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Ahoy, upscale travelers! We recently sailed on an extended cruise for 28 days on Oceania Cruises, on the Insignia, from Rome, through the Mediterranean, up to Ireland, then across the Atlantic, back to the East Coast in Montreal. Why 28 days? Extended cruises are a hot new trend nowadays, as sophisticated travelers understand that a typical 10- to even 14-day cruise would never be enough to truly unwind and take in all that such an experience has to offer. After packing, planning – and most important – dealing with the torture that is air travel nowadays – intrepid cruisers increasingly sign up for extended cruises – if they’re not already considering a World Cruise, that is. (World Cruises can last anywhere from approximately 150 to 180 days.) In fact, on Oceania’s Insignia, we met numerous travelers who were “ATW’s” (on the “Around The World” cruise for seven months) – and they still expressed regret when disembarking. We sailed for almost a month and here is our report about what we like about Oceania. You’re going to love it too.
1). The Tranquility Bed. With this bed, I thee wed. I’m serious – we want to marry this bed, as it holds us in its arms every night, and we cozy up in comfort. The Oceania Cruises Bed Collection includes the Prestige Tranquility Mattress, which is a custom-designed mattress composed of 400 encapsulated springs covered by memory foam. It all ensures a deep and restorative sleep. And yes, you can take it with you: A king-sized mattress with box springs costs $3,290, and each pillow is $129 (www.Oceaniabedcollection.com)·
2). The cuisine. Legendary French chef Jacques Pepin is the Executive Culinary Director for Oceania, and the cuisine is delicious and decadent any way you slice it. Dinner might include New York strip steak with steak frites and garlic butter; herb-crusted rotisserie chicken in a yummy gravy; plus poached Norwegian salmon with rice pilaf. Executive Chef Farid Oudir assures that every morsel is magnificent, no matter what you prefer. “We can create lowfat, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, you name it,” says Chef Oudir. Even better, in the Terrace Café, (the more casual dining venue) “You can have a lobster or shrimp or delicious sushi every night,” says Chef Oudir. The staff on Oceania is first-rate and they jump to the opportunity to assist you with whatever you need. Also important: The two alternative Michelin-worthy restaurants onboard – Polo Grill and Toscana — don’t charge additional fees for your reservation (as some cruise lines do). In Toscana, try the artichoke timbales, and the chocolate lasagna for dessert!
3). Canyon Ranch spa and cuisine and excursions. We are huge fans of Canyon Ranch – Debbi has visited Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass., for years, and it is a delight to know that there is a Canyon Ranch SpaClub aboard all Oceania cruise ships. For example, Debbi had an exceptional Environ facial featuring this posh brand you will never find on another cruise line. (www.dermaconcepts.com, www. CanyonRanch.com) Oceania has also taken the unprecedented step of offering special Canyon Ranch excursions in ports of call. In Spain Deb visited an apiary, and even donned a beekeeper’s suit for the interview – plus bought gorgeous beauty products.
And be assured: The experience is also conveyed in the Dining Room – with exceptional Canyon Ranch cuisine and recipes that ensure you of delicious, lowfat food. For example, a 500-calorie dinner: Artichokes in forest mushroom vinaigrette; consommé with Parmesan tuiles; and a scrumptious cod in ginger sauce. With a diet like that, you’ll never feel deprived.
4). Special extras: Most “Around The World” guests were sailing from New York to Miami for 180 days. Many were thrilled with their experience, and why not? “ATW” passengers receive numerous advantages including two-for-one cruise fares plus free first-class roundtrip airfare, along with a wealth of other freebies including pre-paid gratuities, unlimited internet, luggage delivery, round-trip transfers, one-night pre-cruise luxury hotel accommodations, and much more. There are also numerous special ATW excursions.
5). The entertainment is first-rate. It included the unbelievably talented violinists Laszlo and Claudia, (www.laszloandclaudia.com), Britain’s-Got-Talent-finalists Zyrah Rose quartet plus flute player Clare Langan who wows with every note. Irish comedian Billy Boyle was also a high note – and as he remarked, remember: If you look like your passport photo, you’re probably too ill to travel.