Nautica Cruise Review by Michael Allen: 2 star cruising or less
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2 star cruising or less
We recently travelled on a cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong on the Oceania's Cruise Line Ship Nautica. This is a 6 star ship which did not quite live up to the hype.Firstly this ship is strangely a class ship. If you have a cabin on decks 7 and 8 you have butler service and excellent suites and are able to eat in the 2 excellent speciality restaurants almost at will. Also you appear to have identification which is different from the rest and of course you pay the premium. This top level is perhaps just 6 star provided the clients do not use the rest of the ship, the rest is anything but and is far worse than the same sized Ocean Princess and not in the same league as Crystal Cruises. The lower decks get one opportunity at each of the specialty restaurants but the rest of the time you eat in the Grand Dining room or the Tapas restaurant. The food in all is generally good but having said that we both had food poisoning which lasted for nearly a week. I was unable to eat at all for More
some 3 days and came back 5 pounds lighter. We ate or drank nothing that was not supplied by the ship but I believe the problem was probably from eating out on shore excursions arranged by the ship. I politely talked to the reception as I thought they may wish to check their kitchens because although I suspected the food from the shore excursions (Raffles, Pnom Penn and a luxury restaurant on the Mekong Delta) I could not be certain. I was rung by the Concierge minutes later with the words that nobody else had the problem and we must have licked our fingers whilst out. This was an unfortunate lie as my wife was sitting behind a similar patient in the doctors and we met at least 14 other suffers (all from the same trips) and a crew member had told me that there were many with my problem.
Unfortunately this is a cruise line that is extremely difficult if you want to do your own thing on shore and you have to do the shore excursions. Unfortunately I like to do a mixture with excursions so that I do not have to eat out or go to the obligatory souvenir shops but the choice of landing times and cruise ports make this difficult and mostly impossible. This ship should have landed at Da Nang but landed at a jetty 30 miles from it with only a dirt road to it and absolutely nothing else for miles, in Guangzhou it landed 40 miles from the city in the industrial port and in Hong Kong it landed at the end of the island where there were no taxi's or anything else. With great opportunism the cruise line offered to take people to the airport in a bus at a cost of 107$ each instead of a taxi at 40$ total. It was claimed that the ship was bumped out of the main dock by the Star ferry but the Ocean Princess, Seabourn and Aquarious had no trouble and there was one completely empty cruise dock. Ports seemed to change regularly at the last minute. The cost of excursions was excessive even in the cruise world for trips that included the usual souvenir shop visits.
The young crew are excellent throughout always with a smile and very efficient. Officers and managers often seemed to have a major problem and whilst they worked hard they smiled little and the atmosphere was not good and I guess they were at the end of a long stint although the assistant cruise director and chef were excellent and they did at least say hello without the typical fixed smile through gritted teeth. The Cruise Director was banging on about departure 6 days from the start.
The accommodation was good and stewards superb and unfortunately we saw too much of the cabin.
Entertainment is OK but limited, lectures were solely on American finance, politics and Wikileaks effect in the USA by a lovely Professor but of limited interest to non Americans (probably50%) or to anybody who came to get away from this. I would have loved to have heard about the region and places we visited. There was a USA pilot who spent 6 years in prison in the "Hanoi Hilton" who gave a talk to a few US friends but they were not allowed to publish it.
We would have liked to go for a drink before dinner but as everybody goes to dinner at the same time it is impossible to get a seat in really the only useable Martini's bar (It only usually holds 30 maximum and usually 20) but only managed to get a seat once so stayed in our room. After the meal the same problem occurred and most people wandered off to bed before the show. It was like a ghost ship from around 9.00pm. Most times the show had a hardy 70 souls attending although one or two were better attended and the crew party was the highlight. The whole of deck 5 needs a rethink as a superb quartet played by the staircase but there were a few chairs to sit on and the position was uncomfortable. The rest is occupied by a sad looking casino and 2 equally sad boutiques. It would have been nice to have had a good coffee bar and a comfortable bar or bars.
I unfortunately expected that people would at least dress up smartly for the Grand Dining Room but basically a pair of trousers and a Polo shirt was good enough and people generally came in as dressed on the tours or from the deck and the Tapas casual restaurant was strangely better dressed.
The sun deck only had about 15 loungers each side not in the sun and these were booked (by books) although rarely were many used. There were only a few on the promenade decks and I actually retreated to my room on some occasions a balcony is essential on this cruise line.
I finally gave up on the pretence when a Sommelier explained the finer merits of a bottle of wine that came out at 45$ which I had bought in Tesco for 6$ (£4.50) a few weeks previously. If you charge good prices at least give good product. Maybe the line has lost sight of its present cash generator in its rush to get its new cruise ship going but I was fed up of meeting people with a complaint that had been upset further by the ships attitude to it.
The cruise is poor in comparison to the other cruises that we have been on (double figures) except for the food and might just be 3 star for those in the lower class( Somebody we met actually said that it did not stand up to a Thompson Cruise). We enjoyed our holiday in spite of Oceania as we saw the places we wanted to see and they should be credited for that. We were invited to join some N. American friends(not on this cruise) on an Oceania cruise next year just prior to going on this one but we fortunately waited to see what this was like and have now said no and they will no doubt are having second thoughts. This line could offer so much and they get A for effort and Z for application. If they were not bringing on new ships I would honestly have thought they had money troubles such was the level of "Nickel and Diming" as some Americans put it. Seabourn may have been a better option and I doubt if it would be more expensive all in but Princess or any of the others are a much better bet. I wrote to the line but unsurprisingly have not had a reply. Less
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Cabin review: C1
Excellent cabin but unfortunately on this cruise it is essential to have a balcony as it is impossible to get a seat in the shade.