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A Day Onboard The Elegant Oceania Nautica

A Quality of Eternal Reassurance

Walking around the decks of the 684 passenger ship Oceania Nautica, I could feel a warm, friendly and opulent atmosphere. The only person missing from this ship was The Great Gatsby himself. There was a feeling so hard to explain, but an excerpt from the novel seemed to sum it up completely.

“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.

It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Ornate Ceilings onboard Oceania Nautica

Oceania Nautica – Private Spa Terrace

The O Life

The crew and passengers onboard Oceania Nautica are so friendly. The furnishings are luxurious with attention to detail. The art and decor are beautifully traditional with a touch of chic.

From prints to Picasso’s

Exquisite Cuisine

Bob Binder’s passion for superb wine mixed with Frank Del Rio’s artistic eye along with with Jacques Pepin’s world-class cuisine, give Oceania all the elements to deliver an exceptional onboard experience.

Oceania proudly declares that they have the best cuisine at sea.  They attribute this to two things.  Firstly, Oceania claims to spend more money per head on ingredients than any other cruise line and secondly, the man behind the culinary creations on board is Jacques Pepin who turned down a request to cook for John F. Kennedy many years ago. It only seems fitting to serve food fit for Presidents, at tables set with Versace plates with a price tag of 250 Euros a piece!  Some cruise lines offer a cruise close to that price!

Versace dinner plates

Speciality restaurants Toscana and Marco Polo Grill are no extra charge. Food from these menus can also be ordered in the main dining room. Unlimited soft drinks, bottled water, speciality coffees, teas and juices are also included.

Waves Grill and pool area

On Deck

The ship has a lovely pool with two jacuzzi’s, an extensive bar with poolside waiter service, luxurious sun-loungers and double luxury beds. There is ample room for everyone to have a lounger and plenty of space to walk around the deck.

If you’re in the mood for some laid-back alfresco dining, Waves Grill located near the pool area offers Gourmet Burgers which include a Black Angus Sirloin Burger and The Kobe Burger with Wagyu Beef, Black Truffle Sauce and Baby Cress.  Sandwiches range from a tapenade-laced freshly baked panini to the surf and turf of grilled lobster medallions and sliced filet mignon. With a choice of hand-dipped milkshakes and freshly made smoothies, there is certain to be something on offer that takes your fancy.

Verandah Stateroom

The ultimate luxury stateroom experience starts with the Prestige Tranquility Bed.  This 1,000-thread-count-linen is exclusive to Oceania Cruises. Other amenities include refrigerated mini-bar with free and unlimited soft drinks and bottled water, complimentary 24-hour room service and Bulgari toiletries. On the newer ships, Marina and Riviera you will get a full-size bathtub.

State of the art gym equipment

Health and Wellness

On deck nine you have a state of the art fitness centre with stunning sea views and a variety of classes including indoor cycling, aerobics, yoga or pilates.  For those who want to take in the fresh air and ever-changing views of your destinations, you may prefer to use the open-air fitness track on deck ten.  On the larger ships, Marina and Riviera you can find a Kinesis exercise wall.

Lockers and changing room for the Private Spa Terrace

Oceania has its very own Canyon Ranch Spa Club on board their ships.  Book a signature Canyon Stone Massage, a Thai massage.  Or enjoy the sauna*, steam room and full-service beauty salon.

The Grand Dining Room and Terrace Cafe serve Canyon Ranch cuisine, to offer those healthier options.

The heated ceramic loungers* in the relaxation room will restore your balance.  Finish off with breathtaking views on the Private Spa Terrace in the thalassotherapy pool and whirlpools. Guests booked in a concierge stateroom or above will enjoy complimentary access. For other guests, there is a charge.

The perfect place to unwind

If you like your nightly entertainment, the lounge on deck 5 is the place to find it.  Expect a good variety of shows from headline acts and lively jazz ensembles to comedians and magicians.

The Lounge

The Grand Finale

We were taken into the Grand Dining Room for a delicious six-course lunch, to finish off the day.  The food and wine were exquisite.

