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Sail Date: July 2008
This was our second time sailing with Oceania (the other in 2005 Barcelona to Istanbul). We like the smaller ships (less than 700 passengers) and the port intensive itineraries of Oceania. The ships are very nicely appointed and have a ... Read More
This was our second time sailing with Oceania (the other in 2005 Barcelona to Istanbul). We like the smaller ships (less than 700 passengers) and the port intensive itineraries of Oceania. The ships are very nicely appointed and have a "country club casual" ambience. No need to pack all that formal wear. Although staterooms are known to be on the smallish side, they are very well laid out and comfortable. In 2005 we had Concierge Level balcony Stateroom which was very nice, however on this cruise opted for the somewhat larger penthouse suite which had a bathtub and came with butler service. Our butler was extremely pleasant and efficient but did not find having a butler significantly contributed to our enjoyment of the cruise. Although I was completely satisfied with the concierge level stateroom, my husband enjoyed the extra space of the penthouse suite especially as was 14 day cruise. Dining on Oceania was wonderful experience. Maybe not quite ***** but certainly much better than many of the larger cruise lines. We generally dined in the main Dining Room - no set seatings so could dine when you pleased. Had the option of dining alone, with group or to be placed at an open table. Many of the tables were for 2 but well positioned so could have a private meal but were at the same time conducive to meeting others. Particularly enjoyed the speciality Italian restaurant Toscana and dined there on a number of occasions. Polo Grill was also nice but menu limited to fairly standard steaks & chops. For breakfast we generally ordered room service & ate on our balcony or had croissants & coffee up in the Horizon Lounge (very quiet). We are not buffet type people and generally avoided the buffet except to pick up a few appies to enjoy in our stateroom. Unlike other cruise lines, Oceania do allow you bring your own liquor aboard to consume in your stateroom. Can also bring your own wine to dining room but charged a corkage charge so not worth extra cost. Normally we would order bottles of wine with dinner, and what was not finished was stored by the wine steward for the next day. Without set seating, you did not always have the same service staff. However being a smaller ship and longer cruise we did get to know a number of the staff. Service was exceptional and friendly. Where Oceania falls down is on entertainment and shore excursions. Entertainment - The house orchestras were OK but the headlined acts were so so bad. I generally would walk out but my husband would stay because they were not only bad but they were terrible! One of the entertainers on our Baltic cruise was the same as on our Mediterranean cruise in 2005. Oceania is adult oriented and do not have children's/teen programs. Not a "party boat". Shore excursions: Grossly overpriced and Oceania have the habit of canceling excursions at the last minute if they don't have enough people signed up. Excursion desk staff, although pleasant, were unable/unwilling to provide port information other than related to their tour. Generally a local tourist official would board when we got into port but a bit late for advance planning. For St. Petersburg , Oceania gave us the impression that it was very difficult to get a visitors Visa for Russia and it would not be possible to get off the boat without taking one of their excursions. Fortunately at the last minute we learnt this was not the case & booked 3 day tour with Alla Tours which was fabulous. Best advice is to try and pre-arrange own tours or get a good guide and do it on your own. With this last cruise, had a few problems pre-cruise with our flight deviations. Our itineraries were different as husband was returning a week later from UK. We received our flight confirmations from Oceania and all seemed OK as we had requested until we called the airlines to book our seat assignments. Evidently my husband's reservation had been changed & he was scheduled to fly out to Stockholm a day later than me. Took over a week to rectify. Would I sail again with Oceania - probably yes but am a bit hesitant because I enjoy going to the evening show as part of the cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
Embarkation was quick and easy. First, let me say that the ship was beautiful, clean, and the perfect size. Every employee was polite, kind, and always had a greeting as you walked by. Service in all areas was outstanding. We ... Read More
Embarkation was quick and easy. First, let me say that the ship was beautiful, clean, and the perfect size. Every employee was polite, kind, and always had a greeting as you walked by. Service in all areas was outstanding. We started by me being sick the first two days (not motion sickness) and stayed in bed not to give others my severe cold, then needing two more to recover. Good timing by me on that. Wednesday through Sunday was 5 straight days of bad weather and high seas. Although we do not get sea sick, the constant holding on and keeping balance was tiring. Try to take a shower in a rocking phone booth while you hold on with one hand. But that's a chance you take on a TA. The food was excellent overall, and the open dining was great. We enjoyed Toscana the most, and he kindly got us in several extra nights when I asked when the doors opened. The one downside was the coffee was terrible. It made Starbucks taste weak. Same coffee used on the whole ship. I never get a good iced tea on a cruise, so I order tea with a glass of ice, and make my own fresh. The entertainment was based on the average age of 70 of the passengers, but there could have been some more current soft music, and not so much 30's and 40's stuff. The band was very good, as well as the string quartet on deck 5 by the shops each day. The guest speaker, Dr. Roger Cartwright, was excellent. He gave a number of talks ranging from the history of cruising, battles at sea, and truths about the Titanic. They were interesting and he was a good speaker. The library was great, with a nice selection of books. Disembarkation was quick and easy, but we were the first off to get to the airport to begin our 23 straight hours of either being in the air, or in an airport. Arrghhhh! Oceania was a nice change from other cruise lines with the open seating, no kids, and relaxation. But 8 straight days at sea are a bit much. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
We had actually planned and put a deposit on a Celebrity itinerary that went to many of the same destinations BUT started and ended in Rome. Then the Oceania brochure arrived in the mail and I found the itinerary that I really wanted! ... Read More
We had actually planned and put a deposit on a Celebrity itinerary that went to many of the same destinations BUT started and ended in Rome. Then the Oceania brochure arrived in the mail and I found the itinerary that I really wanted! Athens to Istanbul. Didn't have to deal with Citavecchia, alot more time / ports in the Greek Isles and ending in Istanbul so we could add a few days to see all the sights there at a leisurely pace. But the price! We had a balcony booked on the Celebrity ship, we booked a porthole cabin on the lowest deck on Nautica and it was costing more. We reserved our cabin in July 2008, by the time final payment was due the economy had sunk, the Nautica had a fair amount of empty cabins and for $300 more per person we upgraded to a balcony. I did love my balcony but this trip was the most expensive vacation I have ever taken - was it worth it?We did our own air and transfers. It was nice that the ship had an overnight in Athens at the start of the trip so we did not have to fly in early "just in case". We took the bus from the airport to Pireaus (easy do) but others posters had said you could walk to the ship - it would have been warm (and this was only May) and a fair hike. We took a short but worth it 12E taxi from where the bus let us off.Our cabin was very nice - we knew not to expect super-luxury size wise and it was very comfortable with room for all our stuff. Robes were provided and the TV had a very good assortment of current films plus the usual port talks and various channels from around the world. Also there were free DVD's you could check out - the assortment of movies and DVD's were a nice perk from any other ship we have been on.The ship was beautiful and very tastefully decorated with reproductions of famous pictures (lots of Impressionsits) and some lovely glass pieces in the Horizons bar. The size of the ship and the decor were IMO much nicer than the mammoth super ships used by so many other lines. Nautica is elegant not glitzy. Three things lured me onto the Nautica - itinerary, ship size and food. Unfortunately I think my expections were a bit too high for the food - by the time I boarded the ship I was expecting the best 12 dinners of my life (and I'm used to eating pretty good food between my own cooking and Atlanta restaurants). I think because of that, I ended up being a wee bit disappointed. I was also frustrated with the specialty restaurants. Our cabin entitled us to one reservation in Polo and Toscano but on the CC boards some posters mentioned it was not difficult to get extra nights if you were flexible. That proved not to be so for us and the frustrating thing was the ship was not full and the nights we dined in both Polo and Toscano, they were not full. But every morning I would ask if we could get a sitting in either of the speciality resturants and was refused with the comment "We want to accommodate all our guests" huh? But I may be being a bit nit-picky now. The other frustration was unlike other cruise lines where you can ask the wait staff to point to the best choices on the menu and request a different choice if you are unhappy with the first one, that did not happen on Oceania. Someone said the staff is told not to give recommendations because "every choice is delicious" - well not quite. Especially disappointing was the lobster in Polo - tough and chewy. But now that I have expressed my grievences, I will give praise where it is due. Most of the food in the GDR was good to very good. The beef was always high quality and cooked to order. I love lamb and had that several times, always tastey. Some of the desserts were wonderful - the chocolate tear comes to mind (but that chocolate lasagna that gets raves on the boards, we thought was bogus!). In the specialty restaurants there was a fresh fish choice that was excellent. There were some wonderful pasta choices (and a few mediocre ones too). We always ate at the buffet for lunch and dinner - we especially liked the freah tossed salads of the day and the delicious cheeses. The format of no assigned time or table works well on a European cruise and we enjoyed meeting new people each evening at dinner. But sometimes if you opted to be seated at a larger table, you ended up waiting for it to fill up - one night it was about 20 minutes and a bit frustrating. Overall the food was very good, certainly the best cruise cuisine I have had - but probably the best food on the trip was the Greek food when we ate off the ship.Well you can tell by now I am a foodie - I don't have nearly as many comments on other aspects of the trip. The ship went to Crete, Dubrovnik, Olympia, Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, (we had to skip Delos bcause of high waves), Rhodes, Kusadasi, and ended in Istanbul. At every port there was a local travel agent with helpful maps, money and transportation tips - Oceania gets an A+ for this feature. We did all ports on our own so I have no comments on the excursions offered by the ship. We thoroughly enjoyed the ports - felt we got a nice exposure  to many of the different islands and the port stops were long enough to do a fair amount of exploring. It was nice to be on a small ship - no waiting for tenders but unfortunately at several of the ports "we were not alone" as the cruise directior liked to say. So some days we joined a heavy tourist swarm. But it was a great itinerary. Istanbul at the end was a mix. It was quite crowded and it took us a bit to get used to the interaction with the locals. Numerous rug solicitaions. We stayed at the Pierre Loti Hotel - excellent location and price. By the time we left, we were feeling more comfotable. I must add tho that we did not feel unsafe - I got alot of "you're going to Turkey - be careful". We used the trams and buses to get around and I was less wary of being pick-pocketed there than in many of the other big EU cities. The locals are very friendly but they often have an agenda - a polite refusal usually ended any solicitation.Entertainment - not for me (I read) but my daughter (30 year old) really liked the magician. She also used the gym and the  spa and would give them good marks. Service - EXCELLENT - sometimes almost too attentive, but that's just me. Fellow passengers, yes, mostly 50 and beyond, very well traveled, many Oceania fans. Most of the people we met were very pleasant and made nice dinner companions.So was it worth it? Would I sail Oceania again? - definately yes if the price was less. The itineraries, the ship size and decor,  the flexibilty of dining times and no formal nights, the local travel agents on board, the friendly staff - all very attractive and unique qualities of this line. But it was pricey - I can do a 2 week land trip (not a tour) for thousands less so it may be that this wonderful trip will have been  a "once in a lifetime" experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2009
I will try to be as complete, candid and unbiased as possible.  I will not tell you everything is perfect or that everything is terrible. All cruises have good points and bad points. Hopefully, the good far outweighs the bad.Pre-cruise, ... Read More
I will try to be as complete, candid and unbiased as possible.  I will not tell you everything is perfect or that everything is terrible. All cruises have good points and bad points. Hopefully, the good far outweighs the bad.Pre-cruise, Barcelona: We arrived after a relatively simple two flight legsLAX to Heathrow, Heathrow to Barcelona around 7:45 pm and took the VERY EASY "Aerobus" from the airport to Placa Catalunyasteps from our hotel, the Hotel Continental. A taxi could not have been much simpler or easier and the cost was minimal.The Hotel Continental is both incredible AND disappointing. The incredible: The location. There could not be a better location in all of Barcelona. We had a Las Ramblas View Balcony Room on the "Third Floor" literally looking straight down on all of the action on Las Ramblas. Right out the front door was a choice of restaurants, shops, bars and more. It was NOT noisy when the doors were shut and the drapes drawn. There were electric shades, operated by a switch near the door, which closed the room off from the outside light. The disappointing: My wife hated the bedthought the mattress was too hard. The room was rather small and the reports were correct about the "plastic furniture". I was fine with it.  It's not like we had to live there for more than three nights and, to me, the location was unbeatable. To my wife, she would have preferred a more upscale five-star hotel with a big soft bed.There was free internet and a public computer down in the main lobby area. The 24 hour buffet was well stocked including free 24 hour beer and wine.  Of course, it wasn't exactly Napa Valley Cabernet they were servingbut free is free.Embarkation: We checked out of the hotel around 11 am and took a taxi right to the ship. Embarkation was well run and easy and we were on the ship in minutes enjoying a nice lunch at the buffet. First, of course, we stopped by Polo and made our reservations for our nights in Polo and Toscana.The Nautica: This was our second cruise on the Nautica. We were on it in 2006, just after Oceania acquired it and refurbished it. Three years later I can tell you the ship is in great conditionlooks brand new. Hard to believe it is a 10 year old ship. There is not a single instance where I noticed any material wear. Our cabin (#7051midship deck 7, category A1 Concierge level) was exactly as I remembered from last timespacious, well appointed.  King sized bed, small love seat type sofa, desk, small table, balcony with two deck chairs. Public areas are limited, but appropriate for this size shipnever felt crowded, always able to find a seat in any venueincluding deck chairs on at-sea days and reasonably located seating for the shows even when arriving barely on time.Dining: This cruise confirmed for me that this is one of the really strong points for Oceania. The food was consistently excellent, menus were varied and offered many choices. Service was good (We'll get to the few issues later on). We generally ate in the Main Dining Room for all meals except our two nights in Polo and two in Toscana and the two occasions we had room service breakfasts delivered to our cabin. Toscana, in particular, was excellent. Some of our friends found Polo a little disappointingmostly in the quality of the steak.  Of course, I ordered lobster both nights so I wouldn't know.Entertainment: As much as Dining is a strong point, entertainment is Oceania's weak link. Of course, if entertainment doesn't matter much to you, it is no big deal. As there is never more than one show per night (at 9:45) and there could not be more than half the ship there, obviously, over half the passengers really didn't care. There were basically only three "headline" performers on the ship: Comedian Tom Drake, Guitarist Vincenzo Martinelli and Magician Harry Maurer. Being a small ship, I actually had the opportunity to meet, socialize with and have drinks with both Tom and Vincenzo as well as Piano Bar pianist and part-time headliner Jerry Blaineand these are all great guys and wonderful performers. Tom is quite funnyand a perfect match for a cruise shiprelates well to the audience and really seems to love this job. Vincenzo is an amazing guitarist. We have had the opportunity twice now to enjoy Jerry's work and he almost seems like family. So, when I question Oceania's entertainment, it really isn't an aspersion aimed at these guys. They are all quite good. What Oceania lacks is in quantity and variety. On a 14 night cruise, with only three individual headliners to draw from, you end up overexposing all of them. as good as Vincenzo is, hearing flamenco and classical guitar for four shows gets to be a bit much. Some nights, there was no real main showthe time slot was replaced with "Movie Night".  