Having read much about Oceania's newest ship, we decided to see for ourselves, and a cruise from dover, around the edges of the Bay of Biscay, seemed an ideal opportunity, visiting ports we knew well from land-based travel.
Embarkation was swift and efficient, but rather disconcertingly we did not have to produce any ID until we were aboard the ship.
We found our way to our cabin, wondering why there was no "welcome aboard" glass of fizz, and found ourselves in a delightful, elegant balcony cabin, with wonderfully comfortable bed, beautiful bed linen, comfy sofa and marble bathroom , complete with both showere and tub. Storage was not the best feature,as drawers were shallow, and wardrobe awkwardly placed alongside the bed. for a cruise line selling itself as 5* we were surprised to find no bottle of champagne on ice, basket of fruit or flowers, but the minibar wa stocked with soft drinks and bottled waters, which were replaced daily, and a plate of fruit was soon delivered, on request.
The ship has wonderful decor,with a fabulous Laligue stairway, lalique vases and tables in bays off the main lobby, and delightful abstract sculptures in hallways and landings. The main dining room , large, well lit and airy, has an incredible central crystal chandelier, and touches of classy elegance abound throughout all loung areas. The large lounge areas had delightful sofas, comfortable chairs and love seats, softly lit by elegant crystal lamps
Dining is a main event on Marina, with a choice of 7 dining venues which incur no extra charge, from the Grand Dining room, a grill and roomy Terrace cafe, serving huge choices of wonderful quality food, to 4 themed speciality restaurants, of which we liked the more atmospheric Asian -fusion Red Ginger the best. Each restaurant had its own chefs, and offered varied quality menus, and a reasonably efficient level of good service from teams of friendly waiters.
If celebrating a special occasion, or as a treat, Marina offers wonderful tasting menus in La Reserve, a joint venture with Wine Spectator at a cost of $75, which we thought amazing, with dishes comparable to any Michelin restaurant in London.
The one negative aspect to Marina is the low standard of entertainment, with shows delivered by an enthusiastic small team, doing their best with poor costumes and staging in a dull, low-ceiling-ed show lounge, which had absolutely no wow factor, no glitz, and was not very comfortable. the same entertainment team also organised the daily deck activities, tasks they did with good humour and good organisation. Alternative shows were offered by a poor comedian and a mediocre magician.
Enrichment lectures, were often port lectures under another name, with, disappointingly, no well-known guest speakers, which we had hoped for on a ship of this calibre.
A lovely library kept many passengers happy, with its club atmosphere, comfortable leather chairs, and huge choice of books, and it was a delight to find a busy coffee bar next door, offering lattes, cappuccino and juices. The nearby Internet centre was little used, due to the high cost
Deck areas were lovely, with a decent size pool, two hot tubs, excellent sunbeds and curved rattan loungers, all laid with snowy towels.
Atop the ship is a delightful, wide, forward facing Horizons lounge, with small dance floor, and ample seating, served by a busy bar, the place to which many passengers gravitated pre and post dinner, with live music provided for those wishing to dance.
Also facing forward is an incredible, spacious spa, with many treatments on offer, gorgeous relaxing areas, including one outside, complete with hot tub, and well trained, discrete staff.