The Nautica Lounge (Deck 5) serves as the main venue for entertainment and enrichment. Set on one main level, it has banquette seating and chair seating with tables. At the rear, a slightly higher area has chairs and tables, as well as bar-height chairs arrayed along curving bars. Decor is in shades of gold and gray-blue, with dark wood accents.
During enrichment presentations by speakers, three large video projection screens show visuals. At night, entertainers perform from the stage. Nightly shows (one performance per night) include song and dance productions by the ship's quartet of performers, plus guest performers. During our cruise, they included a pianist and banjo soloist, both backed up by the ship's band; a comedian; and a comedy magician. Some nights a movie is shown in lieu of live entertainment.
There were three excellent lecturers onboard Nautica during our cruise, and they spoke to large and engaged crowds. Two discussed destination-related topics, touching on history, politics, religion and other cultural aspects, as well as some general information that was helpful to know about sightseeing -- though they didn't get into nuts-and-bolts port information. The third covered topics less related to our itinerary. Ample sea days meant there were plenty of opportunities for lectures, which were presented in the Nautica Lounge, with illustrations projected on three large screens.
The ship's executive chef gave several cooking demonstrations in the Nautica Lounge on sea days, accompanied by different chefs from the ship. In addition to providing interesting tips and recipes, he was absolutely hilarious, too.
Other daytime activities include bingo, mah jongg, trivia competitions, golf challenges, social bridge (in a dedicated card room), watercolor classes, table tennis tournaments, dance classes, Top Toss and Baggo beanbag toss games, needlepoint and coffee chat, shuffleboard tournaments, daily quizzes and casino tournaments.
The ship's head sommelier offers a wine-tasting seminar for a fee. There are several modules, but it's possible to sign up for them individually.
Nighttime is low key on Nautica. The ship's big band plays for dancing in different lounges, depending on whether they are participating in the main show that night or not. Sometimes the resident string quartet entertains in the early evening, and there's a pianist in the Martinis Lounge. When the band isn't playing, the cruise director takes song requests via a jukebox app in the Horizons lounge. Some evenings, there are also team trivia contests.
The casino, located on Deck 5, has 26 slot machines, one roulette table, three blackjack tables and one poker table. Hours vary widely, and they're also affected by local regulations. Typically, the slots open at 10 a.m., and there are table hours in the afternoon and evening.
Once again, think "country club," and you'll have an idea of what the bar scene is like on Nautica. There are several options to choose from throughout the day, ranging from casual poolside to a sleek venue with great views high atop the ship. There are usually three cocktails of the day offered at discounted prices in all the bars, plus a two-for-one happy hour at two locations.
Nautica offers two all-inclusive beverage packages, "House Select" (wine by the glass and beers during lunch and dinner) and "Prestige Select" (premium spirits, wine by the glass and beers during bar hours), gratuities included. There's also a wine-by-the-bottle package, with a minimum of seven bottles. Soft drinks, juices, coffee, espresso drinks and bottled water are always free to all passengers.
Baristas (Deck 5): This cozy nook just outside of the Grand Dining Room used to be a regular bar, but it was converted to an espresso and coffee bar in the 2014 refurb. The Italian barista serves up Illy coffee drinks, including a cold frappe concoction, all at no extra charge. The thought of our morning latte was one of the few things that could get us out of the incredibly cushy Nautica beds. The barista does have a few alcoholic options on hand that can be added to your coffee. Next to the bar, pastries are available in the morning, with cookies and finger sandwiches available at other times. There's also seating around a couple of tables and sofas, with wood paneling and a fireplace to complete the atmosphere.
Martinis (Deck 5): Specializing in -- yes -- martinis, this bar is strategically located between the casino and a quieter seating area with sofas, wingback chairs and low tables. The space is decorated in blues, reds and golds, with dark wood paneling and swagged curtains on the windows. A dozen high chairs are arrayed along the bar. In addition to the menu of more than 25 creative martinis, you can also order the basics. The bar holds martini-tasting events, where you get to try four different cocktails for a discounted price. There's a two-for-one happy hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., but the specialty martinis aren't included.
The Upper Hall (Deck 5): On the U-shaped balcony surrounding the bi-level atrium, there are several groups of tables paired with upholstered chairs. The string quartet plays there in the early evening, and there's a chess board set up for play. In one corner, it's possible to meet with the sales consultant to book future cruises.
Waves Bar (Deck 9): Facing the pool on the Lido Deck, this is the bar that will keep the mai tais coming on sea days. There's a handful of stools around the small wood-framed bar, but this venue is really there to serve the loungers around the pool. To the right of the bar is a shaded area with sofas; in front of it are tables with umbrellas.
