We’re in the process of a massive update of all of our individual cruise ship reviews here on Avid Cruiser, and today we’re taking a closer, newer look at Oceania Cruises Nautica.
Like her sister ships Regatta and Insignia, the sleek, streamlined Nautica was originally built in 2000 as R Five for now-defunct Renaissance Cruises — just a year before that line’s collapse in September of 2001.
Oceania Cruises acquired her in 2005 and immediately began refitting her to her former glory – and then some. Measuring 30,200 gross tons and carrying just 684 passengers, she’s a classic midsized cruiser, offering understated decor; a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere; great service and dining; and imaginative itineraries that put special emphasis on unique ports of call and extended stays in some of the world’s most “must-see” destinations.
Nautica followed in the mold of Regatta and Insignia, with a clubby, old-school style that doesn’t date easily. Like all the former Renaissance vessels, she’s comfortable and spacious, with lots of dark-wood paneling, gilt-framed paintings, Oriental-style carpets, and deep-hued upholstery lending a classic old hotel vibe. Her atmosphere is traditional but casual, and perfect for travelers who care more about relaxing, reading a good book, and chatting with friends than about flashy excitement.
There aren’t a lot of public rooms — just enough to keep things interesting. In the bow on Deck 10, the spacious Horizons Lounge is used for various activities during the day and for dancing at night. Down on Deck 5, the main show lounge is big enough to seat about half the guests on board and hosts musical recitals, cabaret acts, comedy, magicians, and other headliners. Moving aft, Martinis is the ship’s coziest lounge, with a pianist playing standards before dinner, a jazz band at night, and as you might expect, a long, long martini list.
There’s also a small but comfortable casino, and an even more comfortable library, decorated in traditional English style. If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re not mistaken: Every inch of this intimate ship oozes coziness, and the onboard atmosphere reflects that.
Your fellow guests tend to be adventurous and well-traveled, unpretentious but still cognizant of the fact that sometimes the finer things in life do matter. Nautica manages to strike that elusive balance between big-ship amenities and small-ship ambiance.
Nautica also sports an impressive Canyon Ranch SpaClub. A decade ago, spas on smaller cruise ships were but an afterthought. Today, that’s no longer the case – and the Canyon Ranch SpaClub on Nautica offers plenty of indulgent diversions to keep spa connoisseurs happy, including:
- Canyon Ranch SpaClub signature treatments
- State-of-the-art fitness center
- Yoga, Pilates, indoor cycling, aerobics, private and group fitness classes and personal training
- Kinesis® exercise wall
- Private Spa Terrace featuring thalassotherapy pool or whirlpool tubs
- Sauna,+ steam room, fitness track and beauty salon
- Canyon Ranch cuisine served in the Grand Dining Room and Terrace Café
- Nutrition and lifestyle consultations; wellness presentations
- Relaxation room and heated ceramic loungers
Like all the Oceania ships, Nautica is casual and laid back at dinnertime. Guests can choose between the elegant, single-level Grand Dining Room, where the entrance is through a cozy bar that’s perfect for pre-dinner cocktails and/or waiting for the rest of your party to arrive. When you’re ready, just tell the maitre d’ and he’ll find you a table.
Up in the stern on Deck 10, the ship’s two specialty restaurants sit side by side. To port there’s Toscana, serving classic Italian meals amid Mediterranean-inspired decor. To starboard, the Polo Grill steakhouse is suitably dark and woody, graced with photos of Hollywood legends who look as if they may have enjoyed a good a steak here. There’s no extra fee for either of these specialty restaurants, but just so everybody gets a chance, there’s an initial limit of two specialty reservations per voyage for guests in Concierge-level staterooms and suites and one reservation per voyage guests in regular staterooms. If you want more, just get on the waitlist and see if you get lucky.
Other dining options include a buffet restaurant that does breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the latter ratcheted up into a real dinner experience, and offering al fresco dining on a bow-facing terrace.
There’s also Waves Grill on the attractive, teak Pool Deck, which offers a pool, a pair of hot tubs, and deck chairs and large daybeds for sunbathing. The Patio, a shaded outdoor lounge, offers thickly cushioned chairs and daybeds and a nap-inducing atmosphere.
For the ultimate, guests can rent one of the eight private cabanas on Deck 11, each offering great sea views, a retractable shade roof, white drapes that can be drawn for privacy, a plush daybed for two, and the services of an attendant who can fetch drinks, chilled towels, and other luxuries. You can even arrange to get a massage here, courtesy of a therapist from the Canyon Ranch SpaClub on Deck 9, run by the legendary resort spa company.
Or, you could just relax in your cabin — and who would blame you? Though Nautica’s standard cabins aren’t innovative or exceptionally large, they’re classy and comfortable — especially the beds.
Part of Oceania’s draw has always been its branded Tranquility Beds, each an oasis of perfect mattress, Egyptian cotton sheets and covers, down duvets, and wonderful pillows. New “Prestige Tranquility Beds” installed fleetwide in 2010 and 2011 raised the bar even further.
Almost all cabins measure in the 165-square-foot range, with two thirds of them adding on an average-sized, teak-decked private balcony. Concierge-class staterooms are the same size, but add on a bunch of luxury amenities and onboard privileges, including a welcome bottle of champagne, a DVD player (with movies), priority embarkation and luggage delivery, and the opportunity to book more reservations at the ship’s specialty restaurants.
If you need more space, Nautica’s suites range from the 322-square-foot Penthouse Suites to the 1,000-square-foot Owner’s Suites, which have separate living rooms and bedrooms, wrap-around balconies, and niceties like 42-inch plasma flat-screen TVs, Bose sound systems, and Hermès and Clarins bath products.
All suites include butler service.
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