Three nights, the show was staged as a singing show spotlighting one of the female assistant cruise directors, Joanne and Lucy and one night by Jerry moving his act to the "big room". If one is accustomed to the entertainment one finds on the big ship cruise lines, this line-up can be quite disappointing. That said, we still enjoyed the showsthough we always felt a little let down to find only "movie night" on the program.Activities, night life and at-sea days: More noticeable to us than the entertainment deficiencies is the relative lack of activitiesas much a result of ship size and passenger demographic as it is any fault of Oceania's. With a small ship, you simply have limited venues and limited staff. And a majority of passengers seemed to be in bed by 9, so even where activities were scheduled, they were sparsely attended. I am a night person and, I guess, relatively young compared to the overall ship demographics. At night, after the aforementioned show, there was typically only one activity on the agendathe "disco". On a typical night, there were more crew members than passengers in the disco.  I guess that's one reason I found myself socializing with as much of the crew and entertainers as I did. There was Karaoke only two nights and very few volunteer performers.  I actually found myself singing four times (CCR's "Lodi" and "Looking Out My Back Door", the Beatles' "Back in the USSR" and the Boxtops' "the Letter") and those who know me well know well that I can't carry a tune.  Of course, that's what usually makes Karaoke fun.  But, on the Nautica, there was hardly anyone there to enjoy it.  Again, the passengers' fault, not Oceania's. What was Oceania's fault was the dreadful selection of Karaoke choices.  I wanted to do the Kinks' "Lola"and it was on the list, but wouldn't work.  Past that, NOTHING by Jimmy Buffett (and this is supposed to be a cruise ship??).  They had a few Rod Stewart tunes, but NO "Maggie May"!!!Trivia: Okay, for me, this is a BIG item. I love triviaand never miss a session on an at-sea day or when returning from port on time. We had a team comprised of members of our CruiseCritic.com Roll Call and won virtually every trivia session, even trouncing the competition, including a team made up of Cruise Director Dottie and the Crew the one day she turned the quiz over to one of our members to host (thus taking a valuable member off of our team). All lots of fun. But, here is the "downer": All cruise long, they were hyping the "Collect 'Big O' points".  On other cruise lines, there is "instant gratification" for winning a trivia sessiona key chain, a t-shirt, a water wallet, a hat, a luggage tag, a ball point pen or some other meaningless logo trinket.  I do have a drawer at home filled with these itemssouvenirs of a sort from many wonderful cruises.  Most sort of worthless, but occasionally a really nice prize like a t-shirt or a tote bag. Now, last time on Nautica, we had this "points" thing and, at the end of the cruise, they put out a table with a variety of items. We were sort of expecting the same this time.  I figured I'd walk away with maybe a hat and a t-shirt or something of the sort based on how many Big O points I had collected. Imagine our surprise at the end of the cruise when the ONLY items offered in exchange for all those Big O points (in my case, over a hundred) were Oceania Mouse Pads or plastic screwdriver/penlight combos.  Who even uses a mouse pad nowadays?Here's the thing, Oceania: DROP THE "BIG O" POINT THING.  It only infuriates people. If you are not going to give out some sort of meaningful prize, don't tell people to collect "points" for 14 nights. Other cruise lines give out better "prizes" for winning a single trivia game or other activity.  You look really cheap giving a mouse pad to someone who's won every activity for 14 nights. Rather than do what you are doing, it would be better to tell everyone in advance that the activities are for the fun of it only and no prizes will be awarded.  For me, I'd likely play anyway.  I enjoy the "sport" of trivia and other contests and no reward is necessary to gain my participation.  The "Big O" points would be fun if they meant somethingbut, in this case, it was more insulting than anything. So, don't publish "Big O Points" multiple times in each day's "Currents" and stop announcing it on the ship.The funniest part was the night AFTER they had the Big O point redemption, they had the "Game Show" titled "Brain of the Nautica"sort of a 15 person trivia challenge where contestants were knocked out of the running after missing their third random question.  I won.  My prize??? Three more "Big O points"!!!The ports: Actually, the biggest attraction on this cruise was the itinerary. The ports were sensational.  Of course, some better than others.  If I were to tweak this itinerary, I'd actually do it by removing two portsCrete and Cyprusand trading them for more time in Egypt and Israel. In Crete, we visited the Palace at Knossos on a ship's shore excursionand, though an interesting archaeological site, it pales compared to what one finds in Egypt and Israel. My assumption is that by cutting out Crete, you could get into Alexandria sooner than noon, maybe even the night or afternoon before, allowing passengers to do a more complete two days in Cairo and Giza if they so wanted. Cyprus was pleasant, but really little worth seeing compared to the other ports. It would be great to replace it with a second day in Ashdod. Jerusalem was easily a full day's worth of touring and it would have been nice to also visit Masada and the Dead Seabut, not enough timeand we wouldn't have wanted to have given up our day in Northern Israel out of Haifa eitherwe hired a private guide and went to the incredible archaeological sites at Megiddo and Caesaria.We also really enjoyed Tunisia and Malta and Ephesus is always enchanting. This was our first opportunity to visit the Terrace Houses and I highly recommend them.   Ports:Barcelona: We have been here several times, so we didn't really need to see anything but we did tour some of our favorite placespretty much on our own. We visited the Picasso Museum, took the interior tour of the Sagrada Familia, then took the rear elevator up and walked down [Note: For those visiting the Sagrada Familia, there are two elevators. 2.5 euro per person. The one near the front usually has a line with waits up to half an hour or more. The one in the back typically has no line. The front elevator allows for a ride both up and down, the one in the rear, for some odd reason, up onlybut the walk down is pretty cool with great photo ops along the way.], Park Guellwhere we went inside Gaudi's house.  We also took in a tapas dinner and Flamenco show at Tablao de Carmen in El Poble Espanyol on Montjuic-pretty good dinner and show.Tunisia: Arranged for a tour for sixwith fellow CruiseCritic Roll Call membersthrough Chris Sheridan at TouringMalta.com http://www.tourinmed.com/index.htm. Excellent tourcovered several sites including Ancient Carthage, Sidi Bou Said and the Medina.Malta: Same thing as for Tunesiaa private tour for six arranged with Chris Sheridan. We went to Valletta, Mdina, Hagar Qim and Marasxlokk. Hagar Qim was really incredible.  Sort of a several thousand year old Maltese Stonehenge. Best guide of the tripChristine Muscat kristinmuscat@hotmail.com She is the President of the Maltese Tour Guide Unionan Anthropologist by education.  Excellent.Crete: We took an Oceania Shorex to the Palace at Knossosnot our favoriteokay archaeological site.  But it's a short day in Crete and not much else to see there.Alexandria: We took the Oceania Shorex entitled "Roman Influence on Alexandria". It hits the basic three ancient sites really left in this townPompey's Pillar, the Catacombs and the Roman Theater. Another short day as we arrived only at noon. some from the cruise chose to do an overnight in Cairo, but we figured the first days was sort of a waste anyway as we wouldn't have much time to see Cairo that day.  The Shorex was fine.Port Said: We joined a group of six for the private van tour booked through Oceania. Went to Sakkara, Memphis and the Pyramid/Sphinx.  Yes, it is a long drive back and forth.  But the tour was pretty goodbetter than doing it with 30-40 people in a big bus. When you add the entrance fees and cost of lunch, it doesn't really come out to any more $ than the shorex.  Lunch was at Felfelavery good.Ashdod: We booked a private tour with Joel Berman of jtours.com. Very knowledgable. Retired Israeli army officer born in South Africa. Went to Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum) in the morning, then a pretty exhausting tour of Jerusalem the rest of the day.Haifa: Joel met us again at the ship in Haifa and took us on a full day tour to Megiddo, Ein Shemer Kibbutz and Caesaria.  Megiddo and Caesaria are two incredible archaeological sites.  This was a pretty good choice of tours IMHO.Cyprus: We did another shorex to Paphos and Kourion. Paphos is pretty dull. Not really much there but some old mosaic floors. More of the same at Kourion.Kusadasi: We did a private tour for four of Ephesus including the Terrace Houses through Ekol Travel. Really good tour with a guide who stayed with us throughout. Terrace Houses should not be missed.Istanbul: We did a full day tour for four to the Cisterns, Spice Market and other sites along with another couple with Nejat Incedogan. [Note: Nejat does have some physical limitations, so if you want a fast paced tour, he may not be your guy.]. All four of us had been to Istanbul before, so this was really just to see some of the unusual sites we hadn't seen. Went to the Orient House at night for the Dinner/Showalways intriguing.Another day, we did a tour of the Dolambache Palace and visited the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaarthen vegged out the rest of the timewe were there four nights total including the overnight on the ship.  On the day of the overnight, we just hung out onboardnever left the shippretty quiet though. Post-cruise: By the end of the cruise, we were really exhausted.  So many full days of touringin hot weatherlots of walking and steps and dust and dirt. We were ready to just relax and wind down. Last time on Nautica, we stayed pre-cruise at the modern 5-star Conrad, so, this time, we wanted something completely different. We checked into the small 17-room Sari Konak. Room was very small, but nice. I walked out onto our balcony and realized we had the most incredible, completely unobstructed close-up view of the Blue Mosque. we stayed three additional nights post cruise and toured the Dolambache Palace, the Cisterns, the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar and other sites at a very leisurely pacea really nice wind-down from the cruise.  Ate at the Orient House for the Dinner show one night, ate a lunch at the "Pudding Shop"as we had done three years ago (I like the place).  Otherwise, ate in small restaurants in the Sultanhamet.  One night, we ate with some of our cruisemates at the "Family Restaurant"Great misprint on their business cards says "She does the cook" (sic)!!Assorted comments re dining:1) Whenever we asked to sit with other people (We're sort of "social" and like to meet and talk to people), the Maitre d' would tell us it was "slow" and they'd seat us at a table for twoeven when it clearly wasn't "slow".  This was a big deal to my wife and at one point she suggested it might keep her from wanting to go back to Oceania in the future.2) They never ask if you might want some Iced Tea and even when you ask for it, it tends to take a LONG time to get it, then they rarely refill it.  I drink LOTS of Iced Tea and this one is a big deal with me.3) I am "Type 2" Diabetic and should not be eating sugar. So, I go out of my way to order "SUGAR FREE" jam for my toast and "SUGAR FREE" syrup for my pancakes. Somehow, Oceania doesn't quite catch onto the idea.  Yes, they stock and deliver the sugar free jams and syrup.  BUT, they deliver the pancakes with heaps of POWDERED SUGAR on them.  You'd think if someone had ordered "sugar free" pancake syrup that maybe they wouldn't want the sugar loaded right onto the pancake??? One time, my wife made it a point to specifically tell the waiter that the pancakes should NOT come with sugarliterally, pulling him aside and going on about it for 3 or 4 minutes.  You guessed it, they were delivered with sugar anyway.Crew: I used to think that Oceania's top assets were 1) Food, 2) Itinerariesbut, from this cruise, I am thinking maybe the best asset they have is the people.  We really had a great opportunity to spend a lot of time with a number of the crew membersspecifically Joanne, Lucy, Terese and Ian from the Cruise Director's staff, entertainers Tom, Vincenzo and Jerry, as I had mentioned before, Rocky from the jewelry shop and others and found them ALL to be genuine, friendly, good peoplemore fun and sociable than some of the passengers.  For 14 nights, I felt like part of the familyand that is a tribute to nothing but these individuals.  Tom (who, as we all learned, is married to Dottie, the Cruise Director), is much more than an entertainerhe is a "true believer"Oceania should put him to work selling the cruises.   And Oceania should consider themselves lucky to have Jerrythe guy puts in first class job night in and night out. Ian and the girls really go out of there way to get to know the passengersat least the ones who take part in games and activities.  After two weeks I feel like I've known these kids for years.  If there is one thing that will bring me back to Oceania, it's these guys (okay, and maybe the food and itineraries).Sickness: Though I never got sick on this cruise, we kept hearing from a lot of our fellow passengers that something was going around. There seemed to be a much higher incidence of this on this cruise than any other I've been on. We had tourmates who had to miss multiple ports. I can't really blame Oceania. I know that when so many people are confined to a limited area and there is a lot of personal interaction that, if someone catches something, it tends to spread.  And, I am not a medical doctor, so I really know little about the causes of this particular epidemic. I do know that Oceania had a number of disinfectant hand cleaner dispensers around the ship, though I didn't see enough people using them. I don't know what more Oceania could have done, so I will leave that to others to comment on.Overall: Despite my nitpicks (Don't get the wrong ideaI am not bringing up those negatives to put down the cruise line or the experienceonly to be thorough and honest), the cruise was and overall very positive experience. Oceania is a heck of a good product. There are some things that can be improved upon (as with everything) and there are some things that are merely beyond their reasonable control.  But, for the most part, it's pretty goodWell run, clean, high quality, luxurious, elegant. The ship is extremely pleasant, uncrowded, nicely and tastefully decorated and well-maintained.  The food is excellent, the itinerary sensational. We really enjoyed our 14 nights onboard and really hated to see them come to an end. We will very likely be back, especially with these tempting itineraries. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
            This review of our second-ever cruise is unbelievably lengthy (no surprise to the readers of my review of our first-ever cruise last fall!), so it is organized by labeled topics so that readers can scroll down to the ... Read More
            This review of our second-ever cruise is unbelievably lengthy (no surprise to the readers of my review of our first-ever cruise last fall!), so it is organized by labeled topics so that readers can scroll down to the information, if any, in which they have an interest.                          Personal Background and Travel Interests:  Husband Gerry and I both are 58, and began taking annual fall vacations to Europe after our younger child started college.  We both are business attorneys (I now am retired, G. remains working full-time), and both are very interested in history and art.  G. is a military history enthusiast, with less interest in natural beauty destinations, and he absolutely abhors shopping, which he believes wastes precious touring time.  I am a new docent at the Cincinnati Art Museum, so I am eager to visit any art-related sights on our trips.  We usually take a fall vacation to Europe (to avoid both the heat and the crowds), and trips until last September were all land trips: Spain; England/Belgium/The Netherlands; Italy; and Normandy/Loire Valley/Paris.  All of these trips were done independently, by train and bus, using the wonderful Rick Steves' practical and comprehensive guidebooks for sightseeing advice.  (We rented a car for the Normandy/Loire Valley part of our 2007 trip.)  We enjoy staying at small hotels and B&B's in preference to large or chains, and usually rely on the tripadvisor.com website for lodging recommendations when we travel, both in the US and abroad, and it has steered us well.                Last September, we took our first-ever cruise, Oceania Istanbul to Athens, in order to visit Istanbul and some Greek islands, a dream of Gerry's for the last several years, without worrying about ferry schedules and lugging suitcases.  The cruise more than met our expectations: we were happy with the comfort of the beds, the food and the excellent service.  We were so taken with our four days pre-cruise in Istanbul that I have remained a daily participant in the Istanbul forum of tripadvisor.                         Why Our Second Cruise and Why We Chose Oceania:  I began planning a land trip to Italy for October 2009 to visit areas we had never visited, particularly the Amalfi Coast and the Cinque Terre.  However, on January 6, I received an email from Oceania setting forth $2,000 price reductions on certain Mediterranean cruises for this summer and fall.  I immediately excluded all those in July and August simply because I cannot take high temperatures and humidity.  Of those left, I spotted the Athens to Rome itinerary, which included two days on the Amalfi Coast, an opportunity to see Delos/Mykonos, missed last September due to high seas, and a day in Malta, which I knew could be the hook to get my military-history-oriented husband to sign up.  He checked them out that night, called our long-time travel agent, and were booked the next day in the same cabin we had in September and on the same ship, Nautica.                 Airlines and Flights:  Cincinnati is a Delta hub, which means we have the most expensive airfare in the US, and 95% of the flights are on Delta.  But I called Delta that same day we booked this cruise, and, just an example of how bad our economy was, I easily got skymile tickets for a departure on June 3 and return on June 22, less than five months in advance.  Normally, you have to call promptly 11 months in advance and be very flexible, but this year, no problem at all.  I refuse to fly through JFK (numerous lost luggage and cancelled flight stories), so we flew on Continental to Newark, then overnight on Continental to Athens and back on Delta (really Northwest), Rome to Atlanta and Atlanta to Cincinnati.                             Well, we had a rough start to our journey: some yoyo (actually a former neighbor of ours) stuffed two large carry-on bags into one small overhead luggage bin on our small regional jet, which bin would then neither open nor fully close.  One hour was spent trying to remove the luggage, and finally the entire bin was disassembled.  