As an ex-travel agent from the UK with over 15 years experience and 12 years teaching customer service this is my review:
Having just returned from the Caribbean on the beautiful Marina and especially with the news of the Costa sinking. Before our cruise commenced, we had a safety drill, well executed by professional crew. We have every confidence in the crew to deal with a similar situation - so don't be put off cruising.
Slick embarkation, lovely friendly staff and wow factor decor on arrival. Cabin was superb, including the bathroom despite other forum moans. The bed comfort something else - absolutely superb.
Food was delicious, excellent quality and well presented, though paperwork suggests need to book speciality restaurants you don't need to book in as Grand Dining Room excellent, sometimes had to queue which didn't happen on QM2 but this is bound to happen with the open style dining. Only disappointment was Toscana, air conditioning set too cold, lighting on our table poor which caused problems for some of our fellow diners, two diners didn't get menus, haphazard delivery of courses, one of my courses was almost cold, desert was delicious. Observations would suggest that although one waiter was on the ball, the rest of the team in our section were not and this caused some of the problems.
Dining in the Terrace Cafe excellent standard of food equal to that of the other restaurants (except Toscana) but with self service which suited some of our US fellow guests as they could get more food!
Convinced that much of one of the lower decks must have been set aside for lobster tanks as never had so much lobster in a 10 day period!
On our cruise over 100 passengers on back to back cruises, some even on their 21st cruise with Oceania, so real community feel.
Didn't like the gratuity system which basically adds automatically $26 per couple per day, plus 18% on any alcoholic drinks. Soft drinks, tea and coffee all complimentary which is nice but you pay for it in the high cost of the alcohol $22 for 2 drinks which were in fact too strong to drink. There was a happy hour but not everyone wants to have lots of alcoholic drinks.
Entertainment excellent although could have been a play or musical put on instead of a same style show with a different musical theme. Age group on our cruise generally 60+, married, white affluent American/Canadian, lots of wheel chairs and zimmer frames but caused us younger passengers to smile especially when we witnessed two genuinely having a race!!
Excursions expensive but one well worth money in Antigua - Eco-Kayaking and Snorkelling - couldn't have improved 100% fab! One not so good purely as purpose of trip was advertised as Catamaran and snorkelling with 2hrs sailing 40mins snorkelling for Â£54 each
Dominican Republic visited independently - quite intimidating once at beach and worse still would not return to downtown - observations giftware hasn't changed with times and not really tastes of cruise market nor age of visitor consequently limited sales = more desparate sales people - can fully understand Oceania trip to private hotel/beach at $199 each as opposed to $30 taxi and lounger for 2 though different island might be better solution.
Return transfers expensive at Â£199 pp when a taxi to airport with tour of South beach cost only $60 for two - this does let Oceania down as being a bit rip off.
Staff throughout were excellent, pleasant friendly, smiling even cleaners! though there were a few who spoilt it for the rest as they were clearly boot licking for extra tips when effectively everyone has paid for service and a tip! Last day in terrance cafe was a bit sloppy but Otto Jnr Head Waiter NOT on duty in fact same team we had problems with in Toscana - examples no cutlery given despite asking twice, drinks banged down after finally getting them, plates normally removed between courses weren't, other tables weren't being cleared. Pity really because you are only as good as the weakest staff member. It didn't ruin our holiday by any means but it was disappointing because otherwise the service was excellent.
Over 1200 passengers on board during our cruise and only 33 from UK - BIG COMPLAINT Oceania booking offers geared very much to US market, including WIN A FREE CRUISE currently being offered on new ship and despite the UK extra cost of getting to US and limited agents over here which offer line. UK. Despite this would definately go again.