Oceania Cruises M/S Nautica Athens to Dubai Review
How many ways can one cruise go wrong? Theoretically, an infinite number, but ours fell just slightly short. To coin a word, the "lowlights" consisted of the following:
A cruise director who never did much more than read from "Currents" - the daily ship's information paper. His bearing, manner, monotone delivery and overall personality were dull, uninspiring and impersonal to the point of detachment. If it is his job to set the tone, he was successful in that every day we heard it- the kind of dull thud that could only be
a bell without a clapper being struck by a toy doll's head wrapped in a towel. To avoid him, one would have to turn off the TV- because he appeared at too many times, just after a far too loud NBC-type chime. But that was not much of a sacrifice- the TV offerings- including the DVD library were years out of date, and all 6 news shows were about as good as each other- which was not very. One could try to seek refuge in the library, if one could find one recent novel from hundreds of ancient ones and cast-offs from departed guests.
The room staff was good, but the wait-staff seemed poorly organized. Often, I had to have my order brought to me by a second waiter. I have the feeling that the seasoned staff was transferred to Oceania's new ship, the The Marina, leaving Nautica with a bunch of newbies. So many different people asked me if I wanted fresh-ground pepper at the same meals, that I considered getting it as an entre'! In any event, all the food (which was good) could be washed down with beer and wine offered ala carte. (Azamara Cruises gives all the ber and wine you want free).
The onboard "entertainment" which was all the ship offered during the extremely lengthy stretches at sea, consisted of not much more than the old standbys of shuffleboard, bingo, pingpong, putting contests,needlepoint and flower making and a few other less-than stellar offerings. Nighttime entertainment fared little better- the ships band didn't make it to high-school quality, and the "shows" were all amateurish to a high degree. A magician performed, but all his tricks were off-the-rack old standbys. (The cut-and-restored idiot could have been used, but I don't believe the Cruise Director had the intelligence to participate). Thankfully, there was no art auction with dr's office junk. The casino was small but probably adequate for the few who used it. There was one lecturer on world history whio was quite good - for those who enjoy this sort of thing.
The pianist played nightly, and was fine if you enjoy upgraded elevator music.
All drinks and wine when purchased, had an 18% gratuity was added to their already inflated costs. An flat $20 corkage fee applied to any alcohol brought aboard for personal consumption in public areas.
The daily "gratuity" for the staff was an automatic $27 per day per couple
Upon questioning the staff, I was told that it was not a gratuity, but in fact was their actual salary! I had independent corroboration of this from 3 different staffers. Of course, the Concierge claimed everyone had a base salary. I believe he was talking about room and board. But then, given his demeanor, I think the Israelis missed him when they captured Eichmann.
Excursions deserve a special treatment here. The ideal epithet-given the penny-pinching attitude of this cruiseline toward it's guests, would be "sewage disposal" . In all our years of travel, we have never seen such poor planning or treatment of guests. After touring the Holocaust Museum and having a buffet-style lunch, we were bussed to a commercial diamond store with probable kick-back ties to Oceania, where we were forced to spend upwards of an hour of our precious time. We were then taken to the old section where we made about a 100 yard loop, while our self-absorbed guide wasted our time with historical minutiae of no interest. We could have shopped and seen much more during this utter waste.
Other excursions (some of which exceeded $800 for one day for 2) included Petra (a high-point); Dubai by bus with high tea at a 5 star hotel and a trip in Israel to Masada and the Dead Sea where we could float away some of our general dissatisfaction with this over-priced (total with excursions, base costs and "gratuities was near $1000/day for 2) rip-off.
Final word: AVOID Oceania at all costs and use Azamara instead if you like smaller ships. Or at least, use any other line (except Carnival). You will at least get most of your money's worth.