6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Sirena Cuba Cruise Why this cruise? In a word – Cuba. We had never been there; and were unlikely to make a second visit given our advancing years; so, when Oceania offered this trip we were quick to grab it. This would be our 7th ... Read More
Sirena Cuba Cruise Why this cruise? In a word – Cuba. We had never been there; and were unlikely to make a second visit given our advancing years; so, when Oceania offered this trip we were quick to grab it. This would be our 7th Oceania cruise; and the second on Sirena. It would be for only 7 days with two days in Havana, one in Cienfuegos and one in Santiago de Cuba so it seemed like a good idea- which proved to be true. The ship Sirena is the most recently acquired of four identical former Renaissance ships owned by Oceania. It is small, 684 passengers, but reasonably spacious at 30,277 tons for an above average passenger space ratio of 44. It was completely re-done after Oceania acquired it in 2016, so it has a new appearance. There is a lot of dark wood, and varied furniture looking like the 1940s. There are two elevator banks of 2 elevators each; but they seemed to do the job well. The basic plan is to have entertainment forward and food aft, with the center used for management, shops, the casino, library, pool deck and lounging areas. Decks 6, 7 and 8 are all for staterooms; with about half of Deck 5 and a small portion of Deck 4 for passenger cabins also. Deck 5 forward has the show lounge; Deck 9 the Canyon Ranch Spa, and Deck 10 the Horizon Lounge. The main dining room is on Deck 5, the Terrace Buffet on 9, and Deck 10 has the 2 specialty restaurants, Red Ginger and the Tuscan Steak Grill. All in all, Sirena is a well designed ship; easy to navigate, and very attractive in its appearance. Living Aboard Our stateroom was 8046. The prime motif was dark wood, with light grey textured walls, a large mirror on one wall, and a nice, modern painting above the sofa. The desk arrangement was convenient, and next to it was the decent sized sofa. There were two arm chairs and a small table, probably adequate for room service (which we never use on any cruise). The verandah was good sized with two adjustable cane arm chairs that could be fitted with a padded seat and back cushion. There was a small table and a faux teak deck. The bed had two gooseneck directed focused reading lamps as well as normal wall lamps. These focused lamps made reading in bed very easy. We also enjoyed the full glass wall with the door leading out to the verandah, as it provided nice light all day. The bathroom had a full sized, obviously new shower, with both a rain shower head, a hand held spray head and a towel rack holding huge bath towels in addition to the normal sized bath towels and other towels on racks in the bathroom. There was a single sink, but cabinets and drawers on both sides providing all the room needed for toiletries. The closet was good sized with an easily sufficient number of nice quality clothes hangers provided. As usual on board ship, there was more than enough drawer space for all we brought aboard This was a Penthouse Suite. It is about 304 square feet compared to the somewhat small “normal” Verandah Suite; which we had experienced on other Oceania small ships. We have used the Penthouse Suite on most of our cruises for the ease of use and room. It also offers faster embarkation, free internet, free laundry service and a butler who was very nice, but not used at all. We had enough food without afternoon canapes, thank you. Dining Oceania is a fine dining cruise line. Their larger two ships have 4 specialty restaurants, but the four smaller ones do very well with the 2 noted above. There is no charge for using any of these specialty venues. Overall, with 42 cruises to date on 13 cruise lines; 10 ocean and 3 river cruises; we would rate Oceania’s dining performance as superior to all cruise lines except Crystal cruises; and it is quite close to that line’s marvelous ships. The main dining room is traditional, with excellent service, open dining and a fine selection. Red Ginger is one of our favorite restaurants. Reservations are required, but we were entitled to two, which we took advantage of. We are not steak people (Edith is a vegetarian) so we skipped the Tuscan Steak Grill. The Terrace Buffet has a wide selection and offered some special daily choices by way of Cuban and Italian food. It can get a little crowded for breakfast, but we always found seats. The service is fine. There is a “Barista” café outside the main dining room which offers a free selection of various coffee treats; and a “Waves” sandwich, ice cream and hamburger bar near the pool outside the Terrace Café. Entertainment As a small ship, with limited options, Sirena was constrained in its offerings. There was a small “show” group with 5 singers and 2 dancers, a lady who played the trumpet and a ventriloquist. We only went to one of the “production” nights, and it was okay. The most attractive entertainment offering was Sandy Cares, the Enrichment speaker. We had seen her on an earlier Oceania cruise, and very much enjoyed her well informed and lively presentations on this cruise as well. Oceania is well served by her. There was a very nice string quartet composed of young ladies from the Ukraine, who played every afternoon at tea in the Horizon Room, and several sessions on Deck 5 as