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Cruise Ship Information

MS Marina is an Oceania-class cruise ship, which was constructed at Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente yards in Italy for Oceania Cruises. The Marina is the first in a duo of cruise ships, and was followed by the MS Riviera in May 2012, the option for the third ship was declined. The ship was named in Miami by Mary Hart on February 5, 2011.

Atmosphere on board

A relative upstart among the cruise lines, having only been in existence since 2003, Oceania Cruises officially entered the big time in January 2011 with the launch of Marina, its first new-build. Sleek, spacious and oh-so-chic, Marina marks a giant step forward for the fledgling upper-premium line. (Riviera, Marina's nearly-identical sibling, launched in May 2012.)

Upper premium? Hmmm. After spending a few days aboard the 66,084-ton, 1,258-passenger vessel, you may begin to wonder if Marina has actually pushed Oceania across the line into luxury. Credit goes to the uber-fine dining (including super-chef Jacques Pepin's first namesake restaurant), amenity-packed cabins and abundance of artwork at every corner. Indeed, much of the inspiration for the ship's design came from such high-end establishments as Miami's Mondrian Hotel, the Palm Court at NYC's Plaza Hotel and Bouchon restaurant in Napa. Marina is not a true luxury ship, of course; its cruises sell at a more moderate price point and are significantly less inclusive (passengers will have to bring out their wallets for a range of fares charged a la carte, from cocktails to enrichment programs).

Of course, there are plenty of places to think about the distinction while chilling aboard the ship, whether you're getting a massage in the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, reading a good book next to the faux fireplace in the massive (yet surprisingly cozy) library or straddling one of the oversized padded lounges in the Sanctuary -- an aptly named touch o' the South Pacific near the pool that offers copious shade, swaying palms, ceiling fans and dedicated drink waiters.

Inasmuch as the ship offers double the capacity of Oceania's older vessels, it's no surprise Marina introduces a number of innovations to the line. One of the most touted is the Bon Appetit Culinary Center, offering highly entertaining -- and practical -- hands-on cooking lessons from Culinary Institute of America instructors. Marina's culinary center is the most elaborate in cruising.

New restaurants include La Reserve, a 24-seat wine-themed eatery from Wine Spectator magazine; Jacques, for French country cooking; and Red Ginger, an Asian fusion mecca whose decor alone (a sea of deep reds, black and dark wood) will leave you smitten. In addition, cabins are larger, with an earthier palette and greatly expanded bathrooms.

Right out of the shipyard, Oceania Marina got most things right, but there were glitches. Service, generally superb in any venue we came across, didn't live up to the cruise line's standards in the Terrace Grill, the ship's casual restaurant, on a number of occasions (particularly when dining on the otherwise lovely alfresco terrace off the back). The bars and lounges laid out along the Deck 5 corridor, which passengers tramp through on their way to the Grand Restaurant, weren't particularly appealing or intimate. (Much nicer was the Horizon, the ship's top-deck bar and lounge.) Evening entertainment, never an Oceania strong point, was mediocre. Also, given the ship's port-intensive itineraries (with very few sea days), we found that activities often conflicted with time in port or were held at dinnertime. As a result, sometimes you had to make tough choices about what to do.

Despite these minor complaints, you can expect a ship that's fun to explore, focused on food and wine, easy to navigate and easy on the wallet when compared to luxury lines (hence that "upper-premium" designation).

Family with Kids/Teens

Sorry, wrong ship. Most activities are geared to grownups on Marina, and there's no daycare center, teen club or arcade to keep the younger ones occupied.

Past Passenger Programs

Recreation onboard Oceania Cruises Marina offers a great variety of past times. You can relax by the pool with a cocktail or your favourite book, enjoy the quiet surroundings of the English-style library, or participate on one of the enrichment classes.

Try your luck in the Casino, relax in one of the eight lounges bars or investigate the boutique shopping. From wine tasting to Yoga there is bound to be something for everyone.

Fitness And Spa

Canyon Ranch SpaClub is the spa onboard Oceania ships. All Concierge Level and Suite passengers receive free unlimited access to the Spa Terrace, which includes a steam room, small Jacuzzi pool and lounge chairs. The spa center is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and offers a host of therapeutic, beauty and salon treatments.

Marina's fitness facility is located within the Canyon Ranch spa. A range of 25- or 50-minute classes for fitness and wellness are offered, as well as personal training sessions, for a fee. Most classes cost $11 unless otherwise specified. Educational workshops and some classes are complimentary but are not scheduled until the voyage takes place.

Food & Dining

Specialty dining is included as part of the fare on Marina. In addition to the ship's Grand Dining Room, it features two specialty restaurants, a buffet and a poolside cafe. In the Grand Dining Room, where the cuisine is French-inspired Continental, frescoes adorn the ceiling. Specialty restaurant Toscana features Tuscan cuisine. Sommeliers are on hand to suggest wine pairings. Don't miss the olive oil menu. Polo Grill, the second specialty restaurant, is an upscale steakhouse. Terrace Cafe is Marina's breakfast and lunch buffet, which offers the chance to dine indoors or alfresco on the pool deck or aft terrace. Waves Grill offers lunchtime options like barbecue, seafood, salads, ice cream, gelato or milkshakes for Marinabathers and poolside loungers.

At 4 p.m. each day, you can partake in an English tea service, complete with a classical string quartet and pastries, in Horizons lounge.

Entertainment

During sea days onboard Marina, activities are limited to the pool area, lounges and a few other select venues. Play a hand of cards in the Card Room, or brush up on your knowledge of vino with wine tastings and a discussion with the head sommelier.

Shows and general entertainment onboard Marina feature a live classical orchestra, magicians, comedians and other headliners that vary by sailing.

The ship has a casino that features table games and slot machines, two shops and martini tastings at Martini's.

Fellow Passengers

Travelers tend to fall into the older age ranges (50 and up), are well traveled and hail mostly from the U.S. and Canada, with Brits and Australians making up the balance.

Tipping

Marina radiates her own unique warmth and character. Her distinctive personality shines through from the moment you first step into her newly redesigned, neo-classical lobby or Toscana, resplendent in rich new fabrics and furnishings that reflect the charisma of Tuscany. Marina boasts decks and verandas graced with the finest teak and exquisite custom stone and tile work. To ensure the elegance shines throughout the entire experience, there is all new Villeroy & Boch china, the finest silver and crystal, and a distinctive museum-quality art collection that is an eclectic melding of traditional and contemporary, with a touch of whimsy.

Our recommendation

Overall very impressed with the cabin. Housekeeping team very professional, polite and we always come back to a clean and freshened room. Kept up their promise as a luxury cruise line.