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Sirena, which debuted in April 2016, is the fourth of defunct Renaissance Cruises' R-class vessels to join the Oceania Cruises fleet. (The others are Regatta, Insignia and Nautica.) In many ways, it's identical to its siblings, with key attributes being its small size and ability to offer itineraries in both marquee and out-of-the-way ports.

After acquiring the ship from Princess Cruises (where it had sailed as Ocean Princess), Oceania gave the ship a major refurbishment, and the 1990s-built vessel now feels almost brand new. Special attention was paid to revamping all cabins with new soft goods and upholstery, upgrading restaurant galleys and modernizing decor, and completely re-outfitting the beautiful teak-lined pool deck.

Sirena got some extra modifications as well. Suites were completely redecorated and in some cases, as with its top-of-the-line owners' accommodations, were reconstructed to offer an airier feel. In light of the popularity of the Red Ginger Asian-fusion restaurant on larger siblings Marina and Riviera, Sirena is the first R-class vessel to get its own dedicated version. (This was done by combining two popular eateries, the Italian Toscana and meat-lovers Polo Grill into one, now called the Tuscan Steakhouse, and adding Red Ginger in the now-vacant spot.)

In other culinary news, Sirena is the first Oceania ship to try out a new concept at lunch. Jacques Bistro, hosted in the Grand Restaurant every day but embarkation day, offers French fare via menus that rotate every 14 days.

Oceania's Sirena is a great ship if small size matters and if you want a cosy and elegant yet unpretentious home base while you spend long days exploring ports of call.

Plan for country club casual, and you'll be fine. Casual tropical wear is the norm during the days onboard. Pack pretty, flowing skirt/pants outfits for women, and jackets and maybe one tie for men for evening attire. There are no formal nights, though many passengers do dress for the welcome dinner.

Sirena Inclusions

Gratuities are not included in the cruise fare. Passengers in standard category cabins pay $16 per person, per day. Those in suites, all of which have butler service, pay $23 per person, per day.

Dining at all restaurants onboard Oceania Sirena is included in fares; there are no service fees levied. While alcohol costs extra, soft drinks, bottled water and coffee drinks are complimentary.

Oceania has evolved into a more inclusive cruise experience with its OLife Choice promotion. Passengers can choose an inclusion from a list that includes a beverage package, shipboard credit or shore excursions.

Shore Excursions

On Sirena, Oceania's shore excursion menu ranges from fairly traditional highlights tours, aimed primarily at more sedentary travellers, to more specialized experiences via its Oceania Choice series. In the latter, opportunities could include a 4 x 4 expedition trip up to Mount Etna, in Sicily, or tea with a countess in Venice. Passengers have the option to pre-book tours before leaving home, via the cruise line's website, and packages that offer savings on multiple booked excursions are available. Look for booking promotions that offer free tours in select ports.

Because Sirena lacks the Culinary Center cooking-with-chefs facility that's found on Marina and Riviera, the line's Culinary Discovery Tour program, which often concludes with an element of cooking onboard, is not offered. However, there are opportunities for food- and wine-related tastings.

Daytime and Evening Entertainment

Oceania Sirena operates port-intensive itineraries, so during the day, when ships are usually in port, ship staff offer just a handful of activities. These include scarf-tying workshops, needlepoint and coffee get-togethers and wellness seminars at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Passengers can also partake in entertainment team-sponsored Ping-Pong and shuffleboard competitions. In the late afternoon, timed so that passengers returning from shore excursions can participate, team trivia is always a huge hit.

Evenings are fairly laid-back and entertainment is centred on dining. Beforehand, you'll find the Sirena Show Band for dancing in Horizons, a string quartet in the upper hall and a pianist who plays in Martinis.

In the Sirena Lounge, the ship's main theatre venue, Oceania's troupe of singers and dancers perform Broadway revue-style shows some nights. On other evenings, Oceania hosts entertainers from the region in which the ship is cruising. On our cruise, one especially beautiful performance was from a Spanish flautist, and on another night there was a Latin guitarist.

Late night is pretty sleepy onboard, though Horizons does its best to lure folks for Lady Marmalade-themed dancing evenings and karaoke. (The two-for-one "late-night happy hour" promotion probably helps to bring in the crowds.)

Enrichment

There isn't a huge focus on destination enrichment onboard Oceania Sirena (unlike siblings Marina and Riviera, which have dedicated space for art workshops and culinary kitchens) since the ship has so few sea days.


