Cuisiniers de France. This prestigious association of some of the world’s leading chefs is dedicated to preserving and spreading the French culinary arts, encouraging training in cuisine and assisting in professional development. Maître Cuisinier, or Master Chef, is one of the most esteemed titles that a chef can aspire to attain. Oceania Cruises Culinary Director Eric Barale and Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger are also members of this eminent organization.

 

 

Chef Dumonet and his wife were joined by Barale as well as Traveling Senior Corporate Chef Renald Macouin in presenting entertaining and informative culinary demonstrations that were greatly enjoyed by guests throughout the voyage. As an additional treat, the Grand Dining Room menu featured one of Chef Dumonet’s special dishes each evening. Guests enjoyed creations such as Foie Gras Crème Brûlée, Sweet Corn Soup with Lobster, and Dumonet’s signature Chocolate Mousse.

August 22, 2013

REGATTA LEAVES HER HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO

Regatta is wrapping up another fantastic summer in Alaska with a final stop in San Francisco before following sunny skies to the Southern Hemisphere. Highlights of the summer included Oceania Cruises’ 10-year anniversary sailing with Chairman and Founder Frank Del Rio and his wife, Marcia – godmother of Regatta and stops in destinations as far west as Kodiak and Seward. As Regatta calls on San Francisco, this seems like the perfect time to share some of the amazing shoreside activities available from this charming city by the bay.

Alcatraz Island is a 25-acre island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, a little over a mile from the city. Designated as a maximum security prison in 1933, Alcatraz housed many infamous criminals, including Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Robert Franklin Straud, known as the “Birdman.” The tour of the island includes a roundtrip ferry ride with scenic views of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and the city, an opportunity to explore the island with a tour guide, access to the prison and a fascinating 45-minute cellhouse audio tour featuring interviews with former inmates and prison guards.

Alcatraz-2

Considered one of the most beautiful bridges in the world and certainly the most photographed, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world from 1937 until 1964 when New York City’s Verrazano Narrows Bridge opened. Completed in four years, the tremendous 746-foot-tall towers, enormous main cables and signature orange color attract 10 million visitors annually. And the views are stunning from either side of the bridge!

Golden Gate Bridge-2

San Francisco boasts several highly regarded museums, and many of the museum sites are as famous as the collections themselves. The Legion of Honor is a three-quarter-scaled adaptation of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, perched high on the headlands above the Golden Gate, offering fantastic views of the bridge and the city as well as a wonderful collection. Reopened in 2005, the new de Yong Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco is an impressive modern building in the heart of San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco is also renowned for its cuisine. The birthplace of California Cuisine, the city is also home to some of the best Asian, Italian, Mexican and fusion cuisine in the world. Wine lovers will not want to miss an opportunity to tour Napa Valley, which offers world-class wineries as well as exquisite restaurants by famed chefs such as Thomas Keller, Michael Chiarello and Masaharu Morimoto.

If you’re looking for the opportunity to visit this amazing city, Regatta returns to San Francisco several times in 2014. Because many cruises embark or disembark here, you can take advantage of Oceania Cruises’ pre- or post-cruise hotel programs and spend a few extra days exploring the city before or after your cruise. It will be an experience you will never forget!

Regatta in San Francisco:

July 15, 2013

10TH ANNIVERSARY SAILING ONBOARD REGATTA CONCLUDES

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

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

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

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

Platinum Members

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

 

Captain Vitaliy Silvachynsky 2
Frank Del Rio, Captain Silvachynsky and GM Gelineau
 
Culinary Director - Franck Garanger
Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger is recognized


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

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

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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


 

 

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


 

 

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


 

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


 

Staff Captain - Damir Kurilic
Staff Captain Damir Kurilic

 

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

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July 5, 2013

FOUNDER FRANK DEL RIO BOARDS HISTORIC 10TH ANNIVERSARY SAILING

Mr and Mrs Del Rio Regatta1 - Version 2
The year 2013 marks a major milestone in the history of Oceania Cruises as we celebrate our 10th anniversary. Last week Vice Chairman Bob Binder shared stories of the special events onboard the first of four sailings in honor of this momentous occasion. This week two more Oceania Cruises’ executives board sailings to celebrate 10 years at sea with the loyal guests who have made it all possible.

Mr and Mrs Del Rio Regatta2 - Version 2Today, July 5th, marks the most historic of these sailings because the man who founded Oceania Cruises, Chairman and CEO Frank Del Rio, embarked Regatta on the very same date that she sailed her first voyage 10 years ago. On July 5, 2003, after being christened in Barcelona, Regatta set sail to explore Europe on the first voyage in Oceania Cruises’ history. Now 10 years later, Regatta sails from Seattle to discover the majestic wilderness of Alaska. Frank will host this very special anniversary sailing with his wife, Marcia, who is the godmother of Regatta and was warmly welcomed home today by General Manager Jason Gelineau and the other officers and crew.

When the anniversary sailings were being planned, Frank Del Rio had his choice of which ship he would like to sail on. For Frank, there was no question of which ship he would choose. “Regatta will always be my special ship,” he says. “If it wasn’t for her, nothing else would’ve been possible.”

L1070088Meanwhile, President Kunal S. Kamlani is celebrating the anniversary onboard Oceania Cruises’ newest ship, Riviera. He boarded the ship in Civitavecchia on Wednesday to host the Italian Escapade sailing. Several special events are planned in honor of the guests as well as the officers and crew that have been so loyal to Oceania Cruises over the years. Yesterday Kunal joined several guests, along with Chef Kelly and sous chefs Asif and Raj from the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, on a Culinary Discovery Tour. Check the blog tomorrow to read about their wonderful experience in Livorno, and watch for more stories of exciting anniversary sailing events in the coming days!

March 10, 2013

NICK DESANTIS SHARES STORIES FROM THE OCEANIA CLUB REUNION CRUISE IN SOUTH AMERICA

Greetings from the 9th Oceania Club Reunion Cruise, sailing from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro on the lovely Regatta! As manager of the Oceania Club, I am always so pleased to see past guests onboard with whom I have sailed before, and many have become dear friends. I also love meeting other Oceania Club members for the first time and having the opportunity to thank them for their loyalty.

In short, everyone is having a wonderful time and it has only just begun! Though a lot of work went into the planning of the cruise, one thing my team cannot control is the weather, but this has not been a problem because the weather in Buenos Aires was better than we ever could have planned. Of course, there are a lot of things we can control, so the day I arrived, Oceania Cruises Senior Vice President of Sales Michael Hirsch and I met with the senior staff to go over the itinerary, make sure we were all on the same page and see if there were any final details that needed to be ironed out. We all want this voyage to be unforgettable!

