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Insignia Dining

4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
194 Reviews
Brittany Chrusciel
Cruise Critic Contributor
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5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Dining
194 Reviews

Dining on Insignia is impressive. Quality standards are highand consistent; paired with variety and invention -- plus both specialty restaurants included in the fare -- it's a formula ensuring you'll always be looking forward to your next meal onboard.

Oceania has invested in developing healthy menu choices;its plant-based menu is expansive and delicious. All restaurants serve vegetarian or plant-based items at all meals. Other food considerations are marked on the menu, and gluten-free pastries and breads are always available.

Alcohol is not included but a team of sommeliers, on hand in every venue, recommend wines; a Grand Dining Room menu section suggests wine pairings. There's a nice list of wines by the glass, and oenophiles should seek out "bin end" bottle sales for bargains.

Two specialty restaurants -- Polo Grill steakhouse and Toscana, an Italian venue--are both hits. Reservation cards line cabin hallways nightly; only one specialty reservation per restaurant is guaranteed for most passengers, but many repeat customers are accommodated. Suite passengers can dine anywhere at any time.

But, don't overlook the other venues. The Grand Dining Room feels just that, with an elegant ambiance and Versace tablescapes perfect for a leisurely sea day breakfast or lingering dinner. The Terrace buffet offers many of the same dishes, so there's no compromise on quality just because you don't want to dress up.

And, we loved Waves' decadent grilled items, like wagyu beef burger; we only wish it was open past 4 p.m. for post-shore excursion snacks.

The Grand Dining Room (Deck 5)
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)

Breakfast is served every day in the Grand Dining Room from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., lunch is noon to 1:30 p.m. and dinner is open seating from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The hours rarely vary, whether you're in port or at sea. While you don't need reservations to dine in the Grand Dining Room, you can call or speak to the maitre d' about arranging tables for friends or family groups, or to request a specific table or server.

At all meals, menus are divided up into easy-to-read sections. There's a lighter section, and plant-based items are marked. At lunch, you can eat your way around the world with regional menus -- or chose always-available options that include chicken soup or chicken breast, hamburgers, a grilled hot dog, sirloin steak or assorted crudites. A featured chef salad is listed in addition to two entree salads. Don't forget dessert, which has vegetarian choices, too, as well as more traditional indulgences.

By far the most exciting meal in the Grand Dining Room is dinner -- with a bustling staff refilling water, offering a variety of breads or freshly ground pepper, and inventive menus.

Every night, two soups, three salads and a host of appetizers and main courses are listed; or, you can order the entire spa menu, the global menu or an entire degustation menu with four courses handpicked by the chef, along with wine pairings by the glass. Jacques Pepin is the executive chef for Oceania Cruises and a list of signature items, like steak frites or herb-roasted chicken, are always available.

Terrace Cafe (Deck 9)
Meals: B, L, D

For casual dining, head upstairs to the Terrace Cafe, the buffet onboard. This is not a self-serve buffet, as each station is manned with someone who will serve you -- even if it's a single piece of watermelon. Breakfast here is served 7 to 10 a.m., lunch from noon to 2 p.m. and dinner from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Breakfast is a bevy of pastries, fresh fruit, granola and yogurt parfaits, meats and cheeses, omelets and dishes like eggs Benedict made to order. The buffet area is small, so it does get crowded and it helps to notice that some stations repeat -- perhaps most importantly the omelet station -- so check both sides before waiting. There is a place to pour your own water, juice or coffee, but if you sit, it can also be brought to you.

Themed lunches, like Italian or Asian, mirror those of the main dining room -- sometimes with the same dishes. Other times, you might find an entire roasted pig being carved, with delicate noodle and cucumber salads.

At dinner, you will usually find salads, hot and cold starters; a grill where you can order steaks, chops and seafood (including always-available Caribbean lobster); a wok and a pasta station; and several plant-based options. A sushi/sashimi station is usually offered at lunch and dinner.

Desserts come individually, and fruit and ice cream are always available.

The Terrace café is closed between meals and there are no late-night snacks on offer.

Toscana (Deck 10)
Meals: D

Toscana draws on the flavors of Tuscany to impress palates. We had two truly outstanding meals here, and the food and service are both undeniably thoughtful. Flourishes, like an olive oil and balsamic cart, make the meal feel special, as do the special breads and cheeses that continually appear.

If you can dream up any Tuscan favorite, it's here: various risottos and pastas, as well as osso buco and Dover sole. Popular desserts include the tiramisu, but the Toscana Quartet, a sampler of four of the menu's desserts, solves the sweet problem of indecision. The dessert menu is served with a sampling of biscotti.

