As a biased "R" vessel cruiser with Oceania and in the past Regent I found the Marina to be very different in regards to crew, design and passengers.
This was our first cruise on either of the the 1250 passenger O class ... Read More
As a biased "R" vessel cruiser with Oceania and in the past Regent I found the Marina to be very different in regards to crew, design and passengers.
This was our first cruise on either of the the 1250 passenger O class vessels and our 5th on Oceania.
I approached it with an open mind being there would be more people on board, a more modern vessel and my bias for R class . We had a Cabin on the Concierge Level(deck 9). We embarked in Callao(Port of Lima).
The reason for doing this cruise on Marina was Oceania's itinerary as it covered some of our "bucket list" requirements. The itineraries are a major feature of Oceania for us. Note we had already spent 10 days in Chile, Peru and Bolivia prior to boarding.
First thing we notice is the glitz, bright paintings, and glassware and the cavernous lobby area. I will compliment Oceania on the original art, a lot of which I was informed was done by many painters and the Murano glassware which is some cases is quite amazing.
Embarkation went fine Checkin was fine and quick(priority boarding always goes well). The strange part was that we were only casually asked if I had the Entry Form(RSTE) for the USA(being Australian, I need one). Did not have to show proof which we found a little odd.
Lunch on the terrace available in the Terrace Cafe. Food quality was great. There are some differences in the layout. Cabin available on time and bags in the corridor waiting to be delivered. Think there had been a problem on the wharf with the local stevedores and not knowing how the system worked as I watched them when we arrived on the pier.
On entry the cabin did not seem to feel that much larger than the one on "R" except for the bathroom.
Storage was useless. There was a lack of drawers. On R vessels for the same length cruise last year around South America had found it easier to store things. Some of the drawers on Marina were very deep but short in length and only came out 2/3 of the way so clothes difficult to put in there. The cupboard for hanging up clothes seemed to be quite small and the doors would open at the slightest movement of the boat and the light would come on. I used a shoe to stop that happening. The area near the sofa and little table was not much bigger than the R class boat. Balcony seemed to be similar in size. Some of the issues mentioned have been raised by previous cruisers
Bed was fine except it did not appear to be a large King bed and it seemed to be a little short in length.
Bathroom was fine apart from shower area(not the one in the bath) was a little small or should I say cosy. However, still managed to use it ok.
Once everything stored the cabin was fine, clean and functional and suited our needs.
In general restaurants were great. Oceania are really making an effort to meet the special dietary needs of some passengers. My partner is vegan and in generally they met the requirements. This area has been improved dramatically I wish to say thanks to Oceania for this.
We had read so much good about this in cruise reviews and CC that we reserved a seat for 2 of us on second night of the cruise. Expectations were high considering we enjoy Asian food especially Japanese. I have also worked and lived in Asia previously before retiring.
This restaurant was major disappointment.
Restaurant beautifully setup, dÃ©cor very Asian even if a little over the top. First impressions great on entry great. Quite dark though.
The staff members who served rattled off the special and it was delivered in the tone of a robot. Turn on the key, turn off the key. Everything was so mechanical.
Also with the number of Asian crew working in the food serving areas on the Marina you would think that Oceania or whoever is responsible would utilise these people more in this type of restaurant. Also they have some personality about them. Very strange. We counted only 3 at the time we there. Horses for courses, as they say.
Lots of fancy chopsticks offered(presentation), but not natural ones. Saki(excl. 1) was served chilled(word on menu) when in most parts of Asia is starts out as warm or hot whenever I have been in various parts of Asia.
Person next to me ordered a Japanese Beer. First one delivered was a brew from Canada, the second one was a Chinese Beer so he took that.
Food was an attempt at Asian Style. Felt for the Chefs who have to cook the food this way.
The Imperial Spring Rolls are too big to use chopsticks with(Terrace Restaurant serve the right size), Beef Carpaccio is meant to be finely cut slices of meat yet they are served a small clumps of meat, tempura batter was not very light and see through, the pork dish I had could only be eaten with a knife and fork, chopsticks were a waste of time and no steamed rice was offered. I am not sure any visiting Japanese or Asian Guests would not have been to impressed with the standard. Actually, spoke to a couple from Asia later in the cruise and they said the same thing. Asian food can also be Vegetarian but they even struggled with this and the food was quite bland.
