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Regatta

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You might call Regatta the perfect "Goldilocks" ship -- it's not too big, not too small, but rather just right. With only 684 passengers, you never feel like you're in a herd of cattle; there's plenty of space, whether you want to sit quietly with a book or hang out at a bar. The ship is big enough to feature a range of facilities, from lounges like the Horizon's ship-top observatory to the Martini Bar and from restaurants such as the Italian Toscana to the poolside Waves Grill. Even better: Regatta's size gives it a cosy, sociable ambience and means it can access out-of-the-way ports of call that are off-limits to mega-ships.

Oceania is known for its cuisine, and Regatta lives up to the reputation. While it has fewer speciality restaurants than the line's larger ships, the variety and quality of food onboard is impressive.

The ship nimbly walks a line between full-on luxury cruising and a more mass-market approach. You can tailor your experience to the style you prefer. On the one hand, every cabin is equipped with the most heavenly plush beds we've ever encountered, toiletries are by Bulgari, the luxurious spa is run by Canyon Ranch and the excellent speciality restaurants carry no surcharge. On the other hand, drinks and other extras are priced on an a la carte basis, standard cabins can be small (cosy, but small) with basic, shower-only bathrooms, and there are plenty of inside cabins. Want to dial it up? Splash out a little more for a Penthouse Suite with butler service. Add a drinks package or choose the OLife Choice option and get free internet, plus shore excursions or a beverage package. We like that flexibility.

While Regatta might attract both the more value-minded and bigger spenders, it's likely you won't be able to tell them apart. The ship has a "country club casual" dress code, and passengers tend to be low-key in dress and behaviour. That same description could apply to the decor, which is what you'd find at an upscale country club -- classic and classy. The ship attracts an older crowd, thanks to longer itineraries and far-flung destinations in places like Asia, as well as around-the-world cruises. The exception is when it visits Alaska in the summer, when you might see younger cruisers.

Service is friendly and polished, whether it's your steward always calling you by name or a waiter who makes spot-on menu recommendations. Regatta's butlers are downright miracle workers, who anticipate things you haven't even thought to ask for.

One area where you'll notice a marked difference from bigger ships is entertainment. While Regatta does have a small production cast, its shows aren't going to be the most memorable part of your cruise. Guest solo performers and a versatile show band help add some variety.

If you're looking for excellent food, outstanding service, itineraries that offer overnights in port, leisurely sea days and a continual parade of different, intriguing destinations, Regatta -- and its sister ships -- are definitely worth considering.

Regatta's dress code calls for country-club casual or resort attire throughout the day. Tank tops and swimming suits are not allowed in any onboard restaurants at any time, or at afternoon tea in Horizons lounge. At night in the main dining room and speciality restaurants, men usually wear collared shirts, slacks and sometimes a jacket; ties are rare. Women sport dressy slacks and tops or a dress. There's not a "dress to impress" attitude. Shorts, casual jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, athletic footwear and rubber sandals are not permitted in the main dining room or speciality restaurants in the evening. However, baseball caps, dressy shorts and casual shirts can be worn at dinner in the Terrace Cafe buffet restaurant. The two occasions when you might see a few sequins (on the women, that is) are at the captain's welcome cocktail party (typically night two of the cruise) and at a cocktail party for repeat cruisers who belong to the Oceania Club. Some men don ties for these events, but most do not.

Regatta Inclusions 

Oceania is not an all-inclusive cruise line, so you'll pay separately for flights, alcoholic beverages, internet, shore excursions and pre- or post-cruise hotel stays -- unless you opt for an OLife Choice program fare, which includes unlimited internet (one sign-in at a time per cabin, unless you're in a Vista or Owner's Suite), and a choice of either some shore excursions (the number varies with the length of voyage; not all excursions are eligible), a House Select beverage package or a shipboard credit. Passengers in the same stateroom must choose the same perk.

As with most cruise lines, you'll also find offers for specific sailing dates with deals for land tours, bargain flight upgrades, free air and other goodies. The perks are particularly plentiful on around-the-world cruises

Non-alcoholic beverages are included in your fare, available both in public venues and stateroom mini-fridges. There's no charge for 24-hour room service. And, you'll also receive a free daily four-page news brief, should you wish to keep up on happenings in the outside world.

For passengers residing in standard staterooms, Regatta automatically levies tips of $16.50 per person, per day (added to your onboard account), split among the crew. Those in Penthouse, Vista and Owner's Suites pay $23.50 per person, per day, which covers the added butler service these suites receive. Eighteen percent gratuities are levied automatically on all spa and beverage tabs.

The currency used aboard Regatta is the U.S. dollar. On European voyages, currency exchange for euros is offered, with a 5 percent service charge. Exchange for other currencies is sometimes offered, depending on itinerary and availability. You can also get a cash advance on your credit card, up to $500 per day, also with a 5 percent service charge.

Shore Excursions

 

None of Regatta’s shore excursions are included in the fare -- and they tend to be overpriced compared with other lines and independent tour operators. One plus is the ship offers a number of tour packages meant to provide cost savings to those who book several tours. The OLife booking option also includes an option for a shore excursions package.

