Fodor’s Expert Review
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Languid days at sea with nothing to do, onboard sports facilities, extensive children’s activities.Read More
Oceania Cruises offers extraordinary food and service but the prices have crept up over the years as Oceania has learned how to market its ships more effectively. Regatta has retained many of the features that made her popular in a previous incarnation as a Renaissance’s R-ship – single, open-seating dining; three alternative restaurants, and a casual dress policy. There’s a computer room with classes; plenty of open-deck space, two Jacuzzi whirlpools alongside the pool, and myriad comfortable and inviting bars. The library is open 24 hours a day and will lend you one of its vast collection without a deposit. And the new restaurant Tapas on the Terrace may offer the most romantic dining at sea; you dine by candlelight on the wide aft deck at a table with starched white linens.
The staterooms received extensive comfort upgrades fleetwide including sheets and pillowcases by Ralph Lauren, cushy mattresses, down comforters and extra pillows.
Regatta’s smaller size allows the ship to visit more unusual ports of call including places like Bordeaux, Guernsey, Palma de Majorca, Malaga, and Oporto, Portugal.
On the other hand, we’d be derelict to fail to note that, spirits, wine, airport/cruise transfers and shore excursions are all somewhat pricey on Regatta. Moreover, Oceania Cruise Lines makes no bones about not caring one way or another if there are children aboard. After endless hours of ping-pong, shuffleboard, small-pool swimming and TV in the cabin, your kids may be likely to sulk. And just so you know – smoking is forbidden everywhere but on the starboard side of the outdoor Pool Deck.
In general, the ship has an “English inn at sea” look. In the bow, the spacious, woody Horizons lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows and brass telescopes on three sides. The Martini Bar attached to the casino can make you 29 kinds of martini making it a very relaxing space in the afternoons while the pianist is playing standards. At night, a jazz band takes over.
Decorated in traditional English style with warm red upholstery, mahogany paneling, and faux garden skylight and marble fireplace, the library is very comfortable, and well-stocked.
All of the ships’ main lounges have been refreshed and refurbished. The bar called Horizons now features a new palette of soothing sea blues, cocoa brown and mint, complemented by new sofas, chairs and tables. The nightclub Martinis maintains its classic ambiance with all-new furnishings. The Regatta (or namesake on the other ships) Lounge was completely refurbished with new carpet and chairs, along with luxurious new fabrics and upholsteries.
Featuring the culinary mastery of the iconic Jacques Pepin, the food onboard is above average in the main dining room and buffet areas, and often extraordinary in the alternative restaurants.
Marina (January 2011) and Riviera (April 2012), the new 1260-passenger ships, include 10 eateries onboard including the eponymous “Jacques” which will features some of Pepin’s personal favorite recipes. It has been said that no cruise line chef has ever devoted as much attention to a single restaurant as Jacques Pepin has devoted to “Jacques”. He even designed the format of the menu and has his personal artwork hanging on the walls.
With single, open seating and four restaurants to choose from, dining on all Oceania ships is as varied as it is consistently delightful. The accent is on variety, and it is highly recommended that you make as many reservations as possible in the alternative restaurants if you are not too tired after a day in port. If you are tired, a casual stroll at your leisure to Tapas on the Terrace is a great way to get fast service and great food without waiting.
After a 2014 upgrade, the Penthouse Suites now feature all new furnishings, with rich upholstery in vibrant yet calming colors inspired by the sea, sun and sky. The Owner’s and Vista Suites now contain an all-new elegant, yet contemporary bathroom design featuring wall-to-wall marble with a decorative inlay in the center, and a large vanity with a granite countertop opposite an oversized shower. All staterooms on the ship received new decor elements for a refreshing sense of style and elegance.
For the three smaller ships: Inside cabins are the smallest aboard at 160 sq. ft. Outside staterooms measure 165 sq. ft., some with portholes and others with large picture windows. Category C and D outside cabins with private balcony are 216 sq. ft., including a 45 sq. ft. balcony. Suites with private balconies are a spacious 322 sq. ft., including a 17′ x 4.5′ balcony with two chairs and a table.
