Having cruised a number of times on Windstar, my wife and I were looking for a cruise to Alaska. Unfortunately Windstar did not go there, so we looked into other cruise lines.
We both prefer the smaller ships, so when we saw Oceania, and the small ship (650 passengers), the brochure looked great, actually over the top for us, but we thought, it will hold up to the standards that we were used to on Windstar.
My first issue had to do the the large number of emails I began receiving about 2 months prior to our cruise. They started how they had overbooked the cruise and they began by offering us discounts on another cruise. Then they started offering us discounts to change cabins to a lower level, and finally 2 days before we sailed they asked if I wanted to upgrade to a more expense cabin for a slight fee. I made three phone calls to the cruise line and asked to be taken off this list, they said they said that can't be done, it was an automatic email. I felt this was very poor. How can you overbook a cruise? Aren't you assigned a cabin number??
We received 'free' airfare with our booking and the flight times were convenient and on time. No issues here. Transfers from the airport and ship also were without incident.
Once on the ship, the registration process was horrible. It took us over an hour to get our room keys. They seemed very disorganized and more then few passengers were very upset. For such a small ship, they seemed like this was the first time they had done this process.
Once we received our keys, our room was not read yet, so we went to the Waves area to have a drink and get a bite to eat. I ordered a burger, my wife the same, we sat down at our table, and waited for something to drink. And we waited. Finally a waiter came over and took my wine order and my wife's ice tea order. And we waited. My wife was about half done with her food when her ice tea showed up. But no wine. I called over the bar manager and asked about my wine. He said it will be there soon. I informed him that I am almost one with my food. He went to check on my wine as I finished my burger. When he returned it was in a plastic wine glass. I am a certified sommelier, and never drink wine in plastic. I asked him why it was in a plastic glass. He said because we were near the pool. I pointed to my wife's ice tea GLASS and our water GLASSES and said then why aren't these in plastic? He had nothing to say. He then went and got me a wine glass and poured my wine into it.
A few minutes later the ships wine steward came out to talk to me, I asked about the plastic glass, and he also had no explanation why the drink I was paying for was in plastic, and the free drinks were in glass.
Later that evening, still our first day on the ship, we went to the Tapas on the Terrace for dinner, we ordered dinner, I asked for the wine list, our food came. No one came for our drink order. We waited, I looked around, saw many waiters talking to each other, not looking at the tables. We drank our water, finished our dinner, then a waiter came over and asked us what we wanted to drink. I laughed. Said you just lost a $100 wine order. We finished our dinner and left. I was very upset. I found the cellar master and told him of this issue as well. He promised he would make it better.
We had dinner in the Grand Dining room the next night, I ordered a bottle of wine, and the cellar master saw me an talked to the waiter and we had no issues that night with service.
Most of our breakfasts were eaten in the Terrace Cafe, and every morning we had issues with drink service. Coffee not being refilled, no one coming to check to see if we needed anything else. I watched three wait staff refill one napkin dispenser one breakfast. It was very entertaining. It became quite the entertainment every day to see if the poor service would get any better, it did not.
One interesting item of note, I guess Oceania prides it self on 'serving the customers', I was not even allowed to put catsup or mustard on my own burger. The people behind those glass counter held on tightly to the dispensers and HAD to dispense condiments on your food. I once grabbed a loose catsup bottle and brought it to table, it was quickly picked up and put back behind the counter.... Why couldn't the waiters move that fast when getting refills of ice tea?
We did have excellent service in the two 'fine dining rooms' the Toscana and Polo Grill. But getting a reservation for those two is interesting. We were allowed one each prior to our cruise, and received one at random one day. But every morning I would go the desk and ask about getting into one of those that night, and once they punched in my cabin number, there was no room. I felt as if there was a class rating for reservations depending upon your cabin number.
Room maintenance was good, it took a while to get the rooms made up each day, I am used to Windstars performance in this area, you can be gone from your room for 10 minutes and poof your room is picked up. Not with Oceania. This was just something we had to get used to. Not a big deal.
We did have an entertaining issue on night, my wife and I ordered room service and were enjoying dinner and a nice bottle of wine alone in our room and there was a knock at the door. Opened it and there was a couch in the hall way. A member of the maintenance staff said, we are here to change out your couch. I looked at my wife, we both smiled and laughed and said come on in, what else is going to happen here? They had to do it now? Not in a few days when we disembark?
The on board entertainment was typical cruise ship. We did however love the 4 piece string quartet. They were 4 young adults from the Ukraine that were amazing talents.
That being said, it was a nice vacation. He ship is beautiful, well maintained, the food was excellent. But for us the major issue was service. We had dinner at a diner the day after we got off the ship and were amazed that the service there was 100 times better than the Regatta. Our ice tea was refilled without hunting down a waiter, my drink came before my food was delivered.
It isn't that hard to have good customer service and be efficient. But the cruise we were on totally lacked that. We will not be cruising on Oceania again. We are already looking at upcoming Windstar cruises.