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Oceania Cruises: Insignia

Insignia Review

Originally built in 1998 as the first of a series of eight ships for Renaissance Cruises, which ceased operations in 2001, the former R1 was acquired by Oceania Cruises and launched as Insignia in 2003. After refurbishment in 2010, the ship retained its original mid-size ambience with an increased emphasis on cuisine and enrichment programs.

Carefully furnished to impart the atmosphere of a private English country manor, these midsize ships are casual yet elegant, with sweeping central staircases and abundant flower arrangements. Brocade and toile fabrics window coverings, overstuffed sofas, and wing chairs create a warm and intimate feeling throughout. The entire effect is that of a weekend retreat in the English countryside.

Authentic-looking faux fireplaces are adjacent to cozy seating areas in the Grand Bar, near the martini bar's grand piano, and in the beautiful libraries—some of the best at sea, with an enormous selection of best sellers, nonfiction, and travel books. The casinos are quite small and can feel cramped, and smoking is prohibited. Though there may be a wait for a seat at a poker table, there are enough slot machines to go around.

Other than decorative trompe-l'oeil paintings in several public areas, the artwork is unremarkable.

This distinctive cruise line was founded by Frank Del Rio and Joe Watters, cruise-industry veterans with the know-how to satisfy the wants of inquisitive passengers. By offering itineraries to interesting ports of call and upscale touches—all for fares much lower than you would expect—they are succeeding quite nicely. Oceania Cruises set sail in 2003 to carve a unique, almost boutique niche in the cruise industry by obtaining midsize R-class ships that formerly made up the popular Renaissance Cruises fleet. The line is now owned by Prestige Cruise Holdings.

Intimate and cozy public spaces reflect the importance of socializing on Oceania ships. Indoor lounges feature numerous conversation areas, and even the pool deck is a social center. The Patio is a shaded slice of deck adjacent to the pool and hot tubs. Defined by billowing drapes and carpeting underfoot, it is furnished with plush sofas and chairs ideal for relaxation.

Thickly padded single and double loungers are arranged around the pool, but if more privacy appeals to you, private cabanas are available for rent. Each one has a double chaise longue with a view of the sea; overhead drapery can be drawn back for sunbathing, and the side panels can be left open or closed. Waiters are on standby to offer chilled towels or serve occupants with beverages or snacks. In addition, you can request a spa service in your cabana.

Varied, destination-rich itineraries are an important characteristic of Oceania Cruises, and most sailings are in the 10- to 12-night range.

What You Should Know


  • A relaxed, social atmosphere pervades all areas on board
  • The lobby staircase is a must-see—it's practically identical to the one in the movieTitanic
  • On board, you’ll find some of the most lavish afternoon teas at sea


  • Shipboard charges can add up fast, because drink prices and even Internet services are on the high side
  • There is only one self-serve laundry room
  • The absence of a sauna in the spa is an unfortunate oversight
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 400
  • Entered Service 1998
  • Gross Tons 30,277
  • Length 594 feet
  • Number of Cabins 342
  • Passenger Capacity 684 (824 max)
  • Width 84 feet

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