By Jana Jones, Cruise Critic contributor
Stepping onto Regatta feels like coming home. In our case, we'd cruised on Regatta's sister ships, and the layout and decor is just as we remembered it. We already knew how to get around. But even first-timers will soon feel at home on this ship. Its small size -- 30,277 tons and 684 passengers -- and understated, cozy furnishings and design make you feel like you're weekending at a rich friend's manor house on the seas, rather than a Vegas hotel. With fewer public areas than today's mega-ships, you rarely feel lost, and it's easy to make friends with shipmates you'll see again and again. Regatta is a comfortable, classy, elegant ship that's not too big and not too small.
What you won't have are big-ship features like waterslides, Broadway production shows, mini-golf courses and bowling alleys -- not that Oceania's core clientele are clamoring for such amenities. Yet, if you've sailed on newer sisters Marina and Riviera, you might notice that Regatta has fewer dining venues, no culinary center and smaller cabins. (Regatta cleverly sidesteps the dining issue by adding entrees from the O-class ships' specialty venues Jacques and Red Ginger to its main dining room menu each night.)
Regatta is also an older ship, originally built as one of a series of eight ships for Renaissance Cruises, which ceased operations in late 2001. Regatta became the first of three identical ships launched by Oceania. The ship is impeccably maintained and doesn't feel old, but the tiny bathrooms and limited public areas don't help to belie its age. Oceania's destination-intensive itineraries fit the ship well. On long, cold-weather cruises with many sea days, you might get bored of trivia and cooking demos if you need more entertainment than a good book and a nap.
As a company, Oceania makes a point to offer luxurious service without becoming a luxury cruise line. Priced in the deluxe or luxury-lite range, the ship offers an experience that's close to luxury without being all-inclusive. Regatta's fares include soft drinks, bottled water and specialty coffees. All specialty dining is free, and photographers don't chase you around the ship before trying to sell you pricey souvenir photos. The amenities, attentive service and tasty cuisine are likely to fool most people into believing they are traveling in ultra style.
Yet, many passengers are abruptly woken from that dream with the nickel-and-diming that remains. We heard many complaints of the line overcharging for shore excursions, visas and pre-cruise hotels. Don't let this ruin an otherwise lovely vacation. You can easily avoid overpaying by doing some research ahead of time, booking on your own (or with a help of a travel agent) and taking advantage of Oceania's early-booking deals, which offer perks like prepaid gratuities, complimentary Internet, onboard credit and free airfare.
The key to a fabulous Regatta cruise is setting your expectations correctly. If you're looking for the service and inclusions of a luxury line or the amenities and large spaces of a big ship, you'll surely be disappointed. If, instead, you focus on the ship's luxurious and comfortable touches, embrace its lovely spaces and intimate size, and join in its devotion to good food and exploring new places, you might have just found a new favorite ship.
Regatta Fellow Passengers
Regatta's passengers tend to be a mix of young boomers and older retirees -- the former going all day and all night in the port-intensive itineraries, while the latter keep up as much as they can. Regatta's passengers are mostly from the U.S. and the U.K.
Regatta Dress Code
Dress is always country-club casual in the evenings, which can mean khakis and collared shirts for men, and pant suits or sundresses for women. There are no formal nights, and we rarely saw anyone in finery. Jeans, shorts, T-shirts and tennis shoes are not permitted in the dining room.
Because you don't have a set dining time with a single serving team, gratuities are pooled; $14.50 per person, per day, is charged to your onboard account. Passengers in suites with butler service (Penthouse, Vista and Owner's Suites) are charged an additional $6. (Beginning with the winter 2013-2014 cruise season, gratuities will go up to $15 per person, per day, in standard staterooms and $22 per person, per day, in the suites.) Room teams, favorite bartenders, the sommelier, the maitre d' and certain waitstaff members might be worthy of more, which can be offered at each passenger's discretion. It's expected that room service will be tipped (anywhere from $1 to $5, depending on what's ordered) as it's delivered. An 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage purchases and spa services.
Oceanica Regatta Sunsplashed Islands 6-16 January 2014.
Boarding in Miami was not the most organised, the were lots of crew about but none seemed to know what the procedure was and consequently there was a deal of confusion. The pre ...continue
December 2013 Marseydotes
Regatta is small and club like. Staff is attentive and friendly without being intrusive. Fellow passengers were friendly, with few young people--mostly in 50's, 60's. Surprise for us was the entertainment--our last Oceania cruise was too ...continue
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Oceania has done it again... best service -nicest staff and great cuisine.The culinary classes to art classes-always something going on. The four restaurants Jacques,Red Ginger, Toscanna and Polo make one feel that you are not even on a ship but ...continue