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Oceania Cruises and its fleet of six (soon to be seven) ships bridge many categories—small to medium vessels; premium to luxury. The cruise line’s forthcoming renovations include the reimagining of Oceania’s Marina, which will help bridge it from a traditional upscale atmosphere to something a bit more modern. What’s undeniable about the brand is its dedication to and passion for the culinary arts, which is evidenced across Marina’s nine dining venues.Read More
The culinary team behind Oceania Cruises continues to innovate, bringing new dining concepts to existing ships, such as Marina, while considering passenger feedback (the lasagna was once removed from Toscana’s menu and there was nearly a mutiny). These innovations span the trendy—smoking cocktails—to technical, as chefs consider the best-quality ingredients and how to source the best cuts of meat for a cruise ship that sails with more than 1,000 guests.
Beyond the excitement surrounding mealtimes, Oceania is also known for keeping itineraries fresh; Marina alone can zigzag from the Baltic Sea across Europe into South America and then onward to Antarctica in a single year. Touring and dining aside, the ambiance onboard Marina is relaxed. Children are welcome, but if they’re onboard they are the exception on a ship best suited to older adults. Marina is one of the few ships left sporting a sizable library that is both attractive and inviting in its design and substantial in its collection.
While quiet coffee counters and library nooks with faux fireplaces are likely to appeal to some, others will find the nightlife on Marina a bit lacking after 8 p.m. or so. Live music, nightly theater shows, and late-night karaoke attempt to keep the party going, but especially on a port-intensive itinerary, the crowd begins to fizzle out on the earlier side.
Still, Oceania’s Marina offers a comfortable way to travel to the corners of the earth, especially for those that like to taste its flavors along the way. A state-of-the-art culinary center onboard invites guests to immerse themselves in the process of cooking as well as the indulgence of eating. While steak and lobster still remain hallmarks of cruise fine dining, Oceania Cruises has evolved in recent years to embrace vegan specialties on its main dining menus.
An effort to bring new tours to the Oceania clientele, in categories such as “Go Local,” or “Go Green,” signifies an effort by the cruise line to connect the in-destination experience to something more personal as well as personalize it to more guests. Of course, it wouldn’t be Oceania Cruises without “Culinary Discovery” or “Food and Wine” excursions, which highlight unique epicurean experiences.
Inclusions like nonalcoholic drinks, specialty dining, and fitness classes make Oceania Cruises a good value.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What to expect on board
Staterooms & Cabins
There is a room for everyone onboard Oceania’s Marina, from expansive suites with wrapping balconies to cozy interior cabins (but no studio cabins). A great feature located on each passenger deck are launderettes, open and available to any passenger wanting to wash or dry attire during operating hours. Certain stateroom categories have dedicated lounges offering cold drinks, snacks, coffee or concierge services, and these are discreetly tucked away on each respective passenger deck, accessed by key card.
Each and every cabin features an interactive TV; mini-fridge with complimentary soft drinks; Vero still or sparkling water in refillable bottles; a safe; a hair dryer; cotton robes and slippers; wi-fi access; and Bulgari toiletries.
There are four categories of suites onboard Oceania’s Marina, ranging in size from 440 to more than 2,000 square feet. Found on all passenger decks, including all-suite Deck 12, Marina’s suites are well appointed and every category comes with butler service. Your butler offers a host of services, from serving afternoon tea in your cabin and bringing your favorite canapés each afternoon to booking reservations and handling laundry services. All suites come with a menu of perks from a complimentary shoe shine to use of an iPad while onboard.
Penthouse Suites begin at 440 square feet and are lovely, with fresh flowers, a dining table, spacious seating area, and walk-in closet. A nice touch is a selection of bath salts for rooms that include a soaking tub.
Oceania Suites jump up to 1,000 square feet, with more living space including a dining room, larger balcony, and king-sized bed. Indoor and outdoor whirlpool spa baths are just some of the lavish touches in these suites, which also feature daily fruit baskets, a second guest bathroom, and complimentary in-suite bar setup with six full-size bottles of premium spirits or wine.
