An exciting and emotional day for the entire Oceania Cruises family, today we welcome our beloved Insignia back to the fleet. We are especially excited because her return from a two-year charter marks Oceania Cruises’ first season with a five-ship fleet. But that isn’t the only reason Insignia is generating such excitement. She arrived in Barcelona today with even more style, grace and elegance than ever before, fresh from a multimillion-dollar makeover.
As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I have had the great fortune to sail on Regatta, Insignia and Nautica several times over the past few years. With only 684 guests on board, these ships feel as warm, welcoming and intimate as smaller vessels while also offering the conveniences and amenities of the larger ships. In other words, they are perfect. So it was hard for me to imagine how Oceania Cruises could improve on perfection.
When one hears of “Paradise Bay,” images of sandy beaches, palm trees, and the bright summer sun probably come to mind. But there is an equally beautiful paradise to be found along the coast of Antarctica. Insignia has been sailing these coasts, and her guests have captured stunning photos of the magnificent glaciers and seascapes that grace this southernmost continent.
Insignia also cruised along Half Moon Island and Deception Island in the South Shetlands. Since the early 19th century, Deception Island was a favorite refuge of sailors escaping storms and icebergs. This unique island offers one of the safest harbors in Antarctica and has been used as a base for sealers, whaling companies and naval operations. Its center is a caldera formed by an enormous volcanic eruption and since flooded by the sea to form a huge bay. Thus the “Deception” as the entrance, known as Neptunes Bellows, is very narrow and tricky to navigate, but once inside the sheltered harbor is revealed.
The most spectacular result of these natural phenomena is awe-inspiring scenery. Below you see guests on Insignia enjoying the view.
Thank you to our guests for sharing these beautiful photos for the blog!
Jeff, Randy, and Oceania Club Ambassador Per Orren overlooking Geirangerfjord, Norway. (Insignia is a speck in the fjord far below.)
Two guests of Oceania Cruises enjoyed an amazing six-week
voyage this summer onboard Insignia. Our featured guests, Randy and Jeff,
embarked in Barcelona on June 27th and traveled around the Iberian Peninsula
and up through Scandinavia before disembarking in Copenhagen on August 10th.
This was their eighth voyage with Oceania Cruises. They say that Oceania
Cruises is their “favorite cruise line, by far, because of the small size and
beauty of the ships, the outstanding cuisine, top-notch service, the
interesting and port-intensive itineraries, and frankly the fellow travelers.”
Many of the people they have met onboard Oceania Cruises have become friends,
including other guests and members of the staff and crew as well.
Randy is a financial planner and Jeff is a high school
music teacher, but their favorite thing to do when not traveling is to plan
their next trip. “When we board an Oceania ship,” says Randy, “we feel
immediately welcomed and at home. There is a sense of comfort mixed
with spirit of adventure that, for us, is quite unique to Oceania
Cruises. It keeps us coming back again and again.”
Randy and Jeff are most certainly adventurous spirits who
like to experience everything a port has to offer. While in Bordeaux, they
enjoyed wine tastings at St. Emilion and Medoc. After visiting Mont St. Michel
in Saint-Malo, they sat outdoors at a small cafe and savored a delicious lunch
of mussels accompanied by rosé wine. They rented bikes in Bruges and rode north
along a windmill-lined canal, and visited fantastic art museums in Bilbao,
Amsterdam, Gothenburg, and Oslo. Norway offered ample hiking
opportunities, so they explored the mountain paths and glacial lakes from
Hellysylt to Geiranger, and even a steep mountain in Longyearbyen, far north of
the Arctic Circle, with a guide who carried a rifle in case they encountered a
hungry polar bear. (They did not.)
Jeff enjoys an audio guided tour of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
In Gibraltar, Randy and Jeff were both surprised when the Barbary Apes jumped on their heads!
While onboard, Randy and Jeff savor the simple
pleasures of cruising: Afternoon tea in Horizons, reading in the library –
which Randy describes as “the most beautiful at sea” – or just sipping
champagne on Deck 10 and watching the world sail by. Dinner is certainly a
highlight of any day. If the ship is anchored off a particularly beautiful
port such as Sorrento or Monte Carlo, Randy and Jeff dine al fresco at
Tapas on the Terrace with the lovely view as a
backdrop. As foodies, they
always enjoy fine dining at Polo and Toscana. Jeff is a big fan of the Canyon Ranch spa cuisine, which is why he didn’t gain a single pound during their travels. (Alas, Randy did.) When forced to name a
favorite, they chose the Grand Dining Room, as they love the variety, the
flavors and the presentation. They also sang the praises of Carlos Salvador,
Corazon, and the entire wait staff for their excellent service.
In fact, Randy and Jeff say that their fondest memories
of this summer onboard Insignia are of the staff and crew. “The service they
provided was beyond compare,” says Randy. “We were treated like
kings. Everyone knew our names, greeted us with smiles of genuine warmth,
and went out of their way to help us. We cannot compliment highly enough
the hospitality provided by General Manager Rafael Cinque and his
outstanding team. It was difficult to say goodbye to so many new friends
after six weeks on Insignia.”
Randy can’t resist the opportunity to show his support for Insignia.
Randy and Jeff will soon reunite with old friends and
make more new ones, as their next cruise is already booked for June 2011, a
voyage onboard Nautica exploring the Black Sea. Perhaps you will run into them on one of your own adventures with Oceania Cruises!