Our 3 courses were all served in less than 45 minutes. So had one glass of wine and managed to finish that.
Actually mentioned in a cruise review document issued by Oceania on 3rd day of cruise and had 4 phone calls to the cabin within 24 hours asking further questions. Never went back there.
Brilliant. Great dÃ©cor, light and bright and the Maitre De was actually French, the staff were absolutely superb and some of the other French wait staff were also utilised here. Great escargots, frog legs and meat dishes. All food was presented and cooked as it should be in a pseudo French style on a American vessel even though some passengers complained there was not a lot on their plate. Even, the young lady who did the crepes went and got some rum and made Rum Crepes for me as these are a favourite of mine when I visited Paris. Went there 3 times.
The same as on the R class vessels. The Oceania prime rib is still one of the best I have had(lived in the USA also), Eye Fillet is great(rare or blue). Staff great as always and some great personalities. Went there 3 times.
The same as R class vessels and the food is great as always. Great to see Maitre De was from Bari, Italy. The staff again worked well and food presented well. One item of interest was an young Italian guy from a village on the east coast of Italy was providing the Oils and he knew what he was talking about. Nice touch. Went there 2 times.
Grand Dining Room.
Because of our experiences on R class vessels(wrong food served, service to fast, meat served in a vegans meal(my partners lunch one day) we swore off the GDR. Tried it in Marina and it was great. Went there for dinner only. Decor was again nice and light, high ceilings, large windows at stern of vessel providing more light before darkness set in.
Food was fine in all visits which was 3 times. Service very quick though.
As always good for breakfast, lunch and dinner(when not in speciality restaurants). However, not sure if it was my imagination but it appears Oceania has cut back on what is offered for breakfast. There seemed to be less food available. Also seems to have issues when dealing with large numbers of passengers attending at one time. There did not seems to be much room around the food area.
No different to other Oceania vessels. The only strange part and they have no control over the cooking is that when the vessel tied up in an American Port(Puerto Rico and Charleston) the chefs were only permitted to provide well cooked meat yet at sea we had the way we wanted it. Caused some angst amongst some non-American passengers including myself.
Great place and the young Italian chap behind the counter and his assistant were kept busy making coffees. Great Innovation and they made good double espressos etc. Loved it and a great innovation.
Overall, the food was brilliant to very good depending on where you ate, excluding Red Ginger. They still have some of the best pastry chefs on the oceans.
This was great for us as I could venture down to the lounge to read the newspapers from Australia, have a coffee, get some extra cold drinks, have a snack on a 24 * 7 basis. It also meant we did not have to go Horizons or Terrace for the morning coffees and pastries in the cabin. The lounge was very rarely crowded. We utilised it often especially early mornings.
This was an interesting aspect of the cruise and the way the staff operate on this vessel compared to the R class vessels.
The service generally was way to fast. This applied especially to the GDR and Terrace. There were any number of times when you were just finishing the last bite of your plate and someone was there whisking the plate away. They would also whisk the plate away even if the other person at the table was still eating their part of the meal. Also it was not unusual for 4 staff to come by one after the other and ask if you wanted another drink even though you had ordered one. We had never encountered this on the R class vessels. Polo Grill, Toscana's and Jacques were still quick but would wait till all people had finished eating that course. We also accept the fact that they are dealing with many nationalities on a vessel and the majority of whom like fairly quick service.
I also noticed during the whole 21 days that there was a lot of pressure put on the wait staff by the folks in the white shirts and black ties(EG Governors in the terrace) to keep the table clear and make sure you were asked if you needed another drink(maybe why you get asked 4 times). The other issue was that in the Terrace you would have a person look after you for 5 minutes, then they would be sent somewhere else and another person would take over. This occurred constantly. The Governors and their management need to be trained in utilisation of staff. If it was a restaurant ashore who would you tip. Actually, the governors should realise they can also smile and they are not running a boot camp(a little harsh but cannot think of another word at this time). Some of these governors we have seen being trained on R class vessels and it was never like this.
