Oceania Regatta: what a delicious surprise!
By Bruce Piper
When we were planning an Alaskan cruise for our family, including three adult children and a son-in-law, there were a few must-haves. A small ship — but not too small. A short itinerary — just one week was all we could manage with the difficulty of coordinating annual leave. A variety of activities to suit different levels of adventure. And given that we were planning to get together each evening, good food and wine would also be nice.
We eventually decided on an early June departure aboard the 680-passenger Oceania Regatta, cruising the Inside Passage from Vancouver and returning to Seattle seven days later. And while the ship’s size, staterooms and itinerary ticked all our boxes, once on board we discovered that this cruise offered much more than we expected.
Oceania Regatta isn’t a brand new ship, but what it lacks in terms of whizz-bang features it more than makes up for in the warm hospitality of its crew and the fabulous on-board cuisine. At night dining options include the Grand Dining Room, with familiar favourites complementing regional specialties in an ever-changing menu. There are also two speciality restaurants — the Italian-focused Toscana and the Polo Grill steakhouse, both of which are included at no extra cost. The 20oz porterhouse steak at the Polo Grill was a gladly accepted challenge!
Oceania makes a big feature of its cuisine, and it certainly did not disappoint — not to mention the extensive wine offering curated by a large team of on-board sommeliers who really know their stuff. A special note should be made in regard to passengers with dietary requirements — one of our kids is coeliac, and the lengths to which the culinary team on board went to accommodate her gluten-free needs were remarkable.
Our voyage saw us call at Ketchikan and Sitka in Alaska, as well as Canada’s Prince Rupert Island on the return leg southward. Shore excursions offered a great array of choice — most of the time we did things together like kayaking and an ATV excursion, while one day some of the more adventurous in our group went zip-lining. Our brief forays into the Alaskan wilderness certainly whet our appetite for a return visit in the future. And while we are generally an active family, we were surprised to find out how much we enjoyed the three days at sea.
One of those was spent scenic cruising the Inside Passage on a stunning day to view one of Alaska’s mighty glaciers. Regatta’s compact size allowed us to get close to the ice, and we spent several delightful hours walking the decks and watching the passing wildlife including seals and sea-lions which lounged on small icebergs — like us, without a care in the world. There really is something special about having nowhere to go and all day to get there, and the ship’s comfortable public spaces were a great place from which to do it.
We made the most of on-board activities such as shuffleboard, chess and table tennis. The late-night on-board showband in the Horizons Lounge was a lot of fun, and even enticed us onto the dance floor. A surprising highlight was the daily trivia session before dinner, curated by zany cruise director Dottie. We formed a team with some new-found friends, and good-naturedly (well actually, pretty fiercely) competed for coveted “Big O” points which were redeemed on the last day of the cruise for some Oceania merchandise.
We thoroughly enjoyed our week aboard Regatta which offered just the right mix of relaxation and activity, alone time and family togetherness. Highly recommended, and we’ll definitely be back!