Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 404 out of 500
Accommodation: 153 out of 200
Food: 310 out of 400
Service: 295 out of 400
Entertainment: 74 out of 100
Cruise: 309 out of 400
Overall Score: 1545 out of 2000
Size: Small Ship
Cruise Line: Oceania Cruises
Former Names: Columbus 2, R One
IMO Number: 9156462
Builder: Chantiers de l’Atlantique
Original Cost: $150 million
Entered Service: Jul 1998/Apr 2014
Registry: Marshall Islands
Length (ft/m): 593.7/181.0
Beam (ft/m): 83.5/25.5
Draft (ft/m): 19.5/6.0
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (18,600kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 9
Total Crew: 386
Passengers (lower beds): 684
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 44.2
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 1.7
Cabins (total): 342
Size Range (sq ft/m): 145.3-968.7/13.5-90.0
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 232
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 3
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): No
Slot Machines: No
Swimming Pools: 1
Hot Tubs (on deck): 2 (+ 1 thalassotherapy tub)
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
This is a compact contemporary ship, good for worldwide cruising
Overview. This ship is suitable for couples who like good food and style, but want informality, and interesting itineraries at a price well below what the luxury ships charge. Oceania Cruises provides a high level of food and service in an informal setting that’s elegant yet comfortable and welcoming, with almost no announcements.
The Ship. Insignia was one of a series of almost identical ships built for the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises. The all-white ship has a large, square funnel, and a very pleasant lido and pool deck outdoors, with teak overlaid decking and high quality lounge chairs. In 2014, the ship underwent a refurbishment program that included the addition of Barista’s coffee bar (for illy coffees), installed completely new bathrooms for the Owner’s Suites and Vista Suites, and updated the decor in all other cabins. Also added were a miniature golf course, shuffleboard courts, and other deck games.
Although there’s no walk-around promenade deck outdoors, there is a jogging track around the perimeter of the swimming pool, and on the port and starboard side of a lower deck.
The interior decor is quite lovely, a throwback to the ship decor of the ocean liners of the 1920s and ’30s, with dark woods and warm colors, all in fine taste - though a bit ‘faux’ in places. This includes detailed ceiling cornices, both real and faux wrought-iron staircase balustrades, leather-paneled walls, trompe l’oeil ceilings, rich carpeting in hallways, and many other interesting expensive-looking decorative touches. The decor is reminiscent of an old-world country club.
The public rooms are spread over three decks. The reception hall has a staircase with an intricate wrought-iron balustrade, a scaled-down version of Titanic’s First-class staircase. A large Horizon Lounge is located high atop ship; it’s a long bar with forward ocean views (at least for the barman), lots of seating, and a dance floor.
There are plenty of bars - including one in each of the restaurant entrances. Perhaps the nicest is Martinis, a lovely room reminiscent of Europe’s grand hotels. It has an inviting marble fireplace, comfortable sofas, individual armchairs, and a dance floor.
The Library is a stunning Regency-style room, with a fireplace, a high, indented, trompe l’oeil ceiling, and an excellent selection of books, plus very comfortable wingback chairs with footstools, and sofas you could sleep on.
There may not be marble bathroom fittings, but the value for money is good. Note that a rather large 18 percent gratuity is added to bar purchases. The dress code is informal. Insignia started cruising again for Oceania Cruises in mid-April 2014 following a two-year charter to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises as Columbus 2.
Accommodation. There are nine cabin categories and price grades. The standard interior and outside-view cabins (the lowest four grades) are rather compact units - tight for two persons, particularly for longer cruises. They have twin beds or queen-size bed, with good under-bed storage areas, personal safe, vanity desk with large mirror, good closet and drawer space in rich, dark woods, 100 percent cotton bathrobe and towels, slippers, clothes brush, and shoehorn.
Suite occupants get Bulgari bathroom amenities and other goodies, complimentary shoeshine, and cashmere throw blanket, bottle of Champagne on arrival, hand-held hairdryer, and priority restaurant reservations.
Owner’s Suites (6). Measuring 968.7 sq ft (90 sq m), these are the most spacious accommodation. They are outstanding, decadent, and exclusive living spaces located aft overlooking the stern on Decks 6, 7, and 8. Each has extensive teak-floor private balconies that really are private and can’t be overlooked from the decks above. Each has an entrance foyer, living room, separate bedroom (the bed faces the sea, which can be seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass door), CD player, fully tiled bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, and a small guest bathroom.
Vista Suites (4). Measuring 785.7 sq ft (73 sq m), these are located forward on Decks 5 and 6. They have extensive teak-floor private balconies that can’t be overlooked from the decks above. The layout is similar to the Owner’s Suites except that there is no guest bathroom.
Penthouse Suites (52). These measure about 322.9 sq ft (30 sq m). They are not really suites, but large cabins because the bedrooms aren’t separate from the living areas. They have a good-size teak-floor balcony with sliding glass door (but with partial, and not full, balcony partitions) and teak deck furniture. The lounge area has a proper dining table and there is ample clothes storage space. The bathroom has a tub, shower enclosure, washbasin, and toilet.
Cabins with balcony. Cabins with private balconies (about 216 sq ft/20 sq m) comprise about two-thirds of all cabins. They have partial, not full, balcony partitions and sliding glass doors, and 14 cabins on Deck 6 have lifeboat-obstructed views and no balcony. The living area has a refrigerated minibar, lounge area with breakfast table, and a balcony with teak floor, two teak chairs, and a drinks table. The bathrooms, with tiled floors and plain walls, are compact, standard units, and include a shower stall with a strong, removable hand-held shower unit, hairdryer, toiletries storage shelves, and retractable clothesline.
Outside-view and interior cabins. These measure around 160-165 sq ft (14.8-15.3 sq m) and have twin beds (convertible to a queen-size bed), vanity desk, small sofa and coffee table, and bathroom with a shower enclosure with a strong, removable hand-held shower unit, hairdryer, toiletries storage shelves, retractable clothesline, washbasin, and toilet. Although they are not large, they are quite comfortable, with decent storage space.
Dining. Flexibility and choice are what the dining facilities are about. There are four restaurants:
The Grand Dining Room has around 320 seats and a raised central section. There are large ocean-view windows on three sides, with prime tables overlooking the stern. The chairs are comfortable and have armrests.
Toscana Italian Restaurant has 96 seats, windows along two sides, and a set menu.
Polo Grill has 98 seats, windows along two sides, and a set menu including prime steaks and seafood.
The Lido Café, a self-serve buffet venue, has both indoor and outdoor seating; it is open for breakfast, lunch, and casual dinners (including Tapas on the Terrace). It has a small pizzeria and grill.
All restaurants have open-seating dining, so you can dine when you want, with whom you wish. Reservations are needed in Toscana Restaurant and Polo Grill, where there are mostly tables for four or six; there are few tables for two. Unlike other same-size ships in the same class, there’s no extra charge. There is also a Poolside Grill outdoors. On days at sea, afternoon teatime is present in the Horizon Lounge, with formally dressed staff, cake display trolleys, and a selection of different teas.
Entertainment. The Insignia Lounge presents entertainment, lectures, and some social events. There is also live music in several bars and lounges.
Spa/Fitness. A Lido Deck has a swimming pool and good sunbathing space, plus a thalassotherapy tub. A jogging track encircles the swimming pool deck (one deck above). The uppermost outdoors deck includes a golf driving net and shuffleboard court. The Canyon Ranch SpaClub consists of a beauty salon, three treatment rooms, men’s and women’s changing rooms, steam room (but no sauna), and a good range of body treatments. Note that an 18 percent gratuity is added for spa and beauty treatments and services.