Insignia Cruise Review by CraigV-GB
- Sail Date: October 2016
- Destination: South America
- Cabin Type: Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom
Oceania failed to meet our expectations. Put simply, the product quality isn’t adequate for the price paid. Although this was our first time sailing with Oceania, we’re experienced cruisers on Azamara, Silversea and Windstar. Our observations are as follows:
Joining The Ship. A complete shambles. We pitched up at the port entrance at 1230 with a local chauffeur driver from Lima Cabs. We were redirected to an unmarked drop off point some 300 metres away, to be met by two unwashed tramps wearing last year’s dirty orange overalls – they turned out to be the “baggage handlers”. No Oceania signage, no ship rep, nor a port agent. Our driver wasn’t happy and refused to leave us – which says a lot for the situation. After ten minutes another two passengers arrived, and ten minutes later an unmarked bus turned up with what we assume was someone from the port agent’s office. Our bags were dumped in the bus baggage hold and hands held out for a tip – even more blatant than Miami! We waited a further twenty minutes before the bus took us back through the port entrance and on to the ship. A complete 0/10 initial impression….
Cabin. Our first time on Deck 7 on an R Class – we’ve always booked Deck 8 on Azamara. Small but acceptable – like Azamara but prior to refurb. Carpets not that clean with old stains very evident. Cabin not that clean – acceptable, but hidden dust and hairs if you go looking. Comfortable bed. Nice bedding. Ancient phone system that doesn’t work that well. Very small TV. Poor choice of channels. In suite wifi pathetic – in fact the on-board wifi is slow throughout, massively overpriced, and in serious need of an upgrade. Cheap and nasty toiletries. Nice Champagne on arrival – better brand than the usual. Overall only 6/10 though.
Housekeeping. We had an irritating Chinese lady housekeeper whose main interest in life seemed to be to get guests out of their cabins asap so that she could get on with her day. The “Privacy Please” sign was observed, but she’d happily bang our cabin door with her vacuum cleaner at 0730 in the morning. She’d shout to colleagues, etc., and make as much noise as possible when cleaning adjacent cabins. Her job could be done quietly, but it wasn’t. It also wasn’t done very well – marks on mirrors stayed there for days, etc. Perhaps the crew are just under massive time pressure? Worst aspect was balcony cleaning. We sleep with the balcony door open, and were disturbed one morning at 0800, curtains open and whilst still in bed, by a housekeeping oik unlocking all the connecting balcony doors. When I complained to the housekeeper, her response was “there is a cleaning schedule – we left a notice on your bed”. No apology. The note didn’t say that someone would be on your balcony at eight in the morning. The balcony cleaning didn’t even get done – we still had bird poo from the Patagonian fiords on the balcony on arrival in Buenos Aires. Overall just 4/10
Room Service. Hard to get hold of, but service very good once an order was placed. 8/10
Food The biggest let down of all. Food quality was erratic and certainly didn’t merit the “finest at sea” tag. The flowery and highly descriptive menus do NOT meet the reality of what turns up on your plate. We gave up eating in the main dining room because of the uncertainty as to whether you were both going to get acceptable edible food. We ended up eating many meals in the buffet, simply because if something was duff it was easily changed.
Fresh pasta (Toscana)
Consistent high quality breads
Superb cheese. Wide choice (10/10)
Very good cold meats (buffet)
Chef pasta station (buffet)
Undercooked grilled salmon still freezing cold in the middle (Polo)
Overcooked steak (Polo)
Risotto made from pre-cooked rice (Toscana)
Soupe de poisson thickened with cream. Yuk!
Unrisen choc soufflé (even Viagra wouldn’t help!) (main DR)
Undercooked veggies – daily problem throughout
Unripe fruit throughout (1/10)
Overcooked lamb (main DR)
Undercooked stews (buffet)
Poor speciality foods – a very limp representation of the country they purport to represent. Often bland and tasteless
Toscana couldn’t make Saltimbocca on less than 24 hours prior notice – unbelievable!
From the above list you might take us as “picky”, but we’re not! A simple premise is to only offer what you can do well, and to not offer those dishes which you cannot consistently produce to high standards. With respect, we don’t think that either Polo or Toscana would survive more than six months on the High St in any major city – they just aren’t good enough. Company hype about the food builds up an expectation which you fail to deliver. We spoke with chef Farid Oudir about the erratic quality of the food and felt that he wasn’t at all interested in our fair criticism. He listened politely, but then was more interested in quoting statistics about his staff’s massive output. Institutionally complacent perhaps? We thought so. Overall, just 5/10
Wait Staff. Friendly and tried their best. Not one cause for complaint. Star employees were bar tender Wawan in the Main Dining Room bar (our only source of a decent espresso after dinner), and Main Dining Room receptionist Mercy, who amazingly seemed to pick up almost every guest’s name within two days! 10/10
Destination Services. Massively overpriced and of only average quality. We don’t mind an old bus, but there’s no reason why the windows should be dirty. Maybe the staff were too busy talking to check the cleanliness? Tour guides often very poor, with very poor English. Only the guides in Puerto Montt and Port Stanley were any good. The others just didn’t know their stuff, and their unrehearsed presentations in poor English were embarrassing to have to sit through. Just 5/10.
Disembarkation. We were the last group of about 40 independent travellers off the ship at 0900. Not a single one of the officers or crew were at the bottom of the gangplank to say goodbye. Kind of sums the company up…..
We booked Oceania as it was an R Class ship doing an itinerary that we wanted to do. That itinerary was great, but the ship failed to live up to expectations. Oceania could do much much better.
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