The latest addition to the Oceania Cruises fleet, Marina, may be much larger than her sister ships, but the attention to detail in the design gives her the ambience of an exclusive country club.

Oceania Cruises’ latest – and first new-build – ship, Oceania Marina, has been described as more of an evolution than a revolution for this deluxe line.

There is no escaping the air of understated elegance that runs through Marina from fore to aft, spiced up with carefully placed splashes of modernist design and bold colour that help to add a sophisticated twist.

She may hold nearly twice as many passengers as her three sister ships – Insignia, Nautica and Regatta – but enduring features from these older vessels have been incorporated into the newest, $600 million, member of the Oceania fleet.

Oceania regulars may relish some of the similarities onboard the 1,250-passenger Marina, but they will also discover new signature facilities destined to give the vessel its own distinct identity. With 10 dining venues, including a celebrity chef restaurant, and Oceania’s first culinary centre, Marina is clearly carving out a niche for gastronomy, while the opulence of its top suites adds a luxury touch.

First impressions

Marina has clearly been a labour of love for Oceania Cruises founder Frank Del Rio– and it shows in the attention to detail.  The ambience is more country club than cruise ship, with an intimate house-party air emphasised by carefully placed, sumptuous furnishings that encourage passengers to linger and relax.

The feel is classy and contemporary, accentuated by the calm palate of colours and use of rich woods, marble and granite that give a quality finish. Del Rio personally selected the 1,500 pieces of art that adorn walls and public spaces throughout the ship.

VERDICT 9/10

Cabins

Of the 625 staterooms and suites, the crème de la crème are the three Owners’ Suites, beautifully situated at the aft of the ship with wraparound balconies and fabulous views. Covering more than 2,000 sq ft and filled with voguish Ralph Lauren Home furnishings and lavish touches such as an ebony baby grand piano, these exude style and opulence.

The Vista and Oceania Suites may not boast quite as much space, but they still pack plenty of panache, while the Penthouse Suites, at around 420 sq ft, are claimed to be among the largest in the industry.

Most passengers will stay in the Concierge staterooms or the Verandas which, at 282 sq ft, are described as the most spacious at sea. Stately and sumptuous with a huge bed, sitting area and teak balcony, these cabins come with spacious en suites lavishly finished in grey marble and granite.

VERDICT 10/10

Service

Without fail, the service was attentive, friendly and efficient without being over the top. In the self-service Terrace Café, waiting staff would spontaneously take your plate and escort you to your table.  Likewise, once seated, I never had to wait long for someone to take my drinks order. All of the crew members that I talked to were unfailingly polite and helpful.

VERDICT 10/10

Food

With 10 dining venues that include six gourmet restaurants, it’s no wonder that Marina is promoting itself as the first ship built for epicureans. My favourite was the contemporary Asian restaurant Red Ginger, voted the top venue by passengers on Marina’s maiden voyage across the Atlantic. The beautifully presented dishes and fabulous flavours were quite simply sublime. Italian restaurant Toscana and American-style steakhouse Polo Grill, which are also found on Oceania’s existing ships, were of a similarly high standard.

Personally, I was unimpressed by new French brasserie-style Jacques restaurant, created by master chef Jacques Pepin. The elegant Grand Dining Room was a beautiful venue that lived up to its name, though while the Terrace Café was a good choice for lunch and breakfast, with seating both inside and out.

VERDICT 9/10

Activities

Without the large basketball courts of the bigger ships, you could say that activities here are more geared to smaller ship surroundings and a more mature clientele. Leading the pack is a paddle-tennis court and a putting green, plus you’ll find table tennis, achess set, shuffleboard and bowls.

But the most novel facility on-board is Marina’s Culinary Centre, the only one of its kind at sea, where eager cooks can improve their skills in special classes. Budding painters can also brush up on their technique in the Artist Loft, in sessions with the ship’s artists in residence.

VERDICT 8/10

Public areas

Marina boasts plenty of classy wow factor, immediately evident when you step into the lobby with its sparkling grand stairway by French crystal designers Lalique. For those with $1,000 to spare, there is a swanky private dining room, Privée, decked in ivory with croc-leather throne chairs and a table so large it had to be brought on by crane. An exquisite quiet retreat is the library, all wood and leather and full of delightful nooks and crannies. Outside, teak decking lends a quality feel to the attractive pool deck with its hot tubs, Balinese day beds and plush seating. The area also reminded me of the pool deck on Seabourn’s newest ships.

VERDICT 9/10

Shore excursions

Oceania offers 2,500 excursions worldwide, and 180 are new for this year. Options also include a number of pre-tours that clients can take before their cruise departs. Passengers can also choose from the Executive Collection, a range of customised private tours.

VERDICT 8/10

Spa

The first custom-built Canyon Ranch spa in the Oceania fleet is a calm, collected haven with 16 treatment rooms plus a beauty salon, fitness centre and thermal suite. It offers the sort of treatments you would expect, though some have interesting names, such as the Euphoric Coffee Scrub ($143) or Organic Mermaid’s Purse Wrap ($164).  The décor is low-key and tasteful, complemented by a spacious outdoor deck area – a peaceful oasis that is free for guests.

VERDICT 9/10

Bars & Lounges

There’s somewhere to suit every mood.  Party animals should head for the brash and bold Casino Bar with its Swarovski-studded bar stools and pink backlit panels. It may be garish, and it certainly jars with the décor around the rest of the ship, but it works.

Martinis is a sophisticated cocktail haunt with its specially-made Steinway grand piano and classy surrounds, while the Horizons lounge is the place for admiring the views and enjoying afternoon tea.

Passengers in concierge staterooms can also enjoy their own comfortable (though a little on the small side) lounge with computer terminals, printers, TV and a supply of soft drinks.

VERDICT 8/10

Overall

Marina is a classy ship that is perfect if you want to cruise the world in style and comfort.  It isn’t a ship for non-stop action and entertainment, but for cruisers looking for a more low-key experience where good food, good wine and good company are important, it ticks all the right boxes.

FINAL VERDICT 89%