My friend and I (two ladies) have just returned from the 12 day Caribbean Pearls cruise on Marina and found this cruise to be superb in all ways. Embarkation was quick and easy and debarkation was a breeze with no shortage of taxis as reported in other reviews. We were at Miami airport by 8:45 am and that was with rush hour traffic.
>The food was fabulous in both the Grand Dining Room and the specialty restaurants, and also in the Terrace Cafe on Deck 12. The lunches served at the Waves Grill by the pool had a diverse gourmet sandwich menu along with Angus Beef Hamburgers and Hot dogs. We enjoyed Pellegrino, Perrier and Cappuccino in all dining venues at no extra charge. Service could not have been better with crew members from many different countries anticipating our every need, all with smiles and greetings. They all seem very happy in their jobs, working together and helping each other, from the waiters to the captains to the maitre d's. We did find the wines and drinks to be a bit pricey once the 18% gratuity was added on, but Happy Hour between 5 pm and 6 pm offered 2 for 1 drinks and there were 3 specialty cocktails offered every day for $ 5.00 each. Free drinks and hors d'oeuvres were flowing however at the Captain's Cocktail Party.
>Our veranda cabin # 8001 was great, at the very front of the ship; I was wishing I'd brought binoculars. I also would have liked to take the mattress, pillows and linens home with me. The bathroom has a full size soaking tub which we did not use and the shower space, although small, was adequate for our needs having a rain shower head on the top for hair washing and a hand held sprayer as well. Our cabin girl Tatyana was always visible and pleasant and kept our cabin spotless. !! There is a Guest Laundry on every cabin deck with a loveseat, table and flat screen TV along with the washers, dryers and steam iron. The one I used also had a lovely live orchid plant on the table. The machines no longer accept quarters, you have to buy tokens at the reception desk, one each for the washer and dryer at $ 2.00 per token and the detergent is supplied.
>The library had an excellent supply of books, I read five good ones that I hadn't read and could have found more if there was more time. The casino has may penny and two cent slot machines so you can have some fun without losing your shirt. My only complaint would be that the seats in front of the slots are very hard and uncomfortable.
>As for the entertainment, I don't understand the complaints in other reviews. The Oceania singers and dancers are very talented and they double as assistants for the many activities on the ship. The ship band is outstanding. We saw 4 shows and enjoyed world famous pianist Linda Gentile and the lovely soprano voice of Emma Sinclair (google them, you'll see they are top entertainers). No they don't have the large scale productions that you may have seen on other larger ships, but keep in mind, this is a small ship with a small stage, with just over 1200 passengers. I have been on many cruises with several other lines and you can always find people who are never pleased with anything and who just like to hear themselves complain. There were certainly some of them on this cruise as well. You know who you are!!
> I also found the complaints about not enough elevators on Marina to be unfounded; 80% of the time the elevators were empty when we accessed them. Of course after the shows or coming off the tenders they were always crowded, but that is to be expected on any cruise ship.
> The ship decor is subtle in taupes, beiges and aquas, with comfortable couches, expensive art work, sculptures, Lalique crystal and live plants throughout the public areas. The boutiques' selection and prices were far above my pocketbook, but I'm sure many of the passengers could well afford them. The Marina does not offer special sales as other cruise lines do. I will not comment on the ports because the ship itself is what I enjoy on a cruise, to relax, unwind and be pampered. Oceania is definitely a big step above other cruise lines, offering class and elegance.