This is a late posting however, it somehow fell between the cracks in my schedule.
We are long time Crystal Cruisers and we enjoy the uncrowded Crystal ships with their very personalized service and attention to detail. We decided on this cruise to both try Oceania and the timing was right for our schedule. We did the transatlantic crossing on 11/24/2011 from Rome to Miami, a 16 day voyage. I see Oceania as a Crystal quality wannabe but they have a long way to go. Although the ship has wonderful appointments and outstanding specialty restaurants, most of this is only of value to the passengers when the service matches the environment.
Their specialty restaurants were all very good, main dining room was huge and we felt lie we were sitting down in a hole. Open seating was excellent and we met lots of nice folks. The staff had to constantly hustle due to the passenger: crew ratio and it showed in their response to passenger needs.
Squeezing 1100 some people on the Marina is not exactly luxury. The Terrace restaurant allows for about 20% of the seating outside so on poor weather days, everyone is holding a tray looking for a table. Tables we seldom cleaned during breakfast quickly and it was obvious they were understaffed. The staff in the Terrace worked hard but there was no way they could handle the number of people on a rainy day. Too many times we saw nice window tales vacant with dishes and napkins piled on them forcing us to choose an inside table with no view. This brought back memories of army basic training but the food was much better.
The rooms offered large couches and a few more square feet then Crystal but noticeably less storage space and only one sink in the bathroom. Each room came with a laptop computer so I decided to leave my laptop home and I brought my work on a memory stick. Surprise, there is no software on the Oceania provided laptop; no MS Word, excel, not even a text editor to type a brief message we could put in an email. Add $500+ for your internet bill on a 16 day cruise.
We could use the laptop only to access the internet via their wireless network which only worked in the main computer room and a few select locations throughout the ship. Publishing this laptop in their brochures is purely a marketing ploy and has no functional value to the passengers. When using the internet, we needed to be logged on to simply type a text message or reply to an email. It became very expensive to communicate with the outside world while traveling on the Marina. This is not a cruise I would recommend for a business person who needs to get some work done while cruising. Better for a senior citizen who doesn't know how to use email yet.
The tour advisors were clueless about many of the tours, had no idea what you would see other than the info published in the brochure. As a Rotarian, I called the front desk to ask about a service meeting on board. She had never heard about service meetings. I went to the front desk, asked again and found front desk personnel struggling to answer basic questions as they were in training. I finally found the service meeting as it appeared in a daily bulletin. .
Lounge chairs around the pool were usually fully occupied during sunny days. Our first day at the pool, we waited for one hour before a waiter offered us a drink. After the first 30 min, my wife finally went and got her own hot chocolate.
The lanes of chairs we lined up with little space between the lanes requiring passengers to walk carefully when moving around the lounge chairs. One day a women, I'm guessing in her 50's, tripped on the rear legs of the lounge chair and broke her foot or ankle. The medical team was quick to respond and she was taken to the medical room.
We had lunch at the Grille; again we had to find a waiter to clean the table. Hamburgers were delivered lukewarm with no chocolate chip cookies to be found. The gelato was excellent.
The cruise director was very annoying announcing every little thing, shades of our one and only Carnival cruise. We arrived at the Captain Welcome party 20 minutes late. There were no seats available and they ran out of wine glasses, hence no wine and we stood up along with about 50 other passengers.
11/26 Barcelona and the cattle call began as we stood waiting 30 minutes for the 2nd buss. Very poor planning. 1100 passengers and not enough buses.
11/27 -- Breakfast in the Terrace, better food than Carnival and the army but everything else was the same. Lunch in the Terrace was mobbed. We could not find two seats as we carried our trays of food. I finally asked the manager to help us. He walked the entire restaurant and finally found 2 seats at a table for four and asked the other passengers if we could join them. We asked 3 waiters for water before one of them finally got 2 glasses of water for us.
12/4 -- we had to call for soap. Our cabin steward forgot to leave soap for us.
12/5 -- Our room did not get cleaned until after 11AM. At 5PM today, as we were getting ready for dinner, our AC vent in the ceiling fell down from the ceiling missing me by one foot.
It is a shame to see the staff try so hard, were well intentioned but just poorly trained. My advice to Oceania would be to start at the top and hire some top notch service executives and they could then deliver the service they profess in their brochures.