We started the cruise with a ATL-JNB flight aboard Delta. We stayed at the Oceania suggested hotel of 54 on Bath in JNB for two nights. The hotel is excellent. As part of our cruise we booked Oceania's pre-cruise tour to the Chobe ... Read More
We started the cruise with a ATL-JNB flight aboard Delta. We stayed at the Oceania suggested hotel of 54 on Bath in JNB for two nights. The hotel is excellent. As part of our cruise we booked Oceania's pre-cruise tour to the Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana. Our only issue with the hotel stay was that we were not provided with information about the pre-cruise tour, even though I asked for it upon check in. We were supposed to have breakfast and dinner provided with the tour, but ended up paying for dinner as the hotel staff had no information as to what was provided as part of the pre-cruise tour. On our day of departure from the hotel to Chobe we met three other couples who were also on the Oceania tour. It appears we were not provided information as they were, including a special room for our meals, time of departure, etc.
The Chobe Game Lodge was great. Oceania did an excellent job in having the four couples transported to the airport going and returning. The lodge itself was really a neat experience and it seemed like the four couples had the place for ourselves. Food, room and service were great. We had the chance to see a number of different animals on the different drives or river cruise.
The travel from Chobe to Cape Town for ship embarkation was great. Then, we hit the second issue of our trip. When we arrived at the cruise dock in Cape Town, there was no Oceania personnel to check us in or direct us where to go. We found our way and passed through the security checkpoint dragging and carrying our luggage with us all the way to the Marina's reception desk for check in. The next day when we spoke to the concierge aboard the Marina, he indicated the reason we had to carry our luggage was because we arrived at 9pm and said it was our fault for arriving so late, even though our arrival was dictated by the Oceania travel itinerary. It has been two months and I am still not happy about his comments and even unhappier that nobody from Oceania has contacted me about the complaint I filed on board or on my post cruise survey.
We had one day in Cape Town and booked a private tour through Luhambu Tours to visit the Cape Winelands. We really enjoyed the day even though we were still tired from the game lodge safaris and long day of travel the day before getting to Cape Town. We visited four vineyards doing wine tasting and just had a great time.
Our next day on the cruise was a sea day, which was really needed to catch up on rest. Our first cruise port was Luderitz, Namibia. We took an Oceania tour to the ghost town of Kolmanskop. Kolmanskop (Afrikaans for Coleman's hill, German: Kolmannskuppe) is a ghost town in the Namib desert in southern Namibia, 10 kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz. It was named after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman who, during a sand storm, abandoned his ox wagon on a small incline opposite the settlement. Once a small but very rich mining village, it is now a popular tourist destination run by the joint firm NamDeb (Namibia-De Beers).
Our next two days were spent in the port of Walvis Bay, Namibia and we booked private tours for both days through Edward Taylor. Our first day was spent with a tour of Walvis Bay where we had the opportunity to climb the 383 meter Dune 7. Also during the tour we visited a moonlandscape site, Swakopmund and then a tour of the Walvis Bay tour. Our second day was very exciting as it was spent 4x4 riding in the Namibia Desert. It was fun as we climbed up sand dunes and then plunged what seemed to be straight down. The sand dunes drives took place in the Namib Naukluft Park, Sandwich Harbour.
We then had two sea days before arriving at Jamestown, St. Helena. We had booked a private tour with Horizons Tour, a small company owned and run by Patrick and Pamela Young. The day long tour took us to: Heart Shaped Water Fall, High Knoll Fort, Diana’s Peak National Park, St. James Church, Jacob’s Ladder, Longwood House, Napoleon’s Tomb, and the Plantation House and Jonathon, the oldest tortoise in the world. St. Helena was quite a surprise I believe for all the cruise passengers as not much was expected from this port. Everyone was mistaken as this place is truly a gem. I think, unfortunately for the island and its inhabitants, the new airport is opening and this island will be changed and not for the better.
We then had four sea days before arrival into Rio de Janeiro. Again, we booked a private tour for the two days in port. We booked with Vicente Cardone and enjoyed ourselves a great deal as he made sure we saw every site there is to see in Rio. He had contacts at a number of places, so we were able to cut queues and get through lines quicker. We disembarked after an overnight stay in port and checked into the JW Marriott on Copacabana Beach which was a great location. We enjoyed Vicente and his girlfriend so much we spent our last day with them on the beach before departing for home on the Sunday evening.
This was our 5th Oceania cruise and our second aboard Marina. I think the ship is due for a shipyard visit in 2016 and it is probably needed as it has a few areas of wear and tear. The dining was great as it was for us aboard our previous four Oceania cruises. The service was up to Oceania standard and our only issue was the Concierge who sits outside the reception area. We ate at each of the dining venues once, although we could have visited more staying in an Oceania Suite. We found the dining room to be good enough for us on this cruise and we laughed because on our last Marina cruise, we ate in the dining room only once and normally ate in the Terrace Cafe. This cruise, we only ate in the Terrace Cafe one night. We were invited by another passenger to dine in The Privee' one night and really enjoyed the experience. We did not take in any of the entertainment on the ship. We visited the casino a few nights, but the craps table was never open so did not spend much time in the casino.
Disembarkation was very easy as many passengers had disembarked the evening we arrived into port, while many others stayed on board for the next cruise, a ten day to Argentina. Oceania offered the passengers a really good cruise fare if you wanted to stay on board, but it meant getting home on Christmas Eve, so we past on the offer. From our stateroom to our luggage took about 5 minutes. Read Less