This was a very special cruise for us; we were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary, which obviously puts us in the age group where you celebrate one of those :) This was the longest cruise we've ever sailed plus our first on Oceania. I, however, have sailed many many times before on many different cruise lines. Hubby has only been on a handful of cruises.
Disclaimer: Yes, I work here at Cruise Critic, but this was totally a vacation for us. My opinions do not reflect the view of our company in any way.
This was a very port-intensive sailing. 13 ports in 12 days, if you include our embarkation port of Rome. There were no seadays on this sailing.
We had a direct flight from Newark International to Rome (FCO) which arrived on time at 7:25am. It was a quick pickup of our luggage and we were on our way We spent the better part of the day in Rome sightseeing, and arrived at the port of Civitavecchia at 4 pm. I found check-in very unusual. We were ushered through the port terminal, and directly onto the ship. It was in the Marina Lounge where we were officially "checked into" our cruise and received our Oceania World card.
We were in stateroom 10081, a Concierge category verandah on Deck 10. This location was very close to the aft elevators, which is my preferred location on ANY ship. I definitely liked the overall styling of the stateroom. The champagne/beige/blue colors paired with the dark woods of the furniture were very soothing and classy. The beds, as reported by many, were extremely comfortable. I also thought the couch in the room was the most comfortable seating on board this ship for a short person. Ditto the desk chair. (If I could have dragged that desk chair everywhere I'd be one happy camper. More about being a short person on Marina later). There was plenty of storage for our clothing (and I'm an overpacker), but mostly because I choose to hang the majority of what we wear. The drawers in the desk area are really useless for clothing other than socks etc. They are not deep enough or they don't pull out far enough. Plus, the drawers near the closet must be for the Jolly Green Giant -- the top two (and the safe as well) required my husband to access. (Again, more about being a short person on Marina later in this review.)
The bathroom is everything you've heard. Marble everywhere, spacious, lovely tub and amenities. Nice fixtures in the shower -- but don't dare drop anything! You'll have to open the door to be able to bend down! Also, there was discussion on board about an outlet in the bathroom. There is one -- simply remove the nightlight. The bathroom gets very foggy during a hot shower. If there was a fan we were never able to locate the switch to turn it on.
We used our balcony a great deal on this sailing. The weather was just lovely (12 days of warm sunshine -- I kid you not). Evenings were balmy; the balcony furniture is extremely comfortable.
Other amenities: Hairdryer, shoeshine kit, shoehorn, sewing kit, umbrella (golf sized), robes, slippers, "pashmina-type" shawl, mini-bar, Bvlgari soaps, shampoos and lotions, shower cap, "amenity kit", bath salts, clock, safe, and laptop (which never worked once on this sailing).
One word: stunningly beautiful. OK, that's two words and this ship deserves that and much more. I loved the colors, the opulence and the overall "feel" of just about every venue on board. From the decor in the specialty restaurants right down to the interior of the elevators --you can see the attention to detail in selection of products, fabrics and furnishings. The Concierge Lounge on Deck 9 was especially lovely -- very traditional and bright. You'd swear there was outside natural sunlight here! I know the ship is only a few months old, but that's more than enough time for disrepair to set in but you won't find it here! Go ahead -- poke around drapes (a notorious spot for collection of dust and such) -- you'll find nothing. No spills on the carpeting outside the Terrace Cafe, not a one. They are taking spectacular care of this vessel.
One of my favorite places was the outdoor seating area of the Terrace Cafe. I absolutely love to eat outside on cruise ships! The weather was just perfect for this on our sailing -- even at night. Warm, balmy and calm.
Very friendly and attentive staff the majority of the time, no matter what you ask for or where you are, with one exception I'll get to shortly. I'll admit to being a bit "gunshy" in the Terrace Cafe with regard to the attention lavished on guests. There are so many staffers there -- perhaps just over the top a bit -- I made a game of catching the waiters watching so closely for that last morsel to enter your mouth so they can take your plate! I quickly became accustomed to not serving myself at the buffet but still would rather take my own portions. Our stateroom attendants were very thorough and any request was quickly accomplished. Mind you, we aren't very needy cruisers at all. I think the only thing we asked for was a lighter blanket for the bed! Still they were very pleasant all the time. The one exception was the Destination Services staff. They seemed to disappear when port disembarkation started -- and seemed disinterested whenever asked any question. It really was a mystery, because the entire ship's personnel is totally the opposite!
