For us, this was a alternate Oceania cruise because of medical problems that occurred just before a Oceania Cruise we had book three years ago.
We used Oceania air deviation and flew via BA through Heathrow to Barcelona. We spent two evenings there at Jazz Hotel (great price through Hotel.com and great Hotel, buy the breakfast when booking). We did a day trip to Montserrate which was worthwhile. We then flew independently via Easyjet to Geneva to spend a weekend with friends we had meet last year Alaska back to back cruise. Weather was perfect for sightseeing (Guyeres chees Factory, Caillers Choclate Factory, and Frieberg Castle, and the Toblerone Mountain all great sites.. We then flew back to Barcelona and again stayed at Jazz for two nights. In Barcelona we saw the La Sagrada Familia church via Viator and took both hop-on hop-off bus tours of the city. The hotel is a 7 minute walk from the Airport Bus drop point.
On the 20 we headed down to the Dock via cab (15 euros with tip) and were on Marina within 25 minutes. They send you to Horizons to eat while your room is prepared. We toured the Ship after unpacking and had heard that you should attempt to get a specialty restaurant booking as there are usually available the first night. We were easily able to.
We had Concierge Suite 9010. Our Room Seward Rita was suburb during the cruise. Room had more that enough room and the balcony was comfortable when we used it which was about 5 hours over the length of the cruise.. We often used the concierge lounge for snacks, reading the Canadian National Post, and the services of Michelle our concierge. She was most helpful in providing answers to port questions, ship policies, and booking additional specialty restaurants. We had bought 4 bottles of Spanish wine on board, left them in the open and were never questioned. We did buy six bottles of Organic Chardonnay with meals, making most bottles last two meals.
Reviews we read before did not do justice. Food as beyond wonderful. Special requests were never rejected. If it were not for the walking in ports, we would have put on a lot of weight. The specialty restaurants are equal to the Grand Dining Room and the Buffet meals, just they had a different menu. We actually believe the grill in the Buffet does better Lobster on demand then the other restaurants. The Portions are enough for the Largest eater, and you can always get seconds. Main meals also on request can be ordered as appetizers.
We prearranged most of our port tours through CRUISE CRITIC roll calls or with other CRUISE CRITIC members on board.
Cartagena: We walked with other CC members to see the museum and roman coliseums. A lot of steps to maneuver but the views are breath taking. Take the elevator down or up to cut down on the walking.
Gibraltar: A private CC tour that covered almost all the sights possible. I never knew how many tunnels had been created in the rock over the last 300 years.
Arrecife/Lanzarote: Another CC tour took us around the Canary volcanic island with almost no vegetation. The use of the private tour had the ability to reverse the normal tour agenda which avoided the rain on the mountain for those who took the ship tour. A must see is the Cesar Manrique Museum, a home built in the volcanic air bubbles.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Another Canary island and another CC tour. While Lanzarote was barren, this island was so lush it was overwhelming. Due to weather, we did not see the volcano here, but instead our tour guide arranged for a typical lunch which was impressive and filling. Our guide covered the normal tourist points but was also had a hidden talent as a horticulturalist which several members of the group appreciated.
Mindelo/Cape Verde: Using the free ship shuttle we went into town and walked. We saw the unsanitary (to North American or European standards) fish market, the flea markets, vegetable market, and West African market. We were back on the ship in three hours. Not a great tourist site, but a nice break after a few sea days. The worst seas encounter during our trip were 8.5 feet (2.5 meters) so almost no side to side ship movement.
Recife, Brazil: We arranged for a CC tour during the next 3 sea days. We ended up going to Olinda and it was worth while. Churchs appear to be the major tourist draw in all Brazil.
Salvador Brazil: Day one we did a walking tour with one other couple, taking in the market, elevator and upper city. Day two we took a CC van tour and covered most of the tourist highlights
Buzio, Brazil: Our only anchor port on this cruise. After breakfast on board, we only had to wait 8 minutes to get into the tender to be taken ashore. Walked around town, actually bought a few jewelry items and then headed back to the ship.
Rio De Janeiro: We had arranged with two different CC tours for the last two days of our trip. We saw the usual tourist sights. The Redeemer and Sugar Mountain are worth the visits. We had arranged with tour on second day to store our luggage and deliver us and the luggage to the airport.
The on board entertainment is targeted to the 50+ demographic. Overall we felt it was good to very good. We thought the regular signing/acting group was good. They had a Woman Fiddler who was excellent and a bit of a comedian. The Juggler and Magic couple were very good. Almost all evening shows started at 9:45 and were over by 11:15.
We got addicted to the twice daily trivia game. The Old Time Fair was wonderful. Crossing the Equator event was well done. We also took two cooking classes (our son's a chef) and actually learned new skills. Casino has limited games, but the poker games paid off for us.
Was very smooth and efficient. Our requested slot was provided and we were on the port shuttle 5 minutes after our time slot.
One of the worst international airports I have gone through. We flew back AA and they have no one at airport until 7:00 pm for a 10:45 flight. We waited around the airport from 5 pm with all our luggage. To make things worst, Dallas was closed and all those going through Dallas were being rerouted to AA so the line ups was terrible. Once in the gate lounge, the only food was a small shop whose prices seemed to be 4 times the normal.
Loved the trip and would go Oceania again. Loved the ambiance and the other guest on board. We usually eat with others at sharing tables and never meet anyone who was not friendly.