Oceania Regatta review: Gold Rush Trails voyage from Los Angeles to Alaska and Vancouver

From Alcatraz to Alaska, our cruise aboard the elegant Oceania Regatta featured wondrous sights, fascinating shore excursions, comfortable stateroom, delicious dining, friendly crew and enjoyable onboard entertainment.

And what a cruise it was. Our 12-day Gold Rush Trails voyage went from Los Angeles to Alaska and Vancouver with ever-changing sights. My brother Joe lives in Colorado and I live in Indiana so we met up at the Los Angeles airport and spent a restful night at the lovely and quiet Fairmount Century Hotel in Los Angeles before boarding the ship the next morning.

Cruisers are always wise to book a hotel stay before the cruise. Airline flights are often delayed or cancelled and a ship can wait for no one. It is good to arrive a day early and get a good night’s sleep before boarding the ship.

The boarding process was quick and smooth and our cabin was ready as was a buffet lunch in the Terrace Café on Deck 9. Built in 1999, the 11-deck Oceania Regatta was refurbished in 2019 and has a guest capacity of 670 with 400 staff members, which means the ship is not too big, not too small, just right.

Our cruise had 534 passengers – mostly from America and Canada – and 394 crew. There were no children or children activities on our cruise. The voyage included stops and shore excursions in San Francisco; Astoria, Oregon; Sitka, Alaska; Hubbard Glacier; Icy Point Strait (Hoonah), Alaska; Juneau, Alaska; and Ketchikan, Alaska.

The Regatta is in excellent condition and quite luxurious without being stuffy. The décor is sophisticated with a soft color palette of glorious reflections of sea and sky. Regatta has a casino, spa, shops, fitness center, swimming pool, hot tubs, internet café, card room, library, medical center, free self-service laundry, paid laundry and drying cleaning service and five bars.

Grand Dining Room

Because it is not huge, the ambiance felt more friendly, not like we were always in a long line waiting for something or trying to get on the ship or off the ship for a shore excursion with a crowd of other passengers.

                                                            Stateroom with balcony

Our stateroom was roomy enough for the two of us. Our two twin beds had lovely padded headboards and heavenly plush beds with 1,000-thread count linens of 100 percent Egyptian cotton. Each twin bed had a bedside table with charging plugs, plus more plugs on the desk. In the closet were thick cotton robes and slippers.

Our stateroom

The stateroom also had a clock, hair dryer, sofa, coffee table and mini-fridge stocked with complimentary soft drinks and water. A nice touch was reusable water bottles that we could take home at the end of the cruise. The bathroom had a shower and fragrant Bulgari toiletries with big fluffy towels.

My favorite, as usual, was our private balcony with two chairs and a table. A balcony feature I really appreciated was the use of three railings allowing terrific visibility of the ocean whether I was seated or standing.

Our balcony

                                                           Reputation for good eating

Oceania is well-known for its cuisine and, even as a small ship, Regatta lives up to that reputation. The ship has a main dining room, buffet and grill, plus two specialty restaurants – Toscana and Polo Grill – which require reservations but no extra charge.

The Grand Dining Room serves dinner every night as well as breakfast and lunch depending on the ship schedule. The poolside Waves Grill offers early breakfast food and afternoon sandwich choices with a tasty ice cream station.

The Terrace Café buffet offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. After my first meal there, the servers knew my name and remembered that my caffeine of choice, even for breakfast, is Coke. When they saw me, they had it ready.

In the Grand Dining Room, the servers knew that Joe and I liked a table for two by the window. That is what we got every day. I can’t compliment the Regatta staff enough. They were a major reason why our cruise was so terrific. A staff can make or break any cruise no matter how fantastic the ship may be. Regatta has both – great ship, great crew.

In Toscana, the emphasis is on Italian cooking and Regatta does it well. Pasta, risotto, gnocchi, veal, lobster, sea bass, shrimp, beef tenderloin, lamb, pork and so much more was on the Toscana menu.

Our favorite was Polo Grill, partly because of the terrific window view we had overlooking the bow of the ship as it cruised the sea ahead. Crab cake, escargot, New England clam chowder, lobster bisque, foie gras and oysters Rockefeller were some of the starters and soups. Steaks, shrimp, swordfish, salmon, tuna, pork chops, rack of lamb, roasted chicken and whole Maine lobster were some of the entrees. Dessert choices took up a whole menu page.

