Travel insights...

Posts tagged Oceania

Gerry Fox’s Top Bridge Tips

Gerry Fox, the coordinator of bridge activities for Oceania Cruises, is a bridge expert and has taught the game full-time for more than 40 years. He is an ACBL Diamond Life Master and the author of several books on the subject. Below, Gerry shares his expert insight on the game.
Majors are more important than minors. This is absolutely true in selecting a final contract; that is, during the captaincy phase of the auction. But, it is patently false when describing what your hand looks like. During description, all four suits are equal.
When answering 1C, it is better to skip over the diamonds to bid a major suit first. Not only does this violate descriptive integrity, it prevents the opener from drawing proper inferences. It is a short-cut to majors with no concern for showing the correct hand pattern. Moreover, it creates rebid problems for the opener that are easily avoided by bidding one-over-one. For example, suppose you hold  xx  KQJx  xx  AQxxx; if you open 1C, consider the situation when your partner responds either 1D, when it’s so easy to rebid 1H, or alternatively 1S, when it is hard to bid the hearts, since 2H would promise extra strength.
The 1C opener might have only a 3-card suit. True enough, but only in about 35% of all cases; 65% of time, the opener will hold four or more club cards. Why assume the worst, when the normal is more likely?
If you have to open a 3-card minor, choose the better one. Unfortunately, this creates as many problems for the diamond suit as now exist for the clubs. Most experts today agree that the only time to open a 3-card diamond suit is with two 4-card majors and just two clubs. This occurs on fewer than 4% of all diamond openers.
If you respond in a minor, you might “lose” a major-suit fit. This is just nonsense. We have so many conventional bids and balancing bids to cover these situations that you lose the suit only when the hand truly belongs to the opponents.
Stay tuned for more bridge tips on our blog and join Oceania Cruises on a bridge cruise in 2016!

Source: Oceania Cruise Line

Chef Kelly's Aquavit-Cured Salmon with Red Peppercorns

The tradition of curing salmon is an art form in the Baltic. This particular recipe is simple and easy to do at home. Given the price of gravlax, it can save you enough money to buy an extra bottle of Champagne to celebrate this holiday season with family and friends! 
½ cup sea salt
1 teaspoon crushed red peppercorns
½ cup brown sugar
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
1 pound salmon fillet, boned and trimmed
2 tablespoons aquavit
Mix together the salt, peppercorns, sugar and dill. Sprinkle half of the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap three times the size of the salmon. Sprinkle the salmon with aquavit.
Place the salmon, skin side down, on the curing mixture. Then cover the fish with the rest of the curing mixture. Wrap the fish tightly in the plastic wrap and place it on a plate. Cover with another plate, weighed down with 2 to 3 cans or bottles. Set the plate in the refrigerator. Turn the fish every 12 hours, draining off any brine that forms.
Depending on the thickness of the fish, it will be ready in 24 to 48 hours, although you can let it cure for up to 3 to 4 days. Unwrap the fish when you are ready to serve it and gently rinse off the cure.
To make your dish even more festive, serve with pumpernickel bread cut into holiday shapes using cookie cutters (snowflakes, gingerbread men, candy canes, etc.). You may also serve with sweet mustard on the side.