I wonder how many passengers missed their connections because this guy and his wife planned to spend three weeks in Eastern Europe with three carry-on bags but simply would not check any luggage.               The overnight flight to Athens was less than 2/3 full, so G. moved and I had two seats on which to try to spread out and doze.  This flight was on-time and not crowded, what more can you ask for? Of course, when we had our own movie screens with the choice of dozens of films to wile away the hours back from Rome, I enjoyed watching three Oscar-nominated films, which truly made the time go faster.  This Rome to Atlanta flight was packed, not a surprise because our Delta flight vanished in April and we were moved to a Northwest flight.  Fortunately, after our rough start in Cincinnati, the other three flights all were on-time.               Vacation Itinerary:  Oceania's 12- Day Enchanted Escapade voyage: Athens, Delos/Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, sea day, Malta, Taormina, Sorrento, Amalfi, Livorno, Monte Carlo, Portofino, Rome; only one sea day and no overnights in port, so a jam-packed itinerary.  Because we had spent three days in Athens just last September, we booked only one extra night before boarding, planning to visit two museums we had missed, but decided on five extra nights in Rome after disembarking to get in some of the sightseeing we had planned on when this vacation was still an Italy land trip.                Cruise Ship Nautica:  Bearing in mind that we have no cruise ship experience on any other line, and that we traveled on the same ship that we were on last September, I absolutely loved almost everything about this ship and I highly recommend this cruise line.                  Our Cabin:   We booked the same cabin we ended up in after clearing our guaranty last fall, Cabin 6033, obstructed view, but really just obstructed by a large davit from which a small zodiac hangs below the large picture window level, so plenty of light.   About a week before our departure, our travel agent received an upgrade offer for us which she admittedly mishandled (a long story), and the following day she had managed to arrange for an upgrade at a good price to a B veranda, Cabin 6073.  Of course, now I am spoiled by the veranda, and it will be difficult to return to smaller quarters.               Even with my bringing two suitcases, instead of our normal one each on all our previous land trips, there was room for everything to be put away (suitcases fit under the beds), so I was a very happy camper.  I did not want to accumulate any mess, and I wanted to keep the small couch for lounging. I was able to stow away all purchases in the cabinets above or below the TV.  Our friendly cabin attendant was on her first cruise, and she and her assistant kept us well-supplied.  (She adored my spouse because when we arrived, apparently the bathroom had not been cleaned, and, without telling me, he whisked me away to lunch, had a discreet word with her, rather than complaining to her supervisors, and I never would even have known about it except upon seeing her later our first night on board, she was so effusive and grateful to him, that I ended up finding out the story.)  The beds are indeed very comfortable, and, as chosen by Cruisecritic editors, the food is fantastic.               Embarkation and Disembarkation:  We boarded just before 3 PM on a Friday, our second full day in Athens, having spent one night at the Athens Cypria, about a five-minute walk from Syntagma Square.  The taxi ride from central Athens to the cruise ship cost 20 Euros and took about 20 to 25 minutes. I have posted a review of this very reasonably-priced and well-located hotel on the tripadvisor website.  There were just a few people boarding at that time, and our suitcases were at our cabin when we returned from our late lunch at the Terrace Cafe buffet, which stays open until 4 PM on embarkation day.  We disembarked about 15 minutes before the required 9 AM in Civitavecchia after our last leisurely breakfast.  Our suitcases were immediately available and easily found at the cruise terminal.  We shared a van from there to our centrally located hotel near the Campo di'Fiori, Hotel Smeraldo, for five more nights in Rome, a review of which I also have posted on the tripadvisor website.                The van, Bob's Limousines, www.romelimousines.com, was an excellent price for the lengthy drive into central Rome, but Bob refused to drop us at our hotel, saying that the van was too large to navigate on the tiny streets near the Campo, but that is an absolute falsehood.  I had stayed at the same hotel three years previously, and many large delivery vehicles travel there daily.  So we were forced to schlep our three rolling suitcases plus carry-on bags several blocks from the Largo Argentina tram stop.  Bob wanted to drop us even further away because he truly had not bothered checking out the precise location of our hotel.  I was pretty steamed about this, but our four travel companions, all met on cruisecritic, simply were the loveliest people imaginable (and had also uncomplainingly survived a lousy private day tour with us that I had arranged), so outspoken me actually kept her mouth shut for once.                       Food:  As recommended, after boarding and having lunch, we went down to the Grand Dining Room and booked our two specialty restaurant meals.  I once again decided to do both the first week in case we wanted to return to either, and indeed we returned to both the second week. However, with the food so good in the Grand Dining Room, they truly never repeated the menu items in 12 nights, and the dEcor there so spacious and attractive, we were happy to dine there.                All in all, the only food issues either of us had simply was that the more people with whom you shared a table, the more time it took to both get served and eat.  So if you prefer to eat at 7:30 PM, as we did, but you want to play 9 PM trivia with staffer Ian, you need to dine alone!  And if you dine with six others, you will be very lucky to catch the 9:45 PM show.  Ultimately, we decided that the company, almost all fellow cruise critic members met on our fabulous roll call, was far superior to the entertainment, and we just went with the flow.  I absolutely loved being able to eat dinner whenever I wanted based on the day's activities, with no schedule or required dressing up.                  All the advice from last summer's Oceania food thread was spot on:  my favorite foods included chocolate croissants, fresh blueberries and raspberries, crab cakes, any beef dish we ever tried, all the pates, a large variety of creative appetizers, cheesecake, all uniformly fine dining.  The appetizers and desserts outshine the entrees a bit, which seem to be geared to more conservative palates. We drink a lot of iced tea, and even that was good and tasted fresh brewed at meals.  To nitpick, the cappuccino (free!) was not very good, particularly suffering in comparison to those I drank at breakfast daily in Rome, and the coffee also suffered in comparison to the mixed strong coffee and hot milk I drank in Rome.  We found the wine list to be priced comparable to any good restaurant, with a good price and quality range, and any bottle not finished was stored with our room number for another meal.                One of the aspects of the dining I most enjoyed was that I was able to eat  breakfast and lunch on board out of doors because the buffet breakfast and lunch place, the Terrace Cafe, has outdoor seating, comfy wooden chairs with cushions and large umbrellas for shade. I really liked that servers placed the food on your plates at the breakfast and lunch buffets; it seemed very hygienic.  The grill on the pool deck was very convenient for a very casual lunch, and I enjoyed several grilled pastrami Reuben sandwich lunches there (although not for the health-conscious!).  I liked that you were always provided with real silverware and cloth napkins and placemats, no matter how casually you dined.                We found the service to be uniformly top notch in the Grand Dining Room (with one minor exception), with no issues in having different staff serving us different nights because there was no assigned seating.  We never waited more than a minute or two to be seated, even though we often arrived at 7:30 PM prime time.  This trip we seldom dined alone because we developed several friendships from our roll call, and it was a real pleasure to exchange shore experiences with those with whom we had corresponded in the months prior to the cruise.  Even if you dine at a table for two, the close proximity of the other tables for two allows you the choice of meeting fellow cruisers or having your own conversations at any time desired.  One of the big pluses to me of the Oceania line is the friendliness of the well-trained staff, as well as the diversity of national and ethnic origin of the staff.                Our two meals each at the Polo Grill (wonderful beef) and Toscana (superb pasta and veal chop) were uniformly excellent, and, because one of our Polo meals was a pre-arranged birthday celebration for a fellow roll caller celebrating his 50th birthday, we literally closed the place that evening!  I had no problem arranging for one return visit to each by requesting a reservation the same morning at the desk at the Terrace Cafe.  I found that being flexible on my times and willingness to share with others resulted in spaces being found.                      Shipboard Daytime Activities:  Once again, I cannot really say much about the daytime activities on board, because we participated in very few.  We attended one lecture by Dr. Tom Stauffer on Malta.  He gave three 50-minute illustrated lectures during the cruise, one each on Greece, Malta, and Italy, but we only attended the one given on our one sea day, the day before our Malta visit.  I thought that it was very informative; G. had read a lot about Malta already, but he thought the lecturer did a good job.                I also went to a cooking demonstration the morning of our sea day with the chief chef and another chef, who showed how they made (and provided photocopies of) recipes for several items we might actually make at home (no odd ingredients) and then samples of those dishes were provided to all.  G. had his blackberry with him, so we did not utilize the ship's email services.                We played the afternoon trivia game that sea day as well (at 4:45 PM), at the urging of one of our roll call friends (G. is great at trivia) but several of the players on our own team were so intense and focused on winning, that I said never again, I want to enjoy my trivia games.  We stayed with the evening trivia with Ian or pianist Jerry in the Martinis lounge, where the focus was on having fun.  We accumulated enough "O" points from these trivia games to get the Oceania mouse pad for each of us, a wonderful reminder of our trip every time I sit down at my computer.  The leftover points are put away with my extra Euros for our next O cruise.                                          Pool Deck.  On our sea day, the weather was glorious, and we spent most of the day on loungers on the pool deck, reading, gossiping with fellow roll call members, or taking a dip.  We also often swam late in the afternoon after returning from our sightseeing. We again found throughout the cruise that many people went off to other activities yet insisted on leaving their things for hours on the coveted shaded lounge chairs, guarded by their spouses or friends who were not so active, which was somewhat annoying.  I do not understand why so many did this, but there was enough coming and going that I never had to wait too long for a lounger in the shade.  However, one needed to wait a lot longer to get two together, and we simply sat separately until people started disbursing to prepare for dinner and then we rejoined each other.                Entertainment:  We enjoyed the string quartet which played before dinner (we never made it to tea to hear them play), and if we were done with dinner early enough we joined the trivia game hosted by Ian, a charming young man, who was very amusing.  We often attended the evening one-hour show, but several nights were spent dining late with our lovely roll call members, and we knew we generally were not sacrificing any memorable entertainment to stay with our friends in the GDR.  The entertainment was indeed a weak spot, the best being a classical guitar player, followed by an admittedly silly, but amusing, magician, and a pleasant classical violinist.  On our last cruise, we had a really top performer, a musical theater performer from London's West End flown in for a few days, but there was nothing like him on this trip.  The night we were sailing past Stromboli, an active volcano just north of the Straits of Messina, all were invited to the top deck as we sailed by late in the evening, and a passenger, who knew his astronomy, took out his laser pointer and showed us some constellations, a lovely end to our day.               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.  We also felt that Oceania's tour pricing was high.  However, at every port, Oceania had a local tourist 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 .  We used photocopies of materials from Fodor's and Frommer's guidebooks, plus the excellent advice provided by you on these boards, and we knew what we wanted to do in each port.                   Fellow passengers:  Unlike our September cruise, where we were at the younger end of the age spectrum, this cruise had many families (one with over 20 members), and there were several young children, many teenagers and young adults, and then couples in their 40's and on up to the expected over 60 demographic.  Most were American, from all over the US, but a substantial number were from Great Britain, Canada, and Australia.  People were friendly, smart, having fun, open, and very active.                 Ports of Call.             Athens.  Having spent three days in Athens last September, we chose to fly in just a day early and stay near the very central Syntagma Square in order to visit two museums which we had missed on our last visit.  I have been active on the Athens forum of tripadvisor for almost a year, so I knew precisely where I wanted to stay, eat and visit.  Unfortunately, the anticipated March opening of the New Acropolis Museum had become a June 20 opening, so we missed it again.  After hotel check-in, we went to the famous Ariston Bakery nearby and purchased three hot pies for lunch.  We dined al fresco at the cool curtain wall fountain on Syntagma Square, sharing a fine eggplant and zucchini pie, a better spinach pie, and an absolutely sublime mushroom pie.             Now refreshed and fortified, we walked over to the Benaki Museum for a fascinating three-hour exploration, returning in the late afternoon for drinks on the pedestrian street of our hotel before our 7 PM dinner reservation at Tzitzikas & Mermigas. We shared the ten-vegetable house salad (wonderful), some eggplant salad (my addiction) and chicken masticha, which was fantastic. A stroll down Mitropoleos and back up Ermou, enjoying the active night scene, and then off to bed for the jet-lagged.             The next morning, after stopping at the Masticha Shop for a look around and the purchase of a 20-gram tin for cooking usage, we visited the incredible Museum of Cycladic Art, where I drooled over most of the first-floor exhibits, enjoyed mingling with the parent chaperones on a grade-school visit from Piraeus, and then drank in the Classical Greek life gallery and videos. A short distance up the street, G. got to take a quick look at the artillery around the War Museum, and then we grabbed the metro to Monastiraki to check out the completed square, which was under construction during our September visit. We really enjoyed the underground archaeological displays at the metro stop there, plus the gorgeous new square. We then checked out those at the Syntagma metro before retrieving our luggage and taking a taxi to Piraeus to board Nautica.             Athens is very easy to tour on your own because, unlike Paris or London, the main tourist sites all are within a very small, easily walkable area.  Yes, the graffiti is rampant, but it is a vibrant city full of great museums, a good metro and bus system, and many pedestrianized streets in the historic core.                   Delos/Mykonos.  Unlike last September, the sea was like a sheet of glass, so we easily tendered into Delos for a lovely two-hour stroll on our own (using information copied from some guidebooks to tour at our own pace) through gorgeous wildflowers and evocative ruins.  What a lovely and peaceful place. There even was a breeze from the north to help me with the lack of shade on the island.                After lunch on board and the short sail to Mykonos, enjoyed on our veranda, we tendered into Mykonos.  We had planned to go to the beach, but a dearth of taxis led us instead to simply wander through Little Venice up to the windmills and do a little shopping before tendering back to swim on the ship.  A pretty town, but Delos was the both the point and highlight of our day.                   .              Rhodes.  We had visited last September, and chose once again to tour the lovely Old Town, first visiting the lovely synagogue and its museum (which now had an intern from the mainland to provide information to summer visitors), then strolling around the shopping areas while G. explored some of the back streets, and finally to the Grand Masters House, where I wanted to re-visit the magnificent mosaics looted from elsewhere by Mussolini. There were great breezes through the large open windows, so we took our time.  After strolling down the Street of the Knights, we opted to return to the ship and relax on the pool deck in preparation for our ambitious day in Santorini.  Unless you plan to visit Lindos, again there is no reason to hire a guide because the ship docks right by Old Town Rhodes.                Santorini.  We took the cable car up to Thira  (no wait at all because only a few small ships were in port until mid-afternoon) and picked up our rental car from Tony's, reserved in advance because I only can drive an automatic (40 Euros for the day plus 8? Euros for gas).  We drove directly to the lovely Oia to arrive before the cruise ship tours, found it absolutely empty of tourists, explored all the way down to the church and up to the point, shopped very leisurely, focusing on art pieces, ate lunch with an amazing view over the caldera, picked up a large replica of an Akrotiri wall painting, and finally set off for the southern part of the island, including the black beaches of Perissa, and historic Megalochori, where I almost ran out of room to navigate the narrow lanes.  After returning the car, I purchased some lovely linen items in Thira, where I also had purchased last year, and we took the cable car back down at 5 PM,  with no wait at all.               