This was our first time on Oceania. I read alot of Oceania reviews on cruise critic before I went on this cruise and some reviewers mentioned a lack of (adequate) service onboard...I thought, were these people too picky and simply hard-to-please? Good customer service is such a simple concept why wouldn't Oceania - being a premium luxury cruise line - know how to satisfy their customers needs?
OK, I'm not saying service was bad - in general service on board was very good, but it was just the same standard as cheaper lines RCCL and Celebrity. This is Oceania, we paid more $ to get premium service, better food, and more comfortable accommodation. I travelled with DH and we are not picky person. We didn't expect extreme pampering but Oceania failed to meet some basic standard in some criteria.
First of all, the telephone paging service sucks. Any hotel would answer your call for housekeeping requests or room service or whatever. On Oceania, housekeeping and butler do not return 90% of your page. So much about 24-hr butler service. You could hardly find your butler during the daytime before 6:00pm or at night after 10. There was this assistant to take your message (during the day) but these messages never went to butler. He said butler was "on duty" whatever that means,that fact is he had to take care of 17 penthouse suites and maybe some other ship duties too during the day. Maybe that made him super busy and service became less attentive.
There was this morning I requested him to change a bathrobe since it was soiled. That night after I got back from port, not changed. I paged Housekeeping 3 times at 8:00pm -- no one returned calls. Paged butler, didn't return call. Not until the next day after port we met butler in corridor to let him know the bathrobe was still not changed. He then called Housekeeping again and the guy quickly came with the new bathrobe. Another time we returned ship real late at 9:00pm and we wanted room service. Paged butler 3 times again still didn't return calls. We had to call reception to get him to call us back!! That took us total 1.5 hour from start calling to the food actually arrived - food quality was really horrible which I would get to that later below. It was really frustrating when people just ignored your calls/requests like that!!! I'm sure any 3-star hotel would have staff come to your door if you call them!!!
Also do not think that a butler can help you out everything. There were alot of "NOs" to requests such as "getting tender tickets", "bringing food from MDR to our room when we made such request at 8:00pm (MDR closes at 9:00pm)", "serving food obtained from 2 different specialty restaurants for our in room dining", "booking another night in specialty restaurant".... for those considering to stay in PH suites, please save the money unless you want a bigger stateroom, butler service is really negligible.
We couldn't help but notice, most Asian servers/staff were really friendly, professional, and attentive, versus most European servers/staff were kind of cold, impatient, and sometimes rude, they had the "attitude" and I think Oceania should really look into this.
We went to all 4 specialty restaurants, all the food was excellent. Fellow cruise critic members were correct - there were loads of lobsters everywhere. On the 3rd day I couldn't take the lobsters anymore. I'm totally done with lobsters for the rest of year 2013. Restaurant staffs also very professional, friendly, and courteous. All except Red Ginger we didn't have a very good time because food tasted bad and server was no where to be found. We had to ask for menu twice (yes they just sat you and left for good), and had to ask for chopsticks after they served you sushi (they just put down and gone).
Food on Riviera was really good and made with the best quality. Good as in traditionally, non-innovatively, simply good - dish in big chunky size, ingredients were of best quality, seasoned well etc.. Don't expect them to be contemporary micheline-style good though - no molecular foam, no carrot-juice caviar, no jello drops, no sauce drawings on plate etc.
The Terrace Cafe was excellent - we chose to dine there most of the time rather than MDR because it offered more varieties - lobsters, steaks, salads, sushi, sashimi, lamb rack, french fish soups, escargots, salmon tartare, crab meat salad, cheese platter, king crab legs, etc. etc. We were really happy with every meal we had. One suggestion is to add more fruits, there were always not enough fruits served in dinner.
In room service food was horrible - same kitchen making gorgeous lobsters/kobe beef burgers on deck, could also produce such inedible cheese burgers to serve you in room. I guess Oceania did this on purpose to avoid too many room service orders each night.
Entertainment was simply bad. We are in early 40s and we understand that this ship caters to older crowd. I didn't expect glitzy big shows but maybe some small scale port lectures (like what we saw on Celebrity) would be very entertaining for most of us. Alot of people we saw had many questions about the port and they had to line up each morning at the Destination desk to get answers. That wasted alot of time. If Oceania would organize an evening talk for every port I'm sure customers from all age groups would be very interested - we wanted to hear more about where to shop, transportations, famous food, what to get for souvenirs, a little bit of history etc. Instead Oceania only gave out history lectures (Roman / Venetian empires etc.) , we went and left in 2 seconds. We saw maps powerpoint!! Does it cost alot to show some videos or animations? Entertainment -- Oceania please don't blame on lack of space + older target customers anymore, it's about how much effort you willing to spend in this area.
We did not join any shore excursions because they were not just expensive, but also not comprehensive. For example we wanted to go to Pisa + Florence Accademia + Florence Uffizzi all on one day and there was no such tour. There was always 1 or 2 places missing in the tours so we had to go on our own.
Ship was quite nice, but really not as good as I expected. Celebrity Solstice ships were so much better. There was a little bit of modern minimalist touch but definitely not contemporary. For example the Grand Bar was like a fully lit dining room with no carpet. Didn't see anyone having fun there.
Stateroom was really nice, spacious and loved the walk in closet! The bed was stunning and so comfortable my back was basically glued to it most of the time.
To sum up, Oceania has quite alot of room to improve. I would recommend Oceania to friends because food/accommodation was really top notch -- ONLY if they could stand the boring atmosphere. We however will not go on Oceania again because service not in luxury standard and the lack of entertainment. We always consider ourselves as old people because we go to bed at 10:00pm and we love to read and stay motionless for hours without talking -- EVEN us think Oceania is too boring. We have decided to go back to Celebrity.