Horizons (Deck 10): Nautica's main bar has a lovely location, forward on Deck 10, with sweeping views off the bow and sides of the ship. It's decorated in a more contemporary style than other areas of the ship, in shades of gold, gray-blue and brown, with dark wood trim and paneling. There's a dramatic abstract waves mural behind the bar, while large blown-glass art pieces resembling wildly colorful seashells act as space dividers. There are high chairs at the service bar and also chairs along a bar that overlooks the small stage and dance floor where the house band often entertains. On a slightly lower level, chairs, tables and banquettes line the floor-to-ceiling windows. The bar also participates in the two-for-one happy hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., though there are a few restrictions on what you can order.
As you enter the Horizons Lounge, on the port side, you'll see a glassed-in "fishbowl" area designated for smokers. Aside from a door, it's completely sealed off from the rest of the lounge and equipped with two banquette-style sofas and several groupings of tables with chairs. While it makes smokers look a bit like quarantined pariahs, it does give them the option to smoke at an inside bar.
Nautica is home to a single swimming pool and two jetted tubs that are open to all passengers. Located on Deck 9, the pool area is chic and lovely, with teak decking and mosaic tiles in an abstract pattern of blue and white. The square pool is surrounded by a shallower overflow area that's framed with mosaic benches -- so you can sit and cool your feet in the water if you don't want to take the plunge. The pool is flanked on either side by the raised hot tubs, accessed via stairs. Teak benches mark the corners of the entire area, and showers are located by the two entrances to the pool. To port and starboard are double rows of cushioned lounge chairs, with the back row shaded by the deck above. In front of and behind the pool are double bed-style contoured loungers with thick blue and white striped cushions. If you stake out a lounger and disappear for too long, don't expect to be able to reclaim it. Polite cards are placed on vacant seats, warning that left items will be removed and held at Waves Bar if the lounger still isn't occupied after 30 minutes have passed. On the starboard, forward corner of the pool deck, there's a designated smoking area.
Concierge Level passengers also have unlimited access to the thalassotherapy pool on the Spa Terrace, reached through the Canyon Ranch Spa on Deck 9. (Non-Concierge Level cruisers can buy day passes to access the pool and terrace.) This is a lovely teak-decked area at the front of the ship, with the raised pool (three steps up) at its center. There's a glass windbreak, and the terrace is partially shaded by an overhang and partially open to the sky. The pool is decorated with midnight blue and gold mosaic tiles, and several of the same double bed-style contoured loungers as at the main pool are positioned on either side of this one. The views are absolutely spectacular. When we checked it out on a sea day, only a handful of passengers was hanging out, making it one of Nautica's best kept secrets.
Forward on Deck 11, there's a well-kept nine-hole putting green. To the side of it, there's a shuffleboard court.
Near the pool area on Deck 10, you'll find a Ping-Pong table.
Aside from the Spa Terrace, all lounge areas are free and open to any passengers, with no adults-only or quiet zones. That said, it's doubtful you'll ever have to contend with packs of stampeding, rowdy kids aboard this ship.
The largest concentration of loungers is found around the pool, on Deck 9. But you'll also find a couple dozen cushioned lounge chairs and two cool-off showers forward on Deck 11. It can get a bit breezy up there, though, despite a tinted-glass windbreak at the front of the ship.
In addition, there are a few lounge chairs on Deck 10, near the balcony that overlooks the pool area.
On our cruise, the numbers of lounge chairs appeared to be more than adequate, with plenty of unused loungers available.
Guest Services is located on Deck 4 and operates 24 hours a day.
Nearby, on Deck 4, the Concierge Desk (for Concierge Level passengers) typically operates from 8 a.m. until noon and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., although hours can vary.
The shore excursion desk (called Destination Services) is also in the same area on Deck 4, and it's typically open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on sea days, with varying hours on shore days. Because it's a smaller ship, shore excursion options tend to be more limited and a bit pricey.
Lots of attention was lavished on the Library, located on Deck 10. Due to its out-of-the-way location, it doesn't see much use, though. The self-contained space is lined with built-in book cabinets in dark woodwork with elegant molding throughout. The traditional furnishings have a slight Asian flair, with ginger jar accent pieces and flowered Chinese brocade on the sofas. There are ample areas for reading, with leather wingback chairs, coffee tables and end tables topped by lamps. Overhead, a coved ceiling is painted with a faux solarium effect, featuring plants and exotic birds. At the center of the space, there's a fireplace with a marble mantel, and windows with window seats look out to port and stern. In one corner, there's a desk space with two flat-screen Internet-connected (for-fee) computers. The selection of books is vast, with more than 2,000 volumes. It includes art books, bestsellers, travel guides, encyclopedias and reference works, wide-ranging nonfiction titles, biographies, histories, sports volumes, large-print, foreign-language books and a section for paperback exchanges.