Excursions range from bus tours and destination overviews to specialized options, like biking, nature or food tours. Pricier small-group options, such as flight-seeing tours are also available on some itineraries. We liked that there were often several different departure-time options for the larger group tours.

Daytime and Evening Entertainment

Regatta isn't a ship for the party crowd -- or for those looking for big, flashy production shows. If you're a card player, needlepointer, golf putter or bingo aficionado, you'll find plenty of kindred spirits attending scheduled daytime get-togethers for these activities onboard. Evening entertainment highlights tend to be individual guest performers or an intimate gathering listening to Gershwin tunes in the piano bar. And, while plenty of bridge players are cutting cards in the daytime, few passengers are cutting the rug in the evening.

Regatta's main entertainment venue is the Regatta Lounge, on Deck 5. Nighttime shows usually kick off at 9:30 p.m., with one performance per night. On our cruise, there were several production shows featuring a cast of four singers and two dancers, as well as two guest performers who did solo shows -- a female singer with great pipes and fun patter, and a male singer-guitarist who had a Vegas lounge-style act. We enjoyed both guest performers, but the production singers had some weak moments -- though they were troupers to go on in rough seas. On one occasion, the cruise director brought a local comedian/singer onboard for early evening entertainment.

The hard-working show band plays for Regatta Lounge performances and also provides pre-dinner and late-night music on some nights. In addition, there’s a piano lounge (Martinis) with evening music and sing-alongs, as well as a string quartet that performs for afternoon tea and other occasions. There are themed nighttime dance parties (“Mama Mia and the Movies,” “Motown,” “70s”), plus late-night dancing to a DJ iPad jukebox -- though Regatta’s passengers aren’t typically late-night party animals.

The Regatta Lounge is home to popular daytime bingo games and demonstrations by the ship’s executive chef and Italian chef, who put on a great, bantering show, each creating several dishes; recipes are provided on handouts. Other indoor daytime activities include needlepoint-and-chat sessions; wine, single-malt Scotch or martini tastings (fee charged); team trivia; dancing lessons; and a daily quiz. On some cruises, there is a bridge host onboard, so lessons are available. There is also a card room, and speciality restaurants are used for overflow bridge players. Outdoor activities include putting, shuffleboard, beanbag toss and Ping-Pong tournaments. These tournaments and trivia contests provide the opportunity to earn Big O Points, which can be exchanged for Oceania merchandise at the end of the cruise.

The smoke-free casino, located on Deck 5, adjacent to Martinis Lounge, is open in international waters, with 36 slots (including poker and multigame machines), three blackjack tables, one roulette table and one poker table. It hosts blackjack, slots and Texas Hold’em tournaments.

Enrichment

We have attended some of the most fascinating lectures at sea aboard Oceania ships. Although our most recent cruise (an Alaska itinerary) carried only one lecturer, he was endlessly fascinating and delivered eight talks during the 10-night cruise.

Destination staff also provide shore briefings combined with shore excursion information. There is generally good port information provided with the daily briefing and handouts.

Boutique staff offer daytime lectures on jewellery and gems, while spa staff lecture on various health issues and treatments. As on most ships, these lectures are as much sales pitch as they are informational.

Regatta Bars and Lounges

Regatta offers bars and lounges throughout the ship; most have a country-club ambience. If you're looking for hip, late-night party venues, you're probably on the wrong ship. There are two-for-one happy hours nightly from 5 to 6 p.m. in Horizons and Martinis, as well as a late-night happy hour from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. in Horizons. Both wine-by-the bottle, limited and unlimited beverage packages are available. Tip: You are allowed to bring up to three bottles of wine aboard at embarkation, to be consumed in your stateroom only.

Reception Lounge (Deck 4): The little-used seating area adjacent to Reception offers a quiet and little-used lounge area with sofas, tables and chairs. Some tables have backgammon board tops.

Baristas and the Grand Bar (Deck 5): Just outside the Grand Dining Room, this corner space resembles a classy den. It offers a menu of espresso drinks and boozy coffee concoctions during the daytime; during lunch and dinner, it also serves as a waiting area for the dining room. There is a curved, marble-topped bar, sofas and armchairs, plus a couple of round tables with leather club chairs and a faux fireplace. In the morning, you’ll find a selection of breakfast pastries here; in the afternoon, there are sandwiches, cookies and mini-desserts.

Martinis (Deck 5): This semi-circular bar straddles the casino and a seating area with wing chairs, sofas, a few tables and chairs, swag curtains and dark cabinetry, creating a country club atmosphere. A piano player entertains in the evenings. The bar menu features more than a dozen martinis, plus a choice of six gins and a dozen vodka brands. You can also order all the usual bar beverages.

Regatta Lounge (Deck 5): The site of Regatta’s main entertainment, this lounge has a gently raked floor, with seating mostly provided by bucket chairs, along with a few banquettes. Cocktail tables are spaced among the seating. At the rear of the room, a slightly raised area of seating surrounds the bar. The colour scheme is golds and greys, with lovely panels of embossed leather lining the entranceway. During evening shows, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to find a seat if you arrive at the last minute.

