With four small 684-passenger ships and two mid-sized 1,250-passenger vessels, Oceania Cruises is set to call on more than 370 ports in 2017, hitting the high points in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific and Alaska while touching on destinations the bigger ships pass by. More than a hundred of its sailings next year feature new itineraries, and Oceania will call on many ports for its first time ever, ranging from Rijeka, Croatia, to Húsavík, Iceland.
Oceania is noted for its relaxed country club style, friendly service and, above all, its gourmet food. It competes well with true luxury lines — offering Canyon Ranch SpaClub facilities, casinos and suites with butler service — but it is priced well below its high-end rivals. While fares do not include gratuities, shore excursions or liquor and wine, Oceania levies no additional charge at its fine specialty restaurants.
Several cruise industry executives created Oceania as a less pricey but quite elegant alternative to the all-inclusive luxury lines. It emerged as a leading premium operator focused on relaxed cruising (with no formal nights) that delivers a mix of marquee and exotic destinations while maintaining top-notch dining aboard. Its first three 684-passenger ships, Insignia, Nautica and Regatta, were extensively refurbished in 2014 and joined by a nearly identical vessel, Sirena, this year. All four small ships are decorated in “country house” style, with spa, casino, golf facilities, deck games, jogging areas and cabaret entertainment, along with four open-seating restaurants.
Oceania’s two larger 1,250-passenger ships, Marina (launched in 2011) and Riviera (launched in 2012), are more spacious and sail 25 percent faster. Both ships contain more amenities, as well, most notably a Culinary Center (in association with Bon Appétit) consisting of 24 hands-on workstations. Both ships also feature Jacques Pépin’s first restaurant at sea, the aptly named Jacques.
In fact, Oceania is nothing if not a cruise line for foodies. Jacque Pépin has been the line’s culinary director from the beginning. Oceania’s specialty restaurants boast gourmet quality, and the two bigger ships feature not only Pépin’s signature restaurant and the Bon Appétit Culinary Center but also several even more intimate culinary delights, including, in association with Wine Spectator magazine, La Reserve Wine Bar.
In 2017 passengers aboard Marina will have a chance to indulge in Oceania’s gourmet sailing experience to the hilt on the annual Jacques Pépin Cruise. Departing London June 2 on a 10-day cruise, this galleon for gourmets will call on 10 ports in Northern Europe, from France to Denmark. Passengers will be hosted by Pépin himself, who promises to serve special menus, lectures and cooking demonstrations along the way.
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