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Hope Starts Here Hurricane Relief Program

As islands across the Caribbean clean up and begin to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, you may be wondering what you can do to support the region. We have been in touch with our friends and business partners from Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Barts, Tortola, and Dominica and they have all said the same thing, “we will rebuild.” Their resilience is an inspiration as many are already working hard to return their islands to their radiance and charm. Now it’s our turn give them a well-deserved helping hand.

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Rebuilding Hope

During this time of great need, we have banded together to contribute to the recovery of the region. We have joined forces with our sister companies to raise at least $2.5 million on behalf of All Hands Volunteers, a non-profit relief organization dedicated to rebuilding communities impacted by natural disasters. The funds will be used toward rebuilding damaged schools across the Caribbean and we have committed to matching up to $1.25 million of our guests’ donations made to All Hands Volunteers through our Hope Starts Here program.

Hope Starts Here Voyages
Thankfully, many Caribbean islands have been spared severe damage and can help bolster tourism in the islands, which as you know, is a vital economic lifeline for millions across the region. Between now and November 15th, when you book any of the thirteen voyages below that are part of our Hope Starts Here program, we will make a donation of $500 per stateroom to All Hands Volunteers and also will provide you with an additional savings of $500 off of your veranda stateroom fare. The $500 donation will go toward our goal of matching $1.25 million of our guests’ donations, and meeting or exceeding our $2.5 million goal. You can rest assured that your generous donation will be making an impact locally in the areas hit the hardest.

Some of our Caribbean itineraries have been revised due to the impact, while we have been able to preserve the majority of our calls. Puerto Rico and St. Maarten were the hardest hit and will need ample time to recover – we’ve replaced them with calls in Punta Cana and Basseterre for the season. Our partners in the islands are resilient and are rebuilding quickly – St. Barts, Martinique, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts, Key West, and the balance of the Caribbean are open to travelers and are eager to showcase their hospitality – and thanks.

Visit OceaniaCruises.com/HopeStartsHere for more information on how you can help those in need. 

Hope Starts Here Voyages

Riviera | December 12, 2017

Marina | December 17, 2017

Riviera | December 22, 2017

Riviera | January 3, 2018     

Riviera | January 13, 2018   

Riviera | January 23, 2018               

Riviera | February 6, 2018   

Riviera | February 16, 2018             

Riviera | February 26, 2018

Riviera | March 8, 2018

Riviera | March 18, 2018     

Sirena | April 23, 2018

Regatta | April 26, 2018

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Oceania Club Reunion Cruise : Milestones and Memories

Executive Vice President James Rodriguez shares stories from the Oceania Club Reunion Cruise, sailing from Rome to Lisbon on board Marina.

The Oceania Club Reunion Cruise is one of my favorite events of the year because it gives me the chance to see past guests with whom I’ve sailed before, and so many have become dear friends. I also enjoy meeting new Oceania Club members for the first time, hearing all the stories of their cruise, and having the opportunity to thank them for their loyalty. Our guests have always been my favorite part of cruising, and the Oceania Club Reunion Cruise is all about celebrating our guests.

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AN EVENING FIT FOR ROYALTY AT THE WINTER PALACE

During a recent stop in St. Petersburg, guests onboard Marina were treated to a unique
experience on an excursion called Musical
Evening at the Hermitage
. One of the oldest and largest museums in the
world, the State Hermitage Museum sees approximately 2.5 million visitors a
year. That is an average of about 8,000 visitors a day! So you can imagine how
decadent it must have felt to be the only
visitors in the building on this exclusive shore excursion.

The spectacular Winter Palace that houses the Hermitage was
made all the more grand by the absence of the usual crowds. Constructed on a
monumental scale, it was intended to embody the power of Imperial Russia, which
encompassed almost one-sixth of the earth’s landmass and over 125 million
subjects at the time the palace was built in the early 18th century. The clock tower bells that chime on the hour and half hour
greeted the group for what was to be an extraordinary evening.

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The private tour began at The Main Staircase of the Winter Palace (also known as the Jordan Staircase) where the
world’s dignitaries were greeted for state receptions and functions over a
century ago. Restored according to the original designs after a devastating
fire in 1837, the staircase is one of the only areas of the palace that has
retained the original 18th-century style. The painted ceiling depicts the Gods
of Olympus, and alabaster statues welcomed the evening’s visitors.

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After passing through The Memorial Hall of Peter the Great, the
tour made its way to The Armorial Hall, once used for official ceremonies. With
huge gilded columns, bronze chandeliers and stucco coats of armor framing the
cavernous room, the effect was breathtaking.

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Emperor Alexander I created The War Gallery of 1812 to honor
the generals who defeated Napoleon in the Patriotic War of 1812. When these
portraits were hung, every citizen in Russia knew the names of these generals,
17th-century celebrities who fought valiantly in the war.