well. Unfortunately, these sessions often conflicted with other events as well such as dinner and some special meetings for frequent Oceania passengers. Extending their presentation until later in the evening would be a good idea. The Crew There are 400 crew members on this ship. With a passenger total of 684, the ratio is 1.71 passengers for each crew member. This is a very great ratio, exceeded only by a few of the small, super luxury cruise lines. The ratio on the large ships is more like 2.5 to 3.8. This means that the cabins are promptly and well cared for, the wait staff in all restaurants and the buffet are easily sufficient for fast and friendly service, and the entire operation of the vessel is smooth and pleasant. Embarkation and Debarkation As noted above, our Penthouse status gave us priority in boarding. The Miami cruise terminal set up has a fairly large waiting area. We got there about 10:30, and were among the first on board at 11:00 where, as usual, we had to wait until 1:00 to go to our stateroom. When we checked in we were provided with Cuban visas as promised (for $75.00 each). Of course this allowed us to have lunch in the buffet and to check out some books in the delightful library. Our luggage was at the room when we went there. Debarkation went pretty quickly also, although there is a lot of walking through the terminal involved. We were not required to fill out a customs form and easily got through the customs and border check. In Cuba We sailed away at 5:00 and arrived in Havana at about 8:00 the following morning. We seldom, if ever, use Oceania’s excursions due to their limited nature and very high cost. We had made e-mail contact earlier with a private tour guide, Yuri, whose e-mail is: yuri,arcayaborrego@nauta.cu. Using CruiseCritic we made contact with several people, and some others had made contact with Yuri also, so our group numbered 14. There was much discussion about how to pay for the services. Yuri said that his tour would be both days in Havana, then in Cienfuegos, and then in Santiago. His charges would be 350 cuc (Cuban money) per person for all four tours. Cucs are only available in Cuba. While the “formal” exchange rate is 1 cuc per 1 U.S. dollar, the exchange charges made the actual rate about 0.87 to 1; so 350 cucs would be about $402.00. However Euros had no such exchange premium; so 350 cucs were about 311 Euros. We already had about 280 Euros from prior trips, so we bought 550 more from our bank, and were on our way. We checked in through Cuban customs, showed our visas and were photographed. We then exchanged some Euros for cucs and met Yuri outside the port building. We had noticed on the way in that many port buildings were in very bad shape. This turned out to be true of many places in Cuba. It is a very poor country, with no solid economic base. We all had heard about the pre-Castro American cars preserved by the Cubans, and we saw a number of them, all in very good shape. Of course most of the motor transportation is vis European or Asian vehicles. and I was fortunate to get a new MG taxi with a working ac unit to fight the 87 degree heat. We saw a lot of Havana, including a stop for a very inexpensive lunch, and returned about 4:00 P.M. We were told that next day would be spent mostly walking, so I decided to skip it. Some people on the ship went to a night club show that night. The next day was spent in several museums. Yuri speaks very good English and made his comments enjoyable. The next day was a sea day and we then arrived in Cienfuegos at about 7:00 A.M. This tour was also a walking-museum tour which I skipped again, although it involved about an hours trip to Trinidad. The return to the ship was at about 1:00 since we sailed at 3:00 The final day was spent in Santiago de Cuba. This is a part of the country absolutely dedicated to Fidel Castro. It is where he landed to start his successful revolution, and where he chose to be buried in a rather simple grave. Since this tour also involved walking, Edith again did it alone. What was nice is that Yuri did not charge us for the three days I missed. We paid at the end of each day. As noted, Cuba is a very poor country, without many prospects for the future under its present form of government. Tourism is bringing in some money, but not much with few hotels or resorts, and a limited flow of visitors from the United States. The people are delightful, and very fond of US citizens (and, of course, our money). They make do with limited resources but have talent and energy and a “we will survive” attitude. In Phoenix, where we live we have an excellent Ballet company which has received praise in New York newspapers. 3 of the dancers, including a leading ballerina, learned their art at their home in Cuba. They evidently were allowed to leave, and at least one has returned home between seasons; so it is possible to leave. Concluding Thoughts This was a very worthwhile cruise, even though my limited walking ability severely restricted my ability to see and enjoy the country. There are supposed limits on what Americans can do in Cuba, and the ship uses a couple of the entertainers (who were the only US citizens) to act as OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control, a US agency) officers to keep people informed of the restrictions. However there was virtually no enforcement of these rules. Even the Cuban government, which was everywhere, did not man the entry point in Havana the second day, so anyone on board could simply go ashore and do whatever they wanted to do. We were supposed to go ashore in Santiago de Cuba to surrender our Cuban visas, but if someone did not, there was no follow up. So, if you want to see Cuba in comfort on a beautiful and immensely comfortable ship. Oceania Sirena is the way to go. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We initially were made aware of this cruise by Go Next which was actively promoting this cruise last year, however we ended up booking it through our own travel agent for a slightly better deal. As others have mentioned, French ... Read More
