I have been very fortunate to have travelled extensively my whole life, and I have been on many cruises. I just finished the Oceania cruise - Eternal Enchantment (16 Jan - 3 Feb 2018) and the pre-cruise tour - Machu Picchu (13-16 Jan ... Read More
I have been very fortunate to have travelled extensively my whole life, and I have been on many cruises. I just finished the Oceania cruise - Eternal Enchantment (16 Jan - 3 Feb 2018) and the pre-cruise tour - Machu Picchu (13-16 Jan 2018). This was the most expensive cruise (about $28,000 CAD) we (myself and my spouse) have been on, and it was also the least enjoyable cruise we have been on.
We (my husband and I) picked Oceania because we were told that we would not be nickel- and-dimed to death; (i.e. pay extra for soft drinks, and specialty coffees, popcorn etc.). Also, we wouldn’t be constantly interrupted by announcements. And, we picked this particular cruise (Eternal Enchantment Lima - Tahiti), and pre-cruise, because of the destinations. (Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines, and Easter Island).
I should have recognized the Oceania web site as a red flag. The web site was disorganized, lacked meaningful communication, and was very difficult to use.
The cruise - Eternal Enchantment (Lima - Tahiti), itself was ill conceived. Lima did not have the infrastructure (i.e. departure terminal) and Tahiti did not have a large enough airport. (i.e. for 1,000 people to have return flights within a reasonable time). Many of the ports were not designed for cruise ships. It tried to cover too much of the earth’s surface, and forgot that it was in the business of providing vacations. The cruise line did not seem to know its target market, or the passengers in front of them, and they had no skill in managing expectations.
The flights that were arranged through Oceania were awful. It was like they were arranged by a psychopathic-sadist who’s goal was to make the journey as difficult and as uncomfortable as possible.
Our travel agent phoned and asked if we could fly in a day or two early, or use a direct flight, or less flights. We were told that there was a $250 U.S. disruption fee per person, and the hotel would cost $1,200 US per person per night. That can’t be right. I thought that perhaps there was a communication problem with the representative on the phone. We were also told if we wanted to be picked up in Lima and brought to the hotel, we had to use their flights. Again the idea of a vacation is as less stress as possible. I did not want to be in an airport where I did not know the language, nor how to get to the hotel. So I thought that getting picked up at the airport was worth the over 24 straight hours, three flights, U.S Security and Customs, and four airports.
We got picked up and brought to the hotel. Our rooms would not be ready until 3 pm (we knew this), but we were told that if we wanted a room immediately, we could “upgrade” and pay another $100.00 U.S. per person. We had already paid $2,947 CAD per person for this 3 day pre-cruise trip. We have been 27 hours without any sleep, and we just paid to upgrade. However, I think this was just slimy.
The rest of the pre-trip was good, until our bus arrived at the ship. It was absolute chaos. The infrastructure was not there, but neither was common sense. Oceania knew when the flights were arriving, and when the pre-trip buses were arriving. How could there be no organization? There was about 800 elderly people in line in the very hot sun. I am guessing the average age was between 65 and 70. We were in line for 1 ½ hours, I understand others were in line for up to 2 ½ hours. No shade, no water, no bathrooms, I honestly thought that someone was going to have a stroke or heart attack or just collapse and die. After being permitted to go on ship, and go through security, there were some of the ship’s crew (3 in a row) in crisp clean uniforms pointing to way to the Marina lounge to register. Really? (No towels, no welcome drink.) Registration itself was quick, but our cabins were not ready. We then had to drag around our carry-on baggage and find somewhere to be until our rooms were ready.
I always booked the on shore excurions with the cruise line, because 1) they know more about the available tours and the places than I did, and 2) they can get a bulk deal and, 3) the ship won’t leave without you, if you are on an excursion that they have arranged. Again the vacation is about less anxiety, not more.
I booked what shore excursions I could, about 6 months before the trip. I was told that I could book any new shore excursions when they were available or when we got on the ship. When I tried to do this -- they were all full.