There are eight Vista Suites, all in a prime location overlooking the bow or front of the ship. Ranging from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet, these little apartments feature dreamy balconies with incredible views as well as a private fitness room—in addition to the stunning, spacious marble bathroom, whirlpool tubs, king-sized bed, and the rest.
Each one of Marina’s three Owner’s Suites is furnished by Ralph Lauren Home, with exclusive fabrics and artwork. Measuring 2,000 square feet, you could comfortably stay in your suite for the duration. This stateroom has its own foyer and music room, double sinks in the main bathroom, and enviable amenities like the option to have a private lunch served in your suite on embarkation day.
There are three categories of ocean view cabins on Marina: Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom, Deluxe Oceanview, and Veranda Stateroom. Spread across nearly every passenger deck, from 7 to 11, oceanview rooms are the most abundant on Marina, sporting a balcony or a large window. The Deluxe Oceanview starts off at 240 square feet, and in place of a chintzy porthole, it features floor-to-ceiling windows with a small seating area. Veranda staterooms start at 291 square feet and feature a balcony with two chairs and a small table.
The Concierge Level Veranda is the same size as a standard veranda stateroom but introduces select suite amenities, including a concierge and a dedicated lounge; complimentary snacks, drinks, and newspapers; an expanded room service menu; three free bags of laundry; priority embarkation; access to the spa terrace; welcome Champagne and more.
There are a handful of inside cabins onboard Marina, scattered across Decks 8, 9, and 10. These 174-square-foot rooms provide luxury on a bit of a budget, with a vanity desk, plush bed, and marble and granite bathroom with shower.
There are six cabins onboard Oceania’s Marina designated as accessible. Midship on Deck 7, there are two balcony cabins as well as two oceanview cabins that are wheelchair accessible. On Deck 10, near the midship elevators, are two inside cabins that are accommodating to wheelchair users, with wider doorframes and more space to maneuver in the room. The suites onboard Oceania’s Marina are spacious, and many come with bathtubs, but they are not specifically designated as accessible staterooms.
Food & Drink
Pleasing your tastebuds is where Oceania Cruises truly shines, and onboard Marina, the cruise line succeeds in this regard in a number of ways. Oceania Cruises’ executive culinary director, Jacques Pepin, is a renowned French chef and the flavors of France are at the forefront at Jacques, one of the fine-dining restaurants onboard Marina—order the fish in puff pastry. The service continues to shine at Toscana, a Tuscan-inspired Italian venue with a cart dedicated just to olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Polo Grill is the de facto surf-and-turf steakhouse with Caesar salad prepared tableside, but, strangely, service suffered the most here. Red Ginger earns high marks for a low-lit moody ambiance and inventive pan-Asian menu, which includes a robust tea selection and the option to choose your own chopsticks. The best part? All guests have the ability to dine at the ship’s specialty restaurants free of charge.
Marina takes specialty dining a step further with Privee, a private dining experience for small parties tucked away between Toscana and Polo Grill on Deck 14 (made by reservation and for an extra fee). Additionally, guests who are game for yet another extravagant meal can pair seven rich dishes with wine selections curated by Wine Spectator at La Reserve, a for-fee restaurant that holds the recipe for a romantic evening.
Despite plentiful restaurants, passengers onboard Marina do not need to make a reservation to enjoy a delightful, multi-course meal. Oceania Cruises has always stood out for its high standard of quality in its main dining rooms, which is complemented by sparkling chandeliers and an elegant atmosphere. The Grand Dining Room is open nightly for dinner, most days for breakfast and occasionally for lunch, depending on the itinerary. The selection is impressive, and includes at least six vegan options at each meal, soups, salads, starters and menus of mains that range from a spa-inspired wellness selection to a daily international cuisine (Indian or Greek, for example). You could eat in the Grand Dining Room every night and not eat the same thing twice. In addition, service here is strong. The size and location of the Grand Dining Room allows guests to request two-tops or larger tables, with a good number of tables affording ocean or port views.
