Sail Date: February 2011
From the moment we boarded the Marina, we were treated to the finest of service that can be imagined. All of the staff on the ship have to be commended and the management to be congratulated for having put together such an outstanding ... Read More
From the moment we boarded the Marina, we were treated to the finest of service that can be imagined. All of the staff on the ship have to be commended and the management to be congratulated for having put together such an outstanding group. The food was superb in all of the venues. And we tried them all. The entertainment, headed by the Platters, was excellent. Music going all the time. The ship itself is outfitted beautifully and the cabin sizes are large and more than comfortable. Our travel agent was on the cruise. The things that she was able to do for us on the ship were simply amazing. Her ideas and contacts really put the trip "over the top." We're really looking forward to the inaugural cruise on the Riviera. Hopefully, it will be a repeat performance of excellence. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Overall the ship was new and attractive. The stewards, wait staff, and all crew members were extraordinarily friendly and helpful. The food was really wonderful, in all outlets...from the specialty dining rooms to the main dining room to ... Read More
Overall the ship was new and attractive. The stewards, wait staff, and all crew members were extraordinarily friendly and helpful. The food was really wonderful, in all outlets...from the specialty dining rooms to the main dining room to the casual deck breakfast and lunch spots. The Pastry chef is a genius!! The ship did make a lot of noise, especially at the back end of the Grand Dining Room. The two times we were seated there we could barely carry on a conversation without talking very loudly. The cabins were good, with comfortable beds and good lighting except over the dressing/makeup table, and with only one plug usable for a hair dryer. No plugs in the bathroom except for a shaver outlet! With the exception of transiting through the Panama Canal, most of the ports were pretty boring and the two tours we purchased were really bad. Didn't hear much good comment on the sightseeing tours and the Destination Services desk left much to be desired!!! Not very knowledgeable or helpful! Our big complaint was the "Concierge level" which we thought was a big rip off!! We had to seek out the concierge and the concierge lounge, which was not on our deck only to find that the "services" she was supposed to provide were at best, minimal. The library was very well stocked and a great spot on the ship as was the coffee bar. Also lots of nice little nooks on the decks to read quietly. Just wish they would do away with the feeling of various classes of the ship. Even had a special deck for Canyon Ranch participants. Really!! On most of the luxury ships I've sailed on every one is treated equally, this is not an Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Our personal observations from our 18 day cruise on Oceania's Marina inaugural voyage Miami to San Francisco February 2011. Ship-board public areas were beautifully appointed, interesting artwork abounds everywhere. Everything is ... Read More
Our personal observations from our 18 day cruise on Oceania's Marina inaugural voyage Miami to San Francisco February 2011. Ship-board public areas were beautifully appointed, interesting artwork abounds everywhere. Everything is brand spanking new. Antonio at the reception desk was especially helpful to us through out the cruise. Everyone on board, staff, crew, and fellow cruisers were very friendly, it was as if we knew them all our lives. The staterooms we saw and stayed in, were similar in shape and design. The designers utilized low maintenance materials for the cabinetry, lots of plastic laminates that look like dark wood grained surfaces. The bedding was so comfortable all we needed to do was look at it and fall asleep. Our bathroom was nicely done in real-marble as were all of the facilities on board. I wonder if there is any marble left in Italy after seeing this ship. There was a bathtub and a shower in all staterooms. We found them more than adequate for our needs. The shelving and draws were not deep enough to our liking. Folks 5 foot and under may have difficulty reaching the safe and top shelf of the cabinetry. The verandah is a great amenity and we used it frequently for reading and private sunbathing. The more luxurious suites with even larger accommodations have similar bright work and lots more space and amenities even on their verandahs. Some even had walk-in closets. Ours was a bit smaller but adequate. The food presentation, service and quality are more than magnificent. The cooking classes by CIA chef Kelly and foodie entertainment by the executive chefs Franeck and Wolfgang all exceeded our expectations. The specialty restaurants have menus that draw you back for more and more. We ate in Tuscano four evenings, as it was our favorite. Besides having a menu for the main courses they offered an olive oil and balsamic vinegar menu from the various regions of Italy. We also dined at Red Ginger and Jacques which were equally exquisite. Meat eaters love Polo and the huge prime ribs offered there. These specialty restaurants were not extra expense. It was just a matter of making an advance reservation. Getting a walk in was almost impossible. The wine selection would be hard to beat. I think we had the best wine parings for every meal. On other evenings we ate frequently at the Terrace just to pick and choose this and that out in the open air. It was of no use as we each gained ten pounds on the trip even with regular trips to the fitness center and working out. Our favorite hang out in between activities was at the Barista's for the best coffee and friendly company. All the folks we met on the Cruise Critic Roll Call were wonderful new friends once we met face to face on at the meet and greet the beginning of the cruise. All our excursions were really fine. We used Lee Miles, Rosie's Tours and Rica Surf, & Super Shuttle in addition to the ship tours. I think we made new lasting friends from our experience. I think it would be hard to replicate the experiences we had on this cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2011
Oceania MARINA Inaugural Cruise Feb. 8 -26, 2011 Miami to San FranciscoOften the anticipation of a trip is a good part the enjoyment. In our case, we did extensive "homework" on MARINA, and can report back that the cruise ... Read More
Oceania MARINA Inaugural Cruise Feb. 8 -26, 2011 Miami to San FranciscoOften the anticipation of a trip is a good part the enjoyment. In our case, we did extensive "homework" on MARINA, and can report back that the cruise far outweighed any anticipation of it. Our Marina adventure was an excellent experience.On February 8th, after meeting several interesting and friendly cruise mates in the Port of Miami terminal, boarding went smoothly and we were soon having lunch at TERRACES. The buffet was stunning, with many choices, and so tastefully displayed. It was difficult to choose from the varied selections. However, choose we did, and we enjoyed our lunch on the open fantail, on a sunny Miami day. When our penthouse stateroom was ready, we ventured to #11001. We had had some concerns over its location, right behind the bridge, but that proved no problem on this trip. The stateroom was attractively appointed, with a large bathroom, walk-in closet, side reading area, and good-sized balcony. The welcoming bottle of sparkling wine was cooling, and there was a tray of welcoming treats on the table. Storage space was ample, not only in the huge closet, but all throughout the cabin. It was obvious that much thought had gone into the design. The stateroom was well-lit , and the room size was comfortable.Our butler, Ravi, came to introduce himself, as did our cabin attendant, Carolina. Both would prove to be friendly, courteous, and very helpful during this cruise. After unpacking, we began our exploration of Marina.We had previously cruised on Regatta and Nautica, and were concerned that the small ship tone would be lost on a ship double the size; however, this proved not to be the case. Somehow MARINA kept the intimacy and warmth that we enjoyed on the R ships, and this is due to a large part by the excellent staff that we encountered onboard.Wandering around the ship, we noticed many clever nooks and crannies where one could curl up and read, or chat, have a coffee, or just sit and watch the scenery. We were always coming upon a new spot, and saw that other passengers sought them out, too.Barista's was a treat not found on the R ships. We wish it could be transferred to them, and bring along Matteo who concocted such delicious coffees and biscotti.The library was interestingly constructed, and seemed a maze at first; however, the comfortable chairs and wide selection of books made it a favorite of many.The new cooking school and artist's loft were a welcome addition, particularly the photography courses that were offered by Curtis Hustace. We especially enjoyed the two new specialty restaurants that have been added: Red Ginger and Jacques. We had several chances to eat at both of them, and cannot say enough about the quality and presentation of food, especially in Red Ginger. The menu there was unique, and well-received. We saw passengers who stated that they never enjoyed Asian cuisine wolfing down the lobster PadThai and sole tempura, much to their surprise. I particularly enjoyed the Tom Kha Gai, a coconut/chicken/lemongrass soup (divine!) Elegant touches such as the tea menu (awesome selections of fragrant and unusual teas served in clear glass individual teapots,) and a chopstick selection were brilliant ideas. And, the place settings, glassware, decorative artwork and wonderful ambience made Red Ginger a favorite with many folks on this cruise.The dEcor in Jacques was country French, and the menu had lovely pates, as well as a notable duck cassoulet. Not to be missed was the sole Grenobloise. It was Dover sole in a lemon/caper sauce. Delightful!Toscana and Polo were certainly up to their usual high standards as well. The Grand Dining room proved to have not only an impressive setting, but excellent cuisine as well. Terraces, though,really shined, whether it was the breakfast or lunch buffet, or when it became TAPAS at night. Their menus were mind-boggling and so tasty. And kudus to the Oceania bakery: the best baguettes outside France, not to mention the multitude of other delightful pastries that graced menus and trolleys in Horizons.. One comment about the Marina staff: they were superb representatives of the line. Everyone, no matter where you encountered them, was polite and friendly, without appearing to be forced. They just seemed to be a happy staff, intent on making the passengers feel relaxed and content. We were surprised to be recognized by several staff members from previous cruises. It was nice to be remembered! The Concierge Lounge was located on deck 11, and we made good use of it. It appeared to be quite popular, especially during the day. Hot tea/coffee/ cappuccino, snacks, sodas, water, etc. were available, as was a television, magazines, computers, etc., and of course, a concierge. Oceania's policy of providing complimentary soda, water, coffees, and teas was appreciated.Shopping was quite a bit more extensive than on the R ships. Jewelry, cosmetics, clothing, etc, were of very high quality and there was a good selection of items.The cruise director was Leslie Jon, an energetic, approachable fellow who we felt did a very good job. We'd like to see him again on future cruises.Early in the cruise a large group from Cruise Critic got together for a meet and greet in Horizons. It was fun to put faces to those screen names, and to make some new friends.Reading this so far, it appears that we have no criticisms. Wrong. No ship is perfect, but Marina comes close. The suggestions we will note here are given ONLY in hopes of the management reading them, and considering some changes. Nothing was of a crucial nature. Just thoughts that could make an already outstanding experience even better: --adding a magnifying mirror in the bathroom (hey, women need these for makeup) and more outlets, please! --install a reading light in the penthouses over the loveseat (the only light is from the window and isn't enough)---rethink the amount of furniture in the penthouse suites; perhaps eliminate the coffee table/chair arrangement; or move the table at the foot of the bed nearer to the loveseat and eliminate those square half-chairs---allow passengers to use the Canyon Ranch Spa deck for the Panama Canal crossing day; many passengers were crammed on the upper decks while the spa deck was virtually empty--perhaps in RIVIERA, consider making the bathrooms smaller in the penthouses, and eliminate the tub entirely, or make it a tub/shower combination with a half-glass door; most passengers we spoke with would rather have the additional room added to the stateroom. Yes, this is a major redesign, but the tubs don't seem to be that utilized, especially with older folks who may fear getting in and out of them safely. We heard several people mention that they used the tub only to hang personal laundry.--consider changing the decorative curtain in the PH suites to a real curtain so that the loveseat/desk area can be shut off from the bed area. If it closed entirely, one could read while the other slept.---perhaps adding some additional prime time tv series, perhaps "Law and Order," "Bones," "NCIS," especially on the longer cruises, and please please put back on the JACQUES PEPIN cooking episodes. They were wonderful!Excursions: we took two Oceania excursions, one in Cartagena and the other in PuntaArenas. Both were satisfactory, if pricey. In Acapulco, we took a private tour with other CC members, and in Los Angeles we arranged for the SuperShuttle to pick us up at the port and drop us at the Getty, where we spent several hours. They then picked us up for return to the ship.When we arrived in Los Angeles, many tour agents came aboard to become acquainted with Marina. We saw Mr. Del Rio several times, and were impressed with his close attention to even the smallest details. While we did not have the opportunity to speak with him personally, we did get the feeling that he and his staff are very open to passenger opinions, both pro and con, about Marina, Riviera, and the R ships; hence the comments found in the paragraphs above.One thing that Mr. Del Rio has said is that Oceania budgets more for food than any other cruise line. As he put it, "Some spend money on stage shows and dancing girls. We put it on the plate. The food IS the show, and the dining experience IS the entertainment." We couldn't agree more.Disembarkation in San Francisco went smoothly, and our luggage was easily found on the pier. We used the SuperShuttle again for transport to SFO.Others have gone into detail about Marina's pool areas, entertainment, Canyon Ranch spa, etc. We take Oceania cruises because we very much enjoy our stateroom "home away from home," and the wonderful pampering we receive from the caring staff. The port-intensive itineraries are another reason, not to mention the excellent cuisine . We never expected to call ourselves "cruisers," but with Oceania, we are greatly enjoying this luxurious lifestyle at sea, and have already booked O cruises for December 2011 and April 2012. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
First off - it is a beautiful boat - the public areas are gorgeous - as usual the cabin staff and wait staff are exceptional. The food is amazing, - even though we are not foodies. The four special restaurants are top class - we ... Read More
