Passengers:684 Best for: Couples who love food and wine and prefer the intimacy of a small ship
Sails: Alaska, Australia and New Zealand, Bali, the Caribbean, Mexico, Polynesia, Panama Canal, South America
At a Glance: Oceania’s food-focused flagship was refurbished in 2014 and everything about it feels lavish, from the grand red-carpeted staircase in the lobby to the multicourse dinners in the restaurants, all overseen by executive culinary director Jacques Pépin.
Almost 70 percent of the ship’s 342 staterooms have balconies, but even passengers staying in the Inside Staterooms feel pampered, thanks to the cabins’ generous layouts (even the smallest ones have a breakfast table) and the line’s cloud-like Prestige Tranquility beds—heaven if you have jet lag. 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.
Culinary-minded cruisers love Oceania and for good reason. The line’s executive culinary director is legendary chef Jacques Pépin, and you’ll find several of his signature dishes (herb-crusted rotisserie chicken, five-peppercorn filet steak) on the Grand Dining Room’s menu each night, along with healthy options curated by the CanyonRanch spa, such as steamed Maine lobster. You can also reserve a dinner table at one of the two specialty restaurants onboard; unlike on many other lines, they’re included in the price. The first, Toscana, has an entire menu just for balsamics and olive oils. (Don’t leave without trying the calamari and the lasagna.) The second, Polo Grill, focuses on steakhouse fare like oysters Rockefeller and prime rib. Even the buffet restaurant, Terrace Grill, is excellent, with dishes that go far beyond burgers and pastas: Think spiced harira duck soup with chickpeas and 72-hour slow braised beef at the carving station.
Every day at 4 pm in the Horizons observation lounge, white-jacket-clad waiters begin rolling around carts piled with scones, pastries, and finger sandwiches, as part of Regatta’s daily afternoon-tea service. Even if you’re not hungry, it’s worth coming to sip a cuppa and listen to the string quartet play.
When passengers aren’t exploring a new port, they’re hanging out on the gorgeous 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 salmon burger or a reuben sandwich from Waves Grill for lunch. (It also serves ice cream and milkshakes if you’re craving something sweet.) Book lovers will find it hard to tear themselves away from the stunning wood-paneled library with its 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).
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.