By Michael Coleman
Oceania Cruises’ stylish new 1,258-guest flagship, Marina, was unveiled this week in Italy.
Although her inaugural voyage is still 10 months away, the debut has cruise aficionados abuzz as Marina, Oceania’s first-ever new ship, will feature an array of elegant accommodations, bars, lounges and dining venues.
Oceania presently operates three, 684-passenger ships — Regatta, Insignia and Nautica – each a former vessel in the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises fleet. Over the course of the past half-decade, Oceania has carved a successful niche in the upper-premium cruise travel category and has enjoyed a loyal following.
Marina guest accommodations are comprised of 629 staterooms and suites, 96 percent of which feature private verandas. The 65,000-ton, 16-deck vessel (11 passenger decks) will also include a Bon AppÃ©tit Culinary Center, Owner’s Suites exclusively furnished with Ralph Lauren Home, a Grand Stairway and lobby area custom-crafted by Lalique and a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub and fitness center.
Marina, however, was purposefully designed for epicureans in mind. Look for 10 dining venues, including six open-seating, gourmet restaurants including Jacques, the first restaurant at sea for Chef Jacques PÃ©pin.
PÃ©pin’s namesake restaurant will draw inspiration from bistros in his home town of Lyon and the fabled bistros of Paris.
The ship will also feature a state-of-the-art culinary studio with fully-equipped individual work stations, each with induction cook tops, a first at sea, affording guests the opportunity to gain a hands-on learning experience.
Oceania Cruises’ curriculum, designed in part by Bon AppÃ©tit, will appeal to a wide range of tastes and incorporate regional cultures and cuisines. Depending on the itinerary, classes may range from 45 minutes to three hours, and cater to all levels of aptitude, from beginner to master-chef level. The culinary experience will also be brought ashore with market tours where guests will shop for local ingredients with the chef.
Marina will also introduce Red Ginger, a Pan-Asian specialty restaurant featuring Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine. Red Ginger will offer both traditional and fusion dishes amid comfortable, visually stunning surroundings, with seating for just 126.
The Canyon Ranch SpaClub, meanwhile, will feature a visually stunning state-of-the-art spa, wellness and fitness facility, plus a luxurious full-service beauty salon. SpaClub will offer a host of spa amenities from 16 massage, body and skin-care treatment rooms, a gym and weight room with more than 50 pieces of cardio and weight training equipment to a juice bar, men’s and women’s locker rooms, thalassotherapy pool, two whirlpools and Thermal Suite.
Marina’s inaugural voyage is a 13-day transatlantic crossing, beginning January 22, 2011 from Barcelona to Miami.
Company officials are so pleased with the debut of Marina – even before a single passenger has enjoyed her amenities – they have approved the construction of a sister-ship, Riviera, scheduled to debut in April, 2012.
Oceania visits more than 300 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the Americas each year.
On the Web: oceaniacruises.com