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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.

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