i actually did not choose this cruise. we were joining friends, who had chosen this cruise for its cuba itinerary. we were quite reluctant to sign on because oceania charges SO much for their cruises, and the price was very very high! ... Read More
i actually did not choose this cruise. we were joining friends, who had chosen this cruise for its cuba itinerary. we were quite reluctant to sign on because oceania charges SO much for their cruises, and the price was very very high! when the itinerary was changed, and cuba was no longer included in the route, the price dropped significantly, and even though oceania would have given us a full refund had we chosen to cancel, we opted to stay on board. we had already booked a holland american cruise out of fort lauderdale to combine with the oceania cruise. so, we thought it would be interesting to compare a luxury line (as oceania claims it is) with a mainstream experience on holland america
we got to the port around noon. even though we were told that boarding would not be till 3pm, we were quite surprised that we were able to walk right on (btw, there is no welcome glass of champagne upon boarding) because it was early we were surprised to see hosw crowded the ship was. staterooms were not yet ready, so we were told that we could sit in the terrace cafe and enjoy lunch. well, good luck with that! the buffet area was completely packed with people...there was not a seat to be had. for most of the cruise, the weather was often rainy. not having the outdoor areas available for seating, made public areas on the ship crowded.
oceania includes some perks that other lines often do not. our cruise came with two free perks: free wifi is automatically given as one of the perks, and you can choose free shore excursions (many of the excursions do not qualify in the "free" excursions list) or free classic drink package or $200 shipboard credit. we chose the drink package as our second perk. the classic drink package has limited value, because only house wine/beer/spirits are included AND only at lunch or dinner. we upgraded to the premium package as soon as we boarded the ship ($20 per person per day extra).
having self service laundry was very much appreciated.
there is no charge for the specialty restaurants, but guests only can dine in these venues a set number of times depending on length of cruise. we had dinner in the polo grille the first night onboard. the food was somewhat better than average , however the service was rushed. i think that because every passenger has the opportunity to dine in the specialty restaurants, these restaurants are very full...it is actually quite difficult to get a reservation at a decent time. it felt like servers just wanted diners to get in and get out so they could reload, with one course not even being finished and the next being placed in front of you as well.
there are not many places to have a drink before dinner. basically only two options. most nights we had to lurk a bit, waiting for someone to leave, so we could grab their seats.
sandy cares was the enrichment speaker. she was full of life and we enjoyed her talks and her enthusiasm.
the cruise director led a sweet and simple church service on sunday morning, and we thought it was great that this was available.
food, overall, was pretty much the same quality as we experienced on holland america and other ships we've been on. oceania definitely could improve its options in the food department. the menu in dining room often repeated options day after day. and cookies in the coffee shop offered no variety, but were the same each day.
the atmosphere on oceania is not festive, but quite sober. Read Less