12 posts categorized " Ships "

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!

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.

Photo 20 Photo 7 Photo 22

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
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Senior Executive Chef Alexis Quaretti

 

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

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

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

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

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!

July 14, 2011

Oceania Cruises' Marina Featured on The Travel Channel

Travel Channel presenter Julie Peasgoode sailed aboard Marina during a 10-day Pearls of the Riviera cruise through the glorious Mediterranean earlier this year.

Why not join her for a virtual voyage and see what Julie has to say about Marina and all of her culinary delights and surprises.

Bon Voyage!

 

December 21, 2010

DECK THE DECKS! Nautica is ready for the holidays!

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

Nautica Christmas Tree

Nautica Holiday Staircase

Nautica Wreath

 

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

  Nautica Gingerbread

Carrying Nautica Gingerbread

Carrying Nautcia Gingerbread-2

Carrying Nautica Gingerbread-3

Nautica Gingerbread Neighborhood

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

 

August 31, 2010

Top Five Tips on How to Pack for an Oceania Cruise

I recently shared my Top Five tips on what to pack for a voyage with Oceania Cruises. We received a lot of good feedback, so following are my Top Five tips on how to pack. I hope you find them useful, and please do share your own tips here as well.

Lifestyle_deck
 

1. Make a packing list well in advance and focus on items you may need to shop for.

If you like to shop online or in catalogs, you need to allow shipping time for that perfect pair of linen pants to arrive. I once decided to do a little shopping the week before a cruise and fell in love with a swimsuit that was on back order for a month. Another time I began to pack the day before departure and found all of my black nylons had runs. Yes, I could run out and buy a pair of nylons, but I usually order my favorite brand online and have it shipped. And when you're on vacation, you only want to wear your favorites. So assess your needs (and especially your wants!) and do your shopping early.

 

2. There is no need to pack lightly.

Before the baggage handlers start a riot, I will qualify this tip. Do be reasonable. In fact, that is exactly the guideline that Oceania Cruises provides in their baggage policy: "You may bring a reasonable amount of luggage onboard." And you should certainly research the guidelines of your airline, especially considering the baggage fees that most airlines are now charging. Having said that, this is not the vacation in which you need to fit everything into a small suitcase so you can traverse a continent with ease. One of the advantages of traveling with Oceania Cruises is that you can see the world without having to unpack and repack at every destination, always checking into and out of hotels, toting suitcases here and there. The ship is your home away from home for the duration of your cruise, so you can settle in as soon as you board. So throw in that extra outfit knowing you'll only have to unpack it once.

 

3. Both women and men can avoid wrinkles.

Sorry, no anti-aging secrets here, just more packing tips. When packing clothes fresh from the dry cleaners, I remove the hangers, but leave the clothes in the plastic bags. I save extra bags for clothes I've ironed myself and put two or three garments in each bag. The layers of plastic help prevent wrinkles and also seem to create more space in the suitcase. (I realize this goes against the laws of physics, but try it and see.)

My husband takes a different approach to wrinkles. He pulls everything out of the closet or the dryer fully wrinkled and tosses it into a pile in his suitcase. When he boards the ship, he sends it all to the ship's laundry to be pressed. The rates are comparable to our local cleaners, and his wardrobe is wrinkle-free and ready to wear in no time. This method is especially effective for those who aren't as fond of the packing process as I am, and prefer to throw everything into a suitcase eight hours before departure.

 

4. Pack one round of essentials in your carry-on.

No one wants to lug a huge carry-on around, but you can fit a few essentials into a small carry-on just in case, dare I say it, your luggage is delayed. This is a rare occurrence, so this tip is mostly for peace of mind, but peace of mind is a valuable commodity when traveling. In my carry-on I always pack a change of clothes (including underclothes), a swimsuit, travel-sized hair and facial products in TSA-approved containers and all of my medications. The medications are especially important, including prescriptions, pain relievers and motion sickness medication if you need it. If my luggage is delayed, I can still explore a port, lounge by the pool, shower and change, and await the arrival of my luggage in comfort without even having a bad hair day. Worst-case scenario, I'm forced to take advantage of the onboard boutique or do some shopping ashore (perhaps we're in Paris that day!) to replenish my wardrobe courtesy of the airlines.

 

5. Be sure to check the most recent Transportation Security Administration guidelines.

If you've traveled much in the last few years, you know that the rules often change regarding what you can and can't put into a carry-on or checked bag. For ease of travel, check the latest guidelines and pack accordingly. If you're a frequent traveler, you can even request that TSA email you when the list of permitted and prohibited items is updated. If you check the list, you'll find that your brass knuckles and your meat cleaver should be packed in your checked luggage, but for the record, Oceania Cruises would prefer that you leave these items at home.

 

 

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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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July 8, 2010

Marina's Owner's Suites are First at Sea Appointed with Ralph Lauren Home


Work has officially begun on Marina's three luxurious Owner's Suites, each measuring more than 2,000 square feet and spanning the entire 105-foot beam of the ship. Oceania Cruises will feature the first suites at sea designed by Tocar and completely appointed, from furniture and fabrics to lighting and bedding, using the acclaimed Ralph Lauren Home collection. To appeal to the most discerning travelers, we wanted the best suites on Marina to feel like an opulent estate home. We insisted on the finest craftsmanship and sought out the most talented residential designers. 

