JP C&TMag.The Finest Cuisine at Sea on Oceania 20 May 2016


Last week I had the pleasure of spending most of a day on board Oceania Cruises Insignia when she was ported in Sydney. This is my kind of ship, not too big, no water slides or rock climbing, just elegant with a reputation of serving cuisine renowned as the finest at sea. Master Chef Jacques Pépin the Executive Culinary Director, is said to inspire the lines chefs to perform feats of gastronomic wizardry. Memorable dining begins with open seating, which allows you to dine when you are ready and with whomever you choose. Regardless of which restaurant you select, there are no dining surcharges. Enjoy Toscana’s authentic Italian dishes, Polo Grill’s steakhouse fare, Continental cuisine in the Grand Dining Room, and made-to-order American favorites in the Terrace Café. You can also indulge morning, afternoon and evening in delicate pastries and freshly made sandwiches along with illy® complimentary specialty coffees at Baristas. Onboard Sirena enjoy our their specialty dining restaurant, Tuscan Steak, inspired by the gourmet cuisine of Toscana and Polo Grill, and Jacques Bistro, which will serve seasonal French fare during lunch in the Grand Dining Room.

JP & Steve O .jpgOther Oceania ships Marina and Riviera both offer two additional complimentary dining venues: Jacques, the eminent Jacques Pépin’s exquisite French bistro, and the contemporary Asian culinary masterpiece called Red Ginger. To explore epicurean delights in a more private setting, try Marina and Riviera’s La Reserve, where a maximum of 24 bons vivants may indulge in private vintage wine and gourmet fare pairings. For the ultimate in exclusivity on board Marina and Riviera, Privée may be reserved for the evening for parties of up to 10 guests, who can select from the full menu of Polo Grill and Toscana or mix and match selections from a combination of both.

The ship was on her epic Around the World in 180 Days voyage – the world’s longest annual round-the-world cruise and the ship was fully booked with mostly return cruisers.

Polo Grill - Lamb.jpg

Passengers were being offered diverse destinations including the colourful Caribbean and Brazil, exciting Africa, exotic Asia, jewels of the Indian Ocean, the tropical South Pacific, Hawaiian islands and the Panama Canal, not to mention Australia

Bookings for the voyage, which will sail again in 2017 and 2018, are available in eight key segments, beginning with a January departure from Miami. “Australians have quickly become huge cruise fans, with many passengers returning time and again and embracing longer journeys where the on-board experience is as much part of the adventure as the fascinating ports of call,” said our host Mr Steve Odell, Senior Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. “Booking an around-the-world voyage is one of the key items on the bucket list of many Australians, and having the flexibility to book the entire 180 days, individual segments or a number of subsequent sectors makes Insignia’s incredible itinerary even more accessible to the local market – especially with the opportunity to join the cruise in Sydney for the South Pacific leg.”

rClass - Grand Staircase.jpg

Passengers booking before the end of September 2016 will receive the choice of:

  1. Oceania’s OLife Choice special offer: guests select either free shore excursions, a free beverage package, free shipboard credit or free unlimited internet access; or
  2. Complimentary Pre or Post-Cruise Land Tour: available for cruises to African and Asian destinations.

rClass - Library.jpgWith 400 expert staff catering to just 684 guests, means that with such a high ratio of crew to passengers, superior service is the norm. The ship has been recently transformed by a multi-million dollar refurbishments. On-board features include four open-seating restaurants, eight bars and lounges, a casino, the iconic Canyon Ranch SpaClub® and an Artist’s Loft.

During her 2017 and 2018 visits down under, Oceania Insignia will offer a series of shorter sojourns, including:

  • 23-day Divine Down Under – departing 22 February 2017 from Auckland to Indonesia, calling at Gisborne, Wellington, Picton, Akaroa, Dunedin and Milford Sound in New Zealand before heading to Eden, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Cooktown and Darwin in Australia; and Komodo and Bali in Indonesia
  • 20-day Tasman and Pacific Gems – departing 9 May 2018 from Sydney to Papeete, visiting Melbourne and Burnie in Tasmania; Picton, Napier, Rotorua and Auckland in New Zealand; Tonga, American Samoa and Bora Bora in French Polynesia.

More: call Oceania’s local contact centre, Australia: 1300 355 200, email, or visit

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About Oceania Cruises

Featuring a fleet of intimately luxurious ships, Oceania Cruises offers an unrivalled experience renowned for the finest cuisine at sea and destination-rich itineraries spanning the globe. Seasoned world travelers are drawn to Oceania Cruises’ expertly crafted voyages, which call on more than 370 ports across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and the Americas. Spacious and elegant accommodations aboard the newly launched 684-guest Serena, together with Regatta, Insignia and Nautica and the 1,250-guest Marina and Riviera invite guests to explore the world in unparalleled comfort and style

JP Note: I believe this is a ship for grown ups who enjoy the better things in life in a casual “country club” sort of way. Elegant casual is the order of the day. I feel it would be impossible not to have a great and most memorable cruise on an Oceania ship #Terms and conditions may apply to offers. Subject to availability. Not responsible for errors or omissions. 

••This article has appeared in print and electronic versions of: 4 local newspapers. The Spectator, The Times, The Chronical and The Leader. Also Monthly in The Jewish Report, Sydney and Melbourne editions as well as several blog sites and facebook and twitter.


Oceania Insignia

John Pond with Mr Steve Odell, Senior Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings

Superior Food

Insignia Grand Staircase


Penthouse Suite


About John Pond, J.P.

Pioneer in television as producer of thousands of hours of TV shows on Australian and American television including Graham Kennedy, Tommy Leonetti, People in Conflict, Hollywood Bowl, Major Specials and Dr John‘s Casebook TV Shows. TV manager J. Walter Thompson & McCannErickson Advertising and head of production for Columbia Pictures TV. John changed careers to the hospitality industry working for Sydney’s top 5 star hotel as director of sales and marketing and GM. Then with Harrah’s/Caesar's World, the world’s largest hotel and casino group in Nevada. Playboy Magazine in Chicago, head of worldwide PR/Marketing, for their Resorts, Clubs, Hotels & Casinos. Producer at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. Co-creator of hit US network TV show Joker, Joker, Joker, first TV show to give away a million dollars. Writer travel articles for magazines and newspapers including Washington Post, New York Times, American Playboy as well as local Australian papers and magazines. In the USA represented many personalities including Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Bob Hope, Mel Torme, and many other major names. John is Editor at Sea of Australia’s leading cruise magazine, Travel & Cruise writer for The Retiree Magazine, Destinations Magazine and Spectator Group of Newspapers. John reviews cruise ships, Destinations and Hotels, and is ably assisted by his Associate Editor Sandra Tiltman.
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