Santorini also is easy to do on your own with a rental car because there is very little traffic once you leave the main town of Thira, clogged with shoppers, and the island is small, with free and easy parking everywhere.               Malta.  We got up at 7 AM to enjoy the sail into one of the most magnificent harbors in the world (and my screensaver for the months before our cruise).  Our first stop (after walking up the car tunnel to the free elevator which lets you off right at the bus hub outside the walls of old Valletta) was the Co-Cathedral of St. John, where we stayed much longer than expected because the audio tour included with your admission is great, plus the dEcor is amazing, plus the Caravaggio is beautifully displayed.  We then visited the Archaeological Museum before taking a taxi (we just missed the bus) for the 10-minute ride to the Hypogeum for our scheduled 2 PM one-hour visit.  In my opinion, this is a do-not-miss in Malta, a 5,000-year-old underground necropolis, with admission limited to 10 pre-booked visitors per hour, and like nothing you ever have seen.  We then walked about  five minutes to the Tarxien Temples, which I found a bit underwhelming (it was very hot), then caught a bus back to Valletta for more strolling, a bit of shopping (for Mdina glass), a visit to the Upper Barracca Gardens, with its incredible harbor views.  We then walked down the hill back to the ship.               Taormina.  After such a busy day in Malta, it was great to have a leisurely day in Taormina, with no museums to visit.  We shared a taxi from the port town of Giardini Naxos to the main square of Taormina (six Euros each), visited the Odeon ruins, then strolled up to the Greco-Roman theatre, which has wonderful views from all sides, and then strolled down to the public gardens first planted by an exiled ex-mistress of Edward VII.  G. ate his first gelato of the trip, I ate the requisite famed cannoli of Taormina, we finished our stroll down to the plaza at the west end of town, and we once again shared a taxi with some fellow Nautica cruisers whom we encountered back to the port.               Sorrento.  We caught the free Oceania-supplied shuttle bus (a welcome first in our cruising history with Oceania) up the hill to the main Plaza Tasso, walked over to the train station (about an eight- minute walk), picked up a train schedule and caught the next Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii.  After you buy your ticket, be sure to pick up the excellent "Brief Guide to Pompeii" booklet at the information window to your left (about 80 pages of descriptive information cued by number to the map you got with your ticket). You will not get it automatically, but must ask for it.  As huge archaeology/history fans, Pompeii was one of the highlights of our trip, and we staggered out again after almost five hours when G. literally started tripping over the stones from fatigue.  There is shade there and we were fortunate to have a breeze the day we visited, but there are no bathrooms except at the entrances/exits.  That is insane!               Upon our return to Sorrento, we had a very late lunch at Da Franco (the best pizza place in Sorrento), just a couple of minutes down the main street from the train station, shopped a bit, and then paid an outrageous price for a taxi back down to the harbor.  (The free shuttle bus put on by Oceania stopped running at 4:30 PM.)               Amalfi.                   Originally we planned to go on our own this day because it was my birthday, but Nautica was sailing at 3 PM, so we rethought and ended up joining four of our lovely roll call members for an Amalfi Drive with Marcello, owner of seesorrento.  (J., thanks again for including us.)  The friendly and knowledgeable Marcello picked us up at the dock in his comfortable clean Mercedes van at 8 AM (our earliest departure day!) and drove us first to Positano, then back through Amalfi to Maiori, then up the hills to Tremonte, down to Ravello,  We then stopped for an unbelievable lunch in Pontone, wonderful cuisine with great views.  We met up there with eight other roll call friends, who were touring with an associate of Marcello's, and scarfed down plates of at least 10 different appetizers, followed by three pastas and three desserts, all served family style with unlimited red and white wine plus several varieties of limoncello, all for at a very, very reasonable price.  Champagne and a birthday cake for me came out with the desserts (again, thanks J.), and I never, never had such a birthday in my life.  We returned to Amalfi around 2 PM and spent a few minutes exploring and shopping in the lovely main square.               Livorno.               Because we had spent almost a week in Florence and Siena just a few years ago, we decided to use this day to visit the Cinque Terre, knowing it would be very crowded on a Sunday.  After a lot of research, and contact with six tour companies, I organized a private tour with the well-respected romeinlimo, which described a good itinerary on its website to visit the four towns I wanted to see there, and I enlisted four others from our roll call to join us.  It is a 90-minute drive each way, and I had my Rick Steves' guidebook and the boat schedule with me.  The 20-minute Path of Love from Riomaggiore from Manarola was mobbed with tour groups from the enormous new Renaissance ship, Independence of the Seas, and the boat ride from Manorola to Vernazza also was crowded.  Fortunately, once we left the dock area in Vernazza, we recovered our equilibrium, and spent several lovely, relaxing hours touring this most charming town and dining at a modest trattoria where we sat with several hikers (older than us), who had just finished the very demanding hike from Monterosso to Vernazza, the reportedly most difficult part of the hiking path among the five CT towns.  Our tour mates dined at the more up-scale Belfort above the harbor.  We met up for the boat ride to Monterosso, where we were picked up and driven back to Livorno.                         Monte Carlo.               Two couples traveling together from Cleveland had engaged Sylvie di Cristo for a private tour of the Cote d'Azur, having toured with her previously, and then posted on the roll call for others to join them.  I jumped at the opportunity because I had read so many wonderful things about her, and she more than lived up to my expectations.  This lady is amazing, maneuvering a large van through very small, traffic-filled areas while continuously educating us with such a breadth of knowledge that I simply was blown away.  She also made adjustments in the schedule throughout the day to accommodate some last-minute requests, and it all worked out fantastically.  She provided not only my favorite tour of the trip, but my favorite private tour ever, a full day of beauty and wonder.  What a pro!               We began by touring Monaco itself, following the exact path of the recently-completed Grand Prix F1 race, then over to the Lower Corniche to Nice, where we stopped to visit the Chagall Museum, the one place I had requested, then we drove over to St. Paul de Vence, where we had lunch outside the old city walls at the cafe next to the boules court, where several old and young men were playing.  After some time enjoying the views and beautiful shops and art galleries there, we stopped at lovely, non-touristy Haut Cagnes, where many artists painted (copies of the pictures are placed in front of the actual places painted), then took a highway back to Monaco so that those who wanted to visit the Cathedral where Princess Grace is buried could do so. We visited there and the Palace where Prince Albert lives before returning to the docked ship.               Portofino.               We spent a leisurely day here before disembarkation in Rome, hiking first towards the lighthouse, stopping at the Chiesa San Giorgio, then touring the empty Castello Brown, with its breathtaking postcard views of the harbor, before strolling down the zigzag path through its extensive gardens which cover the hillside all the way back to the pier.  A bit of shopping and pack to the ship for packing.                         Rome.               Five days of pure bliss: great art, museums, and food.  We had visited the Vatican Museums/St. Peter's and Forum/Palatine Hill/Colosseum just a couple of years ago, so we did not return.  The highlight of our visit was the do-not-miss for art lovers Borghese Gallery (Bernini and Caravaggio), which was the best two hours we spent in Rome.  We purchased our Roma Pass there, which provides free and discounted museum admissions, and three days of free public transportation.   We also enjoyed the Ara Pacis, the National Museum of Rome, San Clemente Church (with its three levels: 2nd c. Mithraic cult; 4th century Christian; 19th c.), Jewish Ghetto area, including the Museum and Synagogue, the Pantheon, Trastavere, including the Villa Farnesina, the Gallery Doria Pamphily, a private palazzo with fabulous art and public rooms, and too many churches with great art to list.  The culinary highlight was our meal at Piperno in the Jewish Ghetto, a top 10 Rome restaurant.  Our last night in Rome was Midsummer's Night Eve, and our stroll from the Campo di'Fiori to the Pantheon to Giolotti's for our last gelato, then over to the Trevi Fountain and back were magical.                               We certainly made the right decision in choosing Oceania for our second cruise, and I heartily recommend this lovely ship, itinerary and cruise line.  This cruise was even better than our first due to the wonderful itinerary and, more importantly, the fantastic people we met through our roll call with whom shared this lovely experience. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
This was our second cruise on Oceania, both on the Regatta. The ship was as clean and before, and the staff maintained its excellent level of service and responsiveness. We flew into London Heathrow, were met quickly by the Oceania rep, ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Oceania, both on the Regatta. The ship was as clean and before, and the staff maintained its excellent level of service and responsiveness. We flew into London Heathrow, were met quickly by the Oceania rep, got on the shuttle within 15 minutes and were enroute to Dover. After a 90-minute drive (during which we caught up on our sleep), we were at the ship. It was already 4:30 pm, so we went directly aboard rather than walking through town. The check-in process went very smoothly (they now have a questionnaire asking if you have a cough, cold, etc., which probably does little good given that someone who has paid a boatload of cash to get there probably wouldn't confess in any case...). We were in our room in ten minutes, and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. We booked a PH suite for the first time & our butler (Iljco) was great throughout. We wanted to make the trip special, and the PH was certainly worth the added cost due to the port-intense itinerary. We were able to order from the specialty restaurant menu when desired, and did so several times after returning from a long day's excursion. Nothing like a great dinner on our balcony without the hassle of leaving the room... On several nights, we ate at Tapas on the Terrace. We really enjoy a served buffet, and the variety of foods available. They had fresh pasta, fresh seafood dishes, etc., and their buffet (IMHO) exceeds that found on other luxury lines in every category. We usually ate breakfast in our room; we eat lightly, so it was toast and juice, then off for the day. We also ate at Waves for late lunch a few times. They have a serviceable salad bar, ice cream and shakes and will cook to order a hamburger, chicken burger or fish. Once again, better casual option than offered in other luxury lines IMHO. Entertainment was as expected; we only attended shows on three nights due to busy days. Good, not great, but enjoyable nonetheless. We did the trivia game most evenings just for fun (one area of suggested improvement is to make the points earned a little more valuable- in fact, they should give a hat and keychain to everyone for advertising value if nothing else). We did most shore excursions on our own (except for Gdansk, where we did a ship's tour to Stutthof and the Old City- good tour, fair price). We had a bad experience during our Amazon cruise previously with canceled ship tours, and didn't want to chance it this time. Even when traveling independently, the travel desk and local folks they brought aboard were pleasant, informative and willing to help. We used Red October for our tour in St Petersburg, and they did a fantastic job at a very fair price. One note of caution for independent travelers is the use of hop on-hop off buses and boats in the respective cities they visit. In the high season, it is not uncommon for those buses or boats to be absolutely full by the middle of the day, thus meaning you lose a lot of time waiting unless you plan ahead. Advice would be to book some sight ahead of time (especially the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, where you can avoid a wait of at least an hour by buying on line); use taxis to get around, and to form ad hoc groups on the ship or at the dock to save a little money. In Bruges, unless you are in great shape, don't try to walk to the train station to get to town. It is a 35-40 minutes walk on a difficult road. A taxi for eight to the center of Bruges is about $10 each, each way- a good value. Disembarkation was smooth; received the tags and time the evening prior, and all went as planned. We had the advantage of flying back from Stockholm perhaps the most civilized and organized airport I've visited. Loooong flight back home, but we're already planning our next cruise. We booked the Roman Revelations 14-day in Oct 2010 while aboard to take advantage of the discounts, and are confident next year's cruise will be on par with this one. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
PRE-CRUISE : We were most impressed with the professional, personalised brochure that arrived prior to joining. It contains full descriptions of all the excursions available, final itinerary times, and lots of information about the cruise ... Read More
PRE-CRUISE : We were most impressed with the professional, personalised brochure that arrived prior to joining. It contains full descriptions of all the excursions available, final itinerary times, and lots of information about the cruise line and what to expect on the ship. Concierge class provided priority embarkation, and the process was quick in Istanbul. We were not allowed access to our stateroom straight away, but upon boarding we had a nice lunch and were soon informed that our stateroom was ready for occupancy. Entering our stateroom we were greeted with a chilled bottle of champagne. We read most of the Cruisecritic reviews about Nautica, Oceania and some of the ports of call, and found the website to be the most comprehensive around. The roll-call for our particular cruise was very informative, and Grace did a fine job of encouraging everyone, and counting down the days to embarkation. OCEANIA POLICIES : We loved the 'country club casual' dress code! The website and brochures make it appear more formal than it actually is. Everyone is dressed nicely most of the time, but no dickie-bows or ball-gowns in sight. Open seating was another plus for us. On previous cruises, with other cruise lines, we have felt a bit restricted with having the same seating time every night, whereas Oceania allow you more freedom to turn up whenever you like and join another table or have a table for two (although these were a little bit harder to come by on our particular cruise). There is plenty of encouragement to book the specialty restaurants online before joining the vessel, or on the first day when you join, but in reality they were quite open to us turning up on the night and asking for a seat. Often at breakfast or lunch there would be staff approaching the tables in the cafe offering bookings for that night. As non-smokers we enjoyed the restrictive policy which prevents smoking other than an area on the pool deck and one in Horizons. It was great not to have wafts of smoke intrude on our balcony, and we quickly learnt not to use the door on the pool deck smoking side to avoid walking through a cloud of smoke. FELLOW GUESTS : It was very noticeable for us how the ship is more intimate than the larger ones, as we met lots of new people, and often saw them around the ship. This is enhanced by free seating encouraging meeting new people, or joining new friends for dinner. The best recommendation for Oceania came when a senior staff member told us that of 530 guests, some 510 were repeats on Oceania! The assistant cruise director called us the "junior cruisers" as the guests were mostly of retirement age and much older. This is mostly a reflection of the length of the cruise as working people can't often take six weeks off. