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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Itinerary. After 21 cruises on O, and having been part of the christening and inaugural sailings, I was amazed at the decline of this lovely ship. The staff was AWESOME. They worked so hard as it was obvious there was a reduced staff ... Read More
Itinerary. After 21 cruises on O, and having been part of the christening and inaugural sailings, I was amazed at the decline of this lovely ship. The staff was AWESOME. They worked so hard as it was obvious there was a reduced staff serving. For example, if you arrived a bit early to the specialty restaurants, they couldn't accommodate you yet the dining room was half empty. Obvious they adjusted to staffing. The main dining room service was sooooo slow. Never saw the cruise director, John??? TV programming was years old. This was the first cruise on O that I did not book a future cruise. I decided from what I saw that I need to open up my options, and now was the time. Please O, come back to your original purpose and serving. The food was not very good, and I'm usually easy to please. Knowing that Claudette Pepin is the Godmother, I am shocked. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The oceania riviera desperately needs dry dock updates & upgrades. The same carpet stains from last year's cruise were still there a year later. The carpet is in horrible condition and the wood on the ship needs touch-up's. ... Read More
The oceania riviera desperately needs dry dock updates & upgrades. The same carpet stains from last year's cruise were still there a year later. The carpet is in horrible condition and the wood on the ship needs touch-up's. The ship was scheduled to be in dry dock during 2018, but oceania elected to defer this update until april of 2019, and that poor decision is reflected in the environment on the ship. The internet connection speed on the oceania riviera was horribly slow. Oceania opened up "free internet to all" but should have upgraded their system before doing so to handle that bigger demand. We have been on other larger ships that have blazing fast internet speeds, so oceania needs to get their act together on this immediately. We hear the oceania riviera will be in dry dock in april of 2019, so this needs to be a priority upgrade. We were on the oceania riviera during christmas of 2018 and new years, when all of the bowl games were being played. The ship does not have espn and most other major network tv coverage. It's 2019 oceania - please get with the times and get major network coverage that your competition already has!! One port of call was roseau, dominica. This should not be a port of call due to massive devistation from a hurricane that happened over a year ago. Roads had been washed away during the hurricane and flooding, and two way traffic was trying to navigate a single lane on mountainous roads that were way too dangerous to travel on. There were washed-away sections of the road that had jagged edges from fast flowing water. There was a very dangerous mountainous road that could have given way and caused a shuttle van to fall several hundred feet, which would have killed everyone onboard the shuttle. This is an accident waiting to happen so oceania should remove dominica as a port of call. Much of the fitness equipment was old and in poor condition. The oceania riviera ship's staff tries hard to please, but we had a bad experience with the shore excursion staff, which has poor management and untrained staff. Since we cruised on this ship one year earlier, there was an overall downward shift in the quality of the ship's condition and the attitude/training of the staff. The oceania riviera ship has a lot of potential, but its future success depends heavily on oceania making good management decisions and the right update/upgrade decisions for the scheduled april 2019 dry-dock. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Let me start with a few positive comments that made me glad I was able to have this experience at least once. The finest thing about the trip was the bed. It was gloriously comfortable. Magical. I move a lot when I sleep and the bed seemed ... Read More
Let me start with a few positive comments that made me glad I was able to have this experience at least once. The finest thing about the trip was the bed. It was gloriously comfortable. Magical. I move a lot when I sleep and the bed seemed to make me comfortable no matter how much a moved around. Not too hard and not too soft. Cool. Like a dream cloud with support. Amazing. Fine linens, bedding. Pillows were divine. Still, you can buy the bedding and stay home. I'll explain. The ship is beautiful. Gorgeous lobby, etc. Of course, one doesn't dine or stay in the lobby. It was just nice to look at and pass through. Now for the not so nice stuff. First, the ship claims to have internet service which is technically true. In practice you will have spotty and poor service about 60 percent of the time. You will be completely without service the remainder of that time. The connection is very slow and not intended for viewing videos nor for working much with photographs. Stick to an email or message in text. And if you need to work on the cruise, this isn't really going to work for you. We travelled with the CEO of a company, and he had to wait until we were on an island or city on land to send and receive proper messages. That frequently meant a one or two day delay, and had to be accomplished with internet service not provided by the cruise line. If you are a millenial, you'd say there was no internet service at all. One kind lady told me that I was on vacation, and said that being connected to the outside world shouldn't be a priority. I suppose she's right, but I still believe in full disclosure. You will get fired from your job if you think you can work on the ship in a timely manner or are in IT and had planned on a work/play vacation. I rate the internet service and lack of disclosures at a 2 out of 10. Even the crappy service requires a long list of signing in and out and other manipulations that the average techy will find extremely cumbersome. The real killer, though, was the sales gig. There are many opportunities to spend money, but again they fail in lack of disclosure. If you bank with cash and a debit card, you'll be harassed