Waves Bar (Deck 9): This five-stool bar serves the pool area and Waves Grill. Waiters materialize quickly when you’re seated in either space.

Horizons (Deck 10): This is the place for glorious wraparound views over the ship’s bow, port and starboard. It’s popular for happy hour and pre-dinner drinks, when there’s live musical entertainment, plus bar snacks and canapes. Decor is dark cherry woodwork, with chairs, sofas and banquettes in shades of blue and grey. There's also a small dance floor and bandstand, a bit oddly decorated with a video screen showing the ship's sailing route. Large blown-glass pieces add drama. Coffee, tea and a self-serve automatic espresso machine are available during opening hours, and this is also the venue for afternoon tea. Horizons is the designated spot for late-night dancing, but on nights we visited, dancers were rare to nonexistent. One corner of Horizons is a glassed-in smoking area.

Regatta Outside Recreation

Regatta’s pool is located on Deck 9. On either side of the blue-and-white mosaic-tiled pool area, there’s a raised hot tub; in one corner, there’s an open-air shower. Battalions of cushioned, terry-covered loungers face the pool -- some in sun and some in shade. There are also 14 double Balinese-style bed loungers, with striped, overstuffed cushions. These are in high demand on sunny sea days. Sofas, armchairs and a coffee table are tucked into one shaded corner of the pool deck. The forward starboard corner of the pool deck is a designated outdoor smoking area.

Lounge chairs are also available on Deck 10, forward, where two outdoor showers are available to cool off. You’ll find a nine-hole putting course (clubs provided) on this deck, as well as a shuffleboard court. A running/walking track loops around Deck 10, with 13 laps equal to 1 nautical mile (6,070 feet).

Regatta Services

Reception, the shore excursions desk and the concierge desk are located on Deck 4. An Oceania representative selling future cruises has a desk on Deck 5.

The library is a cosy refuge on Deck 10, with walls lined in lovely dark-wood cabinets filled with a fine selection of books. Picture windows on three sides let light flow in, while leather club chairs with footstools are the perfect spot to settle in with a good book. A faux fireplace and beautiful trompe l’oeil painting of a solarium roof on the recessed-ceiling complete the effect.

There are two boutiques on Deck 5; one sells sundries, costume jewellery, Ralph Lauren and Pia Rossini resort wear, and Oceania swag; the other features fine jewellery, watches and perfumes.

An elegant, wood-panelled card room with six tables can be found on Deck 9. When bridge hosts are onboard, play also takes place in the Toscana speciality restaurant.

Next to the card room is the equally elegant Oceania @ Sea internet centre, with 11 flat-screen monitor computers. At certain posted times, an internet manager is on duty. A la carte internet and Wi-Fi usage is $.99 per minute; 200 anytime minutes are $160; both carry a $3.95 activation fee. An unlimited plan is $27.99 per person, per day. Printing is $.25 per page.

For $6.50 per newspaper per day, you can have a full-format daily newspaper printed and delivered to your cabin. You can choose among 1,790 newspapers from 94 countries.

A self-service laundry with four washers, four dryers and two ironing boards with irons is located on Deck 7. Tokens to operate the washers and dryers are sold at Reception. Tokens cost $2 each, and one is needed to operate a washer or dryer.

Laundry and dry-cleaning price lists and bags can be found in staterooms. Clothes picked up by 9 a.m. are returned by 7 p.m. the following evening. Same-day service is available for a 50 percent surcharge.

The Medical Center is located on Deck 4. Unlike on some ships, it is surrounded by passenger cabins. Call us hypochondriacs, but we couldn't help thinking that we wouldn't want a cabin in its vicinity. The front desk offers free seasickness tablets in the case of rough seas.

The Canyon Ranch spa is located on Deck 9, and operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on sea days, with port-day hours extended to 9 p.m. It contains five treatment rooms (four for massage and one for skin care), and is staffed by four therapists. One nail technician and one hairdresser are housed in a separate salon space. Body care product lines include Ankara, Red Flower and Voya; hair care products include Wella and Keratase. The spa has a steam room that’s open to all; it also has a Thalassotherapy pool and sun deck, which is included with treatments, or for a $25 per person, per day pass. Concierge Level cabins and higher have free access to this area.

A variety of massages includes hot stone, lymphatic and Ayurvedic treatments. There are body buffs and wraps, as well as facials for both women and men. There are six types of manicures and eight pedicures, including one for men, and others using hot stones, warm paraffin and exfoliating hydroxy acids. Special, multi-treatment “rituals” focus on themes like “detoxifying,” “revitalizing” and “euphoria.”

Specials are offered on port days particularly later in a cruise.

The fitness centre is adjacent to the spa on Deck 10. It’s open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., but staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Equipment includes a rowing machine, two seated stationary bikes and two recumbent bikes, five treadmills, four elliptical machines and TechnoGym circuit machines. There’s also an assortment of free weights and weight benches. Many of the machines face windows, which makes for a pleasant workout. You’ll also find a fridge stocked with water and sports drinks -- and a scale, should you dare to weigh yourself after Regatta’s fabulous food.

