MARINA Del L.A. — Oceania Cruises’ MARINA At Los Angeles

Peter Knego spends a day and night on board Oceania Cruises’ spectacular new MV MARINA during the ship’s maiden visit to Los Angeles.

Oceania Cruises

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Please click on image to see larger version. All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2011 unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MARINA at Los Angeles.

In January, Oceania Cruises’ newly-completed, 1,250 passenger MV MARINA left the Fincantieri shipyard at Sestri Ponente for Barcelona to embark upon her maiden transatlantic crossing to Miami and subsequent christening by Entertainment Tonight’s Mary Hart. After a short press cruise, she departed on an eighteen night Trans-Canal voyage to the U.S. West Coast, where her arrival was eagerly awaited by an enthusiastic travel industry.

MARINA meets L.A.

The 66,000 gross ton MARINA is the first newbuild for Oceania Cruises and the line’s fourth ship.  She is over twice the size of Oceania’s 30,000 gross ton REGATTA, INSIGNIA and NAUTICA, three of eight identical vessels built for now defunct Renaissance Cruises.

MARINA at Los Angeles

Although in some respects she is an enlarged version of the handsome “R” ships, MARINA’s exterior benefits from pleasingly rare curvature, namely in her long bow, terraced forward superstructure and conical funnel. The attention to detail shown in her profile permeates nearly every other aspect of the MARINA and, for that matter, the overall Oceania Cruises experience.

Marina Reception, first look.

First impressions are lasting ones and they certainly set the tone when boarding MARINA. Embarking passengers step into a double deck lobby festooned in Lalique crystal. Like her smaller, former Renaissance siblings, she boasts a grand staircase. Although it has Art Deco elements, its style might best be described as contemporary and luxuriant.

Reception foyer, facing starboard from Deck 6.

From the Deck 6 rails, the helix descents and its finer details can be fully savored.

Lalique table and vase in Reception Foyer.

On the way to Reception to get my stateroom key, I paused for a close look at the $110,000 Lalique “Cactus” table and vase at the base of the stairs on Deck 5. Exquisite and, let’s hope, securely bolted down…

Cabin 10092, facing port.

My “digs” for the next 24 hours would be the gorgeous 282 square foot Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom 10092 on the port side of Deck 10. Paneled in dark woods and with a palette of sea foam, beige and crisp white, it features a refrigerated mini-bar, LCD flat screen television, Prestige “tranquility” bedding (with Chamomile gel-tops to prevent “overheating”), vanity desk, breakfast table, sofa, abundant closet space…

En suite computers.

…and a laptop with wifi access.

Cabin 10092 WC.

Exclusive to MARINA in most accommodation tiers are oversized marble bathrooms that have separate shower (with both rain shower heads and hand jets) and tub…

Bvlgari cabin amenities.

and toiletries by Bvlgari (lotion, shower gel, soap, shampoo, conditioner).

Cabin 10092 balcony, facing forward.

The balconies are furnished with cushioned wicker chairs and a small table.

Putting on The Ritz: forward Deck 16

In addition to some 200 passengers that were doing back-to-back sailings, I would be sharing the MARINA with 500 visiting travel agents. As they wined and dined in various lounges and the gorgeous Grand Dining Room, I began my documentation at the top of the ship on forward Deck 16.

St. Andrews putting course.

Fronted by a glass screen, Deck 16 features an 18 hole putting course, a netted-in driving range and a games court. I arrived during a spirited putting tournament.

Funnel from port Deck 15.

On aft Deck 15, there is a jogging track that encircles the funnel casing as well as a shuffleboard court to starboard and a bowls court on the port side.

Hail MARINAs from aft Deck 15.

From Deck 15, there is a nice view of the MARINA’s teak-lined pool area. Is it just me or does the pool basin have a slightly obtuse crucifix footprint?

Midships Deck 14, facing aft.

In addition to an open spa deck up forward (see upcoming Decked! for all the details), Deck 14 features a sunning and observation terrace that overlooks the midships pool area.

Waves Grill, facing forward.

On Deck 12, there is teak-lined, sheltered sunning space surrounding the midships pool and alcoves on either side that lead aft to the Terrace Cafe. On the starboard side, there is the Waves Grill, the ship’s casual poolside eatery accommodating 92 guests.

Aft/port Deck 12, facing forward.

On the port side, there is more (and rather stylish) sheltered seating.

Baristas, facing forward/starboard.

Before beginning the interior documentation, I stopped in Baristas for a delicious double espresso cappuccino. Baristas overlooks the pool from the prow of the elliptical deckhouse at the base of the ship’s funnel.

Suede on Seven.

Prestige Cruise Holdings’ Tim Rubacky pointed out some of the small details that might have been overlooked during my brief time on board the MARINA. For instance, many of the bulkheads in the stairtowers and passageways are covered in suede.

"Sun Flowers" Sanctuary glass detail by Beverly Albrets.

In addition to her Lalique and Swarovsky elements, the MARINA is adorned with lovely glass art in her forward stairtower, the Sanctuary, Patio and Polo Grill by Naples, Florida-based Beverly Albrets.

Horizons, facing aft from port.

Located on Deck 15, Horizons is the ship’s uppermost public room. It overlooks the spa terrace and has sea views via full length windows on either side.

Library alcove, facing starboard.

Oceania ships are renowned for their lavish libraries. On the MARINA, the Library adjoins Baristas on the port side of Deck 14 and is divided into small alcoves with marble fireplaces and posh wing back leather chairs.