for the entire trip. They prefer a credit card (I don't use "credit" cards) and they will pin notes to your door and ring your room at all hours of the day and night in a horrific collection attempt while you're still very much stuck on their freaking ship. They will tell all your other family members or persons traveling with you what you have or have not paid for, and which cards or cash you have used to pay or not pay for anything and everything. They will treat you like a thief and a threat. They will be unhelpful and impolite in their fervor for collection efforts. By the time I was ready to leave the boat, I had to borrow $300 dollars from a family member to pay off the various gratuities and undisclosed other charges while they treated me like a serial murderer on a cruise that cost 10K between one brother and myself. Why? When they book your airfare (assuming you get the airfare is in the overall package) they will book you on the cheapest worst most indirect flight on the wrong seat. They had me flying for two days from LAX to Miami in a middle seat in the back of the plane. By the time we paid for checked bags, additional fees for the seat, and a nonstop flight I was out another $500 just one the plane ticket fiasco. I still had to fly on an overnight flight, and spend 8 hours awaiting to "check in" after a night of no sleep on the plane. Yes, they treated to a breakfast at a local hotel. That helped for an hour of that time. I'm surprised the hotel they took us to during the daytime didn't have us all arrested for vagrancy. We all looked like half asleep zombies as we walked around the lobby in circles for six more hours. They should also disclose to passengers that EVEN IF YOU HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL DIALING PLAN, that you will still charge up your phone bill if you dare make an actual phone call during your trip. Those calls are not originating in the US and as such are $6 a minute....regardless of your "international dialing plan." Two, one half hour calls to my bank in France cost me $300 on my phone bill. If you like to count, you can see that I'm out over $800 bucks on plane charges and phone calls, without counting the $300 I took on board in cash for penny cash needs. And then the $300 I borrowed to get out of there alive before they had me sleeping in the halls or on a life boat which I offered to them as an alternative if they couldn't wait for me to get the cash limit on my DEBIT card raised for them and their tender CREDIT CARD preference on board.They really need to work on disclosing realistic cash needs on board PRIOR to boarding. This almost ruined my trip and caused petty fights among family members at Christmas time. I finally went down to the lovely Lalique filled lobby and chewed out the reception desk over their unscrupulous collection efforts on board, their skanky and undisclosed poor internet service, the missed ports (due to rain), and the extra charges and they offered me a bottle of wine... the off brand stuff. I'm giving the cruise an average rating because it was a horrible experience on board unless you were asleep or on land. The ship is a luxury ship and the 10K they collected up front on the room still had them acting like they would die for the last $300 bucks. I told them to stop the calls and notes, and to feel free to call the police if I tried to jump ship without paying. I guess all that money was for the bed. I can get that at Macy's without the pressure of a harassed existence on a ship with no internet that can't drop anchor when it rains. Had they acted better I'd have raised this review to a 4 out of 5 stars. As it is, I'm going to be nice and not lash out with a 1 star rating. Average.3 stars. That's fair. Take Oceania at least once. I'll say that. Oh, I met some nice people on board. The barista was gorgeous too. The restaurants are good and the service impeccable there. The entertainment was also good. The excursions were a cut above if expensive. Better ferries, better buses, etc. They do have a wine list that lets you know just how cheap the complimentary bottle was. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Manly booked this for the itinerary. It was a 12 night - Venice to Barcelona . 11-1-18 to 11-13-18. Excursions were not as described. The stops listed were not accurate. One location did not have the handicrafts village as highlighted. ... Read More
Manly booked this for the itinerary. It was a 12 night - Venice to Barcelona . 11-1-18 to 11-13-18. Excursions were not as described. The stops listed were not accurate. One location did not have the handicrafts village as highlighted. Another town was completely closed on the day we were there. Nothing to see at all! They return you back to the ship 2-3 hours before ship left port. Not enough time given to sights that were available. Big waste of money. The destination desk personnel were useless and could care less. This Cruise line is over rated. Horrible entertainment. It doesn't exist. First time on Oceania and probably the last. Expected more from a so called upper class sailing. This is also not recommended for any one who is handicap. All ports of call and the excursions we were part of would be a real challenge for those who are handicap. The food was very good compared to other Cruise lines. But do NOT touch anything or the food Nazis will repremand you. Sparkling water and soft drinks are all included. As for cocktails, way over priced. Friends were charged $56.00 for 2 drinks in the main dining room because he made the mortal mistake of ordering a " double" rum and coke. He only made that mistake once. The staff were very good and attended to all your needs in the beginning of this itinerary, but slowly declined as the days passed. It seemed as though many have had enough and were anxious to go home, as this was their final voyage for the season. As previously noted the worst was the " Destinations" personnel. They could care less about anything. For your O Life choice, do yourself a favor and use the ship board credit. The free excursions are NOT the way to go! Go with an outside company or explore on your own. It should also be noted that this was not a voyage for families with young children. They would be extremely board due to the lack of entertainment and the ports of call. It's catered towards the adults. For the fees charged on this line, we expected a little more. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