Special note about the young gentleman who works in the Internet cafÃ©. He has the patience of a saint. The internet service was pretty dismal -- wifi never worked in the staterooms or anywhere else on board that I tried. This young man -- faced with passengers who were annoyed by the slow access PLUS many of them seemed to be in the early stages of a learning curve re: all things email or computer -- handled it all with a smile and grace. I think expectations regarding internet speed could be clarified. I overhead more than one passenger state they were promised 'high-speed internet access". That just doesn't exist on any cruise line, and I tried to find one word of promotional material that states as such but could not, so there's a bit of misinformation out there somewhere!
A funny service conversation I overhead: "I'm irritated that they haven't replaced the lotion in my bath. My skin is VERY dry and I need it." Hmm. A couple of thoughts ran through my mind, I'll let you let them run through yours!
I'll start off by saying we are not main dining room types. We did venture in twice -- once for regular dinner service and again for their Grand Brunch. The brunch started at 9am, and I could not find one egg on the buffet. There were lots of fishy-salad creations and other items not normally associated with a brunch. Based on my experiences elsewhere on the ship, I really thought I'd find staff making fresh waffles, omelets, eggs, etc. If you wanted any of that, you had to order them off the menu. I enjoyed what I ate in the MDR but once was enough.
The Terrace Cafe, and Waves Grill, are simply outstanding venues. Best I've ever experienced on a cruise line. Standouts in the Terrace Cafe: handmade sushi, nightly cheese selections, hot appetizers, freshly made ice cream and of course the grill area in Terrace Cafe. We loved being able to select just about any type of meat or the nightly fish and have it cooked to our specifications. My husband really enjoyed the lamb chops and ordered them many nights. Lobster tails, swordfish, grilled shrimp and filet mignon (medium please!) were my favorites. Another fave is the nightly pasta creation, made fresh while you wait. I think most popular was the night they had fresh-carved turkey with all the fixings. Turkey after turkey came out -- and it was one of the few times there was a line at the carving station. It was simple, perfectly-cooked, delicious food that I think everyone appreciated after being on board for 9 days or so!
I also have to rave about Waves Grill. The sandwiches, the burgers, the steak fries -- all cooked to order -- outstanding! You choose a numbered table, and go up and place your order. While you are waiting for your food to be delivered, you can start with a small, freshly made salad. Perfect! This venue was very popular. We loved it. Hubby and I argue over which is the best sandwich -- the Cubano or the Reuben. Try them both!
The Specialty Dining Venues
We tried three of them: Toscano, Polo Grill and Red Ginger. I really enjoyed Toscano, hubby liked Red Ginger. The "surprises" during the Red Ginger service makes it a "must". Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling well for our Red Ginger dinner -- hubby made up for it though! The miso-glazed swordfish was excellent, I ordered the Lobster Pad Thai and it was tasty -- hubby finished it for me. The breads and olive oil starters in Toscano are right up my alley. The minestrone soup tasted just like my grandfather used to make (he was an Italian cook). We both shared the lasagna. Great meal! Polo Grill reminded me of an upscale steak house. All meats were prepared as ordered, and the service was excellent -- in all venues.
Activities & Entertainment
Since every single day was a port day, we really didn't have any time for daytime activities, and to be truthful we were so tired after dinner -- we opted for a stroll on board before retiring and that was it. We often heard the "band" playing on deck at times. On a beautiful sunny day by the pool, they were playing -- When the Saints Come Marching In -- at least three times in a row. A nice touch were the outdoor movies set up by the pool, fresh popcorn and all! One night, it was Mama Mia (Corfu night I believe) On another night -- The Godfather -- while we were in Sicily.
