Embarkation: I'll put it simply: The process was a mess. Part due to Oceania's confusing and changing times for embarkation plus a lack of clarity for people with independent travel, and part due to the Port of Papeete. Once we finally got on ship at 4:45pm, the onboard process was painless and our cabin ready immediately. The warm welcome in the Marina Lounge and the efficiency of the staff soothed our anxiety from the dockside fiasco.
The Ship: Gorgeous. Drop. Dead. Gorgeous. Looks like it just came out of the shipyard and ready for it's christening. The public rooms are elegant but understated and even though the capacity is 1,250 passengers, you'd never know it. It felt comfortable to us immediately and helpful deck schematics help get us get our bearings fairly fast.
Dining, Beverage and Service: Food is subjective and your opinions and experiences may be different. That being said, we had the best food on a cruise we've ever had. With many cruise lines cutting back on the quality of their ingredients, portions, etc., you will find anything your heart desires on the menu. Maine Lobster in abundance? Yes! Prime grade steaks in Polo? Of course! Moist and delicious seafood in all venues? Oh yeah. Jacques was our favorite by far with (believe it or not) the Grand Dining Room second. In fact, we were normally in and out of the GDR in under an hour and the food and service excellent. The wine list is wonderful, with a mark up comparable to any upscale restaurant on land. I was pleasantly surprised by the wine by the glass selections and since we had the Premium Beverage Package, it worked out very well for us with the attentive sommeliers readily available to help select the wines for each course. I would say that this was the best service experience we've had in years.
Our "bar of choice" was Martini's. First because we had an awesome Trivia Team (Martini's was where the Trivia was held twice daily) but also because of the great bartending skills, service and humor of Milan and Iwan. Horizons was a close second with the beautiful vistas and the band playing for our sailaways. The string quartet also played during Tea Time in Horizons which added a lovely touch.
Entertainment: Speaking of the string quartet, we only went to one show in the Marina Lounge which was the night leaving Nuku Hiva and they had Marquesian dancers on. They were great and we enjoyed the show. JP in Martini's at piano, the string quartet before dinner and at tea, plus the band in Horizons were all we needed. Oh, and Trivia. One night they had a dance party on the Pool Deck complete with a conga line and 70's disco...and a grand time was had by all.
Ports of Call and Excursions: For this trip, the ship called on Moorea, Raitiea, Bora Bora, Nuku Hiva, Fakarava (substituted for Hiva Oa due to weather) and Rangiora. We booked all excursions through Oceania and yes they are pricey. But they were well organized and of goodquality. We elected not to take any organized excursions on Bora Bora, Fakarava (for obvious reasons) and Rangiora. To our surprise, we enjoyed Fakarava the best for it's laid back atmosphere and pristine beaches. It turned out to be the highlight of our trip. A tip: Book a Motu Pic Nic excursion on Moorea with either the ship or independently, truly a great time.
Disembarkation: Awful (because they made us leave). Seriously, it was a snap. We were allowed to stay in our cabin until noon then we could have use of the ship until 4:00pm. This is due to flights leaving beginning at 10:30pm at night and as such, the anomaly among cruise ship timelines for disembarkation. Plenty of taxis at the terminal and you can go to your destination quickly and easily.
Final note: Was this an inexpensive trip? No. Was it worth the money? Yes. We both agree that this is the absolute best cruise we've ever been on and for what we paid, we found value. The food, the service, the cabin, the crew - all top notch. We will be back Oceania.