We flew out of LAX on 12/9/11 non stop into Miami Int'l Airport. We stayed overnight in the downtown Courtyard Marriott. Hotel was convenient - a $25 cab ride from the airport and the next day a $5 per person van ride to the cruise terminal. Hotel was OK - a little worn around the edges but clean and a friendly/helpful staff.
Embarkation at the cruise terminal was a nightmare. The worst experience we have ever encountered. Long lines of passengers disembarking and waiting for transportation and long lines of new passenger waiting to get through the door to check in. No organization what so ever by Oceania - no signs, specified lines to check it etc.............The reason for all the confusion and turmoil was because Immigration did not clear the ship until after 11AM and Oceania did not have the check in set up on time etc..............New passengers are told in their documents to arrive at the terminal after 3PM - well passengers were waiting in line starting approx 10AM and thus caused more confusion and congestion. We received a letter from the Captain once on board apologizing for this situation.
Once on board the 12 days was terrific. The cabin was very nice (ours had an extended/larger balcony) the bedding and amenities were first class and comfortable. Our cabin attendants were without question the most friendly and efficient we have had. Wonderful, welcoming people. The shower is very small and took some getting used to. The bathroom itself had a separate bathtub and there was plenty of room.
Our experience with the dining was great. The main dining room food was very good and the presentations and service was fine - a very beautiful room and overseen by attentive bus boys, waiters, and the captains. They were there to please you. We ate in all 4 of the specialty dining rooms and agree that the food was wonderful and services and choices were fine. We especially enjoyed the Red Ginger and the Italian restaurant - the Polo Restaurant and the French Restaurant, Jacques was just OK. There was no separate service charge for any of the 4 speciality restaurants. That in itself was a nice option since so many of the other cruise lines charge extra to dine in their specialty restaurants.
The buffet served breakfast, lunch and dinner and was really great for a serve yourself buffet - many choices of foods at every meal and always someone to help you to your table. The out door Grill served some of the best hamburgers and sandwich's of any cruise ship - also a nice ice cream bar, making malts, shakes etc...............
The entertainment was just OK. One of the issues for many passengers is that the main show started in the evenings at 9:45PM and that was late for them. The ship should consider having an early show and a late show.
Another "challenge" that needs to be addressed is at the reception desk, especially in the evenings. The staff on duty is not very responsive and not very friendly. We had a problem with our cabin door locked - it did not work and I had to go back and down to the reception 3 times to get some attention and there was never a follow up. They kept telling me they had given me a new key and it should work - but it did not because the complete door housing had to be taken out, new batteries installed etc...by 11PM that evening it could not be fixed - if we had to leave the cabin we could not get back in! No follow up or help from the evening reception staff. Very frustrating.
One of the major complaints was that the Internet either did not work well and was extremely slow when it did work. Also the Internet was very expensive for the packages (and also per minute)and that made it even more frustrating waiting for it to come up, writing and reading emails etc............the company needs to go over the wiring system again and try to fix it.
As far as the ports go and the tours - tours were very expensive on this cruise compared to many we have been on. The majority of the ports we were in we received warnings in writing in the daily on board cruise notes and verbally to be extremely careful and vigilant when going into the towns - no jewelery, stick with a group and be aware of children surrounding you since there had been a lot of pick pocketing going on. Going on a tour was much safer then walking along from the port to the city and around the cities.
Disembarkation was a breeze. Started at 8AM and was extremely organized getting off and procuring your luggage and getting a cab. The cab ride to Miami Int'l was a flat fee of $25 and approx 15 minutes. The ship provided a bus service from the terminal to the airport but it was fairly expensive a approx $69 per person.
In closing this was one of the best ships we have cruised on. The crew went out of it's way to make you feel welcomed and at home. The food was excellent. The ship was beautiful.