Sailing the Caribbean on Oceania’s Regatta
It was a new experience for my husband and me to be on such a large ship (680 passengers). We have always sailed on vessels with less than 150 passengers. Oceania Cruses’ Regatta is a lovely ship, with excellent service, very friendly staff and crew, who come from around the globe. The ship is beautifully maintained. All the public rooms are nicely decorated, some have painted ceilings, or colored glass on the ceilings, and the drapes, upholstery and furniture are very attractive.
The cabins are cozy (they range from 143 sq. ft. to larger suites). There is a library with many books (even in large print) and magazines. Also a casino, a large main dining room, 2 smaller specialty restaurants where you need to reserve a table, but there is no extra charge (the Polo Grill and Toscana), the Terrace Cafe, serving a very nice buffet for all three meals, with indoor and outdoor seating (I loved eating out on deck and looking out to sea), and lastly Waves, along the pool deck. Here they had hamburgers, hot dogs and a small salad bar. One can eat at various times and with whom one wants to, either at a table for two or 4 or more. I almost forgot the 24-hour room service..
This was a 12-day cruise round trip from Miami, with 3 days at sea in the North Atlantic Ocean. Somehow I never thought about that part, and it can be rough in February. We were very lucky and had gorgeous weather and only a few sprinkles in one place for 11 of the days.
Our first stop was Tortola, where the highlight was the time spent on Brewer’s Beach, a quiet, sandy stretch with no vendors, except the person renting beach chairs. Next came St. Barts, reputed to be the prettiest island in the Caribbean. Alas, being a Sunday, everything was closed and very quiet. We rented a car and did enjoy the lovely, hilly scenery, with beautiful views from every spot. Yachts abound in the harbor, and villas and resorts hang onto the cliff sides.
Next day, Dominica. Here the Cabrits National Park and old Fort Shirley were the points of interest. Very pleasant to walk around in the woodsy park. We had a few rain drops, but not for long. We actually never used the two umbrellas we brought for possible tropical showers. We did not need to bring them, as the Regatta had one in our cabin.
On to St. Lucia and stop at Pointe Seraphina. There was a large ship from Europe on the same dock. We walked into Castries, the capital, a nice and fairly large city. We looked around by taxi. Many beautiful views of a nice fishing village, and banana plantations in Marigot Bay. The island is very picturesque and lush, with the famous Pitons (mountains jotting into the sky).
The sun and slow passage of time make you lazy and sleepy. We took many naps; and enjoyed the calm life. It is really so relaxing having no worries about touring many places, One can just walk or swim when going ashore, you will not have the feeling that you missed a must-see sight if you skip going around the island. The Caribbean and South Pacific islands are ideal for cruising. Of course, on any cruise there is no daily packing and unpacking, which is a big time saver and load of your shoulders.
Next we came to Antigua, with St. Johns its capital, and it is quite a large island. Shops, banks, restaurants (ate lunch in one, and stopped for coffee at another). The Longchamps duty free boutique had good prices on bags and wallets. We went to the museum that showed the history of the island; they were preparing an exhibit on sugar cane plantations.
Evenings onboard had various entertainment: singers, a string quartet, a small orchestra, lecturers, the casino, games, and art auction, preceded by an interesting lecture on art collecting. etc.
We anchored at Virgin Gorda, so we had to take a small boat to the pier. We wore our swim suits, and after exploring the island, we stopped at a beach called The Baths– There are large boulders and caves there. The waves were big, so I did not swim, but others did. The ship always provided us with beach towels, so no need to carry your own as it takes up lots of room in your suitcase.
Next came Semana in the Dominican Republic, where again we had to tender in. Walked to town, and stopped by their small whaling museum. Island is flat. Rode in a motorbike taxi back to the pier. Cool breeze was blowing. The trade winds seem to blow at all times. Some years ago, we had been to the Club Med in Punta Cana, and had not seen much of the island.
Our final stop was Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos. Several cruise lines got together and built a large new pier, and a little village of shops. The latter were not very interesting to me. But they set up lounge chairs on a lovely long beach. Alas, I had time for a walk, but no lounging here. The island is very flat, and was badly damaged in the hurricane last year. Still needs many repairs. Took a taxi ride, and were shown around town. They have a museum that is the best one in the islands.
There is a pool, and several jacuzzis on board. And the walking deck, gym, and numerous activities like bingo, ping pong, bridge, needlepoint, etc. One was never bored, actually there was not enough time to participate in all the activities. They had high tea every afternoon, but I had the opportunity to take it only once. I loved the scones and cream.
The embarkation and disembarkation for Oceania Cruises were handled extremely well, quickly and easily. We were amazed. We were impressed with the efficiency and quality of everything on board Oceania; Rosenthal china, Christofle flatware and Rydel crystal in the small restaurants, and nice china and flatware in the others also. Easy and smooth trips to ports where tenders had to be used. Never more than a few minutes to wait in either direction.
I met people who sailed with Oceania many times, and I understand why so many cruisers are so enchanted and reserve a new itinerary for the following year as soon as they return from their trip.