Oceania Cruises’ Insignia has just emerged from a stem to stern re-inspiration that has transformed this fetching ship from dowager into a sophisticate.
One of four self-styled ‘R-Class’ ships in the Oceania Cruises’ fleet, the 684-passenger Insignia is the first to emerge with its on-trend new look as part of the $100 million OceaniaNEXT initiative. The more contemporary vibe is a bellwether for the other three R-Class ships of this dynamic company that’s at the forefront of upper premium cruising. Sirena, Regatta and Nautica will get their makeovers between May 2019 and June 2020.
Miami-based Studio DADO, who specializes in luxury residential and hospitality design, was appointed to undertake the entire upgrade. During a recent showcase it became evident that the 342 new designer suites and staterooms, plus the stunning new décor in the restaurants, lounges and bars, are a triumph. Insignia now flaunts serenity and fanciful luxury.
Where to eat
Ever since the company’s inception in 2002 cuisine has played a key role in the success of this cruise line that is increasingly on the radar of those seeking culinary excellence. A Murano glass chandelier is the new centrepiece of the Grand Dining Room with its ocean views at the stern of the ship. New dining chairs in cream leather, Versace chargers and Riedel crystal; plus curtains and carpets in a rich copper, gold and bronze palette, have added panache to this glamorous room.
Dining pleasures are writ large with menus specifically created to complement and contrast the flavours of top quality produce. Another delight is the adventurous ethnic dishes under the title ‘Global Cuisine’. There are also imaginative vegetarian dishes and healthy living options. At lunchtime, the Grand Dining Room is transformed into Jacques Bistro with signature china, Lalique glassware and seasonal menus upping the ante.
Atop the ship, two speciality restaurants revel in their unimpeded sea views. Toscana boasts copper and cream fabrics as well as ivory-coloured leather chairs. In this aerie of conviviality staffed by Italians, a cornucopia of Italian delicacies ensures this a gastro treasure-trove. With burgundy leather chairs and curtains in hues of gold and sage green, the classic American steakhouse, Polo Grill is renowned for its USDA Prime beef which is dry-aged for 28 days.
The Terrace Café is a perfect oasis for relaxed dining. Breakfast dishes are cooked à la minute, while a tempting buffet is complemented by rotisserie meats at lunchtime. In the evening there’s a chilled ambience with Mediterranean-themed menus.
The Waves Grill, at the pool, is great for burgers, grilled sandwiches and hot-dogs.
Where to sleep
Probably the most radical change to Insignia has been to the accommodation. Every single stateroom was gutted and revitalised, none more so than the 52 Penthouses which are now as comely as they are inviting in their new colour scheme of silver, grey and sage green. More storage space was created across the eleven grades of staterooms.
Other enhancements include new settees, thoughtfully placed USB ports, plus a state-of-the-art television system with movies on demand.
Many space-consuming bathtubs were removed in favour of chic glass shower enclosures. Every fixture and surface was remodelled with designer features, new lighting and vanities. All accommodation boasts custom-crafted furniture, upholstered headboards and best of all, the company’s exclusive Ultra Tranquility beds.
The four Verandah Suites and six Owner’s Suites have been redesigned as luxury retreats, offering more space and outfitted with Carrara marble, polished granite and onyx, not to mention voluminous marble and granite bathrooms with separate shower and full-size baths.
What to do
The Reception Hall, where guests can discuss tours with Destination Services and other plans with the Concierge, now has a dramatic Verre églomisé wall that rises behind the Grand Staircase.
The Grand Bar is a perfect venue for cocktails or after-dinner snifters. A living art wall leads to Martini’s – the social hub of the ship – which has been transformed with comfy Grecian blue and pewter tone furniture. The live piano music enhances the sociable aura engendered by the amiable bartenders who attract a regular crowd at the polished-wood bar. There is also a casino which rarely adds to the ambience.
On a quieter note, the Library, stocked with over 2,000 books, is possibly the most attractive at sea.
With improved sight-lines, Horizons is the ship’s observation lounge – perfect for afternoon tea, pre-dinner cocktails and the nightly entertainment which occasionally includes karaoke. This is the location of a glass-enclosed smoking lounge – the only place inside the ship where passengers can light up.
The cast of singers and dancers in the Insignia Lounge perform musical tributes to a spectrum of artists from Abba to Sinatra.
The Canyon Ranch SpaClub offers a gamut of indulgent therapies; there’s also a large Fitness Centre. On deck a heated pool and two whirlpools are surrounded by plenty of sun-loungers with deep-pile cushions, there’s also a fitness track. Waiters from the Waves Bar are on hand to serve guests drinks by the pool.
What I loved
In the afternoon a string quartet plays in the Upper Hall, this is a great place to enjoy speciality teas and coffees or perhaps something stronger in a tranquil ambience.
Book a spa treatment at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub and allow time to use the Spa Terrace – a hidden gem with its private Jacuzzi and comfortable sun-loungers.
Would you like to see this ship up-close on a luxury cruise? Take a look at our latest deals aboard Insignia by clicking the button below, or call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 202 6105 for expert advice on Oceania cruises and award-winning customer service with your booking.