First off - it is a beautiful boat - the public areas are gorgeous - as usual the cabin staff and wait staff are exceptional. The food is amazing, - even though we are not foodies. The four special restaurants are top class - we enjoyed the main dining room which is a lovely room - big and light and airy. We enjoyed the dining in the terrace - especially outside. The waitstaff there are so nice and really take care of you. The cabins are very comfortable - the bathrooms are much bigger than in the R boats, have a bath tub - which didn't do anything for us - we didn't use it. The shower seemed to be about the same size as on the R boats (small). Usual Oceania issues - Internet and excursions ridiculously expensive! Entertainment limited (difficult to bring in really good entertainers with only 1200 people paying the freight.) Senior staff somewhat "aloof" Getting off in Miami was a nightmare - we were held "hostage" for about an hour - no idea why - no proper explanation. Oceania really upset their clients - especially us - we missed our flight back to California and had to standby all day to finally get out at 8pm - getting home about 1.30am! Overall the cruise was great - pity about the end - we left the ship mad! Lymebdr Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
The Marina is a wonderful ship - attention to detail is amazing along with the craftsmanship. The food, as usual for Oceania is first class - and the staff in the restaurants are so nice. The trip through the Panama Canal is something that ... Read More
The Marina is a wonderful ship - attention to detail is amazing along with the craftsmanship. The food, as usual for Oceania is first class - and the staff in the restaurants are so nice. The trip through the Panama Canal is something that everyone should do once in a lifetime - it was worth it, even though the previous ports in Mexico were not outstanding for us.The cabin staff, again as usual, were fabulous - they could not do enough for us and kept trying to make sure that everything was OK.Of course, there were a few nits - but they are the usual Oceania, - Internet cost, expensive tours, so-so entertainment.We met a lot of nice people, and enjoyed the dining experience with different folks most of the time.Terrace cafe is our favorite, next the main dining room. The speciality restaurants were fine.We arrived in Miami with instructions to get out of our cabins by 8am and be off the boat starting at 8.30am - then we were all held hostage for about an hour. (Does anyone know why??) We missed our flight back to California - needless to say we were not happy. Disappointing first outing on Marina. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
As experienced cruisers, we enjoyed many aspects of our first Oceania cruise on the Marina in March, 2011. The food, the service, and the decor of the ship are much as described by other travellers. We were surprised to enjoy the nightly ... Read More
As experienced cruisers, we enjoyed many aspects of our first Oceania cruise on the Marina in March, 2011. The food, the service, and the decor of the ship are much as described by other travellers. We were surprised to enjoy the nightly entertainment as much and even more than many other, larger ships we've sailed on. The ports were fantastic, although we booked almost everything independently due to the limitations and the cost of the offerings of the ship. We would like to advise that cabin 9005, a concierge-level cabin, was extremely noisy at night with so many thumps, bumps, crashes and jolts that we finally had to move to another cabin on a lower floor. The seas were not exceptionally rough and certainly we have been in a variety of weather in our nearly 20 cruises, but we suspect that since cabins are put into a ship, during construction, as a whole unit, there must be something structurally lacking in 9005. We had never experienced anything like it and sleep was out of the question. We made our concerns known after the first night and happened to hear someone from another deck, voicing the same complaint to the registration desk -- the noises and jolts were enough to bring one up out of bed! We were all met with limited concern and the advice that if it happened again, we should call the desk right then and there. Not particulary reassuring. The second night we experienced an identical problem, called the registration desk at midnight, were met with casual concern but persisted, and were finally successful in getting moved on the third day. Our new stateroom did not have any of those sound and movement issues. Despite the luxury of the ship and its many good points, the rooms are not that well constructed, with chips in the "wood" of the closets and cupboards already (our cruise was in the second month of Marina's existence), bathroom tiles that let water seep through the grout of the floors and walls (noticed that in both staterooms and our room steward said it was a problem ship-wide), and flimsy walls that do nothing to keep the next room's conversations inside that room -- especially if you happen to be in a stateroom that could be an adjoining room. The closets rattled, the showers have been discussed enough already, and the balcony doors did not always open easily or close completely, despite a lot of effort. We especially wanted to warn people away from choosing cabin 9005. We enjoyed the rest of our cruise, but the construction issues are probably enough for us to avoid taking another chance on Marina. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Having made all our own flight and hotel arrangements (we stayed one night at the excellent Gritti Palace Hotel in Venice before embarking the ship), my comments are all about Marina and the cruise.We travelled with friends from home who ... Read More
Having made all our own flight and hotel arrangements (we stayed one night at the excellent Gritti Palace Hotel in Venice before embarking the ship), my comments are all about Marina and the cruise.We travelled with friends from home who had never cruised before. Fortunately they were delighted with the experience. The service on board Marina was outstanding - probably the best I have encountered on some 40 or more cruises spanning the last 30+ years. The food was also consistently excellent.The itinerary was good, although port-intensive. This suited our 'newcomer' friends. At most ports we arranged our own sightseeing (this is a part of the world I am quite familiar with) but we did take organised shore excursions at Monemvasia (to see Mystras) and Kusadasi (to visit Didyma and Miletus). Both were excellent with good local guides - important when visiting ancient sites. Good weather throughout (apart from a rainy day in Kotor Fjord) also helped. The Eastern Mediterranean in Spring is breathtakingly beautiful with carpets of wild flowers everywhere. Also the Summer crowds were yet to arrive. Daytime temperatures hovering around 20 degrees (68degF) were perfect for walking and sightseeing.To return to the ship. There are serious design faults. We had cabins on Deck 11 designated 'Penthouse Suites' at the PH1 grade. When we walked into our cabin I wondered why it was so dark (the day outside in Venice being brilliantly sunny). The reason became clear when I opened the balcony door. There is an enormous overhang (I estimate about 20 feet wide) which runs all around the deck caused by Deck 12 above (the pool deck) being so much wider. The ship's architect has made a big mistake in siting the best cabins on Deck 11 rather than lower down on the ship. I would recommend readers to avoid this deck at all costs and go for a cheaper cabin. Sunlight does not fall on the Deck 11 balconies other than in the very early morning or late evening. Incidentally, the balconies are not teak (as trumpeted in the brochure) but a rather unpleasant laminate designed to look like teak!The other mistakes are in the design and location of two of the bars. The 'Grand Bar' - located by the main dining room - is just a wide corridor with chairs and tables either side. People pass through in constant procession and I cannot imagine wanting to sit there (though a few did). It is utterly devoid of atmosphere. The adjacent bar 'Martinis' is ruined by being very dark and having windows which overlook the lifeboats! This leaves only one nice bar - 'Horizons' - up on Deck 15 forward. This is a lovely room for drinks before or after dinner and where the best afternoon tea afloat was served daily at 4pm. However, the bar is not open during the day for lunchtime drinks! Also the furniture is over-large which makes for difficult ease of movement by passengers and stewards alike. This could be rectified by removing 10% of the tables and chairs.The pool deck is lovely and properly finished in teak, but other outside decks either have that nasty faux teak laminate (like the cabin balconies) or a blue rubberised flooring. A great mistake. Both are unbearably hot to the feet on sunny days. This could be put right at a future refit.Turning now to the restaurants, we ate in Toscana (Italian), Jacques (French) and the Grand Dining Room. None of us are big eaters of red meat so we eschewed the Polo Grill, and we could not get a sensible dining time in Red Ginger (Asian) so we did not bother. The Dining Room, Toscana and Jacques were excellent. The food and service were of the highest standard. Menus were wide and varied and international in appeal. Service was seamless, attentive and friendly without being over-familiar. The crew were immaculately groomed and could have graced any hotel or restaurant on land, however grand.Breakfast and lunch in the Terrace Cafe was also most enjoyable and rarely did we have any difficulty finding a table. On most days we had breakfast or lunch (or both) outdoors on the Terrace Cafe verandah.We had a 'butler' but really did not need him. The restaurants on board are so lovely that I cannot imagine wanting to eat meals in the cabin (unless you are ill, which we fortunately were not), and over-elaborate 'canapes' seem to be unnecessary and difficult to fit in between the excellent tea and dinner. We just needed our 'butler' to bring early morning tea, and glasses and ice for drinks before dinner - which he did perfectly!We went to one 'production show' after dinner in the Marina Lounge but it was so amateurish and bad that we all got the giggles and had to leave! Thereafter we made our own entertainment. The lack of good organised entertainment does not bother us.So, all in all, apart from the design faults (which will be difficult for Oceania to do anything about), we were well satisfied. The passenger profile is still predominantly American, but Oceania are starting to realise the danger of being over-reliant on one market (remember the impact on the travel industry post '9/11') and are now marketing their cruises more widely in Europe, Asia and Australia.I shall be happy to return to this ship. But not to Deck 11. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
The public areas in the ship are beautiful. We particularly enjoyed the bar with the pianist (Mario, I think). All the dining rooms are beautiful. The dEcor in the rooms is beautiful. The main beds are very comfortable (but not the ... Read More
The public areas in the ship are beautiful. We particularly enjoyed the bar with the pianist (Mario, I think). All the dining rooms are beautiful. The dEcor in the rooms is beautiful. The main beds are very comfortable (but not the pull out couch).The ship is very stable.Ports were fabulous. Particularly Monemvasia, a pleasant surprise since the ship didn't hype it very much. It was probably the best stop.Library and workout room fabulous.Solid winelists. Great that ship is mostly non-smoking.Overall, the cruise was very nice.Cabins: The separate tub and shower makes for a very small shower.We don't use tubs and the shower was very small for a large man. The closet was too small for all our clothes and difficult to reach the far end of it near the bedside table. One of our suitcases didn't fit under the bed and we didn't realize until the cruise was over that we could have asked our attendant to store it. In the shower, we don't like rainshower heads. The holder for the handheld shower head is at your waist so you can't use that as your showerhead. Some men used the handheld shower head in the tub.Our 2 attendants did a marvelous job. However, friends of ours complained that their room was not ready at 6:30 p.m. and the attendant was rude. There was nail polish on the tub that was not removed. And the door to the balcony didn't work. There is only one electrical plug by the TV. Bring an extension cord.Laundry: great self-service laundry but 45 minutes is not enough time on high heat to get all the clothes dry. $2 per wash and dry., each. Grand Dining Room service was erratic. We had a wonderful lunch there when it was nearly empty; great service and food. We had a horrible dinner where it took 3 hours to get our meal start to finish, food was overcooked, and the waiters didn't pay attention to empty water glasses, etc. Outdoor Grill: same thing with service. Generally very good, but once it took 45 minutes to get a sandwich. We think they forgot us. Definitely some training and experience needed for the staff as this is a new ship.Quality of food overall was equal to Regent and slightly better than Celebrity. But the specialty French restaurant on our last Celebrity cruise was better than all of your specialty restaurants, including La Reserve. There were highlights but everything was not consistently outstanding. Service in the specialty restaurants was excellent in all cases.Room Service: On Regent, the Grand Dining Room menu was available for that night's room service during dining room hours. I'd like to see this added. And a few more appetizer options. Room service menu is quite limited.Tenders: Being a new ship, they don't have the tender process perfected.Last day in Mykonos, everyone waited 45 minutes to get off the ship which annoyed everyone. Not a pleasant way to end a luxury cruise.Entertainment: The auditorium is awful. You cannot see over the heads of people in front of you. Entertainment was only so-so. Best entertainment on the ship was in the bars.Shopping: Ridiculously limited and outrageously expensive. The only shops were high priced jewelry and boutique. On Regent, they brought in special vendors on different days. There was nothing reasonably priced on the ship and we didn't want to spend out time in port shopping. On Regent, we bought a black pearl and diamond pendant after a pearl presentation. They had sales on Regent branded goods the last few days at sea. And they had high end costume jewelry and a gold by the inch sale. Marina needs to add things like this. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2011
We wanted to visit several Scandanavian countries and taking the Baltic and Viking cruises on Oceania allowed this to be possible. Flights and transfers were included and without issues. Embarcation was quick and easy. We found service ... Read More
