Regatta puts Henley to shame

//Regatta puts Henley to shame

regatta.jpgIt was a busy day for Dover cruise port yesterday, with three ships turning round. Spirit of Adventure, just back from a a seven-night cruise to Norway, was preparing to return on a 14-night voyage as far as North Cape. Saga Ruby, which has just been to North Cape, was setting out for Greenland.
Both are regular visitors to the Kent port, and use it as their base throughout the summer. Sandwiched between them was a much rarer visitor. With a name like Regatta, some may have thought she had been blown off course from Henley, but this is an even more exotic creature.
Regatta is one of three identical ships operated by Oceania. Along with sister vessels Insignia and Nautica, it was one of eight similar ships built by Renaissance Cruises built during the 90s. All have found new homes since the company went bust in 2001.
Princess operate another three – although one of those will join P&O’s fleet as Adonia next year – and Azamara Club Cruises has the other two.
The Oceania ships, which each accommodate 684 passengers, don’t claim to be match the luxury of Crystal, Silversea or Seabourn, but they attract affluent American passengers drawn to the relaxed country club style – no tuxedos or ballgowns required here, although no jeans and T-shirts at dinner either: we’re talking high-end designer-label casual.
Even when the ships sail in Europe – and Regatta was setting off on a round-Britain voyage that also takes in a couple of Norwegian ports – nine out of 10 passengers on board will be from the US.
Which means that like-minded British travellers miss out on the superb food that Oceania offers.
I spent a few hours on board at the invitation of UK sales and marketing director Bernard Carter. The first half of the visit he was telling me how good our lunch was going to be. And during the second half I discovered how right he was.
A caviar and crushed potato starter was followed by a polenta souffle with mushroom and truffle sauce. Then came a lobster risotto, and then the piece de resistance, the most succulent piece of Black Angus beef tenderloin. And finally a wicked chocolate bouchon with passion fruit.
If the crew had not been busy welcoming passengers on board I would have asked them to carry me ashore.
Oceania will be adding their first new-build ship to the fleet in January, with the launch of the 1,250-passenger Marina, increasing their total passenger capacity by 60 per cent at a stroke. Another new vessel, Riviera, will be completed in 2011.
By then there should be more room for British passengers to join the party and enjoy menus created by master chef Jacques Pepin, and Canyon Ranch spas for relaxing in luxury.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:24+00:00 1 July 2010|Cruise Ships|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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