My partner and I were so happy to find a late transatlantic cruise to Europe on the Oceania Regatta. We had heard very favorable things about the line and this was supposedly the "next" level up from Celebrity (our line of choice). This was my 23rd cruise and my Partner's 24th.
When we arrived at the Port of Miami (12:30PM), embarkation was backed-up a bit and the cruise line only had five or six representatives to sign in passengers. We were instructed to wait until our group number was called and this process until completion took approximately 30 minutes. The Oceania Representatives were courteous and generally efficient. When we embarked we were told the cabins were not ready and a general announcement would be made. We were directed to have lunch in the Terrace Cafe on Deck 9. Along the way we noticed the ship was beautifully decorated in a traditional manner.
The Terrace Cafe was light and bright, but our first impression led to sheer disappointment. The food service area was quite small and limited and all that was presented was turkey breast, roast beef, a few tea sandwiches, potato salad and guacamole. We were not impressed after hearing so much about the quality of Oceania's food vs. the cost of a trip on Oceania. My partner then went for dessert and came back virtually empty handed. They had a few pieces of brownies left and not much more. I asked for more and they said they would get them, so I waited, as did another fellow cruiser. About five minutes later they showed up with three one inch by one inch brownies - he took one and I took two. After that they started closing down lunch. People boarding late were out of luck. We were not impressed.
We went to our cabin on Deck 3. The cabin was a spacious porthole cabin with an average size bathroom. We met our new steward, Jesse. He was wonderful throughout the entire cruise and took care of all of our requests.
We then went to explore the rest of the ship, which was quite nice. Everything was decorated beautifully and had lovely artwork and tasteful furniture. After Muster Drill, we met our fellow Cruise Critic members at the Horizons Bar for a Sail Away get together. It was nice to have 40 -50 members turn out and many of the group socialized together for the entire trip. We arranged with Carlos, the concierge, for another get together and I supplied him the names and cabin numbers (4 days ahead) and he sent invitations, but did not do it until the morning of, so some people did not receive the invitation until after the fact. It would have been nice for some of the Officers to visit, but none showed. Also, the captain was the only Officer ever visible. The only other person that was always visible during the cruise and very personable was the Head Chef Alexis. We went back to our cabin and our luggage had already been delivered, so we unpacked and were set for the cruise.
Over the course of the trip - we dined twice each in the Polo Grill and Tuscana. In Polo, we had the Prawns and Oysters Rockefeller and Filet and Lobster Tail which was very good. Dessert and coffee was a bit slow to the table, as dinner runs 2-3 hours. A second dinner was just as good - also don't miss the crab cake and the whole Maine lobster. Tuscana, run by Sosa, was also very nice. On our first visit, my partner had the snapper and I had the veal chop which was excellent and you can order pastas as an appetizer size, side order or main dish. We suggest appetizer size, as they are very filling and there are so many nice courses ahead. On the second visit I had the Lobster Fra Diavalo which was excellent.
The Terrace buffet during the rest of the trip was very good at breakfast except always having to ask for plain croissants. Lunch was always a challenge, as it was somewhat limited with few choices. One very nice area for lunch was Waves, a covered area near the pool that had freshly grilled Mahi Mahi sandwiches, which I combined with the Panini (minus the ham) with fresh mozzarella and pesto and was fabulous. They also had Reubens and excellent quality burgers. Roger did a great job with the shakes, sundaes and ice cream.
Grand Dining Room
The Grand Dining room was beautifully decorated. This is totally open seating and most tables are for two or four. We did meet a lovely group from cruise critic and had dinner several times thereby needing a table for seven which was no problem. We also had several nice dinners with couples we met through cruise critic. There were times we had to wait a bit, as most diners showed at the crack of 6:30PM, so not to miss the shows. The staff in the dining room was outstanding. We found a Head Waiter Marco and two waiters under him, Isagani and Edgardo, did an excellent job. We attempted to have either one when we dined there.
We felt that on many nights we did not have appetizers or soups, as they were not to our liking. Part of the issue was it was sometimes a choice between items such as octopus and ostrich and the soups included chilled tangerine or cream of sweet potato. When I asked for a shrimp cocktail - I was told it is not available in the GDR. I was stunned. After traveling on Celebrity for many years (at a much lower rate mind you) if I asked for a shrimp cocktail or escargot - it was always available and if not then - it was there the next night. Oceania has their everyday menu for main courses beside the daily menu and they should include appetizers such as shrimp cocktail or escargot on the everyday as well. The main course dinners in the dining room were generally very good and I had the lamb chops off of the everyday menu several times.
