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A Taste Of Luxury

20th August 2013

Updated August 2019

In order to get better understanding of what luxury cruise line, Oceania Cruises, are all about, we sent a member of the team - Jo - out onboard their ship Nautica. Find out everything she thought in her review below.

 

oceania nautica exterior

 

When we first arrived at Southampton cruise port and spotted Nautica, I thought she looked beautiful, elegantly sat waiting for us to come onboard.

The first thing we said to each other was how different check-in appeared. There were no queues and the terminal appeared empty - it was so nice to walk straight up to check-in and have our passes within a few minutes. Due to the ship only carrying around 700 guests there is were no apparent crowds or check-in lines, which was extremely pleasant. There have been times where I have spent up to an hour in lines at check-in to board ships due to the volume of guests.

After check-in we were escorted onto the ship and the luxury was evident straight away;

 

Oceania Nautica: Ship or Country Hotel?

 

From the minute I stepped onboard there was a very different atmosphere to anything I'd seen onboard a ship before. Where usually you'd step into a grand atrium or a shopping-centre inspired Boardwalk, this time it felt like I had just stepped into a quaint country hotel. I gained a sudden feeling of warmth. A very smartly dressed crew member wearing white gloves then escorted us to an elevator and took us up to Deck 10 where we were served welcome drinks in the Horizons Bar.

 

welcome drinks

 

The itself had a tradition mahogany style décor and boasted three walls of panoramic windows that allowed views of the surroundings from wherever you were sitting. This would be a perfect place to be as you go in and out of the stunning ports of call that Oceania visit. I could picture myself sitting here with a cocktail as you sail out of Venice during an evening time….wow!

While we enjoyed the drinks, we were given a short presentation about Oceania including information about their destinations, ship upgrades, and a general insight into the company. Oceania claim to have the finest cuisine at sea, and boast that the food onboard is one of their main focal points. It was clear that they invest a lot of time and money in their onboard food selection and it was really exciting to hear about their array of dining options - including the famous 28 day aged beef that is cooked in a water bath for 72 hours. After hearing this we were all hoping that this was going to be on our menu for lunch!

Time to explore…

It was now time for us to go and explore the ship. I really wanted to visit the pool deck as I had wondered how it would compare to the larger ships. It was stunning, I can honestly say it was one of the prettiest pool decks I have seen. The deck chairs were perfectly set out around the pristine pool and Jacuzzis. The wooden deck chairs all had soft Oceania logo towels perfectly laid on them, with a head rest and a place to put your cocktail! I particularly loved the double deck chairs -something I have never seen on a ship before.

 

oceania pool deck

 

From the outer deck we went to check out the Canyon Ranch Spa. Upon entering it felt like walking into a traditional spa in an old country hotel; it was beautiful. The spa was again of traditional dark wood décor and had a range of treatments. It also had a selection of clothing items to purchase, including country style ‘Canyon Ranch SpaClub’ logo-ed apparel.

I really loved the traditional, homely feel the ship gave and felt a sense of tranquillity as I walked around. I think it would be a wonderful experience to feel like you are staying in a country hotel while sailing the ocean to some of the most amazing destinations in the world.

We also saw the elegant library, card room, casino, and internet café. They all had such a homely feel and gave a real sense of comfort and relaxation.

 

oceania nautica library

 

We then took a peek at all the speciality restaurants, as these are something Oceania are very proud of. All the restaurants are complimentary onboard and no pre-booking is necessary. Our first stop was Toscano, an Italian restaurant. It boasted neutral décor that instantly gave you the feeling of a being in a luxurious fine dining venue. The menu and accompanying wine sounded divine. Decked out with Versace plates and the finest selection of cutlery, it looked magnificent.

We then went to Polo Grill, the onboard steakhouse. The décor here was very different to Toscano, with mahogany carpets and deep red cutlery, it's more of a modern, sheek restaurant. Again, the tables were laid out to an extremely high standard and clearly displayed high quality cutlery. This was starting to make me hungry and it was approaching lunch time, so we made our way to The Grand Dining Room.

The 'Finest cuisine at sea’...

This was the moment we had all been waiting for, after all the talk about the food it was time to see if it lived up to expectation!

The dining room was of very classic décor with pastel, floral curtains, patterned carpets, and classic chandeliers. As I sat down I was scared to touch anything on the table as it had been laid out immaculately! The plates, cutlery and accompanying dinner service were set out perfectly, not a millimetre out of place.

The Versace plates which we were told cost $300 were beautiful - definitely an extra special touch to the dining table that made us feel like guests at Downton Abbey.