We initially were made aware of this cruise by Go Next which was actively promoting this cruise last year, however we ended up booking it through our own travel agent for a slightly better deal. As others have mentioned, French Polynesia is beautiful, remote, and quiet. It was extremely hot and humid when we visited, but we enjoyed it immensely. Oceania did promote this accurately as not for children, and in fact only 1 lonesome child was on the ship, which was nice for those of us who need a break from grandchildren. We had never cruised Oceania before, so my remarks will compare it and the smaller ship adventure to our previous cruises with larger ships and other cruise lines. Our package included the cruise, flights, WiFi, gratuities, and 4 excursions, which made it so much easier when it came to the final bill. Soft drinks and bottled water were included, the bar fridge was stocked with soft drinks, and bottled water was included as we disembarked each day. drinks were very expensive at over $11 for a mixed drink, and $7 for beer, so if you are a big drinker, you might look into the drinks package. The gift shops had only high end items, one of the two shops was dedicated to a brand of high end jewelry and the other had minimal, but high end clothing. Embarking the ship was easy and smooth. Tendering was easy with only 600+ passengers, also no photographers, no art auctions. On the negative side, the buffet was small and limited, but very good. Entertainment was limited with a large lounge instead of a theatre without tiered seating. The ship also seemed to ride a bit rougher with its small size, even though the seas were calm, more of a bounce in the fore and aft where the dining room and entertainment were located. It was a real bonus that the specialty restaurants were no extra charge. The Tuscan Grill was so so, but we loved Red Ginger with excellent food and service and a great maitre d'. As on many cruise ships lately the food, service and staff were excellent. The cabins were slightly smaller than we have had, with the bathroom noticeably smaller, but they were well appointed with a super comfortable beds and bedding. Our Oceania experience was great, but not better than we have had on other cruise lines. The small ship experience was good for this itinerary, but we probably prefer ships with 1000-1800 passengers. This itinerary was wonderful and relaxing, just what we were looking for; however we could have missed the 3 days that it took to get up to Nuka Hiva, as on a small ship there isn't a lot to do on sea days. We would recommend this cruise for the quiet adventure, and the ship to those who prefer to do without all the hype and hassle of the huge ships. Passengers on this cruise were mainly American and well travelled. We enjoyed sharing a table at meals and hearing new travel stories. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We were a group of 9 family and friends traveling together. My DH and I had been to French Polynesia before but the others had not. We chose this itinerary because we're avid snorkelers and family members like to get out of Wyoming ... Read More
We were a group of 9 family and friends traveling together. My DH and I had been to French Polynesia before but the others had not. We chose this itinerary because we're avid snorkelers and family members like to get out of Wyoming Winter in February! Most of our cruising has been on Regent or Silversea so I'm sure that has biased my observations some. Other family members have mostly done Celebrity. Consider that as you read this review. Ship: Overall ship was very nice. Only surprise was several of the common area restrooms are configured for only one person at a time (for privacy you had to lock the door on the way in). While the public restrooms outside the MDR and Terrace Café could service multiple users, I still found this a bit odd. Cabin: We were in 4044, a Deluxe Oceanview. The location is really excellent! Close to Reception and MDR, amidships and low (DH gets seasick sometimes), and nothing that makes late night or early morning noise above or below. Cabin was viewed by everyone as small (even though I tried to manage everyone's expectations). That said, everything fit nicely and bathroom, while small was fine for two. We have tripled up on Regent and Silversea in the past, but this would not be possible here. Everything in the cabin worked and our room steward was excellent. Dining: Everyone's favorite was Red Ginger. Second favorite was Terrace Café. Overall everyone thought food was excellent. Only issue with MDR was that it took about 2 1/2 hours to have dinner. Several in our group are big lobster fans, so being able to have "All You Can Eat" lobster was a big hit for the