Sirena Bars and Lounges

There are just a handful of lounges onboard, and most couple entertainment with cocktails.

Baristas (Deck 5): Essentially a coffee bar by day and a cocktail bar by night (though the crew is pretty flexible about serving what you want when you want it), Baristas opens early and then transitions into the Grand Bar at dinnertime and remains open throughout the evening. It sits just outside the entrance to the Grand Dining Room and is a lovely and cosy pre-dining meet-up spot.

Martinis (Deck 5): Open from 3 p.m. until late, Martinis is truly one of the most gorgeous lounges at sea with its very English country house-style salon, featuring a grand piano, sink-into armchairs and cosy loveseats. It's home to a pianist most nights, and is the sight of the ever-popular daily trivia. You can often find happy hour bargains here before and after dinner. The casino is adjacent, and orders are served to those playing table games and slots.

Waves Bar (Deck 9): This bar, right by the pool and sun deck, serves as the ship's only alfresco drinking spot. It also serves those dining at the ultra-casual Waves Grill. It opens at 10 a.m.

Horizons (Deck 10): Open from 3 p.m. to last call, Horizons, the ship's top deck observation lounge, is the perfect respite for a quiet conversation during the day and for frivolity after dinner. Small snacks and tapas are served throughout, and afternoon tea is held here. After dinner, Horizons becomes the ship's disco, with dancing and karaoke being popular activities.


Sirena Outside Recreation

The pool area on Sirena is gorgeous with new teak flooring and, in the pool itself, pretty sea-themed mosaic tiles. Flanking the pool and its pair of whirlpools are lots of sun loungers with thick, comfortable cushions clothed in a splashy blue and white striped design. The area can get busy in the late afternoon on a sunny day, after passengers return from tours, but never feels crowded.

Forward on Deck 11, there's a well-kept nine-hole putting green. To the side of it, there's a shuffleboard court.

Near the pool area on Deck 10 is a Ping-Pong table.


Sirena Services

The ship's Guest Services desk on Deck 4 is open around the clock. Beyond the stairwell is Destination Services, Sirena's shore excursion desk. Opening hours vary, depending on when the ship is in port. (See the daily Cruise Currents for exact times.)

As with Oceania's Regatta, Insignia and Nautica, its nearly identical siblings, Sirena's library is one of the most beautiful at sea. Located on Deck 10 between Tuscan Steak and Red Ginger, it's in an out-of-the-way place and is almost always serene and quiet, with comfy armchairs and loveseats, a gorgeously detailed pastoral ceiling mural and a faux fireplace. The book selection was refreshed in April 2016 when Oceania acquired and refurbished the ship.

Oceania@Sea, a dedicated computer room, is near the spa and has tabletop computers and a printer. While most passengers bring their own devices and use the ship's decent Wi-Fi, staff assistance on any kind of connectivity or computer issue is available here.

Oceania now offers a package for unlimited Wi-Fi at $27.99 per day. You can also access the internet for 99 cents per minute or take advantage of a 200-minute package for $160. Travellers booked in Concierge-level staterooms and above get complimentary Wi-Fi.

Next door, a card room with six felt-topped tables has the same clubby wood-panelled decor as the computer room, with double windows.

Two shopping boutiques face each other midship on Deck 5. They offer perfumes, bargain costume jewellery sets, fine jewellery (including a special assortment of pieces with opals), watches, sunglasses, sundries and a surprising amount of clothing -- with some creative women's outfits by designer Joseph Ribkoff. There's also a small section of Oceania-branded swag.

A self-service laundry room is located on Deck 7. It includes four washers, four dryers, two irons and ironing boards, and laundry soap. The machines use American quarters (exchange pounds or euros at the purser's desk). Laundry room hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Sirena has a medical centre onboard, staffed with a doctor and nurse.

The ship's spa on Deck 9 is compact but well-organized. Operated in partnership with Canyon Ranch SpaClub, it's got a beauty salon that offers nail treatments (such as gel and gentleman's manicures and an age-defying pedicure) and hairstyling, from cut to colour. Four treatment rooms offer numerous options for facials (vitamin-infused and sun repairing are among them). Body treatments include scrubs, wraps and massage; our Abhyanga massage, an Ayurveda (or Indian ancient healing tradition) treatment, was superb. Shiatsu, Thai Massage and reflexology are also available.

