Oceania is a beautiful ship. Great dark colored wood everywhere, clean all the time, bright colored carpets and wall treatments. I am no interior decorator, but the combinations of materials and lighting make it a great place to spend 12 days.
We stayed in cabin 4044, an exterior cabin without a veranda. It was toward the rear of the ship and fairly close to the "lobby", where the reception desk and shore excursion desk was.
Deck 5 was convenient -â€“ both for the Grand Dining Bar and Room (aft) and the Regatta Lounge (fore). In the middle were the casino, the Martinis bar, the boutiques (two of them) and the Oceania Club Ambassador (for exploring and booking future Oceania trips).
Decks 6 through 8 were cabins.
Deck 9 had the Canyon Ranch Spa and workout room, the card room and Oceania@Sea (computer room) at the front of the ship and Terraces cafÃ© at the rear. Waves (burgers during the day) and Waves bar were also aft.
The small pool and two whirlpools were mid-ship, and the flooring was a wonderful wood with many deck chairs, including double wide chairs, present.
Deck 10 had the Horizons lounge and bar (fore) and the library, Polo and Toscana restaurants aft. Deck 10 also had a running/walking track.
From Deck 10, there were stairs leading to Deck 11 (fore), where the putting green, shuffleboard, golf "range" (netting) and "cabanas" could be found.
Our cruise documents indicated we could embark at 3 pm, but we arrived around 1:15 and were on board with no issues by 1:45. We weren't allowed in our room until around 4:15 -â€“ and we didn't see our luggage until about 5:30.
I brought wine on board (roughly a bottle for each night) as we are connoisseurs and were comfortable paying the $20 corkage fee for the privilege of drinking our own wines. All the restaurants were welcoming with the wine and we had no issues.
Polo Grill: Our favorite place to eat. We were travelling with friends who were on the 8th floor and had greater access. We ate there three times, including the first night. Standout dishes were the lobster bisque, the steamed lobster and the pancetta wrapped veal.
Toscana: Our least favorite place to eat. A huge disappointment. The olive oil options were poorly presented and I was left wondering which of the items in the bread basket were really suitable for dipping. On our second (and last) visit, I asked for more baguette type bread. The angel hair pasta (Vulcano) was fantastic -â€“ and I had it both times. Everything else was hit and miss. The lobster risotto had no flavor at all, which I found hard to believe. The lobster diavolo was also very disappointing. The service was also very spotty. I asked about the caviar appetizer that was being served in the Grand Dining Room one night. After a few minutes, I was told that they could probably get it if I really wanted it. Not sure what purpose that served. Tell me yes -â€“ or tell me no. That's all I wanted. The executive chef of Regatta is Italian, which makes our experience all the more surprising.
Waves Grill: Had a mahi-mahi sandwich there one day -â€“ excellent. Also a good spot for excellent malts. Smoothies were no big deal.
Terraces: Ate here a number of times for all meals. I'm not sure why it's marketed as something special in the evening -â€“ it just seemed like another buffet type option. Very good pizza at lunch always, as was sushi at dinner. It was pretty crowded at breakfast and lunch, as the only other significant option was the formal grand dining room. Found the most "volatile" staff here, as it may also be the most stressful. Had some great service, and some that was okay and some attitudes that were just poor. Loved the cappuccino and espresso machine - great coffee.
Grand Dining Room: No complaints. Some great dishes -â€“ salad Nicoise with Halibut was fantastic. Breakfasts were very good -â€“ if feeling a bit formal for our taste. Had dinner a couple of times, good attentive service, but never quite personal. Standoff-ish might be a good way of putting it.
Newport -â€“ scheduled from 8 am to 11 pm. Cut to leaving at 8 pm without any explanation. Cloudy misty morning. We did the Cliff Walk, ate at Black Pearl, went to Newport Winery, walked around Harborfest, had the best lobster roll of the trip at Brick Alley Pub.
Rockland/Camden - rented a car to take us to Camden. Hiked up to Mount Battie but saw nothing due to cloudy/misty weather. Ate lobster roll at Mariner's (great) and then went back to Rockland. Visited the Farnsworth Museum (good) and tried another lobster roll at Waterworks Pub (ok)
Bar Harbor - did tour with Acadia National Park Tours. Great tour - but alas - rain and cloudy weather prevented us from seeing the best. Had popovers at Jordan Pond house. Lobster rolls at Dog & Pony (good), Thirsty Whale (good), West St. Cafe (pretty good) and Stewman's (2nd best of the trip).
St. John - had to skip because of bad weather.
Halifax - rented car and drove to Lunenberg. Fun place to visit but very cold that day. Stopped by Peggy's Cove on the way back.
Sydney - waste of a day. 6 hours - which is really not enough time to get anywhere - because there's nothing to do in Sydney. Best part of the day was using the free Skype at the port terminal to talk with daughters back home.
Charlottetown - rented a car and drove around the central part of the island. Had great fresh Oysters at Carr's Oyster bar in Stanley Bridge.
Corner Brook - did our only ship's excursion here. Two hours in a school bus with a driver who didn't know where he was going and a tour guide who drove us around to waste the last half hour. Not worth it. We cancelled our Quebec City trip based on this experience.
Quebec City - hired taxi to take us to St. Ann Gorge. Beautiful - loved it. Spent the rest of the day walking around the beautiful city.
Montreal - signed up for cruise ship tour to take us from port to the airport with some sightseeing. Great bus, great tour guide, a little short of the time promised - but good in general.
Life on Board the ship:
We were at port many days, but the three full days at sea had nice options. We played bridge (duplicate), went to the cooking demonstrations (very fun), went to the casino (poker and blackjack), and did wine, scotch and vodka tastings. There was also a coffee tasting offered - but at a price ($9 or so). Seemed a little miserly to be charging anything for it. Perhaps it's just to make sure people are serious to show up.
Main concerns with going again:
Itinerary changes - a number of ports had 1-2 hours cut off prior to the trip, plus Newport cut 3 hours short on the day before the trip. Without explanation, this is unforgivable.
Excursion quality - very pricey as a general rule. $85 just to ride a bus for 2 hours had better be extremely good. It was not.
Service attitude - If there are issues going on behind the scenes - we don't need to know about them. My wife brought a bottle of wine to dinner and was told what food she would have to eat with it by the sommelier. If asked for help - fine, but please don't patronize.
Internet cost - horrible. Enough said.
Laundry facilities - unusable due to crowding. Enough said.
Horizons was sometimes unavailable to private parties. There should always be a place for non-party goers to relax before dinner.
Reasons I was impressed:
Head wine person was great. Some excellent servers in the bar - particularly the Waves Bar and Martini Bar.
Beautiful ship - loved the wood and the size.
Some great friendly people.
Spa - good workout facility and great salt-therapy pool.
Afternoon tea - lots of fun.