ABOARD THE OCEANIA INSIGNIA — I love sea days.
No shore excursions, no alarm clock to set. I can just wander the ship, popping in for any of the myriad activities scheduled night and day as outlined in the ship’s Currents daily program.
In the Canyon Ranch SpaClub a woman from Ontario and I got a complimentary lesson from the hairdresser on the best haircut for the shape of our face. I also learned that guests with staterooms in my concierge category and higher have free access to the spa’s private sundeck and whirlpool, a perk I plan to use if the ship’s ample sundeck ever gets too cramped for my taste.
I discovered the Monte Carlo-style casino — not my taste — and next door the Martini’s Bar, which suits me fine with more than 30 specialty martinis on the menu. Mama does love her martinis when the opportunity presents and is game to try a new variety. So let’s do the math: 30 martinis, 12-day cruise . . . oh my.
But I found plenty of nonalcoholic ways to unwind on the Insignia. Barista’s bar serves specialty coffees and the Horizons lounge, with oversized observation windows spanning the width of the ship near the prow, offers afternoon tea. As the ship’s string quartet started to play classical music the hostess came by my table with a box of teas for me to try, then a white-coated server brought over a steaming pot of water and a trolley passed with finger sandwiches, tempting cookies and petit fours. I spent a relaxing hour savoring a pot of tea, looking up now and then from my kindle to stare at the horizon as the ship’s prow parted the ocean waves. Horizons also has a bar we might visit in the evening and self-serve coffee station that has already come in handy in the mornings.
Insignia was built in France in 1998 and refurbished in 2014. It’s registered in the Marshall Islands. I love the dark wood paneling that gives the public areas such richness and warmth. With just 684 passengers and 400 crew, the level of service is high. I’ll do the math for you: 1.71 guests per crew member. While Oceania is most certainly a luxury line, the ambience on board is anything but stuffy. The atmosphere is that of a country club, casual and relaxed, though shorts, casual jeans, T-shirts and athletic wear are not allowed in the ship’s fine dining restaurants.
Passengers did don their best duds for the captain’s cocktail celebration. After welcoming us aboard in the ship’s largest lounge, Capt. Maroje Brajcic, who hails from a seafaring family in Dubrovnik, introduced his senior staff one by one. When the purser stepped forward as he was introduced he claimed he was the chef, startling the man in the toque at the end of the receiving line. Nobody ever applauds the man who handles the money, the purser joked. Sure enough, when it was the chef’s turn to step forward, the room erupted. With good reason, too. The cuisine on board is exceptional.
To make up for some of our overindulgence at the table, Bill and I are trying to exercise on board. High winds closed the outdoor walking/running track so we climbed on stationary bikes in the fitness center and broke a sweat pedaling while watching the north coast of Hispaniola slip by.
Two days at sea have been relaxing, but while 11.5-foot waves have not made me seasick, staggering around the ship—even without a martini to blame—is getting to be annoying. It will be nice to be on solid ground in San Juan in the morning.
December 26, 2016
Photo by Katherine Rodeghier