Day 4: South China Sea
ABOARD OCEANIA’s NAUTICA — With no place to go, this morning should have been a chance to sleep in, but somehow we managed to inadvertently set the alarm as we were resetting the clock for a time change. Oh, well. We took the opportunity before breakfast to try out the fitness center—we’ve been neglecting our exercise on this trip until now.
Equipped with treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, free weights and a limited selection of strength-training machines, the cozy space feels larger with floor-to-ceiling windows and mirrors. We watched a fishing boat disappear from view on the horizon while getting our 30 minutes of cardio on the treadmill. The place was busy — we’ll see if in future we have to wait for equipment.
Oceania labels this 25-day cruise the “Voyage of the Connoisseurs.” We’re not exactly sure what that means, but maybe it has something to do with Executive Chef Alban Gjoka’s cooking demonstration this morning, featuring Chilean Sea Bass in Miso-Plum Sauce and Watermelon and Duck Confit Salad. Or, perhaps it’s this afternoon’s wine tasting with the ship’s sommeliers; or, maybe the Champagne Art Auction. Anyway, this ship seems rather more high-tone than our previous cruises.
We attended the cooking demonstration where we learned that Chef Gjoka could have a second career as a stand-up comedian. We also learned that the watermelon and duck confit salad is for good reason the signature dish of the Red Ginger, the Asian-fusion restaurants on Oceania’s larger vessels. The sweet watermelon, rich crunchy duck, and fresh, fragrant basil, mint and cilantro, make for a memorable combination of flavors, textures and aromas. Alas, we were allotted only a small taste.
The afternoon wine tasting offered ample pours of five different varieties and useful instruction on the sensory evaluation of wine. The $15 per person surcharge for the tasting was fair in our opinion considering the on-board bottle prices of the wines ranged from $45 to $74. We did discover a Pouilly Fume and a Shiraz we thoroughly enjoyed, although at shipboard prices our consumption of them will be limited for the duration of the cruise.
An Enrichment Presentation by Guest Lecturer Don Campbell gave us some historical and geographic context for our upcoming visits to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Though we always try to read-up on places we plan to visit, we appreciated Don’s detailed review.
The Captain’s Welcome Reception in the evening introduced the ship’s senior officers to the guests, and welcomed us with complimentary sparkling or still wine and canapés. Some musical entertainment by crew members concluded this well-attended event.
We wrapped-up our evening with our first dinner at the Polo Grill, one of the so-called premium restaurants aboard where reservations are required and rationed depending in part on a guest’s status. We’ll review the dining experience later, but will say that we shared a table with two engaging Australian couples whose conversation we thoroughly enjoyed, causing us to stay up later than we should have given our expected arrival in Singapore early tomorrow morning.
April 8, 2013