On Deck 9, there's Oceania@Sea, a dedicated computer room and Internet center. In it are 13 computers and two printers. The space is paneled in dark wood and has two windows, making it more pleasant than the cyber centers on some ships; however, when we visited, only one computer was in use -- perhaps due to Wi-Fi and the availability of iPads and laptops to Concierge Level passengers. Staff assistance is available there during certain hours, which vary and are listed in the daily bulletin.
Wi-Fi coverage was decent by shipboard standards. Though the signal wasn't strong, we could pick it up in our cabin. For those without Internet deals or discounts (sometimes offered as booking incentives), service is available a la carte at $0.99 per minute or in 200-minute increments priced at $160. An unlimited Internet package costs $21.99 per day. There's a $3.95 activation fee, which is waived for those who purchase the unlimited package. Beginning with winter 2015-16 sailings, Concierge Level passengers will get a free Internet package.
In addition to four-page world news briefings that are delivered with the daily bulletin, it's possible to order one of 15 different newspapers to be printed and delivered to your cabin. The cost is $6.50 per day.
Two shopping boutiques face each other midship on Deck 5. They offer the same types of merchandise you'll find on many ships: perfumes, bargain costume jewelry sets, fine jewelry (including a special assortment of pieces with opals), watches, sunglasses, sundries and a surprising amount of clothing -- with some creative women's outfits by designer Joseph Ribkoff. There's also a small section of Oceania branded swag.
A card room with six felt-topped tables is located on Deck 9. It has the same clubby wood-paneled decor as the computer room, with double windows. When we checked it out on a sea day, four of the tables had active players.
There is a self-service laundry room across the hall from cabin 7076 on Deck 7. It includes four washers, four dryers, two irons and ironing boards, and laundry soap. The machines take tokens that are available at Reception. Laundry room hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The luxurious Canyon Ranch Spa on Deck 9 is a treat for the eyes. The hallways and waiting rooms are decorated in green-, rose- and honey-colored marble, with inset mosaics and dark wood trim. There is a eucalyptus-scented steam room for each sex, as well as two spacious, mosaic-clad showers (a welcome relief from the tight cabin showers). The marble-lined dressing rooms have ample lockers made of light-colored wood and an elegant mosaic design on the floor. There are five treatment rooms, most with showers.
The spa offers nearly a dozen types of facials, plus scrubs, wraps and combination treatments. Massages include aromatherapy and hot stone, as well as Thai, shiatsu and Ayurveda versions. Everyone we talked to was a big fan of the spa's massages, regardless of who their therapist was. You can add a scalp or foot treatment to your massage (a service the spa pushes -- but be aware of the extra fee). There's also reiki, body composition analysis, orthotics assessment and other wellness services.
The adjacent three-chair beauty salon has a large menu of pedicures and manicures, including acrylic nails. They also provide all the usual hair services. There's one hair stylist and one nail tech.
Spa personnel give free promotional seminars, such as "Bright Eyes," "NuFace, the 5-minute Facelift," and "New Look. New You." These are listed in the daily bulletin.
As is the case on many ships, the spa offers some specials throughout each sailing, with the best deals on days when the ship is in port. There are also discounts offered for services performed at off-hours. These discounts weren't mentioned anywhere except a sign on the spa desk -- so be sure to inquire if you're interested in these savings.
The spa hours are typically 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and spa-goers must be at least 18 years old. Particularly for sea-day treatments, it's important to reserve in advance.
Starboard on Deck 9, adjacent to the spa, the fitness center provides great views from many of the exercise machines, since most treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes face floor-to-ceiling windows that line the space. There are 14 TechnoGym circuit machines, four bikes, four elliptical machines, five treadmills, one rowing machine and an area for free weights.
The center usually offers four to six exercise classes per day, with most of them -- like stretching, "Buff Booty," "Walk a Mile" and "Energize Your Soles" -- complimentary. There's an $11 charge for 45-minute yoga, Pilates, bike and ball classes. Personal training sessions are available at $95 for 50 minutes, with discounts for packages. Staff also offer gait analysis and fitness assessments.
The center is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Up on Deck 10, a small fitness track circles the balcony over the Lido Deck.
There are no special facilities or programs for children or teens, and Oceania makes no bones about the fact that its ships aren't the best for kids. There's little, aside from the pool, Ping-Pong table and miniature golf facilities, to interest the young set. The only nods to families are cabins available with Pullman beds or sofa beds, and a few cabins with adjoining doors. However, any children younger than 18 must occupy the same stateroom as an adult.
Infant passengers must be a minimum of 1 year of age as of the first day of the cruise. And if you're pregnant, you're not allowed onboard if you've entered your 24th week of pregnancy or if you will enter it at any time during the cruise.