For cruise lovers, there’s nothing more anticipated than a return to cruising following the last 18 months.
In fact, our Cruise Specialist, Denise, is one of them! Having already jumped aboard for an exclusive first look at the new Tradewind Voyages, Denise was perhaps even more excited to join a preview cruise of the ultra-luxurious Oceania Marina.
Heading on board the week before the ship was due to return to sail, on 29 August 2021, there was nobody better than Denise to get a taste for what the future holds for the world of luxury cruises.
Here, Denise reports back on the Oceania Marina boarding process, life on deck and the cruising experience during her roundtrip journey from Copenhagen…
When will cruises resume?
If you’ve been itching to explore the seven seas once again, there’s good news! Many luxury cruises have already resumed sailings for 2021.
Oceania Cruises have a wonderful selection of itineraries available for 2021 and beyond. From Barcelona and Rome to Copenhagen and Miami, you can still make the most of travelling this year. Just speak to our Travel Specialists to find out more.
The Cruising Experience with Oceania Marina
Cruise Sales Specialist and Product Manager
“As such a fan of luxury cruising, you can only imagine how excited I was to be among the first to resume sailing with one of my favourite cruise lines, Oceania.
This was made even more exciting by the fact that I would actually be leaving the UK on a journey from Copenhagen – the idea of flying somewhere again was certainly alluring!
Departing on my British Airways flight from Heathrow was a highlight in itself. As we flew over Tower Bridge, we were on a sightseeing experience from the moment we left the ground – it was almost as if British Airways knew we hadn’t travelled in a while and put on a show for us!
There was a lovely buzz on the aircraft, with guests chatting “have you flown yet, or is this your first?”. It was air of excitement and trepidation at the same time!
The Arrival, Vaccination and Testing Requirements
Entering Denmark, all we needed was our official NHS COVID-19 vaccine certificate. The airport was slightly busy, which gave it a sense of normality, though checking-in was still a breeze.
We were then met by the team from Oceania Cruises. They whisked us away on a short 30-minute transfer to Copenhagen’s port. As it’s close to the city centre, along the way we were treated to beautiful sights such as the Tivoli Gardens, The Little Mermaid sculpture and the colourful buildings of Nyhavn along the waterfront.
Embarking Oceania Marina
The ship check-in was very easy. A COVID-19 lateral flow test was required before boarding, which was included in the cruise cost, along with a health declaration form. You can also check-in online to receive your boarding pass before you arrive, making the process even more streamlined.
After dropping off my luggage, I headed straight to the testing area. This is set-up inside the port terminal, with cubicles for taking the swabs and a waiting area. After taking a swab, there are a few further health checks, including a temperature check. You then simply wait for your barcode number to appear on a screen and you’re free to board.
In all, this took no longer than 25 minutes. Swift and efficient to say the least.
I have to say, the excitement, passion and level of service from the staff and crew was second to none. I felt as though we were welcomed as family.
What’s it like on board Oceania Marina?
So, I was finally on board one of my favourite cruise ships once again!
One thing to note is that you no longer need to attend a muster drill in a group. Rather, this is completed at check-in with a video and a stop at the muster station for your instructions on how to use the life jacket. You’re still fully informed of safety at sea, but the process is more streamlined.
One of the key things about Oceania is that they’re a boutique country club at sea, with a casual yet refined elegance. Every touch is taken care of.
As for the ship itself, it’s certainly a marvel! From the Versace chinaware and tableware to fine artwork and blown glass displays throughout the ship, its fine details make it magnificent.
I stayed in a concierge level Veranda Suite on deck 11 forward, which was furnished to an exceptional standard. There were Bvlgari toiletries, a welcome bottle of Champagne and a sumptuous marble bathroom, complete with a full-sized bath with a selection of bath salts to choose from.
My favourite thing about the suite though, had to be the ULTRA Tranquility bed, which gave me the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had! The suite really becomes your own sanctuary.
How about the facilities?
You can still enjoy all of the luxurious facilities of Oceania Marina.
The Aquamar Spa is excellent, and access is included if you’re staying in a Concierge Suite or above. You can unwind with the sauna, steam room and hot stone beds, or, on the spa terrace, in one of two hot tubs.
For entertainment, there’s a casino and Martinis bar, which is perfect for pre-dinner cocktails with piano music. I also love Horizons bar, where there’s dancing in the evening with music by the resident band. Then, of course, is the amazing Marina Theatre, which hosts some spectacular shows.
On deck, you’ll find a good-sized swimming pool, two hot tubs and ample sun loungers or quiet spots to sit with your cocktail. Or, you can keep fit on the running track and sports deck, or attend quizzes, lectures or a class at the Artist Loft.
My favourite area, though, has to be the library. Packed with a huge selection of books, both classic and modern, I certainly spent a good afternoon reading here, curled up in the huge leather chairs with a coffee – I may have even dozed off for a little!
The Finest Cuisine at Sea
Finally, I can’t not mention the incredible dining offering on Oceania Marina.
Their proclamation for offering ‘the finest dining at sea’ is certainly a worthy one!
The number of speciality dining venues is tough to rival. You can expect at least one night’s dinner included in every suite category for each restaurant, all of which can be pre booked. Should you wish to dine again at one of the restaurants, they’ll do their best to accommodate.
My first stop after boarding was to Waves, the pool bar and grill, which serves the tastiest burger I’ve ever tried!
For dinner, there are so many options! So, here are some of my menu recommendations…
- At French restaurant, Jacques, the menu is endless! From duck to escargots and cheeses, you can pair your food with French fine wine. For dessert, you can’t beat the freshly cooked crepes.
- For fine meat cuts, you’ll love Polo Grill. There’s a 32oz king cut steak for those who can manage it – though I thoroughly enjoyed the surf and turf, comprising a fillet mignon and small tail lobster. The lobster bisque and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese were also delightful, as were the quintet of deserts including one of my favourites, key lime pie.
- My last night’s meal at Red Ginger elevated the experience once again! Potato rolls and miso soup, crispy noodles, the best seabass, a choice of teas and a coconut cake dessert…it was a wonderful feast to end the cruise.
It doesn’t end there though! There’s also Toscana the Italian restaurant, which I hear people talking of being their favourite. But, I found that with every restaurant you try, expectations are exceeded with each one boasting their own unique offerings.
The departure process
When it comes to returning home to the UK, you’ll need to take another COVID-19 test before arriving in the UK. Oceania made this very easy, with medical clinicians set up in a designated area to take your test. You’ll then be given a paper certificate later that day to show at the airport.
The only other thing to prepare is your day two test, which you’ll need to take back at home. Be sure you have your reference number to fill in your passenger locator form for your flight to the UK.
Otherwise, it’s on to the airport, along with your passport and vaccine certificate, and you’ll cruise right on through to the end!
Overall, I’d say that getting back on board with Oceania, everything just seems so much more colourful. Everything tastes better and I seem to appreciate my surroundings more.
I certainly have a newfound appreciation and am seeing the world in a different light, grateful to be able to travel and experience the world once more.
A huge congratulations to all at Oceania Cruises who simply excelled themselves in this preview cruise. I wish good luck to them in their return to sail and I without hesitation would recommend travelling with Oceania at present.”
If you’d like to find out more about which of our luxury cruises have resumed this year, or would like to plan your journey for next year or 2023, contact us to speak to our dedicated Cruise Specialist.
For more of the latest travel news, inspiration and to hear our latest luxury holiday offers, sign up to our newsletter below.