We wanted to visit several Scandanavian countries and taking the Baltic and Viking cruises on Oceania allowed this to be possible. Flights and transfers were included and without issues. Embarcation was quick and easy. We found service to be excellent both with room stewards and dining room staff.The nearly new Marina was everything promised. We had great weather and smooth sailing. Most ports were great. It was fun to visit more out of the way places, like small towns in Iceland and Visby, Sweden. We avoided the overpriced shore excursions, except the train in Flam, Norway, which is difficult to book on your own. We used in St. Petersburg, which provided an excellent two day tour at half the price. Oceania was great about providing local experts, city maps, and free shuttles to town to allow us to tour independently in all other stops.The high point of Oceania is the dining experience. We were able to book specialty restaurants for 19 of the nights, although the grand dining room was quite good as well. I liked the filet mignon at Toscana, the desserts at Jacques, appetizers at Red Ginger, and prime rib at Polo Grill. I am more of a beef eater, but my travelling companion has dined at some of the fine restaurants in Napa, such as the French Laundry, and he said the sea bass and trout were on a par with these. We went to the Terrace and Waves when there was no other option, and found them to be fine, but informal. One tip is to order the shakes and malts with double ice cream, which is made on board, if you like them thick. I gained 10 pounds and am starting my diet.For entertainment, if you keep in mind that this is a midsized ship with food as a focus, you will not be disappointed. The eight singers and dancers were fine, with some stand out performances. The magic act and pianist were fun to watch. This is not Broadway, but a nice way to wrap up the day.Due to the cost of two cruises together, we opted for an inside stateroom, which was very adequate, and especially nice in the land of the midnight sun. One suggestion is to put signs in each foyer to make it easier to locate odd and even hallways. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2011
I have been asked by several Oceania board regulars to post a cruise review regarding my June 11 Marina Baltic cruise. I have sailed three times since Fall 2008 on the "R" ships, and I was very happy with my first cruise on this ... Read More
I have been asked by several Oceania board regulars to post a cruise review regarding my June 11 Marina Baltic cruise. I have sailed three times since Fall 2008 on the "R" ships, and I was very happy with my first cruise on this lovely newbuild. Embarkation. Smooth, fast and efficient. As our Copenhagen taxi rolled up to the narrow quay around 3:30 PM, the driver popped the trunk, and while we still were paying our fare, two men in clean white overalls pulled our bags out the car and directed us to a manned table under the covered awning in front of the ship; we stated our names, and then were directed up the gangway to be escorted to a waiting area. We were intercepted in the central lobby and taken directly to the Marina Lounge to check-in, while I gasped at my first glimpses of the stunning Lalique staircase. We had our photos taken, were presented with our Oceania cards and went off to our cabin, Oceanview C Cabin 7069, where we left our carry-on bags and went aft and up for our late lunch before the 4 PM closing of the Terrace Cafe. First impression: beautiful cabin hallways, nice classy wood and brass touches outside each cabin entrance. Our luggage was waiting for us by the door after we finished lunch, and I just had time to unpack before our 5:45 muster drill (postponed for some reason from the announced 5:15 PM). Cabin. Location: Great location, front mid-ships (always chosen due to my squeamish stomach), close to the staircases: one floor down to Martinis and the Grand Dining Room on deck 6, and two floors down to the Reception Desk, Marina Lounge, Jacques and Red Ginger on deck 5. Also for all of our ports, the exit gangway always was on Deck 5 across from Reception and near the local destination experts desks for us to grab local maps on our way out for the day. Furnishings and DEcor: Restful colors, fantastically comfortable beds, a lot of lighting options, small bed lamps you can beam to read in bed, nice lighting all around the mirror hanging above the desk for make-up help, extra desk lamp, stable and comfortable desk chair, closets mysteriously placed about 15 inches from my side of the bed and only 2/3 of the size on the "R" ships (double rather than triple doors) requiring a bit of jockeying when we both were using them around the same time, safe placed ridiculously too high for many to reach within its depths, desk drawer space too shallow for useful clothing storage, and magnificent bathroom. That bathtub (yes, we also never used it) really used up a lot of cabin space that I would have preferred space. We travel with only one 25" suitcase each, and barely unloaded their contents both in the drawer and closet space available, so I cannot imagine where those who bring more placed their clothes. On the other hand, I adored everything else about the new larger bathroom with granite countertops, quite a lovely upgrade from "R" ships. The rainhead shower was a wonderful luxury - I had no problem ducking my head to apply shampoo and conditioner while keeping the water on - and combined with the spray from the wand, all my showers were heavenly decadence. It was a big step down to return to our regular showerhead at home. And last but not least, the floor to ceiling room windows were lovely, although I stupidly was surprised that there was a large metal bar running down the middle of this grand window. A cabin on the starboard always works well for us in ports, and it did so again on this trip. The many layers of curtains did an excellent job of blocking the almost continuous daylight on our Baltic cruise, and due to the cool temperatures, I did not miss having a balcony for even one minute. Public Spaces. Two words: simply stunning. Also supplying a very spacious and elegant feel. The best part was that although the ship is so much bigger than the "R" ships, I never felt that way onboard because the design spread people out beautifully. We never felt crowded anywhere. I thought the Marina Lounge was comfortable, with a lot of nice legroom (although I would have liked more depth to the seat cushions) and the sightlines were fine; IMO a big improvement over the "R" ships. I never missed a chance to descend the Lalique staircase when going from my cabin on deck 7 to deck 5, even though I had to detour from the regular staircase when I got to 6. I thought the dEcor and layout of the Grand Dining Room was lovely, with much more privacy for the tables. I loved the lobster-style chandeliers in the Terrace Cafe. I enjoyed the quiet Sanctuary to the side of the pool deck on the day that became our sea day when we missed Visby due to rough seas. The pool is much bigger, enough to swim laps in it, as one gentleman did daily, but unfortunately I never even dipped my toe in because of the cool Baltic breezes and temperatures. The artwork was very contemporary, and some need better lighting, but I did discover some Miro's in the short hall leading to the Casino bar. I also love blown glass so got to enjoy it in many of the public venues. The furniture both in Horizons and Martinis is too low to the ground; Martinis chairs were too deep for comfort as well, strange choices for these two popular spots which makes one wonder who tried these furnishings out!Food. Food remains a superior product on Marina, and I enjoyed trying many of the new Marina offerings, including many recommended to me by Jim: lobster thermidor at Jacques, calamari and the duck and watermelon salad at Red Ginger. Because my spouse does not eat seafood, we never dined at the Terrace Cafe in the evening, but I stopped once for the grilled lobster tails and grilled shrimp before our GDR meal, and can attest that these foods are a wonderful addition. I also tried the amazing lobster and filet "sandwich" with truffles on the fries in the late afternoon at Waves twice, and it was a delight. The new system of someone taking your order and then bringing it over to you is an excellent improvement, particularly because we only ate there immediately after a full day of sightseeing when spouse did not want to stop for a lunch break. We also went twice to afternoon tea on this trip, and the scones with jam and clotted cream are even better than ever. We drink a lot of iced tea, which always tastes freshly brewed.Specialty Restaurants: Jacques, which we booked for my "significant" birthday dinner, is a stand-out in terms of the complete package of excellent food (great sauces and flavors) and excellent service, a perfectly-paced and presented meal, the best meal I ever have had on a ship, rivaling the top NYC restaurants I have enjoyed. Red Ginger also has excellent service and the dEcor is stunning. The chopsticks and tea offerings were a delight. We thought the appetizers, salad and desserts were top-notch and very creative but that the main dishes were a bit bland for those of us who favor a bit of pizzazz in our Asian food. A quick shout-out to charming Bodi from Bali, the perfect server for this restaurant; I will never forget this gracious caring man. Polo Grill retains its excellent food billing, with me still loving the prime rib and Gerry inhaling the superb Porterhouse but IMO the service needs a tad of improvement, probably due to a lot of new young staff. Toscana: the special pasta with mushrooms and truffles is a dish worthy of mentioning over and over but our meal was spoiled by our server from South America who apparently believes that women are to be seen and not heard. Fortunately, my husband dealt with the situation calmly and completely, and we left as soon as possible, having our dessert in the GDR. I have written about this event elsewhere on the Oceania board and now have put it behind me. Grand Dining Room: Our dinners in the Grand Dining Room were enhanced by the beauty of this room; the first time I entered, I actually stopped in awe to ogle as we were escorted to our table. One of the captains recognized us from a prior cruise, and it was nice to revive the connection, one of the things harder to do on this larger ship with a lot of new staff. The portion sizes are great for those of us ordering several courses, the food was very good, the appetizers offered often interesting, and the service more than adequate for the most part. The ethnic offerings, particularly the Asian ones, are appreciated. We enjoyed dining there so much that this year, for the first time in my four Oceania cruises, I never tried to return to any of the specialty dining venues, letting our one meal at each stand out alone in my memory.Terrace Cafe: Breakfasts in the Terrace Cafe were excellent as usual, with three omelette makers every day, so short lines and little waiting. On Marina, the fabulous sticky buns were available every day, so tasty that I had to switch my allegiance and carbs to them from my usual daily chocolate croissant! The staff did a great job handling the rush for our Berlin and St. Petersburg days. Kudos to friendly Anique from Brazil, who always had a smile and a special spirit when we encountered her serving here and in the GDR in the evenings.Serving Staff: We encountered a lot of staff still needing training, particularly in the Grand Dining Room. Many of the sommeliers working in various venues are too inexperienced to be working alone, and other staff needs to work on their English skills or summon someone whose English is more advanced to help. We had several incidents where there was a clear language barrier in the GDR. Also, any bottle of wine not finished is stored with your room number to be retrieved at another meal, a plus for us because I drink little wine (preferring to eat rather than drink my calories!), but my husband enjoys a nice bottle. Unfortunately, on this trip, the wine staff lost a very expensive bottle ordered in Polo and only half-finished. The GDR sommelier made a hash of this incident by insisting for more than an hour that it would be found; she finally conceded it was lost and gone forever when Gerry almost was finished with his steak, too late for us to order another. How dumb was that? (Gerry kept joking how come they never lost a cheap bottle all these years, but only the three-figure one I urged him to enjoy in Polo!) Regardless of these service issues, we never had to wait for a table, which was a problem on our Regatta cruise last year, a clear improvement in our opinion. Also, when eating with others in the GDR, the meals still were served promptly; on prior cruises, the larger the party, the longer it took to dine, and we did not find this to occur on this cruise, so kudos to Oceania to cleaning up this annoying problem.Shipboard Daytime Activities. We are intense sightseers so we did not participate in many daytime activities on board. But Enrichment Lecturer Terry Bishop, a British expat now living in Andalucia, was a wonderful speaker, imparting a lot of information with a large dose of humor, an engaging combination. I attended and enjoyed all five of his lectures on the Vikings, Napoleon's General Bernadotte (who became King of Sweden), Waterloo, Songs of the Sea, and the Last Tsar of Russia. With humor, song and lovely, fun Power Point presentations, it was a delight and truly enhanced our cruise.Gerry and I enjoy team trivia and played a couple of times in the afternoon and the evening but frankly found it not as fun as on past cruises because everyone from the entertainment staff leading it to the other participants simply were too intense for us. Especially at the Martinis trivia in the evening, I feel it should be a bit of fun. Absolutely none of the trivia on this cruise included any music. We both know a lot of trivia and won a lot of points playing, but we want to have fun and joke around a bit during these events (without revealing any answers), but could not do so with this lot. I guess that brings me to my opinion of the entertainment staff. David Shermet does a great morning show, with a lot of useful information, and seems like a very nice guy, but he and all of his staff simply seemed too forced, not very engaging. I missed Leslie, Ian and others from our prior cruises who exude true joie d'vive. Entertainment. I am delighted to report that the entertainment at the evening show in the Marina Lounge exhibited a vast improvement over our prior cruise. Clearly, Oceania has put some thought and money into what many considered its biggest weakness, and that has paid off. The group of four singers and four dancers who performed for us three times was enthusiastic with a nice stage presence, with one of the men exhibiting an absolutely fabulous voice. We also enjoyed the talented Polish classical pianist, whose comments and program were very engaging, as well as the Polish gypsy violinist, who entertained us on a prior cruise. A nice addition was British magician and his dancer wife, Dez and Cherry, who were so charming, amusing and just plain fun in both their shows. We also enjoyed the string quartet who played at tea and around mealtimes.Destination Services. We did not take any of the ship's excursions because we prefer to tour independently and not be bused around on the schedule of the slowest of 35 people. However, at every port, Oceania had a local tourism person on board for the first few hours after arrival, and that person provided excellent maps, which I always obtained and were very useful (I am a happy map enthusiast, the more detailed the better!), and also sightseeing advice and directions to local transportation for those who needed it . I organized a group of 16 from our roll call to go to Berlin from Warnemunde with SPB-Tours and used them for a tour for four for our two days in St. Petersburg and highly recommend their excellent services to you all. For the rest of the ports, Rick Steves' Scandinavia (and Eastern Europe for Gdansk) guidebook, plus the excellent advice provided by you on these boards, worked great for us.We really appreciated the shuttles provided by either Oceania or the port authorities in Ronne, Gdynia (for Gdansk), Tallinn, and Helsinki, all of which we used. The one-page Port Guides on a separate sheet provided in your Currents daily newsletter by Destination Services needs to be reviewed because