About the Ship
In the five years that Regatta has been on the seas, little has changed. It was a fabulous ship when it was launched, and it remains fabulous -- maybe more so than before. Changes -- including the addition of a patio area with plush, overstuffed outdoor sofas under a breezy canopy; a series of private cabanas in a rarely-used space at the front of the top deck; more menu choices; poolside milkshakes; expanded food and wine programs and some cabin upgrades -- have been for the better.
Originally built as one of a series of eight ships for Renaissance Cruises -- which ceased operations in late 2001-- Regatta became the first of three identical ships launched by Oceania. At the time of its inception, Oceania's management had clear objectives: offer luxurious service without becoming a luxury cruise line. Priced in the premium or deluxe range, the ship offers an experience that's close to luxury without being all-inclusive. Although the staterooms that are smaller than most luxury ships offer, the amenities, attentive service and tasty cuisine are likely to fool most people into believing they are traveling in ultra style.
When Regatta debuted in 2003, its smoking policy (or non-smoking policy) was the stiffest in the industry and remained so for three years. At the time, there were only two sections of the ship in which people could smoke: a small area forward of the pool on the starboard side and a small, indoor section at the aft of one of the ship's lounges. Passengers caught lighting up on their balconies or in their staterooms were politely reminded -- once -- that this was not acceptable and were then threatened with unceremonious debarkation if it continued. This restrictive policy is more common now, and the fact that Oceania vessels still have a smoking section in one of the lounges onboard makes it one of the more liberal lines.
Just a few short years ago, Oceania's ships were touted as mid-sized; now they are considered small. For those accustomed to ships in the 2,000-passenger range, boarding Regatta -- with its 684-passenger count and measuring 30,277 tons -- feels like entering Alice's Wonderland. The sensation is heightened when Regatta is berthed next to a larger vessel; even one that is not considered particularly big can make Regatta look positively petite.
A ship of Regatta's size is easy to navigate, so it's easier to make friends. You won't have big-ship features like FlowRiders and bowling alleys, Broadway production shows and mini-golf courses. Rather, what you get is a manor house on the seas -- a comfortable, classy, elegant ship that's not too big and not too small.
I can say one thing, though, about Regatta and its sisters Nautica and Insignia, and about Oceania Cruises: Any references to Renaissance should end now. Five years after Regatta first sailed on the Mediterranean Sea, this ship, its siblings and its cruise line, are all grown up and can (and should) stand on their own merit.
Regatta's passengers tend to be a mix of young boomers and older retirees -- the former going all day and all night in the port-intensive itineraries, while the latter keep up as much as they can. Regatta's summer schedule is mostly concentrated in northern Europe and the Baltic region; winters are spent in the Caribbean, Mexico and the Panama Canal. Regatta's guests are mostly from the U.S. and the U.K., but on our Baltic cruise, we had several people from the Netherlands board in Amsterdam, and there was also a smattering of Australians and New Zealanders aboard.
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