We took our second Ocenia cruise this year from Istanbul visiting some Greek Islands and Turkish ports before
ending up in Athens (Sept/Oct 2013). This followed our first cruise on the same cruise line from Vancouver to Alaska in May 2013.
Although for the Mediterranean cruise was on the Nautica, and the cruise to Alaska was on the Regatta, the two ships
were so similar that sometimes, I forgot exactly which ship I was on!
Having read some comments of passengers' experience of other cruise lines where not all staff were nice and pleasant,
this is something which we take our hats off to Oceania - practically all the Ocenia crews and staff were very pleasant and friendly.
They always smiled and greeted you when they passed by you. They worked so hard and always tried hard to please, and nothing seemed to be too much trouble. We were very impressed with the positive attitudes of staff and the good training from Oceania management.Our belief is that Oceania Cruises staff are really one of the key assets of the company, and that's why they are so popular and successful.
We were met by an agent of Oceania Cruise at Istanbul Airport where a coach took us to the boat docked near the olden part of Istanbul city.
The traffic was so bad it took us about two hours to reach the Nautica. Some of us felt it might have been quicker had we got off the coach and walked - however, it would have been a problem had we done so as we all had quite a lot of luggage with us!
We know a lot of people raved about the wonderful cuisine and high standard of cooking on Oceania. Yes, we agree with them to a degree, but we have to say eventhough the cooking on Oceania is generally very good, it's not perfect! (Sorry, sorry, we know, we are being rather picky here! Gulp!!). To us, the bread served on Oceania Cruises (both Nautica and Regatta) was not very nice - it tasted to us as if it was dry and some was quite hard - the exception was the selection of breads in the Toscana Italian restaurant. We were also disappointed by the roast lamb which was very tough , and the lamb curry with chewy meat, all were served in the Terrace (Buffet) restaurant. Their smoked salmon did not always taste fresh, it was as if it had been in the freezer for too long and the texture has gone past its best. Also, during their Asian-theme lunch in the buffet restaurant, their Asian dishes were not very authentic and some of their Asian dishes actually tasted pretty awful ! Being Asian, I dare claim to have some knowledge of how "good" Asian food should taste like! An exception to the poor quality of their Asian dishes was their sushi, which was very nice.
Of course, as there was such a large choice of foods to eat, we never went hungry because if some dishes or food items were not to our tastes,
there was always something else that we would enjoy. And we believe other passengers also would not have a problems finding something they liked to eat on board.
It was a shame that in the buffet restaurant, passengers could not help themselves but had to be served by ship staff. Perhaps this might have something to do with hygiene. However, they covered so many of the hot dishes to the point we could not see what dishes were offered at meal times.
The Nautica had five places to eat - the Main Dining Room, the Toscana (Italian Menu), the Polo Grill, the Terrace (Buffet for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) and the Waves which serves "high-class" burger-influenced lunch near the pool. In addition, for high tea and cakes, there is Horizons, which has a ceiling-to-floor window which gave us a wonderful view of the sea and horizon in front of the boat.
There wais no charge for eating in their speciality restaurants but you have to book in advance. It was also very easy to find tables-for-two in all the restaurants if you were not in the mood to share tables and meet with other passengers.
Soft drinks were complimentary but wines and other drinks had to be purchased. The wine and drinks prices were quite expensive, in our view,
and this was made worse because like most American cruise lines, Oceania Cruise Lines added an extra 18 per cent on top of their already pricey drinks!
As some passengers commented the shower rooms were quite small, however, it is untrue that all cabins have the same small shower rooms.
The largest rooms from penthouse suite upwards have bigger bathrooms.
The beds in Oceania cabins had beds with luxury matteresses and comfy pillows- and there were several days when the weather was windy. The room had a fridge stocked with a selection of soft drinks and sodas and it was replenished every day. The rooms were cleaned twice a day and towels were replaced twice daily as well (if needed). The towels were not as luxurious as in some really nice hotels but they were adequate.
