It seems that, almost overnight, the concept of “vacation” changed from one of relaxation, merriment, and luxury to an “experiential” adventure, often characterized by backbreaking physical work or a grueling life and death struggle. I’m sorry, but that sounds way too much like my daily life to be classified as an idyllic getaway.
And so I board Oceania Insignia with the hope that this 7-day “Mayan Mosaic” Western Caribbean sailing just might take me back to the way we used to vacation, before people started shaming us into believing that the only respectable holiday involves living in the wild, climbing Kilimanjaro, hiking the deserts of Jordan, or doing other stuff that involves schlepping a massive backpack and subsisting on beef jerky.
From the get-go, I knew I’d found what I was looking for.
With only 684 guests, embarkation isn’t a chaotic crush of thousands of roller bag-toting bodies but a seamless operation that, in minutes, has us up Insignia’s gangway and en route to our Concierge Class stateroom which, like all suites and staterooms aboard, shows the stunning results of a recent refurbishment. The experiential travelers can keep their sleeping bags and tents while I luxuriate in the Wedgwood blue and gray color scheme of stateroom 7031 with its Ultra Tranquility bed, fine linens, throw pillows, and gray tufted headboard.
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Shaded crystal globes illuminate gleaming silver hardware and an abstract maritime painting, while a bottle of champagne and two flutes rest on the table beside the plush loveseat near the sliding glass doors of a furnished veranda that, today, overlooks the PortMiami. In the small bathroom, Bulgari toiletries stand like little blue soldiers across the vanity. You sure won’t find them at any campsite at Kilimanjaro.
I dump my carry-on and am off to explore the ship. Insignia has a compact layout that is easy to navigate and quickly feels familiar. With four open-seating restaurants, eight bars and lounges (including a theater), a swimming pool, casino, library, fitness center, and spa divided among three of Insignia’s eleven decks (with some of the most popular public spaces flowing into each other), you simply cannot get lost aboard Insignia. Still, I find myself lingering in the elegant hallways, perhaps looking as though I’m uncertain of my direction. In truth, I’ve paused only to admire the plush new carpeting, wall moldings, framed artwork, and filigree staircases that surround me.
By Judi Cuervo
Photo: Oceania Cruises