The Culinary Center
I booked this for myself. The class I took was called 'Pizza With a Twist". It was very popular, and "standing room only" for my class. They did let some people who weren't able to book to just observe. If they would have only just observed, it would have been appreciated. They were noisy and getting in our way.
The culinary center, by the way, Is well-equipped and very nice. Stainless and granite throughout. Excellent sound system, etc. I was looking forward to this class -- I've always want to learn how to make pizza dough! But, that wasn't to be. We were all given pre-made dough. And then were coached through the steps to make three different kinds of pizza. Everything was pre-chopped for us -- there was no cooking or food preparation involved. Once we rolled out our pre-made dough, we queued up and put on the toppings. They took the mini-pizzas from us, and baked them. Everything came out overcooked, for the most part. Still, it was fun and I'd try it again.
Shops & Casino
The shops are very nice with a great selection of high end goods. Not your typical cruise trinkets, although I was able to buy a mug for my son and a magnet for my collection. I almost think I caught a slight eyeroll from the staffer when I brought up my purchases! It was funny! We walked through the casino a few times but did not make a deposit on this trip. I did enjoy the look and feel, very tasteful!
Demographics - The demographics on this cruise were different than any other I've ever experienced: very upscale and full of folks who have the time to sail for 12+ days and the pocketbook to pay for it! We met some great people and to be honest we truly enjoyed the low-key atmosphere on board. There were many many nationalities -- lots of foreign languages being spoken.
Oceania does a great job with their onboard communications It did take me awhile to figure out that you needed to put the TV on a certain channel in order to listen in on the daily announcements from the Cruise Director and Captain! We kept sticking our heads out into the hallway!
Seating/Sofas/Chairs -- Whomever selected the seating on board must be REALLY tall. With the exception of the seating in our stateroom, every venue had very uncomfortable chairs for short people. I'm 5 feet tall (ok, I'm lying I'm actually a bit shorter than that), and if I sat back on any of these chairs my feet would be sticking out straight in front of me. If I kept my feet on the floor, I'd be a foot away from the back of the chair.
Internet Cafe -- Because of my job, I often find myself in the Internet Cafe. As I mentioned, the WiFi just didn't work, perhaps the ship is just too well-built! I dragged my iPad around with me everywhere for the first day or so, and kept trying to access from different areas on the ship. The connection in the cafe is just like most cruise ships, is very very slow. And very expensive. One thing I noticed is that they have links to online "communities" on their portal -- I'd like to suggest they include Cruise Critic! (hint hint).
Resort Casual -- This is a hit, especially with my husband. I didn't miss formal night(s) at all. Everyone dressed very nicely on this ship, more like what you'd wear to an upscale country club. Many men wore jackets to dinner in the dining venues; I saw virtually no jeans at dinner anywhere.
A Word About Our Roll Call
I'm probably biased but one of the best things about Cruise Critic is our ROLL CALL feature on the message boards, where you can meet your fellow cruisers before you sail -- and perhaps set up a meeting on board or maybe even share a few shore excursions. We met some great Cruise Critic members on board this sailing, and did, in fact, end up sharing some shore excursions with them. This made all the difference in our cruising experience; both on board and on land. I really recommend that everyone participate in your ship's ROLL CALL for your sailing; you'll be glad you did!
We absolutely loved our cruise on Oceania Marina! She's a show-stopper! My husband still talks about the ship, and that almost never happens. As I mentioned, he's been on a few cruises, but never has he said he'd like to go on a specific ship, and he has said that numerous times about Marina! So, ok, I may have picked on the chairs a teeny bit (and for good measure I had to add my vote on the small showers) but really -- you'd have to with a microscope to find something to REALLY complain about. The food, the service, the ship, the ambiance -- almost perfect in every way. I would sail on Oceania again in a heartbeat -- maybe try one of the smaller ships. Hubby says he'd like to sail Riviera; who wouldn't! The only thing I would change about this cruise would be to add a seaday or two, so that we could have time to relax and experience all this fantastic ship has to offer!