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting people with such extensive cruising and travelling experiences to share. Oceania don't really cater for children and we were very happy to have none at all on our cruise. This was again probably due to the length of the voyage, as there were a lot of children arriving for the Christmas cruise. SHIP'S OFFICERS and STAFF : The Captain (Croatian) and many other officers were often seen walking around the ship and all were very approachable. The second Captain (Italian) was more likely to be seen in the smoking area, and was not much of a conversationalist. On disembarkation when he was standing at the gangway, a fellow passenger was heard to call him a 'cold fish'... On one of the first nights of the cruise there was a Captain's Cocktail Party, to which all were invited. We were pleasantly surprised to find it was very popular, and even more so that the bar staff were circulating with plenty of trays of FREE cocktails, wine and champagne - always our favourite type of drink! We had a lot of fun with the friendly restaurant and bar staff who represented some 40 different nations. STATEROOMS: We chose a fairly central cabin on deck seven, so it was only ever a couple of flights of stairs and a short walk to anywhere on the ship. The elevators never seemed to be too crowded. The room is a bit cosy for two people, but with a balcony it worked fine for us. Our issue is with the lack of shelves and storage, especially on a 40-night cruise. There really should be some form of bookshelves available at least. The balcony has lovely teak decking and comfortable chairs, however the table is ridiculously small! Room service out on the terrace was not really possible. The bathrooms are typically small but well designed on Nautica with a few shelves and a good cupboard. There are lovely toiletries, in decent sized bottles, which were replaced regularly. The air-conditioning was not particularly effective, with some nights feeling a little warm in the stateroom, despite turning the dial to the coldest setting. The temperature in the room was not helped by the poor seal around the sliding glass door, which made for a rather loud whistling noise, and allowed plenty of moisture inside. Once in the tropics we were 'treated' to our own indoor rain shower from the condensation dripping from the air-conditioning vent! The nightlight in the bathroom is a great idea. It provides enough light that you don't need to turn on the main one during the night. Other cruise lines provided a pair of binoculars in the concierge staterooms which were much appreciated, but these were not available on Oceania. Cashmere blankets and towelling robes are available in the concierge class stateroom. The stateroom attendants in concierge class were very attentive, cleaning our stateroom as soon as we vacated. The eight towels were replaced morning and evening, and a turn down service provided a chocolate on each pillow. A couple of tips that some people might not be aware of: - Most "walls" on a ship are metallic, so it is useful to bring an assortment of magnets to pin up schedules and reservations throughout the voyage. - Suction hooks are great to stick to the mirror to hang up dressing gowns or sarongs. - Travel shops can provide an elastic washing line with suction cups on each end. Great when you do some hand-washing, or even use the main laundry as you can stick the lines to the mirrors and windows and let your clothes dry naturally (and avoid the queue for the laundry). - Most ship's water is perfectly drinkable, if not better than the bottled stuff that Oceania regularly encourage you to pay for. Fill your bottles from the tap in your bathroom, add some ice and away you go! Oceania should really provide some free bottles, especially to those that pay for excursions. INTERNET and COMPUTERS :(here is the 'ugly') Internet speed, or a lack of it, is a major issue that Oceania badly needs to sort out. Prior to starting our cruise we had read (internet) reviews that it was slow but we were not prepared for it to be almost unusable. Many people on board had hoped to keep blogs up to date and send emails and photographs to friends and family, but after sometimes waiting 20 minutes for the homepage of Yahoo to even appear, this quickly becomes frustrating and tiresome. We wrote a letter of complaint a few days after arriving which we handed to the concierge. We were called to the computer room and asked if there was anything they could do to improve the service - of course we requested free minutes (which were not offered) but really the whole system needs to be overhauled. The staff thanked us for making a formal complaint, and we would recommend that others apply such pressure until things improve. The joining information gives you details of the email address that they assign to you for use during the cruise. We thought that this might be a free intranet situation, but again Oceania are being greedy and actually have the cheek to charge you two dollars per email for every recipient!!! There are classes for such things as Photoshop, but they are at the extortionate price of US$25! And charging US$20 to provide a CD (no, not a DVD) and copy your photos onto it is 'daylight robbery'! RESTAURANTS: The Grand Dining room provided excellent meals every time we were there. The menu was different every day, and there were favourite selections and light options always available. The Grand Dining room serves dinner to 9:30pm, but we were always able to sit much later with dessert and coffee service continuing. The others shut down around you at 9pm. The Polo Grill steakhouse was a little disappointing, if only because the Grand Dining Room provided decent cuts of meat and other similar menu items. We had an issue a few times with less attentive service in Polo. We found the Toscana restaurant was excellent every time, with an extensive menu of wonderful Italian food, and the staff doing a great job of hamming it up as Italians. The Terrace Cafe buffet was not particularly extensive, but there were different dishes available each day which made up for that (other cruise line buffets have been a bit repetitive). Iced water would be poured even as you sat down, and then a staff member would quickly offer to carry your plate to your table, after you selected from the ever-changing display. Tapas on the Terrace in the evenings was a nice, more casual alternative to the dining rooms (still a buffet), and on occasion there would be a themed meal. Waves grill had spectacular gourmet burgers, hot dogs and paninis, and a lovely salad bar. Like the others, your iced water was always filled, your plate carried to the table, and orders taken for things like the milkshakes and smoothies. The ice-cream selection was different every day. We used room service for breakfast on days with early starts which was always good. The orders were always delivered on time. Once again it is worth taking concierge class as this allows for more than a continental breakfast. ALCOHOL: We like a drink so this was an important issue for us. We took advantage of the lack of restriction on bringing our own supplies for the stateroom. We spent plenty in the bars but also enjoy a quiet drink in the stateroom or on our private balcony, for which we definitely needed more than the common allowance of two bottles of wine! We were a bit disappointed that the bars did not stock any local beers, even from Istanbul. We enjoy trying foreign beers when we travel, but Budweiser, Grolsch, Becks and Corona don't really count. Kingfisher was obtained in India but not available in all the bars. In many ports there was a duty free shop in the terminal, usually with very good prices for alcohol... SHORE EXCURSIONS : We did a few Oceania shore excursions and although the prices are a little steep, the companies used each time were very good and it was value for money for those not keen on doing it themselves. There was a local representative on the ship in each port, armed with maps and information for those who wanted to explore on their own. On occasion these were not too helpful - in Port Said the guy was sending people to the national museum that had been closed for three years! We did think that Oceania should make a little more effort to let people know about such things as Hop-on-Hop-off buses that are available in more and more cities nowadays. The staff was at the gangway every time offering water for sale - once again, this should be complimentary when you have already paid for an expensive excursion! We did a few private excursions for half the Oceania price and they always provided complimentary water. POOL DECK : We were regulars in the spa pools next to the swimming pool, with the bar staff making sure we stayed 'lubricated'. The spa is fresh water, while the swimming pool is salty. The pool was rather cool at first, but it quickly warmed up as the ship headed south. My swimming costume faded badly within a week due to the chemicals in the pools (mainly the spa pool), so don't bring your favourite one. There were signs in the pool area warning of this so they are to be heeded! In the early days of the cruise the deck staff provided lovely warm blankets to those who settled onto a deck lounger next to the pool. We usually were able to find a lounger in an acceptable position. There are lovely double loungers with extra cushions, and towels are always laid out on all of the loungers and quickly replaced as necessary. SERVICES : Oceania automatically add 18% service charge / gratuity on everything (bar bills, spa services etc.), which we strongly disagree with. Gratuities should be at the discretion of the guest, allowing you to reward those that provide better service. On the flip side we did discover that the junior bar staff are not actually paid a salary, instead relying on the gratuity for drinks they "sell". At least they are rotated around all the bar positions, so they have the opportunity to work in the more lucrative bars, rather than be stuck in a quieter one. All seems a bit unfair to us though, as we would rather reward the staff that provide better service. Like most cruise lines, various exotic spa treatments are offered at equally exotic prices. A neck-back-shoulders massage was $120 for 50 minutes, then the obscene 18% gratuity is automatically added, and on one occasion the staff had the cheek to encourage a tip - claiming that the 18% is a "surcharge". The boutique kept updating their stock with different logo items and souvenirs from the various ports, and there were often displays of jewelry, perfumes and clothing Initially we liked that there was no over-exuberant photographer insisting you pose next to a life size dolphin or other costume every time you went off the ship. In saying that, at the end of the voyage we were watching a television montage of shots taken throughout the trip that we thought might have been nice to purchase on CD. ENTERTAINMENT : We only attended a few of the performances, but reports of the music and dancing on offer were generally positive. There was a constant offering of organized activities where you could earn 'O-Points' that could be used to purchase logo items from the shop on board. Some people seemed to take this far too seriously, but plenty enjoyed the quizzes, games and competitions. We were pleased to see a BBC news channel on TV as well as the usual American selection. Unfortunately in India the selection was dramatically reduced to only Fox news, and this was not rectified over the last couple of weeks of the cruise. We would have thought this was just a case of retuning the satellite. Lots of people spent time in their stateroom watching the wide selection of movies available. Those that watched regularly thought that the selection should have been rotated a little more often. The destinations channel was very informative and prompted us to book a couple of additional excursions. The daily newsletter is only USA Today, although we did see a Canadian version delivered. The library has a most comprehensive range of interesting books, from magazines and novels through to non-fiction and reference materials. The radio channel had some decent rock music available, a change from the more classical or older music played in the public areas around the ship. Enrichment lectures were strangely lacking for such an extensive itinerary with so many historical sites to visit. We would like to have seen more available, at least on the television if not live talks. The Captain gave a very entertaining and informative talk about pirates, and the Nautica experience of last year. Every sea-day morning in Horizons was coffee-chat and needle-point, where small kits were available free of charge (yes, Oceania do give something out for free!), and a regular group turned up with knitting and other crafts. VISAS AND IMMIGRATION : We thought the information from Oceania before the cruise was lacking about which countries actually require you to have a visa in advance. After some research we only bought a visa for India in advance, and had no problem getting visas on arrival in Istanbul. Once on board, the staff was very efficient with handling passports and getting them distributed in the ports that required them. We didn't enjoy getting up at 06:30 for a face-to-face meeting with Israeli authorities, but again the staff made it as quick as possible, and arranged plenty of officers to ensure the process was quick. We had read on the internet that Jordan could be problematic but we didn't even have to get our passports. The paperwork for India arrived in the stateroom only requiring some signatures. Ditto for immigration paperwork required for Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. OVERALL IMPRESSION : We are already booked for the 35 night trip from Capetown to Singapore in 2010... Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
We have just come home from a 12 day sailing on the Regatta touring the Caribbean Pearls. It was our first cruise and we are not sure if we will cruise again but this decision has nothing to do with the ship the Regatta and Oceania Cruise ... Read More
We have just come home from a 12 day sailing on the Regatta touring the Caribbean Pearls. It was our first cruise and we are not sure if we will cruise again but this decision has nothing to do with the ship the Regatta and Oceania Cruise Line. The ship itself is beautiful from bow to stern. The decor, the cleanliness, and ease of moving about was perfect. Every single staff member, from someone passing a vacuum to the Captain were obviously happy and genuinely so to serve you or be of assistance. No question went unanswered. If they didn't know, they would go away and come back with an answer. The food was an absolute delight. Whether it was in the Grand Dining Room or Tappas on the Terrace, it was always fresh, hot, or cold, perfectly dished up, with all the accompaniments expected. A nice surprise was all the delicions no sugar added items. We thoroughly enjoyed each and every drink and morsel or food. The waiters were there to place the napkin over your lap or help you with your plate to your table. Always pleasant, always smiling. I loved the 4 o'clock tea with the string quartet and went every chance I got which was only 2 or 3 times as we were often ashore. It was very relaxing. The room was plenty spacious and super clean. The maid passing twice daily, to clean in the morning and to do the turn down with the chocolates at night. Room service always quick. One evening I couldn't finish my dessert and the waiter in the restaurant sent it to my room 30 minutes after I left the restaurant just as they said they would. The pool deck was well maintained however despite a sign asking people not to reserve the deck chairs or their items will be moved if they are not on deck, people were doing it. Only two times in the 12 days did we manage to get deck chairs and it was because we got them really early and hung onto them. The generous amount of towels were nice to have. Four things I didn't enjoy. More than once I could not get into the Spas beside the pool. The water was just too hot! I wore a gold chain around my ankle and it would actually heat up and burn my skin. Some days it was okay but it wasn't consistent. I don't like the salt water pool. Let's leave that in the ocean thank you very much. It makes your skin and hair sticky and it burns the eyes. Where's the joy in that? I swim twice a week at home and missed really swimming around under the water. The other thing I didn't like was the Canyon Ranch Spa. I found it unorganized and abandoned. There were towels and robes piled on the floor. There was no on around except for the girl at the desk who really didn't make you feel welcome. The lotions were empty or almost empty. The Spa outside, well all the plastic side covers were off and just piled up around the edge of the pool. It looked unkempt. Anyways, for $144 x two (my husband and me) for an hour massage, I expected something better. The last thing I didn't enjoy was the number of old people on this cruise. Just to be clear, I don't have anything against old people. But it seemed the cruise catered to them. The music always the elevator type, never any island music or fun music around the pool. No occasional fun animation for the younger crowd at all. I am 57 and my boyfriend 59. It's not like we're 25, but the kinds of things offered would put anyone to sleep. From the 12 piece orchestra for the dancing (Lawrence Welk style) to bridge lessons. I"m thinking it's because of the size of the ship but we are 650+ passengers. I saw many younger than us! So all in all, I rate Oceania Cruise Line and the Regatta 5 stars. Heather & Dan Montreal, Canada Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2010
Neither my wife nor I have ever tendered a review but we just completed our second cruise with Oceania, both with Owner's Suite accommodations and felt that we now had a sound footing for doing so. Our first cruise with Oceania was ... Read More
Neither my wife nor I have ever tendered a review but we just completed our second cruise with Oceania, both with Owner's Suite accommodations and felt that we now had a sound footing for doing so. Our first cruise with Oceania was while cruising on Insignia around South America; the latest with Nautica on the Sydney to Auckland run. Oceania is a stellar line and Insignia and Nautica are fine ships -- but given Oceania's advertising and market niche, one would expect no less. The things that are uniformly superb are the suite and verranda; butler service and pampering; the fitness center (given that these are small ships); the staff; and the embarkation and debarkation as well as at-sea organization. While we have already booked another Oceania cruise for the Baltic this summer on Regatta -- again in the Owner's Suite, we think it appropriate to point out defects that we have noticed on the 2 cruises. (Since Insignia, Nautica and Regatta are carbon copies of each other we expect that we will encounter the same defects on Regatta). First -- the internet access and service on Oceania is nothing short of abysmal. It is agonizingly slow, unreliable and very expensive. It can not continue this way without expecting to lose the loyalty of its customers. Internet access is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity, especially given that Oceania is looking to attract the 40-50 year old market who continue to work through vacations and not simply the retired. It is also surprising that there is nothing in any of the reviews that address this glaring defect. Unless Oceania gets its act together, we will not sail again on this line. Second- the speciality dining rooms are very noisy. Each of the Oceania vessels has 2 speciality dining rooms requiring reservations for a supposedly unique dining experience. However, each is very noisy, making holding conversations difficult and not overhearing all those around you virtually impossible. Better sound proofing would increase the dining experience. Third - the food in the grand dining room and specialty restaurants while good is not what I would consider great. In fact, we noticed no appreciable difference in quality or dining experience between the grand dining room and the specialty restaurants. There were some meals in each where the main course simply was either overcooked or what was not the highest grade meat. Fourth - while the on-board entertainment was consistent with what one would expect (small ships are not the place for entertainment extravaganzas), the enrichment lectures were hit and miss -- listening to some of the lectures on both ships was at times actually painful. Fifth -- some of the on-shore excursions could have been better organized in the sense that when 5 bus loads of passengers descend upon a destination, it makes each person feel like part of a high school outing-- it is simply too large a crowd. Whether it be wine tasting or a visit to a site, it seems that, with a little organization and planning, this feeing of being herded could have been avoided. For instance, buses could arrive ad seriatim rather than en masse, thus making the visit much more intimate and enjoyable for each person. (Since almost all of the excursions were only approx. 4 hrs in length, time constraints are no limitation). Again, Oceania is supposed to offer unique experiences. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Review of Oceania's Coral Seas and Asian Jewels ITINERARY This cruise itinerary proved to be very interesting and diverse, visiting ports in Australia and then jumping up to Indonesia, and then to Thailand. This was our 4th Oceania ... Read More
