Is the Culinar class on Oceania Marina worth it?

Is It Worth Upgrading From The Big Ship/Mass Market Cruise Lines To Oceania?

Our personal review of Oceania Marina ship

After recently sailing on Oceania’s “Marina” ship above for 10 nights, we would say a resounding… Absolutely!!

As you know, there isn’t a more seamless way to see the world then on a beautiful Cruise ship… you unpack once, you wake up with a brand new city to explore each morning, all your yummy meals are prepared for you, you come back to the comforts of your freshly prepared stateroom, etc. and you do all of this without lifting a finger!

But of course, keep in mind, not all ships & cruiselines are created equal.

not all cruiselines are created equally

Some will leave you frustrated while others will make you feel sad to have to disembark.

Below is a recap of our time onboard Oceania (an “Upper Premium” Cruiseline) so you can get a good sense of what life is like onboard this class of Cruiseline and then determine for yourself if it’s YOUR kind of cruise or not.

But before we get into our experience onboard, we thought it would be a good idea to give you an overview about the different types of Cruises for perspective.

When It Comes to Ocean Cruises There are 3 Types of Options:

1. Mainstream: These are big ship, mass-market lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Holland America, Princess, Celebrity) which is the way most people get introduced to Cruising… overall, a cheap way to enjoy cruising.

2. Luxury: Small ship, all-inclusive lines. (Regent, Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn) These are Fantastic but not affordable for many people.

3. Upper Premium: (Oceania, Azamara, Viking Ocean Cruises) These are Great Value as they’re an affordable way to have a small ship experience!

Oceania in our opinion is in the “sweet spot” so to speak as they provide great value without compromise!

You get multiple restaurants and entertainment options like the big ships offer but with fewer people— so there are no crowds which means that line ups are non-existent.

Compared to Luxury lines, your cost per day is lower on Oceania and you still get a quality cruise with great service & with the VERY BEST award-winning food at sea—no exaggeration!

With Oceania all restaurants, entertainment & non-alcoholic drinks (unlimited soft drinks, bottled water, specialty coffees, teas and juices) are included.  There are no extra fees for specialty dining or the 24 hour room service like the big ships who typically charge $45-$75 per person for these types of restaurants and $20 for a steak from room service–we’ve seen this many times! And they include an Internet account for each room!

Once onboard you will pay for alcoholic drinks & for excursions and for gratuities. (With that said, Oceania offers free perks on most of their Cruises such as some free excursions or a free beverage package, etc. & on top of that Shawn can get you free gratuities or free onboard credit to help sweeten the value even more) Some of the Luxury lines include all of these items in their upfront price but of course your cost per day goes up quite a bit.

That’s the skinny on the general types of Cruises.

Which leads to the next question…

Who is Oceania Cruises For?

If your budget would be “over stretched/uncomfortable” sailing on Luxury lines and/or you are tired of the large ship herding, belly flop contests, constant “nickel & diming”, etc. and are ready for a better, more superior cruise experience, then THIS may be for you…

…but let’s see.

Keep reading!! 🙂

One of the first things people talk about when describing Oceania is the FOOD!! So naturally we have to start here and tell you about our taste bud’s experience while…

…Dining Onboard Oceania:

Without a doubt, this is Oceania’s signature distinction from all the other cruise lines and NOBODY does dining quite like them!!

The food is impeccably delicious and the menu choices are impressive!

Let’s just say that you will NOT need to consider eating off the ship when in port as the restaurants onboard rival any five star restaurant on land, no kidding!

As mentioned, there are no dining surcharges at any of the restaurants and all guests are guaranteed 1 night in each of the specialty restaurants so you can truly taste your way around the world.

TIP:  The restaurants sometimes have cancellations so you can check back the morning of to see if you can go back to your favourite choice and they will book you a table if it is available.

Ok, let us tell you a little about each…

Restaurants on Oceania Marina:

The “Marina” & “Riviera”, which are the newest ships in Oceania’s fleet, have two additional & fantastic restaurants onboard… they are:

1. Jacques

Ocenaia Marina dining review

This restaurant is one of our favourites as it is inspired by Master Chef Jacque Pepin.

The problem with this restaurant is that “every single dish” served is so scrumptious that it’s truly hard to choose just one.  Luckily for us guests, we can order as much as we want! 🙂

2. Red Ginger

Red Ginger onboard Oceania Marina ship.jpg

This is an Asian inspired restaurant where you get to pick out your very own chop sticks made of precious woods and stones, choose from a variety of quality teas and choose from a great selection of “flavourful” dishes.

TIP: The Lobster Pad Thai below is DELICIOUS!!!