Fitness classes (no charge) include morning stretch, Pilates, total tubes, walk a mile, energize your soles, get on the ball, buff booty, ABS express and yoga. A personal training session is available for a fee.

A running/walking track loops around Deck 10, with 13 laps equal to 1 nautical mile (6,070 feet).

Oceania is renowned for the quality of its cuisine, and Regatta definitely lives up to that reputation -- across all of its five dining venues. You’ll find premium ingredients, such as foie gras and lobster, perfectly cooked-to-order steaks, beautifully plated presentations and decadent desserts. Oceania passengers are such dedicated foodies that the line delivers each day’s main dining room lunch and dinner menus the night before, tucked into the daily bulletin.

Regatta has only two speciality restaurants, fewer than Oceania’s bigger ships, but you’ll see items on the main dining room menu drawn from those other eateries. Happily, neither of the speciality restaurants, Toscana and Polo Grill, carries an added fee, although reservations are limited. Jacques Pepin consults to the line, so his favourites are found aboard this ship, too.

Special printed daily menus for all three meals are available on advance request for vegetarian and vegan passengers, so you won’t feel like the galley just left out the meat on whatever they were serving that day and called it vegetarian. Examples from the vegan menu include egg-free Florentine or vanilla pancakes with berry compote for breakfast; farfalle pasta with mushroom and truffle or vegetarian wrap for lunch; and braised Eco-Cuisine protein with piquillos on Tarbais bean cassoulet for dinner. The ship graciously caters to other special diets: gluten-free, low-salt, diabetic -- almost anything you can think of, including a kosher menu with more than 50 items. (Kosher meals are all prepackaged and must be ordered at least 90 days before sailing.) If you have special requirements, alert the line in advance, then meet with galley staff on embarkation day.

Service is generally stellar; servers are knowledgeable about menu items and attentive about keeping water and wine glasses filled. On more than one occasion, a waiter recommended a dish we hadn’t considered and it turned out to be an excellent choice.

Grand Dining Room (Decks 5): The Grand Dining Room is Regatta's culinary showcase, with an elegant setting and menus that include dishes by Jacques Pepin, Canyon Ranch healthy options and items from speciality restaurants on the line's larger ships. You'll most likely have a tough time making up your mind about what to order -- but knowledgeable waiters provide insightful guidance.

At the centre of the room, you'll find a slightly raised central area with tables for larger groups, while tables for two line the windows that surround the space on three sides. In between are mostly tables for four. The colour scheme is umber, sienna and gold, with brocade swag curtains at the large windows and dark wood trim and sconces along the walls. We love the fanciful Versace china, where flowers, butterflies and ladybugs decorate the light-blue rims of the plates. Overhead, large inset ovals in the ceiling depict classical figures floating in an imaginary sky.

The dining room usually serves three meals a day, though it may be closed for lunch on some shore days. Breakfast is typically 8 to 9:30 a.m.; lunch is noon to 1:30 p.m.; and dinner is 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. This venue is open-seating, and reservations are not available. That means you may have to wait a while at peak times or be willing to share a table.

Breakfast brings cold and hot cereals, fresh or stewed fruits, yoghurts with assorted toppings, smoked salmon and cold cuts, an assortment of omelettes, breakfast steak or grilled lamb chops, Finnan haddock or broiled kippers, pancakes, waffles and French toast, plus an assortment of breads, pastries and muffins. There’s also a Canyon Ranch healthy breakfast option, which includes whole wheat blueberry pancakes and a chicken sausage patty.

Lunch features a daily “Taste of the World” special: six small dishes with different items from a particular cuisine. During our cruise themes included Mexico, India, Asia, Provence and the Caribbean. It’s a fun way to enjoy international flavours. For example, the Asian sampler featured Thai beef salad, avocado rolls, wakame salad, Vietnamese pork, fried shrimp rolls and chicken satay. There’s always a three-course healthy Canyon Ranch option, as well as two creative sandwich choices (like tandoori chicken panini with cucumber salad), a Caesar salad, Jacques Pepin Nicoise salad and basics like a burger and hot dog. The five changing main courses include pasta, meat and fish items, as well as a daily chef salad. There are usually three dessert offerings, plus an assortment of ice creams and sorbets.

Dinner offerings feature a daily four-course tasting menu, a three-course healthy Canyon Ranch menu and a la carte choices. There are typically five appetizers, two soups and three salads (including an always-available Caesar) and seven main course options. You’ll also find one daily dish from the additional speciality restaurants on Oceania’s larger ships, Red Ginger (Asian) and Jacques (French). Finally, there are three always-available Jacques Pepin signature dishes: steak frites, herb-crusted roasted chicken and poached salmon. 

Dinner appetizers might include blinis with caviar, napoleon of foie gras with candied violet and hibiscus sauce, a curried crab spring roll with mango sauce or a don’t-miss molten cheese souffle with chive veloute. Soups might be Marseille-style fish soup, Philadelphia pepper pot or vichyssoise. The mains typically include a risotto or pasta dish, and range from classic beef Wellington, lobster tail and rack of lamb to international dishes like vegetarian pad thai, Malaysian beef Penang and Cuban-style chicken casserole. Tip: If miso-glazed sea bass is the featured Red Ginger dish, order one for yourself and an extra for your mate -- because otherwise, a fight could break out. Deserts are definitely decadent, with offerings like Grand Marnier souffle, baba au rhum with vanilla ice cream, warm chocolate and hazelnut pudding, and "floating island" with apricot confit and pistachio sauce.