The Grand Dining Room

Sturgeon Caviar for starters

After our amazing lunch, it was time to disembark. Oceania Nautica is a great option if you are cruising without children.

One of my favourite pieces of art onboard

Suggested Reading – Ultra-Luxury Cruising on Crystal Symphony

Disney Magic Cruise Ship Review

Disney Magic put in a rare appearance at a UK port and seemed to turn the Dover port authority staff and travel agent visitors into a bunch of children.

I was among the lucky handful of travel agents to have been offered the opportunity to visit the Disney Magic.

What To Expect On A Disney Cruise

Cruising can be many things to many people, but put the name Disney in front of it and it changes the expectations completely.

The first thing you do when starting any Disney experience is to look out for the well loved characters, and it wasn’t long before I caught my first glimpse of Goofy hanging off the back of the ship as he was adding the finishing touches of paint to it’s aft.

Onboard the Disney Magic

Captain Mickey greeted us as we embarked the ship.

The tastefully styled atrium was nothing like I’d expected. There were subtle touches of Disney but the elegance of a cruise ship remained.

On Deck

It was a gorgeous sunny August day and we made our way up to the pool deck, always my favourite place on a cruise ship. Goofy’s pool has a movie screen and the splash area with water slide for thrill seekers. Cove Pool is the adults only retreat from the excitement of the younger and older kids.

There are plenty of pool vests available for children.

Beautiful art can be seen throughout the ship which takes on many forms from sketches to oil paintings.

Every stateroom onboard a Disney ship has a separate bathroom and toilet, which is a godsend when travelling with children. Every bathroom has a bath in it as well regardless of which type of room you go for. The décor has a subtle Disney feel to it and nothing like I had expected.

Needless to say there has been no skimping on facilities for kids clubs. Disney has huge areas for all age groups.

The main dining room, Animation Palate is something else. As you enter the restaurant, you are surrounded by black and white sketch drawings. But during the course of the evening colour explodes from the paintbrushes and colours the entire room.

Of course it would not be Disney without it’s own theatre and the incredible shows they put on the ships.  I can’t help but thing of the movie “Saving Mr Banks” everytime I see a picture of Walt Disney.

Of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to have my photo taken with the lovely Anna and Elsa to end a wonderful day onboard the Disney Magic.

If you are a Disney fan, why not read about the day I took my kids to The Magic Kingdom

Cruising with a Baby on P & O’s Ventura

Tips For Cruising With A Baby

Not only was this my first P & O cruise but it was also my first time cruising with a six-month-old baby.  As my daughter was 14 by this time, it had also been a while since I’d done the baby thing.  We were joined by my mum, so I had an extra pair of helping hands.

Pre-Cruise Planning

Before the cruise, I discovered that P & O offer more for parents with small babies than other cruise lines. You can order a baby bath, a steriliser, bottle warmer, a cot (travel cot) and baby food.  All at no extra cost.

The twin beds are the same size although the one on the left looks really skinny, it’s not.

On Arrival

We arrived in the room to find a lovely balloon tied to some sweets as a little extra touch for Joshua.  The balloon came in very handy when I was trying to distract Joshua long enough to get ready to go out.

Surprisingly the travel cot fits easily between the two beds or even at the foot of the farthest bed.  Be aware, if you have it there you obstruct the fridge which can be a bit of a pain.  I used to move it to the foot of the bed in the mornings when I was getting ready and then have it in the middle, at night.  I guess if like most people, you are travelling with the baby’s father, you will want the beds as a double.  In which case you can either have the cot at the end of the bed or around the corner.  I’ll show you further down.

Steriliser, bottle warmer, tea and coffee making facilities and UK plug sockets.

The steriliser and the bottle warmer, together with tea and coffee making facilities and a fridge.

A lovely and unusual touch to welcome young cruisers.

My daughter Lucy was booked into a twin room with my Mum so that she didn’t have to pay a single supplement.  However, once we got onboard, we asked if Lucy could join Josh and me in our room.  The ship staff were great about it and issued us with another key card for Lucy.

If you are swapping rooms it is very important to notify the ship staff!