These ships have 330 guestrooms, suites and penthouses, more than half of the outside staterooms with verandas. Every cabin aboard has a “Tranquillity Bed,” dressed in 350-count Egyptian cotton linens, silk-cut duvets and goose-down pillows.
Standard cabin amenities include TV with CNN, MSNBC, another news channel and six movie channels showing continuously throughout the day; good closet/drawer space; hair dryer, and a personal safe. All cabins except suites and owner’s suites have bathroom with shower. Suites and owner’s suites offer butler service, bathtubs and mini-bars. Oceania has added wonderful mattresses and down comforters, but the only mini-refrigerators are in Concierge Level cabins and suites. Staterooms are homey and attractively furnished in Wedgwood blue fabrics and carpeting, accented by yellow drapes and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Those who have cruised in suites aboard other ships will find the standard bathrooms to be small on these ships. While there is a large mirrored cabinet for toiletries, counter space is very skimpy.
The Category A Owner’s Suites, ranging from 786 to 962 sq. ft., are all located either completely forward or aft, bad locations in inclement weather. Forward owner’s suites (numbers 6002, 6003, 7004, 7005) have direct sight lines of the rope deck on the front of the vessel. Two forward suites facing the front of the ship lack ocean views. Suites have large bathtubs and more counter space.
Though prominently displayed in cabin as though to say, “I’m complimentary; drink me,” the bottles of Evian are in fact $3.50. The sole Laundromat, on Deck 7, charges $3 per load, but nonetheless attracts long queues.
The Canyon Ranch SpaClub now includes a flowing mosaic display in reception and brand new peaceful steam rooms with beautiful new tile mosaics, along with renovated changing areas inside the spa.
One of the smaller original R-ships, good value but less opulent than Marina, refurbished in 2014.
Best For People Who Want
A casual experience on a small ship cruise; a port-intensive itinerary;open seating dining; no additional charge alternative restaurants; a strict smoking policy.
With wingback chairs facing faux marble fireplaces, paintings hung on landings above Chinese vases, miles of brocade drapes and fabric, dark wood paneling, carved moldings and wrought-iron staircases, the ship has the feel of boutique hotel. The no-nonsense staterooms evoke modern European city hotels.
In 2014 the ship received a refurbishment where new restaurants and public rooms were added, in keeping with the style of the newer and larger ships, Marina and Riviera.
The popular coffee bar from the newer ships employs master baristas to create complimentary espresso and cappuccino from the illy brand to be enjoyed in comfortable, brand new lounge chairs and sofas. On the upgraded ships this coffee bar is centrally located on deck 5, near the Grand Dining Room.
The Grand Dining Room, which opens at 6:30 p.m. and serves until 9:30 p.m., is commonly very crowded, and the acoustics in the center of the room preclude easy conversation. Bowing to customer sentiment, Oceania recently added 26 tables for two. Don’t, if you enjoy seafood, miss the pan-seared scallops over Parmesan risotto.
Terrace Cafe: The main casual dining option, open dining in a Lido-style buffet, was transformed completely in 2014 along the lines of the specialized service stations found on the newer ships. New furnishings, floorings, fixtures and lighting accompany the stunning floor-to-ceiling window views. The piece de resistance is the cook-to-order grill featuring delicacies such as steaks, chops and lobster tail.
Reservations are required for the popular Polo Grill (catering to the carnivorous) and Toscana restaurants. The clubby Polo Grill is the most intimate of the three, and offers fresh seafood in addition to the the kind of delicious red meat entrees carnivores adore. Tapas on the Terrace adds new dishes every evening.
Waves, the outside luncheon grill, offering burgers, chicken, salmon,and even fried calamari, plus a daily special and salads, is the place to head for a late lunch (’til 5 p.m.). Everything’s served with fries that are wonderful when hot, so-so when not, and cole slaw that will make you moan ecstatically. There’s a high tea every afternoon at four in Horizons.
