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Cruise Ship or Country Hotel?

20 August 2010

Oceania Cruises' Regatta

Yesterday I had the pleasure of enjoying a fantastic five course lunch in Southampton's premier country hotel, Oceania Cruises flagship the Regatta. Technically I was on a cruise ship, but Oceania Cruises have tried their utmost to make their fleet feel as country club as possible, to the extent you forget you're on a ship.

The whole feeling of the Regatta is elegant and understated, where chinos and deck shoes are more welcome than dinner suits and dickie bows. Every port hole in the passenger areas is decked out with curtains and tie backs, to give the impression of a luxurious family-run hotel, opposed to the usual obvious bulkheads and white coloured metal of most ships.

The ship is furnished with comfy arm chairs and sofas, offering a more homely feel than the usual leather cushioned benches and trendy modern furniture of the new super liners. You almost feel as if the views from your cabins verandah will be if lush green gardens, and maybe a PGA class golf course, rather than the ocean waves.

The Best Food in Southampton

The Regatta may not be offering the best food in Southampton today, as she's on her way to the Baltics, but yesterday she did. I was fortunate enough to enjoy 28 day dry hung beef, beautiful Maine lobster, morels mushrooms and black truffles and topped off with fabulous, white glove service. From recent personal experience I would place the food somewhere between the Hotel du Vin and Claridge's.

The atmosphere and decor has the understated elegance of the QM2 and the informal, country manor feel of Swan Hellenic. The service though is again comparable to the attentive yet unimposing waiters of Claridge's or Fortnum and Mason, without the need to break out the dinner suits and cocktail dresses.

Oceania Cruises have found a superb blend of style, comfort and standards that will appeal to fans of Cunard, Celebrity, Regent Seven Seas and Silversea, who are looking for the best food, service and itineraries, yet are after a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere. I can see why on the 1st Jan this year they were 95% sold out for 2010, and 2011 is selling just as fast.

If a grown, yet informal attitude, intimate ports and truly fine cuisine are on your priorities, when sales start on the 1st September I would get in quick, before you can't!

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