Joe in our favorite dining spot in Polo Grill

                                                                   Activities galore

Every night at turndown in our cabin, we received a four-page, next-day schedule named Currents. The list of activities and entertainment was huge. Indoor golf putting, needlepoint, bridge lessons, table tennis, trivia, bingo, afternoon tea, wine tasting, shuffleboard, card games, crafts, line dance lessons, blackjack tournament, board games, fitness classes, running/walking track on Deck 10, cooking demonstrations and more were offered.

For entertainment, Regatta had a string quartet, a show band, piano player, magician, comedian and evening show with a band, singers and dancers. Enrichment programs featured a speaker with topics like Wonders of Alaska, Tales of Whales, Natural Phenomena, Alaskan Wildlife, Glaciers, Ice Age to the Present and more.

Sunrise String Quartet

The shore excursion booklet was massive with descriptions of tours, times, prices, meals included and whether the tour required minimal activity, easy activity, moderate activity or strenuous activity.

                                                              Alcatraz ‘The Rock’

Because I’m running out of story space, I’ll just share my favorite shore excursion and Joe’s. Mine started at our first stop in San Francisco where I signed up for the Alcatraz tour ($229). Even on a sunny California day, the island was shrouded in fog. We were almost dead-on aboard our ferry before the sun broke through and we could see it well.

Despite the balmy breezes, the sight gave me shivers. The island is one very scary place.  And that is exactly what it was intended to be.

Alcatraz is one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks

Rising from the middle of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island drips with the dark atmosphere of danger and notoriety. Perhaps the most famous ex-jail in the world, Alcatraz doesn’t have its creepy reputation for nothing. From the start, Alcatraz was for the “worst of the worst.”

“If you broke the laws of society, you were sent to prison,” tour guide Steve said.  “If you broke the laws of prison, you were sent to Alcatraz.”

In August of 1934, Alcatraz received its first group of inmates – among them Al Capone, Doc Barker (last surviving son from the famous Ma Barker Gang), George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Robert “Birdman of Alcatraz” Stroud, Floyd Hamilton (gang member and driver for Bonnie and Clyde) and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis.

Over the course of 29 years, about 1,545 men did time in Alcatraz. Some of them never left the island alive. Eight men were murdered by fellow inmates, five committed suicide, 15 died of natural causes and seven were shot and killed trying to escape.

“The main obsession was escape,” Steve said. Were they successful? Yes. No. Maybe. Thirty-six prisoners were involved in various escape attempts. Whether they lived to tell the tale, in some instances, is still a mystery.


Alcatraz closed as a federal penitentiary on March 21, 1963. The National Park Service became the island’s caretaker in 1972. Ironically, the very place where inmates were once willing to risk their lives to escape is now a popular tourist attraction. Now, more than 1.2 million visitors can’t wait to get there every year.

Lost in the fog between reality and myth, Alcatraz has become one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks. “If these walls could talk,” Steve said. “Think of the dark history these walls have witnessed.”

                                                                     Hoonah home to Tlingit Indians

For Joe’s favorite shore excursion at Icy Point Strait ($89), we boarded a small open-air tram for a tour around the village of Hoonah led by guide Kathleen who wore a traditional wooden Tlingit hat made by her husband. The Tlingit tribe has lived in the area for thousands of years and Hoonah is home to the largest Tlingit community today, pop 931.

“We didn’t have a written language until 1971 so our stories and traditions were passed down orally from generation to generation to keep them from getting lost,” Kathleen says.

We stopped at a building were two men were working on a totem pole. Then headed to the Heritage Center for a tribal show presented by two teens and an elder. Through song and dance, with storytelling by the elder, the young men dressed in traditional garb told the story of the Raven and the Eagle.

Then Joe and I caught a ride down the mountain on a complimentary gondola lift and walked back to the ship. The modern cruise port of Icy Strait Point welcomed its first cruise visitors in 2004. That proved so successful that a second berth was opened in 2022. Now the site can welcome two cruise ships at a time. The port is owned and operated by the Tlingit tribe.

                                                                     Amazing Alaska

Our beautiful 49th state. But I learned in grade school that the purchase of Alaska by America was ridiculed. U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward signed a treaty with Russia to buy Alaska for $7.2 million in 1867.

Despite the bargain price of roughly two cents an acre, the Alaskan purchase was slammed in Congress and in the press as “Seward’s Folly.”

Now Alaska is said to be the No. 1 place that travelers want to visit. I can certainly understand why.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

Ed. Notes: See Oceania Regatta cruises here:


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1 thought on “Oceania Regatta review: Gold Rush Trails voyage from Los Angeles to Alaska and Vancouver”

  1. Awesome cruise and Jackie’s writing about it was well done. I highly recommend the cruise to everyone who loves the outdoors and adventures.


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