Also in the Terrace the governors and the staff did not seem to be a happy bunch as most of the Phillipinos and Balinese wait staff very rarely smiled and did not want to spend much time talking to you. These same staff were completely different in the speciality restaurants. Complete opposite to R class vessels where they smiled and chatted all the time. We also came to realise most of the staff had not worked on the R class vessels previously.
The other point to note these people are the front line staff and are there to make the cruise enjoyable but to us and some others we spoke to the staff in the Terrace were not a connected group.
Staff generally were very and ectremely helpful.
However, in some areas there seemed to be a disconnect between members of the crew in the hospitality area. I am not sure if there was a major change of crew in Callao or Papeete but in a lot of cases there was not a lot of teamwork. Even saw a Governor tick off a senior chef in front of passengers in the Terrace. Also the staff serving in the Terrace did not understand the contents of some of the food being served and as my partner is vegan was told there was no meat in a dish yet, found some minutes later when taking a mouthful there was. The chefs on the Terrace(one can see them all the time) seemed to be under pressure always and some of the backup chefs were not quite there when it came to carving or making omelettes. As I said there was a disconnect there and other places of the vessel.
This was confirmed by some of the European Passengers I spoke to.
Cabin Steward was very rarely seen but was always there to ensure our cabin was done. That was good.
The passengers on this cruise generally seemed to be slightly older overall. The Marina is a much bigger boat with wider corridors and the ability to handle people with any physical disabilities much better than the R class vessels. This is very good as it allows people to get out there and do the travel and see things that may not be able to do on much larger and crowded vessels or the smaller and narrower R class vessels. Someone indicated average age as 70 for the cruise.
Also, to us there were many passengers on board who were not the ones you find on the R class vessels and who do their own thing.
The breakdown was interesting with Americans the most, followed by Australia, Canada, New Zealand and then Europe. There was also some 660 repeat cruisers and some 300 doing their 5th or more cruise.
We very rarely go to any of the entertainment(that applies to being on land also) and the same applies to this cruise. I did attend 2 presentations by a lady who had 24 years experience in the travel industry and she provided a great amount of information on using the travel industry to help you with the minimum of cost. The chap doing the Panama Canal description was also very informative. My partner attends cooking, fashion, sales and some other subjects if they are being presented.
The Crossing the Equator function was hopeless.
We did all own shore excursions either as a couple or with another small group on a private tour.
The library on Marina is a great place also.
I spend a lot of time on sea days downloading photos, sorting them out and classifying them as well as completing a travel diary of what I have seen and what I am seeing at that moment.
I generally do not get involved in any of the day to day activities on board.
Ports of Call.
- Salaverry , port not much but some impressive sand dunes to see whilst heading to Trujillo
did private tour to Trujillo, and Sand Pyramids and the Sand Palaces
- Manta , Very large Tuna Industry Port, amazing trawlers to be seen
caught a taxi went through narrow streets of market, on the beach to see the local fish sales, visited boat builders, Montecristo and back again in 2 Â½ hour for around $USD40 , taxis are controlled at the town piazza/plaza but there are a lot of touts offering all sorts of things , just say no and they leave you alone
- Panama Canal , amazing 8 hour journey for those who are interested in how it operates
- Cartagena , Port with a lovely cruise terminal setup, arrival seems a little strange as the city seems to be a lot of high rise buildings sitting right on the waters edge
Caught a cab to old town(the taxi fare negotiated at the terminal but driver will ask for more at end of journey around ($USD15 , 20_) , old town is an amazing area just to walk around , streets full of amazing houses and hotels and renovations , just walk where you want
- Orangestad, Aruba , cruise terminal building is on its wharf and has a coral reef protecting it from the ocean
Being Dutch there are items relating to Queen Willihemina and Anne Franck, some older buildings in the back streets, lots of shops and shopping(expensive) malls, go further back 2 blocks and walk along the street where the new tramway is going in , one is never far from the cruise terminal
