It was our second Oceania cruise, having traveled with them to the Baltic and Russia a few years ago -- and loved it. We were especially looking forward to visiting Israel and Egypt, as well as Greek and Turkish ports --our first cruise in the Mediterranean Sea . When Egypt was canceled from our itinerary because of the political problems, a lot of passengers apparently called off their trip -- and we were offered a reasonably priced upgrade to a suite with butler service.Wow --we jumped at the chance.
It did not start out well. We had prepaid out transfer from the Rome Airport to the ship -- but our name was not on the list. We bullied our way onto the bus anyway, promising to pay if there had been an error -- they finally let us, but made us carry our own luggage. A few days later we received a note from the pursers office that there had been a regrettable computer error which accidentally dropped out names from the listing, and they would credit our account. It should have come as no surprise, Oceania's computer set up leaves much to be desired. Their web site places a cookie that prevents further interaction after your first visit -- others on the ship told of the same problem. We booked all our shore excursions from home -- none were on record when we got on ship.
Our suite was very beautiful --essentially similar to a balcony stateroom but larger. A bottle of Champagne and a box of chocolates greeted us. The butler arrived, introduced himself and advised of us of what services were available. Eventually the thrill of a butler wore off, he kept wanting to do things for us we didn't want or need, and we found the butler service somewhat intrusive since he felt free to come into the room uninvited (the doors are heavy --sometimes you don't hear the knock) -- and by the end of our voyage did everything we could to avoid him. Once was nice, I don't think we would want that service again.
As always, the food aboard Oceania is excellent, well prepared, and served. We found that the menu in the main dinning room was not as opulent as it had been on our first Oceania cruise, but what was there was good. The specialty restaurants were both first-class also.
With one exception we were pleased with the shore excursions although they tend to be very pricey. The entertainment is as expected from a small ship -- the four person ensemble endlessly singing old songs and dancing around the stage multiple evenings, but there were some very excellent specialty acts aboard for the other nights.
My wife became ill on-board, and I can not praise enough the service of Doctor Gustavo Rojas (and his assistant) in his expertise of diagnosis, treatment, and the warm care given throughout. Doctor Rojas felt that the illness (Bronchial Pneumonia) was severe enough that my wife should be referred to an onshore hospital for further evaluation and possible admittance. The port was Messina, Italy, and their local agent who made the arrangements is Destefano Speciale & C. My wife was taken to the emergency room at Ospedale Piemonte. The place is shabby and dirty beyond description (furniture kept together with duct tape, the one and only toilet had no seat, no toilet paper, no paper or other towels, and hadn't been cleaned in days.) There was not one person in the entire facility who spoke English (or German or Spanish) -- we were left there for four hours without assistance from the agent or anyone from the ship, unable to communicate with anyone there in any way. I had a terrible fear that it would be necessary for my wife to stay in that facility -- I'm convinced she would have come out sicker than she went in. Fortunately, she was remanded back to ship for continued care by Dr. Rojas. Since communication was impossible as much for them as for us, I assume they were glad to get rid of us.
We are photographers and on a two week trip expect to take several thousand pictures -- so normally we carry with us a computer to download and process, and a portable hard drive store them. Because the literature promised a lap top computer in our suite, and a computer room with 18 of them -- we left our computer at home and just took the storage. To our horror we discovered on board that there is not a single computer accessible to a passenger with normal computer functions, only laptops so programmed to connect to the Internet and do absolutely nothing else. Even basic Windows functions are locked out. I spoke to the person manning the computer room and he confirmed that all 18 under his charge, as well as all others on board were totally useless except for Internet access (at horrific rates). This is outright false advertising.
I wrote the CEO of Oceania concerning some of these matters since to correct them would require corporate action, but the letter was never acknowledged, with only a note from 'customer services' that they would look into things and get back to us --which they have not.
While I have to point out negatives in a review so that potential passengers are aware of them, I want to state that overall the Oceania experience is a very pleasant one, service is superb, the ship is clean, comfortable, quiet, and the food good. This is a luxury experience -- are not bombarded with loud music or special offers for gold chain or souvenirs you don't really want.