I was happy to find that there are a few members of the Regatta team with whom I've had the pleasure of sailing on previous Reunion Cruises: Captain Jurica Brajcic, Oceania Club Ambassador Cary Arias, Cruise Director Leslie Jon and Restaurant Manager Vladimir Cavic. Everyone understands what an important and fantastic event this Reunion Cruise is, especially in the year of our 10th anniversary, a milestone we attribute to the unprecedented loyalty of Oceania Cruises’ guests.

On our second day in Buenos Aires, we hosted one of the first Reunion Cruise tours, Discover Historic Buenos Aries. It was a half-day tour and included a stop at the Plaza de Mayo, the site of the salmon-colored presidential palace known as Casa Rosada with its famed balcony where Eva Peron once addressed adoring crowds.

Across from Eva buliding Eva Peron-Presidental buliding

We had the chance to sip coffee at the oldest café in Argentina where notables from Jorge Luis Borges to Albert Einstein once gathered. Before heading back to the pier, we explored El Zanjón de Granados, believed to be the site of Buenos Aires’ first settlement.

El Zanjon entrance El Zanjon 2 El Zanjon

To kick off our first night at sea, we gathered for an exclusive dinner at Toscana with most of our 70 Oceania Club guests who have reached the Bronze level or above. I had the pleasure of hosting three couples, all of whom have traveled extensively throughout the world (even beyond the 30-plus countries I’ve visited, which I once thought was an impressive total!). These three couples will be staying onboard for several subsequent cruises. In fact, there are about 95 guests staying onboard Regatta until the ship arrives in Miami in April.

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Starting from the left: Mrs. Dunn (Bronze), Mr and Mrs. Hopkins (Silver), Nick DeSantis, Mr. and Mrs. Lindley (Bronze) and Mr. Dunn (Bronze)


It was a truly wonderful evening, followed by a beautiful sunrise that greeted us in Montevideo the next day. I can’t wait to share more of our exciting exploration of the east coast of South America.

Sunrise 2 Sunrise in Montevideo

March 6, 2013

YOUR WORLD ON SALE

The worldwide celebration of our 10th Anniversary continues! Today, we announced that we have earmarked 10 sailings across four continents with special savings as part of our 10th Anniversary Your World on Sale promotion. The new promotion includes a $500 shipboard credit, free pre-paid gratuities, a free unlimited Internet Package, 50 percent off deposits and Business Class air upgrades from $799 per person, one-way, on select sailings.  

As always, guests will receive two-for-one cruise fares and free airfare, delivering additional value. The new Your World on Sale promotion is available for new cruise reservations booked now through May 31, 2013.

The Your World on Sale promotion is applicable on the following 2013 sailings:

Riviera

August 16: Treasures & Monuments | Istanbul to Rome | 12 days

September 29: Romance & Rivieras | Lisbon to Monte Carlo | 12 days

October 25: Paths of the Byzantines | Venice to Istanbul | 12 days

November 6: Continental Quest | Istanbul to Barcelona | 12 days

Regatta

August 22: Ultimate Panama Canal | San Francisco to New York | 21 days

Marina

October 29: Glorious Shores | Venice to Barcelona | 12 days

November 10: Treasures of the Ancients | Roundtrip Barcelona | 10 days

December 8: South American Holiday | Rio de Janeiro to Valparaiso | 20 days

December 28: Pacific Paradise | Valparaiso to Papeete | 18 days

Nautica

November 4: Classic Mediterranean | Roundtrip Barcelona | 10 days

We hope you will be able to join us on one of these fantastic voyages. To make reservations or for more information, visit www.OceaniaCruises.com, call Oceania Cruises at 800-531-5658 or contact your travel agent. Please refer to promotion code YW02013.

 

February 25, 2013

OCEANIA CRUISES LAUNCHES FIRST-EVER TV ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN

Today Oceania Cruises reaches another milestone in the company’s history. We are launching our first ever television advertising campaign. Airing on national networks in cities on the East and West coasts, the new 30-second spot begins running today and showcases the brand’s pillars of destinations, cuisine, onboard experience and value. 

The first scene opens on an Oceania Cruises ship at sea and highlights the experiences guests can “wake up” to every day, like visiting the Taj Mahal in India or the Meteora monasteries in Greece, whale watching in Alaska or a gondola ride in Venice. The ad transitions to the onboard experience and Oceania Cruises’ extraordinary cuisine, focusing on the freedom guests have to decide when, where and with whom they will dine.

 

The ad campaign is timed to coincide with the launch the 2014 Summer Collection, the largest offering in Oceania Cruises’ history. Unveiled on February 13th, the collection encompasses 90 voyages, an almost entirely new line-up of European itineraries and the highly anticipated return of Insignia. The five ships in the fleet – Marina, RivieraRegatta, Insignia and Nautica – will sail to more than 330 destinations throughout the world.

The Oceania Cruises family is always growing, and with this television campaign, we hope more people than ever will hear about the fascinating destinations, luxurious ships, exquisite cuisine and extraordinary value of the Oceania Cruises experience.

February 12, 2013

USHUAIA: A TRIP TO THE END OF THE WORLD

According to ancient human fossils found in Tierra del Fuego dating back 8,500 to 11,500 years ago, humans lived in this remote region long before it became known as the “Land of Fire.” The name “Tierra del Fuego” was coined by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1520 when his ships arrived at this southernmost tip of South America. It is thought that, in the mists of dawn, the dispersed fires and columns of smoke from the native populations seemed to float on the water, thus giving this archipelago its name.

Beagle channel (2)

Regatta recently called on Ushuaia, the capital city of the Tierra del Fuego province. Ushuaia is the southernmost urban center in the world and the closest city to the South Pole. In December and January, the region enjoys 17 hours of daylight. Despite its isolation and harsh conditions during the colder months of the year, or perhaps because of these things, there is a lot to see and do in and around Ushuaia. During Regatta’s recent visit, guests took an unforgettable trip on the Southern Fuegian Railway, also known as the End of the World Train, through Tierra del Fuego National Park to Lapataia Bay.

End of the World Train (14) End of the World Train (15)

End of the World Train (2) End of the World Train (9)

Completely cut off from the rest of South America, Tierra del Fuego was developed in the 19th century as a penal colony where Argentina sent its worst criminal offenders because escape was virtually impossible. The prisoners were expected to take care of themselves, and a railway was built to transport wood from the forests for heating and building.

