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41 Lima to South America Cruise Reviews

The itinerary was fabulous. I had underestimated how beautiful the Chilean fjords were. The ship is beautiful, and luxurious with great cabins. Excellent service and style. Fabulous food for an adventure cruise. Helicopter and ... Read More
The itinerary was fabulous. I had underestimated how beautiful the Chilean fjords were. The ship is beautiful, and luxurious with great cabins. Excellent service and style. Fabulous food for an adventure cruise. Helicopter and submarine rides were great. Didn't see much on the sub ride. The main swimming pool is in the middle of the lunch restaurant.....WEIRD! Crew and Discovery team great. Very educational talks on geology and nature. Scenic always overdelivers on what was in the itinerary. They are always looking for ways to give a little more than expected. Made an unexpected stop at a tiny village called Tortel in the Chilean fjords. Fabulous extra. The town was unique and the town put on a little show of their culture. We got beautiful North Face Parkas and use of serious waterproof Antarctic boots for the Zodiac trips, which were almost daily. I am sorry, I didn't have the time to carry on to Antarctic. If you want exercise, adventure, getting up close to nature, glaciers, waterfalls, etc. in a luxury setting, Scenic Eclipse is your choice. Expensive up front, but didn't spend a dime on board, except for submarine and helicopter excursions. EVERYTHING else is included. Did I mention the 100 whiskeys they have at the lounge bar, all inclusive. Great malt whiskeys. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
My wife and I sailed on the Scenic Ecplipse from Cartegena, Colombia to Lima Peru in Oct- November 2019. We have had a total of 18 cruises before this one including multiple trips on Seabourne, Crystal, Azamara and Oceania. Inevitably, one ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Scenic Ecplipse from Cartegena, Colombia to Lima Peru in Oct- November 2019. We have had a total of 18 cruises before this one including multiple trips on Seabourne, Crystal, Azamara and Oceania. Inevitably, one compares the Scenic experience to its price point competition. Our review is mixed. We have found ourselves gravitating to smaller ships over the years and we had a pleasant time on a Scenic river cruise in France so we thought the Eclipse was worth a try despite concerns about shakedown issues with a new vessel. Like many others, our initial booking was postponed due to construction delays and we rebooked a similar South American itinerary a year later than originally planned. We booked the Sofitel Santa Clara hotel in Cartegena on our own three days before departure and because it was Scenic’s chosen embarkation hotel, they met us promptly at the airport and delivered us comfortably to the hotel. Transfer to the ship was not as well done as we had to wait two and a half hours in the lobby to load the busses. Once at the pier, embarkation was as nice as any we have experienced, and our bags beat us to the room. I was surprised there was no ship security screening of our carry-on luggage, especially given Colombia’s reputation for smuggling. Surprisingly we had to disembark after one hour on board to go through a perfunctory passport check at Colombia customs. No luggage screen there either. Not complaining, but unusual these days. Our room (Grand Deluxe Veranda Suite # 504) was beautiful and spacious: Big screen tv, spacious bathroom, plenty of storage, stocked bar fridge, coffee maker, a Dyson hair dryer my wife loved, binoculars, umbrellas, plenty of outlets after we discovered the Brit format outlet would take N American plugs, a nice sized balcony, comfy bed with a pillow menu! Very much comparable to a business class hotel room! Our butler, Jeffrey, was great and made every effort to keep us stocked with ice, tonic and gin. Not all was perfection. The bathroom sink had a “high style“ sloping basin that looked nicer than it functioned. The bath itself had a persistent aroma of adhesive outgassing or some other chemical bouquet. We found it annoying but eventually went nose blind to it. The television blinked off repeatedly and worse, came on by itself repeatedly in the middle of the night. They did get this fixed pretty quickly after many complaints. We also had problems with a tapping noise from the sliding glass balcony door. Our butler dispatched the maintenance people who arrived quickly, sprayed some lube and declared it fixed. It wasn’t. After a second visit they fixed the noise with a wedge of wood in the door frame. This eliminated the noise but made balcony use problematic because we couldn’t get the wedge back in properly. The ship itself was beautiful but it had some design issues. One could not see anything seated in the “observation” lounge except the front deck. Better to think of it as a small library with an observation deck. The was only a single stairway and elevator bank, situated toward the back of the ship and of course our cabin was in the far front. The main “immersion” pool was located indoors in the middle of the air conditioned Yacht Club buffet restaurant. The water seemed cold and I never saw anyone in it the entire trip. The normal spot for an outdoor pool was taken up by the helicopter pad. Water sloshed from the small outdoor pool onto the diners seated below on the Azure outdoor dining deck. We found the food at all the venues to be excellent. We did have an annoying half hour wait for our 8 pm reservation at Teppanyaki but a martini with similarly disposed table mates helped ease the pain. Once there, the food was interesting and delicious. The other specialty restaurant, Luminere was also first rate with no wait. The waiter in Elements forgot to offer my wife dessert on one occasion but otherwise the food and service there was exemplary. “JB” (James Bond, he alleged) was particularly good. On our last night on the ship we went to the “invitation only” “Chef’s Table” experience, which was one of the very best meals we have had in our entire lives. Ten delicious and beautifully presented courses that were as much art as food. Matching wine pairings with each course and a leather boxed tool kit to help us participate in the presentation. The venue was a glass enclosed room with a views of the kitchens. They almost had to wheel me out of there on a dolly after the experience! Easily one of the top highlights of the trip! They told us they only do this every other night for 10 people, so less than half the passengers on our short cruise could be accommodated. None of the five couples ay our seating could figure out why we were so blessed since none of us were in top suites or frequent Scenic customers. Very highly recommended, so try to wrangle an invitation!! We were disappointed we were not selected to participate in the extra cost submarine experience despite signing up for it the moment we boarded the ship. There was only one scheduled submarine excursion day and I must admit to a bit of schadenfreude when even that one day got cancelled. I understand the opportunities for submarine deployment are very limited. Not much of a ship feature when you can’t use it. We did get on the helicopter at the Darrien National Park which was a nice 20 minute ride. Unfortunately, they rescheduled the flight so as to prevent us from going ashore that day. We were not prepared for the number of wet landings from the zodiacs and did not have proper footwear. Better advance warning would have helped. The zodiacs were numerous and the crews did a good job loading and unloading during sometimes rough conditions. The entertainment on such a small ship was expectedly limited compared to larger ships, featuring a single singer on two nights. The lecturers were better, with Peter Damisch being exceptional. One nice feature was the opportunity to have dinner with Peter! Other ships videotape these talks for later viewing but not here. They might also have broadcast the Panama Canal transit commentary through the television rather than through the public address system so you could listen or not. Niko, the ship videographer put together a beautifully done video of the trip with timelapse and drone footage which he promised to send to everyone! Would we book again? Maybe in a year or two if the itinerary is right and they can get more of the kinks worked out. Six stars? Not yet, but maybe soon. Better than Crystal of Seabourne? No, but close, and with much potential for a unique experience only a smaller ship like this can provide. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
DISCLAIMER: This review will be VERY LENGTHY as there is a significant amount of information to convey. I have utilized topic headers so you can pick and choose which topics are of interest to you and skip the others. The Eclipse ... Read More
DISCLAIMER: This review will be VERY LENGTHY as there is a significant amount of information to convey. I have utilized topic headers so you can pick and choose which topics are of interest to you and skip the others. The Eclipse is a unique ship and not inexpensive to book, so it is important to understand what to expect. Furthermore, my wife and I are in no way connected to Scenic. However, we have had two amazing Scenic river cruise cruises (Rhine and Danube.) As you are well aware Cruise Critic reviews are like art and opinions can differ greatly depending on the eye of the beholder. There have been times in the past I have read reviews from other passengers who were a part of the same exact cruise segment my wife and I were on and found it hard to believe we had traveled on the same