Upon disembarking the Seven Seas Mariner I was invited to stay an extra day in South Florida. The visit started off poorly as the driver that picked me up dropped me off at the wrong hotel necessitating taxi rides to several other similarly named hotels to finally find my reservation. Not to worry; the place was great located within the tree lined-streets of trendy new Brickell Village. Downtown Miami is a far cry from the place I avoided when I lived in Miami twenty years ago. It is a clean and vibrant urban oasis filled with cafes and bistros frequented by local residents and foreign travelers.
The next morning I headed for the Port to Miami; leaving Brickell Village I was impressed by the parade of health-conscious joggers and downtown dog-walkers. The Port of Miami is under going a major transformation. Though there were seven big ships in port, traffic flow has been streamlined to and from the terminals minimizing congestion. Nice to know as soon Regent will be calling Miami home as well!
I was to meet people on the Marina but as usual, I was early. I used the extra time to explore the ship. I had heard she was beautiful but nothing could have prepared me for the extent to which this ship has been appointed. Last summer I went aboard the Crystal Symphony which impressed me with its spaciousness and class - I could not take my eyes off the white carpeting! I loved the spaces dedicated to learning and study from language skills to music lessons. I thought that was the tops until this January I when I went aboard the Seabourn Soujourn; OMG. How could any ship better its elegance and seamless flow? The spa was like nothing I have ever seen at sea; I only wished I could have curled-up on one of the heated, ergonomic chairs in the relaxation room. Well, after all that along comes Marina and I am in love. What a majorly beautiful ship.
Upon entering the main Atrium you are bedazzled by the magnificent pieces of Lalique crystal that adorn the grand staircase. The necessary offices you would expect to find in the atrium like Reception and Destinations are tucked away unobtrusively giving the impression you are in the gallery of a sumptuous private home. Friends gave me pointers on the things I had to see so I ran about the ship from deck to deck peeking into every possible room. I am not a cruise critic but I have seen my share of ships and this one is truly divine. Here are just some of the high points:
Red Ginger Restaurant
“Red Ginger makes an immediate and powerful statement with its decorative centerpiece: three fabulous, multi-colored Buddha heads, each carved from a single piece of glass and brightly lit from within. Then, with a nod to feng shui, the room unfolds in perfect harmony, the mood a study in tranquility. The décor simply radiates with ebony woods, bronze and hand blown glass light fixtures and eclectic, modern Asian artwork.
To complement the stunning interior, Red Ginger’s chefs have created a striking menu, noted for its contemporary interpretations of Asian classics. You might begin with a Salad of Roast Duck and Watermelon with Cashews, Mint and Thai Basil. Savor a Nutty Braised Beef Malay Curry with Coconut Rice and Paratha Roti. Or Asian-spiced Rack Of Lamb with Kohl Robi, Cream Spinach and Truffle Oil. For dessert, Green Tea Banana Cake with Toffee and Hazelnut Sauce Served with Coconut Ice Cream is the perfect ending. In Red Ginger, the gustatory pleasures are as striking as the visual ones.”
“Enter Jacques, the eminent Jacques Pépin’s first restaurant to bear his name on land or sea, and you will be instantly struck by the sensory pleasures. Luscious aromas waft from the gleaming glass and brass show rotisserie in the room’s heart, where duck, pork, chicken and veal roasts slowly turn, sealing in their succulent flavors. Handsomely decorated with rich fabrics, heirloom antiques, pickled wood furnishings and art from Jacques’ personal collection, it resembles a classic Parisian bistro. Exceedingly comfortable and clubby, the ambiance is pure French, as is the cosmopolitan yet wonderfully approachable cuisine.
Chef Pépin has taken the classics, deconstructed them, and then ingeniously re-created each remarkable dish. This is Coq Au Vin beyond the imagination, as you have never tasted it before. Rotisserie-roasted chicken falls off the bone, bursting with flavor. His Steak Frites pairs the succulence of prime beef with the crisp sweetness of pommes de terre. At Jacques, simple classic French cuisine becomes incredibly elegant and, of course, absolutely magnifique.”
“Privée stands alone as Oceania Cruises’ most indulgent, one-of-a-kind dining experience. Even superlatives pale when describing Marina’s ultimate venue, which you may reserve solely for exclusive parties of as many as ten privileged guests. Opulently decorated with Ferrari Red carpeting, oversized white baby crocodile throne chairs, ornate Baroque millwork, and flanked by backlit onyx-clad walls, the setting for Privée is absolutely exquisite. A custom-made oval table, illuminated by a white Venini glass chandelier, lies at its heart, accentuating the culinary magic that awaits you.
Guests will be able to enjoy a menu selected from Polo Grill, Toscana or a combination of both. Each guest can select their own menu. Within the sanctum of Privée, dining engages all the senses, leaving you and your guests immensely fulfilled. This dining extravaganza can be reserved for $250 per evening for a party of up to 10 guests.”
“La Reserve by Wine Spectator may be the most inspired wine pairing ever. It’s the brilliant union of La Reserve, Marina’s exclusive domain for bons vivants, with Wine Spectator, the foremost magazine for wine connoisseurs. The resulting La Reserve by Wine Spectator is an industry-first onboard wine-tasting center that offers gourmands the opportunity to enjoy a series of seminars and tastings that will enhance your appreciation of fine wine and perfectly paired cuisine.
During the day, you might sample a flight of regional wines that the head sommelier has hand-selected from Marina’s wine cellar. Evenings are a more exclusive affair - for a maximum of 24 guests - allowing for an intimate, epicurean experience. You will be treated to a seven-course gourmet dinner, where each course is delightfully paired with an appropriate premium wine.
For sailings prior to January 1, 2012:
La Reserve dinners are $75 per guest plus 18% gratuity.
For sailings beginning January 1, 2012:
La Reserve dinners are $95 per guest plus 18% gratuity.”
Canyon Ranch Spa - Thermal Environments, Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Healing Energy, Tanning, Massage, Skin care….
“For thousands of years, people have found that moving water and temperature variations provide relief for muscle and joint problems, speed toxins from the body and promote deep relaxation. Unwind before a massage, facial or body treatment, relax after a class or workout, rejuvenate before a big night, or simply enjoy this unique, healthy environment at your leisure. (Bathing suit not required – environments are single-sex. Robe and slippers are provided.)
Aromatic Steam Room*
Breathe deep and soak in the benefits of penetrating steam infused with pure plant essences in our temperature-regulated aromatic steam room. Choose either stimulating or relaxing herbal essences according to your needs, then bask in fragrant, 90-percent-plus humidity.
Enjoy these private environments with the purchase of a daily pass:
Open-Air Whirlpool Spas
The therapeutic and healing benefits of salt water and massage are united in the wonderful open-air whirlpool spas where you can unwind and feel the power of flowing water unknotting tired muscles. Excellent post-workout or pre-massage.
Relax on our private sundeck after your thalassotherapy experience. Enjoy a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of other travelers”
“One of the pillars of Chinese medicine, acupuncture is recognized for its power to balance the body’s energies and support general health.
This ancient, well-proven therapy balances energy, stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities and encourages a state of relaxation while relieving tension, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and the side effects of smoking cessation. Acupuncture also enhances the immune system, relieves pain and promotes general well-being. your treatment will be adapted to your needs.
Balance and heal your body with the combination of holistic acupuncture and a therapeutic massage – this combination is particularly good for relieving musculoskeletal pain and stress-related problems. gain immediate, long-lasting benefits.”