Marina Cruise Review by erdocmddc: Beautiful boat; spectacular suite
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Beautiful boat; spectacular suite
Mediterranean Tapestry from Athens to Barcelona - 10 days, departed on 5/2/12.
We are 46 and 59 years old; the average age seemed to be a little older, maybe mid-60's. We are both extensively traveled, including all continents, except Antarctica, but this was our first cruise of any sort.
We arrived in Athens three days in advance and made our own airline, transfer, and hotel arrangements there. At the end of the cruise, we made our own arrangements to stay for five days in Barcelona, including apartment rental, transfers, and return flight.
Embarkation was a breeze. The upper suites were allowed to board at 11am, and there was absolutely no line at all. We stayed in an owner's suite which was absolutely amazing. I've written a separate review for the suite itself, since it was the highlight of the cruise for us. As our first cruise accommodations ever, it set the bar very high for any future cruise.
The ship is beautiful, as described by everyone More else and in Oceania's literature. Interesting contemporary art, both paintings and sculptures, everywhere, including the stairwells; all of it was original. The pool was small and a little over-heated, but there were adequate loungers around. The ship never felt crowded anywhere.
The dining was a bit of a disappointment, but I think that's because it's so over-hyped that the expectations are really high for everybody coming on board. All four specialty restaurants would have been essentially decent upscale restaurants, but they definitely fell short of routine upscale standards in Manhattan restaurants, for example. We were invited to a private dinner at La Reserve; twelve of us were there. This meal was more memorable than the others, including a fantastic Napoleon with the best mille feuille I've ever had. I thought that the food in the Main Dining Room was very good, again possibly because I expected less from the standard fare and was pleasantly surprised.
We weren't drawn to the cruise line or the boat by activities, and we didn't participate in any events or attend any shows; can't comment on the quality.
The staff was always pleasant. They were from a wide variety of countries, from Russia to South Africa to the Philippines. Their home country was on their name tags underneath their names -- a nice touch.
We arranged for our own excursions. For a fraction of the price of Oceania's excursions, we rented cars at three ports and drove ourselves into the countryside in Italy. It took a fair amount of work to make the arrangements for our own self-guided touring, so if you're looking for an easier trip, or if you have any limited mobility, it would make sense to go with Oceania's excursions.
Disembarkation was a breeze. We requested a late departure, were out of our suite at 8am, and off the boat at 9am, after a final leisurely breakfast in the main dining room.
All in all, a very pleasant experience. The true highlight was the owner's suite itself, which I've reviewed separately. Less
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Cabin review: Marina
The Owner's Suite was spectacular. The pictures on the Oceania website are good representations of the scale and decor -- beautiful, chic, and surprisingly comfortable, given the glitz factor. I like Four Seasons properties, and this suite held its own against any ground-based suite I've ever seen in any of the Four Seasons, internationally or domestic. The suite was so spacious that there was no skimping to accommodate for being on-board a ship. The bedroom had full-scale bedroom furniture -- king-bed and two bedside tables with lamps, as well as as bench at the foot of the bed, and two comfortable chairs across from the bench. There was a remote control to operate the heavy black-out drapes. What a treat to wake up in the morning, open the drapes from bed, and see what the next port looks like. The enormous living room and dining room were sprawling. The L-shaped overstuffed sofas were very comfortable to flop on. We did very little entertaining, since the two of us were traveling alone, so we very much underutilized the entire suite; we got lost at the six person dining table. The deck was expansive, with small wrap-around elements on both port and starboard sides, so you have 270 degree views possible at all times. The deck is split into two sections by the entry room to the suite, which stretches all the way out to the stern. Each side of the deck has loungers and sitting areas. The starboard side has a jacuzzi with a flat-screen television; the port side has a small settee. One variation from the 3-D floor plan on the Oceania website is that the outdoor jacuzzi is full around on the starboard side, not angled, as seen in the plan. There are three enormous floor to ceiling sliding doors in the suite leading out to the deck -- one from the living room, one from the bedroom, and one from the bathroom. The master bath is stunning. The tiled shower had an overhead rain shower and a hand-held shower head -- very roomy. The toilet and bidet were in a small space with a door; also with a round porthole. The indoor jacuzzi was full-sized; you could leave the glass doors open and see the view from the tub. The smaller guest bath in the entry foyer had a smaller shower as well. There are two butler-pantry sized walk-in closets with drawers, shelves, and hanging space. This was nice, but it's a deviation from the advertisement and floor plan on the website -- one of the walk-in closets is in place of the exercise room, which didn't exist. The entry foyer was glitzy, but fairly useless. There was a large orchid on the table under the chandelier right where you walk in. The faux-cowhide chairs were stylish, and the bar and bar stools were nice. It seems petty to find fault with the suite, given it's over-the-top general feel. However, there are a few things I would like to have know in advance: 1. The floor plans are NOT the same on decks 8, 9, and 10. We were on deck 10 in suite 10111. The entry foyer is smaller than on 8 and 9, the bar is shorter (by one stool length, in fact), and there is no chaise lounge in front of the window. Also, the piano is the configuration of an upright, and is pressed against the port wall. The suites on decks 8 and 9 were empty for our cruise, so I got to see them. I preferred the layout of the entry to the bedroom in our suite on 10, however. The vanity table and mirror on the port bedroom wall was forward rather than aft of the bedroom door. This worked better because the door opened facing the foot of the bed, rather than the middle of the bed. Also, you could see the full length of the suite with this door alignment. The overall size of the rooms other than the entry foyer was the same, though. 2. The grand piano is an electronic Yamaha, not a real acoustic piano. I am a classically trained pianist, and I regularly play chamber music with musicians from major US orchestras, so I was really looking forward to the piano. I tried for months to find out from Oceania what the make and model of the piano was. With vague responses from them, I lowered my hopes. Worked out fine, because the piano is a real weak spot for the suite. If you are a pianist, don't expect much. Our suite had an upright piano pressed against the wall. The plastic nature of the "baby grand" pianos on 8 and 9 was a detraction from the elegance of the suite, IMHO. I'm sure it would be a nightmare to maintain the voicing and tuning of a real piano that close to the stern; however, I would like to have known what the piano was all about in advance. 3. There is no exercise room in the suite. The gym at the spa is great; however, this detail hasn't been clarified on their website. 4. I called and was assured that there was no difference between the suites, so the truncated entry foyer on 10 was a bit of a disappointment. Lastly, and this one is truly petty, as a guest in the Owner's Suite, there was very little extra provided when you were out of the suite. We had two guaranteed reservations at each specialty restaurant (standard for Oceania suites and above) -- in the end, we cancelled two of them and ate in the suite; should have done more of that. We had free access to the spa amenities and the private spa deck, but this was true of all PH3 suites and above. I had read a complaint from others that there was too much "fawning" to the upper level suite guests. We received no fawning, to be sure. The door card was gold with a black border, but there was no privilege associated with it. The suite is not cheap, so it's not unreasonable to expect some extras.
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