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IMG_5357The St. George Hall, or the Large Throne Room, is one of the
largest rooms in the Winter Palace and home to the throne of the Emperor. Regarded as the throne of Russia, the velvet throne is emblazoned with the imperial coat of
arms and the crowned double-headed eagle. The scene of  many of the most
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formal ceremonies of the imperial court, it was most notably the location of the
meeting of the First State Duma, which marked the first time ordinary citizens were
allowed into the palace in substantial numbers.

After a quick peek at the Hanging Garden through the
windows, guests entered The Pavilion Hall with its 28 exquisite crystal and
gold chandeliers and the visitor favorite, Peacock
Clock
.

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Next stop was The Rembrandt Room with 23 works by the famous
Dutch master, including some of his more famous masterpieces: The Return of the Prodigal SonPortrait of an Old Jew and Danaë.

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Portrait of an Old Jew

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Return of the Prodigal Son

 

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Danaë

 

A particularly exciting moment of the tour was The Leonardo
Room where guests were able to view two highlights of the museum’s collection.
Of the few oil paintings by Leonardo da Vinci in the world, two can be seen at
the Hermitage: Benois Madonna and
The Litta Madonna.

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Benois Madonna

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The Litta Madonna

The group was then momentarily transported to Rome upon
entering The Raphael Loggias, a meticulous reproduction of the famous 16th-entury
gallery in the Vatican Palace. Under his supervision, Raphael’s pupils painted
the walls and vaults according to his sketches.

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IMG_5431One of the museum’s masterpieces and the only work by
Michelangelo in the Hermitage is the sculpture Crouching Boy in The Italian Cabinet. Unfinished, it is
thought to have originally been designed for a chapel in Florence.

IMG_5449After taking in the art of many of the great Flemish and
Dutch masters, guests entered The Small Italian Skylight Hall, one of three
top-lit halls, to enjoy Italian art of the 16th and 17th centuries, including The Lute Player by Caravaggio and works
by Tintoretto.

After the private tour of some of the highlights of this
remarkable museum, everyone was able to take a seat and soak in the atmosphere
of the evening with a concert performed by the State Symphony Orchestra of St. Petersburg in the
largest of the three skylight halls, The Large Italian Skylight Hall.
Surrounded by magnificent works of art by 17th- and 18th-century Italian
artists, the orchestra brought the museum alive with works by Mozart, Faure and
Tchaikovsky.

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As if that weren’t enough for one evening, the tour ended in
The Gallery of the History of Ancient Painting where guests sipped champagne and witnessed
Cupid bringing his love back to life with a kiss in Canova’s sculpture Cupid and Psyche.


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Three Graces by Finelli
bid the group a fond farewell as they left the museum. Although it was 10 p.m.,
it was barely dark outside. Guests were able to snap some final photos of the
empty Palace Square and The Alexander Column, named after Emperor Alexander I and
erected as a monument to Russia’s victory in the war with Napoleon’s France.

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The private event at the Hermitage was remarkable, and
everyone left with treasured memories of a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

A special thank you goes out to Vanessa Cordo of Oceania Cruises for sharing these photos and video of the Musical Evening at the Hermitage.

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MEMENTOS OF THE JACQUES PEPIN CRUISE ONBOARD MARINA

Jacques & CaptainCaptain Giulio Ressa and Jacques Pépin

One of Oceania Cruises’ most popular Signature Sailings, the recent Jacques Pépin Cruise onboard Marina was a resounding success. Guests on the Tuscan Artistry cruise from Barcelona to Rome were treated to special lectures, cooking demonstrations and shore excursions with Oceania Cruises’ Executive Culinary Director, world-renowned Master Chef Jacques Pépin.

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Jacques wasn’t the only culinary superstar onboard. He was joined by his best friend of more than 50 years, fellow chef Jean-Claude Szurdak. The two have known each other since 1956, when they were cooking together for French heads of state. Jean-Claude lent his expertise to the culinary demonstrations, and the friendly banter between him and Jacques made the demonstrations all the more entertaining.

Susie, Noelle, Jacques & Gloria at Chateau EzeCulinary luminary Susie Heller (far left) is also a long-time friend and colleague of Jacques, having produced several of his television shows. She has served as producer for several cookbooks as well, including Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook and Oceania Cruises’ own culinary lifestyle book, Taste the World: The Food and Flavors of Oceania Cruises. Heller accompanied Jacques and his guests on some of the exclusive culinary excursions offered as part of this cruise.

