Cruise Guide: Regatta offers country club ambiance at sea

The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta wowed passengers at every turn during a recent, 14-night Trans-Atlantic voyage from Barcelona to Miami. The ship is in the midst of a series of Caribbean itineraries through April from Miami. She then re-positions to Europe for a host of summer/fall sailings. Photo by Michael Coleman
The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta wowed passengers at every turn during a recent, 14-night Trans-Atlantic voyage from Barcelona to Miami. The ship is in the midst of a series of Caribbean itineraries through April from Miami. She then re-positions to Europe for a host of summer/fall sailings. Photo by Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

It may have been the stand-out Jacques Pepin-inspired cuisine or a Canyon Ranch Spa Club massage. Perhaps it was the personable service or the elegant, country club ambiance.

Maybe it was the Trans-Atlantic itinerary from Barcelona to Miami or the port calls themselves in Morocco, Madeira and Bermuda.

Whatever “it’’ was, passengers recently concluding a 14-night Trans-Atlantic voyage from Barcelona to Miami aboard Oceania Regatta have a host of memorable experiences to reflect upon.

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Onboard: Regatta wows passengers during crossing

Oceania Regatta’s two-level staircase connects guests to the reception area on Deck 4 and the ship’s elegant Upper Hall on Deck 5. Photo by Michael Coleman
Oceania Regatta’s two-level staircase connects guests to the reception area on Deck 4 and the ship’s elegant Upper Hall on Deck 5. Photo by Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman was aboard Oceania Regatta this week as she made her way from Europe to North America. Here’s his latest dispatch:

THE BAHAMAS, Nov. 27, 2009 — It may have been the stand-out Jacques Pepin-inspired cuisine or a Canyon Ranch Spa Club massage. Perhaps it was the personable service or the elegant, country-club ambiance.

Maybe it was the Trans-Atlantic itinerary from Barcelona to Miami — lazy days at sea anyone? — or the port calls themselves in Morocco, Madeira and Bermuda.

Or, it may have been glimpsing Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip as they were escorted through Bermuda’s narrow streets in celebration of that island’s 400th anniversary.

Whatever “it’’ was, passengers concluding a 14-night Trans-Atlantic voyage from Barcelona to Miami have a host of memorable experiences to reflect upon when they disembark the vessel tomorrow.

The 684-passenger, 30,277-ton Regatta has been consistently creating wow moments for passengers since debuting in 2003 (her maiden voyage was in 1998 as a ship in the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises fleet).

And while Regatta and parent company Oceania Cruises bills itself as the word’s first upper premium cruise line, it was abundantly clear to guests on this crossing that she could easily give a number of luxury lines a run for their money.

She features a county-club atmosphere of warmth and elegance complete with many of the amenities one would expect to find at the luxury cruise travel level: excellent service, high-end bedding, open seating dining and multiple, no-charge specialty restaurants.

Heady port calls, most of which are off limits to larger cruise vessels, are also a big part of the Regatta cruise experience.

The ship just recently added Canyon Ranch Spa to the fold, complete with a state-of-the-art fitness center. Look for a special spa culinary menu to debut in 2010.

There are four gourmet restaurants onboard — Polo Grill (steak house), Toscana (Italian), Tapas on the Terrace and Grand Dining Room – under the culinary auspices of master chef Pepin. Look for roasted quail stuffed with black truffle mousseline; grilled Ahi tuna garnished with tomato chutney; or even a King’s Cut, 32-ounce bone-in Prime Rib. A vast onboard collection of vintages from around the world complement Pepin’s varied offerings.

Guests have also enjoyed the ship’s cozy nine bars/lounges. Horizons offers the most sweeping of views on Deck 10 forward and Polo Bar features premium, single malt scotch and full-grain whiskeys.

The ship features a casino, boutiques, library and Internet center.

The pool deck, meanwhile, includes the pool, two whirlpools, a grill and even a milkshake station. Pepin’s freshly-prepared rolls make the choice for a standard hamburger or hot dog a gourmet affair.

Among Regatta’s appealing other amenities: in-suite movies and DVDs are complimentary. Her best kept secret? Lounge chairs on the teak deck off Deck 5 are hardly ever used.

Cocktails in Martini Lounge with Maciek Flont on the piano or an extraordinary show with comedian/magician Harry Maurer, were clearly among the other “it’’ moments during Regatta’s crossing.

Later this week: Regatta and her sisters, Insignia and Nautica, will soon welcome a new ship into their fold.

Onboard: Pepin-inspired cuisine a big hit with Regatta passengers

By Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Oceania Regatta this week as she makes her way from Europe to North America. Here’s the second in a series of dispatches.

The Grand Dining Room aboard Oceania Regatta was the scene today for Sunday Brunch. The ship’s largest dining venue plus Polo Grill, Toscana, and Tapas on the Terrace, are under the culinary direction of famed French chef Jacques Pepin. Photo by Michael Coleman
The Grand Dining Room aboard Oceania Regatta was the scene today for Sunday Brunch. The ship’s largest dining venue plus Polo Grill, Toscana, and Tapas on the Terrace, are under the culinary direction of famed French chef Jacques Pepin. Photo by Michael Coleman
ATLANTIC OCEAN, En Route to Bermuda, Nov. 22, 2009 — When passengers boarded Oceania Regatta a few days ago for their 14-night Barcelona-Miami voyage they did so lured by the promise of long, lazy days at sea.

