|Marina entered service in February and has such touches as a Jacques Pépin-branded restaurant.|
Oceania’s Marina is a sleek new entrant to the world of upscale cruising. On a three-day voyage that followed the 1,250-passenger Marina’s christening in Miami, the new ship hosted 500 luxury travel advisors and a variety of other VIPs.
Mary Jean Tully, chairman and CEO of The Cruise Professionals, told Luxury Travel
Advisor that the vessel exceeded her expectations.
“Since this was a brand-new ship, I expected a lot of bells and whistles but I never expected the attention to detail that was evident everywhere,” she said. Furthermore, she said the suites “are the best I have ever seen,” even comparing them favorably with ships in the luxury sector.
“The artwork and the colorful landscape throughout the ship were tasteful on every level,” she continued. “Many of the public rooms look like a very exclusive private club. The rich tones are masculine and the railings on the staircases are exceptional. It was nice getting away from the typical brass railings that you see everywhere.”
Tully also told us she felt the dining venues were well thought out in both ambiance and menu selection, and that the various bars on the ship went from “funky chic” to traditional.
Bottom line, said Tully, “I know that Oceania is typically port intensified, however, this is a ship that one would want to spend more time on. Oceania markets itself as ‘four-star premium’ line and it will have no problem securing that title based on this new ship.”
|The Purple Bar, just outside the ship’s casino, serves a mix of varied cocktails.|
As for Luxury Travel Advisor’s impressions of the Marina, we found the wow factor level to be high. We loved the way the ship’s wood-paneled library, filled with elegantly staged nooks and leather club chairs and a fireplace, flowed neatly into Baristas, where flavored coffees, espresso and cordials were served from 6:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. Baristas, in turn, flowed into the [email protected] Computer Center, where computers are available 24/7.
We also toured the ship’s Bon Appetit Culinary Center, which we thought would be fine entertainment for a day at sea. We felt the culinary center, however, overshadowed an even more fun venue, The Studio, where arts and crafts, watercolor and needlepoint classes are given. We also found Canyon Ranch Spa to be a great, pampering getaway; it sits way up on Deck 14.
New to us was the concept of a concierge lounge on the ninth floor, a cozy, elegant space where two computers were available, as were cold drinks, current magazines and an attendant who was available to make reservations onboard and on land for us.
Our cabin (No. 9097, a Concierge Veranda Suite) had a comfortable balcony that complemented a fairly spacious living and sleeping area. We loved the large and relaxing tub in the bathroom, too.
Perhaps best of all was our room’s mid-ship location, which provided for incredibly smooth sailing. In fact, the ship was so motionless in transit that we popped up one night to see if we were moving at all! (We were.) The mattress and bedding linens were also particularly comfortable compared to other cruise lines’ we’ve experienced.
Dinner in the Grand Dining Room was an elegant affair, but our favorite option was Toscana, the Italian restaurant whose very attentive service starts with the offer of an olive oil menu that includes a selection of impressive balsamic vinegars. We lunched one day at Red Ginger, the ship’s Asian restaurant, whose lovely tea menu provided a long list of choices (we recommend the ginger lemongrass tea). The wine list also serves up a diverse selection of sakes.
Jacques Pépin was on the christening cruise to debut his first-ever restaurant, aptly called, Jacques. Meeting the great chef was a thrill. Dining in his restaurant was a delight; it felt like a true bistro experience in France. (Hint: Try the Dover sole.)
Polo Grill is the steakhouse on Marina, which we didn’t sample, but which was also getting great reviews by fellow passengers.
(Tip: Highest-end clients might want to book La Reserve by Wine Spectator, a private dining venue that provides intimate service and posh wine-pairing dinners.)
Our favorite “hot spot” on the ship might seem an obvious choice; it is the purple bar just outside the casino. While its vibe was sheer fun, we enjoyed the selections on the wine list (think La Crema Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast in California and Estate Turnbull, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon). We also were taken in by the “Big O Martini,” comprised of Grey Goose Vodka L’Orange, Cointreau, orange, cranberry and fresh lime juice.
Like Tully of The Cruise Professionals, Marina also impressed Troy Haas, president of Brownell Travel. “The overall impression is one of a high-end home vs. a traditional cruise décor,” he told us. “Oceania gets high marks for building a unique product that clients love, and one that is also a profitable sale, especially as compared to the premium lines. This is a product our advisors can sell with confidence.”
Haas also raved about another important amenity: “Oceania does a very nice job with their documents,” he said. “They get the fact that documents are an exciting touch point for our travelers, creating excitement for the last weeks prior to the trip. And, of course, we do not have to grind through the hassle of online documents as with the [other] premium brands.”
|The Three Owner’s Suites have furnishings by Ralph Lauren Home.|