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Formed in 2002 by cruise industry veterans Joe Watters (formerly of Crystal Cruises) and Frank Del Rio (formerly of Renaissance Cruises), Miami-based Oceania Cruises has set out to establish itself as best in class for cuisine, destination-oriented itineraries, and outstanding value. Oceania positions itself as a five-star product with a pair of mid-size ships, the Regatta and the Insignia, acquired from the one-time Renaissance fleet, with each receiving an extensive stem-to-stern revamp. Onboard atmosphere is relaxed and reminiscent of understated club elegance. Guests enjoy the flexibility of four open-seating restaurants, to dine when, where and with whom they choose. Five- star menus are crafted under supervision of Jacques Pépin, the line’s executive culinary director and one of America’s best known chefs. Oceania itineraries, in Scandinavia, Mexico, the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and the Panama Canal are tailored to include many overnight port stays allowing guests more time to immerse themselves in local flavor. In winter 2003/2004, Regatta sets sail from Miami, Los Angeles and Puerto Caldera to captivating ports such as Gustavia on the island of Saint Barts, Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, Port Antonio in Jamaica, and Guatemala’s Puerto Quetzal. In 2004, Oceania also introduces Insignia, joining Regatta in Europe. Insignia debuts on April 3, sailing a 10-day inaugural voyage between Barcelona and Athens. On what’s to be the annual Chairman’s Cruise, a 14-day “Footsteps of History” voyage sets sail on July 22 from London to Lisbon with Oceania Chairman Joe Watters and wife Virginia. Also booked aboard is Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian David McCullough, author of John Adams, Truman, and The Path Between the Seas.
Regatta (the former R2) and sister ship Insignia (the former R1), have a country club at sea atmosphere after some $12 million in upgrades. These relaxed, comfortable vessels are devoid of formality so that guests can leave gowns and tuxes back home. Activity aboard ranges from lectures by world-renowned experts and recitals by virtuoso musicians to computer classes from beginner’s level Microsoft Windows XP to image retouching with Adobe Photoshop. Oceania’s mid-sized ships lend themselves to accessing ports less frequented, and 70 percent of staterooms and suites feature private verandas. For sound sleep at sea, Tranquility Beds in all quarters feature custom mattresses, Egyptian cotton linens and down pillows. On Regatta, high tea is served promptly each day at 4 p.m.
Year entering service: 1998, reflagged/refurbished 2003
Oceania’s Regatta, the former R2, is designed to appeal to a discerning, sophisticated traveler in search of world-class cuisine, unparalleled personal service, and an enriching, in- depth, destination oriented experience. Smoking is not permitted in staterooms, verandas, or in any of the dining areas. Guests who fondly recall sailing the former "R" ships, will encounter a sense of familiarity upon boarding, yet they’ll also find entirely new furnishings and dark paneling, paint and wallpaper. Decks and balconies have been resurfaced as well and the pool area has a new look.
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