serious misinformation is included, such as that Riga is located 2-1/2 miles from the cruise pier (really only an easy 10-minute walk) and that Estonia has its own currency (it switched to the Euro on January 1).Reception. A super bunch of people, very friendly and helpful, particularly Thomas from Germany. He was very patient with me when I was angered by the broken hairdryer in our cabin which I discovered when my hair was soaking wet at 11:15 PM the first night, and when I had to call several times to get the closet door fixed so that the stupid automatic light did not shine in my eyes when the electric contact was not engaging on nights 1 and 2 onboard. Shout out to Marlon from The Philippines who fixed this annoyance. Fellow Passengers. Perhaps because there were many alumni groups on board, or perhaps because we were cruising the Baltics, the average passenger age on this cruise was much older than on our Mediterranean cruises. They also dressed up a lot more, with about 1/3 of the men wearing jackets and ties to dinner. (Gerry no longer brings even a jacket on these cruises.) I just celebrated a significant birthday, but we certainly were at the younger end of the demographic onboard! About 1/3 of the passengers were previous Oceania cruisers. Although an older crowd, people were having fun and very active. I was able to meet many of the people from our roll call early in the cruise. Yorkiemom (Judy) organized a Meet and Greet cocktail hour right after our Muster Drill in Horizons, which was a lovely way to put faces to many of the names, and Oceania served some nice munchies to the group gratis, a very nice touch. Sixteen from our roll call traveled to Berlin the next day for an excellent SPB-Tour that I organized, so with five+ hours on the bus to and from, friendships were forged. What an educated, friendly and good group with which to enjoy this amazing city and the rest of the cruise. We dined with several couples we met through our roll call and would be happy to cruise with them again.Disembarkation. We had pre-ordered a taxi for 9:15 AM for our arrival in Stockholm and left our cabin before 8 AM to enjoy our final breakfast in the Terrace Cafe. We disembarked around 8:45 AM, and joined the large crowd in the terminal seeking their luggage. The taxi arrived right on time, just a few short minutes after picked up some maps from the tourist information people in the terminal, retrieved our luggage and went outside, where there was a huge line of passengers waiting for taxis. Thanks to Al Fresco and others on the Baltic board, I knew that few taxis come out to Frihamnen port, so I was very glad to cut through this tremendous line and set out for our four wonderful days in lovely Stockholm at the Sheraton. BTW, thanks to Paulchili for this excellent hotel recommendation. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
This was our first Oceania cruise. We were treated like royalty from the moment we boarded. Our Penthouse 3 was as delightful as advertised. Only problem was "their" hairdryer didn't stay in the plug, but I had my own, so no ... Read More
This was our first Oceania cruise. We were treated like royalty from the moment we boarded. Our Penthouse 3 was as delightful as advertised. Only problem was "their" hairdryer didn't stay in the plug, but I had my own, so no problem. The bed was so heavenly, we are actively seeking where to buy one. The bathrooms are outstanding with actual storage for your "stuff." We were on Deck 10. Other reviewers have mentioned an issue with Deck 11 due to the overhang above it, and I agree. I would not book Deck 11 on Marina or the new Riveria. I had thought I wouldn't like having a butler - wrong! Bosco was terrific. He saw to it that we ate in the specialty dining venues as many times as we wanted. All were great, but I think we liked Toscano best. We took advantage of both "La Reserve" and "Privee." At $75 each, La Reserve is well worth it, both for the wines and the superb food. Privee, though pricey, is so over-the-top that a special occasion may warrant the $1000 for 8 that it costs. An additional 2 dinners were extra special for us: dinner with the captain one night, and with several of the performers another night. Without question, the personal attention of the crew was what made this cruise. The ship is gorgeous - tasteful but not ostentatious - but the attention to detail is what put it into the 6 star category for us. We opted for the ship's shore excursions, simply because we didn't know enough to make our own arrangements. Though pricey, we felt they were pretty good overall. Thanks to amazing weather, we were able to enjoy every excursion thoroughly. Kudos to the entertainment team. The 4 dancers were skilled, but also delightful performers and really fun to get to know off stage as well. The singers were all quite good, especially Heather and the operatic Chris. "Con Molto" was the best show, by far. We spent a week in England before the cruise and a couple of days after, highlighting cathedrals and the historic area around Sailsbury, Portsmouth and Canterbury. I used Tripadvisor to find all our boutique hotels and inns and was completely pleased. Renting a car is an experience. Driving on the left side is not an easy transition! I think we'll hire a driver next time :) We are in our mid-late 60's, and were fairly young for this cruise, or so it felt. Not many young people overall. Though we still work, most folks we met were retired. We did make some wonderful new friends - always a bonus. The "country club casual" dress code seems to have given way to a dressier look in the evenings for most women, and a high number of jackets for the men. Luggage arrived promptly and there was ample space to stow tons of clothes. We took advantage of the self-service laundry twice - very easy. Embarkation and disembarking was a snap. Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend Marina. Just wish Oceania would go the "all-inclusive" route. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
This was our first cruise with Oceania and we were very impressed. In particular, the food was several notches above any previous cruise we have taken. All four alternate restaurants were fantastic. We also enjoyed La Reserve, which is not ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Oceania and we were very impressed. In particular, the food was several notches above any previous cruise we have taken. All four alternate restaurants were fantastic. We also enjoyed La Reserve, which is not to be missed ! The Terrace Cafe is beyond belief. It is set up like a wonderful restaurant and not as a cafeteria. The food is outstanding and one would not be wrong to eat every meal here. Fabulous choices each meal. The main dining room is OK, but the choices are somewhat limited with some weird concoctions. We only ate two of our dinners there, since all the other restaurants were so fabulous. No extra charges except for the special Wine and Food at "La Reserve" The PH3 cabin we had was great. Feels like a 5 star European hotel room. Wonderful marble bathrooms and beds that are beyond belief. I have a serious problem with beds as I get backaches every night. Even at home, I have not found a bed to solve this problem. Well, I slept like a baby all 12 nights and never had a backache. I would give anything to have brought that bed home with me ! Makes other cruise lines feel like you are sleeping on a cot. The entire ship feels more like a hotel than a ship. Quality everywhere. The crew was outstanding and so was the entertainment. Every show, either production or outside entertainers was first class. The thing that impresses right off the bat is that nobody is trying to sell you anything. No photos, ( never had our picture taken once ), no soda specials and water charges, no hawking of boutique wares in the corridors, etc. The lack of formal nights is wonderful. Country club casual is the attire, but you do see many woman dressed up and even some gentlement in tuxes, but if you just want to wear a shirt and slacks, no problem. Everyone complied with the dress code. Even the internet worked very well. Our embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly. Our cabin came with a Butler, who seemed to know exactly what we wanted and when we wanted it. He was everywhere, but was not obtrusive at all. Port tours were OK, but nothing different than any other cruise line. They all use the same outside vendors. The port tours are more expensive than some other cruise line charge, but they were very well organized. We did miss two ports due to weather, the sea swells being too much for the tenders to safely operate. However, Oceania cruises are very port intensive and missing these two actually were enjoyable to a degree to have some more cruising time. All in all, a very impressive and enjoyable cruise. While on board, we booked another cruise for April, 2012. Highly recommend doing this as you get an additional 5% discount for booking on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We booked this cruise primarily to relax and enjoy good food. We were not disappointed. The cabin was very comfortable; good bed; balcony. The bathroom was ok, but the shower was rather small. The tub takes much space and was unneccessary ... Read More
We booked this cruise primarily to relax and enjoy good food. We were not disappointed. The cabin was very comfortable; good bed; balcony. The bathroom was ok, but the shower was rather small. The tub takes much space and was unneccessary for us. The food in all restaurants (4 speciality restaurants, dining room, terrace cafe, wave grill) was excellent; the best we ever had on a cruise. While non-alcoholic beverages are free, alcohol is rather expensive. The staff was friendly and helpful. We did not book any shore excursions due to their high price level. Two ports were cancelled due to bad weather conditions. We recommend this ship to anyone who likes good food and a comfortable cabin. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Having read much about Oceania's newest ship, we decided to see for ourselves, and a cruise from dover, around the edges of the Bay of Biscay, seemed an ideal opportunity, visiting ports we knew well from land-based travel. ... Read More
Having read much about Oceania's newest ship, we decided to see for ourselves, and a cruise from dover, around the edges of the Bay of Biscay, seemed an ideal opportunity, visiting ports we knew well from land-based travel. Embarkation was swift and efficient, but rather disconcertingly we did not have to produce any ID until we were aboard the ship. We found our way to our cabin, wondering why there was no "welcome aboard" glass of fizz, and found ourselves in a delightful, elegant balcony cabin, with wonderfully comfortable bed, beautiful bed linen, comfy sofa and marble bathroom , complete with both showere and tub. Storage was not the best feature,as drawers were shallow, and wardrobe awkwardly placed alongside the bed. for a cruise line selling itself as 5* we were surprised to find no bottle of champagne on ice, basket of fruit or flowers, but the minibar wa stocked with soft drinks and bottled waters, which were replaced daily, and a plate of fruit was soon delivered, on request. The ship has wonderful decor,with a fabulous Laligue stairway, lalique vases and tables in bays off the main lobby, and delightful abstract sculptures in hallways and landings. The main dining room , large, well lit and airy, has an incredible central crystal chandelier, and touches of classy elegance abound throughout all loung areas. The large lounge areas had delightful sofas, comfortable chairs and love seats, softly lit by elegant crystal lamps Dining is a main event on Marina, with a choice of 7 dining venues which incur no extra charge, from the Grand Dining room, a grill and roomy Terrace cafe, serving huge choices of wonderful quality food, to 4 themed speciality restaurants, of which we liked the more atmospheric Asian -fusion Red Ginger the best. Each restaurant had its own chefs, and offered varied quality menus, and a reasonably efficient level of good service from teams of friendly waiters. If celebrating a special occasion, or as a treat, Marina offers wonderful tasting menus in La Reserve, a joint venture with Wine Spectator at a cost of $75, which we thought amazing, with dishes comparable to any Michelin restaurant in London. The one negative aspect to Marina is the low standard of entertainment, with shows delivered by an enthusiastic small team, doing their best with poor costumes and staging in a dull, low-ceiling-ed show lounge, which had absolutely no wow factor, no glitz, and was not very comfortable. the same entertainment team also organised the daily deck activities, tasks they did with good humour and good organisation. Alternative shows were offered by a poor comedian and a mediocre magician. Enrichment lectures, were often port lectures under another name, with, disappointingly, no well-known guest speakers, which we had hoped for on a ship of this calibre. A lovely library kept many passengers happy, with its club atmosphere, comfortable leather chairs, and huge choice of books, and it was a delight to find a busy coffee bar next door, offering lattes, cappuccino and juices. The nearby Internet centre was little used, due to the high cost Deck areas were lovely, with a decent size pool, two hot tubs, excellent sunbeds and curved rattan loungers, all laid with snowy towels. Atop the ship is a delightful, wide, forward facing Horizons lounge, with small dance floor, and ample seating, served by a busy bar, the place to which many passengers gravitated pre and post dinner, with live music provided for those wishing to dance. Also facing forward is an incredible, spacious spa, with many treatments on offer, gorgeous relaxing areas, including one outside, complete with hot tub, and well trained, discrete staff. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Everything about this trip was outstanding. From the moment we landed at Heathrow things started rolling smoothly. We were driven the The Millennium Mayfair Hotel in a chauffer driven limo. Our hotel was very comfortable & wonderfully ... Read More
Everything about this trip was outstanding. From the moment we landed at Heathrow things started rolling smoothly. We were driven the The Millennium Mayfair Hotel in a chauffer driven limo. Our hotel was very comfortable & wonderfully located. All pre-cruise arrangements were made by Oceania. They did a fine job!!! The Mariner is a beautiful ship. The cabins are well appointed, roomy in fact, with plenty of storage space. The bathroom is large, with a shower that could be larger & an unnecessary tub. The shampoo, lotions, etc. are of excellent quality & beautifully presented. All of the public areas on Marina are attractive & comfortable. The Library is quiet, comfortable & very well stocked. All of the dining venues are attractive. I think the the weakest link in the operation is The Main Dining Room. They seem to get overwhelmed. I must admit that when I complained, the matter was given immediate attention. I think that the staff really wants to excell. The Terrace Cafe was wonderful as were all of the speciality restaurants. We enjoyed the evening entertainment - both speciality acts & production shows. I think that the ship tours are very pricey. We got together with some CC folks on our thread & did 2 tours for less than half the price. Our ports of call were every interesting & not too crowded. The weather prevented us from going into 2 ports. The sea days were welcome & the staff adjusted very quickly to a totally new schedule. Well done!!!!! We met some very nice folks, had a lot of fun, won $ on the penny slots & look forward to cruising again with Oceania.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Oceania's new Marina is a fine addition to its small fleet. The enhancements are impressive; two new dining concepts, spacious bathtubs, an excellent performance space, bigger pool, wonderful artworks and a culinary school set it ... Read More
