A few of weeks have elapsed since we disembarked m/v Marina with a nostalgic view of the White Cliffs of Dover, marking the end of a wonderful voyage, "The Route of the Vikings." This was our fourth "O" experience so our review is, in some areas, a comparative one with the line's "R" vessels. We have sailed on many cruises over the past 40 years, both main line and luxury, so feel very qualified to present this review. This voyage represented the first part of a celebration of our diamond wedding, (60 years). We have some mobility issues but are not dependant on walking aides.
Our air transportation to Copenhagen and return from LHR was arranged by "O" with extensions on both ends. Their arrangements were very convenient and well planned.
On our arrival at the dock in Copenhagen at the suggested boarding time, we were greeted with a smile by "O" baggage handlers; our cases quickly unloaded from the taxi and were promptly given directions to a pathway which led to a desk where we were given numbered tickets representing the order in which we would be escorted to the registration desks. After waiting about 10 minutes in the tented area our number was called. After a short wait we were directed to one of the many computer stations where all the formalities of registration were quickly accomplished.
The first challenge we faced was the boarding ramp. At a 40-45° angle this was to prove a little difficult for us to navigate. Crew quickly took our carry-on baggage and assisted us to ascend the ramp. As has been suggested in a previous review of Marina, why is there not a boarding ramp to deck 4 for those with mobility challenges?
As soon as we boarded and were greeted with the always smiling faces of the welcoming crew we were directed to the Terrace Cafe on deck 12. A sumptuous buffet awaited us, served by staff who welcomed us to the ship. A short time after eating a PA announcement advised us our room on deck 9, an A3 concierge stateroom close to the aft elevator which gave us easy access to the main restaurants, was ready for us.
Our room seemed a little larger than a comparative stateroom on the "R" ships with a larger balcony. (Unfortunately not to be used too many times on this voyage.) There was ample storage for hanging garments but the design of the drawers we thought was a little strange. Their shapes were not really conducive to storing folded garments.
We were able to use the shower with no problem, loved the water wand and the rain shower head was really nice. Our only complaint was the soap dish. You would think that having spent $1/2B on designing and building this beautiful ship the designers of the soap dishes could devise one which actually holds the soap. As soon as the bar of soap had been used a few times it fell through the front of the container! In comparison to the "R" ships, the bathroom is a great improvement but, because of the wasted space for the tub and the lousy soap dish design, only a B rating.
We had the opportunity of dining in all 4 of the specialty restaurants, the GDR, the Terrace and Waves. We were of the opinion that the offerings in the GDR were not as varied as we remember from previous voyages on the "R" ships and on several nights we opted for the very wide offerings in the Terrace restaurant which we rated as excellent in all respects, food, service, (assistance in carrying one's plate from the buffet to the table,) and friendly placement of tables enabling, if desired, conversation with nearby fellow cruisers. As food is such a subjective topic all we can say that except for an overcooked filet steak in Polo and two undercooked veal chops in Toscanna, (very quickly and with apology replaced,) our gastronomic experience aboard Marina we would rate an A.
As usual, aboard Oceania ships we were not at all impressed by the entertainment. Having third rate vaudeville acts from the Ukraine just doesn't make it. The boys and girls of the song and dance team, rather overdressed for the occasions that they performed, (too many times, IMHO) did a credible job but many US HS groups could have performed equally. Again, a subjective opinion is the ever-present "O" string quartet. In our opinion not the sort of music we either enjoy or find necessary on a luxury cruise. We will give the orchestra an A rating. They provided a good dance tempo for the several of us who enjoyed their sessions and supported the rest of the shows very well.
The destinations on this cold weather cruise were excellent for viewing some spectacular scenery and visiting some interesting ports in N. Europe. Thanks to fellow passenger, David Ribnick, (a self acclaimed weather guru,) whose influence with the weather gave us sunny skies, calm seas and dry conditions on 80% of the cruise. Apart from the Flam train excursion, we planned private tours at most destinations and had several CC members join us. We were most fortunate that all of these tours, eagerly anticipated by both us and our new friends, proved to be more than expected. There is a considerable monitory saving in pre-planning these excursions over the ship sponsored ones. Together with the personal attention of excellent guides, easier access to vehicles, more flexibility of destinations there is the opportunity to discuss local issues with the guides. In the ports we had shared tours, all the guides were local people who knew the territory well.
The destination was also the ship itself. Looking at pictures of the beautiful Marina it looked awfully large as compared with the "R" ships with a pax load almost twice as large. We were pleasantly surprised at the lack of crowds in any location, (with the exception of the Terrace at lunch on one sea day.) We had especially reserved a stateroom close to the aft elevators so we were in easy walking distance to dining areas. Yes, at times the elevators gave some frustration but no more than usual. The washing machines were available each time we needed to use them. We were always able to get the dining accommodation we sought with no waiting; extra specialty restaurant reservations from the very accommodating restaurant concierge in the main lobby and seating in the show room with no problem. Disembarkation was a breeze with no crowding or rushing. All in all the ship's planners did a good job in eliminating crowed areas.
The key question! Would we want to cruise aboard the Marina again? Yes, yes, yes! How does it compare with the "R" ships? It's newer, it has more facilities to offer, but whenever we have the opportunity to sail on "O" it will depend on the destinations not the ship. We will recommend them to our friends and our recommendation will be unconditional.