One of our Cruise Experts, Zoe, recently went on a short cruise onboard Oceania Cruises’ Marina. These are her thoughts…
There has been much fanfare about Oceania Cruises’ latest vessel, Marina, and needless to say everyone at The Cruise Line has been itching to get onboard and take see first hand what makes this ship so special. Well, last month I was lucky enough to be invited onboard Marina for a 4 night voyage sailing from Marseille to Livorno. Joining me was Nicola Cooper, manager of The Cruise Line’s Bournemouth branch.
19th April: Marseille
The port of Marseille is located just a short 25 minute drive away from the airport so we arrived at our embarkation point ready to board Marina within just over an hour of our flight landing. We entered the ship and were welcomed by a stunning lobby with a huge staircase made of marble and crystal. It’s fair to say that this is quite a site and it’s impact was a sign of things to come – Oceania Cruises’ really has pulled out all the stops on this ship.
Our accommodation for the trip was a B3 disabled cabin, which to our delight was absolutely huge! It had a wet-room bathroom (which again was massive) and was perfectly big enough to allow for wheelchair access. The décor of the accommodation manages to be both lavish and refined at the same time, resplendent in a pleasing hue of soft colours and stylish custom fabrics and fittings.
Once we had settled in and packed away a few of our belongings we made our way down for dinner in the Grand Dining Room. Compared to other ships I have been on, Marina’s Grand Dining Room is grand in every sense of the word, with tiered seating levels and a huge chandelier centrepiece. The décor was elegant and echoed the light airiness of the type of restaurant you would expect to find in the one of northern Europe’s grand cities. World of Cruising Magazine recently stated that Marina has the “best food at sea” so it comes as no surprise that the cuisine was absolutely phenomenal, both in terms of presentation and more importantly, taste.
20th April: St Tropez
For those who aren’t familiar with the French port, St Tropez is a small fishing village that is extremely popular with tourists. It’s easy to see why; its cobbled streets, boutique shops and laid-back ambience give it a certain air of romanticism that sits perfectly on a warm spring afternoon. After enjoying a couple of drinks and a spot of watching the world go by at a local cafe we made our way back to Marina to get ready for the night ahead.
In the evening we made our way to the Panorama Lounge which hosts a Happy Hour every night between 5 & 6pm. The prices onboard are reasonable, with beer costing $4.75 and a glass of wine around $6.95 so it’s not too different from what you would expect to pay at any top hotel bar. We once again ate our evening meal in the Grand Dining Room before venturing back to the Panorama Lounge for the evening entertainment and disco.
21st April: Monte Carlo
We woke up to the beautiful harbour of Monte Carlo, where we docked. Before exploring the port we decided to try out breakfast in the Terrance Café, a buffet restaurant that serves as a casual alternative to the Grand Dining Room. The café caters for all tastes; with a selection of pastries, fresh fruit, omelettes, and of course a full English for us to choose from.
Following breakfast we went for a walk around the centre of Monte Carlo where the preparations for the upcoming Grand Prix were in full swing. We walked up the Prince’s Palace of Monaco to watch the changing of the guards, before going for a brief stroll around the casino. The area around the casino was quite busy but it really is stunning – surrounded by waterfalls and Japanese water gardens.
We changed tack for our evening meal and decided to try out Marina’s Polo Grill, which is fast becoming famous for its 28 day dry-aged 32oz steak – it goes without saying that it’s HUGE. The restaurant itself is very stylish and with an environment similar to that which you would experience in one of London’s top eateries.
22nd April: Portofino
Today we awoke to the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen…a mountainous coastline dotted with little yellow and red houses bathing in the warm Mediterranean sunshine. Portofino is a charming fishing village situated in the Italian Riviera, and is everything you could hope for from a cruise destination. The centre of the village is home to cobbled streets lined with shops, boutiques and places to buy souvenirs. It’s quite touristy, though if you’re looking to venture off the beaten path I can recommend taking a walk along the coastal path where you can take advantage of some brilliant photo opportunities.
In the evening we continued our culinary adventures and were lucky enough to get a seat in Red Ginger, Marina’s Asian speciality restaurant. I have to be honest, the food was absolutely out of this world and it was by far my favourite dining experience of the whole trip. I had some wonderfully cooked sea bass and some red Thai curry…I wasn’t massively keen on the chilli ice-cream but you can’t please everyone!
23rd April: Livorno
As this was going to be our last day aboard Marina I decided to treat myself to a spa treatment at the Canyon Ranch Spa. The spa comes with its own sun terrace and Jacuzzis which are perfect for looking out over the sea as you cruise, as well as an indoor sauna and steam rooms. It was great value too and only costs $25 per day for use of all the facilities.
Our final port of call, Livorno, differed somewhat from the other ports that we had visited on our cruise. Very much a cargo/shipping port, Livorno is located on the western edge of Tuscany and is a popular stop on many cruises due to its close proximity to Pisa and Florence. Once we arrived in the city centre it soon became clear that Livorno should warrant a Mecca-like status if you’re a shopaholic.
Upon leaving Livorno we began to make our way to the airport but not before a slight detour that took us to Pisa for a quick picture of the famous leaning tower. There’s not a lot else to see in Pisa but the tower is a remarkable monument and is definitely worth seeing if you’re close by.
Some final thoughts…
Oceania Cruises’ Marina is by far the best cruise ship I have stayed on; it’s stunningly elegant yet retains the country-club casual feel that is such a feature of the cruise line’s other 3 vessels. It’s evident that no expense has been spared when it comes to the ship’s design and décor, with each space decorated with some incredibly beautiful pieces of art fitted out with the finest fixtures and fittings, combining to provide you with the most relaxingly luxurious cruise experience.
If you’re interested in experiencing cruising on Marina, then you we have some excellent offers for Oceania Marina cruises. Alternatively, if you’d like to speak to Zoe about her trip or ask for advice, then please leave a comment at the bottom or call 0800 008 6677.