Oceania Cruises Review (Updated 2018)
Oceania Cruises has a niche almost to itself in the cruise business, above the mainstream lines in terms of service, dining, itineraries, and overall ambience, but not quite up in the stratosphere with the true luxury lines.
That goes for its prices too, which are higher than premium competitors like Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, but below lines like sister company Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises. On the plus side, Oceania’s rates often include airfare to the port of embarkation.
With the debut of Viking Ocean Cruises’ new Viking Star and Viking Sea, the playing field that Oceania practically invented is narrowing rapidly. Viking’s enigmatic Chairman claims that the Viking Ocean product offers an Oceania-style experience at a fraction of the price. But Oceania, under direction of tireless cruise industry veteran Frank Del Rio, continues to innovate.
For its first eight years in business, Oceania operated three near-identical sister ships, each carrying 684 guests. In 2011, though, it introduced the 1,258-guest Marina, which offers the same low-key ambience as the older ships, but carries nearly twice as many passengers and has twice the number of restaurants, plus more personal space per guest. A sister ship, Riviera, was introduced in May 2012. In 2016, a fourth R-Class ship, Sirena, joined the fleet, bringing Oceania’s total fleet count to six.
All of Oceania’s ships have a casual, low-key, country club feel, and days are programmed in a relaxed way, with few organized activities and announcements. Instead, the emphasis is on letting guests relax at their own pace, enjoy the ports of call, and just unwind.
Currently, Oceania has a fleet of six ships. These range from the R-Class sisters Insignia, Nautica, Regatta and Sirena to Oceania’s purpose-built beauties, Marina and Riviera. No matter which ship you choose, Oceania has put a great deal of effort into ensuring its country-club-casual atmosphere and high quality standards are present throughout the fleet. While many guests love the larger Marina and Riviera, the R-Class ships (so named because of their past lives as built for now-defunct Renaissance Cruises) still draw a loyal crowd; Oceania responds by keeping these intimate ships sparkling, adding new amenities and features with each successive refit.
Oceania Cruise ReviewsTo read a review of a particular ship, click the link under "Read the Review." If applicable, our Live Voyage Reports offer a day-by-day overview of an actual cruise onboard. In some cases, there may be more than one report, to be sure to see if your favorite destination is represented.
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Activities On Oceania Cruises
What few activities there are are calm and orderly: enrichment lectures themed on the region you’re sailing; informal health and beauty seminars; cruise standards like bingo and shuffleboard; and classes in fitness, photography, art and computers. Oceania’s Marina, for example, also offers a great Culinary Center for hands-on cooking classes, and an Artist’s Loft manned by guest instructors.
Life Aboard Oceania Cruises is designed to resemble the ambiance of a private country club — casual, yet elegant. Staff members are on hand to pamper and provide a high level of personalized service. Oceania strives to create a sense of warm luxury and intimacy.
Otherwise, guests are left to their own devices – and that’s just how Oceania’s clientele likes it. If you want to be pampered, head to the spa, run by the famous Canyon Ranch. Those in a reading mood can grab a leather armchair in the ships’ comfortable, old-fashioned libraries. If you feel lucky, you can do a bit of gambling in the small casino. If you feel athletic, hit the gym or pool.
In the evening, guests can go dancing or see a movie; sing at the occasional karaoke session; enjoy a pianist playing standards in the Martini lounge, or a string quartet in the atrium; or take in a comedian, singer, or other guest headliners in the main theater.
Dining On Oceania Cruises
Since Oceania first started up, it’s put a lot of emphasis on dining — both the experience and the cuisine, the latter created by legendary chef Jacques Pépin. Like the luxury lines it emulates, Oceania doesn’t charge for any of its regular dining experiences, which range from casual poolside fare to multi-course meals taken in the ship’s elegant main dining rooms and specialty restaurants.
Both main restaurants and specialty options come free of charge, though you have to make reservations for the specialty dining venues. Dining in all ships’ main restaurants operate on an open-seating basis: just wander in whenever you get hungry during open hours, and the maitre ‘d will find you a table.
Oceania’s R-Class ships typically feature two specialty restaurants. These include the Mediterranean-inspired Toscana restaurant (Insignia, Nautica & Regatta); the Polo Grill steakhouse (Insignia and Nautica); and Tuscan Steak, which combines the Toscana and Polo Grill venues into one aboard Sirena. Sirena also has Red Ginger, a pan-Asian venue first introduced aboard Marina and Riviera.
