Regatta's entertainment tends to mimic cabaret-style, with entertainers doubling as social hosts and hostesses during the day. There are musicians and solo acts brought onboard, but in general, entertainment is fairly low-key.
On our Scandinavian Splendors tour, we enjoyed a jazz quartet that played outside during lunch when the weather was nice. They also played inside during tea time at Horizons. There was a classical trio, which played around the ship at different times and welcomed us to the Grand Dining Room for supper. A husband-and-wife magical comedy team regaled us with tricks and jokes. Our cruise director, Leslie Jon, is an accomplished singer and entertainer, so -- aside from his daytime duties of keeping us informed, delighting us with bits of arcane trivia and explaining the day's activities -- we also enjoyed his presence in the evenings.
Of course there's the casino and classes in the Oceania@Sea lab. But there were also two areas of entertainment that stood out for me: martini-tasting (at only $9, a true bargain) and an enrichment program. On our trip, we had two specialists, both of whom were really inspiring and interesting. One was an expert in Faberge eggs and Baltic amber -- he taught us how to tell fake amber from the real stuff -- and the other was a historian who knew the area's history, from the Norse gods and Czars to the present democracies. Both of these fellows also acted as guest hosts on our bus excursions.
Speaking of excursions, I used Oceania's offerings exclusively, except in places like Amsterdam and Stockholm, where I just wanted to get out and walk. Some were priced substantially higher than if I had done them on my own (I didn't care, I wanted convenience), but some -- like the Premium Tours in St. Petersburg -- were worth every penny. I had not heard of this before I boarded, but there is a program that allows you to take the standard St. Petersburg tours -- known for their frenetic pace and frustrating crowds -- in a van with only 10 to 16 other people. It's a cross between a private tour and a typical shore excursion, with an upcharge of $30 U.S. per tour. I chose to do it with all three options offered. Believe me -- it was the best $90 I spent on the entire cruise.
Regatta brings representatives from the tourism boards of each city visited onto the ship on the morning of arrival. You can get maps and information, but also do your homework, and ask a lot of questions before you go. Some of the info we were given by the shore staff -- even the tourism representatives -- was incorrect.
Regatta Public Rooms
You might not exactly gasp the first time you enter Regatta's main lobby, but most people want to -- at least those who are not familiar with these small ships and their consistent decor. Some people equate the central staircase with a Titanic replica; I prefer to think of it as Tara-like, since I expect to see Vivien Leigh flouncing down to greet Clark Gable at the bottom.
The ambience in Regatta's public rooms is clubby, elegant, comfortable, familiar; you feel as though you're in a country manor house that you've visited before. Plush furnishings and Oriental carpets of red, gold, blue and yellow are framed by the burled walnut of the walls, the ornamental sconces and the painted ceiling frescoes. Several of the rooms have faux fireplaces, including the beautiful, comfortable library perched over the pool; Martini's Bar on the indoor promenade and the Grand Bar at the entrance to the dining room. During the first few rainy and windy days of our Baltic sojourn, many passengers wished the fires weren't so “faux;” we pictured ourselves snuggled into the deep, comfortable chairs and sofas, in front of a crackling fire, with big mugs of cocoa.
Most of the public rooms are located on the Deck 5 promenade or on Deck 10 aft (the library) or forward (Horizons). Just before entry into the spa on Deck 9 is the Internet center, featuring long tables of laptops. Internet service is available at an exorbitant 95 cents U.S. per minute, with packages available to bring the price down slightly. It's so slow that the Internet center management has warnings advising you not to expect DSL-level speed. On the first two or three days of our cruise the service was horrible, but after that, it seemed speedy and efficient. Classes -- some free and some costing $25 per session -- are offered by the Internet management team, and a software CD is included. Classes were well-attended, and the photo contests sponsored by the Internet center garnered great enthusiasm. We were really impressed with the husband and wife management team on our cruise; their teaching skill and patience were extraordinary, and they really got people interested in the subjects of online photo albums, using Photoshop, and sending photos via e-mail to their grandkids.
Next to the Internet center is a small card room that saw plenty of bridge play on our 14-day cruise.
The ship's main entertainment venue, Regatta Lounge, is located forward on Deck 5. More a cabaret than a theatre, it's congenial but not ideal for stage shows, as the seating is at scattered tables, and sight lines are poor. There's a nice dance floor in the room, though (and a bigger one in Horizons, too).
The ship's boutiques offer an array of logo items, perfumes and other duty-free goods, as well as regional tchotchkes that reflect the cruise's itinerary. Park West's art pieces are scattered about during days that have art auctions; on our cruise, they were extremely limited because they have to be conducted on sea days. We had two of those and, thus, two auctions.
There's also a small casino with blackjack and poker tables and some scattered slot machines. The tables were busy on some nights, but the slot machines were too tight to get much play after the first couple of days.
Regatta Spa & Fitness
Regatta has one of the prettiest -- albeit smallest -- spa facilities afloat. All the way forward on the pool deck, it's cool and quiet and relaxing without having to resort to a lot of gimmickry such as secret gardens and the like. The spa treatments are provided courtesy of Mandara, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Steiner Leisure -- purveyor of most spa services in the maritime world. Treatments run the gamut from hot stone and Swedish massages to wraps and (my favorite) the Frangipani -- a head, neck and shoulders massage and scalp treatment (also one of the most reasonable at $27).
There is a small but reasonably well-equipped fitness center on the opposite side of the ship from the spa. For some reason, one of the smoking areas was placed right outside of its doors, and the smell of smoke filters in to the area -- an odd sensation in a workout room. Classes are offered for Pilates and Yoga ($11 each), and there are the usual Steiner spa seminars (Lose cellulite right this minute! Detox today!), designed to sell you something.
At the very bow of the ship is a large and lovely thalassotherapy pool, filled with seawater and providing a strong swirl to ease your aches and pains. You can buy a cruise-long pass at a great discount, buy a day pass for about $20 or use the pool for free before and after a spa treatment.
Deck 10 offers a running track, and there is a lovely -- but small -- swimming pool, just about big enough to do a couple of laps if no one else is using it. Two hot tubs flank the pool.