This was a 12 night cruise with port stops every day and our second Oceania cruise, we have also cruised on Princess to Alaska and Celebrity in the Caribbean. Our previous Oceania cruise had been Rome to Istanbul on the Nautica and the three sister ships are very much the same with just subtle differences in decor. We felt at home immediately. We were in the younger crowd on the ship, I'm 44 and DH is 58. The cruise was very port intensive so we did not attend too many of the entertainment venues after dinner, or if we did attend, we often left early. We spent 4 nights pre-cruise in Tuscany before spending another pre-cruise night in Venice and then 4 nights post-cruise in Rome. The ports on this cruise were Venice (overnight), Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, Taormina, Sorrento, Amalfi, Livorno, Monte Carlo, La Spezia, Portofino and ending in Civitavecchia.
Embarkation was easy, we did need to fill out a health questionaire, the swine flu scare had just started, we saw sanitizing solution dispensers in evidence every where around the ship, from dock to eating venues and in various other places as well. We shared a water taxi to the ship with another couple staying at our hotel, this worked out nicely for us and involved a lot less lugging of luggage than taking the vaporettos to the port, the water taxi fee from San Marco area to San Basillio was 80-85 euros. There were port representatives right where the water taxis stopped and near the vaporetto stop to help take luggage right away so we really did not have to lug anything around except our carry-ons that afternoon. We went straight to our cabin after boarding to drop off our carry-ons and met our cabin steward, who was just fantastic at anticipating any requests. After settling in a little bit we then went and explored the ship. We were docked at the San Basilio dock which made going back into Venice pretty easy with vaporetto passes.
Cabin 7116, aft A2 level cabin on deck 7, was our home for our next 12 nights and it was almost identical to the same cabin on the Nautica. They have gone to flat screen TVs in the rooms and wireless on the ship and even in our cabin was consistent with speeds in the computer room. The cabin amenities were very similar to our last cruise and we had plenty of room to store all of our stuff and luggage. We slept well during the cruise and did not hear very much, if any, noise from the hallway or surrounding cabins. The aft cabins do have a bit more vibration and noise from the engines and thrusters, on this trip we really only noticed it when we were docking or leaving a port. We also had a deeper veranda than normal though in those aft cabins and that is why we choose them, we spend a lot of time out there.
Food - we found the food to be very good throughout all the dining venues. We ate in Toscana twice and the Polo Grill once, the Grand Dining Room for a few dinners and the buffet for all our breakfasts and a few dinners. All but one of our lunches were eaten in the ports, the one day we ate lunch on the ship we ate at Waves which was also very good. The wine list was fairly broad in price range and we always found something we liked from it. There was also a sale in the first day or two where we were able to buy some bottles on sale and without tip or corkage fees to be served in the dining venues. We also had tea a couple of times in Horizons and enjoyed that as well, nice mix of sandwiches and cakes. They do use tea bags for the tea, but I can only imagine the mess there would have been trying to do loose leaf for people who are not familiar with it.
Service - we had fantastic service everywhere on the ship. There were two mornings in the buffet when everybody must have gone there and at the same time, those mornings there was some confusion and a few mix ups, but that was very minor for us.
Laundry - we used the self serve laundry room a few times on the ship and did not have any issues, we happened to get in there when it was not crowded but we saw crowds in there quite often. One of the washing machines did seem to be a bit fussy, but if you watched over it until it really got going then it was fine. O has gone to the stacked washer/dryers which made for more space in the laundry room, there are only 2 ironing boards though and there were often lines trying to get to those.
Entertainment - this is one of Oceania's weaker points, but not an important factor for us especially on such a port intensive cruise. We enjoyed the juggler, Tivor Szabo, his act was not perfect, but definitely fun. The other musical events were not our style of music so we often left those early. The quartet was usually enjoyable, they had a few off moments, but overall they were nice to listen to, as was the pianist in the Martinis bar. The enrichment speaker, Sam Hunt, was very knowledgeable and very interesting to listen to. His talks were all very on topic with the ports we visited.
Shore excursions - we did all the ports on our own and one port with a private guide so cannot comment on the quality of the ship excursions. The people we talked to that did utilize them seemed to enjoy them.
Disembarkation was also easy for us. We had arranged for a private transfer with 2 other couples into Rome. We were all of the ship in the 8:20-8:30am time frame and all found our luggage very easily. Our driver from Romecabs was waiting for us and entertained us all the way into Rome.
Internet access - we were able to use wireless from in our cabin and up in the buffet and from various other locations. Our big beef with Oceania here is that they charge quite a bit per minute and the access is so painfully slow that its practically unusable for anything but very basic email. Since we usually have to work a little bit on vacation, this was very annoying to us. The computer room computer connections were no faster than the wireless connection. This is an issue for every ship we have cruised on and something we wish would improve at some point in the future, either speed it up or reduce the charges for now.
Overall - the itinerary was what drew us to this cruise, the ports were all very good even though it was a very busy cruise. The port representatives that came on board usually had good information and maps for us to take with us. We had a really good time on ths cruise and enjoyed meeting up with our Cruise Critic buddies on and off theoughout the trip. We had 5 tender ports on this cruise and managed to make it to all of them, that was a bonus to us even though we did have backup plans in case we had to dock at another port instead of the tenders. Our last tender port, Portofino did have some small swells and some people were obvioulsy bothered by them but we're sickos and rather enjoyed the action that day. We had good weather throughout the trip, a few bits of rain and thunder storms our first few days and drips and drizzles every so often, but overall very nice. This itinerary was great for anyone who wants to concentrate on some of the different areas of Italy as 2/3 of the ports were in Italy.