This was our first experience of Oceania Cruises and we were attracted by their claim to provide itinerary rich cruises with the best food and service at sea.
We were not disappointed with Marina, she is a beautiful ship with some wonderful rooms and very comfortable accommodation. Pity about the poor build quality, finishes and some lack of attention to detail.
The balcony cabin was very comfortable, although not much bigger than others. There was adequate storage and the bathroom worked fine for us. We did not make much use of the bath but neither did we have any real problems with the shower. It is compact but it has two shower heads and is easy to use. At least there is no curtain to fight off!
The food was well above the standard that we have experienced anywhere before in all areas except La Reserve. La Reserve was a disappointment when compared with all of the other dining venues. The Grand Dining Room was wonderful, more like a 5* restaurant than a cruise ship dining room. Red Ginger was exquisite, Jacques provides a wonderful dining experience, Polo Grill was very good but the service in Toscana was disappointing. Afternoon tea was a real treat with the white glove service and a very tasty selection of temptations. The pool side grill and the Terrace cafe raise the bar considerably. One real delight for us was the included quality freshly ground coffee at every dining venue and all bars. The free unlimited coffee, mineral waters and soft drinks add up to a sizable bill on most lines so this was a real value add.
With the exception of our Toscana experience, the accommodation and food and beverage staff were all exceptionally courteous and helpful, a real pleasure to engage with.
The Horizon Lounge was our favourite. The library and Barista's coffee bar were very well equipped and offered a great escape.
The deck space was very well managed with high quality furnishings, plenty of loungers and very attentive pool butlers keeping everything ship shape. There was never a problem getting a lounger and the freshly laundered covers and thick towels were very comfortable.
The entertainment was not great, but we did not expect it to be. The chef demonstrations were by far the best entertainment!
The Canyon Ranch Spa was wonderful both in terms of facilities and service.
The reception and Destinations staff were not anywhere near as accommodating and in general their answers were not helpful and they took a lot of prompting to resolve issues. This was particularly associated with the shuttle services which were provided at 2 of the ports with very long disorganised queues which caused some discomfort to some of the less able passengers. The quay side organisation was noticeable by its absence which at times was a little worrying from a security point of view. You cannot get away with blaming the port agent!
The shore excursions were a serious rip off and we did not use them. It was easy to venture ashore on your own in most ports and where tendering was achieved (we missed 2 ports through the sea conditions) it was very well organised.
Guernsey is another old favourite and it was a great pleasure to spend some time in St Peters Port.
We took the best value for money island tour ever - 1.5 hour round island tour on the number 7 bus, all for £1!!! And they leave every 20 minutes.
St Malo is a wonderful city that we have visited a number of times before but a wonderfull sunny day and time to stroll the city walls and beaches was followed by a very enjoyable lunch.
La Rochelle had not captivated us in the past but a very well run shuttle service gave us plenty of time to explore the old town and harbour on foot. Another vey enjoyable day.
La Verdon for Bordeaux. This place is isolated at the end of a peninsula with very little to do and miles from anywhere. A waste of a day, especially as it rained most of the day.
Santander in Spain was a real joy. We were berthed right in the centre of the city, the location of which is spectacular.
Overall we felt that Marina was a much nicer size than the former "R" ships and it provided a very comfortable cruise. At the price that we paid and with $1,000 on board credit is was also good value. At full price it would probably not compare in terms of value for money with the excellent rounded experience provided by Celebrity, but at the right price, we will be back on Marina or Riviera.