We just returned last week from a great Inside Passage trip on the Oceania Regatta. This was our first time on Oceania. The price was right and we wanted to try something a little different. This was quite different from the standard cruises that usually go on up to Alaska. My wife and I have been on Alaska cruise several times, and were getting a bit tired of the same old routine. We liked the convenience of sailing out of Seattle, and the fact that we were seeing 3 sites we had not sailed to before: Tracy Arm Fjord, Prince Rupert, and Wrangell.
I have divided my review into the CruiseCritic categories, and rated each one with a letter grade, A through F like school grades.
Embarkation: We hopped on a Jet Blue flight from Long Beach, caught a cab and was at the port basically 4 hours from when we left our home. That's the convenience of Seattle, at least for us. I was surprised however, that there was a pretty sizable wait to get registered/checked in. There were about 6 groupings of say 20 passengers each, sitting and waiting for their group to be called. It was probably about a 30-40 minute wait to get through the line. I guess we've been spoiled in the past, because we usually zip right on through, given our frequent cruising status and such. One nicety that was missing...a welcome glass of champagne that Celebrity gives you. I'd rate the Embarkation a grade B.
Public Spaces: We were surprised at how roomy this ship was. It was much larger than we anticipated, and had a good passenger flow from space to space. The furnishings and decor are very exquisite. Regatta is a beautiful ship. Very clean as well. Grade = A.
Stateroom: We just booked a standard outside with porthole (Category D). Small, but functional. Shower pressure and water pressure in the sink was very low. Shower was very small. Bed was very comfortable, but pillows were too squishy. I did like the location however. Grade = B-
Fitness & Recreation: Gym was quite nice, locker room and steam room are very nice and you actually had some great water pressure on the showers. Outdoor pool was fine, but the water really stung your eyes. May be a high concentration of chlorine and salt water mixed. Jacuzzis were just adequate: jet pressure was low and temperature was lukewarm at best. Grade = B
Enrichment: One lecturer on board. A very nice guy, ex-professor with a wealth of information. Personality was not quite as good as say Milos or Brent Nixon on Celebrity, but pretty interesting and open to conversation. Grade = B+
Rates/Value: We got a good deal. We booked early, got free gratuities and some OBC. Worked out to about the same as a big ship. We got our money's worth for sure. Grade = A-
Dining: Almost every menu item was outstanding. Some highlights:
1) Miso Sea Bass from Red Ginger menu
2) Caviar station at the Grand Brunch
3) Desserts @ The Special High Tea
4) Ravioli and Veal Scallopini @ the Italian Joint
5) Deserts and Breads throughout
6) Made To Order Omelets for Breakfast
8) Fresh Alaskan Halibut Grilled @ Waves
We did have a few deficiencies however. Twice, at Terraces, the "Steamed" vegetables were ice cold.
And our first formal lunch at MDR, it took a very long time for our dessert to arrive, although it was not busy. Little things, but enough to move it to a 5 star from a 5.5 star Grade = A- overall
Entertainment: The performers and comedian were the standard cruise stuff. Nothing to write home about. We did however really enjoy the String Quartet. A remarkable group from Poland that had a diverse repertoire, including some classical arrangements of modern songs. Very nice!
Stage Performers = Grade C
String Quartet = Grade A+
Service: Excellent for the most part. We did get some bad attitude from a couple of the bar service people however. Room steward did a great job, as did the wait staff. Sommeliers were just okay.
Grade = A-
Shore Excursions: We did a city tour in Prince Rupert. Just a so-so experience. There were issues. Grade = C+
Some other things:
Weather was fabulous on the first sea day through the inside passage and in our first port (Ketchikan). Turned cold and rainy for the next three days, but the sun was back out for our final sea day on the outside passage. We did enjoy the 3 new sites I mentioned. Raining in Tracey Arm Fjord however, and we only saw about 75% of it...could not get to the glacier (bummer).
Activities were a bit minimalistic. We did enjoy the Trivia and the bingo. But there wasn't that much to do. The Shuffle board and miniature golf was fun. I also did enjoy the running/walking track up top. Very nice views, but it could get windy.
Ship was very full (passenger count as per the CD was 701). This exceeds the official capacity that I keep seeing of 684 passengers. There were perhaps 30 children on board which might be why the number was higher than the capacity. Although it was full, it never felt crowded. The number of children on board was a surprise, and quite frankly, they were not all that well mannered. On the final sunny sea day for instance, a number of kids were running around, horseplaying in the pool etc. There was a large contingent of children from Mexico City that were playing cards in the adjunct card room, and getting very very loud. They were having a good time, but they were quite loud. The regular card room was turned into a temporary kids club. We opted for this cruise specifically to avoid cruising with a number of children at this high season point of the Alaska Season, as we were always of the impression that Oceania was specifically for adults.. Funny how just a few kids can sound (or seem) like hundreds. Not a bad experience per se, but not what we had expected either.
Otherwise, the fellow passengers we met were lovely. A few of us guys were up early in Horizons every morning allowing our wives to sleep in as we watched the magnificent scenery. Great conversation and camaraderie. The virtue of a smaller ship experience is that you develop some great relationships on board. That was a treat.
Overall Grade = B+ Not quite the greatest cruise we have been on, but pretty darn good. We were well pampered and had a great time, and ate extremely well! Kudos to Oceania.