The Terrace Grill is one of the casual dining venue onboard Marina, located on Deck 12, but casual does not mean fast food. Arranged buffet-style, stations offer hot dishes, salads, sushi, bread, pastries, and even steak and lobster. There is an outdoor seating area here, which allows guests to take in al fresco dining in good weather. The Waves Grill is another casual option, located by the pool. It serves quick to-go breakfast options in the morning, plus an omelet station, and a la minute grilled sandwiches and salads in the afternoon. To the left of Waves Grill in the morning, guests will find a hidden gem of free pressed juices, smoothies, and bowls, with plenty of dairy-free options. In the afternoon, come here to cool off with an ice cream or sorbet. Oceania partners with gourmet ice cream company Humphrey Slocombe, and a rotation of surprising flavors like black sesame can be found here, in the Terrace Grill, and also on the dessert menu in the Grand Dining Room.
An expanded room service menu offers items like avocado toast for breakfast, alongside a 24-hour menu with plates, snacks, and sweets for any craving. Oceania Cruises does not charge for room service; guests in suites have the ability to order room service from specialty restaurants.
There is a lot to applaud regarding the dining program across Oceania Cruises and onboard Marina, but perhaps one of the most important aspects is accommodating dietary restrictions. By account of other guests with various dietary needs, Oceania receives high marks for handling requirements like sodium-free with aplomb, providing guests the option to discuss menus in advance with the chefs onboard.
The most popular bar onboard Marina is Martinis on Deck 6, serving up an entire menu of its namesake cocktail in eye-catching glassware. La Reserve Wine Bar is a tucked-away place for enjoying your favorite vintage. Other bars onboard are relatively generic, serving a full menu of drinks, from the classics to tipples with a modern twist. The Casino Bar, adjacent to the casino, has a separate entrance with a pink neon glow by night; it seems like a wasted opportunity for this space not to have its own dedicated menu or at least a featured cocktail, but the same drink menu is served at nearly all bars onboard, with the exception of Martinis.
Other bars of note include Waves Bar, which is by the pool and the place for frozen blended concoctions; Baristas on Deck 14 overlooks the pool deck and while it serves espresso drinks by day, it specializes in aperitifs by night; and Horizons, all the way up on Deck 15, is the place to dance the night away.
Alcoholic drinks are not included in the price of an Oceania Cruises’ vacation, but a variety of drink packages are available for purchase, depending on what beverages you plan to imbibe during the sailing. Nightly happy hours are held around the ship. Lucky for coffee-lovers, your daily latte never comes with a charge on Oceania’s ships.
On port-intensive itineraries, the entertainment is the destination. This enrichment is best bridged with Marina’s onboard culinary and art classes, held in dedicated, purpose-built studios called the Culinary Center and Artist Loft, respectively. These small-group classes offer the expertise of an artist-in-residence and a dedicated culinary advisor to not only hone painting or cooking skills, but to connect with the destination through self-expression—and of course, our stomachs. (The Culinary Center classes require a reservation and additional fee.) Select itineraries provide guests with the opportunity to book a tour that incorporates a local market or in-destination shopping element with a culinary course that teaches them to prepare local specialties using fresh ingredients that they might have purchased themselves in port.
In the realm of traditional, onboard evening entertainment, Marina struggles to stand out. Nightlife is a bit sleepy, with a pianist at the martini bar and a house band upstairs in the lounge. The nightly theater shows consist of featured guest artists who typically perform twice throughout the sailing, or the ship’s cast of singers and dancers who put on two to three generic variety shows on a 10-night voyage. A featured vocalist and musician who had performed on stage in London’s West End drew a strong repeat crowd, however a ventriloquist on a ship primarily full of older adults felt like a weak casting decision. Unfortunately, the original theater shows were no better with broad, unimaginative themes and performances that fell flat.
