CruiseMates Newsletter
 
Order a FREE Disney Vacation Planning DVD
Discover all the wonders of a Disney Cruise-including a preview of our new ship, Disney DreamTM.
Order it now!

Special Celebrity Promotions
Alaska cruise from $799, Caribbean cruises from $349 and seven-day from $599, Europe from $899.
Celebrity Cruises

Holland America View and Verandah Sale
Bermuda from $699, Caribbean from $549, Alaska from $749, Europe from $899, Panama Canal from $799!
Holland America Line

Carnival Cruises Early Savers Program
Early Saver's Program
Sail for less that $70 per day!
3-Day Cruise $169
4-Day Cruise $229
7-Day Cruise $449
Book Your Carnival Cruise

Norwegian Epic Sailing from Barcelona this Summer!
Free meet and greet and ship transfers in Barcelona, 2-day Hotel Packages on sale now!
Book Now at NCL.com

Allure of the Seas CruiseMates Cruise from $779
We have the best prices on Allure we have seen yet: Central Park view from $949. $100 shipboard credit. Join our group cruise.
Cruisemates Cruises
Allure of the Seas

CRUISE NEWS


WHERE THE BARGAINS ARE


We want your cruise reviews!
CruiseMates started publishing our readers' cruise reviews long before other web sites even thought of it. We already have thousands of reviews online, but there are never enough! CruiseMates and our sister site cruisereviews.com both want more of YOUR cruise reviews. So, please send them to us:

kiplingers

Kiplinger's Magazine named CruiseMates to its Top 25 Best Value Travel Sites

CruiseMates is the most useful cruise-review site. We especially like its advice columns, which are written for people of different ages and interests.


 
02.10.2011

A "signature" Dinner Roll from "Jacques"
onboard Marina from Oceania Cruises

Marina Exceeds Expectations
We now have several diverse styles of cruising, from "mainstream" to "luxury," - each of them offering a different shipboard experience. While the mainstream lines tend to repeat shorter itineraries week after week, the luxury lines offer a series of longer and constantly changing worldwide itineraries that tend to follow the sun. The idea is to offer a great shipboard experience and special ports of call.

In the middle is another genre of cruise lines generally considered neither mainstream nor pure luxury, but often called "deluxe." They offer comfort and convenience on vessels that specialize in longer stays in a larger selection and variety of ports around the world. This is also called "destination cruising." But there has been an unusual development in "destination cruising" the last few years - an effort to build ever more accommodating vessels with plusher staterooms and better food.

Now, with the introduction of Oceania's Marina, and her soon to follow sister, Riviera, the world of "deluxe" cruising has a game changer.


Norwegian Epic Sailing from Barcelona this Summer!
Free meet and greet and ship transfers in Barcelona, 2-day Hotel Packages on sale now!
Book now at ncl.com

The line between upscale destination-based cruise lines and luxury lines has become more blurred in the last few years anyway as the upscale lines improve their culinary and port offerings. But with the introduction of Oceania Cruise's new flag ship, Marina, earlier this week, one can say the distinction has been virtually erased. In fact, the word "luxury" was dropped justifiably many times during our three day inaugural cruise.

Marina is the new standard bearer in deluxe cruising. The ship is not only beautiful; it is sophisticated, convenient and offers excellence in both cuisine and accommodations. Marina redefines destination cruising - elegant yet capacious, sophisticated yet comfortable, state of the art and timeless at the same time.


See all of the great special values from Holland America here!
Bermuda from $699, Caribbean from $549, Alaska from $749, Europe from $899, Panama Canal from $799!
Holland America Line

Oceania has always specialized in excellent cuisine - offering a wide variety of venues and never a cover charge. But Marina is the sea-going equivalent to a Four Seasons Hotel. The cuisine is world-class and the accommodations are outstandingly comfortable. In fact, Marina has more in common with Crystal Cruises than it does with its older ships, known as R-class vessels built in the 1990s.

Marina has beautiful décor, with suede covered walls throughout ("nice hand," my wife would say) and furniture that could qualify for the Museum of Modern Art design collection. Speaking of art, many cruise ships boast of an art collection, but this is the most distinct shipboard collection I have seen since the days of Christina Chandris - and I prefer Oceania CEO Frank Del Rio's taste.


