At 30,277 tons and with a 684-passenger occupancy, Regatta, Insignia and Nautica fall firmly in the mid-size range but offer the wide variety of amenities and options usually found on deluxe-priced lines.
Also in the mid-size range are 65,000-ton, 1,252-passenger Marina, which debuted in February 2011, and sibling Riviera, which launched a year later.
The brainchild of cruise industry veterans Frank Del Rio and Joe Watters -- former heads of Renaissance Cruises and Crystal Cruises, respectively -- Miami-based Oceania Cruises emphasizes a destination-intensive floating-hotel experience with top-notch food and superior service. The cruise line originally operated vessels from the defunct Renaissance Cruises. (Its 684-passenger R1 and R2 were renamed Regatta and Insignia.) Nautica, another Renaissance R-class vessel, joined the fleet in 2005.
In February 2011, the line's first new-build, Marina, was christened, and a nearly identical sibling, Riviera, debuted in May 2012. Holding myriad original artworks, as well as the Bon Appetit Culinary Center and mega-chef Jacques Pepin's first namesake restaurant, the vessel sets an even higher standard for the line.
Still, it was Regatta, launched in summer 2003 (and Insignia and Nautica, which followed), that originally set the tone for Oceania's unique style. The company in 2014 spent more than $50 million to refurbish these late-1990's vessels, and it shows. Public rooms, including restaurants, are graceful and elegant. The redone pool area is surfaced in teak and framed by gorgeous mosaics, and it boasts teak furnishings that include fabulous double sunbeds. Cabins have been tweaked and feature more comfortable bed linens and some of the most comfortable mattresses at sea.
In 2007, Oceania was acquired by New York-based Apollo Management, L.P., an investment company that specializes in private equity, debt and capital markets. Quickly following the acquisition, the line placed orders with Italy's Fincantieri shipyard for its first new-builds, a pair of 1,258-passenger vessels -- the aforementioned Marina and Riviera.
Overall, Oceania has managed to create what we call a luxury lite experience, defined as offering luxury-level food and service with fewer inclusions (such as liquor, shore tours and pre-cruise hotel stays) in its base fares.
Oceania features two classes of ships in its fleet. The newest vessels, Marina and Riviera, which each carry 1,258 passengers, were purpose-designed and built for the line. Its original trio of R-class vessels -- 684-passenger Regatta, Insignia and Nautica -- was acquired when Oceania launched back in 2003. (All three underwent a massive refurbishment in 2014).
The big differences between the two are that more amenities -- such as extra restaurants, a Wine Spectator La Reserve Wine Bar, and the Bon Appetit Culinary Center -- are only available on the newer, larger ships. Although they're smaller Regatta, Insignia and Nautica have a cozier ambience.
In all cases, Oceania decor is traditional luxe, with the requisite polished dark mahoganies, muted fabrics and rich-colored carpets. By virtue of the ships' sizes, it's not difficult to find yourself oriented by the first day at sea. (Even the much larger Marina and Riviera are a cinch to navigate, though you can expect a more colorful, modern palette.) These ships bear a high ratio of standard balcony cabins.
Service is enthusiastic and gracious, courtesy of the well-trained staff.
The dress code is country club casual, intended to partner perfectly with the line's "whatever you want, whenever you want" mindset.
Oceania neither encourages nor discourages children onboard. However, no children's programs are in place, and there is little else to keep boredom at bay, apart from customary table tennis, shuffleboard and Monopoly in the game room.
What all ships also share is an all open-seating dining policy and a variety of restaurants and lounges onboard. There are four restaurants each aboard Regatta, Insignia and Nautica. In addition to the traditional main dining room scenario (albeit with no set tables or seating times), there are three specialty restaurants (The Polo Grill for steaks, Toscana for Italian and Tapas on the Terrace, the buffet-by-day that converts to alternative restaurant at night), which do not levy additional charges. Riviera and Marina have additional options, from the Asian Red Ginger and French Jacques Pepin to the La Reserve wine-tasting menu.
All spas are operated by Canyon Ranch, the noted American destination spa company, and offer premium services. The thalassotherapy whirlpool on the three smaller ships is complimentary with the purchase of a spa treatment. (The same applies to similar pools on the forward deck on Marina and Riviera's facilities.) The fitness center offers Pilates and yoga, along with the usual aerobics classes.
Casinos are small, but there are plenty of slot machines. Elaborate afternoon tea is served daily.
Passengers tend to be older (50 and older) and well traveled, hailing mostly from the U.S. and Canada. The line also markets to English-speaking travelers from the U.K., Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.