Yvonne Watson from Oasis Travel in Lisburn gets a glimpse of luxury life on a world cruise, courtesy of Oceania Cruises.
The increasing popularity and accessibility of cruising have made it a mainstream choice for many modern travellers, but truly high end cruising has lost nothing of its magic or panache. A luxury round-the-world cruise is still regarded as one of the Ultimate Holiday Experiences … and I discovered why when I joined Oceania Cruises’ Nautica for a few days when it sailed into Bordeaux recently.
This is a cruise line with a reputation for combining excellence with uniquely refined elegance. Its unique, wide-ranging itineraries feature some of the world’s most fabulous destinations, while its cruising programme is legendary, whether you opt for a journey of discovery to one of the world’s great oceans or step into fantasy travel territory with that World Cruise odyssey. Whenever and wherever you may choose to venture, everything about this ship and its on-board service is designed to cocoon passengers in comfort and ease.
The much-acclaimed Nautica has recently undergone a multimillion-dollar transformation to create a virtually new ship that is both sleek and elegantly charming. Her decks are resplendent in the finest teak, custom stone and tile work, and her lounges, suites and staterooms boast luxurious, neo-classical furnishings. The ship has four stunning restaurants, a world-class fitness centre and spa, eight bar lounges, a casino and 342 lavish suites and luxurious staterooms, nearly 70% of which feature private verandas.
The Nautica offers its luxe hospitality to a maximum of 684 guests, who have 400 professionally trained European staff on hand to cater for their every need … and whim! That staff-to-passenger ratio gives an indication of the level of service, but it’s the style of service that wowed me; constant yet always discreet and friendly, while always respectful.
The ambiance on board was equally pleasant. Round-the-world cruises tend to attract an older clientele because those are the people who can afford both the time and the price tag. The passengers on board the Nautica, however, seemed more mixed that I had perhaps expected, with many investing in this fabulous cruise to mark a landmark occasion in their lives; an anniversary, retirement or even waving the kids off to university at the start of an ‘empty nesters’ lifestyle!
The size of the ship – very far from large by today’s standards – created an intimate and friendly atmosphere and I could see just how easy it would be to slip into a welcoming social circle. (If only!). That sociability is fostered with fantastic entertainment constantly on offer, an exciting, albeit small, casino and fabulous lounge areas for day and night-time relaxation. There are great day-time and early-evening programmes to keep you and your new-found friends entertained in laid-back fashion and shore programmes to tempt discovery in a range of amazing ports, each delivering uniquely insightful experiences of the destinations.
Just as importantly, the Nautica also offers opportunities to step away from the hustle and bustle, whether that’s lounging by the pool, indulging in some spa pampering or hiding out in the gorgeously-appointed library. Let me put in a word here for chillaxing in your spacious stateroom, for my cabin featured what must surely be The Most Comfortable Bed In The World! Lying there, half dozing, yet admiring the changing views as we sailed gently along the River Garonne, is pretty close to paradise! I just wish I could bottle that sensation and bring it home with me!
Dining is always a highpoint of cruise life and Oceania Cruises has created its own style, known as ‘savor cuisine’ inspired by Master Chef Jacques Pépin to rival even Michelin-starred restaurants ashore. The fine dining in the evenings was nothing short of incredible but, from breakfast to lunch to afternoon tea, perfection was the name of the game. Even casual burgers, hot dogs and fresh fruit salads became something to write home about in the hands of these talented chefs, a demonstration that great food needn’t always be in the ‘haute cuisine’ style.
Style is what it’s all about at this end of the cruise market and, if that’s what floats your boat, Oceania really delivers. The only problem is that, having tasted cruising Oceania style, you may never want to come back to real life! You may not be in the market for their full-on around-the-world cruising experience, but Oceania has surprising value on offer too, with an eight nights Rome-Venice cruising experience in May 2019 coming in at £1,829 …. with loads of great ouches included!
Give me a call to find out more about dream destinations with Oceania.