A small, dedicated group of guests could be found at the twice-daily trivia sessions. General trivia with a pre-dinner drink at Martinis is a pleasant way as any to kick off an evening, while another trivia session just before the theater show (typically themed to tie in with the show) was a clever way to draw in crowds for the stage performance. If guests need yet another reason to participate in events around the ship, like trivia, Oceania has a program called “O points” across its fleet that distributes points for participation. At the end of each cruise, passengers can “cash in” points for a variety of prizes, like branded tumblers, umbrellas, or even windbreakers, for the big winners.
Spa & Fitness
The Aquamar Spa and Vitality Center is the headquarters for wellness onboard Marina and is home to the ship’s spa and fitness center. The staff at the front desk are helpful, answering questions and explaining treatments, which guests rave about. One caveat: You might be so relaxed after a 90-minute aromastone massage that you accidentally tip 20 percent on top of the automatic 20 percent gratuity and have to make an embarrassing phone call later.
Unique treatments offered at Aquamar include a coconut poultice massage and a caviar facial. Included with each booked treatment is access to a sauna and steam room, which are located within the changing room of each gender (male/female). Spa guests also have access to a relaxation room with heated ceramic loungers and sea views, typically used while waiting for treatments. However, an outdoor spa terrace with a hot tub is private and only accessible to guests in certain categories of staterooms or with an additional fee. In addition to massages, facials, and medi-spa treatments, the spa includes a styling salon for hair and nail appointments.
Marina’s fitness facility is stocked with machines, though the space seems a little cramped, and the orientation of the machines is a bit awkward as only one wall features windows. The aerobics room is a bit more spacious, and a Kinesis exercise wall features cables and pulleys. Complimentary fitness classes are available each day, which range from sunrise yoga to core conditioning.
The fitness track for walking/jogging is on Deck 15 but is confined to the back of the ship, which means it is small and takes multiple laps to reach a mile. Also on Deck 15 is shuffleboard, croquet, and bocce courts. Take the stairs to the very top of the ship, on Deck 16 (also known as the Sports Deck), for paddle tennis, a putting green, and sun loungers for those who don’t wish to be active.
Key cruising tips
Health & Safety
Under Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Oceania Cruises participates in the SailSafe program, which employed enhanced safety measures for guests and crew throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As of September 3, 2022, fully vaccinated passengers are no longer required to test prior to boarding; unvaccinated travelers are now welcome to sail Oceania Cruises with a negative test result within 72 hours of boarding (PCR or antigen). Mask-wearing onboard is optional, though guests are encouraged to review their individual itinerary in order to comply with potential local regulations, which could include mandatory masks and/or proof of vaccination.
Oceania Cruises’ ships are intended to be “floating five-star hotels,” according to long-time SVP of Hotel Operations, Franco Semeraro. As such, you’ll find that fellow guests stick to a version of country club casual during the day. There are no designated formal nights, but most passengers dress up for evenings onboard. Jeans, shorts, sneakers, and T-shirts are discouraged at dinner, particularly in the specialty restaurants such as Polo Grill or Jacques. If a guest wishes to stay casual for dinner, they can dine at the buffet-style Terrace Cafe.
Children are welcome onboard Oceania Cruises, though there are no dedicated kids’ clubs or activities designated for junior cruisers. Children must be 6 months old to board; 12 months if there are three or more consecutive days at sea. Guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18 in their stateroom as well as on all Oceania Cruises-sponsored shore excursions.
The crew onboard Oceania’s Marina are extremely accommodating and service levels are kept relatively consistent throughout the ship. There is a certain standard of formality onboard, which encompasses each crew member stopping to say “good morning/afternoon/evening” during every interaction. You can also expect freshly ground pepper to be offered at almost every course of all meals—to the point of satire. A fellow guest observed that her water glass never dipped below a certain level, and she was right; servers are unusually attentive, especially in the Grand Dining Room.
A $16 gratuity is added per person, per day for gratuities on Oceania Cruises. Guests in suites with butler service are charged $23 per person, per day. An automatic 20 percent gratuity is added to all beverage purchases, spa treatments, and dinner at La Reserve. Tips can be adjusted at the guest’s discretion.