Marina - Dining Overview
The Marina is almost twice as large as Oceania Cruises' smaller ships, giving the cruise line the flexibility to add several new diverse dining venues, all of which are superb. The Marina has ten dining venues, six restaurants, two casual eateries, and two special dining experiences with their own venue and an extra surcharge (Privee and La Reserve). None of the other eight dining options on this premium-category ship have an extra fee. Oceania's goal was to build a ship purpose-built for epicureans, with all of the meals cooked to order, a la minute.
Those who love Polo Grill, Toscana, the Grand Dining Room, the Terrace Cafe, and the Waves Grill found on Oceania's four smaller ships (the Regatta, Insignia, Sirena, and Nautica) will not be disappointed since these five dining venues are also on the Marina. However, Oceania has added five new very distinctive venues, Jacques French bistro, Red Ginger Asian restaurant, Baristas coffee bar, Privee gourmet restaurant, and La Reserve wine tasting dining room, to the Marina.
Baristas Coffee Bar
The Baristas coffee bar on the Oceania Cruises' Marina serves specialty drinks like espresso and cappuccino, plus homemade biscotti and coffee cake throughout the day. The Baristas coffee bar is in a great location, right next to the library on deck 14. It has a few small tables, along with great seating along with the windows overlooking the pool deck.
Grand Dining Room
The Marina's Grand Dining Room is Oceania Cruises' largest dining venue, with 566 seats. The room is decorated in rich woods and soft tones of brown, cream, and gold. Tables are beautifully set with European bone china, Riedel crystal, silver, and fine, cotton linens.
The Grand Dining Room serves open seating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dinner is especially fine and features Continental cuisine or healthy fare from the Canyon Ranch. There are plenty of items to choose from, with at least six appetizers, salads, and soups, along with nine entrees. Since meals are cooked to order, dinner is a leisurely affair.
Jacques is the French bistro on the Marina and is the namesake restaurant of world-renowned master chef Jacques Pépin, who serves as Oceania Cruises' Executive Culinary Director. It is his first restaurant at sea. Jacques seats 124, and the decor is both elegant and comfortable. Custom-designed Jacques Pépin signature china, antique flatware, and Lalique glassware adorn the tables while chandeliers fashioned from crystal decanters add light to the room. An art collection comprised of some of Pépin's favorite personal pieces and original works he created especially for Marina add a warm, personal touch.
Service at Jacques is at a leisurely pace, thus ensuring a relaxing dining experience. The meal starts with a bread basket filled with three different freshly baked French baguettes, one of which is branded with Jacques' name.
The five-course menu at Jacques that follows is surprisingly large for a fine gourmet restaurant, with several different hors d'oeuvres, soups, salads, main courses, and desserts. The appetizers are definitely French, with escargot, duck fois gras, mussels, truffle and pistachio sausage, frog legs, salmon tartar, and shrimp cocktail on the menu the night we dined. We had the salmon tartar, and it was beautifully presented and delicious. Our waiter said the most popular appetizer was the escargot in puff pastry, and we did see many large bowls topped with puffed pastry pouring out of the kitchen.
Next, on the menu are the soups and salads. Jacques has two salads, a heart of Boston lettuce with shallots and bleu cheese, and warm goat cheese with Frisee salad and sauteed Pancetta. The warm goat cheese was the favorite at our table. One of the restaurant's signature dishes is its creamy pumpkin soup which the waiter ladles from a large pumpkin shell right at the table. Jacques also features traditional French onion soup and a fish stew.
The main courses offer a real variety of seafood, chicken, and meat items all on the menu. Heavenly-smelling rotisserie meats such as chicken, pork loin, prime rib, and veal make the selection difficult. They all sounded good, and we had the free range, "black foot" chicken (the feet were removed). It was delicious, with an excellent herb crust. Other main course selections include seafood items such as shrimp, scallops, salmon, Dover sole, and Maine lobster; meat items such as grilled steak, a traditional veal stew, and a duck leg confit/sausage cassoulet (bean and tomato stew). What a nice menu!
All in all, it was quite a meal, and the menu changes with the region the ship is traveling in. For example, the chef's "specialités de la maison" are presented each day, having been hand-selected from local markets in the ports that Marina visits.
With no surcharge at Jacques, guests sailing on the Marina need to book early.
La Reserve by Wine Spectator
The 24-person, intimate La Reserve hosts wine tastings during the day and seven-course wine pairing dinners with premium wines selected in consultation with Wine Spectator magazine editors. La Reserve is one of the two restaurants on the Marina with a surcharge. Dinners are priced per guest plus 18 percent gratuity, with an extra charge for wines. Reservations are required.
The Polo Grill on the Oceania Cruises' Marina is a classic steakhouse, featuring grilled steaks, lamb, seafood, and chicken. It is found aft on deck 14 next to Toscana and Privee.
Polo Grill's dark woods and burgundy leather chairs definitely support the steakhouse theme. Most of the dishes are what you would expect in a fine steakhouse ashore. All of the beef dishes such as the 32-ounce, bone-in King's Cut prime rib are USDA Prime and dry-aged for at least 28 days. Other menu classics include Surf and Turf, featuring a grilled Florida lobster tail and tender Filet Mignon, and whole Maine lobster gratinée.
Privee is a small, intimate dining room found aft on deck 14 between Toscana and the Polo Grill on the Oceania Cruises' Marina. It has one large table that seats up to 10 guests. Privee is reserved for the evening for a hefty flat fee (not per person!).
When you enter Privee from either Toscana or the Polo Grill, it definitely has a "wow" factor. The room is outlandishly decorated with Ferrari Red carpeting, oversized white baby crocodile throne chairs, ornate Baroque millwork, and flanked by backlit onyx-clad walls. It certainly doesn't look like any of the other dining venues on the Marina. At the center of the room is a custom-made oval table, illuminated by a white Venini glass chandelier.
Although Privee has a seven-course gourmet Menu Degustation printed menu with suggestions, the dinner can be modified or custom-created since the dinner's hosts meet with Marina's Executive Chef beforehand to discuss the menu.
Guests on Oceania Cruises' Marina can enjoy a five-course menu de gustation (tasting menu) at Red Ginger. There is no supplement or surcharge and a full a la carte menu is offered as well.
The Terrace Cafe on the Marina of Oceania Cruises is a great place for breakfast and lunch since you can dine outdoors or indoors, and the buffet is varied, providing many delectable choices. The views are marvelous from its deck 12 location.
In the evening, the Terrace Cafe is transformed into a casual Mediterranean dining option.
Toscana Italian Restaurant
The Toscana Italian restaurant is found aft on deck 14 next to Privee and the Polo Grill. Like Toscana on the other Oceania ships, this dining venue serves excellent food, which seems to be straight from Tuscany.
Anyone who loves fresh pasta and other tastes of Italy will enjoy this 124-seat restaurant. The views of the ocean are lovely, as is the blue decor.
Sometimes when you are going ashore or just sitting by the pool, you like to just grab a quick bite for breakfast or lunch. Waves Grill is Marina's casual outdoor grill, serving fruit, eggs, bread, and meats for breakfast, and hot sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, and other casual food most of the rest of the day.