Marina and Riviera feature four different specialty dining venues, including Jacques, a French-inspired culinary experience named for Jacques Pepin; Red Ginger; Toscana and Polo Grill.
Aboard Marina and Riviera, guests can also indulge in La Reserve by Wine Spectator, an exclusive dining experience with a maximum of just 24 guests. Vintage wines and gourmet food pairings are on the menu at this sumptuous venue that features dishes like Bay Scallop Teriyaki Seared on Riverstone, Cream of Porcini with Sautéed Duck Foie Gras, and 72-Hour Slow Braised Short Rib with Gnocchi au Jus. Reservations are required but complimentary, though a wine experience surcharge does apply here.
For the ultimate dining experience there is Privée: a private culinary event limited to just 10 people. Dishes are presented on a custom-built table designed by the famed Dakota Jackson and illuminated by a golden Venini chandelier, with menu selections made from Polo Grill, Toscana, or a combination of both. A room reservation charge applies to evenings in Privée, which is available only onboard Marina and Riviera.
Quick Summary Review Of Oceania Cruises
- Oceania Cruises bills itself as an upper-premium cruise line, positioned squarely between the luxury segment and the premium segment. Essentially, this distills into “pay less, get more.”
- Oceania offers a vacation that emphasizes fine food and wine, luxurious accommodations and personalized service aboard its four intimate and mid-sized ships.
- Award-winning itineraries visit more than 300 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the Americas aboard four luxurious, 684-guest ships – Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and Sirena – and the 1,250-guest Marina and Riviera.
These People Will Love Oceania Cruises
- Explorers who want to stay longer or cruise longer: Oceania Cruises has made of point of building more overnight stays into its itineraries. This allows travelers more time to explore while relieving stress over getting back to the ship on time. Also, Oceania’s itineraries frequently extend two or three weeks, giving travelers a more in-depth visit to a region.
- Food lovers: Oceania cruise vacations may journey to the far reaches, but Oceania wants its restaurants to be among guests’ favorite destinations. Each ship has four distinct restaurants, with open seating throughout the cruise, and exquisite cuisine is an Oceania hallmark, with its menus crafted by Jacques Pepin, the world-renowned master chef and Oceania’s executive culinary director.
- People who love to learn: An Oceania cruise offers numerous enrichment series and lectures. Each visit to a new port is preceded by a presentation on the historical background, culture, traditions and language of that destination. Also, celebrity lecturers are frequently scheduled, and each cruise offer a series of culinary demonstrations, dance lessons and arts and crafts classes.
- World Cruisers: Oceania’s massive world voyages – some of which are as long as half a year – are unmatched in the industry.
These People May Want To Think Twice About Oceania Cruises
The one group Oceania will not appeal to is families with young kids. By design, the line’s ships have no kids facilities and offer no kids’ programs. Another group that might want to think twice is smokers: Only a couple small areas on each ship allow smoking — just a small corner of the Pool Deck and a corner of the nightclub.
Destinations Served By Oceania Cruises
- Australia & New Zealand
- Alaska & Pacific Coastal
- The Caribbean and the Panama Canal
- Europe, including the Mediterranean and the Baltics
- The Middle East
- South America
Oceania Cruises Awards
Oceania Cruises has been acclaimed by numerous leading travel and media organizations.
