This is our 4th cruise on Oceania/old Renaissance and was another wonderful experience provided by the staff of Oceania's Regatta. We arrived in Miami a day early just in case the weather was bad leaving Atlanta. Although the instructions stated we could start embarking at 3:00, having sailed before, we knew we could embark earlier. We arrived at the pier at 1:15 p.m. and were through embarkation within approximately 15 minutes. We were welcomed aboard and instructed to go to the Terrace Cafe where lunch was being served. There were quite a few people already on board.
To our surprise and delight we saw several of the waiters/waitresses who had sailed with us on the Insignia down the Amazon in February 2005. One, Michaela, had particularly been very helpful to my husband who is legally blind and does not go off the ship for excursions. Smiles and hugs.
We were able to get into our cabin by 3:30 and our luggage by 4:00. Knowing the ship so well, we did not have to find our way around and I went to the laundry to iron my clothes as I knew the laundry would be very crowded in the days that followed.
That evening to our delight we found that the Cruise Director, Shani Reay was also aboard and more smiles and hugs.
The outstanding part of the trip, of course was going through the Panama Canal and to our delight we had David McCullough, the Pulitzer Prize winning author on board who gave a series of lectures including how he wrote, "Land Between the Seas" about how the Panama Canal was built. We also had another outstanding lecturer, Robert Marks, who was an expert diver and "soldier of fortune" who had discovered many ships with sunken treasure. This, plus good entertainment by the staff, including Shani Reay, although not like some of the big glitzy shows of huge cruise lines, was excellent.
The ports started with Cozumel, Mexico, which is a shadow of its former self since Hurricane Wilma. We were told that last year when they were in port there were eight other ships docked as well. This time we were the only line and we had to be tendered in. Our next stop, which could have been eliminated, most of us felt, was San Andreas which is just a poor island with not much to offer except seeing some shops and an old Baptist church. Everyone driven in old cars with no air conditioning nor seat belts. We could have stayed a day in Panama City instead.
The day going through the Panama Canal was outstanding. To realize that these locks and gates were used on the first day it opened in August 1914 (the day WWI was declared) is amazing. Well worth the entire trip.
Guatemala and Costa Rica were good ports with many different excursions to chose from including Mayan ruins. Many were 8 or 9 hours in length so since my husband does not get off the ship, the only time I was gone for 8 hours was to Antigua, Guatemala. This is a delightful old town about 2 hrs. from the port. We had an excellent lunch served as well in a charming restaurant. There is the usual town square with the cathedral.
Acapulco is looking shabby and very congested and not the delightful place it was 30-40 years ago. Cabo San Lucas is the new "in place" and there were various excursions to chose from or one can easily get taxis or buses at any of these ports and explore on your own.
There are three restaurants on the ship, the main dining room plus two that are reservations only. They are the Polo Grill and Toscana. On two past cruises we were very disappointed in Toscana, the Italian restaurant, but on this trip, we found the food quite good. There is no extra charge to eat in these restaurants.
I used the fitness center on most sea days, using the Pilates Reformer (had been instructed in this on the Amazon trip) and various other equipment. The Fitness Center is fairly small but well equipped with a personal trainer to instruct.
I did not use the Spa for hair or body treatments but people who used them seem satisfied. They are quite expensive and there is an 18% tax on these and drinks on board. The drinks are fairly expensive but one can get a decent glass of house wine or champagne for $5 plus the tax.
There is a small boutique and clothing store that sells various items. Usually different articles are offered every day while at sea. They are not allowed to be open while in port.
We ate once at the Captain's Table and once with the Social Director and the service at other times is just as good. The staff are simply wonderful and so helpful to my husband who is legally blind. This is a ship that is small enough and easy enough for him to get around on his own.
The basic cabins are small but well appointed and for the time spent in the rooms are very adequate. There was ample closet space for all my clothes too (even a little left over for my husband). The bathrooms are very small but serve the purpose.
This is not a ship for hip and swinging singles or for very young couples with children. It is basically a ship for older, retired and even elderly passengers to enjoy a ship with some activities but relaxing and quiet if one is so inclined. Not a ship for children.
All in all, another wonderful experience on a shipping line that we love.