Source: Oceania Cruise Line

Savor Exquisite Wines with New OLife Choice

Calling all wine connoisseurs – the OLife has just become even better for you. Recently announced, our new and exciting OLife Choice* amenity package includes free unlimited Internet, plus your choice of either free shore excursions, a free House Select beverage package or free shipboard credit. The House Select beverage package includes unlimited Champagne, wine and beer with lunch and dinner.
Below is just a taste of the selection of excellent wines available with our House Select beverage package.
Bodegas Fillaboa Albariño | Rias Baixas, Spain
All wines produced by Fillaboa are made from the Albariño grape variety, a thick-skinned grape known for its rich variety of aromas – 16 different aromas have been scientifically recognized.
WINEMAKER’S NOTES:  Contains beautiful aromas of orange blossoms, green apples, freshly-cut pineapple and stone fruit. The Fillaboa Albariño is a crystalline, straw-colored yellow in appearance. Soft on the palate, this wine exhibits a well-balanced flavor profile that enhances its freshness and complexity.
PAIR WITH: Seafood, Asian fare or even salsa and chips. Enjoy it on its own as an apéritif, with tapas or with full-course meals of veal, chicken, ham, medium-bodied cheeses and an array of vegetable dishes.
Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon | Sonoma, California
Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is fermented in stainless steel and aged for 16 months in a combination of French and American oak.
WINEMAKER’S NOTES:  This California red offers compelling cherry, plum, cassis, black pepper, cedar, clove and cocoa character with a full body, silky texture, velvety tannins and a long, elegant finish.
PAIR WITH: Beef steak, Lamb chops
Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Port  
Vintage port runs like a continuous thread through most of Fonseca’s history. Since the emergence of vintage port as a great classic wine in the first half of the 19th century, Fonseca has been one of its most admired and consistent producers. The release of the legendary 1840, the first vintage port sold under the Fonseca name, marked the start of a steady stream of magnificent vintages which continues to this day.
WINEMAKER’S NOTES:  Fine deep color with brick-red edge. Good depth of nose; sweet and harmonious, some spirit on the nose with rich, soft touches of dark chocolate and cherry (cherry tomato). An elegant wine with fine structure and exciting hints of spice, mint and very focused fruit.
PAIR WITH: Chocolate fondant, caramelized custard, cheese
Cheers to living the OLife in 2016!
*See Terms & Conditions for complete details.
Source: Oceania Cruise Line


Fresh, flavorful ceviche tends to conjure the Caribbean and other sun-drenched tropical climates – rightly so, because the seafood is actually “cooked” in the acid of citrus fruit. Ceviche is often the perfect balance of hot and sweet, and this is a ceviche I created when sailing in the British Virgin Islands many years ago. Be sure that your seafood is very fresh, and always assemble this dish just before serving. You can find citrus-infused salts in most gourmet cooking shops and online.
8 ounces sea scallops, thinly sliced
8 ounces fresh shrimp, shelled, deveined and halved lengthwise
8 ounces sushi grade halibut or similar white fish
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 fresh serrano chili, stemmed, seeded and finely sliced into thin rings
1 cup English cucumber, seeded and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
1 cup jicama, peeled and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
¼ cup finely diced red onion
1 mango, peeled and brunoise (¼-inch diced)
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate seeds
18 cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, for garnish
Citrus-infused salt, for garnish
Serves 6
Place the scallops, shrimp and halibut in a 13-by-9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish. Pour the grapefruit and lime juice over the seafood. Cover and refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes until “cooked.” The seafood will change from translucent to opaque.
Transfer the seafood and juice to a medium bowl. Add the chili, cucumber, jicama, onion, mango, pomegranate seeds and cilantro. Stir to combine. Serve in a raised glass, such as a martini glass, garnished with lime wedges and a sprinkle of citrus-infused salt.
Enjoy a taste of the Caribbean until you travel there again!
Source: Oceania Cruise Line