ship. MY OVERALL CURRENT RATING WOULD BE 4 ½ STARS. I feel in a very short time period, as a few lingering issues are addressed, the Eclipse will deserve the FULL FIVE STARS. BACKGROUND: My wife and I cruised several times early in our marriage and were even engaged on a cruise to Bermuda. However, we went twenty years without cruising as we became avid snow skiers and bought a condo in the mountains. About six years ago we decided it was time to see the world and cruising seemed to be the perfect way to do it. We now try to do two 7-14 day cruises per calendar. Year. One limiting factor is that we both are still working fulltime so vacation time is limited. Furthermore, we need to return home after each cruise to earn the money to pay for the next cruise. Typically, we have cruised on ships in the 2,000 to 4,300 passenger range. However, on Norwegian, we like The Haven suite area as it is what I refer to as an enclave and “a small ship within a large ship.” Celebrity also has a suite class we enjoy with a separate restaurant so we can further ensure my wife’s food allergies can be appropriately handled versus being in a dining room with thousands of other guests. My wife has Celiac Disease, which is a food allergy to ANYTHING with wheat, oat & barley. We like the safety of having almost all our meals on ships where the chefs can handle her need to eat Gluten Free and understand the term “cross-contamination.” In other words, we typically are booking suites out of necessity to avoid my wife needing medical care or even hospitalization. A LONG WAIT FOR THE ECLIPSE: Three and a half years ago back in March 2016, I put up two deposits for future Eclipse cruises. Like many other Cruise Critic members, I have followed the construction shipyard issues and endured two cancellations. Scenic treated us well with full refunds and the offer of discounts for the two replacement cruises. I obviously had VERY high expectations of the Scenic Eclipse since prior to this cruise I had made three non-refundable deposits for Eclipse cruises (Panama Canal, Norwegian Fjords and Antarctica.) Obviously, I did this based on the initial Eclipse marketing booklet and animation videos on their website along with a certain amount of faith. ITINERARY: This cruise segment was titled “Columbia to Panama Discovery” – Emabarkation in Cartagena (Columbia) with stops in San Blas Islands, Panama Canal transit, Darien National Park (Panama), Utria National Park (Columbia), Equator Crossing, Salaverry (Panama), Isla Guanape (Peru), disembarkation in Lime, (Peru.) EMBARKATION: We flew to Cartagena, Columbia and booked our own pre-cruise room at a wonderful small hotel (Sophia) inside the Walled City. Therefore, we had the hotel arrange for a taxi to take us to the ship. Boarding went smoothly around 1 p.m. Some passengers were disappointed all of us had to leave the ship around 4 pm to be bussed back to building at the front of the port to clear customs. This was certainly not the fault of Scenic as the customs office in that port set their hours of operation. I felt Scenic handled this situation well and provided a shuttle service. Plus, the time between boarding and going through customs allowed us time to explore the ship. SHIP: This might the lightning rod since I alluded to all of us having our own opinions when it comes to art and ship design. I will get straight to the point and tell you I love what owners Glen and Karen Mahoney have done in designing this ship. I had very high expectations and they were exceeded. As has been pointed out there are a few kinks that need to be worked out. Obviously, much more work had been done since the ship was crossing the Atlantic and a few more issues were being actively being addressed during our cruise. EXTERIOR: The black hull and white upper structure are visually striking. INTERIOR: This is where there is a real diversity of opinion. I am not sure how much middle ground there is regarding this ship. My wife and I absolutely love it. Karen has done an amazing job in our opinion. Lots of grays, black, white, chrome, stainless steel and glass. This is a very modern contemporary style we enjoy. In fact, when we visited the yoga/pilates area and found similar flooring to that we installed this year during a complete remodel of our beach reach condo. When we entered the bathroom in our cabin we just laughed as it was the exact style tile we installed in our condo master bathroom. Karen and I would get along well as we share similar tastes in contemporary design. If you are a fan of warmer earth tones with greens and browns, then there are other ships that might be more to your liking. As I often tell my friends….. “Different strokes for different folks.” For me, the Eclipse design is in my wheelhouse. In my opinion, the gray/black palette also allows the ability to make