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I just love this time of year!  It is when all of the cruiseships heading to Alaska for the summer season, stop here in San Francisco.  This allows me to tour the ships and report back the good, the bad and the….well you never know…

Today’s post is all about the Oceania Regatta.  She is all class!  You will not find a kids club on this ship, nor a single disco.  Not that these are bad things, it just not the clientele that this ship attracts.  If you are looking for a relaxed, intimate and beautiful ship to visit Alaska?  It has been found!

This ship holds approximately 600 guests, which is vastly lower than the other mass market cruiseships you will find in Alaska this season.  No need to pack your suit or fancy dress for a formal night, because it does not exist here on the Regatta!  Oceania tends to describe the relaxed atmosphere onboard as Country Club Casual.  There are only 9 passenger decks, so truly she is easy to navigate without having to take the elevators to get around.  She was refurbished back in 2011 and truly the beauty of this ship stands out.

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She sails with the Canyon Ranch Spa onboard which offers you the best treatments and spa cuisine.  Are you getting the idea here…this cruise is all about RELAXING!!

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The staterooms on the Regatta are spacious, comfortable and once again classic.  The dark wood and the décor exude comfort and elegance.

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Now let’s address the fantastic attraction of Oceania – its gourmet cuisine!  The menus are inspired by the Executive Culinary Director and renowned Master Chef, Jacques Pépin.   All I have to say here is MAJOR YUM!!!  All 5 dining areas, including but not limited to the specialty restaurants are included in the cruisefare. No nickel and diming you the travelers while onboard.  While we are discussing inclusions…sodas, bottled water, cappuccinos, espressos, teas and juices are also INCLUDED in the cruisefare.

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Oceania tends to offer incredible offers from time to time, such as 2 for cruisefares, free airfare, prepaid gratuities and of course my favorite…onboard credits.

Give me a call (650) 906-6000 or send me an e-mail at lauren@aticket2travel.com, to discuss your next vacation to Alaska or to the other wonderful European, Asian and South American itineraries that Oceania sails.

So today I headed up to the Port of San Francisco, with a few of my favorite colleagues, to do a ship inspection of Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess.  The Sea Princess is doing 10 day round-trip Alaska sailings this summer from San Francisco.  She is 10 years old and I was expecting her to look rather tired.  Much to my surprise, her public areas did not reflect this.  However, she is in desperate need of updated mattresses, bedding and flat screen TV’s in the staterooms.  I was actually shocked on how tiny the TV’s were.  I know as a society we have become spoiled with our Mega Flat Screens, but frankly, I truly believe those were 10-inch monitors…

She holds 1,950 passengers and simply without the travelers on-board yet, it felt cramped with just the 200 or so agents, plus the staff.  I’ve been on plenty of other ships with the same capacity including other Princess ships and my preferred line – Celebrity Cruises are far more spacious than the Sea.

The spa was the most disappointing I have ever seen on a cruise ship!!!  It was dull, lifeless and very small.

Now let’s address what they refer to as the Grand Casino…There was NOTHING grand about this!  It was tiny!!!  I think it only had 30 slot machines?  A majority of the room was geared toward just plain seating.  Am I mistaken, but isn’t the casino on a ship a huge moneymaker for the cruiseline?

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Truly the 2 things I was very pleased with were the size and layout of the mini-suites and the buffet area.  I’ve been on the Coral Princess twice in a mini-suite, in which they are just oversized staterooms.  However, on the Sea Princess, they are large, have wonderful flow between rooms and the bathrooms are the extremely beautiful.  The buffet area and dining room, I thought was a nice size, bright (surrounded by windows) & airy – perfect for Alaska!

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Finally, let’s discuss the food…We were invited for lunch in one of the main dining rooms…I almost would have preferred to eat their pizzeria.  The Shrimp with Melons was bland; the Chateaubriand was overcooked and tough.  The bread & chocolate soufflé were the only things that were worth eating.  If this is what they serve us, what in the world do they serve clients for 10 nights?

Now don’t get me wrong…I am a huge advocate for the 10/11 day roundtrip Alaska itinerary out of San Francisco.  I just think that Princess should put in place a much better ship than the Sea Princess.  When you look at the quality of the competitor’s ships, this cruise ship truly fails.  I highly recommend Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas or Serenade of the Seas (departing out of Seattle & Vancouver, respectively).  These ships were specifically designed for viewing the beauty of Alaska and are a far better value and cruising experience!

Contact me to discuss booking that last minute Alaska cruise for 2009 or locking in a stateroom for 2010 at 2009 rates on either RCCL or Celebrity!