Review of Oceania's Coral Seas and Asian Jewels ITINERARY This cruise itinerary proved to be very interesting and diverse, visiting ports in Australia and then jumping up to Indonesia, and then to Thailand. This was our 4th Oceania cruise, and the food was excellent as is the norm for Oceania. However, this cruise seemed to be a cut above the other 3 in the food area. I wonder how this multi-national staff can be so professionally trained in serving food and tending to the needs of the cruisers. There are no lines to enter restaurants, you eat when you want, and sit with whom you wish. The maitre d' will ask if you wish to dine alone or share with others. Sharing is a great way to meet other cruisers. CRUISE DIRECTOR We had the pleasure of having Dottie Kulasa as our cruise director. This amazing woman is everywhere and so attentive to the needs of the cruisers. I was so pleasantly surprised when I boarded the ship to be invited to a Superbowl party, which had just begun in the Nautica Lounge. Dottie had arranged a buffet football lunch served by the wonderful wait staff. This was so important to me, as I am from New Orleans and feared that I'd miss seeing the Saints win their first Superbowl. Of course, Dottie learned quickly that I was from New Orleans as she is so observant. We also had Ian for Assistant Cruise Director. He was the best we've ever had also. Each evening at 8:45 Ian hosted a different game in Martinis. After a week, everyone couldn't wait to see what game he'd present that evening! He was so entertaining. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on Oceania is usually not great as it's a small ship. But this cruise was the exception. Frances Bordley of the Entertainment staff has a fabulous voice and a great personality to go with it! Lucy is a beautiful, tiny young girl with a powerful mature voice. I wish she could have sung more for us. Frances arranged with Dottie to put on a second show. Dottie searched the schedule and found a time slot from 6 - 6:30 for her show. I applaud Dottie's flexibility! The extra show was very entertaining and well attended. As a plus to having Dottie, we also got her husband, Tom Drake, who is a very entertaining comedian. In addition to the entertainment staff, entertainers were brought on from Australia to perform. We were also treated to a Thai Dance performance with beautiful costumes. On previous cruises it was not a big deal to miss a show, but no one wanted to miss these shows! CONCIERGE SERVICES I had also arranged with fellow Cruise Critics to meet in Martinis Lounge so we could all get to know each other. The Concierge, Bruno, was very helpful in arranging a special party for our group. We grouped together for dinner, shore excursions and other events onboard. We arranged private shore excursions together, which combined all of the Oceania excursions in one and for 1/4th of the price of one Oceania excursion. DESTINATION SERVICES This Oceania cruise would have been perfect except for the poorly executed Oceania shore excursions and the misinformation given by the Destination Services Manager. We really didn't know what to expect at each port until we got to it. In Komodo, we were FORCED to take Oceania's excursions. DS claimed we were unable to disembark the ship unless we were on one of Oceania's tours. They said this was a requirement by the Komodo National Park. This is something we will never know the truth about. We did notice, however, that the crew was able to tender back and forth as they pleased. Our CC group learned that the entrance fee to the park was $15. The tender brought you directly to the entrance of the park. DS didn't need to do anything but set the group up with a guide. For this pleasure they charged $99 for the tour. We were horrified to realize that the poor guides were not even tipped from this amount. We didn't learn this until after our return. Some of us had not brought money ashore with us to tip the guides. The only other O shore excursion we participated in was to the Great Barrier Reef. I was unable to obtain correct information from Oceania's phone agents as to what happens at this stop. The only info we had was that the ship would anchor off of Hamilton Island at 8am. As it turned out, the ship stopped at 6:30 and disembarked the tour to the GBR onto a catamaran in rough water. The rough ride on the catamaran to the GBR was about 1 hr. long. Many people were nauseated by the time we got to the snorkeling platform. As it was an overcast day with rough water, the coral was not very vivid, and perhaps this is not the best place to stop to see the GBR. The cat ride back to the ship was appx. 1 ½ hrs. (again a nauseating ride) because the ship then moved to its scheduled 8:00am anchor position off Hamilton Island. I think DS should have canceled this tour due to poor weather. I made several calls to Oceania's agents to learn port info. The told me we'd get a document with this info. When we got the document, it didn't give the docking address as I had requested. Other questions asked were also answered incorrectly. DS needs to communicate with the agents better. PRIVATE SHORE EXCURSIONS With the assistance of Cruise Critic, I was able to put together groups interested in doing certain private excursions. We searched CC and the net for interesting tours. Most of these were excellent. I highly recommend Borobudur Sunrise Tours. We had a police escort for 2 vehicles and 18 people total. We got to Borobudur in 1 hr. 35 minutes! So we had plenty of time to explore. Then the guide drove us (with our police escort) us to a delightful place for our included lunch. We had the whole place to ourselves and were served dish after dish of delicious Indonesian food. Cost of tour - $85 pp incl. lunch, admissions, and water on the bus. The cost of the police escort was $250 US so we split this 18 ways. Another notable tour was Polos Tourist Services http://www.bali-day-trip.com/ in Bali. This tour cost about $40 US for a car and we had 2 cars with 6 people each. Nengah Polos would take us anywhere we wanted to go but his website gave suggestions. We left it up to him to show us the best. We had lunch (our cost) in a beautiful restaurant overlooking the active volcano and Lake Batur. We also arranged a tour in Koh Samui with Tours Koh Samui www.tourskohsamui.com. This tour was okay, but totally misrepresented. We thought we'd be doing a private tour with just our group, but then we realized that this company had booked other tours from our ship and put us all together in one big group. Other info about the places we'd go were totally misrepresented. For instance, we were told we could swim in the waterfalls. And we were told we'd see 2 beaches where we could also swim. The waterfalls were a trickle and the guide we had said no one is allowed to swim on their tours. I protested and showed the email I had gotten from her company, so she took us to a beach to swim, but it was dirty and not the pretty beaches we were promised. We were also promised an English speaking driver/guide. None of the drivers spoke English. One of our CC members arranged 2 tours, one in Cairns, which was great. You can go directly to the Skyrail website www.skyrail.com.au and make these arrangements on your own. A bus brought us to the Skyrail which went to Kuranda (where we were able to visit a Koala park and see kangaroos and koalas. I got a pic. holding a koala for $15A. Entrance to this park was $19A. Then we had lunch and took the train back near where the ship docked. The cost for the skyrail (including bus ride to the skyrail) and train was $92.50A. Other cruisers were able to make this arrangement w/o having a prior rsv. The other tour was in Darwin. This was arranged through Goanna Eco Tours outback-crocodile-adventures.com These people didn't show up to pick us up! Poor management. But our member called them and they showed up an hour late. This shortened our time at the park because we had to be back to the ship. This tour was disappointing. Some of our fellow cruisers took an O excursion to the crocodile park and reported that it was great (but way overpriced). Overall,this cruise had a great itinerary, great food and entertainment, and fell short only on shore excursions, which (with a little work) you can arrange on your own. I would recommend Oceania for your future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
It's taken me almost six months to write this review, but I hope it will prove helpful now that I've finally done the hardest part of writing...applying the seat of my pants to the seat of the chair. Our cruise was Caribbean ... Read More
It's taken me almost six months to write this review, but I hope it will prove helpful now that I've finally done the hardest part of writing...applying the seat of my pants to the seat of the chair. Our cruise was Caribbean Pearls on Oceania Regatta, 12 nights and 8 ports, 6 of which were new for us. We've cruised previously on Norwegian, Carnival, MSC and Celebrity. The Oceania fare was reasonable and the itinerary fantastic, so we went for it. Embarkation: We stood around (not enough chairs) for about an hour before being allowed on the ship. We had arrived at the port at around 12:30 pm, and so had everyone else. When we were allowed on the ship, we were told that our room was not ready and were directed to the buffet, which was nothing special but at least was not the mob scene that larger ships can create on departure day. Our room was ready at 3pm as promised. We had booked an inside guarantee but were "upgraded" (against our will, but that is what can happen with a guarantee and we understood that) to an obstructed oceanview on deck 6. These rooms are about 20 square feet smaller than the insides and we were worried it would be cramped...needlessly, as it turned out. The room was great, functional, comfortable, and well-designed. There was plenty of storage space. We didn't care about the lifeboat hanging over the window as we had anticipated an inside cabin anyway. Ship: Okay, I'll say it: One of us (your reviewer, as it happens) thinks the ship was too small. I am prone to seasickness and needed to take medication the whole time, which has never happened on larger ships unless the weather is really rough. That said, the ship is beautiful and elegant, and only rarely did it feel crowded, specifically at Martini's at 9pm for trivia, where by the third night you had to show up at 8pm to get a seat. I don't know if the pool area was crowded because we rented a cabana, which was fun but not something I'd do again. Tendering was another time the ship felt small and crowded...people were lined up the stairs for two and three decks waiting for tenders, and we tendered at four out of eight ports, ick. Isn't the point of a smaller ship that it can dock, or am I missing something? The one completely and utterly fabulous space on the ship is the library. It's completely spoiled me for anything to follow. It's huge and gorgeous and...I could go on and on. Fellow Passengers: A range of ages from early 40s on up. It was not a ship of ancients, and everyone was pretty active. There was a good core of Cruise Critic-ers, although unfortunately Oceania didn't do anything special for us. To punish them, a few of us (and you know who we are) won all the twice-daily trivia competitions and left with our bags stuffed with Oceania merchandise so that now we're walking advertisements for the line whenever we grab a T-shirt. Okay, maybe we didn't punish them that much. Food: We're foodies, and we had high expectations. In our opinion, Jacques Pepin's "signature" cuisine was a little boring. The ingredients were fresh (we watched them loading crates of cauliflower onto the ship and had cauliflower soup that night) but rather unimaginatively prepared. Think classic (kind of old-fashioned) French. That said, there was always something tasty to eat, even if very few dishes stand out in our minds. The service was very good, and we never had to wait for a table for two, although the tables are close together and sometimes it felt like the two tables for two were really a table for four. That's great if you like listening to other people's dinner conversation, but we don't. One lovely perk of Oceania is not paying a surcharge for the two specialty restaurants, Polo Grill and Toscana. We went to Toscana the second night. Unfortunately that's when I was at my seasickest, but it LOOKED like a lovely meal, and dear husband enjoyed it a lot. The choice of balsamic vinegars was unexpectedly wonderful. We actually went to Polo twice...even if you aren't a suite passenger (they get two reservations at each restaurant), if you ask nicely and they have room, they'll let you make another reservation. Everything is fresh and well prepared at Polo, with nice desserts (key lime pie, yum). Unfortunately our second night there was the night they had caviar in the main dining room, but when we asked for some, we were told they couldn't get it. That was too bad, as up until then the staff had pretty much given us everything we wanted and a few things we didn't even know we wanted until we got them. In general we found the wine list (very heavy on French wines, almost nothing from the New World) to be somewhat unimaginative. We drank less wine on this cruise than on MSC, a line with a younger, fresher, more interesting wine list. We went to afternoon tea three or four times. It's wonderful, with different items every day. The only problem with it is that it starts too late to substitute for lunch and it's difficult to enjoy one's Jacques Pepin signature chicken at dinner two hours after you've scarfed down a Bananas Foster crepe, four different tea sandwiches, a plateful of cookies, a piece of sponge cake, a scone with jam and clotted cream, several cups of tea, and whatever else your husband snagged from a passing trolley. You can see the kind of problems one has on Oceania. Entertainment: There isn't much, and that's a fact, and we knew it before we cruised and so weren't surprised. We entertained ourselves by admiring the library and never missing trivia. We entertained Oceania by losing at bingo a couple of times and putting a few dollars into the slots in the pathetic casino that's so small it's pretty much in a hallway. Would we sail on Oceania again? Absolutely, if the price and the itinerary suited us. We'd especially like to try Marina, which as a larger ship would probably have even more to offer. We had a wonderful time. Previously, our longest cruise had been 10 days. On Regatta, 12 days flew by in a wonderful, pampered blur: cabana and canapes, tea and trivia. Thanks Oceania! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
This was my first cruise on Oceania and I had heard so many good things about the line that perhaps my expectations were too high. I had previously sailed on Regent (Mariner of the Seas)at the same class of service and cannot say enough ... Read More
This was my first cruise on Oceania and I had heard so many good things about the line that perhaps my expectations were too high. I had previously sailed on Regent (Mariner of the Seas)at the same class of service and cannot say enough about that experience. Unfortunately, although a lovely ship, Oceania does not match Regent's class of service. The penthouse suites (with butler)do not come close to the luxurious feel of the Regent Penthouse Suites. The bathroom is quite small, and the feeling of separation between the sleeping and sitting area is non-existent. This may not be the case on their newest ship, Marina (there is a lot of anticipation by Oceania cruisers and staff about this new ship), but we were not impressed with the Penthouse Suites on the Regatta. They tout that your refrigerator will be kept supplied with water and soft drinks, but that was not our experience. We had to ask each time the supply was low and they grudgingly restocked only by request. They advertise that the butler will act as your own personal concierge and try to comply with requests for reservations at the specialty restaurants. I would advise that you make certain your reservations are booked before sailing, as our butler never complied with any request that we made. He did not even notify us of his failure to book. We were pretty much left to our own devices (luckily we had booked ahead of time). The only sign of punctuality that he showed was his on-time arrival before we left the ship. Of course, this was because he was looking for a tip (which we felt compelled to give him) above the amount that the ship charged to our account. The in-room appetizers become boring by the end of the first week. The selections offered never varied, and they do not offer nuts, chips, pretzels, etc. The food was not up to the standards that were advertised. It is certainly edible (and the restaurant ambiance is lovely), but the staff at the buffet seemed disgruntled and had a "take it or leave it" attitude. They did not seem to know anything about the daily offerings and they NEVER offered to carry your plate to your table as they do on Regent. One morning I had eggs benedict and the yolk exploded when pierced with a fork. It went all over the table, and was observed by one of the staff. Luckily she came over and was appalled by the incident. The eggs were obviously cooked the morning prior to serving and had been saved to re-appear the second morning. She promptly got me a fresh order, but my appetite and clothes had been ruined. If ice cream is your thing, (the chat boards give Oceania the thumbs up for their ice cream and milkshakes)you may be pleased with the offerings. I found the selections limited and uninspired. Yes, the milkshakes are good, but not exceptional--most milkshakes are good and almost every ship that I've been on offers some sort of ice cream service. Oceania restricts the opening hours that ice cream is served and, with only one server, lines can be long. I will warn you, although it is discussed often on the chat boards, the coffee is VILE. I don't mean that it is weak or strong--just HORRIBLE. Even the room stewards admit that they bring their own supply of instant coffee on board rather than drink the coffee offered on the ship. Is anyone at Oceania listening??? We did not go on the shore excursions offered by Oceania, but booked our own guides in each port and we were very pleased with that decision. We chose this particular Oceania cruise for the line's reputation and the various ports that were included on this trip. We were not disappointed by the selection of ports. Organization of the docking and tendering by the staff was very efficient and well managed. There were no delays in port and the wait for a tender was minimal. Since our time on board was limited (the ship more or less served as a floating hotel), and there were no "at sea" days, we did not participate in the on-board offerings such as the casino, evening shows, bingo, etc. so I cannot comment on those events. I will tell you that common areas are quite lovely (the library is very restful)and it is certainly a beautiful ship, but most of the staff seems to have the attitude "We are Oceania and criticism and suggestions are not appreciated." I don't believe that I will cruise with Oceania again. It's not my cup of tea--or coffee to be more exact. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2010
