Today we arrived in Cadiz, Spain for an overnight visit to Seville. This remarkable city is l-l/2 hours from the port of Cadiz, and I recommend renting a car since there are no shuttles and you will otherwise be dependent on shore excursions.
What separates Oceania's Regatta from the real luxury ships is the size of her cabins. Inside and outside staterooms are 150 to 160 sq. ft. Standard balcony cabins measure 215 sq. ft., and are very comfortable for a week's stay. One feature lacking in these categories is a mini-refrigerator.
Standard amenities include color TV, tiny bathroom with hair dryer (hard to use, bring your own), divine mattresses with plush down comforters and down pillows. Another glitch is room service breakfast, which lacks hot dishes like eggs and pancakes.
Oceania Cruises is focused on destination-oriented travel, with the convenience of using the ship as your moving hotel. You can expect long stays in port, excellent and plentiful cuisine, small yet comfortable staterooms. At per person, per diem rates of around $210, you'll get the satisfaction of knowing you got a great value for your cruise dollar.
In my 10 days aboard Regatta, I found superb cuisine and one of the most dedicated staffs I've ever encountered. The small touches are refined: A waiter takes my plate to a table during breakfast, lunch and dinner at The Terrace, the ship's buffet restaurant. At night, this venue becomes Tapas on the Terrace, and dining on the ship's aft deck is elegant -- chairs are covered with blue fabrics, and candles and crispy white linen appear. As we dined al fresco overlooking the stern, schools of dolphins performed a ballet in the ship's wake. Sometimes life hands you the perfect moment.
Oceania does not offer Las Vegas-style production shows, either. As Joe Watters said, "When intelligent persons return from a cruise, they want memories of what they saw and learned of the world. You aren't going to impress your friends by talking about the juggler or ventriloquist you saw in a cruise show." The ship does feature a few specialty acts on board during the cruise, but several nights we spent the evening in port, such as in Bordeaux, where we enjoyed duck a l'orange in a real French restaurant. While another cruise line might have sailed at 5:30 and given you a stage show with a salute to Maurice Chevalier, Regatta stays in port and gives you France.
Following her Europe season, Regatta heads west for a series of Panama Canal and Caribbean cruises. In 2004, she will be joined by identical sister ship Insignia for 10- and 14-day eastern and western Mediterranean voyages as well as cruises in the Baltic. For additional information visit www.oceaniacruises.com.
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