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Saturday, 16 March 2013 07:45

Cruising the Med with Oceania

Written by  Sue Shapiro
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Aclient, who also happens to be a relative, recently asked me to suggest a Mediterranean cruise. Like any good travel agent, I tried to determine what was more important...the ship or the itinerary. “Both,” said the client. That’s a dilemma we all face, and requires a lot of professional knowledge, experience and asking the right questions to get the right answers.

After asking many more quesions, I finally suggested the Oceania Regatta’s 12-day mediterranean cruise from Istanbul to Lisbon. I determined that the itinerary included five ports that my much-traveled cousin had not experienced, and that the Regatta is the size of ship on which they would feel comfortable. Added to that is Oceania’s reputation for excellent value and wonderful customer service. Not only did my cousin book, but also “insisted” that I come along. It wasn’t a hardship.

The Cruise Line

Known for offering a luxury experience at very modest prices, Oceania occupies a niche in the cruise market that’s unique. It almost sounds oxymoronic to call a cruise ship upscale informal but that’s the Oceania mantra. Everything about their ships is luxurious from the cabins, to the multiple restaurants, to public areas, to the bars and lounges and especially the ways in which the staff treats the passengers.

In the evening, guests dress for comfort but standards are still maintained (jeans are not acceptable except in the buffet restaurant). It’s a very unpretentious cruise line.

Oceania’s prices include airfare. Given the high airfares to Europe today, your client will probably save and you’ll get a better commission. Another important reason to consider Oceania is that they are ranked among the highest for repeat passengers.


The Ship

Oceania has 4 ships. Two accommodate 684 guests, and two carry 1,250. The smaller Regatta has 342 luxurious suites and cabins, 70% with private balconies. A crew of 400 ensures attentive but not intrusive service.

Cabin choices include 5 types of suites, all of which come with butler service, stocked in-suite bar, champagne, priority check-in and luggage delivery, access to the private Spa terrace and lots more. Regular cabins offer verandas, ocean view and inside rooms. All come with luxury features.

Dining options were remarkable. Imagine Jacque Pepin, the French gourmet chef, designing low calorie choices that were luscious. Superb gourmet selections were available (at no extra cost) in the alternate restaurants, including veal chops, rib eye steaks, or an Italian menu. We were given the option to dine with others, and as a result, have new friends to visit from Australia, the UK, Spain, Germany, Jamaica and all over the USA.

Entertainment choices included a casino, piano bar, Broadway showroom, great entertainers, a shopping “mall”, a Canyon Ranch Spa with a variety of treatments, a well-stocked library, computer room with classes, pool, Jacuzzi and great shore excursions.


The Itinerary

Experiencing Santorini’s white washed cliff houses overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean far below for the second or third time is still thrilling. But so is sitting at a sea side restaurant on the island of Lesbos eating char-grilled octopus after admiring 5th century BC statues in their amazing archeological museum.

Who would not thrill to see the magnificent St. John’s Cathedral in Malta with it’s history of the Grand Masters, the statue of Moses and a world famous Carravagio. And Malta is such a boon for Americans since everyone speaks English. Little visited Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, is charming, and well worth a visit.

We loved Ibiza, especially since the ship stayed overnight to accommodate travelers who wanted to sightsee during the day and participate in their famous nightlife.

The not so famous port of Almeria was our next stop.... giving us another choice. Many who had not been to Granada took advantage of its proximity to visit the famous Moorish citadel. Others explored Almeria’s attractions.

Our last stop in Spain was the iconic city of Cadiz, departure point for Columbus’ second voyage to the New World. It’s such an appealing combination of Roman, Moorish, Mediterranean and Spanish civilizations that you run out of time before you run out of interesting places to see. One more overnight port before the voyage ended was beautiful Lisbon, one of the most under appreciated cities in Europe. With a coastline equal if not more beautiful than California’s famous Big Sur, Lisbon and it’s surrounding towns of royal Estoril, and historic Sintra offer tourists one of the best experiences in Europe.

So going back the to original does a good travel agent resolve the dilemma of what’s more important...the ship or the itinerary? The answer depends on the client. However, it’s hard to go wrong if you suggest an Oceania ship in the Mediterranean.

Read 2491 times Last modified on Sunday, 17 March 2013 17:40
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