If you appreciate great wines, the wines offered by most cruise lines can be a bit disappointing. Not so on the Oceania Marina. They have a great wine list with selections from the major wine regions of the world. Although not inexpensive, I found the wine markup to be reasonable, about what you would expect in restaurant in any major city.
Our first night on board, we dined at Jacques and ordered a Grand Cru Chablis for around $70, a fair price for a wine of that caliber.
Beverage Packages- Yes or No?
If you just want to drink wine by the glass, the beverage package may be a good way to go. But I found that most of the wines included in the package were not the ones I wanted to drink. Since my husband and I drink wine mainly at dinner, the bottle package was a better option for us. But if you like to spend time in the ships lounges and entertainment venues and enjoy a cocktail or scotch, the beverage package may make more sense for you.
Take Advantage of the Wine Bottle Package and Wine Sale
The way the wine bottle package works is you have to purchase 7 bottles for $42.50 per bottle from a limited list. I took a look at the list, but was not impressed with the selections. I had pretty much decided I would just order wine from the main list, as I went, but then I noticed an advertisement in the daily bulletin for a wine sale and I went upstairs to La Reserve to check it out. The wine sale was held on the first day of our cruise, which happened to be a sea day.
At the wine sale, the sommeliers pulled out wines of which they had only a few bottles left and offered them fro purchase as part of a 7-bottle wine package at a flat price of $42.50 per bottle. Many of the bottles available are worth much more, so if you know what you are doing, or were willing to take your sommelier's recommendations, you can end up with wonderful wines at a very reasonable price.
I was able to find some great values at the wine sale, and I highly recommend it. Not all of the staff working the room were knowledgeable though. I had one young woman insist to me that Cote Du Rhone was made from Pinot Noir grapes and that Valpolicella was from Tuscany, but she was the exception to the rule. Do get there early. We arrived about 45 minutes into the sale and many great bottles had already been snapped up by the time we arrived.
Sommeliers on Board
The sommeliers on board were generally good, although some were definitely better than others in terms of their knowledge and ability to make good recommendations. Once you have your wine package, you can ask the sommeliers for advice in any of the restaurants on board for how to best pair them up with the evening's menu.
The Oceania Marina offered several optional wine tastings for guests. We participated in two tastings which were led by the head sommelier on board. The tastings took about an hour and allowed guests to taste 5 wines along with cheese or canapes. The first tasting was $30 per person and included very high quality wines with cheese, along with an educational presentation. The second was a Premium Wine tasting for $100 per person and included high-priced prestige wines such as Brunello, Burgundy and vintage Champagne.
Both tastings were conducted by Marina's head sommelier and included an educational presentation about each wine and how to pair it. It was a worthwhile experience and I should mention the purpose was primarily educational. It was not a wine sales presentation at all. In fact, many of the wines presented at the tasting were not available for purchase on board.
Wine Dinner at La Reserve
We splurged on dinner at La Reserve one evening, the Wine Spectator restaurant onboard Oceania Marina. This was well worth it. Although all of the restaurants on board Marina made it feel like we were dining at a fine restaurant every night, this one was a step above. With a maximum capacity of 24 diners, and only 16 at our dinner, it felt intimate and special.
Our sommelier led us through a wonderful menu of six courses paired with wines from around the world and it was a wonderful experience. Specialty dining is included on Oceania Marina, except in La Reserve, which requires an additional fee. There are several menus to choose from. We chose the Discovery Menu which was $95 per person and well worth the price.
The Bottom Line: Oceania Delivers a Great Food and Wine Experience.
If pairing a fine meal with a quality bottle of wine is your idea of a perfect evening, you will enjoy Oceania. To learn more and plan your own vacation, contact me at 888-251-3096. To start planning your next cruise, set up a free Discovery Call with us by clicking the button below. We'll help you ge get the best value on your next cruise!
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