This was our first time on Oceania, previously cruising with RCI, Seabourn and Crystal. We were on a 10 night cruise of the Adriatic and I must say our ports of call were idyllic!
Embarkation in Venice was extremely smooth, the Port Terminal only being a 10 minute cab ride from the airport. In fact we were the only passengers at the terminal at that time. We were escorted to our A1 cabin, which was centrally located on the 11th deck. We had been aware that some reviews had mentioned the large overhang above this deck which admittedly made the cabin quite dark at times, but overall we were very pleased with the facilities. We were also pleased that it was mid ship as fellow passengers above the engines at the rear complained about vibrations. We had toyed with the idea of upgrading to a PH level to give us extra storage but found the space and storage perfectly adequate. I appreciated the separate bath tub as I love a long soak at the end of the day, although I must say that turning on the taps wasn't the easiest of tasks, given you had to twist to the inside corner of the bath around a static shower screen. The separate shower was quite small and doesn't avail itself to someone who is 6ft3in!
We had decide to take a Concierge Class of cabin but question whether there are any benefits. The concierge lounge was located 2 decks below on deck 9 and consisted merely of tea and coffee making facilities, cold drinks (available from your mini bar) a tv and computer. We only went in once. We also understood that the Canyon Ranch Spa sundeck was for exclusive use to suite and concierge level guests but there was no monitoring of guests so this "perk" doesn't actually exist. I would save my money and not book concierge.
The ship itself is absolutely stunning. There are beautiful sculptures and works of art at every turn. The furnishings have been designed by Ralph Lauren and this has given the ship an extremely luxurious feel. The guests were mainly American and as the cruise was very port intensive, this meant that the pool was deserted most days and getting a sunbed was certainly not a problem!
We managed to eat in all 4 speciality restaurants and in fact during the course of our 10 nights at sea we only ate in The Grand Dining Room once. Waiers and sommeliers were very attentive in all the restaurants with June and Geraldine being our personal favourites. On one occasion we were intrigued to see a waiter bring a selection of reading glasses to the table in a wooden display box to assist a guest who had forgotten her glasses. This was a very nice touch.
Of the four specialty restaurants I would say that Red Ginger was our favourite and Maria the Maitre d' did a great job. Jacques was probably our least favourite but this might have had something to do with our late reservation and the fact that it was the final night of our cruise and we were looking forward to plain food without a jus!
We went to afternoon tea a couple of times which was quite pleasant but this was mainly due to the fact that once back onboard there is actually no food available from 4-6, unless you take room service.
I'm sure that food wastage is a problem for most cruise lines but I do question why they put out full baskets of bread, containing enough for a table of 6, when there is just two of you. And are we really going to eat 12 flavoured jellies before dessert in Polo Grill?
We decided to take the drinks package at $54.95 per person per day. For us this proved to be good value as although the drinks were reasonably priced by the time 18% gratuity was added you only needed to have a pre or post dinner drink, and a couple of glasses of wine over dinner to break even. However, as far as wine is concerned, on the package you are limited to the house wines by the glass ( although we found them very palatable!) We particularly enjoyed the Martini Bar ( Austin did a great Big O martini!) and the casino bar with Chadwell was excellent.
Our main criticism is the lack of entertainment after 10.30pm. The Cruise Director was virtually invisible and the worst we have encountered. This particular cruise turned out to be a Jazz cruise, which we were not told about in advance. This certainly impacted on the amount of entertainment laid on for non jazz enthusiasts! Whilst I appreciate that the majority of the guests are over 60 and after a long day on tour they just want an early night, this isn't true of everyone! At times we felt as if we were in the way, especially in Horizons one night when 30-40 guests were still at the bar when we were told it would close at 12.20. One waitess even kept looking at her watch and if looks could kill.....On the final night of the cruise all bars onboard closed at 11.30 and whilst we didn't want to stay up too late I found this unacceptable. The Riviera has facilities for cookery classes, art classes and those wanting to play bridge but are missing a trick by ignoring guests who would appreciate a bit of entertainment beyond 10.30. There was a 'disco' on one night but this consisted of a jukebox on the Horizons dance floor.
This would be the only reason why we wouldn't consider sailing with Oceania again. The only compensation is that we met like minded people (some in their 70's) whose conversation was entertainment in itself. If you're looking for entertainment on a luxurious cruise line then you need to look elsewhere. If you manage to find it could you please let me know....