We were not sure if Oceania cruises were trying to do some "cost-saving excercise" because the Bulgari toileteries which we had in the earlier
Alaskan cruise were replaced by Oceania's own home-branded toileteries.
Our cruise started from Istanbul, and it sailed to Kusa Dasi, followed by Marmaris ,Mykonos and Santorini. Before we sailed to Santorini, the Cruise Director whetted our appetites as he indicated Santorini was one of the most beautiful islands he had even seen. However, when we reached Santorini, we had an announcement that because the sea was too choppy, the captain had cancelled our stop there - it was too dangerous to take the tender boats to land on Santorini Island.
We would have preferred that eventhough we could not land on Santorini , the captain could have at least sailed around the island. Instead,
we sailed away into the seas without any fixed destination in mind, as if just to kill time and to pass the day/ So all we did was waste fuel and adding more carbon to the earth sailing almost aimlessly ! What a waste of time that was!! We had nothing much to do at sea that day and found ourselves eating even more of their delicious food out of boredom! At least, that was our excuse for eating more! Lol.
Eventually, the boat headed for Agios Nikolaos on the island of Crete which we docked the following morning. Our last port of call before reaching Pireus (for Athens) was Nafpleon. All these places we visited were nice, but it was a shame we had to miss the "Jewel in the Crown" of Greek islands, Santorini. Still, nevermind.
ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES
There was a daily newsletter that keeps passengers informed of the activities on board. The cruise director also made regular annoucements and appearances on TV to keep us up-to-date on the cruise. As the Nautica was a medium-sized boat, it probably did not have as many activities as in the larger cruise ships. There was a small but comfortable library, an ultra-expensive internet room, a spa and sauna, destination talks, cocktail piano sessions, string quartet, and the evening entertainment in the Nautica Lounge . We were disappointed that the evening entertainment in the Nautica Lounge was not on every evening. The standard of their own home singers were just average - their song choices were not all very good -, but the ship had some guest entertainers who were actually better than we expected. There was a magician, a guest musician, and a guest singer. The African-American guest singer was really a class act and we wished he had done more shows on our cruise - he was great.
There was also a couple of channels on the ship TV but that is one area we thought the company could improve on - the quality and choice of TV channels.
The majority of passengers appear to be north of 60 years old - but many seem to have aged so gracefully and they still looked very well, it must have been the good life they have had, or they took the trouble to take care of themselves !
There were no formal nights but guest had been advised to dress "country smart casual". That was one of the things we liked about Oceania cruises, we could be in stylish surroundings and eat in elegant restaurants, yet the men did not have to dress up in formal costumes like penguins. Some of the women passengers did take the trouble to dress up very elegantly though, although they were not required to do so.
From our previous Oceania cruise, we realised that the excursions offered by Oceania were very expensive and you could get better deals
else where - instead of taking any excursions from Oceania, we checked for alternative and cheaper cruise excursions online.
Also we believe that Oceania may be one of those few cruise lines that allow you to bring your own liquor to consume in your room. Please do not take our word for it. Please check with the cruise company yourselves about their policy on this before doing so, just to be sure - we do not wish to be responsible for your bottle of alcohol being confiscated !
We really enjoyed our first Oceania cruise to Alaska, and although we enjoyed the second Mediterranean cruise as well, because pratically everything on board was the same as the boat on the first cruise - decor, cuisine, etc, etc .By the time our second cruise finished, we thought that we had a nice time but we have had enough of Oceania cruises for a litle while. The next time we would like to try going on another cruise line. The thing with Oceania is, you know what you are getting, but many things remain the same for a long time. The same menus, the same decor, the same rooms, etc, etc. Only the ports of call are different. I supposed you could say we were spoilt but you could get a bit too much of a good thing. Didn't someone say you could even get bored on champagne and caviar ??!!!. Oceania cruises may not be quite champagne and caviar yet but its standards are very high.
We have already booked on a cruise middle of next year with the rival company to Oceania, Azamara Club Cruises. We wish to get a slightly "different" experience to Oceania cruises and hopefully we can compare the two companies to see which one is better!