End of the World Train (4)

Now a tourist attraction through this remote national forest, the unique train transports guests across rivers and peat bogs, the beautiful formations of peat moss for which this region is known. There was a brief stop at the Macarena Waterfall Station, where guests saw the lovely falls and also heard about Tierra del Fuego’s indigenous people, the Yamana.

End of the World Train (6) End of the World Train (11)

End of the World Train (10)

Arriving at Lapataia Bay, the group was met by a catamaran and treated to a cruise through Beagle Channel. These waters are among the best in the world for trout fishing, but on this day the cormorants, sea lions and seals were the stars of the show.

Beagle channel (14) Beagle channel (17) Beagle channel (15)

The cruise visited Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, which is also known as the Lighthouse at the End of the World. Put into service in 1920, it guards the entrance to Ushuaia and is now controlled remotely.

Beagle channel (4)

Quite comfortable with tourists, the seals and sea lions on Seal Island and Isla de los Lobos went about their business of napping and playing, unaffected by the arrival of spectators.

Beagle channel (18)

Beagle channel (19)

Island of the Birds is home to cormorants and other sea birds and a few seals and sea lions as well.

Beagle channel (8)

Beagle channel (7)

Beagle channel (9)

There are numerous other thrilling adventures to be had at the end of the world for those looking to explore the majestic wilderness of South America. Marina will stop in Ushuaia on South American Holiday, which departs on December 8, 2013, as will Regatta on the February 3, 2014 sailing, Mystical Andes & Majestic Fjords.

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February 6, 2013

THE SECRETS BEHIND THE FINEST CUISINE AT SEA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riviera Galley Tour26

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

February 5, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 1, 2013

MEET THE TEAM BEHIND THE FINEST CUISINE AT SEA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belin Blogger Garanger
Senior Executive Chef Christophe Belin, Blogger-at-Large Lisa Pancake Fossland and Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger
Photo 3-2
Senior Executive Chef Alexis Quaretti

 

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

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

 
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Herb-Crusted Cornish Hen alla Diavolo with Bacon and Shoestring Potatoes
Photo 29
Dorado and Tuna Ceviche with Cilantro and Heirloom Tomatoes

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

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.

PS 1 PS 2

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 3, 2012

AN UNEXPECTED ADVENTURE IN MONTE CARLO

PB080041Regatta recently called on the glittering city of Monte Carlo in the tiny principality of Monaco. When I think of Monte Carlo, I think of James Bond and movie stars in tuxedos and gowns. Monaco is where the rich and famous convene to play high-stakes poker, or race fast cars, or simply lounge on lavish yachts. Monaco certainly lives up to its reputation as a playground for the wealthy, but what really impressed me was how charming it was and how much there is to do for people like me. (Unfortunately, my role as Blogger-at-Large has not yet catapulted me into international fame.)

Granted, when Regatta docked in the famed Monte Carlo harbor, the million-dollar yachts were hard to miss, and the view was spectacular. There are several cafés on the docks near these impressive vessels, and if you linger there a while, you may spot a celebrity or two.

PB080009 PB080006  PB080028

Also living up to its hype is the opulent Monte Carlo Grand Casino – there is a reason all those films were made here. Decorated with marble, onyx, frescoes and sculptures, this casino was clearly built for high rollers.

PB080055 Casino 

For those who don’t fare so well at the tables, they can find a peaceful retreat in the stunning garden that leads up the hill to the casino.

PB080091

Oceanic MuseumWhile Monte Carlo was certainly everything I’d ever imagined, I soon realized there was far more to Monaco than glitz and glamour. Perched atop the sheer cliff face at a height of 279 feet is the Oceanographic Museum, which was founded in 1901 by Monaco’s Prince Albert I, and where Jacques Cousteau served as director for many years. The building itself took 11 years to build using over 100,000 tons of stone. There are several live exhibits as well as impressive skeletons of marine mammals.

PB080164 St Nich CathedralNear the Oceanographic Museum is St. Nicholas Cathedral, which contains the tombs of the Monaco royal family, including Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. It remains a pilgrimage site for fans of actress Grace Kelly, who became the princess of Monaco after her fairytale marriage to Rainier in 1956.

PB080053 St CharlesAlthough much smaller than the cathedral, the Church of St. Charles makes up for in beauty what it lacks in size. Its bell tower reaches a height of 108 feet above sea level and is purported to be the highest bell tower in the area.

 

PB080154 Armory PalaceThe Palace of the Prince is an impressive compound with wonderful views of Monaco and the surrounding seas. While much of the palace grounds are open to the public, the royal family does maintain a private residence here, as evidenced by the sentries standing guard. If you can get to the palace by 11:55 am, you can watch the changing of the guard, a popular attraction.

Monte Carlo is a wonderful place to just wander the streets and get a sense of the city’s personality. Beneath the resort façade is a culture of centuries-old traditions and deep spirituality. During my meanderings, I stumbled upon Sainte-Dévote Chapel, an adorable little church tucked into the cliff face overlooking the harbor. I soon learned that the church is quite literally adored, as it is one of the most venerated religious sites in Monaco. Dating from before 1070, the church is dedicated to Saint Dévote, the patron saint of Monaco. By tradition, the bride of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco leaves her bouquet here after the wedding ceremony.

PB080131(Sainte Devote) PB080079  PB080058

PB080138 2 PB080142 2  PB080152 3

Venez-decouvrir-villa-paloma-monaco-L-1I was so charmed by the architecture, the city streets and the stunning views of the Mediterranean that the waning daylight took me by surprise. As I began to head back to the ship, I realized I had not visited the new modern art museum or the Jardin Exotique, a beautiful garden with one of the most extensive cactus collections in Europe. It quickly became clear that I would need to visit Monte Carlo again on another Oceania Cruises voyage! Until then, I would treasure the memory of my day here, which came to a perfect ending as I watched the moon rise over the sparkling lights of the city.

PB080175 PB080177

November 2, 2011

Peaceful Seas and Stunning Sunsets From the Decks of Regatta

Regatta Deck Night - Panama
If you follow this blog, you know that we love to share photos and stories of all the fascinating destinations visited by Oceania Cruises’ ships. While guests are initially drawn to Oceania Cruises due to our intriguing ports of call, they also realize that cruising with us confirms the truth of the adage: The journey is just as important as the destination.