oceania is the best cruiseline we have done most, this was about our 30th on oceania but s few things have been a concern. hate the way they have tried to squeeze Red ginger in the menu is the old one not as good was on Riviera 3 weeks ago ... Read More
oceania is the best cruiseline we have done most, this was about our 30th on oceania but s few things have been a concern. hate the way they have tried to squeeze Red ginger in the menu is the old one not as good was on Riviera 3 weeks ago so different Then they put polo and toscanana together you get a limited menue of both it was not what we wanted, PLEASE I hope they don't try and use this format on the other R ships if so I will not use them again. It was perfect before now its a mess how can the kitchen cope with all 3 styles they made a mess of it all, we adore the cruise line such a shame. having travelled so much with oceania we obviously love them but if they continue this format to the other R ships then we will just use Marina and Riviera. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This cruise was selected for several reasons. For one, the reputation of Oceania for serving the best food on the ocean was an attraction. Also, the itenery ... we have been to Greece and Italy several times, but those traveling with us ... Read More
This cruise was selected for several reasons. For one, the reputation of Oceania for serving the best food on the ocean was an attraction. Also, the itenery ... we have been to Greece and Italy several times, but those traveling with us had not been to the Mediterranean. It also helped that the price was right! "The Good" ... The public space is lovely. Well cared for and immaculately clean. The staff is the most attentive that I have ever experienced on land or sea. The specialty restaurants were wonderful and diverse. It was refreshing to see that the policy of not allowing passengers to place a book and a hat on a pool lounge chair at 6:00 AM and then return to claim their space after lunch ... is being enforced. All cruise lines talk abut it, but do not have the gonads to enforce it. "The Bad" ... the main dining room was just average at best. It would take a good 15 minutes to be approached by staff. This happened 4 nights in a row. Once they started your table, the service was excellent. The food was dry and lacked flavor. We would have opted out of the main dining room if we had been allowed to dine in the specialty restaurants ... but you are only allowed to dine once in each specialty restaurants per leg of the cruise. If you were less than 45 minutes arriving to board the ship prior to the mandatory departure time, the tent, cold towels, and water were gone. This is not the biggest of deals if the ship is docked but if it is tendered ... good luck location the correct tender. We were forced to have The Princess Cruise Line staff help us find our tender in Santorini ... located in a totally different place than the AM landing point. If you have an independent excursion the staff will not pass out tender passes as you arrive. They wait until all of the cruise line tours are off and then announce that the independent passes will now be passed out ... so there is a major fight to claw yourself up the aisle hoping to secure a pass that allows you to only be 45 minutes late getting off the ship. "The Ugly" Our cabin ... I can only speak for our cabin, and I will not give you the cabin number since the stewardess that maintained this room was not responsible for the lack of preventive maintenance in this cabin. My only complaint with her was that she never replaced the shampoo with 2 days left on the cruise and our balcony glass was never cleaned. We were located at the rear of the ship and the vibration was unacceptable. The cables connecting the TV and the VCR were hanging out all over the place. The knob for the shower rain head kept falling off ... and being a round knob, try turning it on or off whit soap on your hands. The carpet in the room was filthy. The sheers had shrunk and were too narrow to close all of the way. The same issue was a problem with the blackout curtains, thus at 5:30 AM you were hit in the face with shards of sunlight. There were signs of the previous guest in the desk drawer. 2 postcards from a hotel and a Marriott desk pen. I worked for Hilton for 20 plus years and this alone would fail a room. Would I travel with Oceania again? Well, if the deal is good and the itenery is desirable ... you bet! But I do think that Oceania needs to save a bit of money and stop sending me cruise literature ... we something every day from them! Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We booked this cruise as a result of an excellent previous Oceania cruise (on Riviera) and corporate publicity for their 'new' ship. I will endeavour to be honest and truthful with regard to my comments and facts. The company ... Read More
We booked this cruise as a result of an excellent previous Oceania cruise (on Riviera) and corporate publicity for their 'new' ship. I will endeavour to be honest and truthful with regard to my comments and facts. The company Oceania (now owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines NCL) recently purchased this ship from Princess Cruise Lines where it had two names, Tahitian Princess and Ocean Princess. Built in 1999 it first sailed under the Renaissance flag. Oceania advertised a multimillion dollar refurbishment but this may well be somewhat of an exaggeration. When first boarding one is confronted with some very new decor in the public area and care has apparently been taken to ensure a good first impression. However, when you arrive in your penthouse suite, and my comments can only be on that type of accommodation, what a disappointment. It was blatantly obvious that, apart from the bathroom, no major work had been undertaken. The built-in furniture had not been replaced, badly fitting cupboard doors and drawers, a mini television tucked away in a difficult to view but moveable position. This was on a concealed bracket within a cupboard and if you forgot to return it within the cupboard when retiring, it was a certainty that if you got up in the night, one could have sustained personal damage. Cabin and balcony chairs, together with the vary small tables