The ship's gym is well-equipped with a full range of new TechnoGym equipment. Exercise classes are offered; some are complimentary, such as "walk a mile" and Morning Stretch. Others, like yoga, incur a nominal fee.

One of the most delightful outdoor spaces on Sirena is limited to a very few passengers. Tucked away on the aft, and accessible via the spa, is a glass-enclosed sun deck. It's got a huge thalassotherapy pool, gorgeously decorated with colourful mosaic tiles, and a handful of loungers (we saw just three), plushly covered. It seemed odd that there weren't more loungers as the space was lavish. Access is available only to passengers in top suite categories.

Oceania Cruises has long been committed to providing superb cuisine at sea, from the not-so-humble burger (the Kobe beef version at Waves Grill is a standout) to miso-infused sea bass at Red Ginger, its Asian fusion restaurant. On Sirena, Oceania has modified restaurant options to include more choices (when compared to the line's other ships of the same size), adding Red Ginger (a standout on the fleet's larger Marina and Riviera), combining the Polo Grill steakhouse and Mediterranean-influenced Toscana into one restaurant called Tuscan Steakhouse, and adding the all-new lunch-only Jacques Bistro, which takes over the Grand Dining Room every day save for embarkation day.

Refreshingly, Oceania levies no service charges at any of its restaurants, though venues like Tuscan Steak and Red Ginger do require advance reservations.

The Grand Dining Room (Deck 5): The Grand, Sirena's main dining room, is one of the nicest in cruising, with comfortable seating and plenty of tables for two or more. It's surrounded on three sides by windows. The Grand is open for breakfast and dinner. (At lunch, it transitions into Jacques' Bistro.) It's an open-seating restaurant.

At breakfast, the vast menu includes everything from granola to lamb chops (and quite a bit in between, such as eggs Benedict, steamed haddock, grilled steak, omelettes and waffles). We love the "express breakfast" option aimed at those in a hurry, as well as the selection of Canyon Ranch SpaClub lighter-fare dishes; try the frittata with bell peppers. There's a smoothie and juice menu. The fact that orange juice is not freshly squeezed on a ship with such a high level of cuisine is a head-scratcher. Breakfast is served daily from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

If you can't find something that tempts on the Grand Dining Room's dinner menu, you're not looking hard enough. The menu offers terrific options. Starting off there's the Canyon Ranch "healthy living choices" menu, with options like a blue crab cocktail, yoghurt, dill and cucumber salad and herb-crusted rack of lamb with ratatouille. Calorie, fat and fibre gram statistics are provided for each dish. A dessert option is always available.

The restaurant's four-course degustation menu offers course-by-course wine pairing; the menu items are also available on the evening's regular offerings. On our cruise, one night's experience included an Emmental and leek quiche, a farro salad, coq au vin over freshly made pasta and a choux pastry with cream.

The degustation menu is offered every night in the Grand Dining Room. There is no charge for the cuisine but there is a per-glass charge for each of the paired wines.

The Grand's main menu includes appetizers, salads, soups, entrees and dessert, a nice balance between meat, seafood and vegetarian options. It changes nightly, and at least a handful of dishes will reflect the region in which Sirena is cruising. We love the incorporation of Jacques Pepin's classic dishes -- steak frites, rotisserie chicken and poached salmon -- all available every night. Also on the "always" list are steamed vegetables, baked potato, Franck's fantastic mashed potatoes (a family recipe of Oceania corporate chef Franck Garanger) and pasta.

Dinner is served nightly from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Jacques' Bistro (Deck 5): To offer another dining option on a small ship, and to work in more dishes from culinary director Jacques Pepin, Oceania got creative and introduced Jacques' Bistro on Sirena. Instead of a standalone venue, the bistro is a reconfigured lunch option in the Grand Dining Room, with menus offering casual French fare.

The comprehensive menu offers so many choices, from a simple croque monsieur (the French interpretation of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich) and the most delicious escargot to elegant fare, such as lemon sole and roast chicken with pumpkin gratin. The menu changes daily, and there are 14 iterations. A specials list every day includes a burger (one day it was a Bombay turkey burger with garlic-curry sauce), along with more traditional French fare, such as veal stew. Desserts, including decadent strawberries Romanoff (and sugar-free ice creams as well) were superb.

We loved the ambience, with French torch songs playing softly in the background, though would encourage Jacques' Bistro to create its own wine list with a better representation of French bottles.