Insider Tips from Platinum Oceania Club Members Nina and Ron Crawley

Platinum Oceania Club MembersNina and Ron Crawley

Oceania Cruises recently caught up with Platinum Oceania Club members Nina and Ron Crawley before they set off on a relaxing Caribbean voyage aboard Regatta. Sailing with Oceania Cruises since 2006, they’ve traveled everywhere from the Arctic Circle to New Zealand aboard our ships. The intimacy of the ships, the pampering and the friendliness on board keeps them coming back again and again.
Along the way, they’ve become a part of the Oceania Cruises family and shared their top tips and recommendations for guests new to Oceania Cruises.
Top Tips for New Oceania Cruises Guests
“Go to Team Trivia!” The Crawleys urge new guests to stop by Team Trivia to meet fellow guests and partake in friendly competition. “We love the challenge – and the Big O Points!” Nina said. “You get to know the cruise directors, which we love, and it’s especially good for people traveling alone.”
“Make your dining reservations in advance.” The couple encourages new guests to make sure they make dinner reservations in advance since prime times can fill up quickly. “Everything is delicious – you don’t want to miss out,” Ron said.
“Always pack fewer clothes than you think you need.” There are self-service launderettes available on board, as well as laundry and dry-cleaning services, which makes packing a breeze. “In fact, don’t bother to iron anything either, since it gets wrinkled in your suitcase – get it ironed on board,” Nina added.
“Wear comfortable shoes – and take adventurous shore excursions!” One of the Nina and Ron’s favorite shore excursions was – somewhat unexpectedly – a tubing and mud bath excursion they enjoyed in Dominica.
“Bring a good appetite!” The Crawleys love all of the cuisine on board, but their favorite restaurant is Red Ginger. Nina’s choice dish is the Lobster Pad Thai and Ron’s is the Miso-Glazed Sea Bass. Another all-time food favorite? The sticky buns at Terrace Café!
The Crawleys’ adventures continue next month aboard Insignia’s Indian Ocean Passage voyage, sailing from Cape Town to Singapore – they can’t wait for the pre-cruise safari they’ve booked. Be sure to say hello to Nina and Ron if you drop by Team Trivia!

Source: Oceania Cruise Line

Gerry Fox’s Top Bridge Tips: Part Three

Gerry Fox, the coordinator of bridge activities for Oceania Cruises, is a bridge expert and has taught the game full-time for more than 40 years. He is an ACBL Diamond Life Master and the author of several books on the subject. Last month, Gerry shared his best tips on the short club. Below, he shares his best tips on bidding up the ladder.
Up-the-ladder simply means that, during the descriptive phase of the auction, one should never skip over a 4-card suit, regardless of its quality, to get to a higher-ranking one. The only excuse for skipping a 4-card suit, then, is to get to a 5-card or longer suit.
The primary purpose of this strategy is to keep the bidding low, to facilitate finding a 4-4 fit in any suit, major or minor, and to minimize the chances of playing in a 4-3 fit. By going one-over-one, your partner can draw better inferences about your hand and will have fewer rebid problems.
The alternative strategy of skipping the minor to get to the major first uses up more bidding space and frequently creates a rebid problem for the opener. If the bidding starts 1C-1S,the opener cannot mention diamonds or hearts at the one level and requires extra strength to bid either one at the two level, which would be a reverse.
Some experts do recommend that the responder to 1C, holding four diamonds, four hearts, and 6-9 points, thus, basically a weak, one-bid hand, might prefer to respond 1H in this specific case. The fear is that over 1C-P-1D, the next opponent might bid 1S, and the heart suit could be lost. This, however, is an irrational fear, as the opener can always double to show hearts.

Source: Oceania Cruise Line

Exotic Asia: The Story Behind Incense

Exotic, sacred and laden with symbolic significance, incense seems to billow everywhere when traveling in Asia, whether it’s the streets of Bangkok and Mumbai or the temples of Rangoon, Kyoto and Java.
Burning incense has ancient roots in Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto and Taoism and has long been used in rituals across Asia. Rows of incense coils often hang from the ceiling in temples throughout China such as at the Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong, while it’s commonly placed in censers near the entrance of temples in Japan, like at Tokyo’s renowned Sensoji Temple. Though many types of incense and ways of using it have evolved over time, its powerful symbolism and significance have endured.
PurificationTypically composed of aromatic elements from herbs, flowers and other natural sources, the burning of incense is thought to not only symbolize the shedding of negative qualities to reveal the purity within, but the aroma itself is believed to purify the atmosphere and inspire the development of a pure mind. In Hinduism, the smoke that rises from the incense represents the clouded consciousness, thus the dissipation evokes the spiritual cleansing of the mind.
Devotion & Spiritual OfferingIn Buddhism, burning incense is considered a sacred offering and a way to honor Buddha. The act creates positive energy and a serene environment ideal for devotion, while also serving as a reminder that true virtue spreads in all directions. In Taoism and Hinduism, the rising smoke is thought to represent prayers rising up to the gods.
Healing Many types of incense such as sandalwood and frankincense give off scents that are soothing and create calming environments. Those practicing meditation often find it encourages a serene state of mind – one thought to be spiritually healing. Incense burning is also believed to help reduce stress and tension.
Experience the mystique and ancient traditions of Asia on an unforgettable voyage in 2016.  