Two more Tips:

  1. You do not need to eat sushi/raw fish to enjoy this restaurant. There is something for everyone here.
  2. We also HIGHLY recommend the Miso Glazed Sea Bass, it’s melt in your mouth yummy!!

Now, lets check out the other “gastronomic wizardry” restaurants onboard all of Oceania’s ships.

Polo Grill

This specialty restaurant is a steakhouse essentially but it does have a variety of dishes on the menu to choose from.

We ordered Maine Lobster and Filet Mignon that were so tender you could eat them both with a butter knife.

Have a look at these flavorful dishes that we would “most definitely” recommend. (oh, and the Crab Cake and Clam Chowder are delicious too!)

We should also mention that the ocean views we had during this meal enhanced the experience too, you can see a peek to the right…

Our review of Polo grill entrees on Oceania Marina




Toscana is an Italian restaurant that did not disappoint. Actually it was finger licking good!!! So appetizing that we decided to go back a second evening.

You’ll see what we mean when you have a look at this menu…

Tuscana retaurant Marina review

Tip: The Osso Bucca is fall-off-the-bone tender- don’t miss it!!  The lamb is really good too!!

Ever tried Balsamic Reduction dipped in gourmet cheese bread?

You don’t know what you are missing… try it if you have never!!

This pasta starter was yummy too!



The Grand Dining Room

We have to admit that we did not dine here although the menu did look good each evening.

Between the Terrace Cafe & going to the specialty restaurants, room service for a quiet evening in after a long day of touring, honestly, we didn’t have time. LOL

This was not a bad complaint!! Normally you would run out of “new” dining options but you don’t have to worry about that on Oceania. 🙂

That said, the dining room is stunning and we are sure you will enjoy it as we certainly have in the past when onboard.

Review of our time onboard Oceania Marina



Terrace Cafe

This is casual Buffet style dining where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner. But it is no ordinary boring buffet… not even close!

There are so many choices to please your palate.

For example, at dinner you can order grilled steaks/lamb chops and fresh seafood like lobster, jumbo shrimp, swordfish, tuna, salmon, etc.

That is on top of the crab legs and crab claws they rotate each night AND all the other dishes they serve fresh each evening.

Have a look at some of these delicious dishes we had….

Our review of the Terrace Cafe onboard Marina



Le Reserve

This venue adds a little class above the rest. (if that’s possible) You pay extra for it (you’re paying more for the high end wines then the food) but if you are a wine lover you can attend a special dinner that features sumptuous foods paired with fine wines.

It is popular but we cannot tell you about our personal experience as we did not try it but you can sign up for it online in advance or onboard if it sounds like your thing.

Here is a picture of the restaurant…

Our review of our time onboard Oceania Marina ship



Waves Grill

Day time you can have lunch at this pool grill where again, you can order lobster and steak.

But if you want to go more casual you can “fresh to order” Kobe beef burgers with truffle sauce, wagyu burgers, grilled fish, truffle fries, hand-dipped milkshakes and so much more!

This is not your typical pool grill where you plate the food yourself after you get through the long line up that is common at many mainstream cruiseline’s pool grills…

… No, No. On Oceania, you sit and enjoy the views of the ocean or port city and have the dishes served to your tableNo lines. No fuss.

Check out the menu…


Enough talk about food, let’s take a look at the stunning…

Oceania Marina Ship:

Oceania Marina and Shawn Power review

The lovely Oceania Marina ship is no doubt a beauty!  Nancy says… “Shawn is pretty cute too”. LOL

She was built in 2011, refurbished in 2016, holds 1,250 guests maximum, has a guest to staff ratio of 1.56 to 1 and is still as lovely as the first time we sailed on her back in December, 2011.

Onboard it feels similar to staying in a deluxe private home.

This ship has wide open spaces making her feel like she is half full which is such a joy compared to the mainstream ships with their big line ups and the irritating inability to find a lounge chair anywhere around the pool deck.

On the Marina pool deck, you will find plenty of pillow top sun loungers for one or for two persons that, by the way, you’ll have a hard time passing up; oppose to the plastic loungers on some big ships with worn cheap towels and loud music enough to make your head spin!

You’ll get the feeling of exclusivity onboard Oceania.

Instead of a waiter trying to sell you drinks every 10 minutes to meet their quota, on Oceania you will hear soft background music to lull you to sleep under the sun or in the shade as you read a book and staff will only approach when you are ready to order something.


Being the detectives we like to be onboard, we noticed some unique things we liked that Oceania did for guests, like:


1. In port, if the city center was a little further, they provided a FREE shuttle for guests in both directions where mass market lines would have a charge for this service.

