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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Oceania Insignia - The best food I've ever eaten, oh and some cabins and stuff

I spent most of the past weekend in the car. On Saturday I spent four hours driving to and from Legoland Windsor with the kids and then on Sunday spent another four hours driving down to Dover to see the Oceania Insignia with another four hours coming back the next day.
Now that may well sound like a lot of driving to you but I'm here to tell you I'd go twice as far again for another lunch onboard an Oceania cruise ship. Not only do they offer the best food I've ever eaten at sea, I'd go so far as to say it's some of the best food I've eaten ever!
I was onboard the Insignias sister ship the Regatta last year and you can see a full pictorial tour of her by clicking here, (they're both very similar). Today's post will just be a highlight tour of what I think makes Oceania special.

From the moment you enter the ship you're confronted by an elegant and opulent atmosphere.


Dark woods, big comfy chairs and thick drapes are the common theme throughout the ship giving the Insignia the feel of an old English hotel or a Victorian gentlemans club rather than a cruise liner.


Things like pianos, (which can be used by the guests if you know how) and chessboards add to the relaxed, sophisticated atmosphere by being dotted all over the ship.


This is a shot of one of the lead in balcony cabins at just over 200 sq ft. I've seen bigger but then again I've seen much smaller.
All the bedding is made from 1000 thread Egyptian cotton sheets, (my wife assures me that is amazing quality) and I've checked; most high class British hotels only offer 300 thread Egyptian cotton sheets so score one for Oceania. This is where they come in to their own I think, with the attention to detail and level of quality they give to even the smallest aspect of your cruise experience.




These pictures were of the Owners suite - Luxury personified, (I'm not sure I'd even leave my cabin to see the rest of the ship!)


The ships library continuing the theme of leather sofas and dark wood walls. I sat in one of the chairs and sank in so far I'd have been happy to stay there for the entire duration of my cruise.




The top deck. It looks a bit dark but I assure you it's the weather, the whole thing was very bright, airy and comfortable.

See those plates? £300 per plate from Versace. I was scared to eat off one in case I scratched it!

And then we come to the food. In my opinion the single greatest thing about an Oceania cruise. They spend more money on raw ingredients than any other cruise line and wow does it show!

Warm crushed baby potato with caviar.
Echire butter and fresh chives.
(mmmmmmmmmmm)

Risotto all'aragosta
Arborio rice with lobster medallions in a lobster broth reduction.
If you're a foody the lobster is imported from Maine. If you're not click here to find out why that means so much!

Den Miso glazed Sea Bass
Wrapped and cooked in a Banana leaf.
This is an imported Sea Bass from Chile slow cooked for two hours until the fish was so succulent and moist it was just falling open at the touch of a fork. If you want to know how good it was think of this - I don't like sea food, I normally can't stand it and I ate the whole thing and would happily of had more!

Seventy two hour slow cooked short rib
Semolina gnocchi, vegetable casserole and a crispy Parmesan wafer.
If I started to talk about how tender this beef was, (I could cut it with my fork), I'd be here all day. In short it's 28 day dry aged beef that's comes from the top 2% rated beef on the planet. That goes for all the beef onboard, including the beef they use in their burgers. Click here to learn more about dry aged beef.
If you've never had it see if you can get your Butcher to get you some. It's one of those things you can't appreciate until you've tried it.

Gold bullion of valrhona jivara chocolate mousse
Praline, exotic fruit and amarena cherries

Petit fours
I just had room for them ;-)

So what do you think? I'll admit Oceania aren't a luxury cruise line for everyone but if you like small ships, exotic unusual ports of call, a relaxed casual approach to dinner, (no jeans, no tuxes), and the best food you've ever eaten then you might want to consider them for your next cruise.

Happy cruising.