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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman


Cruise Diva's CRUISE DIARY
~ Oceania Cruises' REGATTA ~

Caribbean Hideaways

Launched just a few short months ago, Regatta (formerly R2 of Renaissance Cruises) has set sail to carve a unique niche in the cruise industry. Always a stylish and comfortable vessel, we noticed subtle and striking differences from the last time we sailed on her a few years ago. Aside from her white hull, the most major change was our embarkation port, a brand new one for both Oceania Cruises and Regatta. Upon arrival in Miami on November 25th, she was subject to scrutiny by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, her first-ever assessment as a ship with a foreign itinerary that carries 13 or more passengers and calls on a U.S. port. Regatta passed the stringent Vessel Sanitation Program inspection with an impressive 99 points out of a possible score of 100.    

Shoreside staff greeted us at the Port of Miami's Terminal 12 when we arrived shortly after noon and pointed out a complimentary shuttle to nearby Bayside Marketplace where we could pass the time until scheduled embarkation. While documents indicated check-in would commence at 3pm, the process began shortly after 1pm for early arrivals. However, Oceania was true to their timing and boarding began as indicated.

Chameleon String Quartet 
serenades embarking guests


Once aboard, white-gloved stewards escorted guests to their staterooms to the sounds of a string quartet. After dropping carry-ons in our cabins, we took a look around, noting some new window treatments, Murano glass sculptures, lively artwork, and teak decking on verandahs and the Pool Deck, as well as the familiar English country style furnishings. Before unpacking and attending the mandatory muster drill, we had time to stop for snacks and pizza in the bright and airy Terrace Café. 

The 786 square foot Vista Suites feature a living/dining room, separate bedroom, bath and a half, and verandah overlooking Regatta's bow.

At 30,200 tons, Regatta is a fairly small ship by modern standards, yet she features the facilities that are important to today's cruise passengers—a large spa and gym, salt water Thalassotherapy Whirlpool, alternative dining options, and a whopping 73% of all ocean view staterooms have private verandahs. Passengers easily familiarize themselves with the on board layout by remembering all restaurants are located aft and entertainment venues are forward. Deck Five is devoted entirely to public spaces and Deck Four is where guest services are located (reception, tour desk, and medical center).

For our first dinner on board, we noted the Grand Dining Room was crowded and took a gamble that Toscana, the Italian specialty restaurant might have a table. We were seated almost immediately and dove into antipasto, pasta, risotto, and filet mignon topped with sautéed artichoke and smoked mozzarella. The ricotta cheesecake was to die for! Will all the meals be this satisfying?

Your World. Your Way. With the variety of itineraries and on board choices they offer, Oceania Cruises couldn't have chosen a more appropriate slogan and we looked forward to exploring our Caribbean Hideaways itinerary. But first, we had two wonderful sea days ahead of us...

At Sea

Regatta's signature
Tranquility Bed™

As much as I relish new ports of call, I can't deny the allure of beginning a cruise with a good night's sleep and two sea days. Regatta's signature Tranquility Bed™ was even more comfortable than I imagined with its firm mattress, 350-thread count linens, goose down pillows, and silk-cut duvet. The bedding is so popular that guests have actually attempted to "rescue" it from life at sea. Don't do it—you'll get caught! Save the room in your suitcase for souvenirs; Oceania Cruises will soon make Tranquility Bed™ linens available for purchase on their website.

Getting acquainted with the ship took little time and some of the thoughtful services offered were quite impressive, such as daily early morning coffee, juice, and croissants available in Horizons Lounge from 6:30 until 11am and the elegant afternoon tea offered there from 4 to 5pm.

A small corner of Horizons Lounge is also available to smokers, as is a shaded area near the pool bar. Smoking in staterooms and on verandahs is prohibited.

Pool Deck

In addition to new teak decking, the pool deck has been outfitted with attractive wood tables and chairs, market umbrellas, and "couples" lounge chairs with cushy pads and colorful bolsters. Relaxing poolside was even more restful than on most ships... instead of loud island-style music, passengers were soothed by the sounds of the Glenn Jacobi Orchestra and the Jazz Trio.

Indoor pursuits ranged from cerebral (enrichment lectures and computer classes) to competitive (art auctions, Bingo, team trivia) and informative (wine and champagne tastings, a cooking demonstration, and bridge tours).

Art auctions have never been high on my list of must-do activities on any cruise, but curiosity got the better of me and I was attracted by the offer of champagne and a free print for attending. I have never participated in an auction; however, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to win the first item offered—a $59 Oceania Spa facial. Bidding began at $1 and the competition was keen. At the last moment, I upped what seemed to be a sure winner at $19 with a bid of $20. The facial was mine and, yes, I also received a limited edition print of Spring Cottage by Georgina Noble, purported to be worth $400. One nice touch on Regatta is the manner in which art for sale is exhibited. Instead of easels cluttering the lounges and passageways, artworks are displayed on stairwell landings and in lounges, replacing some of the drab hunting scenes that formerly hung above the fireplaces. Several more live auctions and silent auctions were held during the cruise.

With two sea days behind us and paradise beckoning, we were ready to go ashore.

  • Part Two -- Tortola (BVI), St. Kitts, Nevis & Dominica

  • Part Three -- Antigua, St. Barts & Virgin Gorda (BVI)

  • Part Four -- Dominican Republic & two relaxing sea days

  • Part Five -- Debarkation and lasting impressions

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