Brand-new suites furnished exclusively in Ralph Lauren Home, bejewelled chandeliers and indulgent meals of lobster topped with caviar and beef tenderloin with black truffle and foie gras are how the world’s elite are travelling the globe.
Oceania Cruises’ Insignia is the first of the lines four R-class ships to undergo an incredible bow-to-stern refurbishment as part of a US$100 million initiative dubbed OceaniaNEXT.
The multimillion-dollar transformation was unveiled in Sydney, Australia, to an exclusive audience where guests including The CEO Magazine were taken on a guided tour and enjoyed a delectable four-course lunch aboard the fresh-faced ship.
A string quartet filled the classical lounge with music as attendees were greeted with Champagne – sharing a taste of what ocean-going life is like onboard Insignia.
From 19th century-inspired afternoon tea enjoyed to the sound of the ship’s string quartet and the grand marble staircase beneath a magnificent chandelier to Dom Perignon dining experiences (exclusive to the Mariner and Riviera) and Ralph Lauren Home suites (exclusive to the O Class fleets), traditional luxury is infused with thoughtful modern touches.
“People think it’s a lick of paint and some new carpets – this goes way, way beyond,” Oceania Cruises Vice President of Sales Australia and New Zealand Steve McLaughlin says. “It’s a sweeping array of transformations and guest experiences are taken to new heights.”
Renowned for having the finest cuisine at sea, the ship exceeds expectations with the King’s Cut 1kg bone-in prime rib at the Polo Grill – a venue famous for its grill and single malt whiskies and reminiscent of old London and New York clubs.
The Grand Dining Room exudes classic splendor with a dazzling crystal chandelier (which took three weeks to install), tables topped with gorgeous Versace crockery complemented by oversized leather armchairs, and silver service waiters gracefully serving European-inspired dishes.
“Having the finest cuisine at sea means you can’t rest on your laurels, you have to keep upgrading and moving forward,” – Steve McLaughlin
For those after something slightly adventurous, enjoy a delightful Italian soiree at Toscana. To ensure the finest European cuisine, Italian-born-and-raised chefs are sourced from the romantic nation, with many returning home when not onboard.
From the mouth-watering Fagottini al formaggio (provolone-stuffed pasta purses with butternut squash cream) to the delectable den miso glazed sea bass wrapped and cooked in hoba leaf, nothing was quite as delicious as the Papuan chocolate volcano with a passionfruit heart and caramel lava.
“Having the finest cuisine at sea means you can’t rest on your laurels, you have to keep upgrading and moving forward,” McLaughlin says.
Insignia, which is currently on her 180-day Around the World Cruise, boasts 342 new designer suites and staterooms fitted with neo-classical furnishings, 1,000 thread-count linens and a fashionable colour palette, while 70% of the ship’s rooms feature private verandahs. However, it is the smaller details that truly elevate the luxe experience: Bvlgari amenities, Signature Belgian chocolates, USB charging ports near the beds and an unlimited minibar service of soft drinks and bottled water replenished daily.
While Regent Seven Seas is the most luxurious of the company's ships, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Norwegian Cruise Line Holidings Asia Pacific Steve Odell says Insignia is popular with Australians.
“We’re constantly refreshing our offering and investing in our fleet, with the OceaniaNEXT initiative encompassing the most extensive suite of enhancements we have ever embarked upon,” – Steve Odell
“When you look at Oceania as an experience, there are two things that stand out and suit Australia as a culture,” Odell says. “One: it’s a very casual environment, no jacket or tie required – it is very much like the way we live at home.
“Two: Australia is a nation of foodies, we like our food and wine and we have a very high quality at home so when we go away travelling, we want good food and Oceania brings that. We claim we have the best cuisines at sea, and we believe that’s the truth.”
Since creating a unique experience in the cruise industry 16 years ago, Australia has become the cruise line’s second-largest global market following North America.
“We’re constantly refreshing our offering and investing in our fleet, with the OceaniaNEXT initiative encompassing the most extensive suite of enhancements we have ever embarked upon,” Odell says.
Cruising the world in ultimate splendour will be made that bit easier for the 2.5 million passengers who board the brand’s ships each year when Oceania Cruises introduce 11 new ships by 2027.
“It’s a game changer in the luxury segment,” Odell says.
Want to know what it’s like travelling the world aboard an ultra-luxe floating hotel? Take a look inside Regent Seven Seas Mariner all-suite ship.