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Home > Virtual Cruises > Oceania's Insignia: Dover to Dublin
Oceania's Insignia: Dover to Dublin
Day 1: Departure from Dover
Day 2: At Sea
Day 3: Edinburgh
Day 4: Peterhead
Day 5: Inverness
Day 6: Shetlands
Day 7: Orkney
Day 8: At Sea
Day 9: Dublin
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Day 2: Tuesday, At Sea
At SeaThe best way to start a cruise is to spend a day at sea. Today we entered the North Sea under oft-threatening clouds (we were spared wind and rain, fortunately) and the atmosphere for a British Isles cruise was ... perfect! The day's quiet pace was a boon particularly for a lot of passengers, many of whom just arrived yesterday and came straight from the airport to the ship, still fighting a bit of jetlag.

Most of the day was spent indoors (at 2 p.m., prime sunbathing hour, there were just two people on the sundeck) and "The Daily Program" offered the usual sea-day activities -- daily quiz, needlepoint, "jackpot" bingo, wine tasting, parlor team trivia, and a Latin dance class.

One bonus is that the North Sea, which can be quite a rough body of water, behaved itself today and, in places, was almost like glass. That's a very good thing because this ship, along with all the others that were originally built for Renaissance's R series, has a low draught and is famous for bouncing around a bit in even moderate conditions. It's so famous, in fact, that a reference was made to rough waters at yesterday's lifeboat drill (we were advised to keep doors shut and bags under the bed if conditions became rocky). I advise everyone to make sure you travel with an ample supply of your seasickness remedy of choice.

We opted for a leisurely lunch in the Grand Dining Room not realizing how "leisurely" it would really be. The place was packed and waitstaff seemed (understandably) overwhelmed but it took such a long time to simply be handed a menu (much less order) that one couple at our table for eight left before the appetizers arrived. Folks seemed pretty frustrated by service lapses (we were visited by the wine steward but never offered any "free" drinks such as iced tea and coffee) and reported a similar situation at breakfast, but it must be said the menu was quite varied and nobody quibbled over the food.

The afternoon's highlight -- and this, at least for me, was an absolute first -- was a martini tasting. It was fascinating! Held in the Martini's Bar (that was a given), we were all given a long sheet of paper that had a space for the five types we would be trying (just like a wine tasting). As a relative martini neophyte, it was fun to sample really exotic types, such as the Bacardi Martini (rum with Galliano and Orange Juice); the Apple Martini (vodka with apple liquor and a dash of ginger ale) and LeFrench Martini (Grey Goose vodka, chambord and a bit of pineapple juice), along with the "classic" (gin and vermouth). The portions were, ahem, quite generous and everybody in the room got quite chatty. The only oddity about the experience was the $9 (plus gratuity) per-person fee.

We're not quibbling over the fact that there was a fee -- the tasting was worth it at the price -- but can't understand why the event wasn't advertised as such (the wine tasting also carried a "hidden" $9 charge). It was a bit jarring when, after all the joviality, bar waitresses came up to each table requesting our cards.

Another busy area onboard was the ship's Oceania@Sea computer lab. It's extremely well organized -- there are banks of computers that folks can use to send and receive e-mails as well as a plethora of classes. Adobe Photoshop is the most popular, and the lab offers a really nifty service that allows digital camera users to download their trip photos onto CD for only $15.

Charges for the Internet are a bit high, on industry average. It's $2 to send and receive e-mails to your specially designated Oceania address. Accessing email via web sites is a 95 cent-a-minute experience. If you're planning to correspond a lot, I definitely recommend upfront purchase of a package, which at least brings per-minute prices down to a reasonable amount ($140 buys you a 70 cent per-minute rate; $300 offers a 60 cent per-minute rate).

Even better -- for laptop-toters, Insignia offers in-cabin access. Same rates apply plus a $25 set-up fee. In both our cabin and in the computer lab we were pleasantly surprised at how fast the computers ran (fast for ships we mean, not fast for DSL users!).

Tonight's big event was the Captain's Welcome Reception and while it followed the usual format (copious drinks, tiny hors d'oeuvres, a welcome from the captain and intro to top officers) it was convivial and fun. This is definitely a friendly ship -- we already feel like we've met a fair amount of fellow passengers and people were mixing and mingling with ease.

We took a break from the ship's restaurant scene tonight and ordered "in" from Insignia's very comprehensive room service menu. The sun had finally broken through a bit. We're so far north that even at 9:30 p.m. there was plenty of daylight and the seascape, with the sight of the sun bathing the distant mountains of southern Scotland in blues, golds and pink, provided a lovely backdrop for a romantic balcony dinner.
Day 1: Departure from Dover red arrow Day 3: Edinburgh

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