When I arrived at the port in Copenhagen, I was understandably anxious about all the strict security and health check rigmaroles that I’d come to expect following the pandemic. However, I couldn’t have been more impressed at the frictionless nature of embarkation. In total, it took about 40 minutes from arriving at the port to pouring a glass of complimentary Champagne in my luxurious Penthouse Suite. This included passing through all the usual security checks and completing a COVID-19 antigen test with one of the many medical professionals employed by the cruise line to ensure passenger safety.
This was the first time I’d sailed with Oceania and it was everything I’d imagined an ultra-luxury experience would be. Marina blends sophistication with a contemporary flair, creating a casual yet elegant ambience. From the sparkling Lalique Grand Staircase to the stunning Penthouse Suite, the spaciousness and grandeur of the ship is truly astonishing.
The thing I was most intrigued to experience was the food. For as long as I remember, Oceania Cruises have served The Finest Cuisine at Sea®. Marina has 10 eateries on board including the eponymous Jacques which features some of the celebrity chef Jacque Pepin’s personal favourite recipes. It has been said that no cruise line chef has ever devoted as much attention to a single restaurant as Jacques Pepin has devoted to Jacques. He even designed the format of the menu and has his personal artwork hanging on the walls.
With single, open seating and five restaurants to choose from, dining on Marina is as varied as it is consistently delightful. The accent is on variety and I highly recommended that you make as many reservations as possible in the alternative restaurants if you’re not too tired after a day in port. If you are tired, a casual stroll at your leisure to Tapas on the Terrace is a great way to get fast service and great food without waiting.
On our first night, my wife and I dined in Toscana and it was, without doubt, the most authentic Italian food I’ve ever had outside of Tuscany. It was the first time I’d ever been greeted at the start of a meal by an olive oil sommelier who expertly advised us which mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar would go best with the array of freshly baked Italian bread. This was all before I’d even seen the menu, which was a feast of Italian variety, I might add. I opted for the Octopus Carpaccio with Champagne Vinaigrette and Warm Potato Salad followed by a main course of Tortelloni di Ricotta e Spinaic al Burro Fuso, which in essence, is giant handmade tortellini stuffed with sumptuous ricotta cheese and spinach, tossed with chopped Roma tomatoes and laced in sage butter. I was assured by the charming wine sommelier that this would be best accompanied best by a 2014 Barolo full-bodied red wine. My first night in Toscana was a truly formidable start to my Oceania cuisine experience.
On the second night, we dined in the Polo Grill, a restaurant that is the embodiment of the classic steakhouses of old with decor that features crisp, white linen tablecloths, dark wood furnishings and supple, high-back, burgundy leather chairs - and a menu to match. My wife, being a vegetarian, was sceptical that she would find anything suitable for her needs in a steakhouse. However, these fears were quickly doused with a fantastic selection of meat-free gastronomy. For me though, I was blown away by the Apple Cider Marinated Slow-Roasted Pork Belly with Honey Soy Sauce for starters. I simply had to order the chef’s signature dish for my main course - the King’s Cut, a 32oz succulent prime rib of beef that was seasoned to perfection. At 32oz it goes without saying that I needed a little more time than usual before perusing the dessert menu. But when I did, I chose the Polo Quintet, a delightful selection of the Executive Chef’s favourite desserts… Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Key Lime Pie Caramalised, New York Cheesecake, Crème Brûlée and Granny Smith Apple Crumble Pie.
On our third and final night, we dined in Red Ginger. A contemporary Asian style restaurant with a focus on fresh interpretations of Asian classics, Red Ginger’s cuisine is as bold as the decor, with presentation to match. Never before have I been presented with such a fascinating array of chopsticks; varying in length, material and colour from stainless steel to wood, on a dedicated tray. When it came to making a decision, I took the advice of Bob Binder, President and CEO of Oceania Cruises, who I’d bumped into at Martini’s Bar the night before. He recommended the famed Spicy Crispy Duck and Watermelon Salad and the Miso Glazed Seabass. I’m glad I took his advice because it was hands down the best Asian food I have ever had.
Experience The Finest Cuisine at Sea® for yourself with our fantastic range of Oceania cruises.