While a cruise named Tuscan Artistry would obviously include Italian ports of call, this sailing began by visiting some beautiful coastal towns in Jacques’ native France. Pépin, Heller and Chef Noelle Barille of the Bon Appétit Culinary Center hosted a lunch at the Michelin-starred restaurant of Chateau Eza, one of the most stunning hotels on the French Riviera. Guests enjoyed exquisite cuisine, fine wines and beautiful views of the Cote d’Azur. They also got to shop the local spice market.Spice Market in Ezed
Gloria and Jacques out for a walkWhile in Provence, Jacques and his wife, Gloria, enjoyed a stroll through the charming village of Cassis, which lies about 20 miles southeast of Marseille. Lunch in Cassis

They couldn’t miss sampling some of the local fare, which of course included fresh seafood from this Mediterranean fishing village. The area is also known for its white wines and produces some lovely rosés as well.

The local rose
While there was fantastic local cuisine to be tasted at every port of call, Pépin also enjoyed the culinary delights onboard, which is no surprise considering that the first restaurant to ever bear his name is found onboard Marina! There is a portrait of Pépin at the entrance to the restaurant, which is known simply as Jacques.

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Pumpkin Soup at Jacques
Also recently unveiled onboard Riviera, Jacques features fresh interpretations of French culinary classics. Succulent rotisserie meats, escargot, bouillabaisse…all of the French favorites are here. Each is perfectly prepared using only the finest, freshest ingredients, which are the foundation of any fine cuisine, as Pépin is always quick to point out.

The pumpkin soup is one of the most popular dishes, partly because of its wonderful flavor and also because of its brilliant presentation.

You won’t be surprised to hear that, while Pépin greatly enjoys all of the restaurants onboard Marina, Jacques is his personal favorite. We won’t hold his bias against him.

If you would like to join Chef Pépin on a Signature Sailing, the next Jacques Pépin Cruise will be onboard Riviera, sailing on September 19, 2013, from Barcelona to Lisbon. Jacques hopes to see you there!

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CHEF ANNIE B. COPPS TEACHES RED GINGER IN CULINARY CENTER

Posted by Pancake, Oceania Cruises’ Blogger-at-Large

Just one month from today we will christen the newest addition to Oceania Cruises’ fleet, the magnificent Riviera. Those of you who will be joining us onboard during her inaugural season must surely be excited about Riviera’s imminent debut. You may be booked on her maiden voyage from Venice to Athens. Or perhaps you’ll be joining President Kunal S. Kamlani onboard the Reunion Cruise in June. Guests on this memorable journey will enjoy special cocktail parties, exclusive shore excursions, and a “town hall” during which they can ask questions of the president.

One of the most exciting sailings of Riviera‘s inaugural season will certainly be the Bon Appétit Wine & Food Festival that embarks in Athens on October 14. Celebrity chef Stephen Lewandowski of New York’s famed Tribeca Grill will host this cruise, offering demonstrations, hands-on cooking classes, market tours, wine tastings and special dinners. The festival will also be featured on Marina‘s October 22 sailing, hosted by James Beard award winner Chef Ken Oringer.

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This commitment to an exceptional culinary experience extending even beyond the onboard restaurants is nothing new for Oceania Cruises. Our partnership with Bon Appétit magazine began with the opening of the first hands-on cooking school at sea, the Bon Appétit Culinary Center onboard Marina. If you follow the blog, you’ve seen posts about the culinary center classes and market tours from Chef Kelly, Oceania Cruises’ Culinary Enrichment Director. As Chef Kelly busily prepares to open the new Bon Appétit Culinary Center onboard Riviera, Chef Annie B. Copps is teaching classes onboard Marina.

Chef Copps is not only a chef but also a food editor, travel writer and radio host. You may have seen her on NBC’s Today Show, where she is a frequent guest. During my recent cruise, I enjoyed a class with Chef Copps, and what a treat it was. We learned a lot, laughed a lot, and we loved the recipes we made!

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Everyone wants to know the secrets to Oceania Cruises’ fantastic cuisine, and the Bon Appétit Culinary Center now teaches recipes from the onboard restaurants. I was so excited to learn that Chef Copps would be sharing techniques from Red Ginger, one of my favorite restaurants onboard – or ashore. First she taught us how to make the banh trang spring rolls. As a teaser, I’ll share a video of her demonstration with you. Note that I captured this with a handheld camera, so let’s just say you definitely get the feel of being onboard the ship. The seas were a bit rough that day!

Once she had prepared the filling, Chef Copps showed us how to wrap the rolls in the delicate rice paper.

After the demonstration, we all returned to our work stations to put our skills to the test. Chef Copps and the sous chefs circulated around the room offering guidance, assistance and praise for our efforts.

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We were all very successful in executing the recipe and quite proud of ourselves. Of course, the greatest reward was getting to devour the dishes after we created them.

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Chef Copps also taught us to make the phenomenal (and surprisingly simple!) lobster pad Thai that is served in Red Ginger. But if you want to learn that recipe, you’ll have to book a class in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center onboard Marina or Riviera. Or perhaps you’ll join us for one of the Bon Appétit Wine & Food Festivals. Either way, you’re in for culinary delights that can only be found onboard the ships of Oceania Cruises.