Reservations are not necessary. Jacques' Bistro is open from noon to 1:30 p.m. daily.

Terrace Cafe (Deck 9): The Terrace Cafe, the ship's buffet venue, offers both cooked-to-order stations and already prepared fare at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's a lovely space, wrapping around three sides of the ship's aft, and its outdoor deck has tables for dining in good weather. It's one of the nicest places onboard to sup.

At breakfast, there is an extensive selection of fruit, pastries and cereals, and egg dishes are cooked to order. French toast and pancakes, and breakfast meats and cheeses are available as well.

At lunch, there are hot and cold options, including a pasta of the day and a carvery, along with hot side dishes like mashed potatoes, vegetables and rice. Also plentiful are salads, ready-made sandwiches and desserts (the ice cream's a big hit). Don't miss the sushi bar.

For dinner, the Terrace Cafe largely mirrors the menu offered in the more formal Grand Dining Room with the caveat that the ambience is much more casual. There's a lovely cheese cart, more fresh sushi and, once again, the bountiful dessert display.

The Terrace Cafe rarely gets too crowded aside from on embarkation day, when there are fewer open venues. Operating hours are generous, 7 to 10 a.m. for breakfast, noon to 2 p.m. for lunch and 6:30 to 9 p.m. for dinner. (If you need a coffee fix between meals, head to Baristas on Deck 5.)

Waves Grill (Deck 9): Waves Grill, tucked between the Terrace Cafe and the swimming pool, is an Oceania signature. Burgers -- including beef, turkey and tuna -- along with grilled panini, Reuben sandwiches and delicious skinny fries are superbly prepared. You can find healthy options, too, like grilled chicken and mahi-mahi sandwiches and gravlax.

The small salad bar is, unfortunately, not particularly appealing. If you want some greens, we recommend requesting your grilled items to be delivered in the Terrace Cafe, which has more fresh options for salads.

Waves Grill also has a fabulous milkshake and smoothie bar, and serves up housemade ice creams.

Waves Grill is open from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tuscan Steak (Deck 10): This new blend of Oceania's trademark Toscana (Mediterranean) and Polo Grill (steak) restaurants offers a balance of tried-and-true favourites from each -- along with some new twists. Fans of Oceania's Toscana might want to know that there's no olive oil bar at Tuscan Steak, but each night a different variety is featured so you can try a few.

Popular dishes include starters like pork belly, lobster bisque and Chesapeake Bay crabcake. The grilled Romanesco salad, with asparagus, is delightful, and you can never go wrong with Oceania's Classic Caesar.

For entrees, there's a meat selection that includes Kobe meatballs, osso buco and lamb chops -- all pretty predictable choices for the steakhouse aspect of Tuscan Steak. For seafood lovers, lobster fra diavolo was a huge hit on our trip, as was the more simply prepared lobster with butter and the Dover sole. Pasta gets good representation, too; you can order an appetizer or entree portion, depending on your appetite. Choose between a wonderfully simple and fresh capellini with mozzarella, hand-rolled potato gnocchi or lobster risotto.

Tuscan Steak is open from 6:30 to 9 p.m. every night. Reservations are required.

Red Ginger (Deck 10): Originally rolled out on Marina, Red Ginger was an instant hit, with its Asian-fusion cuisine and dramatic and sleek setting. Oceania's R-class ships were only able to feature a few of Red Ginger's items on the Grand's menus because the smaller ships did not have space for an additional restaurant. Sirena is the first in the class to get its own Red Ginger, and fans of the restaurant will be relieved to find that there aren't too many differences. The menus are occasionally tweaked, but classics like the miso-glazed sea bass, lobster pad Thai and the scrumptious seven spices-crusted lamb rack are all here.

One big difference is the ambience; Red Ginger's signature red and black decor is consistent, but unlike the Marina and Riviera versions, Sirena's restaurant has walls of windows along two sides for magnificent views.

Reservations are required. Red Ginger is open from 6:30 to 9 p.m. nightly.

Afternoon Tea (Deck 10): Each afternoon, tea (and delectable pastries and savoury sandwiches) is served in the Horizons lounge. Tables are dressed up with linens and a quartet plays classical music. Afternoon tea is offered from 4 to 5 p.m.

