Oceania Cruises Marina Luxury Cruise Review
There is over £4 million in art work on board plus an enchanting chandelier in the atrium that cost around £1.5 million. She is 65,000 tons and holds1, 200 passengers.
Oceania cruises tag line is "your world your way". Unstructured lifestyle with a country club hotel feel - even the decor feels more like a hotel than a ship. The itineraries include many overnight and late night departures. Customers have added the tag ".....the best kept secret in luxury cruising". Oceania Cruises position themselves in the Upper premium standard of ships, and are positioned below ultra luxury (Silversea etc) and above premium (Celebrity Cruises etc). Oceania Cruise is rated above luxury brands by the Berlitz guide to cruising and in the Conde Naste traveler magazine Oceania are on the Gold list. They are voted by Travel Leisure magazine as the 'worlds best', and over 30% of customers also cruise with ultra luxury companies.
I flew with Easy Jet and yet again everything ran smoothly and on time, we had pre booked a transfer to the port and when we arrived at the Oceania Marina check in was very efficient and within no time we were on board. Our cabin steward Sachi introduced himself and showed us the various features available to us in our stateroom, including how to work the air conditioning, in stateroom safe and shower. The cabin was a deluxe outside and not too bad for size and storage space, the large window was floor to ceiling and gave the feeling and ambience of a balcony stateroom, the decor of the stateroom was like the rest of the ship, very tastefully done. Our bathroom was very luxurious with marble and granite; we had a full size bath and separate shower with a very large shower head and plenty of room to manouver. All staterooms on board have luxury Prestige beds, mine was very comfortable, I usually find it hard to sleep on the first night in a new bed but my bed cuddled me and I had an excellent night's sleep. All the staterooms feature dark wood veneers and give a warm enveloping feel. All cabins have DVD's and interactive flat screen TV. 96% of the luxury staterooms on Oceania's new O class ships have verandas. Penthouse suites and above have a personal butler service. Gratuities are added to your on board account and will be $15 per day or $18 for a butler, per person.
My flight had landed at 14:20 so after settling in to my stateroom it was now 4pm and time for afternoon tea. This is served everyday in the Terrace Café with a string quartet playing softly in the background. I had panoramic views of Marseille that were very pleasant. The waiters are very attentive wearing traditional white gloves to serve you at your table or if you prefer you can select your own fare from an impressive display of sandwiches and savory delights with a choice of various teas then select a delicious dessert, or two, from the trolley.
If you have not pre-booked one of the specialty restaurants, dinner is served in the Grand dining room which is the perfect name, the main restaurant is elegantly designed in gold and cream with a fabulous ambience. I have only been on board the ship for four hours and the head waiter from afternoon tea addressed me by my name, this made me feel very special, the waiters and sommeliers are so attentive my first dinner was excellent. Oceania cruises have the highest spend per person on fresh food ingredients and serve 28-day aged steaks that just melt in your mouth, my first dinner onboard exceeded my expectations.
Terrace Café is the self-service restaurant, the floor is so shiny you can see you face in it. Breakfast and lunch is served up here buffet style but still with waiters if you need them, they have a very good choice of hot and cold dishes, due to the small size of the serving platters the food always tasted freshly prepared and was hot. The staff onboard are so attentive they even carry your plate to your table. The tables have linen napkins, cutlery and glasses set. I ate lunch and breakfast in here every day at various times and there was never a queue or any problem in finding a table.
First night Entertainment I had the options of Movies under the Stars showing Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguilera, the Velvet Edge band and a game show in Horizon Lounge, Piano music in Martinis or my choice which was in the Marina Lounge which featured dance music with the Mark Show band followed by Des and Cherry King, an excellent comedy magic act from the UK. They we very funny and received a standing ovation. Oceania provides a varied entertainment programme; while I was on board we had a top male vocalist from Wales, a fabulous Harpist and a themed production show featuring the resident singers and dancers. Around the ship you will find other types of music including a Piano player, live band and disco music late at night in the Horizon lounge.
One of my favorite places on board was the Baristas Coffee Bar serving complimentary specialty coffees and snacks. Baristas overlooks the pool so you can enjoy your coffee with panoramic views, or if you prefer you can take it to the nearby library, a very innovative idea of a selection of private alcoves each set up like a country house drawing room with leather chairs and some even have a fireplace.
Even with 1,200 other passengers there were no queues anywhere - and that includes the reception desk - due to the fact that there is enough staff to deal with the enquiries. I also never had a problem getting a deck chair around the swimming pool, unlike some other ships there is plenty of space between the comfortable chairs around a very inviting swimming pool, and there is even a couple of whirlpools.
Some ports have tenders, and after arrival (for a short while) you disembark using a ticket system, this meant that you could wait in the comfort of the Marina lounge. Not long after the tenders start there is an announcement telling you that you can go straight to deck four to board the tenders.
There is a very good activity program that includes the new Bon Appétit Culinary Center- it is the only hands-on cooking school at sea. She has a new enrichment centre where artists-in-residence teach photography and art in the Artists Loft. Canyon Ranch spa is on board alongside a very well equipped gym.
Marina has intimate lounges and staterooms, and suites in every category are incredibly spacious, especially with regard to the lavish bathrooms. All the staff receive extensive training and many have worked for the company since it started. I can confirm that as soon as you board you can tell that the staff are probably some of the best you will find on any ship.
Oceania Marina has a total of 10 dining venues to give her guests an excellent fine dining experience with no surcharge. All restaurants are open dining, and she has four specialty restaurants on board with no cover charge. Toscana serves traditional Italian featuring plates that were designed by Versace costing €300 each. Toscana has various paintings commissioned by Oceania from the Chilean artist Benitas.
Red Ginger is an experience not to be missed. Here you will find Asian fusion in a great atmosphere, with Ferrari red leather chairs specially made for the Marina (I highly recommend the Sea Bass). Jaques is the signature restaurant for the famous chef Jaques Pepin; I didn't eat in there but this is where you are served fine food from Provence French cuisine.
The Polo Grill serves steak that includes a slow cooked, 28-day aged, 32oz King Prime Rib of Beef braised in water at 58 degrees for 8 hours! This is another treat not to be missed and in my opinion you will not find a better steak anywhere at se. The Short Rib of Beef Sauvite is cooked for 72 hours at 63 degrees. The Lobster Bisque is up with the best too.
La Reserve costs $89 pp and includes different wine with every course. Privee is a private room for up to 8 people, it costs $1,000 for the room, it has a beautiful solid White onyx table and eight amazing white chairs placed around with a panoramic view from the large window. You hand-pick your own menu with the executive chef and dine using cutlery that costs $1,000 each.
Everyone can eat once per cruise in each specialty restaurant, and if you are in an Oceania suite you can dine there twice. It is possible to pre-book any of these restaurants before the cruise which is advisable as they are very popular and the ideal place to eat if you are celebrating a special occasion. It is sometimes possible to speak to the Maitre'D and you may be able to make further reservations.
I had a wonderful cruise on Oceania Mariana and would recommend it for couples between 45 and 65 who like fine food and elegant surroundings where they will be made to feel special without being to intrusive. Oceania is luxury without the pomp and circumstance.
Written by Jacqui Ridler