would appear to have been replaced as had the carpet and curtains. The refrigerator and safe appeared to be original. This was a very poor example of a Penthouse suite and it is most interesting that, if comparing it to the sister ship Ocean Princess, that cruise line call that level as Mini-Suites, which is a more truthful description. Both have an area of 322 sq.ft and even the suite numbers are the same. On talking to other guests, all had the same view about the 'refurbishment'. As one person said, a lick of paint and new carpet seemed to be the order of day. The vast majority of staff were excellent, given the pressures they were under. The entertainment was somewhat less then average and there would appear to be a strong need for a replacement cruise director. The food was very good, although there were some issues with undercooked lobster and overcooked steaks. In line with most cruise lines these days, shortage of staff in the Grand Dining Room did not allow time for any conversation with the waiters. The splash pool had not been changed from original, very, very small, no chance of swimming unless you were the only one there. Bar staff were great and the selection of drinks was good but very expensive. If you like a drink, take the premium drinks package, it will save you a lot of money. In conclusion we were very disappointed with this ship and, would we sail on it again, never, never, never. We feel as if we have been totally misled by the Oceania publicity and wonder if this has anything to do with the takeover by NCL who do not do luxury cruising. Our next cruise is with Regent, also now owned by NCL and it will be interesting to make a comparison. I would suggest the reader looks up the details of the Sun Princess on Princess Cruises as this is a sister ship of Sirena when built and comparisons can be made. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
to see Spain coast and Morocco. We came one day early to make sure catching the cruise. it seemed a bad idea staying in it assigned hotel Barcelona Hilton, not only charged double for 2 persons in one room, but had very poor ... Read More
to see Spain coast and Morocco. We came one day early to make sure catching the cruise. it seemed a bad idea staying in it assigned hotel Barcelona Hilton, not only charged double for 2 persons in one room, but had very poor service. Coming after a red eye flight from Atlanta around 10 AM, the front desk lady refused to let us check in early to get some sleep but let the same flight crews to check -in right way. Luckily Oceania personnel intervened to let us get in at 12 noon to catch lost sleep for two 70+ and 80+ old guys. Once on board the next day, we were treated well and the food and service were very well. After the cruise, we have found how to use the shipboard credit not before, may be next time if you have. The specialty restaurant reservations were not possible to have before 9 PM, so we had gave up with none during the trip. About the excursion to Casablanca we expect ed highly, but after arriving, only learned that the locals were closed everything after Ramadan and some Holiday not before. Well, you don't always get what you paid for. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Don't get me wrong we had a good time because we had 11 family members and a gang of friends onboard. We are all Crystal veterans giving Oceania a try because they had a much better Christmas itinerary than Crystal this year. ... Read More
Don't get me wrong we had a good time because we had 11 family members and a gang of friends onboard. We are all Crystal veterans giving Oceania a try because they had a much better Christmas itinerary than Crystal this year. Embarkation was a breeze, debarkation was unbelievably tedious, disorganized and my son missed his 11:00AM flight. We were told by Oceania (I called myself) that no matter how many children were onboard, there would be no programs or babysitters. We considered bringing a nanny, but decided the kids (5 & 8) could stay up some nights and the parents would turn in early some nights. Upon arrival, we were told there would be a kids orientation at 4:30. The kids club (what?) was amazing and getting a babysitter was not a problem. Such a big fuss about no kids, we hate kids, we don't want kids...on Oceania. Guess what...people don't leave their kids home at Christmas! Oceania get over it and say most of the year we don't encourage kids, but at the holidays we understand. Ship and cabins were nice. We had a Penthouse and it had a nice amount of space. Alternative restaurants, especially Jacques were very good. However, the dining room was not good at all. We began referring to it as the Mess Hall. Very inconsistent food and sometimes down right bad service. The first night our dover sole came with sauce on it and bones in it. Crazy! Terrace was great at breakfast and sometimes good at lunch. Waves, the service was ridiculous. Rarely got what we asked for. A glass of wine took forever. We did the prepaid drink package which was $5000 for our group. Very inconvenient having to give your card everytime we ordered a drink. Oceania has to figure out a less intrusive way to manage their drink inventory. Yes, that's what we were told it was for. There was no organized Bridge for my husband. Not happy. The advertised times of port debarkation were cut short at many ports. Leaving sometimes at 4:00 instead of 8:00. St. Barts, for instance. I made hair appt.s in advance throughout the trip. When I got onboard, they had no record of them. Not life threatening, but very inconvenient. The service on the pool deck was poor. No one made eye contact and offered nothing. Yes, if you asked, they got whatever it was for you, but no offers. Water???? We had booked two subsequent trips on Oceania. One for 35 days and another for 18 days. We have canceled both. We realized we are Crystal people. Until Oceania becomes All Inclusive and beefs up their service we're not going back. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Pros: 1. Food was outstanding. 5-star restaurant quality in the specialty restaurants. 2. Common areas very nice, such as impressive library area, nice fitness room, etc. Cons: 1. Web site makes it so difficult to sign up for ... Read More