Room Service: Complimentary room service is available 24/7 to passengers in all cabin categories. At breakfast, cooked and continental options are on offer. The anytime menu is quite comprehensive, offering everything from club sandwiches to salads (Cobb or Caesar), burgers (turkey, veggie, Black Angus) and grilled chicken and steak. Dessert is also available; if you are calorie splurging we recommend the warm apple pie with toffee sauce. Course-by-course service during all restaurant opening hours is available to passengers booked in suite cabins.

On Sirena, staterooms are smaller than average, particularly in the inside, outside and veranda categories. On the plus side, Oceania has significantly invested in revamping all cabins and suites prior to Sirena's debut. All beds were replaced with Oceania's signature Ultra Tranquility Bed and crisp 1,000-count linens, and all can be converted from a queen to twins. Every cabin got new soft goods, such as draperies and carpets, and new loveseats and balcony furniture.

Sirena's cosy standard cabins (insides through balconies) are brightened up with light colours and a subtle nautical design scheme. There's a seating area with small sofa and a small end table at dining height. The vanity/desk area has drawers and closet space is plentiful.

Standard cabin bathrooms did not get much of a refresh and are adequate if uninspiring; while a circa-1990s hair dryer is mounted on the wall, you'll find a more powerful version in the closet. Bathrooms are compact and have only a shower, with a curtain instead of glass door.

Amenities available to all passengers, regardless of cabin category, include mini-bar with complimentary sodas and bottled water, 24-hour room service, robes and slippers, hair dryer and flat-screen television with access to channels that include international and U.S. news, a Jacques Pepin cooking channel and an assortment of movies and sitcoms. There's also a DVD player; discs can be borrowed without charge from customer service. A new inclusion for Oceania is that wireless internet access is included in cruise fares for all passengers in Concierge Level cabins and above; all cabins are wired.

All cabins have generous storage, and beds are high enough to stow suitcases underneath.

Inside: Identical in amenities to outside and balcony cabins, inside cabins measure 160 square feet but do not have a window.

Oceanview: Ocean-view staterooms range from 143 to 165 square feet, and have either a large picture window or a pair of portholes.

Veranda: Staterooms with private balconies are plentiful on Oceania Sirena, and measure 216 square feet, which includes the veranda. Balconies are outfitted with a pair of mesh semi-reclining chairs and a small cocktail table.

Concierge Level Veranda: Identical in size, decor and layout to veranda cabins, what sets Concierge Level cabins apart is the extra amenities and services. These include priority status for restaurant reservations embarkation and luggage delivery, as well as free garment pressing upon boarding. The biggest perk is unlimited use of the private Spa Terrace at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub.

Suite: There are three suite categories available on Oceania Sirena. All are entitled to butler service; butlers can offer course-by-course in-suite dining from any restaurant during operating hours, packing and unpacking help and delivery of evening canapes. Passengers also have access to the same perks available to those in Concierge-Level cabins.

Penthouse: Penthouses measure a spacious 322 square feet and include a living area, with sofa, along with a dining table for two and a pair of chairs. The bathroom, completely revamped in granite, features a large glass-enclosed power-shower.

Vista Suite: Located all the way forward on Sirena, the ship's four Vista suites, measuring 786 square feet, are true two-room suites, with a sprawling living room with dining table for four, a powder room and a separate bedroom with a full shower-only bathroom. Each has a flat-screen television and a state-of-the-art surround sound system. The balcony spans both living and sleeping areas, and features full sun loungers plus another dining table for four for alfresco meals. Vista suite residents receive additional perks, such as a complimentary in-suite bar setup of six bottles of wine or spirits and use of an iPad.

Owner's Suite: The six 1,000-square-foot Owner's Suites are the largest accommodations and unique on Sirena. During the ship's refurbishment in April 2016, these suites were literally taken apart and rebuilt, with walls moved to create an airier ambience. Lavish and luxuriously decorated in a sleek style, they're meant to feel like a Manhattan apartment. The two-room suites, located on the best part of the ship -- the aft -- each have a powder room, living room with flat-screen television, state-of-the-art sound system and dining table for four. The bedroom features a king-size bed, vanity with illumination and a wall of closets. The completely re-done marble bathroom has a spacious power-shower and two sinks. The teak veranda stretches across the entire suite, with doors leading from both the living room and bedroom. It's furnished with full-length lounge chairs and a dining table that seats four. All other perks available to the Vista suite category are in place for the Owner's Suite.

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