statements with color from art which is also easy to change out over time. Furthermore, it is my understanding that all the art has not arrived on board the ship at this point in time. As has been pointed out in a prior Eclipse review some areas of the ship have black carpeting in some public areas that require constant attention as it does show up many forms of dust and dirt. However, the crew was regularly utilizing Dyson cordless vacuums to maintain the carpet. We were pleased with the spaciousness of the ship and the public areas. As many of you know the Eclipse carries a maximum of 228 passengers. On our sailing, there were 178 crew/staff/discovery team members and only 148 passengers. This is obviously a very high ratio of staff to passengers. There were times of the day where we wondered where all the passengers had gone. Obviously, the main lounge on Deck Four is the primary passenger gathering location with the Whiskey Bar that has over a hundred types of whiskey. However, it is also a full bar so you have your choice of beer, wine, other alcoholic and non-alcoholic libations at most any hour. There are also bars in Azure, Koko’s, Elements, Yacht Club and Lumiere. This might be a good point to mention something I thought about and researched since my wife and I have traveled on the Norwegian Epic which carries over 4,000 passengers. Norwegian Epic – 4,228 passengers. Cost to build - approximately 1.4 billion USD (I adjusted the number for inflation since it was built in 2010) Scenic Eclipse – 228 passengers. Cost to build – approximately a quarter of billion USD Therefore, the cost for the Epic was about $284,000 per berth while the cost for the Eclipse is a staggering $1,096,000 per berth. As you can see the Glen and Karen have made a substantial investment for luxury and state of the art technology. DINING: For the small number of passengers, the Eclipse has what I consider to be a large number of dining venues. Elements is the primary dining facility. It has a menu that changes regularly as do the menus in the other restaurants. I want to address something that another reviewer mentioned regarding the slow delivery of food. I did find it took a little longer than I expected on our embarkation day. Since we were on vacation we were not in a hurry and it did not bother us. I suspect the staff walks the line of not having passengers feel rushed. As I continually mention different passengers have different expectations. On a night when we did have other plans, we simply told our waiter and the various courses were delivered at a brisker pace. Sometimes we were looking for something basic. We simply went “off-menu” and asked for some basic items (hamburger, chicken breast, etc.) we knew were on the room service menu that is serviced from the Elements kitchen. Koko’s (JP and his team handle Sushi @Koko’s, Teppanyaki @Koko’s and Koko’s Asian Fusion). We skipped the Sushi since some years ago I ended up in an emergency room with food poisoning from a bad raw oyster. Figuring I may be more sensitive to bacteria from raw seafood I have had to give it up. That being said, I did hear good reviews from other passengers. The Teppanyaki Grill (Reservations Required) – It is located in a separate area at the back of Koko’s. Our evening was a fun experience with great food and fellowship in a relaxed atmosphere. Chef Strawberry took the time to explain each course as she was preparing it which added to the experience. On another evening we tried the Asian Fusion section and thoroughly enjoyed our meals. Lumiere (Reservation required) - A French restaurant with a menu that changes every four days. The manager (also named JP) runs this facility along with Azure. As expected, the seven-course meal and service were top-notch. Azure Bar and Grill - This is a nice casual bar and grill with seating areas inside and outside that was rarely busy. It was easy to get a small meal or snack quickly. Epicure – A cooking school in a dedicated space with very limited availability. To my knowledge, it was offered twice during our cruise and unfortunately, we did not make the cut. With only 12 openings and up to 228 passengers your chances of being able to attend are limited depending on demand. (Only one in nine, if all 228 passengers had an interest.) Chef’s Table – This is an “invitation-only” experience that typically occurs every other night for up to ten guests. If you are on a shorter cruise segment like mine of only 8 nights, there are limited opportunities and availability. For those who would like to partake in this experience, I suggest expressing your interest to your butler. Fortunately, on the last night, we received an invitation to join four other couples for an epicurean experience and I do mean experience!!! 