A voyage out on the ocean blue has always been right near the top of my bucket list. Friends’ photos and stories fuelled my longing to climb aboard a luxury liner and sail to wherever the ocean takes me. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard I would be taking my maiden voyage on the Oceania Nautica. Not only would I be living the ocean life, I’d also be sampling the Finest Cuisine at Sea. Seven days of luxury and endless fine-dining is what a foodie’s dreams are made of!
The Nautica is the embodiment of classic elegance. One of a fleet of 6 Oceania luxury liners with a capacity of 684 passengers. The grandeur of this plush 11 deck vessel was our new home on the waves.
Day one was a dream. My travel buddy, Allison Foat (Cape Town Diva), and I set sail from the Buffalo City en route to the Zulu Kingdom. Once we found our sea legs, we explored much of what the stately Nautica has to offer. Her grand staircase leads to many a culinary delight. Lunching at Waves on the pool deck and dining at sunset at Toscana. With classic cuisine served on Versace crockery, our first experience at Toscana was bellísima! A bread selection with olive oils from around the world followed by crispy calamari and a divinely fragrant seafood pasta.
Our second day on the waves brought many an adventure. Waking up to incredible ocean views and a knock on the door… French champagne and a lunch invitation from General Manager, Raffaele Cinque. The personal service on the Nautica really knows no bounds.
After a relaxed breakfast at Terrace Cafe and a stroll around the pool deck, we disembarked for a visit to the breathtaking Valley of a Thousand Hills and Phezulu Safari Park. After our first shore excursion, we were back on board to indulge in our best dining experience yet. Dinner at Polo Grill, the second of Nautica’s speciality restaurants, certainly lived up to being #TheFinestCuisineAtSea. Delicately plated beetroot carpaccio for starters and succulent lobster for mains. Our delicious dinner was followed by a performance by crooner Selim Kagee and some late night shopping. Truly a grand day at sea!It was plain sailing into day three as we docked in the picturesque Richard’s Bay harbour. The beautiful Mhlatuze River lagoon to one side and the bustle of the town to the other. With the African sun blazing, a lazy brunch at Waves was in order followed by some shenanigans up on Deck 10. Trying our hands at shuffleboard and miniature golf. We escaped the afternoon heat with an intimate performance by the Quadrivium String Quartet before dinner. It was back to Polo Grill for what I’d like to call my “All American Dinner”, Cobb Salad, Prime Rib and Key Lime Pie. Yet another Nautica Feast. Feeling satisfied and relaxed, it was off to bed as we journeyed up the coast to Mozambique. Crossing borders in our sleep and in the morning it was Olá Maputo!
Our Nautica journey was set to continue with a day of real exploration. Starting with breakfast in the glamorous Grand Dining Room with a view of the impressive Katembe Bridge. The humidity was another sign that we had docked in majestic Maputo. A guided walking tour awaited us which immersed us in the culture and history of Mozambique. From the Fortaleza de Maputo to the Central Market, we got a real taste of the city including Pastéis de Nata at the historic Central Railway Station – Estação Central dos Caminhos de Ferro.
Back on board we cooled down and indulged in a South African themed Chef’s Market Dinner. All our home-grown fare was on offer from biltong and springbok loin to melktert and malva pudding. After overindulging a little on these wonderfully prepared familiar dishes, we headed to the Nautica Lounge for an evening of laughs with the hysterical Paul Adams. It was eventually time to turn in for the ocean to rock us to sleep as we headed back to local waters.
Day five was our first of two “sea days”. No excursions, just us and the big blue for miles around. This meant we could sleep in and get the day going at our leisure. We spent most of the day getting to know the Nautica team. A beautiful “Tastes of the World” lunch with General Manager, Raffaele and Club Ambassador, Carol. Then on to a meet and great with Executive Chef Laurent Trias for an afternoon learning what it takes to deliver a culinary experience to the taste of the incredibly diverse group of guests on board. The evening was filled with a Showdown musical performance and a special thank you from Captain Dražen Tijan and the Nautica staff. The best service you’ll find at sea or on land. All in all, another memorable day at sea!
The next day was a rather grey one which left us feeling quite green. Four meter swells overnight pulled my sea legs right out from under me. Once we were feeling a little less wobbly it was time to try out more of Nautica’s culinary offerings. What else do you do when the weather isn’t in your favour? Breakfast in the Grand Dining Room, dinner in Toscana and then a nip around the ship for selfies with our favourite Nautica friends.
Our last day was one of swells and storms. Gale force winds in Cape Town made it impossible for us to dock and we were set off on a meander through the ocean til the early morning when we could safely disembark in the Mother City. In true foodie fashion, while we waited, we ate. Sampling more of the delicious offerings onboard. Finally finding the sushi I’d been after and some bubbly with Rafaelle, one of our favourites we missed the night before. That evening we dined with new friends both local and foreign and then packed our bags for our last few hours at sea.
As we disembarked in gloriously sunny Cape Town, we thought how lucky we were to be part of the last few passengers to experience the grand Nautica in its current form. A new era is on its way for the Nautica with the OceaniaNEXT transformation. All Regatta-Class ships are currently being re-inspired to elevate the Oceania experience to new levels. From inspired new culinary experiences and reimagined menus, guests will truly be able to savour The Finest Cuisine At Sea in real modern luxury.
Being back on dry land with memories of a wonderful week on the ocean, I often daydream about returning to explore more of this incredible service, destinations and of course the finest food. A huge thank you to Oceania. Til we set sail once more!