The itinerary was what originally attracted us, plus the value for price. It was an extraordinary experience. The embarkation process was extremely easy. We live near the port and waited until the 3pm suggested embarkation time. We were processed immediately. Our room was ready immediately and luggage arrived by the time we got back from lunch. The Terrace Cafe was our choice for breakfast and lunch. The fresh fruits especially berries, were wonderful in the morning. The omelette station was very good and fixed fried, poached and benedict style as well. There was a good variety of foods available at lunch. The service at the buffet was marvelous. You were served rather than help yourself. The staff was courteous. Linens were used. There were no trays. Servers helped you to your table and poured water in goblets and served the coffee and other drinks, quickly. They refered to the ladies as Madam. Made me feel very special.
We are not handicapped, but many guests were, and I noticed special attention from the staff to their needs. Everyone was really taken care of. The Main Dining room was wonderful for dinner, as were the Polo Grill and Toscana. What a delight to be able to choose alternative dining venues with no additional charge. The fish was all delicious, especially those brought in fresh from the port. We could see Chef Farid and his assistant hauling in the huge tunas in mesh bags over their shoulders. Speaking of Chef Farid, he was fantastic! He and the Sous Chef put on cooking demonstations that were hilarious - a real show. He also managed to visit all the restaurant venues every day and interact with the guests. Free beverages included Perrier, sodas, as well as cappuchino and expresso.
I have never before had anything to say about a cruise director. They are what they are. But Willie Ames is truly a wonderful cruise director. A real, approachable person. He took care of situations with ease and diplomacy. He is an oradained minister and led Sunday devotions as well as Christmas Eve service and communion. He even joined in singing on several occasions with the entertainment team, with very acceptable results.
The ship itself is beautiful. I called it understated luxury. The rooms are a bit small, but comfortable and very clean. I saw our cabin stewardess give the furniture the white glove test for dust around the corners. I was impressed. There was plenty of storage for clothing on a 21 day cruise. Fresh bottled water was delivered to the room every day at no extra charge.
Entertainment was good. I enjoyed the shows. The last night they had a Tahitian Folkloric Show. There were no big production shows, which I always enjoy on a larger cruise ship, but the entire small cruise experience made up for it.
The ports were fantastic and tender service was good. Again, extra care was taken with handicapped guests to make sure they were safe and comfortable. Port excursions were pricey. We only booked two from the ship.
The disembarkation was a piece of cake. Never have I seen such organization. The color coding was efficient, luggage was easily identified, and everything was on time. Our flight didn't leave until 10 pm, so they bussed us to a waiting lounge at the Radisson. It was a wonderful hotel. The hospitality room
had coffee, tea, and water available. It was a windowless room, but we weren't restricted there. There were open air lounges all around and plenty of room to spread out and find a comfortable chair. We were allowed access to the pool and beach area, as well as free wi-fi. The day went quickly and pleasantly.
In conclusion, I can understand why people only choose Oceania or other small ship cruise lines after an experience like this. I wouldn't recommend for families with children.