ABOVE: Oceania's Regatta is a midsize ship with accommodations for 660 passengers.
Regatta: The ship
Continued from: Introduction
The French-built M/S Regatta began service in 1998 as the R2 of Renaissance Cruises. The modern and impeccably maintained vessel has a nominal capacity of 684 passengers, which was reduced to 660 this fall when Oceania converted a dozen staterooms into crew quarters. This makes the Regatta bigger than such luxury "small ships" as the Seabourn Legend (208 guests) or Silversea's Silver Whisper (382). However, it's far more intimate than "large ships" like the Crystal Serenity (1,080) and the Queen Mary 2 (2,620). In terms of passenger count, its closest rivals would be the Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner (700 each).
After acquiring the Regatta in spring of 2003, Oceania invested $10 million on improvements that ranged from teak decking (to replace the old synthetic deck surfaces) to a completely rebuilt pool area. New mattresses, linens, china, silver, glassware, and computers were added, and the company began replacing the ship's outdoor furniture with teak in public areas and on balconies. Other improvements are still in the works. For example, the jogging track should have been replaced with a new state-of-the-art surface by the time you read this.
An homage to yesterday's luxury liners
The Regatta's decor and atmosphere are reminiscent of transatlantic passenger ships from the early 20th Century, with a grand staircase, painted domes in the main restaurant and library, drapes and swags at every window, and enough brocade to decorate an English manor. The ambience might best be described as "Laura Ashley meets Ritz-Carlton," and on my cruise, the ship's photographer invited guests to pose for portraits on the "Titanic staircase." (I might have been tempted, but Kate Winslet wasn't on board.)
The Regatta will soon be joined by a virtually identical sister ship, the Insignia (née R1), and Oceania has an option on a third R-class ship--to be christened Nautica--which is likely to enter the fleet in 2005.
Next page: Regatta Staterooms
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