I have just returned from a 10 day cruise on Oceania Marina. A bit of background, I am a working health care professional, Scottish and have cruised a few times before. My first experience with Oceania was aboard Regatta on the Med, a great cruise which impressed me with the service, quality of food & good (if a bit pricey) tours. Based on this, my husband and I booked to go on Marina for our 20th wedding anniversary, a larger ship holding twice as many passengers as Regatta but still smaller than many other cruise ships. The salient feature of this cruise is supposed to be luxury, but without the sky-high price tag & dressing-up / finery required by other cruise lines - 'country club casual' is the dress code. There is also little for young children, so there are usually no little people screaming and running around, which I love to get away from - don't get me wrong, I love kids, but it's nice to get a break! We did not use the Canyon Spa, but we did go to Marina Lounge a few nights, the entertainment was ok - favourite was Jamie Michael Stewart, a singer of high calibre who got a standing ovation.
However, this time with Oceania I had occasion for the very first time to complain. Firstly, let me stress, I had a great holiday - the cabin, an A1 Concierge level on deck 10, was in my opinion, great. Perfectly fine, nice bathroom, yes the shower is small, buy hey - you're on a ship and you have a bathroom, tiled and marble with bath & shower replete with Bulgari toiletries. The service from the hard-working staff in bars & restaurants, was excellent. The food was way above average, the Grand Dining Room offered a fabulous range of choices, from a simple (but beautifully presented) lunch sandwich to a full 4 course option if wished. I had Beef Wellington one night to die for, and one other dinner consisted of Norwegian Salmon which was exquisite. The speciality restaurants were also very good - Red Ginger was, without a doubt, the favourite with everyone - try the white pear & ginger tea with your meal, I loved it. Jacques... I found disappointing, the chicken was over-salted. Polo Grill was great, always excellent steak, but a wee bit spoiled as they forgot to switch on the air-conditioning and my husband over-heated! Toscana was good too, my second favourite. One small point, if you are not a wine lover, the sommeliers make you feel guilty if you don't order from the expensive wine list, and I'm not a huge wine lover, but just ignore them! Now to my complaint. I read the brochure sent before my holiday, and it said we needed a visa for Turkey. The travel agent told me it was a formality - Â£10 and it would be easily done when in the country itself. We came back from a lovely tour of Jerusalem to find a letter in our stateroom - asking for $49 (approx Â£32) PER PERSON for Oceania to get these visas!!! When I asked at the service reception about this, they were less than helpful & directed me to the concierge. When I complained to him, an English couple overheard me & added their voice to the complaint. I requested an alternative method of getting the visas myself. By the time the word had gotten around, lots of UK passengers complained too, even those who had signed the form to be charged the $98 per couple asked to have the charge cancelled & get the visa themselves. The purser eventually called everyone who complained & told us we could get the visas in Kusadasi port, information that had not been forthcoming as an alternative to Oceania's super-charged alternative. When asked about the charges Oceania were trying to make, we were advised this was 'an administration fee'. I asked how Oceania get the visas - 'we phone ahead'. All this extra charge for one phone call?! Rip-off is more like it! We all got our visas in Kusadasi, a mere formality - and one English couple told us if they had not checked their bill at the end of the cruise, Oceania tried to charge them the $98 even although they had cancelled it days earlier. Poor show, Oceania!
My second minor complaint was regarding the people occupying the state room next to ours. Crashes and banging, like someone was re-arranging the furniture, sometimes at 11pm. It turned out we saw an Asian couple were in this room - with their mother! In a room rated for 2 people only! There was a rumour onboard that Oceania could not fill the cabins, so they were offered cheap to an Asian travel agent who then sold them off cheaply. This meant that the 'country club casual' ambiance of the ship was ruined by an influx of Asian guests with faded jeans & tatty t-shirts in the main dining areas. I am not a snob, but we didn't pay over Â£4000 (inclusive of tours booked) to witness this, or to be disturbed by the people in the cabin next to us, to the point we were banging the walls to tell them to let us sleep!!!! One other thing, I like to keep in touch with family, and Oceania charge something like $249 for internet access for 10 days - another rip-off considering at the end of the cruise, they announced internet access was free for everyone to check flights were not cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy affecting New York. In this day & age, internet access should be free in my opinion, and it wasn't that fast anyway, certainly not worth that amount of money. If anyone from Oceania reads these reviews, they need to sit up & take notice. Customers like me will remember these smaller points for a longer time than the good points, and why? Because it should not be the case that a holiday advertised as a high-class vacation should be spoiled by points like these - I used to recommend Oceania to friends & relatives, now I will be taking a look at other cruise companies too.