This is because, your allocated meeting point in an emergency, depends on where your cabin is on the ship and if you go to a muster station that is not expecting you, there may not be a seat on the lifeboat should you need one. Similarly, if you are required to disembark the ship, it will appear that you are still onboard and someone may risk their life trying to save you unnecessarily.

Plenty of hanging space for clothes

This is the area outside the bathroom where you can hang your clothes.  The travel cot and bedding were already in our room for us.  You can place the cot in this area if you prefer so the baby almost has a separate bedroom area.  It’s whatever you feel most comfortable with really.  Speak to your room attendant about your needs because they will put the cot up every evening for you and then fold it away during the day.

Playroom

The playroom for under 3’s is open all-day

Ventura has a playroom which is open all day for parents with under 3’s and is complimentary.  Joshua was one of only about five babies onboard.  It will depend on when you travel as to how many children are onboard your cruise.

At night, the room turns into a night nursery with cot beds and curtain dividers.  As long as your child goes to sleep without a problem, you can drop them off from 6 pm onwards so that you can go and enjoy a meal and some entertainment with peace of mind.  You are given a pager so that you can be contacted at all times.  I think the nursery is open until about 1 am, however, the latest I collected Joshua was around 11.30.  I was surprised he went straight off to sleep every night, but it gave me some time to myself.

Sunrise while docking in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Morning Stroll

I like to get up very early in the morning and luckily with Joshua, I don’t need an alarm clock.  One of my favourite things to do is get up while most people are still in bed, around 6 am, and walk around the top deck taking in the views and the sunrise.

Friendly ship staff

The staff were really friendly and loved Joshua.

Milk, yoghurts and fruit to start the day

It was a great opportunity to try Joshua with different foods.  For baby food and yoghurts you need to ask a member of staff as they are kept in a separate refrigerator for your child’s’ health and safety.

I can’t resist a cooked breakfast on a cruise

Captain Charlie Carr is more than happy to pose for a photo with Joshua.

The public areas on deck have plenty of space to move around, and there is a large covered bar and seating area.

A big hit with the kids is the poolside grill that serves pizza, burgers, hot dogs and ice cream.

Larger balconies, but not so private.

Balcony cabins on decks C and D are larger than most, however, bear in mind that you can be overlooked by those looking down from upper decks.

Ships and Champagne

Award-winning restaurant The Glasshouse

One of my favourite places onboard the Ventura is The Glasshouse.  Writer, tv presenter and sommelier Olly Smith who can be seen on Saturday Kitchen and This Morning, has developed a menu of 32 wines which can be paired with specially crafted dishes in this uniquely designed wine bar-restaurant.

Learning about wines and food pairing in The Glasshouse

I was keen to attend the wine pairing seminar, which was held on a sea day at 11.30 am.  As there is no childcare available during the day for under 3’s, I was concerned about what to do with Joshua.  The staff in the Glasshouse reassured me that I could bring him along, and if he became disruptive they would take care of him!

If only this would catch on back home

I had to take a quick photo before they handed him back to me.  The staff were lovely.

Lost? This should help.

If you are worried about getting lost, you will find one of these deck plans by the lifts and stairs on each deck.

Light lunch

Feeling indecisive about what to have from the lunchtime buffet, I decided to try a little bit of everything!

Bon Voyage Croatia

Ready to sail away from Dubrovnik with a cheeky margarita.

Dress Code

There is usually a couple of formal nights onboard, however it only compulsory to wear formal clothes if you are dining in one of the restaurants.  For those people who prefer to stay in shorts and tee shirts, there is plenty to choose from in the self-service buffet.

Marco Pierre White provides the Gala dinner menu

Formal night menu included a menu by Marco Pierre White.

 

Don’t forget your Towelwizz

There is plenty of space around the pool to be able to move the sun loungers around.  A must-have accessory is a Towelwizz band, which keeps your towel in place and doubles up as a luggage strap.

The baby splash pool (far left) with surrounded with perspective glass for extra safety.