Panama Canal Sunset 1The luxurious amenities and gourmet restaurants onboard our ships certainly contribute to the joy of the journey. But an equally vital part of the onboard experience is the pure pleasure of sailing the open seas and savoring the spectacular vistas from the decks of the ship. One feels an extraordinary sense of peace gazing at distant horizons and cruising over tranquil waters. No other travel experience compares.

Panama Sunset 3
Curtis Hustace is a professional photographer who has taught classes in the Artist Loft onboard Marina and also acted as a guest lecturer onboard Regatta. In the photos shared in this post, he has captured some of the serene moments you can experience onboard. We hope you enjoy these images that remind us of the pure joys of cruising.

 

August 31, 2011

Guests Onboard Regatta Explore the Wonders of Juneau

Oceania Cruises guests continue to explore majestic Alaska onboard Regatta. The ship recently visited Juneau and will return for an encore in just a few days.  Today's featured excursion, the Taku Glacier Lodge Flight and Feast, began in Juneau with our explorers boarding a nostalgic floatplane near the ship at anchor.  Once in the air, the plane buzzed by Regatta, soared over the tree lines, and ultimately reached the glaciers.

Float Plane Regatta

Aerial Treeline

Aerial Glacier Runoff

  Aerial Glacier

The group flew over both advancing and receding glaciers for roughly 30 minutes before landing on the Taku River and settling in at the lodge for a ground-level view of the glacier.

Taku Lodge

Ground Glacier Runoff 2

And a post from Alaska would not be complete without pictures of salmon on the grill and the friendly neighborhood black bear.

Salmon Grill 1

  Salmon Grill 2

Bear Grounds 2

Bear Hut 1

Bear Hut 2

Float Planes

As they bid adieu to their newest black bear friend and another day of exploring the magnificent Alaskan wilderness, Regatta's guests return to the Juneau "airstrip" where the floatplane docks. It is now time to enjoy some pampering onboard the ship as the anticipation builds for the next adventure.

 

August 22, 2011

More Postcards from Alaska

Oceania Cruises guests continue to explore "Majestic Alaska" onboard Regatta.  These images come courtesy of Chris Ellson, Destination Manager on Regatta, as this excursion visited the wilderness of the Anan Wildlife Observatory in the Tongass National Forest.  The group traveled by jet boats from the Wrangell harbor to the park and set afoot on the trail during the peak viewing season of the observatory.
 
Red and Purple Jackets

Anan Sign

People

The trail led the group to the Bear Observation platform to see the habitat of this group of black bears. They even had the opportunity to observe a bear picnic.


Blackbear

Blackbear Ground

3 Blackbears  

4 Blackbears

2 Blackbears

Blackbear Salmon 2

Blackbear Salmon

The bears received the predominant spotlight since it was their season, but other Alaskan wildlife made cameo appearances as well.  

Beavers

Bald Eagle

Thank you to those who have shared photos of their adventures here on the blog, and we look forward to viewing more photos from Oceania Cruises ships very soon!

 

June 27, 2011

Of Alaska and Alanya


       

Alanya, Turkey with its fortifications (1)There's nothing better than receiving emails from the ships on a Monday, especially ones containing stunning photos. The intrepid explorers onboard Regatta and Nautica did a wonderful job of showcasing exactly how diverse the destinations we sail to are. Nautica sojourned in Alanya, Turkey.

Alanya, Turkey with its fortifications (2)

Alanya, Turkey with its fortifications
The fortifications surrounding Alanya are astounding and date back to the Middle Ages.  If you are not familiar with this spectacular city, it is on the "Turkish Riviera," about 50 miles east of Antalya. Beautiful beches rim the gulf, and it's where ancient history meets today's "jet set."

Boarding (Small)

Helicopter (Small)

A wonderful juxtaposition to the hot and sunny clime of Alanya, these photos come to us fresh from Regatta in Alaska. Everyone knows that one of the highlights of this great land is the wildlife, but we can't forget the memorable experiences our domesticated friends can provide!

 
Running (Small)
 
Dogs 1 (Small)
 
Dogs (Small)
 
Resting (Small)

Guest (Small)
These snapshots are from a recent Glacier and Dog-Sledding excursion. I'm not sure who has more fun, the guests or the dogs!

June 20, 2011

Reveries from Regatta: ADVENTURES IN THE ALASKAN WILDERNESS


      

Alaska01
Regatta has been exploring the amazing natural wonders of the great state of Alaska this summer, and guests have enjoyed numerous adventures in the Alaskan wilderness.

Alaska02

In Sitka guests took an ocean raft through narrow inland passages and open bays to observe the magnificent array of wildlife native to the area.

Alaska03
Most travelers who come to Alaska hope to spot a humpback whale, and guests on this excursion from Sitka were not disappointed.

Alaska04 

Alaska05 

Alaska06Guests also spotted this majestic bald eagle during their adventure.

Alaska07In Icy Strait Point, one excursion offered the opportunity to kayak the pristine waters and observe whales, sea lions and porpoises up close and personal.

Alaska08Thrill-seeking guests chose to go for an exhilarating ride on the world's longest zipline.

Alaska09Guests sped along just 300 feet above the dense green forest at speeds approaching 60 miles per hour.

Alaska10 From their vantage point on the zipline, guests could enjoy sweeping views of Port Frederick, Icy Strait Point and Regatta at anchor in the bay.

Alaska12
Regatta also sails the seas along magnificent Hubbard Glacier during her voyages in Alaska.

  Alaska13The charming town of Ketchikan is known as "The Salmon Capital of the World." Guests joined an excursion with a group of seasoned Bering Sea fishermen to explore the incredible scenery along the coastal waters of Ketchikan.


Alaska14
But these fishermen weren't hunting salmon. As guests observed, the skilled fishing crew hauled in crab pots filled with king crab. Guest could even "interact" with the catch of the day if they so desired!

Alaska15Next on the itinerary was Juneau. Many flightseeing tours are offered from Alaska's capital city, and guests onboard Regatta joined an excursion to see the snow-capped mountains, lush forests and cascading waterfalls en route to Taku Glacier Lodge.

Alaska16
The scope of the glaciers was nearly inconceivable.

Alaska17

Alaska18
After a day of viewing the majestic glaciers, guests were treated to a delicious lunch of freshly caught salmon.

Alaska19This black bear couldn't resist the aroma of salmon on the grill!

Alaska20Guests certainly had many wondrous tales to tell of their day's adventures when returning to Regatta after each day exploring Alaska's shores.