Toscana (Deck 10): Regatta’s Italian speciality restaurant is an intimate dinner-only venue, overseen by an actual Italian chef. This is no checkered-tablecloth eatery; it’s elegant all the way, with beige brocade napery and chic Versace china rimmed in robin’s-egg blue with gold scrolls. The L-shaped room is lined with windows, facing either port or aft. You’ll be greeted at your table with slivers of Parmesan cheese chipped from a huge wheel displayed near the host stand. That’s accompanied by a tempting basket of breads, including three different types of focaccia, breadsticks and little cheese-covered rolls. There’s an olive oil and balsamic vinegar menu and the choices are wheeled over on a cart, with further descriptions by the server if you can’t make up your mind. It’s a tad pretentious, but we enjoyed sampling the different oils with our bread.

The set menu includes classic starters (insalata caprese with tomatoes and excellent buffalo mozzarella, paper-thin beef carpaccio) and some more unusual items, like the rich artichoke sformatino -- a warm timbale with artichokes and Parmesan cheese, surrounded by a pool of decadent truffle sauce. There’s also minestrone or potato-pancetta soup, and salads, including a Caesar prepared tableside and a tasty spinach salad with goat cheese.

You can choose from 12 housemade pasta or risotto dishes, served as a second course or larger main course. There’s also a daily pasta special. Can’t decide? The chef will make you a trio of small portions. We were obsessed with the cloud-like gnocchi in a creamy pesto sauce. Lobster risotto had bountiful chunks of meat and a wonderfully intense sauce; on the other hand, the spicy tomato sauce of the lobster fra diavolo tagliolini overwhelmed its accompanying lobster tail.

Every main dish we sampled was excellent but the standout was the huge, bone-in veal chop, one of the best we’ve ever tasted. It was juicy, tender and perfectly cooked. Other carnivore favourites include lamb chops, a filet mignon crusted with Gorgonzola cheese and a Brunello red wine sauce. We also enjoyed a daily special of sauteed halibut in a fennel-scented beurre blanc sauce.

The only criticisms we have is that the plating of dishes didn’t match the level of artistry in the ship’s other venues. Lacklustre “rustic rosemary roasted potatoes,” which tasted like they’d sat around in a warmer getting rubbery, accompanied most mains.

Dessert decisions are easy if you opt for the quintet of sweets -- miniature versions of items on the dessert menu -- including cannoli, panna cotta, tiramisu, creme brulee and sorbet with fresh fruit salad. If you just want one scrumptious finale, chose the regular version of panna cotta topped with a red-berry compote. Steer away from the chocolate lasagna, which sounds intriguing, but was unpleasantly doughy; one of very few chocolate desserts we’ve ever neglected to finish.

There’s no fee to dine at Toscana, but reservations are required. Those in regular cabins are guaranteed one dinner here, while suite-level passengers are guaranteed at least two. Hours are 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Polo Grill (Deck 10): Regatta’s dinner-only steak and seafood venue oozes clubbiness, with burgundy leather chairs and dark, polished wood. White tablecloths are the background for china rimmed in burgundy. Menu items skew traditional, with starters like escargot, oysters Rockefeller and a shrimp cocktail. The foie gras and mushrooms bundled into flaky pastry with port wine reduction is one of those dishes you’ll dream about when you’re back home. As is the rich lobster bisque (even better after the waiter drizzled it with cognac). You’ll also find clam chowder, onion soup and bean soup on the menu. There are also Caesar, Waldorf and beefsteak tomato salads, as well as an entree Cobb salad with your choice of protein.

The big attraction, though, is the steak. It’s USDA Prime Black Angus, dry-aged for 28 days, and it’s spectacular. Whether we went for the surf and turf (Florida lobster with filet mignon) or the prime rib (16-ounce boneless or 32-ounce bone-in), the steaks were perfectly cooked and better than many versions we’ve had on land. Porterhouse, rib eye and New York strip steaks complete the list, with other options including a veal chop, rack of lamb, Iberico de bellota pork chop and black-footed rotisserie chicken. Sauces (five alternatives) were well-prepared. Mains are rounded out by swordfish and tuna steaks, jumbo shrimp, blackened salmon and whole Maine lobster.

Eleven sides include the must-order lobster mac and cheese. We’ve always thought this high-low combo to be overly gimmicky, but here it is pure, decadent heaven.

Polo Grill has its own dessert quintet; this one includes apple crumb pie, a great caramelized New York cheesecake, creme brulee, a brownie with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream, and Key lime pie. For something different, try the trio of homemade marshmallows, dipped in chocolate, caramel and berry coulis. As a capper, the waiter delivers a silver tray of pates de fruits candies.