Such is the joy of Trans-Atlantic travel especially on a luxurious modern cruise ship with its cozy country club ambience and the creature comforts of home.

The days and nights are indeed a bit slower and time, here in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between the Portuguese island of Madeira and Bermuda, seemingly does stand still.

This isn’t exactly a Columbus crossing to the New World, however. Instead, it’s one which traces somewhat romantically in his path and for those cruise aficionados who yearn to be at sea for such long stretches at a time — while being pampered in the process – the Regatta experience is Nirvana.

Culinary Choices
It doesn’t hurt either during our lazy days at sea to be offered spectacular cuisine in a host of nearby dining venues.

Regatta features four no additional-charge gourmet restaurants — the reservations-only Polo Grill (steak house), reservations-only Toscana (Italian), Tapas on the Terrace and Grand Dining Room — under the culinary direction of famed French chef Jacques Pepin. Each is outstanding.

Polo, among a host of choices, features a King’s Cut, 32-ounce bone-in Prime Rib but lesser mortals opt for a host of USDA Prime steaks (dry-aged a minimum of 28 days) or seafood offerings. Look for whole Maine lobster or Pepin’s signature dish: a herb-roasted rotisserie free range chicken. Starters include shrimp, oysters, escargot, crab or warm Foie Gras followed by soups and salads. Pepin desserts are not to be missed.

In Toscana, look for more menu choices than in any of Regatta’s restaurants. Fresh pastas, veal, steaks and Maine lobster are prepared with an Italian flare and purpose.

Tapas, meanwhile, features sushi, salads, pastas and carving stations, nightly. Guests can opt to dine inside or on the aft veranda.

The Grand Dining Room, meanwhile, features an ever-changing menu although steak, salmon and chicken can be ordered, nightly.

Rounding out the culinary journey aboard Regatta is 24-hour room service, a pool grill with standard American fare, and a busy pool-side milkshake station. Tea is served promptly at 4 p.m., daily.

Today, guests enjoyed an additional culinary experience. Sunday Brunch in the Grand Dining Room featured a host of traditional favorites, albeit with Pepin’s flare, plus Champagne and Mimosa’s as a live string quartet performed during the three-and-a-half-hour time frame in which it was offered.

– Later this week: A closer look at the 684-passenger, 30,277-ton Regatta.

Onboard: Pampered Regatta guests primed for trans-Atlantic crossing

The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta departs Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, Wednesday en route across the Atlantic Ocean to Miami. Photo by Michael Coleman
The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta departs Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, Wednesday en route across the Atlantic Ocean to Miami. Photo by Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is aboard Oceania Regatta this week as she makes her way from Europe to North America. Here’s the first in a series of dispatches.

FUNCHAL, Madeira, Nov. 18, 2009 — Guests aboard the 684-passenger Oceania Regatta left this dramatic, sun-drenched Portuguese island outpost today primed to begin a Trans-Atlantic voyage to Miami.

Few cruise travelers, even in this modern era, ever get a chance to enjoy such a feat. Fewer still are afforded the opportunity on such an elegant vessel.

Guests aboard the 30,277-ton Regatta, this week and next, will accomplish both all the while enjoying the ship’s relaxed, country club ambiance. She will now spend the next six nights at sea en route to the pink-sand shores of Bermuda.

Since departing Barcelona, Saturday, guests have been busy exploring the ship’s nine-passenger decks, sizing up its nine bars/lounges or participating in a host of daily activities.

There are four gourmet restaurants onboard — Polo Grill (steak house), Toscana (Italian), Tapas on the Terrace and Grand Dining Room – under the culinary auspices of famed French chef Jacques Pepin. Each is outstanding.

The ship also features a Canyon Ranch Spa, complete with salon, gym and weight room. The pool deck includes a pool, two whirlpools, a grill and the ship’s guiltiest of pleasures: a milkshake station.

Also onboard: a casino, boutiques, library and Internet center. In-suite movies and DVDs are complimentary.

Regatta’s parent, Oceania Cruises, touts itself as a “premium’’ cruise line — a step or two above mass market and one below luxury — but it’s abundantly clear to all onboard that Regatta easily could give a host of luxury lines a run for their money . . . Trans-Atlantic crossing or otherwise.

Later this week: A closer look at Pepin’s mouth-watering cuisine.

Follow us aboard Oceania Regatta as we sail to the ‘New World’

Image courtesy Michael Coleman
Image courtesy Michael Coleman

The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta, pictured here docked Monday in Tangier, Morocco, is in the midst of a 14-night Trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to Miami. Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard and will be posting dispatches from the ship in this space over the next two weeks as she sails on a “Journey to the New World.’’