2. You pay for alcoholic drinks onboard Oceania but non-alcoholic drinks are included. What we liked is that they provide cold drinks like water and pop in multiple areas throughout the ship, making it easy for guests to consume… even in the card room, on the walking deck & sports court in coolers of ice, nice touch. 🙂

(Some larger mainstream lines prevent guests from bringing water onboard so you are at the mercy of ridiculously overpriced water onboard… we’re talking $3-$4/bottle, $48+ for a case!)

3.While we were docked we noticed the large ships leaving early in the day. We didn’t leave till much later in the evening, some nights at midnight.  The large ships do this on purpose because they want you back onboard to keep spending and they will also incorporate “sea days” for the same purpose.

4.Oceania’s itineraries on the other hand are port intensive (we had 0 sea days during this 10 night Cruise) with longer stays so you can enjoy the experiences of the regions you are visiting without feeling rushed and having the stress of getting back to the ship on time.


“These Subtle Differences In Service Make All The Difference.”


What Can You Do Onboard?

You will not be bored!

On top of ALL the hiking and walking we did in the ports Check out our pictures to see the port stops & more pictures from around the ship you can also enjoy the spacious gym, exercise classes, outdoor walking track, tennis court, mini golf, casino, theater each evening & live music performances over cocktails, shopping, a card room and more.

At the gym typically you pay to attend classes on mainstream ships (and it’s not cheap!) but you can attend a stretching, Abs or Sole Energizer class for FREE on Oceania! And NEW the Yoga and Pilates classes are included too!

TIP: Speaking of health, if you enjoy making smoothies at home for breakfast, feel free to bring your protein powder, flax, chia seeds, etc that you put in it each day. They will be happy to add it in.

If all this talk of healthy eating and working out is making you sleepy, no worries, Oceania has you covered there too!

Relaxation Onboard:

In-room there is a big selection of movies on the TV and there is also a large DVD library if you would like to catch up on some relaxation time!

Around the ship you can indulge in coziness by going to…

    • The Canyon Ranch Spa
    • Tea Time in Horizons daily (no fee here but you will pay on many big-ship lines)
    • The Pool Deck
    • Coffee Shop (with specialty coffees for $0 — but $4.50 each on mass market ships)
  • & the amazing Library onboard

Check out a few more ship pictures…

Our review of Tea Time on Oceania

Tea Time is at 4pm each day (but not on embarkation day) and it is SO NICE to sit next to the floor to ceiling ocean view windows…

…be served by staff dressed in tuxes and white gloves (don’t worry, you can go casual) a variety of Teas, scones with clotted cream, sweets and petite sandwiches while a four piece orchestra softly plays enjoyable music in the background.

What a treat…

…and guess what?  You don’t have to pay a fee to receive this lovely treatment like you would on big ships. It’s all included. 🙂


The “Canyon Ranch” Spa Relaxation Area Onboard Oceania Marina:

This is beautifully set up to fully immerse yourself in relaxation which we did several times on our sailing and enjoyed it immensely.

It is included if you are in a suite or costs $25 per day/per guest- a small price for this indulgence.

It has a private indoor relaxation area that has heated loungers, unisex saunas, steam rooms, etc.— perfect for relaxing after a day of touring…

Oceania Marina spa relaxation area picture.jpg

It also has a private outdoor area with hot tubs & sun loungers. Check out these pictures– we were in heaven!!

Once you are all done chilling out, you can take…

Art and Culinary Classes

Oceania offers some unique things like art classes and culinary classes for a fee.

Nancy attended a fish culinary class where they showed her some knife skills and cooking techniques using fish.

TIP: In all honesty, we thought the cooking class price was a bit steep but we were pleasantly surprised that the value was certainly there and well worth it.

The chef who taught the class works with Jacques Pepin personally so the fact that he was “the real deal” alone was worth the time & money…

Is the Culinar class on Oceania Marina worth it?

It was a total of 2 hours in the class, they gave us a couple glasses of wine (with refills) that paired with the dishes and then we got to eat what we prepared after great instruction.

Next time, Nancy wants to attend all of them and go on their culinary excursions too!!

TIP: (don’t make this mistake!!!) We had dinner reservations for 6:30pm which was WAY too close to the cooking class, so Nancy ate very little so not to spoil her dinner. Bummer. SOOO, to avoid our mistake, if you decide to attend a class just make reservations for dinner a little later then usual, say 8pm.

TIP: If you enjoy cooking, you will love this! Jacque Pepin does a cooking show on channel 6 on your stateroom TV to teach you how to prepare dishes, etc.  Nancy took PAGES of notes and is now trying them out in our kitchen at home.


