Several dozen travel advisors and media from Sydney and surrounds were given the opportunity to step aboard the recently reimagined Oceania Cruises‘ Insignia while in port at White Bay on Monday [4 March] this week. In town from Miami was Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ Senior Vice President of International Marketing, Isis Ruiz, who joined the group exploring the vessel’s “better than new” makeover for the first time.
Having cruised the Tasman from New Zealand last weekend, Insignia‘s visit to Sydney was followed by a stop in Brisbane on Wednesday, giving more guests and travel agent partners their first chance to experience the refurbished ship first-hand.
In the words of Oceania Cruises, the massive overhaul – completed just three months ago – has seen Insignia “transformed from chrysalis to butterfly, essentially becoming an entirely new ship”.
The upgrade is part of the US$100 million OceaniaNEXT initiative, and will see Insignia‘s sister R-Class ships also enhanced over the next year.
Like Insignia, all accommodation aboard Regatta, Nautica and Sirena will emerge with new closets, desks and vanities; sofas, chairs and tables; lighting and mirrors; upholstery, carpets and drapes; bathrooms; and state-of-the-art technology including interactive TV systems and USB ports.
As Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ President, International, Harry Sommer told LATTE last week, the multimillion-dollar facelift saw upgrades to around 80% of the 684-passenger ship. Most public spaces and restaurants were upgraded, featuring fresh furniture, lighting and ocean-inspired colour palettes.
Other highlights of the ‘re-inspiration’ include reimagined menus featuring more authentic regional colour, flavour and local wines. Already renowned for being cruising’s destination specialists and delivering The Finest Cuisine at Sea™ aboard a fleet of intimate and luxurious ships, NCL’s OceaniaNEXT program has been designed to provide new and repeat guests with even more reasons to discover the world with Oceania Cruises.
View LATTE’s full gallery of images from aboard Insignia here.
There are no shortages of restaurants on board, including The Grand Dining Room, Toscana, Jacques Bistro, Polo Grill, Terrace Cafe and Waves Grill. All restaurants are included in the cost of the cruise fare, meaning there’s no additional surcharge, however it is advised to book in advance. There’s also a coffee outlet with baristas on board and for guests who may want to dine in, room service is available.
So does the dining experience live up to expectations of being “The Finest Cuisine at Sea”?
LATTE dined in the Italian restaurant, Toscana, where we certainly enjoyed our specially prepared menu for guests invited on board. And yes, our lunch was certainly a memorable dining experience that did not disappoint. We’ll let the photos below do the talking.
For background, when passengers book with Oceania Cruise, they are offered an “OLife Choice”. OLife Choice fundamentally offers guests the flexibility to personalise their holiday experience. They can select one from a choice of amenities such as free shore excursions, free House Beverage package or a shipboard credit.
OLife Choice free shore excursions vary by voyage and exclude Oceania Select, Oceania Exclusive, Executive Collection, Food & Wine Trails and Wellness and Culinary Discovery Tours. Voyages up to nine days receive four free shore excursions; 10–13 days receive six free shore excursions; 14+ days receive eight free shore excursions. If shore excursion amenity is selected, all excursions must be chosen at least 14 days prior to sailing.
OLife Choice beverage package amenity is House Select, which includes unlimited champagne, wine and beer with lunch and dinner.
OLife Choice Shipboard Credits are USD per stateroom, based on double occupancy and cannot be redeemed for cash or used for further discount off cruise fare. May be used for onboard goods and services only such as boutique shopping, spa treatments, specialty dining experiences and beverages.
Oceania Cruises’ price point varies by destination and booking month, however the average is roughly around AU$400 per person per night, based on twin share.
Lead image: At White Bay Cruise Terminal, ready to board Insignia: Steve Odell, SVP and MD Asia Pacific, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings; Cathy Schroeder, Southland Travel; Isis Ruiz, SVP International Marketing & PR NCLH; Adam Vance, Cruiseco and Ben Angell, VP Marketing for NCLH.