We missed the first three shows in the Regatta Lounge because the shows were at 9:30 and we were still having dinner. After that we dined earlier, so we could make the shows. The illusionist Matthew McGurk and Katia and the comedian Bruce Smirnoff were quite good. The Regatta cast consisted of two men and two women. They did five "theme" shows throughout the 14 day cruise. The Regatta band was excellent, as was the string quartet. After the show, there was not much activity. We would suggest making better use of Horizons after the show, as there was no disco in place. This would also generate additional revenue for the cruise line. We thought of innovative uses such as a 50's sock hop, 60's dance party and 70's disco party. We were not happy to go to bed at 11:30PM on a Saturday night at sea. The only place with music was the Martini Bar with pianist Pawel who was very good.
Casino Manager Shawna and her staff, Alexandra, Florin, Ionut and Michal were warm and welcoming. They seemed to enjoy their work and were great with the players. Black Jack tables were busy and amounts to play were generally $5 - $10 per hand. They also had Three Card Poker, Roulette and Texas Hold'em The slots were the tightest we've ever seen anywhere. We only knew of two winners during the two weeks.
They did have a very nice evening Deck Party. Also, they had a Country Fair, but it took place 10:30 - 11:30AM on a Sunday morning which we missed. We are not sure why this could not take place on an afternoon at sea.
There is little to no activity at the pool - no music, etc.. most of the people are reading or napping and if you talked, it appeared to be somewhat disturbing to other passengers.
Bermuda - As we have been here before, we decided to take the local bus into Hamilton and had a lovely day..
Horta, Azores - We just did our own thing. The island was very pretty. It was relatively inexpensive for Europe and we purchased a few souvenirs.
Punta Del Gado, Azores - We went on a lovely ship tour. It was a bit rainy that day and the twin lakes were a bit hidden in the fog. We went to a tea plantation which was actually very interesting and then onto the Botanical Gardens which were beautiful and then onto the hot springs which were amazing. The tour and guide through the ship were excellent. Though they run a bit more in cost than many people do on their own - we decided we do not need the aggravation for a few dollars more.
Grenada, Spain - The highlight of the trip was to go to Alhambra. We took the tour through the ship and it was very nice. It also included lunch which was just fine after a long tour through the gardens and palace. The tour guide Ramon did a pretty good job except for moving ahead in the city of Grenada without 10 of us as we were taking pictures. It was a good thing we were with one of the Destination Services people from the ship. It took him (with us following) about 20 minutes to find Ramon. The Destination Services fellow was not too happy - but we took it all in stride.
Valencia, Spain - This stop took place on a Sunday and we arrived at 12:00 noon and were just in time for siesta. To add to the fun, it was the day of the Grand Prix which was going past the port somewhat blocking exits from the port. We actually walked from the ship to the Oceanographic Center of Valencia (45 minutes). It was wonderful. It had exhibits from all over the world with walk through underwater tunnels. It is a must see if you go to Valencia.
Barcelona, Spain - Debarkation Port. We have been here before and there is so much to do and see. We stayed on for an additional 3 days. They have a great public transportation system. Taxis are fairly reasonable. We took a taxi from our hotel in Example to Airport and it ran about 40 Euros for 2 people. It takes about 30 minutes without traffic.
Overall we have mixed feeling about our first trip on Oceania. Also, the crowd demographic was 60's - 90's with a smattering of younger people. My partner is 70 and I am 50 and we both agreed that the crowd and environment was too old for us. We like a bit more entertainment, nightlife and excitement to our vacations. We also discussed that if Oceania is to entice retiring Baby-Boomers, such as myself to their cruise line, they are going to have to change their business plan as Baby-Boomers are far too active for this type of reflective vacation.
As we stated previously, the service overall was excellent. All crew members are well trained and enjoy their jobs and do not appear to be as overworked as on other cruise lines, There were some wonderful standouts on the ship, as noted above, and they were rewarded accordingly, beyond the daily automatic tips.
The entire Senior staff needs to be more visible.
Debarkation was smooth and we were off the ship quickly and onto our 20 minute trip to our hotel.
For the difference in price, we feel that Oceania does not hold additional value for us. We will stick with Celebrity or Princess. We both agree that unless changes are in the works, we will look at Oceania again 20-30 years in the future.