Alaska21Even after the sun dips below the horizon, there is no end to the spectacular views to be witnessed along the Alaskan skyline.  

June 16, 2011

MEET THE CREW: Deck Cadet Lloyd Shettle

      

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


May 24, 2011

A SALUTE TO OCEANIA CRUISES' EXTRAORDINARY STAFF AND CREW

  

Dining Reservations

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

Ishmael

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anabelle Waje

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

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

 

 

 

 

April 14, 2011

TEA DANSANT: A Spectacular Display of our Pastry Chefs' Talent

Croquenbouche
There are many reasons why a long voyage with Oceania Cruises is an unforgettable experience, and one of those reasons is certainly the opportunity to enjoy Tea Dansant. Of course, High Tea is a longstanding tradition with Oceania Cruises and is served every afternoon on all of our ships. But our longer voyages allow our pastry chefs extra time to flex their creative muscles and indulge their many talents, the result of which is a spectacular (and delicious) display of their artistry. Above is pictured the gorgeous croquenbouche, a delectable tower of profiteroles graced with the chefs’ fine artistic touches. Below Pastry Chef Jose D Silva ensures all is in perfect order before the arrival of the guests.

All Is Ready

Tea Dansant is actually a “tea dance,” and this extravagant tea time also features the orchestra, whose melodies invite guests to the dance floor. Of course, many guests are so distracted by the numerous culinary delights that they don’t quite find the time for dancing. 

O Ice Sculpture
An ice sculpture of the Oceania Cruises logo is created especially for the occasion.

Pastry Tower 2 More towers of exquisite pastries.

Egg Sculpture
The pastry chefs made each egg by hand from caramelized sugar.

Tea Sandwiches
In addition to the confections, there were also numerous tea sandwiches, each one designed as beautifully as the pastries.

Scone Hosts


Scones

No Tea Dansant would be complete without scones with jam and clotted cream.

Tea Box 

And of course, we must have the most essential ingredient – tea!

Filling Teapots
The teapot is equally important.

Table Settings
As are the teacups — fine china befitting such an illustrious occasion.

Tea Champagne
Tea Dansant is such an extraordinary event, many guests choose to complement their tea with a glass of champagne.

Pastry Chef-1
As a special treat, Pastry Chef Jose D Silva showcases his talents. 

Pastry Chef-2
He begins with slabs of caramelized sugar under the light of a heat lamp.

Pastry Chef-3
Guests are able to closely observe his technique.

Pastry Chef-4
The sugar must be at the exact proper temperature in order for Chef to sculpt it. Sometimes he has to place the slabs in the oven behind him for a bit to warm them up, or let them rest on the table to cool them down.

Pastry Chef-5
Stretching the sugar is a very delicate process.

Pastry Chef-6
At this stage one can't imagine what the finished work will look like.

Pastry Chef-7 Chef trims the proper amount for his next piece.

Pastry Chef-8
He continues to work the sugar.

Pastry Chef-9
He will need several colors to create his masterpiece.

Pastry Chef-10
He will even blend these colors together.

Pastry Chef-11
More focused and intense heat is required to create the detail of each tiny piece.

Pastry Chef-12
Now the sculpture is beginning to take shape.

Pastry Chef-13
And voila!

Pastry Chef-14
The finished piece is truly a work of art.

Croquenbouche and Server
Considering the time required to create one of these lovely roses adorning the croquenbouche, you will not be surprised to learn that the Tea Dansant took over 250 man hours prepare.

Thumbs Up
Everyone was thrilled with the results of the chefs’ efforts. Restaurant Manager Vladimir Cavic and Food & Beverage Manager Balazs Fekete agree - the Tea Dansant was a brilliant success. If you have the pleasure of traveling on a longer voyage with Oceania Cruises that features a Tea Dansant, you can see it is experience not to be missed!

 

 

 

 

 

April 5, 2011

REGATTA AND NAUTICA SEND POSTCARDS FROM EXOTIC LANDS

 

DSC_1059 (Medium)

While Insignia just crossed the Atlantic to begin her summer sojourn along European shores, Regatta and Nautica are exploring opposite sides of the globe. Regatta spent the first of April in Parintins, Brazil, and guests were treated to a taste of Amazonian folklore and festivities during an exclusive excursion to a Boi-Bumba celebration. 

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The people of Parintins, known for their exuberance and rich cultural traditions, put on a mesmerizing display of revelry with colorful costumes and the sounds of samba. The performance told the captivating story of two families involved in a historic dispute, which was resolved not by combat, but by song and dance.

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Meanwhile, Nautica was exploring the vibrant metropolis of Saigon. Guests were able to experience all the charms of the city via pedi-cab.

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Known as the "Pearl of the Orient," Saigon is an eclectic mix of old and new, with steel and glass skyscrapers towering over French colonial villas, and imposing Soviet-style facades standing beside ancient pagodas. Guests touring the city got a feel for the hectic pace of people's daily lives.

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And other's lives were not so hectic.

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No matter what corner of this amazingly diverse planet appeals to you most, with Oceania Cruises you can certainly experience Your World, Your Way.®

February 24, 2011

FEBRUARY ADVENTURES ONBOARD REGATTA, INSIGNIA & NAUTICA

      

The inaugural season of our new ship Marina has been such an exciting time for our Oceania Cruises family. So exciting, in fact, that Marina has been monopolizing the spotlight as of late, and with good reason. However, we must not forget the three equally stunning, elegant ships that are responsible for making Oceania Cruises the success it is today. Regatta, Insignia, and Nautica have

Prasart-Bangkok-Entry also been sailing azure seas this February, and guests onboard are likewise enjoying the fine cuisine, impeccable service, and fascinating destinations that are the hallmarks of Oceania Cruises.

Nautica has been exploring the exotic coasts of Asia, from Hong Kong to Saigon to Bangkok. In Bangkok guests enjoyed an excursion to the renowned Prasart Museum, which houses one of the most spectacular private art collections in Asia. The vast array includes art from prehistoric times to the late 19th century and features Buddha images, exquisite porcelain and pottery, traditional Thai paintings, and impressive Chinese furnishings.

Prasart-Bangkok-Gold Detail Prasart-Bangkok-Bird Detail Prasart-Bangkok-Dragon


Prasart-Bangkok-Bridge

Also located on the grounds is the magnificent Garden of Serenity, a horticultural treasure that contains an exceptional variety of rare and unusual trees and shrubs, many of which were selected for their association with Thai literature. The garden is intertwined with meandering pathways, tranquil pools and priceless stone statues.