3 HOURS + 10 FLIGHTS of CHAMPAGNE and WINE + 10 COURSES (appetizers, entrees & dessert) + a LEATHER ENCASED TOOLKIT = CHEF’s TABLE Executive Chef Bert completely exceeded my expectations by providing a three-hour interactive meal where each of us participated in the finishing steps of a couple of the courses. Our main courses included all of the following: Wagyu beef, Dover sole, lamb and smoked pork. Executive Chef Bert said the general food prep for this event takes over 16 hours and the pork is smoked for 40 hours. CONTRAST THE ABOVE WITH THE LAST MEAL MY WIFE AND I ATE FOR OUR NEXT DINNER. The following night we stayed in Lima, Peru and decided on a much simpler menu we had packed in our suitcases before leaving Tuscaloosa since we didn’t want to risk food poisoning. Who doesn’t love pretzels, peanut butter, and bottled water??? Actually, I eat this for lunch a couple of days each week back home. Yacht Club – (buffet for breakfast and lunch overseen by Robert the Restaurant Manager for the Eclipse) In addition, to the extensive buffet offerings there is the ability to order additional breakfast items from a small menu. I intentionally saved the Yacht Club for later in my food/restaurant review for several reasons. For one, it turned out to be a very popular buffet dining venue for breakfast and especially lunch. (NOTE: it is not currently open for dinner.) Understandably, it could become “standing room only”, particularly when everyone returned from a shore excursion around the same time. However, seats typically tuned over quickly. Plus, if you don’t want to wait you can go to Elements and Azure or order room service and eat on your balcony. I need to mention the large stainless-steel pool that is situated in the Yacht Club. It is was a topic of a great deal of discussion and a fair amount of outright derision. The general consensus was that no one would go into this pool while other passengers were eating and this space could be better utilized for additional tables. I asked one of the servers how many passengers she had seen in the pool since the ship launched and she said only three. I told her by the end of this cruise it would be at least four as I intended to give it try. I ended up trying it on an afternoon when I walked around and noticed the only two people in the Yacht Club were the two bartenders who were on duty. I decided to go back to my room and change to my swimsuit so I could give the pool a test drive. When I checked the water earlier it seemed cool so I figured I would only be in the pool about sixty seconds. To my surprise, I found the water comfortable and actually ended up swimming in the pool for over fifteen minutes. I could actually swim as I was obviously the only one in the pool. It does have a sensational view out the back of the ship. (photo enclosed). I believe when this ship spends almost half the year in the colder Arctic circle and Antarctica more passengers will decide to give this pool a try and use the sun loungers as it is doubtful the outdoor pools will be utilized. Unfortunately, it was not until the last morning that I found out from Robert (the Restaurant manager for the ship) that there were strategically located buttons around the inside of the Yacht Club pool that allowed you to turn on specific water jets. If I had known this information previously, I would have stayed in the pool much longer. In-Room Dining (aka Room Service) – Did not try this service and cannot offer an opinion. However as mentioned previously, we did order items from the room service menu while eating in Elements. ENTERTAINMENT: Frankly, on a ship with such a low number of passengers that is billed as a Discovery Yacht I did not expect much in the way of entertainment. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to find we had an entertainment director and singer name Grace Caudle on board. During our eight-night cruise Grace did two different seventy-five-minute singing performances. One was An Evening of Broadway songs and the other An Evening of Classics (a mixture of classics and opera.) Grace is not only beautiful she has a voice to match. NOTE: My wife and I constantly ran into Grace around the ship as she also helps support the Discovery team. Grace mentioned she is training to become certified to operate one of the elven Zodiacs on board. I told her to be sure to put that on her resume and as it will be a sure-fire attention getter for a singer/performer. We also had the pleasure of dining with Grace one evening for our incredible meal in Lumiere. Grace was raised in Dallas, currently resides in NYC and has traveled the world performing. Grace is charming and has a down to earth personality. Grace also hosted a Liar’s Club in the theater which I found highly entertaining. Be forewarned that some of your crew members are very good liars. (LOL) On another evening passengers had the opportunity to view a movie in the theater. