Regatta Cruise Review by hotelnerd: Oceania Panama cruise report
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Oceania Panama cruise report
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
We booked our own flights and pre-cruise Embassy Suites Miami Hotel for the day before departure. Embarkation was fast and smooth with boarding available before 1 PM. There was plenty of time for a leisurely lunch. Our baggage got to the room a bit slowly but it may have been out in the hall waiting for us to discover it as no one knocked at the door or told us it was there.
We had made arrangements weeks ahead of time for a Bon Voyage bottle of champagne to be delivered to the stateroom of a couple traveling with us. It was delivered room temperature and without glasses or an ice bucket. Not an elegant welcome aboard. Irritation number one. I did receive an apology.
Our Stewardess was everything we could have wished for. She cleared out the mini fridge to leave room for the wine and spirits we had brought aboard and provided the requested sodas without further requests the whole trip. When asked, she added wine glasses and replaced them when used. Our ice More bucket was filled twice daily and, on the one occasion that we ran out, housekeeping needed about 2 minutes to get someone there to refill it. Absolutely super cabin service.
The stateroom itself was what we had booked. We are used to the size cabin provided by Regent and this veranda cabin was, perhaps, two thirds the size we're accustom to. Next size up is a suite at a much higher cost. Despite my repeated warnings, my wife was disappointed with the size of the room and the size of the bathroom. We've booked another cruise on Oceania but on the R class ships where the cabins have a little more room. We knew when we chose this trip that the rooms would be smaller. It's inherent in the design of the ship. The room was absolutely sound proof -- sixth floor almost at the stern. The beds were the most comfortable we can remember. We didn't know exactly what to do with 7 pillows.
The food and service in all four restaurants and the pool lunch area was purely outstanding with a single exception. We had requested a second dinner reservation in the Polo Grill and were offered an 8 PM or an 8:30 PM seating. We choose 8 PM. Our dinner service that night was very slow, so much so that our waiter came to apologize. The restaurant's Sous Chef also came out to our table to express the same regret. As our dinner dragged on we were enjoying our conversation until, between the entre and the desert, the staff began stripping every table within sight of ours. Our feeling was that they really wanted us gone so they could continue cleaning up and get out of there. Maybe there was a staff party scheduled later that night. It was quite uncomfortable and we hurried to finish the slowly delivered desert. That was, somehow, a remarkably bad ending to what should have been a pleasant evening. That was the second disappointment.
Beverage service and quality were very satisfactory. My wife had the house white or red wine by the glass most evenings and very high quality Martinis before dinner several evenings. The bar staff was superb. The quality of the house wine was just fine.
We didn't go to the evening shows except for one out of the 16 days on the trip. Regatta did have a string quartet onboard who we managed to find most evenings after dinner and was a classic touch that we welcomed.
We didn't use the fitness center and managed to gain 5 pounds over the trip due to irresistible deserts, pastries, breakfast sticky buns and ice-cream made in the pastry shop. I managed to get souffles served several times within two or three minutes of requesting them.
A word about Waves, the pool side restaurant. I ordered off the regular menu and was served a 'fillet and lobster burger'. That was worth a single lunch. The regular burgers and hot dogs served there were good enough so that one sampling of that strange item was enough -- I enjoyed it though. I never dreamed such a sandwich existed. You can't get that at McDonald's.
The library pleased us. The lecturer and the cooking demonstrations were well worth attending. I was dismayed that Oceania, seemingly, has a commercial relationship to Diamonds International and a few other shops found in every cruise port in the Western Hemisphere. They tout them in their port advance printed material and the Shopping Lecturer mentions almost nothing else. Not much is said about local shops or unique merchandise. I should mention that there were no kids onboard -- none.
Internet was costly at $163.50 for 200 minutes but I knew that in advance. The Drink Package for my wife would have been about $800 for 16 days. Her total by-the-drink beverage purchases were just around $300 plus the emergency supplies of three bottles of Chardonnay and a bottle of gin we brought onboard ourselves. Doing our laundry required some planning. A single self-service laundry area on the O ship, unless you're clever, means some long waiting times but the people you wait with are interesting.
The Panama Canal passage was fascinating and I'd do it again. We cruise, mainly for the experience of the ship, not the ports, but the Oceania provided excursions were well done but not particularly memorable. We took 3 or 4 Oceania shore excursions and found them perfectly adequate. Next time we'll just hire a cab at the dock and go to only the sights we want to see while skipping the time waiting for fellow tourists to shop. Who needs an hour at a cruise line recommended shopping center? The shore excursions were fine just over long and sometimes, because of our time in port, started at the crack of dawn.
Disembarkation was painless and fast. Small ships are good that way. No lines anywhere. No wait at customs. Enough baggage porters. Plenty of cabs available to get to LAX.
All in all, I think we prefer Regent. We have a future cruise booked on each or the two lines. I'd give the nod to Regent on service and certainly on stateroom size. This trip on Regatta was well worth the money and we greatly enjoyed it except for those two service lapses. Less
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