Oceania's new Marina is a fine addition to its small fleet. The enhancements are impressive; two new dining concepts, spacious bathtubs, an excellent performance space, bigger pool, wonderful artworks and a culinary school set it apart from its smaller siblings. But not everything has gone to plan.For example, the library area borrowed from the smaller ships has been split into a new reading area and coffee bar and neither work.But what Marina gains in the excellence of its facilities, it loses in hospitality and service excellence. It accommodates almost twice as many passengers as its other ships and this seemed to me to be the source of its problems. The pinch points that all cruise ships encounter as passengers congregate was never an issue on Insignia. It's a major problem on Marina. We never had to queue on Insignia. On Marina queuing was the norm for the Terrace Cafe breakfast, Grand Dining Room dinner and tendering.Transporting 650 passengers by tender or bus was largely hassle-free on Insignia but seemed a huge logistical issue on Marina. The tenders themselves are badly cramped and ill-designed. On Insignia there was a constant relay of tenders but on Marina the policy seemed to be to fill a tender to capacity and only then, send out another. Port side buses were the same. Passenger queues just to board the infrequent buses at the container ports sometimes took an hour. In time, Oceania may find itself squeezed. It is pretty dismissive of independent travellers in terms of convenience and meaningful information. And at the same time, punishing those wishing to book excursions with excessive pricing. An Oceania excursion around Guernsey costs $100. A local bus costs just £1.Oceania also seems to be playing a dangerous game in its literal descripton of destinations. Dover is described as London; Bordeaux is Le Verdon - 100 km away.Passengers become irritated on realising they are stranded a distance from their perceived port of call. Sometimes disembarking did not take place until 11am and naturally pre-booked excursions had priority. Therefore independent travellers sometimes did not get off the ship until an hour later, constricting time at the destination.In most instances the ports were not attractive harbours. They were featureless container/car ferry ports with little appeal. Perhaps the smaller Oceania ships can access more attractive ports more easily for either docking or fast tendering.The result of all these compounded frustrations seemed to generate a general exasperation amongst passengers, which in turn affected the crew who seemed lacking in confidence. Each was comfortable in their own narrow sphere of work, but could not respond to issues outside their responsibility.In the smaller Oceania ships there was a real sense of community, amongst both crew and passengers. On Marina this was not apparent and relationships that would naturally develop, were absent.Marina is therefore an unbalanced ship. It is much improved and more elegant than its smaller siblings but nothing like as satisfying. My advice would be to stick to those smaller vessels until Marina is able to redress its service delivery. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
This may be a different style review. Our main point is to start by saying that we had a very good time and enjoyed the company of our friends and some unexpected surprises discovering old friends among those on the cruise. We however were ... Read More
This may be a different style review. Our main point is to start by saying that we had a very good time and enjoyed the company of our friends and some unexpected surprises discovering old friends among those on the cruise. We however were underwhelmed by this new ship and I really doubt we will ever book it again. We much preferred our previous three Oceania cruises on their smaller ships. So this is really a review of the ship more than that of the cruise which we fully enjoyed. The Marina is from beginning to end a design disappointment when you think the design team would have learned what it takes to improve things. This is just a minor list of disappointments: 1. Not enough elevators, to small for 1,200 people, long waits, every elevator has floor arrived at in different location. Only two elevators on back of the ship where everyone goes up and down to eat. Remember these are very heavy Senior and many disabled touring, one wheel chair and the elevator is taken. 2. The Library is the worst example of design failure. The smaller ships have great library where one could go and relax. This maze is crowed, poorly lit, and clearly an afterthought. (This leads to the question, where when its cold outside and you must remain inside the ship do you relax outside your stateroom? No single chair offered, and there are not many, is at all comfortable to sit and read for any length of time.) 3. Dinning: The food was okay, not up to standards of previous voyages especially in the terrace at lunch time. Breakfast in main dining room was the worst. But the big problem is to many people on small ship. The tables in all the restaurants, especially main dining room and terrace are placed so close together that one has a hard time getting up and returning to table. Several days at lunch NO tables were even available for the four of us to sit together. 4. Entertainment: How is it possible that Oceania can't get any entertainment worth watching. New theater is improvement. But if you compare to Celebrity for example... well Oceania get an F. They need to get inventive as more people attended history lectures than entertainment, which only plays once at 9:45. As to television the flat screen is poorly placed on wall and does not rotate. They do not offer CNN. Broadcasts are not in wide screen or in HD so quality of movies is poor to awful. 5. Shore Excursions: Book your own. Oceania's web page is a confusing. The confirm you, then say tour is canceled and refund your money. Then you find it was not canceled. Then no one can answer a question or return a phone call. And then at the last minute they offer the tour anyway. Three credit card charges, refunds later. Their large bus tours lack any local flavor and are far to expensive. We booked most tours independently and say far more at far less money. In Belfast we had a great tour with 20 Cruise Critic members for only $75 a couple, including admissions. The bargain of any tour compared to lessor tour on Oceania which would have cost over $300. 6. The crew: You always want to route for the crew. And this crew does a good job. But most told us they did not like working the ship and wanted to return to smaller ship where they could get to know passengers easier. I have no complains but do wish their was a way to enjoy better relationships with individual crew members. They all seemed so busy and rushed. 7. Specialty restaurants: Most were good and we enjoyed them. However, we had situation in Toscana where we had to ask were our main course was. We were told the order was lost and our meal would take an hour longer. The waiter took all the blame but we were surprised no one from the restaurant came by to say anything or offer any compensation (a bottle of wine or maybe a return visit). 8. Value: Really the bottom line is that Oceania has just gotten to expensive for what it is offering. We took a cruise along the coast of Norway two years ago on Celebrity's Century (just refurbished) and yes they have fixed dinner times, and dress up nights and all. But it cost, including air, some $6,000 less. For a room equally as good. One has to ask if Oceania is really worth it? At least on the Marina. 9. Luggage: Lastly when Oceania took one of our bags to dock upon departure they broke the pull handle on the bag. So far no one has responded to my request for payment. We had to buy a replacement bag while in London. (I found it interesting that they never gave us the someone knew what they had done but thought they would just slip it buy.) 10. Cabin: My wife did not like the overhead shower head. Or why so much space was used for a bath tub when it could have been used in the stateroom. The closet is in a strange space where two people can not stand in front of it at the same time, nor get out of bed on that side. 11. Laundry: This one they got very right. Coin Laundry is found on each deck. We used several time and no one else was using it. Also the ships laundry is very good and fairly priced. Overall we took this cruise because of our previous like of Oceania and the destinations. We were lucky on weather and really enjoyed all of the places we visited. Don't get my tell it like it is ship review convey the feeling that we did not have a good time, as we did enjoy the experience and all. Its just that in this competitive world others can offer the same or better for far less money. Our suggestion is to avoid the Marina and stick with one of the three remaining older ships. (And one further observation. We felt very young at 66 among the Marina's passengers and although I am happy to see those many years more senior traveling I would prefer a wider range of ages on board. I suggest you not consider if you taking children. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We took the Voyage of the Vikings that started on July 1st in Copenhagen and ended in Dover, England on July 15th. My wife and myself liked our cabin on deck nine concierge level 4. The cabin was large enough for us and had a nice balcony. ... Read More
We took the Voyage of the Vikings that started on July 1st in Copenhagen and ended in Dover, England on July 15th. My wife and myself liked our cabin on deck nine concierge level 4. The cabin was large enough for us and had a nice balcony. My only criticism about the cabin is that the shower was a little too tight for me, I'm 6'2"; I wish that they could have eliminated the bathtub, which we didn't use, and made the shower larger. We really liked the food; the best we have experienced on a cruise ship, and we have taken 16 cruises on various lines. The specialty restaurants were excellent and the service generally very good. We found the buffet to be way above average for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The dining room was also excellent. The lectures we attended were well done and the photography class was excellent. The cruise itself was very good with the ports interesting and the shore excursions generally were very good. The weather improved as the cruise continued which made the short excursions more enjoyable from Iceland onwards. Some criticisms: the embarkation was disorganized and we ended up having to take our large bags into the reception area when they should have been collected before we went in. The shuttle service at two of the ports, Reykjavik and Dublin, was poor because of the long waits for the buses. Overall, a very good cruise and we plan to cruise again next year with Oceania on the twin to the Marina, the Rivera. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2011
Oceania's Route of The Vikings—July 1-15 The good news—Marina is a pretty ship. Our room, a penthouse suite, was great. Lots of room,walk in closet,well laid out, good bathroom. Hard to beat. Our butler, ... Read More
Oceania's Route of The Vikings—July 1-15 The good news—Marina is a pretty ship. Our room, a penthouse suite, was great. Lots of room,walk in closet,well laid out, good bathroom. Hard to beat. Our butler, Ghosh, was fantastic. He took good care of us as as we did of him. Now dear Cruise Criticer, comes the bad news. How bad is the news? Let me count some of the problems. 1-Food-Lame. Runs from adequate to unacceptable. The food on Regatta some years ago was far better. A company extolling its food in its brochures comes up very short. To wit: A veal chop in Toscana is very fatty. The chef said come back I'll take care of you. We came back. All he could do was cut the fat, half the chop, out. We did not order it. Toscana was saved for us by the Maitre' D, Giuseppe, who gave us the best dishes available. 2-Restaurant staff, though extremely nice, are novices for the most part making service slow and choppy. The few professionals on board are frustrated and burned out. 3-Polo Lounge. Filet Mignon ordered sliced came back cut width wise. A novel approach that can only be learned at Mc Donalds. Terrible strip steak which is overcooked. Never heard of a steak house that did not have a NY sirloin. I have now. We did not return to Polo. 4-Red Ginger-Beautiful restaurant with bad food. Stick with the Sushi. Unlike the meats the sushi quality was fine. 5-Jacques- Best of a poor group. The cassoulet, though strange, was good. All else adequate. 6- Main dining room was adequate. They try but service is poor because of lack of training. Maitr' D's try very hard but it is a Sisyphisean job. 7-All the restaurants put things on the menu that are not there. Order Udon noodles one gets spaghetti, Coquille St. Jacque brings you scallops and potato in a butter sauce, cassoulet sans any confit. Koulibiac turns out to be a fish loaf not a hot fish, salmon, in puff pastry. Etc.etc. etc. 8-Very limited and grossly overpriced wine list. Especially since there are no taxes at sea. Found a pretty good value on the list and lo and behold they were out of it the next night. Much complaining resulted in them finding it. Very petty. 9-Overall attitude at reception not good. Generally you can get service but you need to fight for it. Lots of rules to be ignored. Tipping policy is outrageous. Mandatory tipping always results in poorer service. I eschew it and tip according to service. Oceania does not make that easy. 10-The days that tender service is necessary are a horror . Those paying exorbitant prices for tours through the ship are boarded first. This leaves a majority of people sitting around and waiting to board the tenders. 11-Management availability is nil. I wrote two letters to the CEO before leaving. Both went unanswered. Our luggage, which was supposed to be "priority delivery" did not show up in a timely way. Many calls to the General Manager were answered by robotic staff. Nothing was accomplished nor any apologies tendered. Sort of like a 2 star hotel. My take is that Oceania views its customers as the travel agent not the people who pay full fare. They are better at crowd control than service. There were an astounding number of travel agents on this cruise. My guess is that this business plan will fail ultimately. In any case I do not feel that I received value for my money so I will not be returning to Oceania. I know that many of the non-cognizanti will jump on this review and defend the lame services of Oceania. That is just fine. Please remember this review is MINE and reflects MY very well considered views. This particular Emperor is in need of a really good tailor. He is so naked he should be freezing. I suggest that Oceania allow the people who wrote their brochure run the cruise line. The difference between reality and the brochure is in line with The Emperor's new clothes. Ports:  Reyjavik,Dublin,Isle of Man very worthwhile. Belfast and the Bird Island of Vigur are losers. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2011
This will likely be one of the most memorable cruises of all of those we've ever taken. I wish to thank everyone at Oceania from Frank Del Rio on down. You guys are wonderful. Ship: Of course, the Marina was virtually brand ... Read More