Carnival Cruises Early Savers Program
Early Saver's Program lets you sail for less than $70 per day! 3-Day Cruise $169; 4-Day Cruise $229, 7-Day Cruise $449 !
Book your Carnival Cruise!

Marina's intrinsic beauty also comes in the use of space - wide hallways and tall ceilings with high back chairs. Most of the wood is dark mahogany, teeming with crystal accent pieces including chandeliers and even chairs designed by Swarovski and vases and fittings made of Lalique crystal.

The attention to detail is evident and the staterooms alone are enough to fill a book, especially the suites entirely designed and appointed by Ralph Lauren. Sailing in one of three 2000-square foot owner's suites, which extend the complete width of the ship at the aft end of three decks, would feel like living in a showroom at the Ralph Lauren Home Collection store on Madison Avenue.

But the most defining element of Marina is cuisine. The line has long enjoyed a culinary affiliation with master chef Jacques Pepin but on Marina Jacque has imbued his personality.


Special Celebrity Promotions
Alaska cruise from $799, Caribbean cruises from $349 and seven-day from $599, Europe from $899.
Celebrity Cruises

Like all great chefs, Pepin was born in the Lyon region of France and raised in a restaurateur family. In the 1980s he shared a PBS cooking show and co-wrote with Julia Child. The first eponymous restaurant for the master chef, "Jacques," is onboard Marina and must not be missed. The room is bright and cheerful with a surprisingly diverse menu; eight appetizer options from fois gras to escargot and frogs legs, four meat entrees, four fish entrees and eight side dish options.

With such a selection one could dine there every night and not repeat a meal, but Jacques has no cover charge and seating is limited so suite quests are given priority. Three other special dining spots fill the bill; "Toscana" (Italian) and the "Polo Grill" are Oceania Cruises staples. Another new addition is the Asian influenced "Red Ginger." As a testament to culinary prowess, other cruise lines that boast of fine cuisine have tried Asian and failed, but Red Ginger is a new Oceania favorite. My sautéed sea bass with spicy peanut sauce was the most succulent fish I ever tasted.


Order a FREE Disney Vacation Planning DVD
Discover all the wonders of a Disney Cruise-including a preview of our new ship, Disney DreamTM
Order it now!

I predict Marina will be one of the most widely acclaimed new ships introduced in the last three years, and I have seen all but one. It is the most truly elegant, sans gimmick, cruise ship in years, even surpassing most new luxury ships. Stay tuned to CruiseMates for more information on Oceania Marina.

Discuss the new Oceania Marina here: Oceania Marina Inaugural Cruise.

gray hr

new feature articles

Alternate Restaurants Onboard Are In Demand
Sometimes they are referred to as specialty restaurants; some refer to them as alternate restaurants. On some cruise lines, they are included in the crise fare... blue arrows

Marina - A New Class of Luxury
There is more Lalique on this ship than Saks Fifth Avenue. Modern deep plum museum-design chairs fill the beige and tan carpetted rooms. blue arrows

Marina by Oceania Cruises
We just concluded the new Oceania Marina Inaugural three night cruise. Click in for our first impressions and other stories. blue arrows

Oceania Marina Inaugural Feb 5
Marina, new ship for Oceania is here, and we're off to. The naming ceremony is Saturday. blue arrows

gray hr

Read about CruiseMates

NEW YORK TIMES:
"Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exception is CruiseMates."

FORTUNE MAGAZINE:
"The Web's best site for articles, advice, or chatting with Cruise People. Self-financed and run independently of the industry, so their opinions are impartial"



NEW CRUISEMATES CRUISES!

Let's Get Lei'd 5.0
We're doing yet again - for the fifth time (because these cruises do so well) - We are going to Hawaii on a Princess ship, this time the mega-Sapphire Princess. We sail from Los Angeles and return to the same. Eight days at sea and five beautiful ports of call - four of them in Hawaii, plus Ensenada. February 26, 2011.

Allure of the Seas
Join your CruiseMates on the newest world's biggest cruise ship on October 2nd, 2011, on the sister ship to Oasis of the Seas slated to debut in early December of 2010. We have great prices and plenty of onboard fun in store for you!