We took the Oceania Regatta July 5-17 Athens to Istanbul Black Sea cruise primarily for the interesting itinerary. It is one of the few cruises visiting 10 Black Sea ports. Oceania is rated as a deluxe cruise line, but we were disappointed in almost all services the ship provided except the food which was usually very good. As it turned out the most deluxe part of the cruise was the price.
We had assumed that because of the historical significance of the area, and the fact that most people on board were experienced travelers, live port talks or lectures related to the area would be a highlight. However, the cruise director apologized for his lack of knowledge regarding the Black Sea ports and not one lecture or port talk was provided. Fortunately, with the help of a fellow passenger we had arranged for private tours in three ports including Sochi, Russia. Oceania tours are outrageously expensive, around $169 for a partial day tour and sometimes $200 or $300 for a day tour. Oceania told passengers that they would be unable to get off the ship in Sochi, Russia unless they had previously arranged for a Russian visa or were on an Oceania tour and none of that was true. Arranging for a tour with a licensed guide is all that is required for a short stay in Russia. Oceania's only interest is selling their own tours. Very little assistance was provided for those wishing to tour on their own. In most ports a single local representative came o board with area maps, and dozens of passengers would line up for individual help. This was a huge waste of passenger's time!
The Regatta has a beautiful library with nothing to read. The books remind me of the discarded free book section in my home library. No new books or magazines were available. When I complained the cruise director agreed, and said they hoped to get a new shipment of books soon.
Our cabin was extremely small, 144 sq ft with a partially blocked window. The steward service was extremely poor as we often had to ask to get the room made up. Entertainment on the ship was minimal. we understood that because Regatta is a comparatively small ship, entertainment would not be the same as a large ship, however, it could have been much better.
Internet connectivity was very slow and outrageously expensive at .95 per minute. Topping it off when we arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, our final destination we discovered that Oceania had charged $49 each for the $20 Turkish visa. When we questioned the price we were told that the additional money was an administrative charge! How cheap is that!
Needless to say we will not be cruising with Oceania-no matter how many expensive flyers and catalogs they send. Oceania might consider spending some of that catalog money for passengers benefit. One idea might be buying more washing machines. They have one laundry room with 4 washing machines for 700 passengers and one broke while we were there. Needless to say, on a 12 day cruise in mid summer the laundry room was an extremely popular spot with a lot of tension over who would be next in line for a washing machine. Of course, that would mean giving up another tiny cabin for an additional laundry room.