If there is one cruise line well known as the line for “foodies”, it’s Oceania Cruises. The line – which has only been sailing since 2002 – is often considered the line at the forefront of onboard cuisine development, with the line’s six intimate vessels offering some of the most varied and comprehensive dining options afloat.
We recently joined Oceania’s Insignia mid-way through its epic 180-night world cruise round-trip from Miami to see what the fuss was all about.
All produce and raw ingredients are sourced from suppliers and where possible direct from farmers to ensure they meet Oceania’s extremely high standards. From fresh Sturgeon caviar flown in from the Caspian region to prime Wagyu beef sourced directly from farmers in Maine, Oceania ensures the right products and produce are featured aboard its menus, a practice which has been key to Oceania retaining its very desirable reputation.
So focused is Oceania Cruises on ensuring the quality is meeting its expectations, the line has formed exclusive agreements with farmers, fishmongers and providores around the world to ensure they can continually supply their guests with the same consistent standard irrespective of where in the world they are sailing to or from.
These commitments are imperative as the line makes everything it serves onboard from raw ingredients, with no exceptions to this rule. This is apparent when freshly baked French baguettes appeared on our lunch table. Still warm to the touch, these pieces of fluffy goodness are made from ingredients imported from France. Our Oceania host proudly advises us to be careful as the baguettes are so moreish you can eat ten before you know it. Sadly for my waistline, she was right, however in true traditional French style, the bloating that generally accompanies such consumption of Australian bread does not eventuate.
This lack of any bloating feeling is appropriate as it relates to the line’s specially designed health conscious menu, developed in association with the famed American spa operator Canyon Ranch Spa Club. The clean living menu draws on inspiration from Canyon Ranch’s spa operations in the United States, with guests able to appreciate the gourmet meals on offer without the usual guilt associated with shipboard dining. This menu is designed to complement the contemporary international cuisine normally on offer, with guests able to pick and choose from both menus throughout their dining experiences.
Today, our selections stem from the traditional menu offering, with our multi-course meal entailing highlights such as “Fingerling Potato with Sturegeon Caviar Cream” and “A la Minute Poached Floating Island”.
Much like across the rest of the vessel, service is impeccable as our intimate group is attended to with every need and wish quickly and carefully satisfied. A special request from one of the guests to try the giant Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel that had been teasing us during the ordering phase is quickly prepared and dissected to our delight, with the crumbling Italian cheese providing many a delightful taste pop.
In a carefully orchestrated dance, our simple yet delicate starters are delivered with the Fingerling Potatoes providing a fluffy and light way to start the meal, with the Sturgeon caviar cream adding a creamy balance to the potato.
Moving forward to the next course, we were greeted with “Risotto All Aragosta”, a delightful traditional Maine Lobster risotto, with the Arborio rice cooked to perfection. The lobster itself was tasty without being overpowered by seasoning. Portion sizing was perfect, the course providing an enchanting way to wake up our appetites for the forthcoming main.
With the service being timed perfectly, a sufficient intermission was provided between the risotto and main to enjoy each course without the feeling that we were being force fed or rushed. Almost in sync with our hunger, our mains appeared with our “Wellington of Beef Tenderloin and Porcini Mushroom Stuffing” cooked perfectly to a rare-medium state while the pastry casing provided a crispy outer layer.
A selection of seasonal side vegetables accompanied the dish with a delightful horseradish cream providing a freshness to the dish. The portion sizing was perfect for such a comprehensive menu, with the sizing of the protein component giving the prefect ratio to the mushroom stuffing.
Upon completing our mains, we were happily met with dessert. The “A la Minute Poached Floating Island” was a perfect balance to a rather heavy main course. The light meringue sat perched in the sweet Pistachio Cream below it. Successfully, a dessert that could potentially induce a diabetic coma for the ages, Oceania had managed to avoid the sickly sweet feeling in which desserts can often result.
All in all, the food on offer accompanied by some of the finest service at sea, passengers aboard Oceania Insignia or any of the line’s other five ships, will certainly be happy with the food offerings onboard. Our only tip is make sure you pack your stretchy pants as by day two or three you will most likely need them!