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.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.
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.