 

While Nautica has been experiencing the history and beauty of Thailand, China and other fascinating nations of the East, Regatta has been exploring the Western Hemisphere. On the other side of the world, Regatta sails the vivid blue seas of the Caribbean and visits its many lovely islands, from Virgin Gorda to Antigua to the Bahamas. 

 

Sailboat Nassau

Guests onboard Regatta faced some big challenges this month, having to decide whether to view the vibrant colors of diverse marine life on a snorkeling venture, sail impossibly blue waters under the power of a gentle wind, or simply lie on beautiful beaches and watch the waves roll into the shore. You can tell from the photo of Nassau above and St. Barts below, guests could rest assured that any decision they made was the right one. Many guests played it safe and chose "all of the above."

Shell Beach St. Barts

Torres Waterfall Insignia took a southerly route this February, sailing from Chile through the magnificent Chilean fjords, around the southern tip of South America, stopping in to the Falkland Islands and continuing up the Eastern seaboard to Brazil. Natural wonders abound in this beautiful continent, and guests onboard Insignia explored them at length.  

One of the most spectacular regions in the world and certainly one of South America's major attractions is Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. The park was granted the status of Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978. Guests on the Oceania Cruises excursion, Scenic Torres del Paine, experienced the landscape by plane, boat and motorcoach, finding each stunning vista more magnificent than the last.  

To the left is Salto Grande Waterfall. The volume of water and its tremendous power is astounding. 

Below is another breathtaking view captured by a guest. The peaks, horizons, and the still blue waters of the immense interconnected lakes are awe inspiring. The granite spires of many of the mountaintops have a unique shape sculpted by glacial erosion. The park is a feast of natural phenomena — glaciers, rivers, lakes, forests and abundant wildlife. 

Torres Mountain

Historical, cultural or natural, the astonishing beauty of the destinations on Oceania Cruises' itineraries never fails to impress. Whether you sail on Regatta, Insignia, Nautica, or Marina, you are certain to have the experience of a lifetime both onboard and ashore. Thank you so much to our wonderful guests who shared with us these photos of their amazing experiences.

January 10, 2011

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


    

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 31, 2010

PRESIDENT BOB BINDER REFLECTS ON 2010

 

61 Bob Binder & Frank Del Rio have the first drink on the ship.
As 2010 draws to a close, I naturally reflect on my fondest memories of the past year. There have been so many milestones as we have progressed toward Marina's debut, not to mention beginning construction on her sister, Riviera. I think of the float-out ceremony for Marina and of watching her take to the seas for the first time. I remember the steel cutting ceremony for Riviera and the laying of the keel. Needless to say, 2010 has been a momentous year for all of us at Oceania Cruises, and as Marina's debut grows ever closer, we know that 2011 is sure to be even more exciting.

Bob's Table2011 will certainly kick off with the countdown to Marina's christening, but as I reflect on 2010 and look back through the stories on the blog, I am reminded that we have three beautiful ships already sailing the seas and creating fond memories for everyone onboard. For me, the Reunion Cruise onboard Regatta immediately comes to mind as one of the highlights of 2010. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to not only meet so many of our guests, but also to have the time onboard to chat with so many of you and to get to know you better.  I enjoyed hearing stories of your favorite Oceania Cruises adventures, and I was especially privileged to congratulate many of you on your tenth, fifteenth, and even twentieth Oceania Cruise.

During the Reunion Cruise, I had the pleasure of dining with several of our guests, and I wish there had been enough time for me have dinner with everyone onboard. The dining experience on an Oceania Cruise gives me the opportunity to do two of my favorite things, savor fine food and enjoy the company of fine people. While on the Reunion Cruise, Executive Chef Mickael Tochetto did me the honor of preparing a special patio dinner for myself and guests of Regatta's Owner's and Vista suites. I still remember the exquisite menu and the pleasant conversation. So in honor of 2010 and all of our guests who enjoy the fine cuisine onboard Oceania Cruises, I thought I would share some photos of that lovely evening.

Patio Dinner Hosts

Our hosts - Food and Beverage Director Balazs Fekete, Executive Chef Mickael Tocchetto, Executive Sous Chef Anthony Mauboussin, Restaurant Manager Vladimir Cavic, and Cellar Master Ivica Kolric

Pation Dinner Table
The lovely table settings

Ivitca at Patio DinnerThe Cellar Master ensured that each course was paired with the perfect wine.

Patio Dinner Lobster
The appetizer course - Blue Lobster, Oyster, Marinated Mussels, Almond Clams, and Wasabi Mayonnaise

SusanMrs. Denkers selected the Roasted Veal Chop "Normandy" with Carmelized Apples, Calvados and Mushroom Sauce for her entree.

SteveMr. Denkers especially enjoyed dessert - a work of art from the pastry chef!

Patio Dinner Chefs

A  job well done by Chef Mauboussin, Chef Tocchetto, and Pastry Chef Jose D Silva

Bob and Guests
Myself and guests, the Mundys, the Nirenblatts, and the Timcos.

Chefs and Guests
A wonderful time was had by all that evening, and I raise a toast to all of our guests who will enjoy fine cuisine, dear friends, and fascinating journeys onboard Oceania Cruises in 2011.  Best wishes for a Happy New Year and a fantastic 2011 from all of the Oceania Cruises family!

December 14, 2010

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

    

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

November 3, 2010

Meet Regatta General Manager Christian Krempl!

    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

October 21, 2010

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

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

A view of the bow from the bridge windowsDSC04357

A shot of the helmDSC04353

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

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

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Captain Rye on the bridge deck portsideDSC04360

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

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

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

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

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

DSC04386 Under Bridge 2 DSC04389 DSC04390

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

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

Our pilot waves goodbye. DSC04415

One more shot of the lovely Lisbon coast. DSC04395

Captain Rye sees clear seas ahead. DSC04400

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

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October 7, 2010

A Modern Marvel in a Historical City: The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

   Guggenheim Sign

As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I was privileged to travel onboard Regatta with the Oceania Club Reunion Cruise for the past two weeks. I dined like a queen, was pampered in the spa, made many new friends, and collected countless stories to share with you here on the blog. I thought I would start with one of the fascinating destinations along our Western Mediterranean itinerary. While I greatly enjoyed each and every port, I had especially been looking forward to seeing Bilbao, Spain, and its Guggenheim Museum. I was not disappointed.