We are just about done here but we had to tell you about something else…

…just when you thought this Cruise couldn’t get ANY better, you CAN make it even more special by doing what we did and booking a


Review of our Penthouse suite Oceania Marina.

There are four categories of Suites on the Marina & Riviera ships (three on Oceania’s 4 older ships) to choose from but we decided to go with the Penthouse Suite that you see abovewhich is the entry suite but still a nice size at 420 square feet.

On top of that, we strategically put ourselves in a G-R-E-A-T location (super important to avoid potential noises and easy to do if you know what to look out for)—Shawn knows all the tricks to doing this which he would be more then happy to do for you too whether you choose a suite or not! 🙂

Now keep in mind, the higher the category of Suite you choose, the more is included as well…

…the obvious is that you get roomier suites with larger patios & luxury furnishings like a hot tub on deck. (which is a fantastic indulgence and well worth it- like the one we had on Celebrity in Alaska last year)

The not so obvious special services included with Suites are:

  • Priority Embarkation (come to the ship FIRST and have lunch onboard)
  • Priority Specialty Restaurant Bookings (this is a BIGGIE-those tables are sought-after) AND
  • Order dinner in-suite from any of the specialty restaurants. Below we ordered a simple lunch but you get the idea…

 Our Oceania suite perks description

Plus ALL SUITES will receive these no matter the type of Suite you choose…

  • Priority room entry at 1pm
  • Complimentary pressing of Garments upon embarkation (2 garments per person)
  • Delivery of Afternoon Canapés & Treats
  • Delivery of Full Breakfast in-suite or on your veranda
  • In-Suite Afternoon Tea Service
  • Assistance with Reservations to Specialty Restaurants
  • Course by course in-suite Dining
  • Packing and unpacking service
  • Complimentary Shoe-Shine (they do a really good job!)
  • Complimentary access to the Spa Relaxation area
  • Complimentary access to the Executive Lounge (for suites only)

Our Penthouse Suite:

Our Penthouse Suite was 420 square feet, had a separate bathtub, (this is a big deal on ships) larger shower, TWO sitting areas, desk space and lounge chairs on the patio— not just a simple chair with a pinch of leg room like you see on big ships… no, no, no! 🙂

Check out a video of our Suite and the other Suites & Staterooms available on Marina here.

Have a look at more pictures of our suite…

Our Oceania Suite details and experience

Review of our Penthouse suite bathtub Oceania Marina

On top of that, we had a friendly butler who’s name was Sam and TWO room attendants to take care of all our needs.  Yes, it MIGHT sound “a little over the top” to have a Butler—but that’s the whole point, you are on vacation!!!

Many people say, “I don’t need a butler and I’m uncomfortable with the idea of one” but once you have a butler- we promise you won’t want to go back 🙂

For example…

Sam would bring coffee each morning to our suite for Nancy while we sat on the patio and gently woke up.

Wouldn’t you prefer to stay in your robe and enjoy a fresh cup on the beautiful balcony you paid for before facing the world?

To top it all off, onboard, Oceania offers suite guests…

An Executive Lounge:

Executive Lounge on Marina Oceania

For Suite guests only (and they have a private lounge for concierge class too!) this private comfy lounge has non alcoholic hot and cold drinks, books and a concierge for answering any questions you may have throughout the voyage, to solve problems should they arise and they can even print your airline boarding passes!

Another thing the lounge has is the menus for each restaurant including the updated one for the main dining room each night. We love this as you don’t have to run around the ship to make up your mind where you want to eat that evening.

TIP: On disembarkation morning, you can head here for a tea or coffee, watch the news and relax till the ship is near empty and THEN make your way off.


Now, you may be wondering…

What should I wear onboard?

You can check out our pictures to get an idea of what we wore throughout the cruise. (just keep in mind we are not fashion models… lol)

This being our second Oceania cruise we can tell you it is country club casual wear for evenings and country club casual sports wear for the day time. The ship’s feel is not stuffy or pretentious but they do request no shorts or ripped jeans in the evenings unless of course you are simply going to the Buffet.


Ok. There You Have It- All the Juicy Details About Our Experience Onboard Marina…


For even MORE information, including the port stops we saw on this itinerary, check out Our Pictures and Videos of Our Oceania Cruise. You know that we love to jam pack our picture captions with great tips and info!!

Want to take an Oceania cruise too?  (Can’t blame you if you do 🙂 ) When you are ready, you can phone or email Shawn and he will gladly help you find that Cruise vacation of a lifetime!

Bye for now.

We appreciate you!

Nancy & Shawn
Your Trusted Cruise Experts!

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