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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman


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

Caribbean Hideaways

Dominican Republic

Our final port of call, La Romana, Dominican Republic, officially known as Hispañiola, was the first Caribbean island to be discovered by Christopher Columbus. Today, the Spanish-influenced Dominican Republic shares the island with unmistakably French Haiti.

Altos de Chavón

Just as the two island nations are quite different, the town of La Romana couldn't be less like the famous Casa de Campo resort located nearby. It is so exclusive that we were warned by Regatta's Destination Services staff that ship's passengers wouldn't be admitted to the gated and guarded complex unless they were participants on an organized tour. Enticed with a challenge, we plotted over breakfast in the Terrace Café to get in for a look around.

Once ashore we hired a taxi/van and for $30 ten of us set off to try to slip into Casa de Campo. Destination Services was right. We were turned away, although a few other passengers related that they managed to slip in. Thwarted, we headed for Altos de Chavón, the nearby recreated 16th century Mediterranean-style village noted for its artisans and shops. The cobbled streets, outdoor amphitheater, and ancient looking buildings belie its origin. For my part, I was happy to browse in the shops and admire the splendid views overlooking the River Chavón. 

Due to safety concerns, our driver stayed with us at Altos de Chavón, even acting as a 'guide' of sorts. After an hour on our own he returned us to the pier and offered the opportunity to escort us shopping in La Romana (where prices are lower) for an additional $24.

All that shopping worked up an appetite and a late lunch from Waves poolside grill hit the spot. In addition to the small salad bar and great burgers and fries, my favorite sandwiches are those which are grilled to order—the panini (fresh tapenada-laced bread with tomato, basil, mozzarella cheese, and prosciutto ham) and a Cuban sandwich (pork loin on crusty Cuban bread with Swiss cheese and sweet ham).

Organized activities on board were somewhat curtailed, as they are on most ships during port days, but as we bid farewell to La Romana and prepared for dinner we reflected on how 'social' Regatta is. Contributing to the social atmosphere is the dining experience—with open seating we've met and shared meals with numerous passengers.

Two relaxing sea days

Regatta's Thalassotherapy pool & private sun deck

I have always favored itineraries that include a final day at sea, but two are a rare pleasure! Like most of my fellow passengers, I divided my time between participating in scheduled activities and the solitary pursuit of leisure. My favorite relaxation spots on board Regatta are the private sun deck and Thalassotherapy pool just forward of the Oceania Spa and the steam room. There is no charge for using these facilities and they are without a doubt some of the finest at sea.

Due to popular demand, a second wine tasting was presented. I attended the first so decided to skip the additional one in favor of a lecture about Champagne: "Stars in a Glass," presented by Mr. Rick Garced, visiting sommelier and director of wine programs for Apollo Ship Chandlers.

 Executive Chef Wolfgang Maier & Corporate Chef Frank Garanger

Not everyone on board was interested in wine and champagne, but food, especially really good food, was of major importance to most passengers and the food on Regatta has been splendid. How do they do it? A highlight of our voyage included a cooking demonstration by Oceania Corporate Chef Frank Garanger and Regatta Executive Chef Wolfgang Maier. What showmen! They actually made cooking fun as they prepared Tricolor Potato Gnocchi and Pan-Fried Jerk Shrimps with Plantain and Sweet Potato Pie. After tasting samples of their culinary artistry, I was almost no longer hungry, but decided to joint friends in the Grand Dining Room for lunch. Weiner Schnitzel is one of my favorites and was on the menu... wow! A huge serving and so tender that I didn't even need a knife to cut it.

Throughout our cruise we were treated to very entertaining evening musical and magic/comedy performances in the intimate Regatta Lounge. Black Tie, an award-winning cabaret act from Australia took the stage numerous times, displaying their talents with musical selections ranging from Broadway melodies and a classical recital to holiday favorites. Zoltan, from Budapest, Hungary made us laugh as he astonished us with magic and illusion. However, two of our favorite shows were presented by Regatta's very talented staff members—Shani Raey, Social Hostess, and Leslie Jon, Cruise Director. In particular, Leslie mesmerized the audience with his characterizations of Maurice Chevalier, Sammy Davis, Jr., and, as a finale, he "became" the Fiddler on the Roof!

With Regatta decked out for the upcoming Christmas and New Year's holidays, it was difficult to say farewell...

  • Part Five -- Debarkation and lasting impressions

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