This was our third cruise on Oceania. We have cruised Istanbul to Athens and the Baltics. This cruise, Vikings/Castles/and Kings was full of interesting ports. We had two sea days to rest up. After boarding in Dover we went to lunch. ... Read More
This was our third cruise on Oceania. We have cruised Istanbul to Athens and the Baltics. This cruise, Vikings/Castles/and Kings was full of interesting ports. We had two sea days to rest up. After boarding in Dover we went to lunch. Pizza was served that was dry and hard. We were shocked. My comment was is the "bloom off the rose at O?". Thank goodness a few days later the pizza was up to snuff as far as being moist and tender. It still was not as good as on other lines we have sailed. Dining in the specialty restaurants was a mixed bag. We had rather tough and dry lobster served two time. Fillet Mignon in Polo was indeed a great steak. We enjoyed the staff and food in the Grand Dining Room. Our B1 cabin was limited to continental breakfast - no eggs or breakfast meats. When I asked about a full breakfast I was told this was an "amenity" reserved for the higher cabins and suites. Personally I do not feel that having paid a handsome sum for a B1 veranda that I should be denied eggs and bacon on my room service tray. O can save the tablecloth and flower in a vase for the higher priced cabins and serve me some protein in the morning. Entertainment was not up to snuff. The on board entertainers - band, male and female singers were adequate. We had a magician/mentalist who was IMHO boring. The comedian was pretty good. Prom Night, the final of the World Cup soccer game and the all crew review were pretty bad offerings. One can only guess that entertainment is where O has made cuts in order to sail in the black. We loved our B1 veranda cabin and had sailed in 6065, 6067 and 6069. We don't mind that these cabins are smaller then those on HAL. We don't mind that they have a small shower vs a tub/shower on HAL. The size and layout are fine with us. This cruise O provided free water and soft drinks. We used 2 or 3 cans of soda as mixers and really appreciated the unlimited supply of water. Crew as usual was exceptional. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
This was actually the 2nd time on this particular ship -- previously when it was Renaissance in 2001. Love the size of ship with less than 700 passengers. Love that fact that you don't have the continuous overhead announcements and ... Read More
This was actually the 2nd time on this particular ship -- previously when it was Renaissance in 2001. Love the size of ship with less than 700 passengers. Love that fact that you don't have the continuous overhead announcements and picture taking. Very personalized service both in the cabins, dining room and through out. Due to the capacity, getting off and back on the ship was easy. This particular cruise was very busy as only 1 or 2 days at sea and the rest in various ports. I took the opportunity to fly to Moscow for the day from St. Petersburg which was very worthwhile. All the tours were very well organized and interesting. Yes, maybe a little more pricey but it was a vacation -- someone else took care of everything! The food was quite good and varied in the dining room and extraordinary in the specialty restaurants. Just sorry that access is limited by level of accommodations. I enjoyed this ship so much, will be going on it a 3rd time in February to Australia/New Zealand! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
This was our 15th cruise and our first time on Oceania. We felt we were ready to get away from the "bigger is better" cruise ships and lines and we were generally pleased with the Oceania experience. The Nautica is a well ... Read More
This was our 15th cruise and our first time on Oceania. We felt we were ready to get away from the "bigger is better" cruise ships and lines and we were generally pleased with the Oceania experience. The Nautica is a well maintained ship that was recently dry docked for refurbishment.All new teak wood throughout the exterior spaces with new chairs as well. The only area of the ship that looked "dowdy" was the buffet area. Loved the Tapas on the Terrace area at rear of ship for eating outdoors. Pros: a great itinerary with access to smaller ports, such as Portofino & Amalfi, due to the smaller ship size. With less than 700 passengers, ship never felt crowded, very few children (all well behaved), better quality of food and service. Nice group of travelers, mostly couples. Cons: Destination Services (tours) overpriced and poor quality. We went for almost $1500 in tours and not one was decent,let alone exceptional. Destinations Service staff on board ship gave us a $30 refund per person when we complained that the description of a tour in Montenegro did not in any way resemble the actual tour itself. We are currently demanding a full refund of $298 & haven't received a response to our letter of complaint to Oceania in Miami. No shuttle bus was provided in the ports to get us into the towns. This is something that Oceania needs to work on. The specialty restaurant Toscana was a major disappointment. We are from the NY area and are inundated with decent Italian restaurants and this wasn't even in the "decent" category. Nothing on the menu was overly exciting...what is everyone raving about? Polo Grill, on the other hand, was fabulous and we ate there twice. The food and service in the main dining room was also very good. Used the laundry room iron to touch up a few items and it was always crowded with lines waiting to get in when it opened at 8am. Much too small. Limited entertainment, the comedian was good but not much else to remember. We were generally pleased with the overall experience, but when we did the math, the trip cost us approximately $1,200 per day, which was much more pricey than a similar itinerary on Holland America's newest ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam. We're still trying to decide if it was worth the difference. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
We were on the Yacht Havens cruise that departed Rome on 8/05. Boarding was smooth. Cabin was at front of ship and slightly larger than cabins around the sides. But, the view might be better at the sides because the verandas are more open. ... Read More
We were on the Yacht Havens cruise that departed Rome on 8/05. Boarding was smooth. Cabin was at front of ship and slightly larger than cabins around the sides. But, the view might be better at the sides because the verandas are more open. In general, pleasant voyage. Dining satisfactory. Crew friendly and hardworking. Most ports interesting. We liked the ports where we tendered much more than the ones where we docked. Walking from the piers was not ever pleasant. Marseilles was a particularly smelly, distant, and unpleasant pier. Very disappointed that itinerary was changed from Sanary sur Mer to Toloun. Quite a let down from previous ports. Especially annoyed because little guidance was offered on what to do or how to get around at this port. Oceania intended to keep us safe. I understand that. But little was done to keep up the quality of the itinerary. One of the fitness machines was broken for the entire voyage. In general, we liked Oceania and Nautica. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
Prelude: Because this website has been so helpful to me, I finally decided it was time to pay it forward by posting a review. Hope you all find it helpful likewise! I've included a lot of detail in part because reading other ... Read More
Prelude: Because this website has been so helpful to me, I finally decided it was time to pay it forward by posting a review. Hope you all find it helpful likewise! I've included a lot of detail in part because reading other posters' detailed comments really helped me prepare for my first Oceania cruise. Cruise: Sun-Splashed Riverias, 29 Sep - 12 Oct 2010 Cabin: A1 Veranda, Concierge Level Air/transfer to/from port: We made our own air/travel arrangements, which included spending 1 night in Nice at the Le Grimaldi Hotel before the cruise. The hotel provided good service, arranging airport and port transfers for us as well as making recommendations for restaurants etc. We shared a smooth, private transfer with two other couples we met through the board and arrived at the Monaco pier about noon. Disembarkation in Venice also went smoothly, and we were glad to have a 9 a.m. departure from the ship even as we had to exit our stateroom by 8 a.m. (Note: take that time to check out other cabin categories!) We booked a ship transfer to the airport but the air was by our own arrangement. Embarkation: A breeze. Our luggage was turned over to the baggage handlers, we filled out a brief health survey, and then made our way directly (with no xray screening!) onboard Regatta and into the Regatta lounge for check in. Concierge level was guaranteed to board from 11 a.m. onward; however, the checkin staff was processing all cabin levels even if the lower levels weren't guaranteed checkin until later in the day. I applaud this move especially for an 11 p.m. sailing like ours because it allows everyone to get transferred onboard, get a meal and arrange cruise matters like restaurant reservations, and still have some time to visit the port before sailing. Our cabin became available by 1 p.m. while those in the lower levels opened at 3 p.m. This allowed us to stow our hand luggage (and that of some fellow-cruisers with rooms ready later) and head off to the Monaco Oceanography Museum, which was very enjoyable. One note: Always re-check any restaurant reservations made online when you get onboard. Four of us walked confidently into Polo that night, and after waiting for a bit, were pointed toward Toscana, where they had reserved 2 tables for two vice a single table for four. This was promptly remedied, but Our Bad for not taking a more careful look at our confirms! Cabin: Is Concierge worth the extra $$$? Depends. All cabin levels got checked in early from what I could tell (which I applaud), but our room was ready a couple hours earlier. We got a tote that came in handy once or twice, but doesn't matter much to me. Our cashmere lap blankets were only really useful as head scarves on an autumn cruise, as they are paper-thin -- we'd have been much better served by the blankets they offer up at the Terrace Cafe. You can order a hot room service breakfast, which we didn't use even once. You get a bottle of champagne, which (shame on us!) we never drank. That leaves one floor up (could care less, it's bumpier the higher you go) and two reservations in each specialty restaurant. For me it was this latter that made the splurge worthwhile, but Just. Otherwise, while smaller than those you would find on even Crystal, for example, the cabins were well laid out and comfortable. The bathrooms are tiny, but the shower is rectangular in shape so that there is in principle just adequate room for a woman to shave her legs. No tub; you only get that if you spring for a penthouse. Perhaps the nicest part of the cabin is that it was very well soundproofed, and I slept very well while aboard. Dining: In general the food is excellent and always beautifully presented. I loved the single-seating dining and having Tapas as a casual alternative. High marks to Polo for their filet mignon; also enjoyed some excellent local fish, and the ethnic cuisine, particularly the sushi and Indian-inspired preparations. Toscana was also fun, less memorable. It was great to have espresso available throughout the ship. Afternoon tea was a great pleasure with tasty canapEs, lovely cakes and cookies, and those scones with jam and clotted cream. Favorite fruit: papaya every morning. Hubby's favorite treat: smoked salmon for breakfast every day. Favorite ice cream: cinnamon. Best coffee, but had it only once: a double latte with breakfast in the Main Dining Room. (We loved eating breakfast al fresco at Terrace.) Best wine: an Alto Adige Gewurztraminer. Best lunch: a hamburger and fries from Waves - almost never got lunch onboard! Best guilty pleasure: room service French fries with mayo eaten out on my balcony along with some Limoncello (on ice) that we bought in Sorrento. Service: This is where the line shines, in my opinion. The staff and crew work ceasingly to make us feel warmly welcomed and cared for. This was a cross-over cruise - we migrated most recently from Crystal. While perhaps two 'O' staff ever called me by name (as opposed to many staff members doing this onboard Crystal Serenity), each 'O' staff member put her or his best effort into giving attentive and personal service. Service is perhaps the no. 1 reason I enjoy cruising, and these folks did it extremely well. It became hard to single out individuals because collectively everyone did a top-notch job. That said, I think the Terrace Cafe deserves special mention, because I don't think I've ever had such attentive 'Lido Deck' service - and I'm comparing to 5 and 6 star lines. Ambience: Regatta is kept bright and clean everywhere you go, and it is true that some of her fittings are wearing a bit - this most evident in the carpets, in my opinion. We heard they were re-outfitting soon, and it is timely. Biggest surprise: passengers dressed nicer that I expected given what I'd read on the CruiseCritic board. Next time (!) I'd pack slightly fancier evening attire. Median age on our trip was roughly mid- to late-60s, and we were on the young end of that curve but never felt unwelcome. Passengers on the whole were a convivial lot: well-heeled and a pleasure to meet. Itinerary: Exhausting! No sea days, and many of us wished for at least one. I would have settled even for a couple more days of daylight sailing (aka departures by 4 or 5 p.m.). Otherwise you end up on a floating hotel with no sense of being at sea. For example, I'd have gladly nixed Cannes for a sea day. Quite a few folks wore themselves out doing all the headline ports (e.g. Florence & Rome) at the beginning, and had little left for the lovely ports at the end (e.g. Kotor, Dubrovnik and Koper). Kotor was a delight, both to approach at sunrise and then to view from the high point of the old city walls. Excursions: Took only a few 'O' tours, and most were good to very good. Staff worked hard to make right an issue that came up for us regarding the advertized itinerary. I still, however, rankle at the inflated prices, especially for port transfers. I booked a port transfer for our Venice disembarkation in a weak moment because I hadn't done my usual level of pre-departure research. We could have saved $200 had I been more on top of my game. So Do Note: do your homework before you leave home and you can save a wad in this regard. You can also set up private tours, which while expensive, can be customized to your party's needs. We had an awesome all day tour of Rome courtesy of Fabrizio and his AllAroundItaly touring company (http://www.allarounditalys.net/). Highly recommended! Entertainment: Can't comment except for enjoying the string quartet at tea (tea is not to be missed if you can manage to be aboard at that time) . We were out exploring every day and retired early every evening - so I was quite content with the limited evening options. Biggest frustration: lack of a full walk-around promenade, and worse, not even a single, unobstructed 180 degree viewing area forward or aft out in the open air. I think the private cabanas should be junked and returned to a viewing area for those of us who want to see the (often) spectacular coastal scenery. For example, as a lover of nature, scenery and fresh air, I would never choose to take this ship to Alaska to see the glaciers. 2nd biggest frustration: Almost no port shuttles, paid or otherwise. For example, it irritated me to see MSC running passengers into Corfu town but not 'O.' Note: do your port homework before you leave, and make arrangements accordingly. Know whether you will need to get a taxi, use public transport (and have the appropriate currency on hand or know where to get it), or arrange a private or ship tour - as much as you can ahead of sailing, and you'll have a much more enjoyable time on your vacation. Minor annoyance: the constant peddling of Happy Hour and other Booze events (since you had to pay for alcohol on these ships). We found the two-for-one drinks to taste roughly like the alcohol portion had been split between the two glasses, for example. I'd rather order one really well-made cocktail, and will remember this in the future. 3rd biggest frustration: For most people, the absolutely inadequate self-service laundry. I never used it but came prepared based on advice from these boards. Thus, I washed clothes in my sink nearly every day. I heard a rumor that the Cruise Director assured a passenger that the broken washer would be fixed within 3 days -- he should have done her laundry himself when that assurance failed to be delivered. In fact, I've read so often about a broken machine on the ship that I'm beginning to believe it is a "marketing" for the ship's laundry service. Big ship amenities I actually missed: the separate movie/lecture theater, the wraparound promenade, and the Asian cuisine in Nobu on Crystal Serenity. 6 Star amenity I missed: staff saying "Why certainly, Mrs. Guest." OK, I'm a total sucker for that one... Did I miss this or does it just not happen? Any Champagne sailaway from any port on the trip. Any champagne party at all, sponsored by the ship. Apparently first-timers just get an invitation to go hear about how to sign up for the next cruise. Brightest moment: a tie between sailing into Kotor at dawn and watching a sunset out on my balcony that nearly brought tears to the eyes. Next brightest moments: returning after long touring days to a cabin beautifully tidied by our steward Egerton and his Jamaican assistant (drat, one of many names I never managed to catch). Best missed opportunity: massage and thalasotherapy and steam in the spa. No sea days, no time, $$$ saved!!! Niche: It will be interesting, between the new Marina and the refitting of the older ships, to see where this line will position itself. This is not a 6 star ship (in my opinion because of the limits on the staff-passenger and space-passenger ratios), but certainly in the range of 5 stars in many respects. I think they may be redefining their target clientele, however. Based on discussions during the cruise as well as reading comments on the boards, it seems as if prices may be on the rise - and this appears to be causing folks to reconsider the affordability of the line. While they can attempt to match the service standard of Crystal staff, Regatta can't offer the space and staff ratios that you get on a Crystal or other 6 star ship. So 'O' potentially can capture a market for people seeking great food and service but willing to forgo things like port shuttles, entertainment, an opulent stateroom, free fitness classes (yep, even these come with a 'nominal' fee), and decent laundry service. I'd have to think a bit to come up with my list of must-haves vs can-do-withouts, but for sure in contemplating my next cruise, I'd ask my TA for quotes from Crystal, Regent, Silversea and 'O', do some calculations to estimate overall price including transfers, air, alcohol, laundry, excursions, etc. If 'O' can deliver a good itinerary at a cheaper price, it makes a compelling booking argument. Toughest moment onboard: when they took away my bathrobe the night before disembarkation. The first sign that the love was ebbing! I'm glad I read about this on CruiseCritic ahead of time. You know how good it was when the time comes to disembark and you feel bereft to leave! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