There’s no fee to dine at Polo Grill, but reservations are required. Those in regular cabins are guaranteed one dinner here, while suite-level passengers are guaranteed at least two. Hours are 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Horizons (Deck 10): Horizons is mainly a lounge, but it's also the spot for Regatta's popular afternoon tea. At teatime, there’s a buffet with finger sandwiches, scones, petite individual pastries, cakes and tarts; waiters also wheel the goodies around on a cart. Tea service uses teabags, not loose leaves.

Terrace Cafe (Deck 9): Regatta’s buffet restaurant is located aft on the lido deck. Seating areas line the windows port and starboard, with double buffet and dessert lines in the middle-rear of the space. Just beyond, doors lead to an outdoor seating area with round tables for four, topped by orange umbrellas. The buffet area is all chrome and marble, with a more elegant look than most ship buffets. The only slight flaw in the decor is the chairs, whose seats are looking a bit saggy.

All three meals are served here. While times may vary depending on port calls, the typical breakfast hours are 7:30 to 10 a.m.; lunch is noon to 2 p.m.; and dinner is 6:30 to 9 p.m. No reservations are needed. In most instances, servers will dish out your foods rather than letting you help yourself. This is more elegant and sanitary, but can sometimes be a bit slower than self-service.

Breakfast is an extravaganza, starting with assorted pastries, breads, muffins, warm sticky buns and fresh fruits, including upscale choices like berries and mango. There’s a yoghurt and muesli station with fresh, stewed and dried fruit toppings, as well as nuts. The omelette station offers a dozen add-ins, and you’ll find an assortment of charcuterie, cheeses and smoked or pickled fish. The hot line holds creamy scrambled eggs, bacon, turkey bacon, ham, hash browns, hot cereals, corned beef hash, baked beans, broiled tomatoes, French toast, pancakes and eggs Benedict made-to-order and an egg special of the day, such as huevos rancheros.

Lunches often have a theme cuisine, which might be Mexican, Indian, Italian or Asian. There is always a cold buffet, with cheeses, cold cuts, sandwiches and an array of tasty prepared salads. The small salad bar might benefit from a few more offerings, though. The hot line has a half-dozen main-dish choices, with vegetables, rice and potato sides. You’ll find a made-to-order pasta station and a carving station with a daily selection that might be a steamer round of beef, a roasted turkey or leg of pork. Around the corner from the main buffet lines, a window serves up two types of pizza daily. And, of course, there’s an assortment of different tempting breads. Desserts include small plated items, and little glasses of puddings, mousses and parfaits, as well as sliced tarts and cakes and hand-dipped ice cream, with some rotating creative flavours, like creme brulee and banoffee, in addition to favourite standbys.

Both lunch and dinner choices in this restaurant include items on the main dining room menu, so you’re not missing out at night if you don’t feel like donning attire suitable for the fancier main venue. Terrace Cafe dinners also have a theme now and then -- for example, on our Alaskan cruise there was an evening where cooks grilled fresh Alaskan salmon, halibut and rockfish to order. On another evening, fresh halibut fish and chips, served in a cute miniature fry basket, were a special attraction.

At dinner, there is always a lavish sushi spread and an hors d’oeuvres section with charcuterie, salads and small composed appetizers like chicken breast and foie gras ballotine or halibut escabeche. Hot appetizers range from chicken satay to arancini. Soup is always available, and there are made-to-order pasta and wok stations, along with a carvery. Daily hot main dishes might include duck a l’orange, fresh fish with cherry tomatoes and zucchini over fennel cream, or a tempting potato waffle with steamed asparagus, black truffle cream and wilted spinach. Similar to lunch, there are usually more than a half-dozen desserts, including pies, mousses, pot de creme, crumbles and more. Keep an eye out for the Tanzanian chocolate cake with molten caramel.

Waves Grill (Deck 9): This casual, poolside venue is open for early light breakfast (typically 6:30 to 10:30 a.m., but times vary) and lunch (from 11:30 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m.). For breakfast, you’ll find fresh and dried fruits, yoghurt, cold cereals, muesli, pastries and cold cuts. If you’re coming back onboard hungry in mid-afternoon, Waves Grill’s burgers, fries, salad bar and panini may be your only immediate onboard food option, aside from room service. The menu offers five beef burger options (the wagyu burger with truffle sauce vies for most decadent), a veggie burger, chicken and three fish sandwiches, plus three hot dog variations, including the “Mexican,” with chilli and cheddar. Other sandwiches include a Reuben, a Cuban and a tasty panini with prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, basil and tapenade.

Adjacent to Waves is an ice cream station, serving cones, sundaes, shakes, malts and smoothies.

Room Service: Room service is available 24 hours a day, and the menu can be found in the case of notebooks usually located on a bedside table. Besides a continental breakfast, it includes appetizers like shrimp cocktail and a vegetable frittata, consome and French onion soups; main-course salads, burgers, club sandwiches, pastas and pizza; plus beef filet, grilled chicken breast and poached salmon. The seven desserts range from a low-fat smoothie to chocolate madness cake. Concierge cabins and all suites can order room service from the main dining room; suites can also order from speciality restaurants, which will be served course-by-course by their butler. It’s also possible to pre-order a more extensive breakfast, including hot items, on a card placed outside your door the night before.