- St. Georges, Grenada , dock near centre of town
One can walk to the local market which has all sorts of food, spices, local beautician parlours, watch mending etc. Great place to visit and the people are extremely friendly and not pushy , walk up the stairs to the fort and then around and down to the Carnege , again enjoy the walk around with all the different activity happening before heading back thru the tunnel this time , never used any vehicles for travels here , also being a person who understands the game of cricket was able to see some of the grounds and names of their heroes
- Castries, St. Lucia , docked near centre of town
Had a 6 person cab out front of cruise terminal takes for a tour over the hills to the back area of the island , good value and an interesting island
- Bridgetown, Barbados , cruise terminal a little out of the town centre
Had a 6 person cab takes for a great trip through Bridgetown, over the hills to the end of the island and back along the coast , great trip , quite an amazing island , also some amazing sights re : cricket
- Gustavia, St. Barts , tender port
This is a totally French based town , and amazing place , most people walked through shopping area and stopped to have coffee or went to the beach we went around to the other side of the marina from where we were dropped off and saw the locals area, French Bakeries and some local French Restaurants , only locals here and just a few other cruise passengers , lovely place
- San Juan, Puerto Rico , cruise terminal in town
Our second visit here but we walked around the back streets and the architecture, cafes, shops and people were great , enjoyed this immensely , walked for hours then shopped
- Charleston, South Carolina , Terminal in Town
Caught the city shuttle to the main information centre and then walked back along many streets all the way to the other side of the city enjoying houses, hotels, cafes, offices and the associated architecture , this was our second visit and it is still a wonderful city to visit
All was well sailing into NYC seeing the Status of Liberty and Ellis Island. Moored on time. Breakfast was a little shambolic with only one person cooking egg dishes. However, we were not able to disembark until sometime after 9:30am(out of rooms at 8:00am) due to some issues with Customs and Immigration in NYC. Not sure who's problem it was but 1250 people congregated on 2 decks in 2 areas. Once off it was a shambles with getting cabs as it was Memorial Day weekend and also another extremely large vessel had moored and disgorged it passengers at the same time. Worst disembarkation we have faced ever.
This is a comment from an Australian where the sight of weapons on a vessel bothers us. We have been to Israel, Egypt, sailed in Middle East and pirate area, Malacca Straits between Indonesia and Malaysia and have never seen weapons in public areas. I know they are on board for these circumstances. Yes, our guard on the Trip to the Pyramids in Giza packed an UZI at the back of his suit, Israel had armed soldiers etc. in the dock area but they were never seen on a vessel in public view.
However, on arrival in Puerto Rico(our initial USA entry point) we go to immigration in Horizons and all I see are officers from various areas with Flak Jackets, Tasers, Pistols etc. This to me was quite scary especially when later an officer walks through the Terrace Restaurant amongst 30 or more people with no idea that someone can grab the pistol. Does anyone in their right mind believe that all of us retired people are going to cause an incident. Found this to be quite disconcerting.
Marina is much larger, roomier(was told it could take 2,000 passengers if deigned internally differently), more glitzy and will suit many people. It provided us with what we needed from an itinerary. However, if there is a choice between R or O the R class will always win.
One other major aspect is that it sails a lot smoother and quieter than the R class but there is eerie feeling sometimes at night when you wake and you are rolling slightly back and forth. The other difference is that when say sitting in Polo Grill or Toscana the vessel flexes and it feels quite strange.
Just to show we are still cruising with Oceania we have a cruise on Nautica booked for early 2014 and Marina later in 2014.
Also once on baord one only has to pay out for alcohol and/or tours(excl. Canyon Ranch) so you know where you stand. Also the ability to have a bottle from shore occassionally helps out. As one says "you get what you pay for " and Oceania does not require much add-ons.'
Also simple things like shuttle buses in ports where it is required, water to take ashore, mini fridge with soft drinks, coffees etc. are there incl. in the cost.
Also Oceania is a great cruise line as could be seen by the repeat the custom they get. Read Less