Pros: 1. Food was outstanding. 5-star restaurant quality in the specialty restaurants. 2. Common areas very nice, such as impressive library area, nice fitness room, etc. Cons: 1. Web site makes it so difficult to sign up for a cruise, we almost gave up. 2. Embarkation process poor. Had to wait 3+ hours after boarding until our cabin was ready. They could have sequenced the boarding times to avoid the long wait. 3. Disembarkation was TERRIBLE. Mass crowds pushing and shoving for baggage. Oceania only requested 18 porters and 3 customs stations for 1,200 guests. The line for a porter was 45-60 minutes long. Elderly people were experiencing medical concerns because of the lengthy waits to get through the crowd. It took nearly 2-1/2 hours to disembark. 4. Only after the cruise was underway were the guests informed that the in-port times for all ports was being reduced. In fact, the total in-port time was reduced 20 hours, which was almost 20% of what was advertised. As a result, our Christmas dinner plans ashore had to be cancelled at the very last minute, leaving us with nothing special on what was to have been a special evening. We considered this to be unacceptable. We go on cruises to see sights in different places, not to see more of the inside of the ship. The advertising for this cruise was inaccurate. 5. Value: This is a higher than average priced cruise line, but besides the food, there was little that was much different than we've experienced on other lines. In short, the "value" was lacking. Other: Service was adequate, but we wondered if the automatic gratuities reduced the incentives of staff to provide outstanding service. Other cruise lines without automatic gratuities seem to have a better overall service level, in our experience. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Panama Canal Passage, June 22-July 8, 2015 Insignia We were two couples (early 70’s), celebrating an anniversary. We loved the size of the ship, but agreed that too many people had been crammed on board on this final leg of a ... Read More
Panama Canal Passage, June 22-July 8, 2015 Insignia We were two couples (early 70’s), celebrating an anniversary. We loved the size of the ship, but agreed that too many people had been crammed on board on this final leg of a round-the-world cruise. We heard various statistics, but it appeared that there were 40-100 more people on board than the ship was equipped to handle. One indication of this was the life-boat drill: presumably half the ship was assigned to each of two muster stations. Our station, the Insignia Lounge, was also the site of the evening entertainment and appeared to have insufficient seating for even half the passengers. I am not questioning Oceania’s commitment to safety, only their commitment to the comfort and enjoyment of their passengers. Cabin My husband and I enjoyed 8005, a PH3 Cabin, as it was convenient for him to walk up one flight to the outdoor smoking lounge. To call this a “Penthouse Suite”, however, is a misnomer, as it was neither a penthouse nor a suite, just a nice veranda cabin. The balcony was a bit small, and one of us found the bed very uncomfortable, even after the addition of a bed board (or some other form of support). The design of the bathtub-shower combination was a bit treacherous for the old(er) and clumsy and made my sister-in-law grateful for their inside cabin, with its simple shower stall. The best thing about the cabin was our butler, Mishar, who solved numerous problems and facilitated countless arrangements for us. Itinerary and Tours San Diego We are residents of San Diego County and naturally biased. The ship docks in a location convenient to shopping and sight-seeing, as well as The Midway Museum. If you’re not going further afield, to the zoo, for example, a Pedicab is highly recommended. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico We stayed on board until an evening dinner cruise (booked through a website), which started an hour after we were told to be on the pier. It was probably more fun for the 20- and 30-somethings, as they listened to loud music and downed truly atrocious Margaritas, but we did get a nice photo out of it, the four of us and the Arches. Huatulco, Mexico We’d been curious about this area for a long time, as it had the same genesis as Cancun: a computer analysis of statistics for a favorable tourist development. Huatulco, with its five bays, was geographically large enough that it was not possible to get an impression of the whole area in one partial day. It was green and scenically lovely, however, and did not appear to have suffered the same over-building and saturation of name-brand night spots as Cancun. Two of us did the ship’s scenic drive and shopping tour, as it seemed to offer the best opportunity for finding Zapotec rugs. Indeed, we were impressed with the quality and the prices and bought two! Good tour, highly recommended. Only sorry we couldn’t have worked in some snorkeling also. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala Some passengers went to Antigua (three hours total on the bus), but we preferred to save this lovely city for another trip. One of us was thrilled to know that we were the same distance from Guatemala City, site of a major pre-Columbian museum. The other of us spent hours looking for a private tour company to take us there, only to find that said museum was closed on Monday, the day our ship called. There was a lovely shopping area around the port, however, complete with countless vendors of Guatemalan weavings, a jade museum and store, and a waterfront restaurant with delicious nachos and Guatemalan beer and rum. It was one of our nicer days on the cruise, and we were pleased we hadn’t succumbed to a tour, particularly as subsequent shopping opportunities were more limited than we had predicted. Porto Cortino, Nicaragua One of the ship’s tours mentioned a pre-Columbian museum, Museo Chorotega, 15 miles away in Chinandega. Knowing that my husband would want more time there than any group tour would allow, I found a private company, Julio Tours Nicaragua mailto:info@juliotoursnicaragua.com.ni. Julio’s response was immediate, and planning was easy. Our driver and guide, Miguel, could not have been better. He was informative and articulate and very pleasant company. The museum was small but a real treasure, as it contained over 1000 examples of pottery from the area, dating back to 2,000 BC. A young local man narrated each display, and