I've spent years trying to convince my husband to take a cruise. With our 20th wedding anniversary approaching, I finally put down my foot and told him we WOULD take a cruise to celebrate. I was concerned that 10 nights was too long for his first cruise experience, but HE LOVED IT! We agree that this was the best vacation either of us has ever had.
We are both highly critical of what passes for customer service these days but found this experience to be as close to perfection as humanly possible.
There were about 650 passengers from 6 nations; almost 400 crew members from 41 nations -- the various accents blended into a beautiful symphony. With so few people on board, you got to know other passengers and the staff. My husband had promised to get to know the bartenders by name before the cruise was over -- a goal that only took 2 or 3 days to accomplish! It wasn't long before he'd enter a bar and hear "Mr. B, Heinecken or Jack Daniels today, sir?"
Afternoon tea was accompanied by a string quartet; happy hour enhanced by a pianist.
The Grand Dining Room was just that -- grand. Service was impeccable in all of the restaurants. The food was awesome; drinks were generous; and, as to desserts, let me just say that I had more than a few "When Harry Met Sally" moments with the desserts!
The Canyon Ranch Spa is wonderful -- I got in twice on short notice. Melanie from Jamaica gave me the best-looking french pedicure I've ever had.
The swimming pool was nice, although bigger would be better. Lots of deck chairs supplied with clean beach towels and bolsters, bartenders "aplenty" and daily drink specials.
There is a fitness center inside, as well as an outdoor walking/jogging track.
There were many activities for those who wish to participate: Daily Trivia contests, putting and ping pong competition, bridge, etc. There were shore excursions that required almost no physical exertion as well as excursions that were very physical. I took two excursions that were among the best experiences of my life: the dolphin encounter on Roatan and the airboat adventure in Belize.
There were some guest lecturers aboard, most notably Terry Bishop whose presentations are enthralling. Leslie Stabile, who makes beautiful jewelry from sea glass, was aboard sharing her passion and art with the guests.
There was a food preparation presentation, wine tasting, scotch tasting and martini tasting.
There were almost no children, which is one of the reasons we chose this cruise line. The demographic is older retired frequent "cruisers," most of whom are Oceania regulars. I disagree, however, with the review that said there were no apre-dinner activities. The shows didn't begin until 9:00 PM; with entertainment scheduled for 9, 9:30 and 9:45. There was music and dancing on the deck beginning at 10:00 PM on at least two occasions.
On the down side:
I have no idea why Oceania chose Puerto Santo Thomas Castilla as a port of call. UGH
It would have been nice if we had been told that purchases made aboard the ship should be declared. I purchased jewelry but did not declare it thinking "abroad" meant "in a foreign country." I didn't realize that "abroad" includes purchases made aboard the ship -- which caused an issue when we went through customs. This could be rectified by printing a NOTICE on the ship's sales receipts, and by staff informing guests when they make a large purchase.
My husband has not quit raving about the fabulous service and this awesome experience. We look forward to cruising with Oceania again -- I can't imagine we'll even consider any other cruise line.