Activities on board also go a step beyond. On other lines, cooking classes are typically “stand and stir”—a teacher demonstrating the dish, with the ingredients already made. But on the Marina, I am surprised to see that the 24-station school has induction cooktops, real chef’s knives, and teachers from the Culinary Institute of America (on later sailings, master chefs, including Pépin, are scheduled to lead the class). There are also market tours and opportunities to meet local artisanal producers on shore excursions.
In addition to art courses (line drawing; photography), the Marina has made a serious investment in painting and sculpture, all handpicked by Binder and Del Rio. Look for works by Joan Miró and Picasso in the Casino Bar and a Damien Hirst in the Canyon Ranch spa lobby (a 10,000-square-foot space with ocean-inspired treatments and private decks overlooking the sea).
And yet, the classic activities remain, and they have their place, too. My last morning at breakfast in the main dining room, two women at the next table are going over the day’s activities. “Ooh, there’s trivia!” one exclaims. “There’s no bridge today,” says the other, clearly disappointed. For all of its innovations, one can’t forget that this is still a cruise ship, as comfortable in charted waters as it is speeding full steam ahead.
The Marina sails Northern Europe this June–August, the Mediterranean in fall, and the Caribbean in winter. 800/531-5658; oceaniacruises.com; 10-day itineraries from $1,499 per person, double, including airfare.