Along the Adriatic Sea on the coast of northeast Italy lies the city of Venice, floating upon a maze of intricate canals lined by charming cafes, regal cathedrals, and palatial estates once inhabited by a wealthy aristocracy. Vaporettos and water taxis zip along the waterways, while gondolas offer leisurely tours of a city famous for romance.
In this lovely city I would soon embark on a marvelous journey, the 7th Annual Oceania Club Reunion Cruise onboard the extraordinary new ship Marina. This voyage is a wonderful event for everyone onboard, and is especially exceptional because it features hosted dinners, special excursions, exclusive cocktail parties and other surprises for Oceania Club members. As Oceania Cruises’ Blogger-at-Large, I had been looking forward to this sailing for many months.
My husband and I took advantage of Oceania Cruises’ Pre-Cruise Hotel Program so we could fly in a day early, spend some extra time exploring Venice, relax for a bit and then board Marina refreshed and ready for our adventures.
A priority on our agenda was to indulge in some authentic Italian cuisine. We found a little out-of-the-way café where we shared a delectable bruschetta and caprese salad.
Returning to Hotel Saturnia, we stopped into the hotel restaurant, La Caravella. We tried their famous fish stew, which was absolutely exquisite.
Just a few blocks from our hotel was St. Mark’s Square, where we saw two of Venice’s most famous landmarks, the Basilica di San Marco and the Doge’s Palace. We were planning to revisit the square for a full tour the next day, but we later found out that a more important guest would be visiting – the Pope! The city was bustling with excitement in preparing for the Pope’s arrival.
St. Mark’s Square was closed for security reasons, so we were unable to see the inside of these beautiful facades, but we were happy for the excuse to return to Venice again!
There were plenty of other interesting things to see and do in this city, such as observing the glass blowers on the island of Murano. The families on this island have been perfecting this art for hundreds of years. We visited the Vetreria Bisanzio Gallery, where the Ballarin family had been blowing glass since 1483.
The Master showed us how he incorporates mosaic pieces and even gold foil into the glasswork.
The process was absolutely amazing to watch. A master glass blower is assisted by several others in a process of constant motion, heating, blowing, and manipulating the glass into elaborate designs.
After the demonstration we were given a tour of the studio featuring magnificent chandeliers, beautiful sculptures, fine glassware, and the trademark statuettes of this particular master.
We had a fantastic time in Venice, but the excitement was even more palpable when it was finally time to board Marina. As we approached the port in our water taxi, the view of Marina was magnificent.
I was joined by Nick DeSantis, Manager of the Oceania Club, and Jeff Drew, Senior Vice President of Sales, who would be hosting this fabulous voyage. We were welcomed by several key staff members who have been responsible for Marina’s flawless performance and who would ensure that the Reunion Cruise was a wonderful success.
Pictured above are: Front row, left to right — Food & Beverage Director Filipe Martins, Chief Purser Michele Gullick, Chief Housekeeper Beata Antas, General Manager Theirry Tholon, Desktop Publisher Jessica Domm, Oceania Club Ambassador Matilda Jerosimic, Oceania Club Manager Nick DeSantis. Back row, left to right — Cruise Director David Shermet, Destination Services Manager Phil Leech, Executive Concierge Javier Cortes, Senior Vice President of Sales Jeff Drew.
To celebrate the first day of the Reunion Cruise, several guests were invited to a special dinner. Two classic Italian theater characters welcomed my husband and I to the boat that transported us all to one of Venice’s charming little islands.
The dinner was held in a lovely garden setting outside the San Clemente Palace.
We dined on eggplant parmigiana and loin of lamb with rosemary potatoes. The cuisine was delicious, and the pleasant company of the other Oceania Cruises’ guests made for a delightful evening.
We’ve enjoyed a splendid couple of days in Venice, and the Reunion Cruise has only just begun. I look forward to sharing more tales of our adventures as the journey continues!