We travelled as a party of four and spent 2 nights in Istanbul before the cruise. Booked all elements independently and had good connections via Lufthansa both ways via Munich. Stayed at Erboy Hotel and would highly recommend - they even arranged to collect us from the airport (which can be chaotic) for â‚¬25 which we paid to reception on arrival.
After two days sightseeing we caught a taxi to the ship for 20 Turkish Lira (Â£7.50) and arrived around 12.30pm
Embarkation was a breeze and we were on board within 10 minutes of arrival.
First impressions of the ship were excellent with an opulent entrance area with the Lalique staircase making quite a statement. We proceeded to the Terrace Cafe for lunch were the attentive service set the scene for the rest of the cruise.
Cabins were available from 3pm and this was another great first impression with well appointed furnishings and a superb bathroom with virtually full length bath and separate shower. Storage was more than adequate and size overall was excellent @ 242ft2. Whilst we didn't have a balcony the full length windows let plenty of light in. Bed, pillows and linens excellent contributing in a good nights sleep.
Due to Hurricane Sandy we were advised that we would be staying an extra night in Istanbul to allow US passengers chance to meet the ship. The result was that the port of Volos was sacrificed. Unfortunately this was the only port where we had booked an independent excursion to Meteora and the cruise line advised they were willing to contact any companies concerned. We simply e-mailed our contact and explained the situation.
We had pre-booked 3 of the 4 speciality restaurants and were due at Red Ginger on the first night. With the change in itinerary we cancelled and proceeded to the Terrace Cafe. Selection, service and quality of food was excellent, so much so that we ate here every night with the exception of visits to Polo Grill and Toscana both of which were great dining experiences. Our friends who have been on a limited number of cruises were simply amazed by the overall cruise experience.
Whilst the cruise itinerary was aimed at 'cultural' experiences we aimed to use to simply relax. Weather was superb (mid 70's+) and we never had problem getting sunbeds.
Entertainment was mixed with some mediocre shows by the ships singers and dancers but there were two excellent Guest acts in Bob Posch and crooner singer Jamie Michael Stewart.
With the strike in Athens, thankfully we had made arrangements for a private transfer so made the airport in good time for our return flights.
Overall a great cruise experience and if we could get a good price again we will definitely look to cruise with Oceania again.
Only negatives (which didn't affect us) were the very high excursion costs and pretty slow internet access and cost which we only used to print off our return boarding passes.