We booked this cruise using an internet travel agency we have used before approximately 14 months before departure. At that time, it included Israel and Egypt. In April of 2011, the schedule was changed to avoid Egypt and it changed the dates of the Israeli visit. We thought about cancelling and, to be fair, Oceania offered us a full refund or credit if we did. Instead, we stayed with it, although disappointed, because we had blocked out the time and had pre-paid our pre and post cruise travel. We were not offered any credit or upgrade. We later found out others had received some consideration for not cancelling and the prices were dramatically reduced for later booking passengers. With that as background, I will say that the Marina and its crew met all expectations.
The embarkation in Istanbul was efficient and we had our luggage delivered to our room within an hour. The room was sparkling clean and kept that way throughout the cruise. Like others, we thought the bath tub was a waste of space and the shower a little too compact.
The food was, no doubt, the highlight on board. We had outstanding meals at all the specialty restaurants, except Jacques. The Escargots, Frog's legs appetizer and Duck were served in a different manner from what we were used to and left us disappointed. The dinner buffet was vastly superior to any other buffet we have experienced, including unlimited lobster tails every night. The main dining room was more than adequate, but not that much superior to other, less classy cruise lines.
The entertainment was limited and never crowded. We would have preferred a more lively piano bar and the dance band playing beyond 10:30 each night. The show started at 9:30 and ended right about 10:30 so if you ate dinner at 7 or 8, there was no time to get to the dance floor. The stage entertainment was similar to other cruise line fare.
We booked all private tours on-line before we left so we can't comment on the quality of the Oceania tours. But the cost was about half the Oceania tours, with smaller groups and knowledgeable guides we could actually hear. However, when the cruise dates changed, it put us into Haifa on a Saturday morning, Sabbath, and some of the Jewish sites were closed. Don't know whether this was an oversight on Oceania's part or unavoidable. Plus, we were switched from Kusadasi to Izmir at the last moment, making our trip to Ephesus about an hour longer each way.
The things we really noticed and appreciated were the absence of nickel and diming and uninvited solicitation. All bottled water and specialty coffees were free, the towels for shore excursions were freely available and the waiters and waitresses in the bars, pools and lounges only responded to passenger interest.
Disembarkation in Athens was efficient and we were in Syntagma at our hotel within 45 minutes of walking off the ship. All in all, we were pretty happy with the quality of the cruise and will look to Oceania again. However, it will be a port specific cruise, given the paucity of entertainment options, and a last minute booking to avoid the changes in ports and pricing that we experienced.