Peter welcomes
As I wanted to make the most of my time in Bilbao, I joined one of Oceania Cruises' Excursions. As we debarked the ship, our charming tour guide, Peter, welcomed us to our motorcoach for the short drive to the city's center. You may be thinking, the name Peter doesn't sound very Spanish, and you would be correct. Peter is actually German, but his wife is Basque, and he has lived in the region for more than 20 years. He is quite fond of the northern region of Spain and the disciplined, hardworking Basque people whose attitudes and mentality he describes as similar to the Germans. He is pleased that cultural phenomena such as the Guggenheim have drawn astute tourists to the area, and he is happy to let those who want to lie on a beach visit the south of Spain. We can tell right away that Peter has an endearing personality, a great sense of humor, and a firm grasp on the English language.

Classic and Modern

We begin with a walking tour of the Old Town and a bit of history to get us oriented. Bilbao is both a modern and historical city in the Basque region of Spain, about ten miles up the Nervion River from the Bay of Biscay. (Note the modern sculpture in front of the Baroque architecture of City Hall pictured above.) While villages were beginning to appear on the shores of the river centuries earlier, the city was officially founded in 1300 by Don Diego Lopez, and its government charter brought with it many rights and privileges that led to the city’s rapid growth. Bilbao experienced a period of decline in the 17th and 18th centuries, but the demand for iron ore led to renewed growth in the 19th century, and Bilbao became a strong industrial center.

  Arriaga Theater

The Old Town was severely damaged by flood in 1983. The water level reached the ceiling of the first floor of the Arriaga Theatre (pictured above), which required extensive renovations. Bilbao has since reinvented itself as a center for tourism and services. With an ambitious plan for urban development, the city created a transportation infrastructure that included an international airport, a subway system designed by Sir Norman Foster, and a footbridge across the Nervion by Santiago Calatrava. To secure a renowned cultural center for the city, the Basque government courted the Guggenheim Foundation and offered to foot the cost for the construction of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which was completed in October 1997 for a cost of over $100 million.

Widest View
Peter confessed that he was originally opposed to the expense and the idea of the museum in Bilbao, but happily admits his error in judgment. The museum has invigorated Bilbao, inspired pride in its citizens, and of course brought millions of tourists to the city. 

Ann David Puppy

Regatta guests David and Anne Joffe are pictured above with Jeff Koons' floral sculpture of a West Highland terrier that welcomes visitors to the Guggenheim. Once a traveling exhibit, it is now part of the museum's permanent collection, as the Bilbao citizenry grew quite attached to the aptly named Puppy.

Best Bridge
The museum building itself is a work of art both inside and out, a fascinating amalgam of different spaces, forms, and materials. Everywhere you look the eye is infatuated.  Frank Gehry of course designed the museum, and according to Peter, his design was chosen over other competing architects because it best integrated the city with the river that has always been its core and lifeline. The exterior surface is covered in titanium plates, chosen on the one hand because they are guaranteed to resist corrosion for 100 years, but primarily because they resemble the scales of a fish, a motif of which Gehry is quite fond and which likewise links the city to the river.

Far Tulips

Close Tulips
Pictured above: Tulips by Jeff Koons

When people hear the term "modern art," their reactions run the gamut from utter fascination to "pshaw." Before you determine which way you lean, I  encourage you to visit the Guggenheim in Bilbao and to see it with an experienced guide. David was our guide inside the museum, and it is hard to say which were more valuable - his insights or his encouragement of us to discover our own.

The currently featured collection is by Anish Kapoor, creator of Chicago’s famous “Bean” - a nickname that indicates the work's accessibility and also the city’s affection for the giant, reflective orb in Millennium Park. Cloud Gate (the actual name of the piece) is an equally appropriate title that touches on the beauty and power that likewise define Kapoor’s art. Part of Kapoor’s brilliance is his ability to take what appear to be simple forms and elevate them to the sublime, using the interaction of light, color, presence and context to engage the onlooker in a way that creates a personal experience.

Shooting Into the Corner
Shooting into the Corner. As part of this provocative piece by Kapoor, a man periodically emerges to load the cannon and fire a cartridge of red wax into the corner wall.

While Kapoor's work can be quite dramatic as above, it is often much more subtle. Forget all of the artsy babble and consider Kapoor’s work Yellow, in which he paints a single shade of yellow in the shape of a huge square with a concave center that actually sinks into the wall. From a distance the shading created by the concavity inspires a vision of the sun’s warmth. Only as you get closer do you realize the work is three-dimensional. Western artists for centuries have been using color in two-dimensions to create the illusion of depth, but Kapoor uses color and depth to create the illusion of two dimensions. And all of Kapoor’s works evolve with each step you take toward or away from them, so that your own consciousness is always part of the artwork itself. While in classical art, you often have to know the story of the artist or the history of the work to understand it, modern art is more often about experience and perspective, so that to appreciate it, you may only have to know your own mind.

Far Serra
I haven’t even touched on the permanent collection by Richard Serra, which began with the construction of the enormous, undulating steel structure known as Snake, which so anchored the Guggenheim’s largest gallery that seven more pieces were commissioned to join it and named collectively The Matter of Time. Serra's work invites you in to explore. You may get lost, if you're lucky.

Close Serra 2
Enter Serra 2

You can also see Warhol and Rauschenberg and other modern masters, but if words or photos could do justice to these works, you wouldn’t need to visit the museum. While I am obviously a fan, I realize each of us has our own taste in art. So rest assured that Bilbao has a Museum of Fine Arts featuring an extensive classical arts collection, and the city also offers many charms beyond the realm of the creative arts. If you’re at all intrigued, both Marina and Insignia will visit Bilbao as part of their Western Mediterranean itineraries in May 2011. 

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October 1, 2010

President Bob Binder Raises Toast to Our Oceania Club Members

Sheila shakes GM hand 

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

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

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

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

Coverdale
Mr. Glen Coverdale and Mrs. Linda Coverdale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

September 23, 2010

Shopping the Marche des Capucins with Executive Chef Mickael Tocchetto

Bordeaux View
A view of Bordeaux along the waterfront of the Garonne River

Chef Group Gangplank

Oceania Cruises' President Bob Binder (third from left) and Executive Chef Mickael Tocchetto (third from right) gather with guests ready to explore the Marche des Capucins in Bordeaux.