This will likely be one of the most memorable cruises of all of those we've ever taken. I wish to thank everyone at Oceania from Frank Del Rio on down. You guys are wonderful. Ship: Of course, the Marina was virtually brand new-and quite beautiful. Very spacious-even more so than the Oceania R-Ships. We sailed with less than 1,200 on a 65,000 gross ton ship, so venues were very uncrowded and there was never really a line or wait for anything—Except the tenders in tender ports-which was fairly frustrating at times as those of us on private tours were delayed leaving the ship while they got all of the shore excursions off first. The Grand Dining Room was very ample with tables always open. Each of the four main specialty restaurants was very nicely done. Unlike the R-Ships, the Marina finally has a real dedicated theater-style showroom. Some people may like the lounge seating of the R-ships to this, but, to seat enough people for a ship this size, this is the right way to do it. The walkways in front of each row of seats was sufficiently wide enough to allow people to pass without forcing anyone seated to stand and the viewing angles were pretty good from most seats. The only questionable part, IMHO, were the desk-type tables that pulled up out of the armrests-a little too tight for most of us overeating cruise passengers. Of course, I never saw many people using these. Cabin: We were in one of the "Oceania Suites"--#12006. What can I say? One of the best and best thought-out suites I have ever seen on a ship. I could live in this suite. Living/Dining Room, TV Room, Bedroom, more than ample walk-in closet, two bathrooms (Though every husband we met said the same thing—the wife pretty much took over the "big" bathroom and the husbands all ended up permanently relegated to the "guest" bathroom!). Private (one-person) Jacuzzi on the balcony with a big screen TV over the Jacuzzi! Very nice-sized bar came fully stocked with a bottle of Bacardi Rum, Grey Goose Vodka, Black Label Scotch, a red and a white wine and a bottle of Gin (which I quickly traded for a second bottle of scotch!). My only real issue with the suite was that there were so many light switches that it usually took me 20 minutes to figure out how to turn off all of the lights. My wife's issue was that there seemed to be constant whistling from the bedroom sliding glass door on windy nights. Of course, I slept right through it. Service: The dining room and specialty restaurant service was even better than I recall from past Oceania cruises, if that is possible. Grand Dining Room staff was excellent, very accommodating—never a problem. Specialty restaurants, of course, were a step above. Our "team" taking care of us in our suite—Butler Ravi and the Assistant Butler (whose name suddenly escapes me) were always available to fill all requests, and our Cabin Steward, Jahaira and her two assistants were just flat-out excellent.. Food: Food, of course, was the highlight of the cruise. And, this, of course, was the "Jacques Pepin cruise". Jacques was staying just down the hall from us and we were invited one night to La Reserve for dinner with Jacques and his wife and his Sous Chef, Jean-Claude and his wife and a few other passengers. Absolutely the most incredible dinner experience. Appetizers and champagne, followed by six incredible courses with a wine paired to each one: Scallop, Risotto, a Fish dish, Chateaubriand, Pear and Goat Cheese and a Chocolate Mousse topped gateau. Three and a half hours of sheer pleasure and great conversation. We also had eight specialty reservations, two in each of the main four, and we managed to squeeze in an extra at Toscana for our final night—a very special final dinner onboard with two couples with whom we had shared most of our private tours. I think of all of the specialty restaurants (aside from La Reserve), Toscana was my clear favorite. Starting with the choice of Olive Oils and Balsamic vinegars and through the meal, everything was outstanding. And the Veal Scaloppine Marsala my favorite dish on the ship. And, the Pennette San Gimignano as a "side dish" was incredible—I could have eaten that as a full meal and been very happy. Of course, the other specialty restaurants were each very good in their own right. Red Ginger was a big hit with everyone. Very well done. Get the Sushi as an appetizer. Entertainment: Food, of course, was the high point—and, as usual with Oceania, Entertainment was the most disappointing area—Although, it was actually a considerable improvement from our past Oceania cruises. With the dedicated stage and showroom, they now had a troupe of singers and dancers (four of each) putting on actual "production shows" with costume changes and some variety. Not quite up to the par of the production shows one sees on other cruise lines, but definitely a worthy bit of entertainment. We especially enjoyed Jennifer, from New Jersey-one of the young singers. They did the "Welcome" show and three other full productions plus participated in other activities around the ship. The spotlight performers were a mixed bag: Artur Banaskiewicz - Violinist: He did two shows before leaving mid-cruise. He was good at what it is he does, but two full shows of gypsy music on the violin is far too much for me. I think I found his manner of speaking and accent more entertaining than the music. Danny Buckler - Magician/Comedian: As a magician, his act was fairly pedestrian. Small time magic starting with the trite and obvious "Indian Rope Trick". But, as a comedian, this guy was clearly the most entertaining act on the ship. Great rapport with the crowd, quick delivery and reaction. Absolutely charming. Two shows. Agata Sava - Soprano. Two shows. We missed her first show as we were in La Reserve for a long evening, but, after seeing her second show, we were more than happy that we missed the first. Absolutely excruciating—a soprano who had trouble hitting the high notes. And a style reminiscent of the Bride of Frankenstein in a full body cast. No movement, little expression—and an accent and delivery that made it sound as if she did not speak English—at all. Sounded as if she'd memorized the lyrics by sound or phonetics. The worst. Bruce Parker "California Soul Man": Two shows (we missed the second). He was actually quite good—very energetic. Sort of the Anti-Agata Sava. Moved around the stage, involved the audience. Really worked it. If there was a problem, it was in the material and the audience. This was, quite simply, not an R&B/Motown crowd. And, among all of the available R&B/Motown material, he tended to pick some of the more obscure songs—not good to do with a crowd who isn't into that style of music and only knows the "big hits". Don Bryan - Ventriloquist: I've seen his act before—must have been on Nautica. Decent Ventriloquist, funny enough act with a couple of entertaining twists The nights in Le Verdon, Cadiz and Livorno, there was no real show. Ports: HONFLEUR - 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: We didn't really have an interest in doing a long D-Day beaches tour here and we'd been to Rouen and Giverny on a recent cruise stop, so we decided to just walk around Honfleur, visited the Boudin Museum and returned to the ship in the afternoon. Picturesque little town. SAINT-MALO - 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: Here we did a private tour with a party of eight to Mont St. Michel, Dinan and Saint Malo with Westcapades for 80€ pp. Our guide was Marc, the owner of the company. He did a very nice job of providing commentary on the way to Mont St. Michel in the morning. Having left the ship promptly upon arrival, we beat most of the crowds to this site. Very impressive old monastery. Then it was on to Medieval Dinan. Very nice little town, free time and lunch, then back over to St. Malo, where we parted ways with Marc and walked through the walled city, then tendered back to the ship. One key here with the early start was to report to the showroom ahead of the time the first of the ship's shore excursions was to depart—so we were able to get tender tickets for the first tender while the shorex participants were still amassing. PONT AVEN - 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.: It was raining a good portion of the day, so we just spent some time wandering around Concarneau. Very touristy little town-walled medieval city—a short walk from the tender pier. LA ROCHELLE - 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.: This is one of only two ports where we took a shore excursion—"Saintes & Cognac", a full day tour for $199 per person—not bad as shorexes go—we had a nice little visit to La Rochelle, then Saintes and then a tour of the Hennessey Cognac distillery with tastings. Only real negative was 38 people on the tour. BORDEAUX - 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. -Here we had a simply marvelous tour with Maryse of Bordeaux Excursions, party of 8 for 118.75€ per person. Maryse picked us up at the pier in Le Verdon and drove us to two wineries in the morning-- chateau LOUDENNE - Crû Bourgeois of Medoc - also called the "Pink Chateau" for its outstanding XVIIth Century architecture and château LYNCH-BAGES in Pauillac, listed in the 1855 Classification Medoc Wines, then lunch at "brasserie" LE CAFE LAVINAL After lunch, we continued through Saint-Julien and Margaux vineyards with stops for pictures by the renowned chateaux (Pichon, latour, margaux, etc...) Then on to Bordeaux for a walking tour through the city. Maryse is one of the best guides we've had. BIARRITZ - 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. - Actually, the port is St. Jean de Luz. We had nothing planned here. We thought we might take a taxi to Bayonne or Biarritz, but we found the town of St. Jean so charming that we spent the day here instead. Took the little tourist train (5€ per person) for an orientation of the city, then just walked around on our own. BILBAO - 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Here we decided to do the city on our own. A free Oceania shuttle took us to the center of town from where we walked to the "Casco Viejo"—The Old City, then around the riverfront to the Guggenheim Museum. There are three very interesting and distinct bridges across the river near the Guggenheim. We crossed the river on the first, then took the elevator to the top of the second and came back across the river on the third, getting some incredible photos on this route. LA CORUNA - 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: Here we hired a private tour for six of us with Brendan Lowe of Guided Galicia. Brendan is an expatriate Kiwi living in Vigo—very nice guy. We went, in the morning to the Pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela through the church, market and town, then on to Cambados for lunch, then to the town of Betanzos then back to La Coruña and a visit to the Tower of Hercules -Cost for the tour was 91.67€ per person. OPORTO - 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.: Here we were supposed to do our second shorex—"The Medieval City of Guimaraes" (half day, $119 pp), but the city was completely fogged in and they could not dock the ship—so, disappointingly, we missed this port altogether. CADIZ - 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.: We had a party of 10 here on a private tour to Seville with Cadiz and Beyond for 85€ per person. It was, by far, the hottest day of the cruise—46 Celsius/114 Fahrenheit. Our guide in Seville was excellent and the visit to the Cathedral and the Palace was quite interesting. No way we walk up the Giralda Tower in that heat though! Still, Seville is an enchanting city. CASABLANCA - 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Here we booked a private tour for six with travel exploration Morocco for a cost of $108 per person, payable in advance by credit card in US$. Our guide, Redouane, met us at the ship and took us to the Mosque, the Synagogue and an open air market and on a driving tour through the city. Both the Mosque and Synagogue were impressive, each in their own way, but most in our party were not thrilled with the market or the city itself—sort of filthy with crazy traffic. BARCELONA - 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.: After several visits here, we know Barcelona so well that we did not see a need for a tour. This visit, we made it a point to visit a couple of sites we've neglected in last visits. We, basically, wandered through the Barri Gotic, visiting the Synagogue (Oldest in Europe and rediscovered only a few years ago) and the Cathedral, then a visit to El Corte Ingles and a stroll down Las Ramblas. MONTE CARLO - 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.: Here we did a private tour with a party of 8 visiting the towns of Grasse (and the Fragonard Perfume Factory), Gourdon and St. Paul de Vence. St. Paul is one of my favorite towns in France-incredibly picturesque. Cost was 65€ per person. LIVORNO - 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.: This was our second shore excursion—"Pisa - Lucca - Puccini", approximately 10 hours for $179 per person. After an interesting visit to the home of the composer Puccini, we visited the beautiful walled city of Lucca and the wonderful Pisa with its Leaning Tower and other landmarks. Only 16 passengers on this tour and a very good guide, making it one of the better shore excursions. ROME - Here, we joined a group of eight for a tour of the main sights of Rome with Valerio Nacci of NCC. For only 50€ per person, he picked us up at the ship and took us to the Vatican, Trevi, Piazza Navona, Vittorio Emanuel, Pantheon and Coliseum, then dropped us off at our hotel and returned the others (who were doing back-to-backs) to the ship in Civitavecchia. Very much worth the price. Pre-Cruise: We flew into Heathrow several days before the cruise, rented a car and spent four nights in Canterbury, staying at the House of Agnes: Excellent little bed and breakfast. It's a centuries-old B&B, but we had a very modern and newly built-out "stable room" for £80 per night. The place was very well run with an excellent breakfast. There was ample convenient on-site parking though the driveway was a little difficult to navigate. The location was right outside the main West Gate to the old walled city so everything was in close walking distance. Canterbury turned out to be an outstanding choice for a pre-cruise stay. Much nicer than the industrial Dover, yet within a half hour drive of the port. We took a charming river boat ride one morning, visited the Cathedral the next and took a drive out to the picturesque town of Sandwich the third. Other than that, we just relaxed, walked about the town, ate, shopped and enjoyed. Post-Cruise: We spent two nights in Rome post cruise at the Residenza Farnese: A steal at 120€ per night. One of the absolute best locations in Rome. About a block from the Campo di Fiore and about three blocks from the Piazza Navona on a quiet side street. The Campo di Fiore is now one of my favorite piazzas in all of Rome. A vibrant piazza lined with several very reasonably priced restaurants with ample outdoor seating. We ate in two of them: Maranega: and Sloppy Sam's: I had pasta in both and both were VERY good. It is hard to beat the outdoor tables on the Campo. My wife loved the Gelato at Blue Ice. They have not one, but two, locations within a block of each other on the road leaving the Campo in the direction of the Piazza Navona. All in all, this was an absolutely GREAT cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We had looked forward to this trip because we were waiting for Oceania to introduce a ship made to their own specs (not from the old Renaisance Line). We chose this particular cruise because of the Ports to be visited, although due to ... Read More