Awards Recap 2017:
- 2017 | “Best Cuisine” – 2017 Readers Choice Awards (Travel Weekly)
- 2017 | “Best South American itineraries” – 2017 Readers Choice Awards (Porthole Magazine)
- 2017 | “Top Cruise Lines for Honeymooners” – Bride’s Honeymoon Award 2017
- 2017 | “Compassionate Business Award 2017” – PETA’s recognition of Oceania Cruises launch of plant-based vegan menus
“Best for Food”, Contemporary Luxury
“Best for On-Shore Excursions”, Contemporary Luxury
“Best for Suites”, Contemporary Luxury
2016 Town & Country Cruise Awards
2016 Cruise Critic Cruisers’ US Editor’s Picks Awards
“Best In Cuisine”
Travel Weekly – Readers’ Choice Awards 2016
“Best for Food”
Cruise International Awards 2016
“Best Premium Cruise Line”
Virtuoso Travel Awards 2016
“Best Cruise Line of the Year” – Small Ships (Gold)
“Best Cruise Value”
Ocean & Cruise News – Best Value Cruise Awards 2016
“Best Main Dining Room”
Porthole Cruise Magazine – Readers’ Choice Awards 2016
“Best South America Itineraries”
Porthole Cruise Magazine – Readers’ Choice Awards 2016
“The World’s Best Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Lines”
World’s Best Awards 2016 (Travel + Leisure)
“Boutique Cruise Line of the Year”
Food and Travel Magazine – Reader Awards 2016
Avid Cruiser Articles, Posts & Videos Featuring Oceania Cruises
- Top Ten World Cruises For 2021, With Starting Prices
- Our Writer Loves World Cruises. So Much That She’s Booked Number 6 & 7
- Oceania’s 2021 Europe & North America Voyages
- Oceania’s New Go Local Tours
- Oceania Sirena’s Winter 2020-Spring 2021 Voyages
- Traveling With Children On Premium, Upper-Premium, And Luxury Cruise Lines
- Cruise Line Loyalty Programs, Part Three – Upper-Premium Cruise Lines
- Oceania Introduces Plant-Based Food Menus
- Oceania Highlights 2021 World Cruise
- My Top 5 Aspirational Cruises For 2020
- Oceania Cruises Orders Two New Ships
- Oceania Highlights 2020 Itineraries
- Oceania Unveils New Ralph Lauren Furnished Owners Suites
- Frank del Rio: Mind The Curve
- Oceania Offers New Dining Selections in Grand Dining Room
- Oceania Reveals 2019-2020 Tropics & Exotics Collection
- Oceania Cruises Will Introduce Free High-Speed Internet Fleetwide
- Oceania Cruises Unveils 2020 World Cruise Itineary
- World Cruise Segments and Grand Voyages, Demystified
- Which Lines Offer 2019-2020 World Cruises
- Unique Itinerary: Cruising Japan
- Oceania Adds New and Improved Concierge Level Amenities
- Oceania Cruises Announces Winter Holiday Cruises
- 2018-19 World Cruise Roundup
- Oceania Cruises Opens Late 2017 Itineraries to Cuba
- The Hidden Gems of Oceania’s Baltic and Scandinavia
- Oceania Cruises Announces 180-day World Cruise for 2019
- Oceania Cruises Offers Experiences in Alaska
- Oceania Debuts Harvest Caye on Sailings to Caribbean, Cuba
- Oceania Cruises: Sailing To the Beat of its Own Drum
- Oceania Cruises’ New Tropics Voyages
- Azamara Journey vs. Oceania Regatta
- A New Look at Oceania Cruises
- World Cruise 2018, A Roundup Of Voyages From 114 Days To Six Months
- World Cruise 2017: A Roundup
- Upper Premium Cruises Defined
- A Fresh Look at Oceania’s Nautica
- 2016 Small Ship Caribbean Cruising
- The Suite Life on Oceania
- Oceania Cruises To Offer Two Special Voyages In 2016
- 180 Days Around The World: Is Half A Year At Sea Right For You?
- Viking Star: Day 2, Departing Barcelona, Tor Touts ‘Understated Elegance’ For Nearly 60 Percent Cheaper Than Oceania
- Crystal Cruises’ New Owner Major Shareholder In Regent & Oceania, Implications?
- Cruising’s Quest For More Varied Cuisine
- Three Key Players Offering Upper Premium Cruises
- Oceania Cruises: Celebrating A Decade Of ‘Affordable Luxury’
- The Avid Cruiser’s Take: Carnival Breeze Ship Review
- Europe’s Extreme Diversity: Cruising Canals, Rivers & Blue Water, Three Incredible Adventures
- Oceania Riviera Ship Review
- Dinner At Jacques on Oceania Riviera
- The One That Didn’t Get Away: An 80-KiloTuna For 5,000 Euros For Lunch On Oceania Riviera
- A Christening In Barcelona, An Evening In Toscana & More: Roundup Of Our Oceania Riviera Coverage
- An Evening At Toscana On Oceania Riviera
- In Photos: Oceania Riviera Is Christened In Barcelona, Spain
- Friendly Folk At Baristas, Oceania Riviera’s Complimentary Coffee Bar
- Ship Of Art, Oceania Riviera
- Burger & Shake In Barcelona — On Oceania Riviera, Of Course
- An Evening To Remember, Dinner On Deck And A Gorgeous Sunset
- Oceania Riviera In Valencia, Spain
- Of The 727 Differences, This Is The Biggest On Oceania Riviera
- Staying Fit On Oceania Riviera: The Canyon Ranch SpaClub
- Oceania Cruises’ Riviera Roundup: Avid Cruiser’s Live Coverage, Plus Breaking News, A New Ship For Regent?