While Master Chef Jacques Pepin is responsible for the design of Oceania Cruises' fine cuisine, the execution of his vision is ultimately the result of the combined efforts of a host of talented chefs, sous chefs and culinary directors.  Just as Pepin enjoyed shopping at the Marche des Capucins in Bordeaux a few weeks ago, Executive Chef Mickael Tocchetto explored that same market yesterday, seeking the freshest products to showcase his culinary skills to President Bob Binder. 

Marche Sign The entrance to the marketMarche Produce Some of the beautiful produce selection

Chef Tocchetto grew up in Bordeaux, the son of Italian farmers who were naturalized as French citizens. He says that as a child, he wasn't even allowed in the kitchen.  His Italian mother was quite proud of her kitchen, and food was always an important part of their lives. Chef Tocchetto left Bordeaux after finishing culinary school at the age of 17, but he says Bordeaux still feels like coming home. He has many friends here, several who own local restaurants and a few that he ran into during this trip to the market.

Chef Looks at Potatoes
Bob Tastes Kumato
Chef Tocchetto examines the produce and offers Bob a taste of kumato, a delicious hybrid that tastes like a sweet green tomato.

It would be hard to say which Chef Tocchetto enjoyed more - seeing old friends or shopping at the Marche des Capucins. Chef was like a kid in a candy store as he wandered amongst the stands, selecting the freshest produce, most flavorful cheeses, and finest cuts of meat. The choices were so abundant, Chef decided to create a degustation of several small courses, enabling his guests to sample the best of everything the market has to offer and experience the full range of his culinary talents.

Escargot


Fish Teeth

Langoustines

From escargot to langoustines, one could find every type of seafood imaginable.  (Note the fruitless escape attempt being made by the snail in the upper left corner.) 

Chef Tochetto has lived all over the globe, from London to Melbourne to Nigeria to his current residence in Toronto. But no matter where his home base may be, his love of travel has kept him
working with the cruise lines for the past twelve years. Six years ago a friend of his asked him to help open a restaurant in Melbourne.  Chef Tocchetto agreed, but only lasted six months on land before the urge to sail called him back to the ships. Even when on sabbatical, Chef continues to travel and spent two months in Vietnam during his last vacation.

Buying Skate
Chef chooses skate, which meets with Bob's enthusiastic approval.

This is Chef Tocchetto's first contract with Regatta, and after trying a stint on a larger ship, Chef says he much prefers the mid-sized ships and the operations of Oceania Cruises. He also speaks fondly of the amazing crew with whom he works, saying they are passionate people of the highest caliber of commitment, dedication, and talent. With twelve years of cruising experience behind him, Chef Tocchetto is looking forward to his next twelve years onboard.



 

 

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September 20, 2010

Regatta Visits Lovely La Rochelle

La Rochell Clock and Boats
Today guests onboard the Oceania Club Reunion Cruise enjoyed a lovely visit to La Rochelle, France. The weather was absolutely perfect - sunny and 72 degrees - making it a fine day to explore the Old Port, visit the Aquarium, and then return to the ship to relax by the pool for a bit before dinner. All in all it was a great day to be cruising on Regatta!

La Rochelle Towers

Two of the famous towers of La Rochelle, dating to the 14th and 15th centuries.

  La Rochelle Aquarium

The city has a fabulous aquarium.

La Rochelle Camo Fish

Can you find the five fish in this photo?

La Rochelle Lobster Etc

More of our finned and crustaceanous friends

La Rochelle Yellow Fish

A colorful bunch, and with personality too!

La Rochelle Market

Continuing on through the town, we reach the local market, which of course offers cold cuts, cheeses and pastries.  A light snack whets our appetite, so it's back to the ship for lunch!

 

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September 19, 2010

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

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

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

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

GM Lisa Captain 2
General Manager Christian Krempl, Blogger-at-Large Lisa Pancake Fossland, and Captain Jahn Rye

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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. 

Picture 679  Picture 670
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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August 5, 2010

Who Will Be Onboard Regatta for the 2010 Oceania Club Reunion Cruise?

OceaniaClubCrestLarge
 

If you've traveled with Oceania Cruises before, you know that making new friends is always a part of the Oceania Cruises experience. The end of a cruise inevitably involves the exchange of contact information with newfound friends, hoping that your paths will cross again in the near future. Unfortunately, life ashore can be hectic, and it is often difficult to keep in touch. So what better way to reunite with friends from past cruises than on the Oceania Club Reunion Cruise? This year the Reunion Cruise departs from London on September 16th and explores nearly a dozen fascinating ports throughout France, Spain and Portugal before concluding in beautiful Monte Carlo.

I'm excited to announce that yours truly, Oceania Cruises' Blogger-at-Large, is now booked on the Reunion Cruise! I'm eagerly looking forward to reuniting with friends from past voyages as well as making new ones. There will be many opportunities to do so, considering the special onboard events and the exclusive excursions exploring destinations ashore. If you'll be joining me in September, please introduce yourself here in the blog comments. I can't wait to meet everyone onboard, and I look forward to sharing the stories of our adventures.

 

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June 23, 2010

Meet Lisa Pancake Fossland, Oceania Cruises’ Blogger-at-Large


Pancake on Steps in Crete

Meet Lisa Pancake Fossland, Oceania Cruises’ Blogger-at-Large

I should probably begin by addressing the question foremost on everyone’s mind. Yes, “Pancake” is my real name. It’s my maiden name, which I kept as my middle name when I married. Hyphenating might have worked if I had married Kevin Bacon, but unfortunately he was taken. If it makes it easier, feel free to think of me as simply “Pancake.”

So who is this woman blathering on about nomenclature, and what does she have to do with Oceania Cruises? The answer is that I am Oceania Cruises’ Blogger-at-Large. I love everything about Oceania Cruises, and I also happen to be a writer, so the powers that be thought I would be a great contributor to the blog. After all, no one ever accused a blogger of being unbiased.

I’ve cruised on all three of Oceania Cruises’ ships — Insignia, Regatta, and Nautica — and I can’t wait to get onboard Marina and Riviera. I’ve explored the Mediterranean, the Aegean, and the Baltic seas. I’ve visited Athens and Istanbul and St. Petersburg. I will continue exploring the world with Oceania Cruises, and I’ll share every escapade with anyone who wishes to follow along. I hope you’ll enjoy my stories of life onboard the ships and explorations ashore. If you’re a fan of fine cuisine, exotic destinations, and relaxing days at sea…well really, who isn’t a fan? Feel free to share your own experiences with us here as well. We’d love to hear from all the fans of Oceania Cruises.


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