Source: Oceania Cruise Line

Voyages of a Lifetime

Discover the world’s most fascinating ports of call and savor relaxing days at sea as you traverse oceans and continents. Explore the untamed African wilderness as well as the astonishing modern marvels of Asia, the Great Barrier Reef and tropical rainforests of Australia aboard these extraordinary voyages of a lifetime.

Atlantic Ocean Exploration
On this magnificent 26-day adventure from Bridgetown to Cape Town aboard Insignia, travel between two continents and visit unique and charming destinations often  overlooked on more accelerated voyages. Discover an intriguing past in the former penal colony of Devil’s Island, French Guiana, while the bustling streets of Cape Town in the shadow of Table Mountain are decidedly modern.
Old World Odyssey
Explore the rich past of the Orient and beyond on this unforgettable five-week voyage from Hong Kong to Istanbul aboard Nautica. Experience traditional life in Saigon, interacting with farmers in their lush rice fields and fishermen casting their nets. Delight in high tea at the Raffles Singapore, one of the world’s most famous hotels, with spectacular surroundings and gracious hospitality that has attracted the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Rudyard Kipling. Discover the ancient temples of Burma and India before continuing across the Arabian Sea to more Old World treasures.
Far East Traveler
Sailing to the Far East and beyond aboard Insignia, enjoy more than a month exploring majestic ports on the vast Pacific Ocean from Shanghai to Sydney. With an overnight stay in Tianjin, tour the city’s impressive museums and travel to Beijing to visit the Forbidden City. Navigate  the wildlife-rich, mangrove-lined waterways outside Muara to enjoy tea in the unique Water Village, a community built on stilts. Ascend to the summit of Mount Rokko via funicular for stunning views of Kyoto, Osaka Bay and the distant Awaji Island.
Spiritual Retreats
Let the spirit of discovery be your guide through an array of Asian destinations that will reset your inner balance as you sail from Bali to Singapore aboard Insignia. Contemplate the majesty of Bangkok’s Golden Buddha, which weighs an incredible five tons and dates back seven centuries. Dine on authentic Indonesian fare in a glorious 17th century Balinese temple. Learn about the history of Vietnamese Zen Buddhism at a monastery high atop Yen Tu Mountain outside Hanoi, and visit the oldest pagoda in Saigon, a haven of tranquility where Taoism and Confucianism merge with Buddhism.
With Oceania Cruises, embark on a true voyage of a lifetime and explore the world in the way you’ve always dreamed.

Source: Oceania Cruise Line

The Art of the Appetizer – Results Unveiled!

The votes are in, the ballots have been counted, and we have the winners for our Oceania Cruises “Favorite Appetizers.” Tantalize your taste buds and pique your appetite with these delicious appetizers. If you haven’t sampled them all yet, be sure to order them next time you’re on board!
In first place, we have a tie with two delectable dishes from Red Ginger and Jacques.