There were some passengers that came on this trip just for Nazca Lines and/or Easter Island. The Nazca Lines fly over was quickly booked, and there were passengers at the dock with no way of seeing the Nazca Lines. Some of them were able to book the same trip as I had for ½ the price of the one I book through Oceania. Again, it just felt slimy.
We arrived at Easter Island, and the ship’s crew seems very happy that we were able to tender to the Island. I am not so sure what the big deal was. But, apparently, about 20% of the time it is not safe to tender to Easter Island. And people that book the cruise mainly for that port, are extremely disappointed when they couldn’t get to the island. There are flights from the mainland (South America) daily. If this is your reason for considering this cruise --- forget it, and book a flight.
The staff in the kitchens and cleaning the rooms worked like dogs. Every time I wanted something - coffee, etc., I felt guilty for asking (but there was no way of getting it on your own), because they looked so tired and overworked. Especially after the Novo Virus outbreak.
I don’t know much about the Virus outbreak, because we were not told much. But, we were told that the passenger’s health and safety was the ship’s primary concern. Where was that concern when Oceania booked the flights, or when letting us languish in the hot sun for hours, or when the turnaround (passengers finishing their cruise and passengers starting their cruise) is on the same day. I am surprised that more passengers and crew were not sick.
From other passengers, I learned that there were 42 passengers in quarantine. I don’t know how many crew were sick, but it was noticeable that crew were missing in the main buffet restaurant. The medical bills were astronomical. For a sinus infection and antibiotics it was $8,500 U.S. For bronchitis, it was $9,000 US. For the average quarantined individual is was about $10,000 U.S. I understand that there was one bill for $18,000 U.S. The cynical part of me, was wondering if the medical center on board was a profit center. Given the high cost of medical care, perhaps there were a lot more people that were sick, but didn’t report to the ships medical officer.
The actions that were taken, I also did not understand. Because of the virus outbreak, the passengers no longer had access to the laundry facilities (about $2.00 U.S. a wash, and $1.00 U.S. to dry), but you could pay for your laundry to be done by the ship’s crew for a much greater fee. The library books could not be loaned out, nor could you play trivia pursuit because of the virus outbreak, but you could go to the spa and you could go to the casino. Does this make sense? Again money makers?
An example of complete lack of awareness; there were many passengers from Germany. The Theatre movie shown was Dunkirk. Really? Again, Oceania is suppose to be in the business of vacations.
Tahiti did not have an airport that could handle 1,000 passengers leaving at the same time. Which would probably be the reason that we had 16 hours between being forced out of our cabin and before our fight departure. And, there was also another cruise line also dropping off hundreds of passengers for return flights home.
Just a few days before the end of the trip, we got a phone call stating that we did not have a transfer from the ship to the airport. Really? I stated that we agreed to take the awful flight schedule in order to have transfers to and from the airports. We were told no, if you want transfers to the airport in Tahiti you have to pay another $149 US per person. I thought that we had transfers, and that we were picked up in Lima and transfer to the hotel. And, I explained that $149 US per person seemed pretty expensive. The island of Tahiti is just not that big.
It was explained to me, that we had to be out our rooms by 8:00 am (news to me) and flights were not leaving until 11:59 pm (that I knew). Again, we just paid. Again, I thought this was just slimy. Being nickel-and-dimed to death by other cruise lines was beginning to look good, after the large, and unexpected, money grabs from Oceania.
With this transfer, we were put in a large reception hall with hundreds of other passengers to wait for our flight. We spent a day in Tahiti in a reception hall….Oceania could not organize a tour?
When we were leaving the boat, again there was really nowhere to really be --- so standing in the crowded halls…and they were bringing new passengers aboard. And I am sure the health and safety of these new passengers was not Oceania primary concern.
We talked to many other passengers, about their bucket lists, their favorite vacations, other cruise lines, their best cruises etc. Many of the people that were regular Oceania passengers have stated that this cruise was not at the level that previous Oceania cruises have been. Some stated that this would be their last.
I have been on many cruises, and plan on being on many more, but this was my first and last Oceanic cruise. Read Less