In reading this review you might think we are being paid by the ship because of all the pluses. Not true, we are somewhat reluctant cruisers but this itinerary was ideal for an extended journey thru the festive season We planned to make the most of the entire trip as it is such a long way from Australia to Rome to start, so we flew to Singapore, had a 5 day stop over in that fab city, then up to Kuala Lumpur for 4 days & back to Singapore for the flight to Istanbul. Spent 5 nights in Istanbul & did all the tourist sites & markets then flew across to Rome for 4 nights. This made getting to the ship a journey of its own.
Ship day we took the train to the port & walked the short distance from the station to the dock, a cost of only E12 per person !st. cl. Big saving on buying a shuttle to the port. Dockside check in was a blur, bags were taken at the curb, we were ushered into the embarkation building & in minutes were on board heading for the buffet for lunch, never seen such efficiency & speed. By the time we had had a snack & went to the cabin our bags had beaten us there, another speed service.
We were totally overcome with the beauty of the ship interior, it was immaculate in every way The decor was mind blowing, the lounges & dining room were works of art compared to some other ships we had been on. Every member of the crew had a smile & a greeting whenever they passed you & all wanted to know if they could do something for us. The attention was almost embarrassing but we loved it. The food---first night we went to the Polo Grille & made a big mistake we both ordered the appetizer, soup, salad then the prime rib. It was shameful to send back to the kitchen 1/2 of the rib. It was so huge I just couldn't eat more than 1/2 of it. Quality, taste, & presentation were excellent.This set the tone for the entire cruise of 41 nights in all the restaurants incl the Grand Dining Room, there was no repetition for us as there were so many options for food. BTW don't have b/fast get a thick shake from Waves at 11.30am. Apart from flavor which was excellent it was a lunch on its own. The only down side I found was the over attentiveness of the table waiters, they often barged into one's conversation to offer pepper or ask if one wanted anything or to place or take plates; this was a bit off-putting.
There have been comments on the entertainment not being up to standard, I totally disagree, the entertainment in the theatre by the various musical groups was a very high standard. Sure there wasn't a Las Vegas style dance group but the entertainers were the BEST. The M.C who did a puppet show was unbelievable in his performance. I've never been a fan of pantomine but went to several of his performances. There were 2 female vocalists who were of international standard & these girls doubled up as hostesses during the day.
Shore excursions area personal issue, we rarely ever use the ship's excursions as we prefer to do "our own thing" & usually at a 1/4 of the ship pricing. One exception here is to use the ship in Port Said to Cairo & Safaga to Luxor. The taxis in Egypt have a definite death wish whenever they get behind the wheel. If you go it alone always find out where the gate out of the port is 'cause that's where you will find a horde of cabs waiting to do a deal.You might have to walk 2-300 metre but its worth saving over $100 for the day.
Oceania go out of their way to give you a good time we made friends with many of the crew including of all people one of the chefs who would make us any meal our heart desired & then he would watch over you to ensure it was what you wanted, many waiters, the maitre de Carlos who fussed over you the whole time in his domain. Drink waiters soon learned your name & preferences & had drinks in front of you as quick as a wink. Can't comment on disembarkation as we got off in Brisbane & that was a casual stroll down to the reception, pay the account, say our goodbyes & just go home. The trip on the ship could have been 10 days less but that would have interfered with the Xmas period, I think the ideal is around 30 days to really have a shipboard experience. I met many people who flew to the ship , were transferred from airport to ship & then did the reverse going home which I think is a terrible shame as they went 1/2 round the world but didn't take advantage of either Italy or Australia Footnote---We have had to go on a serious crash diet program after 41 days on Nautica I've still got to loose 6 kilos.