Five Things to Know About Oceania Cruises' Insignia Cruise Ship
World's Best 2016 Awards Rank: #10 Large Ocean Cruise Ship
Best for: Couples who love food and wine and prefer the intimacy of a small ship
Sails: Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, Mexico, New England and Canada, the Panama Canal, South America, the South Pacific, World Cruise
At a Glance: A Travel + Leisure World’s Best 2016 winner, placing tenth in the Large Ocean Cruise Ship category. This culinary-minded ship was refurbished in 2014 and everything about it feels lavish, from the grand staircase in the lobby to the multicourse dinners in the restaurants, all overseen by executive culinary director Jacques Pépin.
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The Staterooms Are Welcoming
Almost 70 percent of the ship’s 342 cabins, most of which are done up in nautical navy and gold, have balconies, but even passengers staying in the Inside Staterooms feel pampered, thanks to the space-maximizing layouts, and cloud-like beds with 1,000-thread-count sheets. Cabin sizes range from 143 square feet for the smallest oceanview cabin to 1,000 square feet for the six Owner’s Suites. Suite and concierge-level guests who don’t want to bring their own device can borrow an iPad, while Vista and Owner’s Suite passengers get their own laptop for the duration of the voyage.
The Dinners Are Elegant
Oceania is known for its food and wine, and executive culinary director Jacques Pépin, is one big reason why. You’ll find several of his signature dishes (herb-crusted rotisserie chicken, poached salmon) on the Grand Dining Room’s menu each night, along with healthy options curated by the CanyonRanch spa, such as steamed Maine lobster. Passengers can also make reservations at the two specialty restaurants onboard. (Unlike on many other lines, they’re included in your cruise fare.) The first, Toscana, has an entire menu dedicated to just Italian balsamics and olive oils. (Don’t leave without trying the osso buco alla Milanese.) The second, Polo Grill, features classic steakhouse fare like oysters Rockefeller and prime rib. Even the buffet restaurant, Terrace Grill, is excellent, with dishes that go far beyond carving stations and pastas: Think forest mushroom tartlettes, sushi, and Dover sole meunière.
Afternoon Tea Is a Must
Every day at 4 p.m. in the Horizons observation lounge, white-jacket-clad waiters begin rolling around carts piled with scones, pastries, and finger sandwiches, as part of Insignia’s daily afternoon-tea service. Even if you’re not hungry, it’s worth coming for a pot of Earl Grey (or a cup of Illy espresso) and to listen to the string quartet play.
There Are Plenty of Public Spaces
When passengers aren’t exploring a new port, they’re hanging out on the stunning teak, pool deck, where blue-and-white striped lounge chairs flank a blue-tiled heated pool and two whirlpools. If you’d like you can even grab a milkshake and an ahi burger or a Cuban sandwich from Waves Grill for lunch. Bibliophiles will spend cloudy days in the ship’s elegant wood-paneled library with its gorgeous ceiling mural, faux fireplace, and cushy leather armchairs. (There are more than 2,000 magazines and books on the shelves.) After dinner, channel James Bond in Martinis, a clubby bar with a piano and more than 20 types of martinis (including, of course, the 007).
The Spa is Worth It
Though small, the light-drenched gym at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub has all the cardio and weight machines you could want, plus yoga, Pilates, and indoor cycling classes—all of which are a necessity on this food-focused ship. Spa treatments are first rate and range from a Thai massage to detox body wraps. Tip: If you have jet lag, a reiki session works wonders. Bring your sunscreen, because after your session, you’re going to want to spend time in the thalassotherapy pool on the private outdoor spa terrace, open only to spa clients and guests in concierge-level staterooms and above.