Miguel translated, and my husband was delighted. He wass so pleased with the museum that he asked to make a donation. There was an elementary school next door to the museum, and Miguel arranged for my sister-in-law and me to visit two classrooms (while our husbands watched a baseball game on the playground). The kids were delightful and had a good time laughing at my poor Spanish. For us, this was a highlight of the whole cruise. We enjoyed a delightful lunch at El Convento in Leon and headed back to the ship, after a return trip to the restaurant when Miguel was notified that I’d left my credit card. In any case, we would not have had time to visit the art gallery, the third stop on our itinerary, because of time spent at the museum and school, a good trade, in my opinion. The ship’s tour had done the itinerary in reverse and never made it to the museum, let alone the school! I shudder to think what we would have missed, had we not booked a private tour with someone who respected our priorities. Nicaragua appeared to be the poorest country we visited, but it had some of the nicest people. Depending on the season, be prepared for a lot of dust. There’s no crop rotation on the peanut farms, and the air can be almost saturated with grit from the bare fields. Puntarenas, Costa Rica An enlightening but frustrating first visit to this country, which provided a stark contrast to the rest of Central America, at least the parts we saw. I was especially struck by the pristine, very modern highways, overpasses, and signage. We elected the ship’s river cruise, as our limited time in port precluded a private tour. The river was pleasant, but overall the tour was disappointing, as we were on the road too long for too little, and local shops were closed when we returned. One of my husband’s smoking buddies wondered off the ship with his family, encountered a friendly cab drive, and spent an incredible and memorable day being up close and personal with animals in the national park, for a whole $100. I had read a similar report on Cruise Critic, and I wish we’d elected that option. Cartagena, Columbia There was another pre-Columbian (Gold) Museum, so I had requested a private tour with Marelvy Peña marelvy@gmail.com. Marelvy herself was already booked, but our guide, Katty, was delightful. Her English was excellent, and we had a wonderful visit to La Popa (where we met Marelvy, herself), and the San Felipe Fortress, as well as the old city, with plenty of time to shop and ogle the gold. For my husband and me, it was probably the best day of the cruise. Some passengers had the impression that Cartagena was dangerous, and this was reinforced by the ship’s warnings regarding what not to do. I can only say that the old city reminded both of us of New Orleans, and we felt equally safe there. At our request, Katty took us to a local place for lunch (delicious). Chile was playing Argentina for the America’s Cup Championship, and the lunch crowd was equally divided between the two teams and two different T.V.’s. During our subsequent walk, Katty would continually duck into a shop or bar to report, “The score is still tied, 0-0”. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and while not usually a soccer fan, I confess to being relieved to have the outcome of the game reported on the ship (Katty was rooting for Chile, and they won). In a closet-sized hardware store, so small that Katty had never noticed it, we were able to find the duct tape our brother-in-law needed to complete “Ocean Blue”; the tape was my husband’s and my sole contribution to “our” entry in the ship’s boat building contest. Both of us agree: Cartagena is not to be missed. We also highly recommend Marelvy’s operation and our guide Katty. Key West, Florida Sadly, our final port of call was cancelled, due to weather. We had 21-foot waves the night we left Cartagena, and adverse conditions continued for much of the next two days. Miami, Florida My husband and I were faced with the prospect of nearly 12 hours between disembarkation and our flight home. Oceania had insisted that there were no arrangements for tours or transportation ending at the airport. This turned out to be false, as the agent knew, but “We don’t kow what we’ll be able to offer, and we don’t want you to count on it and be disappointed”. The existence of these arrangements was not revealed until a day or two before disembarkation. They would not have met our needs, as they appeared to involve transportation changes and handling our own luggage, but Oceania lost points for this. In any case, I discovered a company called Tours by Locals and booked a Greater Miami Tour with Steven Bridges. Steven was knowledgeable and engaging, and our time with him passed very quickly. We learned a lot we never knew about Miami and had a comfortable and enjoyable tour. Dining I was told that Oceania has the best food at sea. I would have to agree, with one caveat: It is difficult to enjoy the best food at sea if dining venues are over-crowded, noisy, and offering poor service. A word about the specialty restaurants: These are free, with dining opportunities available according to one’s cabin category. Unlike on many ships, the Italian venue, Toscana, was outstanding, with excellent food and the best service, whereas The Polo Grill steak house was somewhat disappointing. Our group concluded that we would rather be assessed a surcharge for the specialty restaurants and have more opportunities available. The Terrace was a mixed bag for me, as I hate buffets. As these go, however, the Terrace at least had excellent food, and on our last evening I managed to grab an outside table on the railing, and an agreement from my husband that it would not be too warm outside the A/C, and four of us enjoyed a lovely dinner. The Grand Dining Room – Surprisingly, the food was often as good as in the Specialty Restaurants. I had enjoyed Dover Sole twice in Toscana and ordered it out of curiosity the night it was featured in the Grand. Amazingly, it was equally good. It was here that the noise and service were really objectionable, however. There is leisurely dining, and there is just sitting around and waiting in a noisy room, and the Grand was in the latter category. Unfortunately, the same was somewhat true of the Polo Grill, though to a lesser extent in Tuscany. In none of these venues should it have taken two