We had looked forward to this trip because we were waiting for Oceania to introduce a ship made to their own specs (not from the old Renaisance Line). We chose this particular cruise because of the Ports to be visited, although due to weather we missed two ports completely and were moved from Honfleur (a destination for some) to Le Havre. PLUSES This is a beautiful ship with a well-thought out layout. Specialty restaurants are free of charge and three of the four specialty restaurants are outstanding�we were not impressed with Jacques (although others were). Free cappucino and soft drinks. Open dining with no multiple seatings (first and second) or fixed tables. MINUSES Too many to name. But here are a few (not in any particular order): Limit of times to visit the specialty restaurants although we knew of many people in the same cabin category who were there more than their allotment. The food in the main dining room and the terrace no better than other cruise ships that charge much less. Several uncooperative and frankly surly staff members, particulary the restaurant reservations person. We met many staffers whose first response to a question was 'NO', not 'I will check into it'. The O tours were unreasonably priced. Our trips were 1/3 to � the price of O's offerings, including transfers from port to towns or airport. Showers are almost unusable�too small, hard-to-use controls, over-flows�we met nobody who didn't comment on this. Safe is so high in the room..anyone over 5'3 would be unable to see the contents. VERY poor value compared to other ships such as Celebrity (Aqua Class) which is almost half the price, or even Crystal which is better for the same price (or close). MANY U.S. People were extremely upset to discover that U.K. Residents paid at least ONE HALF what U.S. Residents paid plus they got $1,000 cruise credit (yes, they did not need airfare, but that does not account for the discrepency). There were some 'HIDDEN' pluses that we were not informed asking for senior rates at ports for transfers, museum entries..getting cash back for cruise credits. We never did meet out stewardess, and had to point out that we had no soap left after 8 days..never have been on a ship before with this lack of interaction. Entertainment was not better than high school productions (and that comment probably insults a lot of high schools). Little concern that we missed two ports entirely and Honfleur was changed to Le Havre. No offer to contact our private tour companies for the changes or compensate for out missed opportunities. BOTTOM LINE: Oceania will not be seeing us again. There are too many other better options at sea. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2011
Background Info This was a very special cruise for us; we were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary, which obviously puts us in the age group where you celebrate one of those :) This was the longest cruise we've ever sailed ... Read More
Background Info This was a very special cruise for us; we were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary, which obviously puts us in the age group where you celebrate one of those :) This was the longest cruise we've ever sailed plus our first on Oceania. I, however, have sailed many many times before on many different cruise lines. Hubby has only been on a handful of cruises. Disclaimer: Yes, I work here at Cruise Critic, but this was totally a vacation for us. My opinions do not reflect the view of our company in any way. This was a very port-intensive sailing. 13 ports in 12 days, if you include our embarkation port of Rome. There were no seadays on this sailing. Travel Info We had a direct flight from Newark International to Rome (FCO) which arrived on time at 7:25am. It was a quick pickup of our luggage and we were on our way We spent the better part of the day in Rome sightseeing, and arrived at the port of Civitavecchia at 4 pm. I found check-in very unusual. We were ushered through the port terminal, and directly onto the ship. It was in the Marina Lounge where we were officially "checked into" our cruise and received our Oceania World card. Stateroom We were in stateroom 10081, a Concierge category verandah on Deck 10. This location was very close to the aft elevators, which is my preferred location on ANY ship. I definitely liked the overall styling of the stateroom. The champagne/beige/blue colors paired with the dark woods of the furniture were very soothing and classy. The beds, as reported by many, were extremely comfortable. I also thought the couch in the room was the most comfortable seating on board this ship for a short person. Ditto the desk chair. (If I could have dragged that desk chair everywhere I'd be one happy camper. More about being a short person on Marina later). There was plenty of storage for our clothing (and I'm an overpacker), but mostly because I choose to hang the majority of what we wear. The drawers in the desk area are really useless for clothing other than socks etc. They are not deep enough or they don't pull out far enough. Plus, the drawers near the closet must be for the Jolly Green Giant -- the top two (and the safe as well) required my husband to access. (Again, more about being a short person on Marina later in this review.) The bathroom is everything you've heard. Marble everywhere, spacious, lovely tub and amenities. Nice fixtures in the shower -- but don't dare drop anything! You'll have to open the door to be able to bend down! Also, there was discussion on board about an outlet in the bathroom. There is one -- simply remove the nightlight. The bathroom gets very foggy during a hot shower. If there was a fan we were never able to locate the switch to turn it on. We used our balcony a great deal on this sailing. The weather was just lovely (12 days of warm sunshine -- I kid you not). Evenings were balmy; the balcony furniture is extremely comfortable. Other amenities: Hairdryer, shoeshine kit, shoehorn, sewing kit, umbrella (golf sized), robes, slippers, "pashmina-type" shawl, mini-bar, Bvlgari soaps, shampoos and lotions, shower cap, "amenity kit", bath salts, clock, safe, and laptop (which never worked once on this sailing). The Ship One word: stunningly beautiful. OK, that's two words and this ship deserves that and much more. I loved the colors, the opulence and the overall "feel" of just about every venue on board. From the decor in the specialty restaurants right down to the interior of the elevators --you can see the attention to detail in selection of products, fabrics and furnishings. The Concierge Lounge on Deck 9 was especially lovely -- very traditional and bright. You'd swear there was outside natural sunlight here! I know the ship is only a few months old, but that's more than enough time for disrepair to set in but you won't find it here! Go ahead -- poke around drapes (a notorious spot for collection of dust and such) -- you'll find nothing. No spills on the carpeting outside the Terrace Cafe, not a one. They are taking spectacular care of this vessel. One of my favorite places was the outdoor seating area of the Terrace Cafe. I absolutely love to eat outside on cruise ships! The weather was just perfect for this on our sailing -- even at night. Warm, balmy and calm. The Service Very friendly and attentive staff the majority of the time, no matter what you ask for or where you are, with one exception I'll get to shortly. I'll admit to being a bit "gunshy" in the Terrace Cafe with regard to the attention lavished on guests. There are so many staffers there -- perhaps just over the top a bit -- I made a game of catching the waiters watching so closely for that last morsel to enter your mouth so they can take your plate! I quickly became accustomed to not serving myself at the buffet but still would rather take my own portions. Our stateroom attendants were very thorough and any request was quickly accomplished. Mind you, we aren't very needy cruisers at all. I think the only thing we asked for was a lighter blanket for the bed! Still they were very pleasant all the time. The one exception was the Destination Services staff. They seemed to disappear when port disembarkation started -- and seemed disinterested whenever asked any question. It really was a mystery, because the entire ship's personnel is totally the opposite! Special note about the young gentleman who works in the Internet café. He has the patience of a saint. The internet service was pretty dismal -- wifi never worked in the staterooms or anywhere else on board that I tried. This young man -- faced with passengers who were annoyed by the slow access PLUS many of them seemed to be in the early stages of a learning curve re: all things email or computer -- handled it all with a smile and grace. I think expectations regarding internet speed could be clarified. I overhead more than one passenger state they were promised 'high-speed internet access". That just doesn't exist on any cruise line, and I tried to find one word of promotional material that states as such but could not, so there's a bit of misinformation out there somewhere! A funny service conversation I overhead: "I'm irritated that they haven't replaced the lotion in my bath. My skin is VERY dry and I need it." Hmm. A couple of thoughts ran through my mind, I'll let you let them run through yours! Dining I'll start off by saying we are not main dining room types. We did venture in twice -- once for regular dinner service and again for their Grand Brunch. The brunch started at 9am, and I could not find one egg on the buffet. There were lots of fishy-salad creations and other items not normally associated with a brunch. Based on my experiences elsewhere on the ship, I really thought I'd find staff making fresh waffles, omelets, eggs, etc. If you wanted any of that, you had to order them off the menu. I enjoyed what I ate in the MDR but once was enough. The Terrace Cafe, and Waves Grill, are simply outstanding venues. Best I've ever experienced on a cruise line. Standouts in the Terrace Cafe: handmade sushi, nightly cheese selections, hot appetizers, freshly made ice cream and of course the grill area in Terrace Cafe. We loved being able to select just about any type of meat or the nightly fish and have it cooked to our specifications. My husband really enjoyed the lamb chops and ordered them many nights. Lobster tails, swordfish, grilled shrimp and filet mignon (medium please!) were my favorites. Another fave is the nightly pasta creation, made fresh while you wait. I think most popular was the night they had fresh-carved turkey with all the fixings. Turkey after turkey came out -- and it was one of the few times there was a line at the carving station. It was simple, perfectly-cooked, delicious food that I think everyone appreciated after being on board for 9 days or so! I also have to rave about Waves Grill. The sandwiches, the burgers, the steak fries -- all cooked to order -- outstanding! You choose a numbered table, and go up and place your order. While you are waiting for your food to be delivered, you can start with a small, freshly made salad. Perfect! This venue was very popular. We loved it. Hubby and I argue over which is the best sandwich -- the Cubano or the Reuben. Try them both! The Specialty Dining Venues We tried three of them: Toscano, Polo Grill and Red Ginger. I really enjoyed Toscano, hubby liked Red Ginger. The "surprises" during the Red Ginger service makes it a "must". Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling well for our Red Ginger dinner -- hubby made up for it though! The miso-glazed swordfish was excellent, I ordered the Lobster Pad Thai and it was tasty -- hubby finished it for me. The breads and olive oil starters in Toscano are right up my alley. The minestrone soup tasted just like my grandfather used to make (he was an Italian cook). We both shared the lasagna. Great meal! Polo Grill reminded me of an upscale steak house. All meats were prepared as ordered, and the service was excellent -- in all venues. Activities & Entertainment Since every single day was a port day, we really didn't have any time for daytime activities, and to be truthful we were so tired after dinner -- we opted for a stroll on board before retiring and that was it. We often heard the "band" playing on deck at times. On a beautiful sunny day by the pool, they were playing -- When the Saints Come Marching In -- at least three times in a row. A nice touch were the outdoor movies set up by the pool, fresh popcorn and all! One night, it was Mama Mia (Corfu night I believe) On another night -- The Godfather -- while we were in Sicily. The Culinary Center I booked this for myself. The class I took was called 'Pizza With a Twist". It was very popular, and "standing room only" for my class. They did let some people who weren't able to book to just observe. If they would have only just observed, it would have been appreciated. They were noisy and getting in our way. The culinary center, by the way, Is well-equipped and very nice. Stainless and granite throughout. Excellent sound system, etc. I was looking forward to this class -- I've always want to learn how to make pizza dough! But, that wasn't to be. We were all given pre-made dough. And then were coached through the steps to make three different kinds of pizza. Everything was pre-chopped for us -- there was no cooking or food preparation involved. Once we rolled out our pre-made dough, we queued up and put on the toppings. They took the mini-pizzas from us, and baked them. Everything came out overcooked, for the most part. Still, it was fun and I'd try it again. Shops & Casino The shops are very nice with a great selection of high end goods. Not your typical cruise trinkets, although I was able to buy a mug for my son and a magnet for my collection. I almost think I caught a slight eyeroll from the staffer when I brought up my purchases! It was funny! We walked through the casino a few times but did not make a deposit on this trip. I did enjoy the look and feel, very tasteful! Miscellaneous Demographics - The demographics on this cruise were different than any other I've ever experienced: very upscale and full of folks who have the time to sail for 12+ days and the pocketbook to pay for it! We met some great people and to be honest we truly enjoyed the low-key atmosphere on board. There were many many nationalities -- lots of foreign languages being spoken. Oceania does a great job with their onboard communications It did take me awhile to figure out that you needed to put the TV on a certain channel in order to listen in on the daily announcements from the Cruise Director and Captain! We kept sticking our heads out into the hallway! Seating/Sofas/Chairs -- Whomever selected the seating on board must be REALLY tall. With the exception of the seating in our stateroom, every venue had very uncomfortable chairs for short people. I'm 5 feet tall (ok, I'm lying I'm actually a bit shorter than that), and if I sat back on any of these chairs my feet would be sticking out straight in front of me. If I kept my feet on the floor, I'd be a foot away from the back of the chair. Internet Cafe -- Because of my job, I often find myself in the Internet Cafe. As I mentioned, the WiFi just didn't work, perhaps the ship is just too well-built! I dragged my iPad around with me everywhere for the first day or so, and kept trying to access from different areas on the ship. The connection in the cafe is just like most cruise ships, is very very slow. And very expensive. One thing I noticed is that they have links to online "communities" on their portal -- I'd like to suggest they include Cruise Critic! (hint hint). Resort Casual -- This is a hit, especially with my husband. I didn't miss formal night(s) at all. Everyone dressed very nicely on this ship, more like what you'd wear to an upscale country club. Many men wore jackets to dinner in the dining venues; I saw virtually no jeans at dinner anywhere. A Word About Our Roll Call I'm probably biased but one of the best things about Cruise Critic is our ROLL CALL feature on the message boards, where you can meet your fellow cruisers before you sail -- and perhaps set up a meeting on board or maybe even share a few shore excursions. We met some great Cruise Critic members on board this sailing, and did, in fact, end up sharing some shore excursions with them. This made all the difference in our cruising experience; both on board and on land. I really recommend that everyone participate in your ship's ROLL CALL for your sailing; you'll be glad you did! Summary We absolutely loved our cruise on Oceania Marina! She's a show-stopper! My husband still talks about the ship, and that almost never happens. As I mentioned, he's been on a few cruises, but never has he said he'd like to go on a specific ship, and he has said that numerous times about Marina! So, ok, I may have picked on the chairs a teeny bit (and for good measure I had to add my vote on the small showers) but really -- you'd have to with a microscope to find something to REALLY complain about. The food, the service, the ship, the ambiance -- almost perfect in every way. I would sail on Oceania again in a heartbeat -- maybe try one of the smaller ships. Hubby says he'd like to sail Riviera; who wouldn't! The only thing I would change about this cruise would be to add a seaday or two, so that we could have time to relax and experience all this fantastic ship has to offer! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Introduction: We are veteran cruisers and travelers, having taken 19 cruises on a variety of cruise lines over 30 years, including Disney, Oceania, RCI, Princess, Cunard and Holland America. We are in our mid-fifties, with no children. In ... Read More