No matter which cabin class you choose, you'll find luxe furnishings and amenities. However, the square-footage isn't exactly luxurious in the basic cabins, although large, strategically placed mirrors help create a more open feel. Here's a ship where an upgrade -- particularly to a Penthouse Suite -- will make a big difference.

All staterooms come with heavenly beds that vie for most luxurious at sea. Mattresses have 400 encapsulated springs and 2 inches of memory foam, plus a 2-inch-thick, gel-filled pillow-top wrapped in chamomile-infused fibre. Sheets are 1,000-thread count, while pillows and duvets are filled with down. It all adds up to pure bliss. Beds can be configured as twins or one large bed. They're high enough off the floor to tuck suitcases underneath. Headboards are covered with padded fabric and flanked by wall sconces equipped with an additional small "snorkel" pinpoint light, so you can read in bed without disturbing your mate.

Every cabin has a mini-refrigerator stocked with soft drinks and bottled water, a safe, a telephone, a hair dryer, a shoehorn, a golf-size umbrella, a clock, an ice bucket and glassware.

You'll find Bulgari toiletries in all bathrooms, though the scent varies by cabin class; there's also a shower cap, shoeshine mitt and sewing kit. Bath towels are huge (more the size of beach towels) and fluffy; they're replenished morning and night. Showerheads have a massage selection, and can be removed from the adjustable-height wall mount for a hand-held option. Showers or tubs have retractable clotheslines for drying swim suits or laundry.

Flat-screen televisions are on the small side, and programming is fairly basic; choices include several channels promoting shore excursions or Oceania Cruises, a Jacques Pepin cooking channel, one with replays of enrichment lectures, a trio of channels showing recent movies (listed on an in-cabin guide) and another with TV sitcoms or dramas. You can catch news on five channels, including Fox, BBC and MSNBC, and sports news on one channel. Twelve channels are music-only, and one shows the view from the bridge with classical music. There's a DVD player along with an extensive menu of choices, and DVDs are available from reception (limit two at a time).

In some instances, the wood surfaces of desks, cabinets or closet doors are showing their age a bit -- although the upholstery, throw cushions and bedding looked fresh in all the cabins we inspected.

There are 16 pairs of connecting cabins, including two combinations that pair a Penthouse Suite with a regular balcony cabin. Sixty-five cabins are triples when a twin sofa-bed is deployed, while 32 cabins and suites become quads when a double sofa bed is used. Four inside cabins are triples with a pull-down Pullman-style bed; eight are quads. Three inside cabins are accessible.

Interior: These 160-square-foot cabins contain a loveseat, round glass-topped table, desk/vanity with four drawers and cabinet storage, stool, two bedside cabinets with an interior shelf, and closets containing drawers, a split hanging section and a full-length hanging section. There are two U.S. 110-volt electrical sockets and two European 220-volt electrical sockets. Decor is in shades of royal blue, light grey, beige and gold, with coordinating paisley prints on accent pillows and bed scarf. Dark cabinetry and trim adds a swanky touch. The bathroom is compact, with a small shower stall, sink, three glass corner shelves and a mirrored corner medicine cabinet. There's limited countertop space, though a small shelf under the sink provides a bit more storage as well as a small, recessed wastebasket. A box of facial tissues is built into the counter, while extra towels are folded and stashed in a wall rack. Bulgari White Tea-scented toiletries include generous bars of soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. These bathrooms weren't redone in the last refurbishment and, while scrupulously clean, come off as blander and less luxurious than the rest of the cabin decor. Although there's a wimpy wall-mounted hair dryer, you'll find a newer, more powerful model in one of the closet drawers.

Oceanview: Most ocean-view cabins are 165 square feet with either a porthole or picture window. The exception is 18 cabins on Deck 6 (usually occupied by guest entertainers or lecturers), measuring 143-square feet with picture windows and obstructed views. The ocean-view cabins have decor and furnishings similar to the inside cabins, although the wall area behind the bed is panelled in dark wood-tone matching the cabinets and trim. Floor-length curtains and sheers complete the interior design. The non-obstructed view cabins are deeper than they are wide, configured with the loveseat, table, desk/vanity and cabinets near the entrance, and then the bed next to the window or porthole, with the headboard against a side wall. Obstructed-view cabins are wider than they are deep, with the bed against a side wall.

Balcony: These staterooms measure 216 square feet, including the teak balcony equipped with two mesh chairs and a small, low oval table. Floor-to-ceiling windows face onto the balcony, bringing plenty of light into the space. Another major difference is that the loveseat, table and vanity/desk are positioned next to the windows, with the bed closer to the door. This makes the cabin feel even more spacious.

One hundred balcony cabins on Deck 7 and two at the stern of Deck 8 are designated as Concierge Level staterooms. They bring added perks, including priority embarkation at noon, a welcome bottle of Champagne, priority reservations at the speciality restaurants, room service off the Grand Dining Room menu, unlimited internet (one sign-in at a time per cabin), an iPad to use (upon request), a tote bag, shoeshines, garment-pressing upon embarkation, complimentary laundry (up to three bags), cashmere lap blankets and unlimited access to the Canyon Ranch spa terrace (which carries a $25 per day fee for other passengers).