and one half hours to complete a meal, which was always the case. This meant that if you were at the Grand when it opened at 6:30, you did not finish in time for the evening’s one show, which usually started at 8:30. Service hours should be extended in all venues (including the bars), and consideration should be given to scheduling more than one show per evening. Entertainment Who knows? Seriously, see above. Even when we would rush to make a show, there would be no seats left. See above. I was able to hear a few minutes of the guest tenor’s program, which I enjoyed immensely. Enrichment We were blessed to have a well informed and entertaining former newsman as a lecturer. His illustrated talks on the Panama Canal and Central American politics were a highlight of the cruise for us. My sister-in-law greatly enjoyed her art classes, and there were also opportunities for photography addicts. Daily Trivia games were both entertaining and enriching and provided the opportunity to meet congenial fellow passengers. Drinking The two of us had purchased the premium liquor package, which meant we could order wine and spirits by the glass, throughout the ship. In this case, I was glad to be paying for a package, as my in-laws do not drink and would have found it very unfair to be paying for my consumption. Otherwise, I would rather pay a higher cruise fare and have cocktails and wine included. The package option undoubtedly saved us money, but it was hardly seamless, as one still had to present one’s cruise card --or rather, two cruise cards in our case, precluding the opportunity for my husband to return with drinks for both of us, spontaneously, after one of his smoking trips --, and the time needed to process the “transaction” in the Grand was overly long. As more knowledgeable cruisers might know, one doesn’t try to order cocktails at the table before dinner; otherwise you can end up with a pissy sommelier and a vodka martini that arrives after the pate and caviar appetizer is long gone. It’s better to carry your cocktail in. I also sometimes wondered if sommeliers were slow to refill my wineglass because I wasn’t paying for each pour. I don’t really believe that however. There were just too many passengers for the staff, including the sommeliers; the ship was short-handed, though personnel denied this. As to venues, The Waves Bar closed too early (6:30); Martini’s was too crowded for relaxed before-dinner cocktails, and the Grand Bar was a coffee venue until 6:30, when the dining room opened, an example of poor planning in my opinion. That left Horizon’s, which seemed too out of the way and was not my husband’s favorite smoking venue. Before closing, I must commend the bartenders for their memory and cheerfulness. One sommelier was also particularly attentive and helpful, though he was trying to serve too many people. I cannot say enough good things about our butler; the cabin attendants were cheerful and helpful for the most part but rather clueless when it came to trying to clean while we were trying to pack. Overall, neither my husband nor I were sorry we took this cruise, though he’s said it may be his last on Oceania. Interestingly, several previous Oceania passengers were complaining that Insignia is the worst Oceania ship and that this cruise was worse than others on Insignia. It was not what they had come to expect from Oceania. For a luxury cruise, I too expected a bit more. As my sister-in-law reminded me, she and my brother-in-law could have done essentially the same itinerary on another line for less than half what they paid. Personally, we might still have elected to pay more for the smaller ship size and more congenial fellow passengers, but we might also have thought twice about it. I am famous among friends for saying that the worst cruise is better than no cruise. There have been two cruises that have caused me to question the wisdom of that statement, but this was not one of them. Unlike some passengers, I was not eager to get off the ship, but I had found myself asking, “Are we having fun yet?”. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
This was my 4th Oceania cruise, the first on one of the smaller ships. I must confess that I have been spoiled by previous voyages on Riviera. Seattle was beautiful, sunny and 84 degrees on the day we sailed. For the most part, weather ... Read More
This was my 4th Oceania cruise, the first on one of the smaller ships. I must confess that I have been spoiled by previous voyages on Riviera. Seattle was beautiful, sunny and 84 degrees on the day we sailed. For the most part, weather was mild, with only misty rain here and there, but not much sun outside of Puget Sound. The scenery was majestic. Cruising in Tracy Arm and viewing Sawyer Glacier did not disappoint. We found the food to be excellent with a small stumble here and there. Room service breakfast was a treat, delivered in a timely manner, hot and tasty. A little more space in the cabin would have made it more enjoyable...we were pretty cramped between the little sofa and the desk. Having a stool to sit on rather than a chair was less comfortable. As I said, spoiled by Riviera. One our traveling group had an outside cabin with an 'obstructed view' which means there is a lifeboat right outside their window, and often crew members were on the deck working. We would not recommend this category of accommodation! Ketchikan was an interesting port. Even though we didn't take a shore excursion, we found lots to do and see just in Ketchikan. Lots of shopping. Wrangell was disappointing. If you are willing to go on a boat or sea plane, there are sights to see. For those on foot, not so much. Prince Rupert was better, but for those not on a ship's excursion, not much to do. On days at sea there were ample activities to keep us amused, from Team Trivia, indoor putting competitions, table tennis, and Bingo to enjoying a very talented string quartet or sipping a latté in the library. The daily 4:00 tea was another event to look forward to! The tea, sweets, snacks, and Service were outstanding. That being said, this is really a cruise to relax and view some stunning scenery, and we were not disappointed! The crew were exemplary...we never saw a sour face! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This was my 61st cruise, first with Oceania. Overall a very nice cruise, with a few glitches here and there that could be easily fixed with this line to make it nearly perfect. We flew from Washington DC to Vancouver. Our air and ... Read More
