The line that lays claim to “the best cuisine at sea” sent its newest refurbished ship to Sydney this week – and revealed why Australia is now its biggest second market.
Fresh from a $35 million facelift, Oceania Insignia is the new face of the line that now claims Australians as its second biggest customers.
She is making her way round the globe on a 180-day world cruise from New York to Miami.
The 684-passenger Insignia is the first of Oceania Cruises’ R-class vessels to undergo this major refurbishment as part of the Oceania NEXT initiative. The US$100 million ($140 million) upgrade will transform three other ships, including the Sirena, to be refurbished by May this year, Regatta in September and Nautica in June 2020.
OceaniaNEXT is the most comprehensive upgrade of the line’s suites, staterooms, public areas, restaurants, lounges and bars, all designed to give the ships a more contemporary and elegant feel.
Everywhere, the décor is stylish and the colours of the carpets and soft furnishings lighter, muted and classic. The most outstanding feature is the immense, contemporary chandelier at the Grand Dining Room with Versace plates and beautiful beige chairs. The chandeliers at the grand staircase and Martinis bar are equally stunning.
The Vista Suite is particularly attractive. It has a separate sitting area, bedroom and generous balcony with a sun lounge, table and chairs. The marble bathroom with Bulgari toiletries are an added bonus. I can easily cruise the world staying in a Vista suite.
We dined at Toscana which serves fine Italian cuisine and indulged in lobster with Daikon and caviar, a provolone-stuffed pasta purses with butternut squash cream, a choice of mains which included Den Miso Glazed Sea Bass, medium-roasted beef tenderloin with black truffle and foie gras demi-glace and a Mediterranean vegetable tart tatin. The four-course meal finished off with a delicious Papuan chocolate volcano with caramel lava – absolutely wicked but so yummy. Petits Fours and macaroons accompanied by Illy coffee completed the delicious meal.
“The refurbishment of our R-class fleet is just the beginning,” Mr Steve Odell, senior vice president and managing director Asia Pacific said. “The next OceaniaNEXT program will also see Oceania Cruises’ O-class 1250-guest vessels, Riviera and Marina, debut their new owner’s suites – the only suites at sea furnished exclusively by luxe label Ralph Lauren Home – in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
“This is an incredible achievement for the line. The secret is that as a cruise experience, Oceania suits the Australian lifestyle and culture with most Australians loving the casual atmosphere with no jacket or tie required on board. It is very much like the way we live at home.
“We are also a nation of foodies and love our food and wine and when we travel, we like that as well. Oceania is renowned for delivering the Finest Cuisine at Sea,” he said.
The line is also building two new, next generation Allura-class ships to accommodate 1200 guests each to be delivered in 2022 and 2025.