- Dining With Frank Del Rio At Jacques On Oceania Riviera
- What’s Cooking On Oceania Riviera? Scones & Frittatas That We Made At The Bon Appetit Culinary Center
- Dining On Oceania Riviera
- Oceania Riviera Stateroom 9006: Attractive, Roomy, With Concierge Access & Deep Balcony
- Titans Of The Cruise Industry Now Sport Similar Looks
- 727 Differences On Riviera
- Let’s Eat! Riviera Spices Up The Oceania Experience
- Reporting In May From Stateroom 9006 On Oceania Riviera
- In The Galley: Behind The Scenes, Cruise Ship Dining
- Luxury Cruises: What Silversea Cruises Does Differently
- Five Reasons Why I Prefer Cruising On Small Ships
- Two Caribbeans: Which Suits You Best? Big Ship Or Small Ship?
- Islands In The Stream: What Is Your Preference? Big Caribbean Island Or Small Island?
- The Caribbean’s Most Up and Coming Cruise Ports
- Big Ship? Small Ship? Which Is Better For Your Caribbean Cruise?
- Hue: The Many Hues of a Royal City
- Pre/Post Cruise in Hong Kong: The Longer the Better
- Six New Things I Think I Will Like About Celebrity Silhouette
- Encounters in Old Saigon and the Heart of Darkness
- Pre/Post Cruise: Finding Calm in Buzzing Bangkok
- Celebrating Easter In The Red Sea On Silver Spirit
- Oceania Cruises Marina: A Personal Work Of Art
- A ‘Chief Blogging Officer’ Weighs On What He Feels Differentiates Azamara From Oceania & Other Cruise Lines
- Azamara Or Oceania? Operating Nearly Identical Ships, But With Differences That Sway One Writer
- Oceania Marina Bon Appétit Culinary Center
- Five Questions For Frank (del Rio), Oceania Cruises’ Chief
- Oceania Marina Owner’s Suite Decked Out In Ralph Lauren: Interview With The Designer
- Oceania Marina: A Look At Category A Veranda Stateroom #9107
- Oceania Marina’s Running Track, For Colonel Wes
- Internet Access: A Huge Improvement on Oceania Marina
- Red Ginger: Yum A ‘Licious
- Mary Hart Christens Oceania Marina in Miami: Video
- Hurtigruten Receives Prestigious Ranking
- Oceania Marina Bloggers All Abuzz: I Just Hope They Leave Something For Me To Say
- Hapag-Lloyd Cruises To Get A New Europa & Oceania’s Insignia
- Oceania Cruises Gearing Up To Launch Its Largest Ship Ever
- Suite Dreams: Sizing Up Oceania Marina’s Suites
- Why I Wish I Were Frank Del Rio And Other Thoughts From A Q&A With The Chief Of Oceania
- Oceania Marina: Coffee Bar With The World’s Best Sea View?
- Construction Begins On Sister Ship For Oceania Marina
- Gone To Marina (Oceania’s), Back Soon
- Avidly Cruising
- From My Balcony: Marine Marvels
- Oceania’s Knowledgeable Concierge
- Tables With A View: Oceania’s Terrace Cafe
- The Dining Pleasures Of Oceania’s Toscana Restaurant
- Video: Oceania Cruises’ Regatta
- Oceania’s Commitment To Its Customers
- Endless Euphoria
- Dining On The Douro
- Picturesque Porto
- At The Praca de Liberdade In Porto
- Regatta’s Only Recurring Complaint
- Peering Through The Porthole
- Oporto, Portugal: From Ship To City Center
- Seats Still Available
- Bom Dia Oporto
- Shake Break
- Afternoon In The Square: St. Jean de Luz
- Regatta In ‘Bask’ Country
- Bordeaux, France’s Most Beautiful City?
- Found! Bordeaux’s Best Italian Restaurant
- Sublime Saint-Emilion
- Beautiful Bordeaux
- Marvelous Saint-Malo
- Marveling at Mont Saint Michel
- Departing Dover
- Returning To Regatta
- Suite Surrender
- The Slow Boat to Europe
- Commentary: Crossing Lines: Big Ship, Small Ship
- A Roundup of Cruise Bargains
- Why You Should Cruise Azamara Now
- A Concierge Level Sampler