This was my 61st cruise, first with Oceania. Overall a very nice cruise, with a few glitches here and there that could be easily fixed with this line to make it nearly perfect. We flew from Washington DC to Vancouver. Our air and transfers were done with the cruise line. I thought it was rather strange that I received confirmation from both my travel agent as well as Oceania about the air flight time and flight number BUT neither one included what airline was selected. I had to go on Kayak to determine our carrier both ways. I thought that was a rather important detail that was not provided. Flights and transfers were fine, no line to check in, and we were on the ship by 2:30 pm for lunch. The Terrace Grill was open for a nice lunch. They served casual breakfast, lunch, and dinner in this area every day. The food in the area was excellent, with a nice variety of high quality items. The problem is that you do NOT serve yourself, and items are not clearly identified. This causes lots of confusion, and considerably slows the production process in this venue. The other problem in this area is that there are many employees in this area trying to help but it appears there is absolutely no cross training. One person to clear old silverware, one person to remove beverage containers, one person to remove soiled napkins, and the reverse to reset the table for the next party. Very slow at times. They do take your beverage order in this area, but most of the time it takes more than 10 minutes to get a diet coke, and forget about getting a refill. Most nights in the evening they have grilled lobster and shrimp at this location that were great. Also a nice variety of desserts and ice creams. I never tried the pizza but it did look inviting. Just outside of this area near the pool was another informal eating area called Waves. They served a very limited breakfast menu for late risers. This area also had a great lunch menu with a Reuben to die for, great lobster and filet sandwich, and very good Kobe burger, as well as other interesting looking burgers and dogs. Most items are served with a nice homemade slaw and fries. Unfortunately half the time the fries were cold. Is it really that difficult to serve hot fries?? We had a standard cabin with a window on deck 4 next to the reception desk. The cabin is average size with a small bathroom. Gerson our cabin steward did a great job of keeping our cabin spotless and my mini-fridge stocked with diet sodas. The bed was extremely comfortable, with very high end linens to match. Alcohol is not included on this cruise line but they did have the free go-go juice flowing at the Captains Welcome Dinner. From 5:00 - 6:00 there was a happy our every day in the bar near the casino and in the Horizons lounge on deck 10. Horizons is a very nice relaxing location with panoramic views. It was a popular area and during happy hour getting served there was usually rather difficult, taking about 15 minutes before we were even recognized and our order taken. They usually only had 2 bar servers in this location even during happy hour. They needed several more to keep up with demand. If you went to the bar yourself to try to get a second drink a few minutes before the end of happy hour they were not pleased and I was told to return to my seat and a server would assist. Sometimes they did and sometimes they did not. The Main Dining Room is on Deck 5 and is a beautiful area. We had dinner there most nights. Everything was excellent except for the beef. I can only eat medium well or well done beef. I ordered this three nights in a row and each night received an entree prepared very rare. The third night I called the waiter over and showed him the rareness and requested one that was well done. When he returned it was still rare. This was also the case one evening at the Terrace Grill when I requested a well done steak, at least there it was medium and I was able to eat the edges. Is well done that difficult to do? One other serious problem in this area- the wine stewards strongly push the wine. You cannot even pick up your wine glass to smell the wine without them rushing over to your table asking to fill up your glass. One steward even interrupted us (twice) at our table to ask to pour more wine- this is unacceptable on any cruise and without question totally out of line at this level of cruising. On deck 10 there are also two special restaurants that are free of charge. Our first one we sampled was Toscana with the Italian Theme. Our Italian waiter did a nice job, but the service was extremely slow. Other tables that arrived after us were completely done 20 minutes before we were even offered dessert. The Lasagna was wonderful as was all other selections. The second special restaurant is Polo Grill. This was the absolute highlight of the cruise. Great waiter and even better food than I have ever had on a ship. The Shrimp cocktail was stunning, super jumbo sized shrimp that were flavorful and tender. Excellent Onion soup and Whole 2 1/2 pound steamed Maine Lobster, it just does not get any better than that. I did not even have room for dessert but two of my table mates selected a 7 layer chocolate cake that i did sample and it was the best! They even prepared a beautiful personal birthday cake for the person that was celebrating a special birthday - 55. I thought the entertainment for a small ship was wonderful. I did see the comedian two nights - Noodles, very funny without being vulgar. The four singers and dancers sang and absolutely danced their little hearts out- they surely gave 110%. The reception desk staff always gave a smile and were pleasant. Robert the concierge was most kind on several occasions. The cruise director is a character - he knows his stuff and did a great job- especially at trivia. I know I only gave an average rating of 3 stars, but a few thing need to be fixed immediately: The Terrace Buffet- assign stations to staff to clean and reset tables, cross train the staff to jump in and help each other when someone is "in the weeds". Train your wine stewards the proper method of when and when not to serve. Train your cooks how to prepare a well done steak. Read Less
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