 

versace crockery

 

As the waiter handed me my menu, my eyes lit up and I think yours will too when you see this; a six-course lunch including:

1. Fingerling Potato – with Sturgeo Cavia Echire Butter and Fresh Chives

2. Risotto All’Aragosta – Arborio Rice with Roasted Lobster Medallions in a Lobster Broth Reduction

3. Den Miso Glazed Seabass – Wrapped and Cooked in Hoba Leaf

4. Slowcooked Sjort Rib Perigourdine – Semolina Gnocchi, Vegetable Casserole and Crispy Parmesan

5. Zen – Manjari Chocolate Bar with Milky Gianduja-Yuzu and Hazelnut Croquant

6. Petit Fours and Macaroons

And believe me, it tasted as amazing as it sounds. Every dish was cooked and presented perfectly and it all tasted delicious. Plus the red and white wines that accompanied the meal were also perfectly matched.

It was certainly a dining experience I will never forget - it's not every day you get to eat caviar off a Versace plate with a mother of pearl spoon!

With our stomachs well and truly satisfied it was time to say goodbye to our Oceania experience and share our thoughts on the experience.

Final thoughts …

This ship visit was a completely different experience to the others we'd been on, and it's clear to us that Oceania offer a unique and special experience.

 

oceania nautica staircase

 

Overall the ship was very elegant and homely; sitting in front of an open fire in the library on a ship, what a beautiful thought! The deep, traditional décor gave it a very warm and relaxed feeling, and I can certainly see why people choose to cruise with Oceania again and again. I would definitely recommend a holiday on Nautica for the ultimate escape in a home away from home!

If you'd like to experience this stunning style of cruise for yourself, browse through our range of Oceania Cruises' Nautica itineraries to find your own special getaway.


Iglu Team Enjoy A Break Away!

3rd May 2013

Updated July 2019

 

Some of our lucky team were invited onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s mega ship, Norwegian Breakaway, when she arrived in Southampton before setting off on her inaugral sailing to New York. Full of beams and experiences to share, the team arrived back into the office with lots to say . . . 

 

 

 

First Impressions

With so much speculation leading up to this ship launch we were all super excited to see her and were not disappointed, she certainly stands out from the crowd. As you see Norwegian Breakaway from the outside you are automatically drawn to the colourful artwork spread across her hull. Designed by the renowned Pop Artist, Peter Max, the quirky images of New York’s famous landmarks on the outside definitely make you want to see the inside.

As we entered the interior of the ship it was bright but stylish and instantly gave you a happy feeling that you were going to have a good holiday (it was just a shame we were not actually going on holiday!!)

We knew there was lots to do and see and did not want to waste any time, so set of to explore everything she had to offer.

 

 

So many amazing features

There really is something for everyone onboard, and from morning to night you will always find something to do - from adventurous activities to tranquil areas of relaxation.

Some of the features that really stood out for us were:

The Waterfront - Norwegian Cruise Line wanted the sea to be a focal point of the experience onboard, so on both sides of Deck 8 is a quarter mile beach front packed with restaurants, bars, and shops that all look over the ocean. Although it was slightly chilly to enjoy this in Southampton, when the ship is in warmer climes this area will be a perfect spot to enjoy the sun and feel the holiday spirit.

The Deck-top Complex – This area is so exciting and really offers fun for the whole family. The Aqua Park boasts a whole range of rides, including the fastest water slide at sea. Watching people go down it was as awesome as going on it yourself! There is also a three-story sports complex, a zip line, ropes course, miniature golf course, climbing cage and for the most brave, ‘The Plank’. This is where you are put in a harness and walk out on a narrow beam off the side of the ship. 

 

 

The Entourage – This is the area exclusive to teens, a place where 13 – 17 year olds can hang out and be themselves! The atmosphere here is young and chic and provides the perfect environment for teens to enjoy their cruise as much as their parents. Arcade games, jukeboxes, large movie screens and disco booths make this every teen's dream hide out!  

Entertainment for everyone

We were surprised by the extensive range of entertainment options onboard and the evening really came alive in the various theatres and lounges. We all collectively spoke about ‘Fat Cats’, it was definitely one of our favourite venues! An authentic New York-style lounge that had live performances of jazz, blues, and classic pop, even those of us who are not into jazz enjoyed it. It was big enough for people to dance around, but small enough that the atmosphere was electric.

We have to mention the dining

One of the main things we all took advantage of was the food! Norwegian Cruise Line are famous for their freestyle dining concept and as we know, this works very well for some cruisers. However there are so many other speciality restaurants on Norwegian Breakaway.

