Within the first minute of boarding Oceania Cruises' Nautica you get an immediate feel for the sumptuous elegance of your surroundings, plush carpets, fabulous artwork, traditional polished wood and smooth leather coming as no surprise.
We assembled in the Horizons Bar on Deck 10 to be greeted by Oceania Cruises staff members, Bernard Carter, Louise Craddock, Alex Farquarson and Priti Mehta and a welcome drink of either champagne, mimosa, red or white wine and soft drinks for those who felt it was a little early to be partaking alcohol.
This ship visit was exactly as I had hoped it would be, calm, well organised with us being put into small groups enabling us to explore all areas with ease. With a capacity of only 684 guests you can almost put Nautica into the category of being a large yacht rather than a cruise ship and the quality of the furnishings can only help enhance that feeling.
We were fortunate to be able to view an Owners, a Vista and Penthouse suite and these were just stunning, the quality of the fabrics and furniture were some or the best I have seen anywhere. The Staterooms are spacious and well appointed, just as you would expect on a ship of this quality furnished with finest linen and bedding making the cabin feel as if you are in a bedroom of a fine country hotel.
I was really looking forward to viewing the speciality restaurants and I certainly was not disappointed, the classic steakhouse Polo Grill furnished in red leather and deep rich wood panelling looks elegant and classy just the place to indulge yourself in the 28 day dry aged prime beef, dried in Oceania's own drying plant in Miami. Toscana on the other hand is a light contemporary authentic Italian restaurant, serving family traditional recipes passed down through generations, on custom designed Versace china.
We were treated to lunch in the Grand Dining room with a choice of Miso glazed sea bass fillet or prime fillet of beef, just one of the six courses offered for our tasting lunch. The sea bass I have to say was the best I have sampled anywhere and just helps reinforce why Oceania Cruises food is described as the "finest cuisine at sea", with them spending more per head on the raw ingredients than any other cruise line.
With sumptuous sea food, alfresco dining, speciality coffees and pastries, along with afternoon teas on offer, the dining experience with Oceania Cruises must be one that is hard to beat.
The public areas have a beautiful elegant feel to them with the use of rich colours and quality fabrics such as you would find in a high class English Country Hotel giving a warm, friendly atmosphere yet remaining relaxed and sociable. We hear that so many of Oceania's passengers return, up to 45%, because of the onboard ambiance created on their ships and it is easy to see why.
Artwork plays a big part in creating a classy sophisticated feel about the ship and there is plenty of it, whether you are an art lover or not you cannot help but be amazed at the variety and quality of paintings that decorate the the walls and public areas.
As Nautica has been refitted, the equipment in the large gym is all state of the art with all the latest weights machines, cross trainers and running machines to keep even the keenest fitness fanatics busy on some of the longer cruise itineraries.
Spa facilities are all you would expect on a top class cruise ship with an outstanding array of treatments, massages and therapies on offer, even Botox, yes you really could come back from your cruise looking like new.
Outside there are great areas for alfresco dining, relaxing with a drink at the pool bar, or taking some sun on the many quality sun loungers. Even these have top quality terry towelling covers to add to the comfort. Concierge customers or above get free unlimited access to the private Spa Terrace area adjoining the Canyon Ranch Spa, which could be available for as little as $80, now that seems an absolute bargain.
As one might expect entertainment around the ship is relaxed and subtle, string quartets, piano and jazz groups, exclusive production shows and world renowned guest lecturers, plus late night dancing and a small casino. The range of wines and spirits is of a calibre to equal top quality restaurants
As ship visits go this is probably the best I have experienced, I have been onboard Oceania Cruises' Marina, which was absolutely fabulous, but there was something just that little bit more special about Nautica. I can only recommend that if you ever get the opportunity to have a look around her, or her sister ships Regatta and Insignia, then it would be well worth your time.
Thanks to all at Oceania Cruises for a great day experiencing a gorgeous ship.
Alan and Mandy Matkin