Polo Grill, facing aft.

In the aft/starboard corner of Deck 14, there is the 137 seat Polo Grill. Laid out and decorated in a similar fashion to the Polo Grills on the smaller ships, the popular steakhouse features comfortable leather seats, dark wood tones and polished brass accents.

Polo Grill glass details.

On Polo’s inboard bulkhead, there is a nice floral glass ensemble by Beverly Albrets.

Toscana, facing forward.

Meanwhile, on the port side, also in similar fashion to Oceania’s former “R” ship fleet mates, there is Toscana, the MARINA’s 137-seat Mediterranean style eatery. Its airy blue and beige tones complement Polo’s deep maroons and mahogany veneers.

Martinis, facing aft from port.

Martini’s is a wonderful bar with several intimate alcoves adjacent to the Deck 6 level of the Reception Foyer.

Facing MARINA.

There was even a quick opportunity to visit the ship’s shiny blue fo’c’sle for a shot of her impressive “face” before setting down the cameras, racing off to the spa for a workout and getting prepped for a delicious dinner in the Grand Restaurant.

Grand Dining Room, facing port.

Aside from the hardware, which is among the best in the industry (only Celebrity’s SOLSTICE class ships can match Oceania for design and decor), the cuisine and service are also what make Oceania one of the world’s best cruise lines.  The Grand Dining Room is located in the stern of the ship on aft Decks 5 and 6, the terraced 566-seat venue features soaring ceilings, an autumnal color scheme and full length windows on three sides.

Under the chandeliered dome...

Its centerpiece is a sparkling Swarovsky crystal chandelier that photos do not do justice to.  The multi-faceted crystals have an intense, diamond-like sparkle.

Grand Dining Room table setting.

Table settings feature heavy silver plate, Riedel stemware, gorgeous gold-patterned china chargers and starched linens.

Breaking bread in the Grand Dining Room.

The Grand Dining Room is the MARINA’s largest dining venue and while it is not a specialty restaurant, there is nothing ordinary about its cuisine.  Oceania’s master chef Jacques Pepin oversees the menus, which feature a trio of Pepin’s “Signature” dishes, Canyon Ranch Spa choices, several vegetarian selections and a regular Dinner Menu featuring four courses (Appetizers, Soups, Garden Salads and Main Courses).  But it all starts with fresh baked breads and crispy bread sticks.

Roasted Duck Salad in the Grand Dining Room.

Among the Appetizer choices was a Roasted Duck Salad with mango-coriander salsa and frisée.

Risotto in the Grand Dining Room.

There was also an Arborio Risotto with Sautéed Shrimps and baby zucchini.

Artichoke soup in the Grand Dining Room.

Among the soup courses was a delicious Cream of Artichoke with sour cream and chopped fresh parsley.

Grand Dining Room salad.

Salads included a classic Caesar with traditional garnish and shaved Reggiano Parmesan.

Poulet Roti in the Grand Dining Room.

Although there were six tempting Main Courses on the regular menu, it was impossible to resist the “Signature” Poulet Roti, an herb-roasted free range chicken with red bliss mashed potatoes and pan gravy. Stupendous!

Banana and Macadamia Nut Pudding dessert.

Desserts included a Banana and Macadamia Nut Pudding with a dollup of Rum Raisin Ice Cream.

Key Lime Pie in the Grand Dining Room.

There was also Key Lime Pie topped with a caramelized slice of lime.

Raspberry and Vanilla ice cream in the Grand Dining Room.

I went with a duo of raspberry and vanilla ice cream.  Its thick, creamy texture was actually more like a fine gelato.

After dinner cheese selection.

After dinner cheese selections included Livarof, Gruyere and Pyrennes with homemade peach and walnut chutney, leek and prune cake and pressed dry fig and almond cake.

MARINA lights up Pier 93.

After dinner, I “eschewed the review” in the Marina Lounge and headed out to get some photos in the chilly but still night. Was that pretty godmother Mary Hart exiting the ship with her entourage?

MARINA from the Cruise Promenade.

A nice promenade runs the length of the Catalina Terminal across from the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal at Pier 93.

Vincent-Thomas versus MARINA.

Lit by solar-powered LED lights, the 1500 foot span of the Vincent-Thomas suspension bridge made an excellent backdrop for the MARINA.

Midships pool area, facing aft from Deck 16.

Back on board, I made another round of the upper decks to catch them in nocturnal mode.

Midships pool area, facing forward from aft Deck 15.

And while life carried on with a pianist in Martinis and a live band poolside, I retreated to the sanctuary of stateroom 10092.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Breakfast buffet.

My morning began in the Terrace Cafe with a quick breakfast. There was a nice, tempting variety of selections, including freshly baked breads and preserves, fruits and melon and cereals.

Breakfast cold cuts.

From the cold cuts counter, I selected some tender smoked salmon, capers, onions and tomatoes, then headed to the omelet station.

Omelet offerings.

I ordered a fluffy onion and tomato omelet made with fresh eggs and topped with cheddar cheese.

Terrace Grill breakfast.

Cappuccino and orange juice, a view of Los Angeles Harbor on a crisp, clear winter day and good company made for a perfect breakfast before it was time to disembark. Although my mere 24 hours on board the lovely MARINA barely scratched the surface of her myriad offerings, she just might be my favorite new cruise ship.

A full top to bottom Decked! tour is in the works, so please stay tuned…

Very special thanks: Martin Cox, Gary Gerbino, Michael Hicks, Tim Rubacky

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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