Nappies and Swimming

If you are cruising with a baby in nappies are not allowed in the main pools due to strict health and safety procedures that apply to cruise ships.  I believe it’s something to do with the chlorine levels allowed onboard being lower than those at public pools.  Not all ships have splash pools for babies, however, Ventura does and it is at the back of the ship next to the kids’ clubs.

Cruising into Venice along the Grand Canal

Sailing into Venice is hard to explain, but those who have done it say it is by far the best port to sail in or out of for breathtaking views.

Stunning views of Venice

Cruising along the Grand Canal while relaxing on a sun lounger or having a dip in the pool, is pretty hard to beat.

Marco Pierre White’s onboard restaurant The White Room

Mum and I spent our last night with a meal in Marco Pierre White’s onboard restaurant, while the sun set over Venice.

Quality mother and daughter time.

Recommended Reading Cruise People – Family Cruising – The Bruce-Low’s

Anthem of the Seas Review – 2015

It’s A Smart Ship

Putting together an Anthem of the Seas review is not an easy task, as it would be hard to find anyone who has not heard about the newest addition to the Royal Caribbean International fleet. Her recent arrival into Southampton Docks for her inaugural season seems to have the whole cruise industry in a swirl.

With 24 ships in it’s fleet to date, compared to the 8 that P & O Cruises have, Royal Caribbean International has raised the bar to the point where we wonder what on earth they can do next. But after spending two nights on her pre-inaugural sailing, it is clear that they have found a whole new dimension to cruising, cruise ship art, dining and entertainment.

Anthem of the Seas Review

My first impression, as I entered the atrium, was one of class and sophistication. It’s a grown-up version of previous Royal Caribbean ships, in as much as it’s not just about having cool stuff onboard, it’s about having thought-provoking design, art, and menus.  You can experience Wonderland, a unique speciality dining experience which starts when you have to paint your gold-framed menu to read it.

I absolutely love the solarium onboard Anthem of the Seas

There is a lot more indoor space to enjoy the outdoor scenery, such as the adult-only solarium with stunning views looking across the ocean from the front of the ship, and the pool bar which has a retractable roof.  This gives adults a place to enjoy a swim, a drink and relax in all weather conditions without kids, whether it be their own or someone else’s.

Two70

In Two70 with Dominic Paul, Michael Bayley, Richard Fain and Stuart Leven

The Two70 venue by day is another incredible place to relax indoors. It’s a cosy environment with its own cafe and bar, lets you enjoy incredible 270-degree views, spanning two and a half decks of floor to ceiling windows.  At night, this venue transforms into an entertainment place with robotic screens and 12K sound system with scenic images projected on the windows behind it.  That has never been seen on land before let alone at sea.  Watch the short video below and at one point you can hear me saying “how the hell”, which is quite literally what you think when you see the technology capabilities of these robo screens.

Introducing more firsts at sea such as indoor skydiving, rollerskating, dodgems, the North Star (elevates guests 300ft above the water) to compliment their signatures like the Flowrider, rock wall and Royal Promenade, Royal Caribbean International have certainly taken the cruise ship holiday experience to a whole new level.

A friendly waitress offers me a sample of their signature champagne cocktail in The Grande

A friendly waitress offers me a sample of their signature champagne cocktail in The Grande

They have added more in the way of entertainment. In addition to We Will Rock You and the incredible shows in Two70, there is the Music Hall.  This is a two-deck-high music venue with self-levelling pool tables upstairs and a stage and dancefloor downstairs.

Accommodation

They also have some incredible new suites and staterooms. The two-storey owner’s loft suite is incredible with three balconies and a hanging chair.

Getting comfortable on one of the balconies in the Owners Loft Suite

Take a look inside the Owners Loft Suite in this short video.

Having explored the ship over the course of two days, I asked myself “who would enjoy a cruise on Anthem of the Seas?” Everyone!  At least anyone who doesn’t want to experience the same thing on holiday than they do at home.  Anyone who has an inquisitive mind, a sense of adventure and likes to have a good time. There is something for everyone on this ship. If you are not grumpy, boring and miserable, you WILL have the BEST time ever on THIS ship!  TRY IT!

Why not take a look at How Long Is the Allure Of The Seas?