Penthouse Suite: These staterooms are a major upgrade in space, decor and service. Located on Deck 8, the 322-square-foot cabins are nearly square, with a full wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the full-length balcony. There's no formal divider between the sleeping area, seating area and dining area, yet the effect is spacious and comfortable. Decor includes a full-sized sofa, oval glass-topped dining table, two upholstered armchairs and expanded drawer and cabinet space in the vanity/desk. On the balcony, you'll find two mesh chairs with matching footrests and an oval, dining-height table. Although the woodwork is the same style as the preceding cabins, the color scheme in the room is lighter. The upholstered headboard and sofa are light blue, with accent pieces in beige, blue and gold. An orchid plant graces the table, and a laptop computer for passenger use is located on the desk.

Another big difference from the lower cabin classes is obvious in the bathroom: These are the only cabins or suites on Regatta that have a shower-over-tub configuration. In addition, Penthouse bathrooms were completely redone during the last refurbishment. Walls are a light-toned marble, and a deep porcelain sink is set into a black quartz countertop with a lot more space than the other cabins offer. A large mirror set into the wall above the tub adds to the spacious feeling. To one side of the sink are two mirror-front drawers; to the other is a rack for hand towels. Two small glass shelves are located above either side of the vanity counter. The look is thoroughly modern and chic. Inhabitants can choose between Bulgari Green Tea or Blue Tea toiletries, with an expanded offering including eau de cologne, after-shave balm and bath tea. Two small cups contain Himalayan and Dead Sea bath salts. Facial tissues and a container of cotton balls are also provided.

And did we mention the butlers? These suave miracle workers clad in tails can pack and unpack your luggage, deliver evening canapes, handle laundry, make reservations at speciality restaurants and deliver room service course by course. You page them via your telephone and state your whim; butler service is available 24 hours a day. Although each butler can be responsible for as many as 15 suites, we found them responsive, proactive and delightful.

The only potential downside to these suites’ location is the possibility of noise from furniture being moved on the pool deck above. We didn’t experience a problem, but some passengers have noted this issue.

Additional perks available in Penthouse Suites include two guaranteed dinners at each of the speciality restaurants (versus one each for lower cabin classes), priority online speciality restaurant reservations, room service from the speciality restaurants, 11 a.m. embarkation with priority luggage delivery and use of an iPad upon request.

Vista Suite: Positioned on decks 6 and 7, with spectacular views forward over the bow, these four suites cover 786 square feet, and benefit from much more spacious verandas. They also have a marble-clad guest powder room near the suite entrance, which includes a vanity with lots of counter space. The suite is furnished in elegant Empire style, in shades of blue, grey and buff, with gold-embellished, inlaid-wood furniture. You may feel a bit out of place here wearing shorts and a T-shirt. In the living/dining area, you’ll find a marble-topped entry table with lamps and a phone, a sofa bed with two side-tables, two armchairs and a coffee table, a round dining table with chairs and a console cabinet, with a large flat-screen TV on the wall above. There’s also a surround-sound music system. Hand-painted, framed art mimics Picasso, Van Gogh and other renowned masters -- a slightly odd note, if you’re familiar with the originals.

Brocade curtains mark the entryway to the bedroom and master bath. The outer wall of the bedroom is slightly curved, with windows on either side of the bed, which is crowned by an elegant swag fabric treatment. The bed is piled with decorative pillows and covered with a brocade spread. This room also includes bedside tables and a desk with lamp. Opposite the bed is a cabinet with a small flat-screen TV and a vanity. Between the bedroom and bathroom is a small dressing room area with five panelled closet sections -- more than enough space for a long cruise. The very roomy bathroom has a lovely inlaid green marble floor and matching vanity top; the glass-enclosed shower is roomy enough for two. Above the sink is a mirrored cabinet and there are also drawers and cabinets in the vanity.

In addition to all the Penthouse-level perks, passengers in these suites get a bar setup with six full-size bottles of spirits and wines from the suite beverage menu, a daily printed newspaper of their choice, personalized stationery, use of both a laptop and an iPad, and a Bulgari gift set to take home. You can also expect surprises along the way, like a domed platter of chocolates at embarkation.

The veranda is furnished with two cushioned loungers and a low table, plus a round dining table with two cushioned chairs. Tip: Because of their position at the front of the ship, these verandas can be windier in harsh weather.

Owner's Suite: Usually the first to be sold out on Regatta, these six, plush 1,000-square-foot suites are located on decks 6, 7 and 8 aft. One feature that makes them so popular is a wraparound veranda overlooking the ship’s aft.

Owner’s Suite decor is similar to the Vista Suites, though the couch is a large, L-shaped sofa. The colour scheme features red, gold and beige. Here, the desk is in the living room area, while the vanity is in the dressing room. The bathroom is similar in layout to the Vista Suites, with a lovely agate vanity top in shades of brown, cream and gold.

Amenities for these suites are the same as for the Vista Suites.

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