Avocado Lobster Salad

Escargots à la Bourguignonne

Avocado Lobster Salad (Red Ginger) – A salad of diced avocado, tuna and hamachi marinated with sesame seeds, shiso vinegar, yuzu juice and maldon salt, placed on top of a crispy lotus root and garnished with a slice of poached rock lobster tail. This dish is served with den miso sauce and garnished with affila cress.
A suggested wine pairing would be a white wine such as the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand.  The tropical fruits aromas add complexity to the dish, and the lemon zest notes pair with all of the seafood elements.
Escargots à la Bourguignonne (Jacques) –Tender, cooked escargots baked in their shell with a Burgundy  garlic herb butter and served with a crusty baguette, which is perfect to soak up the melted garlic herb butter.
A perfect match for this savory dish is the earthy Joseph Drouhin Pommard from Burgundy, France.
Appetizers from Toscana and Grand Dining Room were voted second and third on the poll. 

Carpaccio di Manzo

Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Roasted Cherry Tomato Aioli

Carpaccio di Manzo (Toscana) – A very thinly sliced raw beef tenderloin served with an olive oil and lemon emulsion with aged Parmigiano Reggiano, cracked black pepper, fleur de sel and garnished with baby arugula leaves.
The soft tannins and confined cherry aromas of Antinori Castello della Sala Pinot Nero IGT from Umbria, Italy is the perfect match for this exquisite dish.
Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Roasted Cherry Tomato Aioli (Grand Dining Room) – This soft-shell crab is dipped in a delightful tempura batter and then deep fried until golden and crispy. The dish is served with a roasted cherry tomato aioli – an emulsion of egg yolks, garlic, olive oil, lemon and roasted cherry tomatoes.
Our chefs recommend pairing this appetizer with a full-bodied chardonnay such as the Lincourt Vineyards Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills from Santa Barbara, California to balance the flavor with the acidity of the roasted tomatoes and the tempura. 
Source: Oceania Cruise Line

Guest Lecturer Post: Barbados – George Washington Slept Here

Guest lecturer Sandy Cares has been sharing her engaging lectures aboard Oceania Cruises voyages throughout the Caribbean and Central America since January 2014. Below, she shares an interesting slice of Barbadian history.
The gentle folks of Barbados wish more visitors from North America knew a juicy tidbit about their enchanting island. George Washington slept here.
In his entire life, the United States’ first president made only one voyage outside of the original colonies – and it was to Barbados!
The year was 1751 and a strapping 17-year-old George Washington accompanied his older half-brother, Lawrence, to Barbados, where the tropical air promised the hope of relief from a virulent case of tuberculosis.
Since the family that they had planned to stay with was quarantined against a tropical disease, the Washington brothers headed to the Garrison Savannah on the outskirts of town where they lodged at a British officer’s home, now known as Washington House.
 Barbadians like to point out that George Washington’s visits to sugar plantations opened his eyes to new farming techniques, and that their cosmopolitan capital city, Bridgetown afforded him his first-ever encounter with live theater. He even sampled “Forbidden Fruit,” a citrus bred in Barbados we call grapefruit. He did not dislike it.
Washington contracted smallpox in Barbados. An attentive physician brought him through it unscathed except for the telltale pocks that bedeviled his nose thereafter. Ironically, that setback immunized him so years later he was unfazed when smallpox coursed through the Continental Army. What serendipitous hand of fate may have dealt Barbados a part in shaping the fledgling nation of the United States!
Washington House is a gracious two-story Georgian estate with large, airy rooms upstairs converted into a museum.  The main floor features the bedrooms where Lawrence and George slept, travel trunks at the ready and curtains billowing lazily in the trade winds.
A long mahogany dining table, polished to a high gloss with orange rinds and beeswax is set lavishly for two dozen as if the family and guests are about to gather around at any moment.  The West Indies-style detached kitchen with its fireplace, kettles, bowls and water-filtering dripstone, belie an era long since vanished.
George Washington wrote in his journal that he found Barbados “ravishingly beautiful.”  The brothers parted ways at the end of their stay as George headed back to Virginia and Lawrence sailed on to Bermuda chasing yet another desperate hope of relief from his disease. 
Join Sandy’s lectures in the Caribbean this winter:
Source: Oceania Cruise Line