OSFoyer
The grand foyer features an ivory marble entryway, walls of inset Georgian wood paneling, and a mahogany gloss bar. You may find your muse on the ebony baby grand or lounge on the chaise and enjoy sweeping ocean vistas from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

OSLivingRoom
The spacious living and dining room exudes the rich, refined elegance of a world-class yacht. The wraparound teak veranda features stylish pieces custom-crafted from Ralph Lauren.

OSBedroom
Enjoy restful nights at sea in the sumptuous sleeping quarters. The centerpiece is the distinctive, Bel Air bed in a deep, library mahogany with steel-blue mohair and polished nickel nail-head accents.

OSBathroom
The finishing touch on the grand boudoir is the marble-clad, six-fixture master bathroom, which has both a large soaking tub and a separate shower. 


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June 8, 2010

Ceremony Celebrates Laying of the Keel for Oceania Cruises' Riviera


Bob Binder welds the coins into the keel of Riviera.
Bob Binder welds the coins into the keel of Riviera.

Welding is not a skill I use frequently in my position as President of Oceania Cruises, but when I do, the occasion is an important one. The welding of coins into a ship's keel is an age-old maritime tradition believed to solicit good fortune for the ship, its crew, and its passengers. Last Thursday when we celebrated the keel-laying ceremony for Riviera, I found myself in charge of the welding of the coins. I think I performed my duty well, considering my extremely limited experience. (Welding the coins into Marina's keel last year is about it.) Frank also took his turn at welding a coin, but I think my lines were straighter.

There were four U.S. silver coins in all, dated 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2009, to represent the years the keels were laid for Riviera's sister ships - Insignia, Regatta, Nautica, and Marina. After the coins were welded, the first of fifty-five steel blocks that will eventually comprise Riviera was lowered into the dock, thus marking the official start of the building process. Riviera is set to debut in April 2012 as a sister ship to Marina, whose January 2011 launch grows ever closer. I think it's safe to say the excitement is mounting daily here at Oceania Cruises!

Jason Montague - Senior Vice President of Planning, Franco Semeraro - Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, Frank Del Rio - Chairman & CEO, Bob Binder - President, and Robin Lindsay - Executive Vice President of Vessel Operations
Jason Montague - Senior Vice President of Planning, Franco Semeraro - Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, Frank Del Rio - Chairman & CEO, Bob Binder - President, and Robin Lindsay - Executive Vice President of Vessel Operations

Marina Next to Riviera
Riviera's sister, Marina, looking pretty across the way.

The Vessel Operations Team
The Vessel Operations Team in Miami takes time to celebrate their latest achievement - Riviera!


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June 3, 2010

Marina Launches Oceania Cruises' Blog


Marina in dry dock.
Marina in dry dock in Genoa, Italy.

Inaugural Post By Bob Binder, President

With all the excitement surrounding the upcoming debut of our new ship, Marina, we at Oceania Cruises have decided it is time to launch our blog, as the more I talk about all the exciting things happening at Oceania Cruises, the more I'm encouraged to share my thoughts online. Oceania Cruises now has Facebook and Twitter accounts, and it's been wonderful to see guests, staff, travel agents, and others all sharing their experiences with us. The loyalty and passion of our followers has inspired me to engage in the conversation. As we launch our blog, it seems appropriate to remark on the launch of our new ship, Marina.

Bob Binder and Frank Del Rio enjoy the first toast onboard Marina.
Bob Binder and Frank Del Rio enjoy the first toast onboard Marina.

Several weeks ago members of the Oceania team visited the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy, where we celebrated the float-out ceremony for Marina. As Marina is the first ship built exclusively for Oceania Cruises, we have carefully attended to every detail of her design. From creating the ship's overall structure and flow to selecting the perfect lamps for the staterooms and suites, it has been a fascinating process. I admit I got a little emotional watching the dry dock begin to fill and witnessing the ship touching water for the first time. It was amazing to see her emerge as such an incredible feat of architecture, and we all felt a bit like proud parents.

As if that weren't enough excitement for the day, I had a surprise to share after the float-out ceremony. I was privileged to reveal the name of our next new ship – Riviera – and to announce that construction would begin very soon. Everyone was quite shocked when I clarified that "very soon" meant ten minutes from now! We all moved directly from the float-out ceremony for Marina to the steel-cutting ceremony for Riviera. Several of us signed our names in the first piece of steel to be cut and then watched as an enormous blade began the cutting process underwater. As our CEO Frank Del Rio commented, "There is only one thing that's better than one new ship, and that's TWO new ships." It was a day of two huge milestones for Oceania Cruises and a day I won't soon forget.

Today I am already back in Genoa for the laying of the keel of Riviera. It is amazing how quickly these ships evolve. While on our previous visit, Marina's interior was a stark décor of steel and insulation, she is now coming together with the staterooms, restaurants, spas, and other beautiful spaces that will bring Marina to life. I will keep you updated here on the progress of both Marina and Riviera. Frank and I will share other Oceania news and anecdotes as well, and we're looking forward to hearing from other members of our staff and crew. We'll also follow the adventures of our Blogger at Large, Lisa Pancake Fossland. There is great excitement on the horizon for Oceania Cruises. I hope you will join us on our journey here, and taste the wonderful world of Oceania Cruises.

Bob Binder signs the first piece of steel cut for Riviera.
Bob Binder signs the first piece of steel cut for Riviera.

Members of the Oceania Cruises' team.
Members of the Oceania Cruises' team celebrate the laying of the keel for Riviera.


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