Oceania Regatta Review

This review was submitted by my brother, Jerry Smith (with a few editor’s notes for clarification)

Overall:  This cruise was, for me, both impressive and surprising. It exceeded my expectations in many areas, especially the food. It was hard to find something to complain about.

Oceania Regatta in Astoria

Oceania Regatta in Astoria

Oceania Cruises:  My sister, Soozie (Smitty to you, but as her brother, I can’t call her that), told me that Oceania (along with its competitor, Azamara) is considered “upper premium.” That means it is more expensive, of course, but also the ships are smaller, the food is better, the staff is more attentive and the clientele is more “seasoned.” In a word, the clientele itself is “upper” and “premium” fits for the cost, but also the “upgrades” that come with it in terms of quality of service, and especially, food.

Pancetta-Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp with Kalamata Olive Sauce and Vegetable Julienne

Pancetta-Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp with Kalamata Olive Sauce and Vegetable Julienne

Chocolate cake with ice cream

Chocolate cake with ice cream

Oceania’s motto is “Your World, Your Way,” which is their way of saying that whatever you want is what you’ll get.

Ship:  The ship, the Regatta, which Soozie points out is NOT a boat (boats can be loaded onto ships, not vice versa), was clean, and had a capacity of around 600, I believe, (editor’s note: actual capacity is 684) so it is much smaller than a normal (ocean) cruise ship. Cabins were small, as was the bathroom (a bit claustrophobic), but sufficient. (editor’s note: We were in a balcony cabin)

Balcony Cabin 6063

Balcony Cabin 6063

Bathroom

Bathroom

We hardly used the TV, and did not visit the pool, sauna or hot tub.

Hot Tub

Guest enjoying Hot Tub

The coffee-maker in the  Terrace Grill and Horizons Lounge was quite good, capable of a wide variety of coffees, including espresso/cappuccino and teas. Editor’s Note: You could also get coffee drinks made to order at Barista’s Lounge, just outside the Grand Dining Room.

There were also the following “extras:”

• “Tea Time” from 4-5 each day in the Horizons Lounge at the front of the ship, with nice large picture windows looking forward to the water, which featured desserts on multi-level carts as well as servers with silver trays of finger sandwiches, both circulated throughout the room.

Tea Time in the Horizons Lounge while in Sitka

•  “Happy Hour” with BOGO (buy one, get one) drinks from 5-6.

• There was also nightly entertainment, some of which was quite good (pianist Katie Clarke), and others not as appealing (“Noodles” Levenstein, an apparent comedian) as well as the Regatta Singers, two ladies and two men, that also performed throughout the cruise.

• There were also daily activities, including a ping-pong tournament (at sea days), putting competitions, and Team Trivia.

Conversation area, mid-ship

Conversation area, mid-ship

The middle of the ship had a number of lounges and a small casino, where you could stop and have a drink, and chat with fellow cruisers. These were generally full during the evenings, and there was a piano player in one lounge.

Casino

Casino

There was also a string quartet, “Bellissimo” that played much of the time in the Grand Hall, and at Happy Hour, which was always pleasant to have around. (Editor’s Note: They also did a full performance on the last evening, prior to dinner).

Bellissimo, string quartet performing at the Grand Hall

Bellissimo, string quartet performing at the Grand Hall

Food: I am pretty observant when it comes to food, I would say “picky”, but that sounds like I’m particular (e.g., won’t eat certain things), which is not the case. I do pay attention to how the food is prepared and presented, and I can find fault with lots of things (see my comments on the “Rhine River Cruise, From a Man’s Point of View” review).

Having said that, I have to say that the food on Oceania was delightful. Consistently not only good, but extremely good. Every meal seemed like dining at a 4- or 5-star restaurant.

Crispy Kadaif-wrapped tiger prawns with Mango chile Salsa

Crispy Kadaif-wrapped tiger prawns with Mango chile Salsa

Herb-crusted rack of lamb with vegetable ratatouille and gratin dauphinois

Herb-crusted rack of lamb with vegetable ratatouille and gratin dauphinois

For example, after a few days I noticed that the Grand Dining Room’s breakfast menu included a daily special Smoothie, as well as an egg special, in addition to a wide variety of items like muesli, oatmeal, pancakes, bagels, yogurt parfait, etc., you could get every day.

Breakfast

Disembarkation Day’s Breakfast Special

Once, I broke my long-standing refusal to eat Eggs Benedict (due to excessive fat!), when I noticed that it had pesto Hollandaise sauce. It was delicious (probably just as fatty too).

HuevosRancheros

Huevos Rancheros in the dining room

Dining on the ship took the following forms:

•  The “Terrace Café” is an upscale buffet at the rear of the ship, with a nice patio outside, as well as plenty of seating inside.

Terrace Grill with Golden Gate Bridge in background

Terrace Grill Outside Dining with Golden Gate Bridge in background

Terrace Grill, inside dining

Terrace Grill, inside dining

At any meal, there were 3 or 4 entrees to choose from, as well as vegetables and starches to accompany them. Same with desserts, plenty to choose from, all of them quite good.

Terrace Grill Lemon Cake and White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Filling

Terrace Grill Lemon Cake and White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Filling

They had a daily theme for the food (Greek, Italian, etc.) (Editor’s Note: Food was served by gloved crew, not “self-serve” with serving utensils and sneeze guards)

• The “Grand Dining Room” lives up to its own description. Nicely color-coordinated tablecloths, silver, and lots of stemware, it looked fabulous.

Grand Dining Room

Grand Dining Room

Versage charger

Place setting with Versace charger in Grand Dining Room

And the food there was consistently exceptional. Copies of the lunch and dinner menus were provided the night before, which helped in deciding where to eat.

Baby scallops in Shell with Lemon, Capers and Seaweed

Baby scallops in Shell with Lemon, Capers and Seaweed

Black Angus Beef Wellington with Truffled Potatoes and Vegetable Bouquitiere

Black Angus Beef Wellington with Truffled Potatoes and Vegetable Bouquitiere

“Waves Grill” provided very good casual food near the pool, such as burgers and hot dogs, but the menu includes upscale choices like seared tuna burger and salmon burger. There is also a full ice cream bar, where you can also get smoothies made during regular hours.

Enjoying a Smoothie at Waves Grill

Enjoying a Smoothie at Waves Grill

• Specialty Restaurants: “Polo Grill” and “Toscana” were also available with a reservation (editor’s note: 2 nights for suite guests and one night for regular cabins) at no additional charge. As good as the food was, I preferred the Grand Dining Room.

Table at Toscana

Table at Toscana

Bread baskets at Toscana

Bread baskets at Toscana

Olive Oil Cart at Toscanas

Olive Oil Cart at Toscana

Caprese Appetizer at Toscana

Caprese Appetizer at Toscana

Staff: The staff were extremely attentive and friendly (“Your World, Your Way”), and willing to help, and went the extra mile.

Crew's Farewell

Crew’s Farewell (crew of 370 for 684 guests)

Overall:  This was my first time on an “upper premium” cruise ship, and I was very impressed. Just about everything was at least a little better than on the mainstream cruise ships (Princess, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, which recently acquired Oceania and Regent). Some things, like the food, were substantially better on Oceania.

It’s no wonder that many people  we met on this cruise were repeat customers.

 

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