Toscana is open for dinner from 6:30 to 9 p.m. by reservation only. Tables might be shared, so specify seating preference when making your reservation.

Polo Grill (Deck 10)
Meals: D

If you're looking for surf and/or turf in a clubby steakhouse setting, the Polo Grill is undoubtedly the right place.

Some of the food feels Old Hollywood -- in the indulgent sense -- with appetizers like oysters Rockefeller, lump crab cakes, pork belly and escargot. Soups, salads and sides could fill you up (lobster mac 'n' cheese or a Caesar made tableside), but the main event is the meat -- choose from a 7-ounce filet mignon, all the way up to a 32-ounce king's cut prime rib (meant for two) -- with all the sauces and seasonings. Seafood shouldn't be disregarded here, with jumbo shrimp and an entire Maine lobster available. Like Toscana, Polo Grill offers a dessert quintet so you don't have to decide between the apple crumb pie, New York cheesecake, creme brulee, fudge brownie a la mode or Key lime pie.

Polo Grill is open for dinner from 6:30 to 9 p.m. by reservation only. As with Toscana, you might be asked to share a table.

Horizons (Deck 10)
Meals: B, Afternoon Tea

Horizons has a self-serve specialty coffee machine, which gets a workout at all hours from people seeking cappuccinos and espressos. In the morning hours, there are a few baskets of pastries here, including flaky croissants.

Tea is a full affair, served each day from 4 to 5 p.m. Tables are set with white linens and tea cups, a trolley filled with that day's delectable treats is carted around the massive lounge and, all the while, a string quartet serenades in the background. It's a welcome way to mark the end of the day and the beginning of the evening. Anyone with an early dinner reservation beware: Trays of sweet and savory snacks circle around the room endlessly, so ruining your appetite is a strong possibility if you're not careful.

Waves Grill (Deck 9)
Meals: B, L

This casual venue is located in a shaded area of the pool deck and features wooden tables and chairs arranged along a window and near the grill.

A continental breakfast is available at Waves Grill from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. You can find boxes of cereal, a variety of yogurts and fruit, rolls, sliced meat, cheese and muesli. Additionally, you can order fresh smoothies from the ice cream counter adjacent to the grill.

Lunch runs from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and a salad bar with mixed greens and toppings is available as well as prepped cold salads. Order sandwiches, like a Reuben or a Cuban, at the grill (they will be served to your table). Also available are a variety of seven hamburgers, including salmon, tuna or wagyu beef; a hot dog served three ways; or dishes like curried and grilled gravlax, Cajun chicken paillard and herb-marinated mahi mahi. A surf-and-turf sandwich features grilled lobster medallions and sliced filet mignon on a toasted ciabatta roll with jus and remoulade dipping sauce for Parmesan-dusted truffle fries. The options are definitely a step up from a standard hamburger or hot dog joint.

Maybe the best part of the Waves Grill is its ice cream counter, open until 4 p.m. Order a variety of scoops, milkshakes, malts or smoothies, frozen to perfection. Flavors rotate daily, and there are 10 different containers of ice cream/sorbet here (although some popular flavors repeat).

Room Service

There is a full, 24-hour room service menu, plus breakfast. Cooked breakfast (mainly omelets and eggs) is available to passengers booked in upper-level Concierge cabins and suites. Continental breakfast cards are in the rest of the cabins and need to be put out by 11 p.m. for prompt service the following morning.

Options on the room service menu are a step above average, including sushi, French onion soup, a variety of salads featuring one with poached pears and candied walnuts, a salmon club sandwich, margherita pizza, a beef filet, fettucine Alfredo, a cheese plate, ice cream or sorbet, and a variety of other desserts. Burgers could be beef, turkey or vegetarian, and served with greens instead of fries upon request. Wines can also be ordered by the glass to your room.

Top Insignia Itineraries

Insignia
10 night canada / new england cruise

New York (Manhattan), Newport, Bar Harbor, Saint John (New Brunswick), Halifax, New York (Manhattan)

10 NIGHT Canada / New England CRUISE

Insignia

View All Oceania Insignia Itineraries (24)

Insignia Ship Stats

Sails From

Manhattan Dubai Sydney Hong Kong Barcelona Miami Istanbul Singapore Los Angeles Stockholm Montreal Reykjavik Auckland Fremantle Tokyo Klong Tuey, Bangkok Laem Chabang, Bangkok Klong Tuey Laem Chabang Cape Town Lisbon Amsterdam Southampton Southampton

Sails To

Caribbean Asia Australia & New Zealand Mediterranean South America Panama Canal & Central America Baltic Sea Canada & New England Africa

Crew: 400

Launched: 1998

Decks: 10

Passengers: 684

Registry: Majuro, Marshall Islands

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