Judy Green Scheible
Regatta: Enjoy casual comfort aboard Oceania's flagship
As the flagship of the Oceania Cruises fleet, Regatta offers its 684 passengers a casually elegant experience with multiple dining venues, including an outdoor cafe and two specialty restaurants, eight lounges and bars, a large theater for entertainment and lectures, a casino, two small shops, a computer room, card room, library (that operates on the honor system), a pool with two whirlpools, a gym and a well-regarded spa. The crew is friendly and efficient. The captain, Maksym Melnikov, has a dry sense of humor, which emerges during his excellent daily reports on conditions and changes. He’s been at the helm for seven years.
Regatta features teak decks with custom stone and tile work in its public lounges and staterooms, yet it maintains a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of places to either kick back with a good book or indulge in a spa treatment. Of the 342 staterooms — some of them lavish suites — 70 percent offer private verandas.
Who will like sailing on Regatta
If you like attentive, solicitous service or some of the best cuisine at sea, Regatta is a good choice. The guest-to-crew ratio is impressive, with 400 crew members attending to the needs of 684 passengers. Most of the people we met on our 21-day voyage to the Amazon were senior couples from the States and Canada. A few were European, and a few were mother-son or daughter or sisters. There were a number of gay couples. (Everyone got along well.) Those who might enjoy a Panama Canal voyage or kick-back sailings to interesting, out-of-the-way ports should also like this ship.
Where Regatta sails
Regatta sails to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska in summer months, New England and Canada for fall color, and the Caribbean and South America in winter and spring. Up for a Grand Voyage? Sail around Cape Horn from Lima to Rio de Janeiro with 32 days aboard Regatta.
Dining on Regatta
Oceania is known for its cuisine, and Regatta offers several options when it comes to fine dining, including four open seating restaurants. All the meals were well prepared, and the variety was amazing and appreciated. We even were able to arrange for a Punjabi curry one evening just for our table since most of the curries prepared for the general population were too mild for our taste. Here's a rundown of your options.
Grand Dining Room
With multiple courses of French-inspired Continental dishes, the Grand Dining Room aims to capture the feel of a European five-star restaurant, with fine china, crystal and silver alongside the formally attired wait staff, frescoes and domed ceiling. Every meal offers a multi-course Canyon Ranch menu for people who want to eat light but tasty.
Unlike some ships, the main dining room has no fixed seating times. Guests may reserve a time or just show up and be seated, usually without waiting. Tables are for two, four, six, eight or 10, sharing or not sharing. The food is excellent, varied and served in modest portions. The service, too, excels. Guests who order wine and have some left over can ask the wait staff to mark their bottle with their room number so it can be brought out during another meal.
With recipes straight from the Italian culinary staff, this restaurant looks to create an authentic Tuscan experience. Toscana prepares its dishes with flavors balanced and rooted in family traditions, while sommeliers recommend the right vintage for each dish.
Inspired by the Hollywood legends whose pictures adorn the walls, the Polo Grill offers an old-school atmosphere of a classic steakhouse. If conditions are right you might be able to angle for a table with a romantic moonlit view.
Both Toscana and Polo Grill are included in your standard fare, but diners must book their table in advance, and each diner is allowed a total of four total reservations. We found booking ahead online difficult but easy once we were on board. The reservation desk is available upon boarding, and these restaurants tend to fill quickly.
Our two favorite dining venues turned out to be the Grand Dining Room and the Terrace Café, which has seating outside on the adjacent rear deck. Breakfast and lunch buffets at the Terrace Cafe offer an informal option for dining. Guests can dine indoors or outdoors, since the cafe opens onto both the teak-lined pool deck or aft onto the Terrace. We liked the sushi, offered every night.
Waves Grill is near the swimming pool and offers gourmet burgers, barbecue and seafood. The open galley allows you to watch the chefs in action, cooking to order while you sample fresh salads or hand-cut fries on the side.
After a day of shore excursions or onboard activities, you may dine in your suite or stateroom, with a menu available around the clock. Guests in the Owner's Vista and Penthouse Suites (not us!) have butler service with course-by-course dining with dishes from the Grand Dining Room.
Bars & lounges
Martinis serves numerous incarnations of this popular cocktail in an intimate atmosphere with live piano music, while the Grand Bar offers guests the opportunity to enjoy conversation with friends over rare vintage wines or handcrafted cocktails.
Where I went & what I loved
Our ship’s 21-day cruise from Rio de Janeiro to Miami included eight days at sea. When we were in a port, we always went ashore, either with a shore excursion or on our own. Most ports had maps of the city and top sights. We especially liked Recife (even in the rain) and Manaus, the large city on the Amazon.
In Manaus we took two excursions, a jungle walk and a visit to the meeting of the waters (the two rivers that merge at Manaus). On our own we went to the famous Opera House for a jazz concert. This was a supreme highlight and grand evening, thanks to inexpensive tickets, a gorgeous building and lively music introduced by the bilingual conductor.
We stopped in a couple of Amazon villages where native crafts were available, so it’s good to have small U.S. bills with you.
Our stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was full of history, highlighted by the old fort and the colonial buildings in the old city. We walked all over the fort and enjoyed its panoramic views. It’s a U.S. national park, so take your national park pass.