 

 

Some of us opted to eat at the Manhattan, which is one of the three main dining rooms onboard. Laura, our Online Marketing Manager quoted "this venue actually does feel like New York, it offered live music as we enjoyed our meal. The menu was varied and simple enough to suit everyone".

Others went to Moderno Churasscaria, the Brazilian steakhouse. The concept of this restaurant is very unique and we were offered different meats that were carved at our table side. Set in the perfect location on The Waterfront, we had the option to dine inside or out. Our Product and Commercial Director, Dave was particularly impressed with the concept of having your own table card and turning it over to green for more meat, or red for ‘take it easy’!!

In a nutshell

We loved our one night visit onboard, and it was certainly worth the anticipation. The ship itself is very bright and fun with lots to do. There is a wide range of venues, although many of them are quite small so we would recommend getting to your favourite venue early to avoid disappointment. The entertainment and dining was impressive, however we think doing some pre cruise planning would be helpful so you don't miss out on anything. If you like cruising with Norwegian Cruise Line, you will not be disappointed as the ship is very ‘Norwegian style’ throughout.

Take a look at our range of cruises onboard Norwegian Breakaway, and start planning your next family adventure.


Carnival Legend: The Answer To Ocean Village?

20th February 2012

Updated May 2019

 

Since the loss of Ocean Village to the world of cruising, we have heard many accounts about the popular cruise line being missed by many. Ocean Village offered a British-style cruise, but in a very informal and relaxed way and with great sun-filled destinations.

Ever since the decision to close down the cruise line, her former — and loyal — passengers have been looking for a replacement. Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises and Marella Cruises have all been offered as good alternatives, which they are, but we've heard that they still seem to be missing something.

 

top cruise lines

 

Royal Caribbean and P&O Cruises' ships are much bigger those in the Ocean Village fleet, with the popular Symphony of the Seas carrying more than 5,000 passengers, and P&O Britannia catering for over 3,600. Both cruise lines offer a great choice of formal and informal dining and entertainment and great itineraries, but Ocean Village's ships were completely informal, a lot more casual, smaller and due to all of this, often much cheaper.

Marella Cruises have also made an effort to give the Ocean Village customers a good alternative, and with their casual British-style cruising, relaxed approach and similar 3* standards, you would think they'd be a great fit. But with slightly older ships and their own atmosphere onboard, they too haven't quite captured Ocean Village's loyal fans' attention.

So, after looking at just what this well-loved cruise line could offer, and comparing it to what's on the market today, we think Carnival Cruises could have the answer. While yes they undeniably offer American-style cruising, their modern fleet, fun-filled ships, and reasonable prices could be just the ticket.

 

carnival cruises waterworks

 

At 2,100 passengers, Carnival Legend is larger than the 1,600 passenger Ocean Village 1 and the 1,700 passenger Ocean Village 2, but Carnival Legend is also 15 years younger than Ocean Village 1. This ship has been one of Carnival's long-standing favourites, taking families to destinations all over and providing memories to  last a lifetime. Carnival Cruise Line offer a similar level of service and style of holiday to Ocean Village, just on a larger scale, with 29 ships carrying from 2,000 to 3,500+ passengers onboard. They offer flexible dining, the dress code is resort casual — so not quite shorts and t-shirts for dinner, but relaxed nonetheless — though there are usually a couple of formal nights onboard, where you can break into anything from shirt and tie, to a full tuxedo or cocktail dress if you wish. Having said this, if putting a tie or dress on isn't quite up your street, there are casual dining venues to choose from, such as the 24 hour pizzeria or the Lido buffet.

Carnival Cruises' ships are perfect for your family holiday, boasting plenty of differently themed lounges, indoor and outdoor promenades, and generous children's play area. Throw in a couple of pools, plenty of evening entertainment — from comedy nights or musicians in the Red Frog pub, to full blown productions in the theatre — a fantastic kids programme and all the amenities you would expect onboard a mid-sized ship.

 

carnival cruises

 

 

The prices onboard with Carnival Cruises are great value too. Just to give you a idea, a bottle of Miller or Budweiser will set you back $5 (about £4 at the time of writing), while a 16oz (just shy of a pint) of Guinness or Grolsch will set you back $6 (around £4.75) and a can of soft drink will cost you about $2 (about £1.60). These prices may not be as cheap as your local, but compared to city centre or resort prices they are pretty good value.

So while Carnival ships may be American, a little larger, a little louder, and offer a lot more choice, we think they are about as close to Ocean Village ships as we think you can find. The newer vessels mean spas, greater cabin selection, and better facilities, though you may have to put on a shirt and tie once or twice for dinner. Browse our range of Carnival Cruise Line cruises and start thinking about your next family adventure.


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