The primarily Eastern European staff is very attentive. They even carry your trays to your table in the casual breakfast and luncheon buffet. And those in the ship’s computer center must be the best tech staffers at sea. Room service is unfailingly prompt. The only inevitable crunch occurs in the dining room when everyone arrives for “open-seating” dining at the same time, usually within the first half-hour of opening. The best bet is to be either the first in line, or wait until an hour after opening, in order to avoid the rush.
Since Oceania has a flexible dining program, gratuities of $11.50 per person per day (including children) are automatically added to the shipboard account for all dining room and stateroom personnel. An additional $3.50 per passenger per day is added for suites where Butler Service is provided. Tipping is at the passenger’s discretion, however, so the amount may be increased, decreased, or all gratuities can be removed, by contacting the front desk. Gratuities of 18 percent are automatically added to bar charges and spa services.
Regatta has a fine onboard orchestra, a string quartet and pianist. Each evening you can enjoy shows in the 358-seat Cabaret Lounge. However, Oceania will tell you frankly that entertainment is not high on their list of priorities as most people find a long day in port followed by haute cuisine to be more than enough for a satisfying day.
The casino is small, with 30 slots and tables for blackjack and roulette, but no craps. Depending upon itinerary, standard shipboard activities like bingo, bridge and dance lessons are limited, since you’re in port most of the time. The incomparable cyber-cafe offers instruction, but classes fill up quickly, so don’t dawdle.
With no ties required and “country club casual” recommended at night, you’ll see women in everything from blouses with pants and skirts to much more elegant attire.
Guests are well-traveled, educated professionals and businesspeople who know quality and good value. This is not a “cruise crowd” as much as a leisure crowd who enjoys great food and seeing non-touristy parts of the world.
Originally built in 1998 as the second of a series of eight ships for Renaissance Cruises, which ceased operations in 2001, the former R2 was acquired by Oceania Cruises and launched as Regatta in 2003. After refurbishment in 2011, the ship retained its original midsize ambience with an increased emphasis on cuisine and enrichment programs.
Carefully furnished to impart the atmosphere of a private English country manor, these midsize ships are casual yet elegant, with sweeping central staircases and abundant flower arrangements. Brocade and toile fabrics window coverings, overstuffed sofas, and wing chairs create a warm and intimate feeling throughout.
Authentic-looking faux fireplaces are adjacent to cozy seating areas in the Grand Bar, near the martini bar’s grand piano, and in the beautiful libraries—some of the best at sea, with an enormous selection. The casinos are quite small and can feel cramped, and smoking is prohibited. You may have to wait for a seat at a poker table, but there are enough slot machines to go around.
Oceania offers itineraries to smaller ports megaships can’t reach and a near-luxury cruise experience for fares much lower than you would expect. The line first set sail in 2003, carving a unique niche in the cruise industry by offering a sophisticated vacation best suited to inquisitive, well-traveled passengers. Its midsize ships carry fewer passengers than popular mainstream lines. Varied, destination-rich itineraries are an important characteristic of Oceania Cruises, and most sailings are in the 10- to 12-night range.
Intimate and cozy public spaces reflect the importance of socializing on Oceania ships. Indoor lounges feature numerous conversation areas, and even the pool deck is a social center. The Patio is a shaded slice of deck adjacent to the pool and hot tubs. Defined by billowing drapes and carpeting underfoot, it is furnished with plush sofas and chairs ideal for relaxation.
Thickly padded single and double loungers are arranged around the pool, but if more privacy appeals to you, private cabanas are available for rent. Each one has a double chaise longue with a view of the sea; overhead drapery can be drawn back for sunbathing, and the side panels can be left open or closed. Waiters are on standby to offer chilled towels or serve occupants with beverages or snacks. In addition, you can request a spa service in your cabana.
- 9 passenger decks
- 2 specialty restaurants (3 on Sirena), dining room, buffet, pizzeria
- Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator, DVD (some)
- fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, spa, steam room
- 4 bars, casino, dance club, library, showroom
- dry cleaning, laundry facilities, laundry service
- Internet terminal
- no-smoking cabins