Terrace Café. I liked the "All You Can Eat" sushi; so Terrace was a Group hit. The surf and turf sandwich at Waves was also a big hit. Brother even took to ordering Surf and Turf, hold the turf and hold the bread! In my opinion the best steak I had on the trip was the turf part of the Surf and Turf sandwich. Only "real" negative comment regarded the Ice Cream/Milkshake bar next to Waves. While it opened at 0630 (who eats Ice Cream or a milkshake at 0630?), it closed at 1600. So, if you came back from an excursion after 4PM and wanted a milkshake you couldn't get it. Wasn't available from room service either. Even though "creamed spinach" (my personal favorite) was not on the MDR menu, I was able to get it every nite we ate in the MDR. A special shout out to Gluten Free folks. My DH is GF so we let O know before hand. This worked out really nicely. Most dishes in the MDR and Red Ginger could be prepared GF with the one day notice using the menu provided in our cabin.. DH was even able to have a "standing order" for GF Escargot for lunch in Jacques. DH could always get GF bread in the MDR, and at the Terrace Cafe (though it took a few minutes longer there) and thought was good! DH even insists on making GF bread at home as we don't care for most "store bought." So I considered this a significant endorsement of O's GF products. Though Home Office couldn't tell me before hand, they do have GF soy sauce available at Red Ginger, but only in the Red Ginger. Brought our own for use in Terrace Café. Not sure why if GF Soy Sauce was available in Red Ginger why it wasn't available at MDR. Entertainment: The production show staff were solid, maybe voices weren't as strong as I would have liked, but generally solid. The guest entertainers: comic, magician/comic, and singer were OUTSTANDING! All three were great in their craft and talented showmen. Activities. The "usual" putting, shuffleboard, ping pong, bean bag toss and trivia games were all well executed and fun. One of the Guest Lecturers was mediocre at best. O would have done better to find someone local (like Polynesian Anthropologist Mark Eddowes) than lawyer/professor from DC. That said, the ship's Navigator gave a lecture on navigation that was just OUTSTANDING. Could have used one or two more from him. Service in all venues was generally outstanding. There were occasional lapses but they were generally rare. All pre-arranged requests were honored (GF, Diet Mt. Dew or Coke Zero). Special requests in Dining Venues (see above) were met (except my brother's request for beef Wellington every night.). Ports and Excursions: I agree O's excursions are overpriced; but, we did opt for the 4 included excursions per person and enjoyed them. That said, I'm sure glad I didn't pay list price for them! As expected, the ports made this trip. We had "private" tours in Fakarava, Bora Bora and Raiatea. The Bora Bora and Fakarava snorkel trips were the highlights of the cruise. Truth Teller: We booked another O cruise while on board. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This was our second cruise on Oceania. We received a lot of press on the new Sirena. We booked a Penthouse SG2 with no specific stateroom. This was a first for us not having a Stateroom; one of their promotions. We were going to be in ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Oceania. We received a lot of press on the new Sirena. We booked a Penthouse SG2 with no specific stateroom. This was a first for us not having a Stateroom; one of their promotions. We were going to be in Europe so all seemed good; bad decision. We did not realize nor did our travel agent, that Oceania advises you of your stateroom the day before sailing. Thus you options to select another stateroom or cancel was not an option. My recommendation would be never to book a cruise without you knowing where you will be. As to the ship, the Sirena is a 17 year old ship and it still looks like it. Other than make all the staterooms smaller to gain more revenue, it is a mystery as to where the money went. The biggest shock was the size of the Penthouse. It had no closets and very limited space to put your clothes. Any cruise over 12 days would be an issue. The bathroom is a joke. You can almost take a shower, go to the toilet, and shave without moving. The width of the bathroom is so small it is hard to describe it. The shower is approx. 3’X 4’ I feel sorry for the passengers that did not have penthouses. On the positive side, the food was great. The ports we visited were great. The disappointment was their decision to stop in a great port on Sunday when 90% of the sights were closed. They stayed there the full day loading ship supplies. Making things worse, is the ship hit an underground cable due to a Pilot error. We had to stay another day in port and miss a great port that was on the itinerary. They offered everyone a $200.00 shipboard credit on a future cruise; they can keep it. I strongly recommend you stay from this ship if you want to experience a great cruise; there competitors offer such better choices Read Less
Sirena Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.8
Dining 5.0 4.3
Entertainment 3.5 3.3
Public Rooms 5.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 1.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.1
Enrichment 2.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.5

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