Activities on board
Our favorite activities on board were the evening entertainment, the lectures and bridge. Every night, usually at 9:30, we enjoyed entertainment in the Regatta Lounge. It’s a large theater with nightclub seating. For the most popular shows, there weren't enough seats, and we learned to arrive 10-15 minutes early to secure a reasonable seat. The shows included musical cabaret acts performed by six singers and dancers, solo singers, a guitar duo, magician, violin player and trumpeter. All were quite good.
The lectures were always in the morning, also in the Regatta Lounge. The bridge games varied from social play to lessons. There were two instructors on board, one for beginners and one for intermediates.
The ship’s band was engaging throughout the trip. When they weren’t backing up the entertainers, they played dance music or easy listening tunes in one of the lounges.
High tea, a time-honored tradition in cruising, is served at 4 pm each day in the Horizons observation lounge. Pastry chefs create English-style finger sandwiches, scones and other treats while musicians perform.
While most cruise lines contract with Steiner Leisure to operate their spas, Oceania turned to Canyon Ranch, the venerable resort and health spa, to operate SpaClub on board Regatta. Canyon Ranch brings its 30-year track record in skin care, acupuncture, salon services and body treatments to Oceania guests without any of the heavy sales tactics for the products. Of course, you pay for any treatments you choose, and spaces do fill up quickly.
From headline acts to comedians and magicians to lively jazz ensembles, the ship's lounges offer a variety of entertainment. In the evening Horizons becomes a dance club, and the Regatta Lounge Stage features a variety of performers in a cabaret-style show. Entertainers ranged from good to excellent. We particularly liked the Brazilian guitar duo Duo Siquevia Lima and contemporary violinist Greg Scott.
All staterooms have their own private bathrooms and plentiful storage. Several of them connect for the convenience of family or close friends.
We stayed on the third deck, with a porthole for natural light. (It was quite a bit more expensive for a room with a bigger window but the same square footage.) Our well-designed stateroom had everything we needed. The bathroom with shower was compact but adequate and efficient. Our steward, Freddy from Nicaragua, took excellent care of our needs. The elevator was fast, and the stairs were fine for us, so this was a good choice. Since the elevator for this section works only from one end of the hall, it’s convenient to have a room near the elevator. Guests with staterooms that had balconies and sliding glass doors had more interior room, but several of them told us that they couldn’t enjoy their balconies in the Amazon because of the bugs. While on the river, the ship dimmed its outdoor lights at night in order to not attract bugs.
Country club casual is about as dressy as you need to get. Most of the time simple, casual clothes and sandals are fine. Those who liked to get gussied up did, but most people heading to the Grand Dining room followed the ship’s code of country club casual. On other voyages, it's recommended that men bring at least one jacket and tie available for evenings.
Bring a good sweater, one you can wear to dinner, and one for every day. The ship’s air conditioning works almost too well. It’s fine if you are dressed for it. Also, good sunglasses and a brimmed hat are essentials.
For do-it-yourselfers, there is a small launderette on board with four washers, four dryers and an ironing board. It’s on the seventh deck and gets quite busy, so the early bird gets the washer.
The captain of the Regatta oversees the safety of the passengers, and he’s vigilant. When the sea was rough, the outside doors were closed off. When a few passengers got sick with stomach flu, the ship went into strict sanitation mode. It went so far as to close the library and station crew at every hand sanitizer on board. We had to miss a port, Devil’s Island, because the captain determined that the sea was too rough for a launch landing. Apparently this happens often at that site.
Most of the people on this ship were retired professionals, from engineers and librarians to real estate brokers and doctors. Because our Amazon itinerary was unusual, this voyage attracted seasoned travelers.
This ship is not set up for children. Even teenagers would struggle to find it interesting unless they like to work out and read.
Tips & gratuities
As with virtually all cruise lines, Oceania adds a daily tip to your bill. This is shared with the whole staff, not just your room steward. You can decline to do it by visiting the office. (Our tip was charged to our account before we boarded.) This system makes it easy: no need to bother with tips at restaurants, bars and in rooms.
I really have no negative comments other than the ship’s concierge would not help us with our night at the opera in Manaus. I think his reasons were sound; it mostly had to do with safety and cost. The ship’s crew is quite cautious about the passengers’ safety on shore. Manaus is quite poor, and street crime is not uncommon.
In the Amazon you see local villagers holding up animals, such as baby sloths or parrots, for pictures (for money). This was not discouraged (or even mentioned in the ship’s publications), but it’s a practice that is detrimental to the animals. Our lecturer, Dr. Don Klein, mentioned after the fact that this should be discouraged.
Have you sailed on Regatta? We'd love to hear about your experience. Write a review, tell a story about your adventure or leave a comment below.
Republished and updated from an earlier post.
Interested in a cruise on Oceania's Regatta?
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Top highlights on this ship
- Enjoy the Oceania Regatta's "Old World" atmosphere, its decks designed with teak, custom stone and neo-classical furnishings.
- An impressive guest-to-crew ratio, with over 400 employees ready to take care of the ship's 684 passengers.
- An elegant, adult-centric cruise for experienced travelers who want to enjoy fine dining, cocktails and social activities
- Smart lectures with excellent visuals