Oceania sits firmly at the upper end of the premium/boutique cruise market, but Insignia, like its fleetmates, is reconciled to the fact that it cannot boast the largest cabins or bathrooms. For its size, it does have some impressive public areas, including a grand staircase leading down to the Deck 4 reception area. The paneled Grand Bar, at the entrance to the main dining room, would not look out of place in an English country-house hotel, while the well-equipped library, with its trompe l'oeil ceiling, and the Horizons Bar are as impressive as any venues on sea or land.
Oceania prides itself on having a bigger food budget per passenger than any other cruise line, and its Polo Grill steakhouse and Toscana Italian restaurant are outstanding. Selections in the Terrace Cafe buffet restaurant and alfresco Waves Grill are also well above average.
Insignia is one of the original three ships in Oceania Cruises' fleet and was the first R-ship built for the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises, entering service in 1998. Insignia spent two years chartered to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, sailing as Columbus 2, and returned to Oceania in 2014 after an extensive refit that included a renewal of the real teak deck around the pool. Also new is a glassed-off smoking room on the port side of Horizons Lounge and faux stone-wall decor in the Terrace Cafe outdoor area.
Insignia's passengers are mainly English speaking, mostly ages 50 and up, and mostly hail from North America, with a significant proportion of Brits and -- depending on the itinerary -- travelers from Australia and New Zealand. New money from Russia and Eastern Europe is bringing a few passengers from those regions.
Formalwear is not a requirement on Oceania ships, but nor are T-shirts and ripped jeans acceptable. The approved outfit during the day and in the evening is "country club casual" -- a concept as difficult to define and achieve as the agreed code for Dress Down Friday. Think Ralph Lauren Polo -- slacks and open-neck shirts for men, and skirts and slacks, blouses and cardigans for women -- and you won't be far from the mark. (Conveniently, the label is on sale in the ship's boutique.)
A gratuity of $23 per person, per day, in suites and $16 per person, per day, in all other accommodations is automatically charged to passenger accounts. An 18 percent gratuity is also added to all bar purchases and spa services.