We've sailed Oceania before and think they provide an excellent experience. Even so, a thirty day cruise was a log time and a lot of money, so we debated about it. The itinerary convinced us, with fifteen ports, most places we'd ... Read More
We've sailed Oceania before and think they provide an excellent experience. Even so, a thirty day cruise was a log time and a lot of money, so we debated about it. The itinerary convinced us, with fifteen ports, most places we'd never been that are difficult to get to any other way, sailing the West Coast of Africa. There were twelve sea days - interspersed nicely with the ports, to make for a very relaxing cruise, mostly through tropical waters. Midway through the cruise, I got to my 100th country. The Nautica is a beautiful ship - we discovered on a Renaissance cruise over a decade ago. The public rooms are nicely decorated, the cabins are reasonably roomy and easy to live in. Oceania beds are among the most comfortable we've experienced. Oceania is outstanding for service - friendly, helpful crew that always great you, even as you pass in the hallway. The crew was from 44 countries, making my custom of saying thank you in the right language a challenge, but one always met with a smile of appreciation. Food onboard was a highlight of the trip - the Grand Dining Room serves a four course lunch and a six course dinner with a variety of options that changes daily. Passengers are seated when they arrive, at a table for two or a bigger table for groups or those who want to share (a great way to meet new people). The Terrace Cafe offers cafeteria style (with someone to carry your plate and someone to spoon on the cottage cheese), convenient for breakfast and open three meals a day, with plenty of outdoor seating. The two specialty restaurants were there for dinners grander than the six course Grand Dining Room, with specialty olive oils and balsamic vinegar, larger portions and even more elaborate service. They required reservations, but we had no problem making them before departure and during the cruise. The breads are baked three times daily, special requests are honored easily, and wine follows you to the next meal if you don't finish the bottle. Several items were memorable from the dover sole at Toscany to the cold fruit soups that appeared regularly to the oversized roast beef at the Polo Grill. The entertainment staff were welcoming and friendly. Good enrichment speakers regularly provided at-sea day talks (unfortunately not on West Africa), the comedians were great, services were held every Friday night and all through Chanukah for the Jews on board - even latkes. The reception staff was helpful in solving problems. The disappointment was in destination services, where they couldn't tell us the location of the Modern Art Museum in Istanbul (it was a quarter mile away on the dock), were totally useless for travelers not booking on an excursion, and almost as useless for those investing in the badly planned and badly operated excursions (forced non-stop march through the market in Tunis). I actually tried the gym, a radical move for me. I preferred the library, but I signed up for three hours of trainer who helped me learn how to use all those exercise machines. She was delightful, but didn't overcome decades of inactivity. The West African ports were not ready for prime time - we were pioneering in stops in The Gambia, Togo and Benin. They did not have the tourist infrastructure to deal with 684 tourists arriving at once, staying eight hours, and leaving - things like money changing, taxis, even maps and materials. The people were delightful, happy to see us, ready to sell everything (good price - special for you). Their crafts and fabrics were wonderful, and we brought home many great memories and souvenirs. Dakar and Takoradi, Ghana were better organized, but still difficult. The tour of Goree Island and it's slave transit facilities was moving. The other stops, Crete, Malta, Tunis, Valencia, Casablanca, Canary Islands, Namibia and Cape Town are far better equipped to deal with tourists, and the four wheel drive through the Namibian desert was fabulous. We were not bothered by the thirty day cruise, although I'm not sure I could have taken the back-to-back cruise to Singapore that went for another forty days, as several of the people on the ship did. I was disappointed that it was over. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2011
We recently travelled on a cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong on the Oceania's Cruise Line Ship Nautica. This is a 6 star ship which did not quite live up to the hype.Firstly this ship is strangely a class ship. If you have a cabin on ... Read More
We recently travelled on a cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong on the Oceania's Cruise Line Ship Nautica. This is a 6 star ship which did not quite live up to the hype.Firstly this ship is strangely a class ship. If you have a cabin on decks 7 and 8 you have butler service and excellent suites and are able to eat in the 2 excellent speciality restaurants almost at will. Also you appear to have identification which is different from the rest and of course you pay the premium. This top level is perhaps just 6 star provided the clients do not use the rest of the ship, the rest is anything but and is far worse than the same sized Ocean Princess and not in the same league as Crystal Cruises. The lower decks get one opportunity at each of the specialty restaurants but the rest of the time you eat in the Grand Dining room or the Tapas restaurant. The food in all is generally good but having said that we both had food poisoning which lasted for nearly a week. I was unable to eat at all for some 3 days and came back 5 pounds lighter. We ate or drank nothing that was not supplied by the ship but I believe the problem was probably from eating out on shore excursions arranged by the ship. I politely talked to the reception as I thought they may wish to check their kitchens because although I suspected the food from the shore excursions (Raffles, Pnom Penn and a luxury restaurant on the Mekong Delta) I could not be certain. I was rung by the Concierge minutes later with the words that nobody else had the problem and we must have licked our fingers whilst out. This was an unfortunate lie as my wife was sitting behind a similar patient in the doctors and we met at least 14 other suffers (all from the same trips) and a crew member had told me that there were many with my problem. Unfortunately this is a cruise line that is extremely difficult if you want to do your own thing on shore and you have to do the shore excursions. Unfortunately I like to do a mixture with excursions so that I do not have to eat out or go to the obligatory souvenir shops but the choice of landing times and cruise ports make this difficult and mostly impossible. This ship should have landed at Da Nang but landed at a jetty 30 miles from it with only a dirt road to it and absolutely nothing else for miles, in Guangzhou it landed 40 miles from the city in the industrial port and in Hong Kong it landed at the end of the island where there were no taxi's or anything else. With great opportunism the cruise line offered to take people to the airport in a bus at a cost of 107$ each instead of a taxi at 40$ total. It was claimed that the ship was bumped out of the main dock by the Star ferry but the Ocean Princess, Seabourn and Aquarious had no trouble and there was one completely empty cruise dock. Ports seemed to change regularly at the last minute. The cost of excursions was excessive even in the cruise world for trips that included the usual souvenir shop visits. The young crew are excellent throughout always with a smile and very efficient. Officers and managers often seemed to have a major problem and whilst they worked hard they smiled little and the atmosphere was not good and I guess they were at the end of a long stint although the assistant cruise director and chef were excellent and they did at least say hello without the typical fixed smile through gritted teeth. The Cruise Director was banging on about departure 6 days from the start. The accommodation was good and stewards superb and unfortunately we saw too much of the cabin. Entertainment is OK but limited, lectures were solely on American finance, politics and Wikileaks effect in the USA by a lovely Professor but of limited interest to non Americans (probably50%) or to anybody who came to get away from this. I would have loved to have heard about the region and places we visited. There was a USA pilot who spent 6 years in prison in the "Hanoi Hilton" who gave a talk to a few US friends but they were not allowed to publish it. We would have liked to go for a drink before dinner but as everybody goes to dinner at the same time it is impossible to get a seat in really the only useable Martini's bar (It only usually holds 30 maximum and usually 20) but only managed to get a seat once so stayed in our room. After the meal the same problem occurred and most people wandered off to bed before the show. It was like a ghost ship from around 9.00pm. Most times the show had a hardy 70 souls attending although one or two were better attended and the crew party was the highlight. The whole of deck 5 needs a rethink as a superb quartet played by the staircase but there were a few chairs to sit on and the position was uncomfortable. The rest is occupied by a sad looking casino and 2 equally sad boutiques. It would have been nice to have had a good coffee bar and a comfortable bar or bars. I unfortunately expected that people would at least dress up smartly for the Grand Dining Room but basically a pair of trousers and a Polo shirt was good enough and people generally came in as dressed on the tours or from the deck and the Tapas casual restaurant was strangely better dressed. The sun deck only had about 15 loungers each side not in the sun and these were booked (by books) although rarely were many used. There were only a few on the promenade decks and I actually retreated to my room on some occasions a balcony is essential on this cruise line. I finally gave up on the pretence when a Sommelier explained the finer merits of a bottle of wine that came out at 45$ which I had bought in Tesco for 6$ (£4.50) a few weeks previously. If you charge good prices at least give good product. Maybe the line has lost sight of its present cash generator in its rush to get its new cruise ship going but I was fed up of meeting people with a complaint that had been upset further by the ships attitude to it. The cruise is poor in comparison to the other cruises that we have been on (double figures) except for the food and might just be 3 star for those in the lower class( Somebody we met actually said that it did not stand up to a Thompson Cruise). We enjoyed our holiday in spite of Oceania as we saw the places we wanted to see and they should be credited for that. We were invited to join some N. American friends(not on this cruise) on an Oceania cruise next year just prior to going on this one but we fortunately waited to see what this was like and have now said no and they will no doubt are having second thoughts. This line could offer so much and they get A for effort and Z for application. If they were not bringing on new ships I would honestly have thought they had money troubles such was the level of "Nickel and Diming" as some Americans put it. Seabourn may have been a better option and I doubt if it would be more expensive all in but Princess or any of the others are a much better bet. I wrote to the line but unsurprisingly have not had a reply. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
I just completed Oceania's Asian Wonders cruise on Nautica January 15-30, 2011. I am an Oceania groupie and love the ambiance, excellent service, exceptional food, and the type of clientele attracted to Oceania. I have cruised on all ... Read More
I just completed Oceania's Asian Wonders cruise on Nautica January 15-30, 2011. I am an Oceania groupie and love the ambiance, excellent service, exceptional food, and the type of clientele attracted to Oceania. I have cruised on all three small ships over a period of 6 years. I chose Asian Wonders because I specifically wanted this itinerary, and was not disappointed. Be aware that going to Hanoi is a long 3 ½ hour drive from the port each way making a long day and a long drive. Destination Services offered an overnight in Hanoi -- a better time management option. Otherwise proximity from port to city was not excessive. When shipboard changes occurred in the past it was usually a positive change and often not noticed by guests. However, I was disappointed to experience the change in management of Oceania@Sea. I immediately expressed my feelings to the concierge about this. It seems Oceania has contracted out the services, thus no service is offered, except use of the PC's. For returning guests, this is a big change. No longer is it possible to download photos and cut CD's, or provide computer classes. For most of the older generation, it was very confusing to use the PC's, as there were 2 logins; one for Oceania cruise mail and the other for internet. Emails were $3.95 per each incoming and outgoing, but internet time was exorbitant per minute. You had to login to internet just to use Microsoft Word to create your messages, so you ended up creating online. Thus no way to economize the costs. To reply to emails, you had to login to internet. Even the folks with personal PC's had problems in their rooms, and had to consult with the lone (that's right - only one) person for the whole ship. This happened often when they were composing emails and they lost all their content and had to start over. To sum it up, it wasn't pretty and the contractor wasn't especially nice. (I reported this also, and thereafter, I tried harder and he was nicer.) A suggested change for Oceania: Get rid of smoking in Horizons! It is a blight on the beauty of this gorgeous room and impossible to rid the smoke smell. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
I've spent years trying to convince my husband to take a cruise. With our 20th wedding anniversary approaching, I finally put down my foot and told him we WOULD take a cruise to celebrate. I was concerned that 10 nights was too long ... Read More
I've spent years trying to convince my husband to take a cruise. With our 20th wedding anniversary approaching, I finally put down my foot and told him we WOULD take a cruise to celebrate. I was concerned that 10 nights was too long for his first cruise experience, but HE LOVED IT! We agree that this was the best vacation either of us has ever had. We are both highly critical of what passes for customer service these days but found this experience to be as close to perfection as humanly possible. There were about 650 passengers from 6 nations; almost 400 crew members from 41 nations -- the various accents blended into a beautiful symphony. With so few people on board, you got to know other passengers and the staff. My husband had promised to get to know the bartenders by name before the cruise was over -- a goal that only took 2 or 3 days to accomplish! It wasn't long before he'd enter a bar and hear "Mr. B, Heinecken or Jack Daniels today, sir?" Afternoon tea was accompanied by a string quartet; happy hour enhanced by a pianist. The Grand Dining Room was just that -- grand. Service was impeccable in all of the restaurants. The food was awesome; drinks were generous; and, as to desserts, let me just say that I had more than a few "When Harry Met Sally" moments with the desserts! The Canyon Ranch Spa is wonderful -- I got in twice on short notice. Melanie from Jamaica gave me the best-looking french pedicure I've ever had. The swimming pool was nice, although bigger would be better. Lots of deck chairs supplied with clean beach towels and bolsters, bartenders "aplenty" and daily drink specials. There is a fitness center inside, as well as an outdoor walking/jogging track. There were many activities for those who wish to participate: Daily Trivia contests, putting and ping pong competition, bridge, etc. There were shore excursions that required almost no physical exertion as well as excursions that were very physical. I took two excursions that were among the best experiences of my life: the dolphin encounter on Roatan and the airboat adventure in Belize. There were some guest lecturers aboard, most notably Terry Bishop whose presentations are enthralling. Leslie Stabile, who makes beautiful jewelry from sea glass, was aboard sharing her passion and art with the guests. There was a food preparation presentation, wine tasting, scotch tasting and martini tasting. There were almost no children, which is one of the reasons we chose this cruise line. The demographic is older retired frequent "cruisers," most of whom are Oceania regulars. I disagree, however, with the review that said there were no apre-dinner activities. The shows didn't begin until 9:00 PM; with entertainment scheduled for 9, 9:30 and 9:45. There was music and dancing on the deck beginning at 10:00 PM on at least two occasions. On the down side: I have no idea why Oceania chose Puerto Santo Thomas Castilla as a port of call. UGH It would have been nice if we had been told that purchases made aboard the ship should be declared. I purchased jewelry but did not declare it thinking "abroad" meant "in a foreign country." I didn't realize that "abroad" includes purchases made aboard the ship -- which caused an issue when we went through customs. This could be rectified by printing a NOTICE on the ship's sales receipts, and by staff informing guests when they make a large purchase. My husband has not quit raving about the fabulous service and this awesome experience. We look forward to cruising with Oceania again -- I can't imagine we'll even consider any other cruise line. Read Less
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
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