Introduction: We are veteran cruisers and travelers, having taken 19 cruises on a variety of cruise lines over 30 years, including Disney, Oceania, RCI, Princess, Cunard and Holland America. We are in our mid-fifties, with no children. In recent years, I have had some disabilities due to arthritis, requiring the use of a cane or a travel wheelchair. Our cruise on Marina that embarked in Venice on September 7 is our second on OCL. The cruise called at Koper, Slovenia; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Patras, Zakynthos, Athens and Chios, Greece; and Kusadasi and Istanbul, Turkey. Other than Venice, this cruise took us to five new countries that we have not visited before (one of the reasons we selected the cruise). Pre-cruise hotel and flights: We booked our own flights using frequent flyer miles, electing to spend a night in Frankfurt before arriving in Venice and again on our way back to the US from Istanbul (our disembarkation port). In Venice, we stayed at the delightful Westin Europa and Regina; although quite expensive, this beautiful hotel had excellent service and views of the Grand Canal and Lagoon that were worth the price of admission. Embarkation: Using a water taxi service, we traveled from our hotel to the terminal. We were on board within a few minutes of our arrival at the terminal (very efficient service). Stateroom: Our stateroom, a PH2 (Penthouse) suite on the 11th deck forward port side was ready when we boarded at 1:30 pm. Our original booking for this cruise was in an A3 concierge veranda. A month prior to the cruise, OCL made a very good offer on an upgrade to the PH2 category. The saddest aspect of our decision to upgrade is that it will be very, very difficult to ever go back to a "regular" veranda stateroom again!. This suite was magnificent and is the best room we have ever had on a cruise. We had so much space, including a walk-in closet (great for storing my collapsible wheelchair) and a large sitting area, a large desk and vanity stand, plus a huge bathroom with tub and shower. I have read previous reviews of Marina and the concerns for the rain head shower space, but we loved this shower (apparently the suites have a larger shower stall). The room was elegantly decorated and very quiet. The bed was incredibly comfortable. Other reviews have noted that deck 12 has a large overhang over the deck 11 verandas, but we did not find this to be a problem and it often served to block the direct sun. We spent many hours on that veranda because we had such warm weather on our cruise. Ship: The public spaces on Marina are elegant and understated. Although I'm not a big fan of abstract art, which predominates. the decor is restful and unobtrusive. The seats in some areas were a little too low (most of them in Horizons lounge), but we found other options that were more comfortable. Our biggest complaint about the ship design would be the difficulty getting on and off the ship, whether docked or anchored, for a person who doesn't walk very well. The normal egress when docked is from deck 5, down many stairs to the dock area; I did this once, taking each step one at a time, and was shocked to have a fellow passenger waiting at the bottom to come up berate me for taking so long (can't pick your fellow passengers, I guess). Other times we used the deck 4 crew exit, ramp but even this ramp was very steep at times and we looked at other ships docked nearby with nearly flat ramps leading onto the docks and wondered what happened when they designed Marina. Tender access was also challenging, requiring us to go down many steps from deck 4 into the tender. The tenders were strangely designed, with most passengers required to go down additional narrow steps once on board into seating areas across from other passengers. I certainly would not want to be on these tenders for an extended period of time in an emergency situation. Dining: The food on Marina was absolutely outstanding and is, of course, one of the big reasons that customers come back to OCL. We ate in all four specialty restaurants and could not honestly say which one was the best and we would eagerly try all four again if given the opportunity. The Terrace cafe was also a top choice and most of our non-reservation dinners were in this buffet option. We only visited the Grand Dining Room once; although this is a lovely space, we much preferred the specialty restaurants and the outdoor experience at the Terrace. Waves had the usual complement of excellent sandwiches and salads (Kobe beef burger - yum!) and we liked having a light continental breakfast at Barista's on many early mornings; we didn't try the specialty coffees, being die-hard "American" coffee drinkers. The ultimate experience, however, was our night at La Reserve. This seven-course trip to culinary heaven was accompanied by some excellent wines and was certainly worth the premium charge of $75 per person. Service: Service on Marina was impeccable, with a couple of minor exceptions. The wait staff in the specialty restaurants were superb, especially the staff in Toscana and Red Ginger. The bar staff and wine stewards were delightful and we had great conversations with many of them. The staff at Barista's and the Terrace cafe was wonderful. Our butler was a terrific guy who found us to be somewhat perplexed on how to use his services, so he took it upon himself to bring us some canapes every evening and he worked out a change to a specialty restaurant reservation without any issues. Our room attendant was extremely efficient and kept our suite in top condition. Crew members, including ones that normally don't interface with the passengers, were very helpful getting me on and off the ship (not easy in any case, whether docked or anchored, as noted above). The only exceptions to our glowing reports on service are the staff at the reception desk and the wait staff in the Grand Dining Room, whom we barely recall seeing (although they did serve food promptly). The reception desk left us a very tersely worded letter at our stateroom about getting our passports turned in immediately for Turkish customs processing halfway through the cruise (we needed them with us for Slovenia and Croatia), but we never heard any announcements about this request or saw it in the daily newsletter. Other passengers complained about the letter and its language as well. The reception staff were also quite unfriendly. The destination services desk did take down information from us on a very disappointing shore excursion and sent us a letter thanking us for our input; although no reimbursement was offered. Activities: We signed up for one of the Bon Appetit culinary classes on board and really had a blast! Chef Kelly and her staff were a lot of fun to work with and our end results were delightful (Italian favorites). Unfortunately, the class was interrupted by the mandatory life boat drill, but that almost added to the experience when we showed up in the Marina Lounge in our aprons! We didn't do any other activities on board. We did not use the spa services and we usually don't use the pool. Shopping: Marina has some beautiful boutiques, but the products, for the most part, did not appeal to us. There was a very limited selection of logo wear, which we like to purchase on cruises and there were no items that were from our ports of call. I usually don't go on a cruise to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on jewelry or clothing that I can get at home. Internet access: As usual, Internet access was expensive and slow, although not as slow as some other cruises we have been on. We used our own equipment for access (iPads and laptop). I stretched my 300 minutes through almost the entire cruise; my hubby, who had to keep in touch for his business, used 800 minutes. Entertainment: We are notorious entertainment avoiders on cruise ships and have been for years (even on Disney, which has remarkable entertainment). We prefer sitting in a quiet lounge or on the veranda, sipping a drink and reading. We did not see any of the shows on board, but we did get some laughs at Karaoke night in the Horizons lounge one night. In fact, we never even turned on the TV in our room! Port and shore excursions: We booked two excursions through OCL and did private tours or our own explorations in all other cases. The two ship excursions were overpriced and the experiences were mediocre or downright disappointing. In Slovenia, we did an excursion to Lake Bled, an admittedly gorgeous location, that was advertised as "wheelchair accessible". What this meant was that my travel wheelchair got to spend the entire excursion in the luggage compartment of the bus! The stops on this excursion were not accessible and i ended up sitting 45 minutes on the bus while others explored the castle overlooking the lake and also sat on a bench on the shore on the lake island because the famous church was "only" 99 steps above me Our other excursion was in Istanbul and it was acceptable, but certainly not worth the price. All of our private tours were excellent, however. We used Dubrovnik Private Tours, Corfu Taxi Tours, George the Taxi Driver (Athens) and Kusadasi Tours (Turkey Explorers) and certainly had no real complaints. We also rented a car on Chios and had a marvelous day and only spent $70 for the experience!. After many cruises where we played it "safe" and signed up for ship tours in most places, this cruise reinforced my opinion that those tours should be the last option of choice. Our favorite ports were Dubrovnik, Chios, Kotor and Kusadasi (plus we love Venice). Greece is unfortunately showing many signs of its financial difficulties, particularly in Patras and Athens. Disembarkation: We disembarked in Istanbul; it was nearly gridlock leaving the port area due to so many ships in port, but we did to the airport in plenty of time with our ship transfer for our flight to Frankfurt. Summary: Our cruise was an excellent experience, with the minor exceptions noted above. We have already booked another OCL cruise next year (on Marina again) and just bit the bullet and upgraded to a PH2 category again. We have not tried any other premium or luxury cruise lines, so we have no basis of comparison, but we are generally quite pleased with the Oceania experience. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
We booked this cruise using an internet travel agency we have used before approximately 14 months before departure. At that time, it included Israel and Egypt. In April of 2011, the schedule was changed to avoid Egypt and it changed the ... Read More
We booked this cruise using an internet travel agency we have used before approximately 14 months before departure. At that time, it included Israel and Egypt. In April of 2011, the schedule was changed to avoid Egypt and it changed the dates of the Israeli visit. We thought about cancelling and, to be fair, Oceania offered us a full refund or credit if we did. Instead, we stayed with it, although disappointed, because we had blocked out the time and had pre-paid our pre and post cruise travel. We were not offered any credit or upgrade. We later found out others had received some consideration for not cancelling and the prices were dramatically reduced for later booking passengers. With that as background, I will say that the Marina and its crew met all expectations. The embarkation in Istanbul was efficient and we had our luggage delivered to our room within an hour. The room was sparkling clean and kept that way throughout the cruise. Like others, we thought the bath tub was a waste of space and the shower a little too compact. The food was, no doubt, the highlight on board. We had outstanding meals at all the specialty restaurants, except Jacques. The Escargots, Frog's legs appetizer and Duck were served in a different manner from what we were used to and left us disappointed. The dinner buffet was vastly superior to any other buffet we have experienced, including unlimited lobster tails every night. The main dining room was more than adequate, but not that much superior to other, less classy cruise lines. The entertainment was limited and never crowded. We would have preferred a more lively piano bar and the dance band playing beyond 10:30 each night. The show started at 9:30 and ended right about 10:30 so if you ate dinner at 7 or 8, there was no time to get to the dance floor. The stage entertainment was similar to other cruise line fare. We booked all private tours on-line before we left so we can't comment on the quality of the Oceania tours. But the cost was about half the Oceania tours, with smaller groups and knowledgeable guides we could actually hear. However, when the cruise dates changed, it put us into Haifa on a Saturday morning, Sabbath, and some of the Jewish sites were closed. Don't know whether this was an oversight on Oceania's part or unavoidable. Plus, we were switched from Kusadasi to Izmir at the last moment, making our trip to Ephesus about an hour longer each way. The things we really noticed and appreciated were the absence of nickel and diming and uninvited solicitation. All bottled water and specialty coffees were free, the towels for shore excursions were freely available and the waiters and waitresses in the bars, pools and lounges only responded to passenger interest. Disembarkation in Athens was efficient and we were in Syntagma at our hotel within 45 minutes of walking off the ship. All in all, we were pretty happy with the quality of the cruise and will look to Oceania again. However, it will be a port specific cruise, given the paucity of entertainment options, and a last minute booking to avoid the changes in ports and pricing that we experienced. Read Less
Marina Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.5
Dining 4.5 4.5
Entertainment 3.0 3.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 1.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.1
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.9

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