Saturday, Patti and I had the privilege, with Arend and Darlene Roos, and Stephanie Anevich and Brian Robertson, of attending the christening of the Marina, Oceania's newest ship. Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight was the “Godmother” and the ceremony, at Miami's Cruise Port, was beautiful. We then settled in for a great experience, four days on the Marina, sailing to Nassau and back. What fun that was.
Marina is not just a new ship. She is a beautiful ship, with a small passenger count, and a large and very pleasant crew. Categorised as Mid-Sized, Oceania has become a Canadian line of choice, with over 15% of her passengers being Canadian. Vision2000 books a very large percentage of those, enabling us to bring the very best of prices and amenities to our clients.
Patti and I checked into our Concierge Stateroom, with a veranda. The stateroom was extremely well laid out, and had a comfortable sitting area, an extremely comfortable bed, and plenty of space for the two of us.
After unpacking we wandered the decks, trying to get familiar with the ship. It was just too large to get to know all in one go, but we certainly made a good start before ending on twelfth floor deck in the Veranda Restaurant, where we had a wonderful alfresco lunch. We then completed our tour and ended back at our cabin to plan the remainder of the cruise.
One of the great pleasures of the Marina is the SIX restaurants available. We couldn't eat in them all, but wherever we did, we were really impressed. The Terrace is a great room for breakfast and lunch, with a great selection of foods available with bright young service personnel. The main dining room was possibly the best food and service I have ever experienced on board, and we had the pleasure of making acquaintance with a young couple from Los Angeles, the Molander's who own an agency in Covina, who turned out to be our cabin neighbours. We had a first rate evening. We plan to look them up again, which I think is one of the pleasures of travel. There are not only great places to visit, but wonderful people to get to know.
Over the next two days we also dined in Toscana, with a fantastic Italian menu, and La Reserve, where we experienced one of the finest meals of our lives. Seven courses each paired with a perfect wine, in great company. The restaurant holds only twenty, and there is a surcharge of $75 to cover the wines which are selected by the Wine Spectator. Frank Del Rio, Chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, the owners of both Oceania and Regent Cruise Lines, was at our table of eight, as well as several other superb cruise agency people. The room was a celebration of the new ship, and we were very interested to learn of the care and attention to detail that went into every facet of the Marina's planning.
Other than La Reserve, there is also Privee, which is a private room seating a maximum of eight, with a surcharge of $1,000 for the room, regardless of whether two, or eight people eat there. Otherwise, all the dining experiences are covered by your cruise cost.
In Jacques we had a private lunch with other Virtuoso people, and I highly recommend the service and food. Red Ginger we didn't have time to try, (I am told you should always leave a reason to return, so here it is) but everyone who tried it gave rave revues.
And of course, there was casual eating around the pool as well as room service which is a wonderful way to enjoy your balcony.
Other areas that appeared to us to be way more spacious and comfortable than on other lines were the gym and spa and the library. The library had an extensive collection of books, and was connected to the coffee bar. A latte and read was a great way to relax anytime of the day. And, if you were still hungry, you could always try afternoon tea.
The gym had the best equipment I have encountered in any hotel or ship, and the changing rooms were great. There was also plenty of space around the pool and on deck for sunbathing, even though the ship was full. The promise of lots of space was truly fulfilled.
All in all this was a fabulous experience. With Oceania's early bird discounts and great fares including air, this is a real bargain.
Many thanks Oceania. We will definitely sail on you again.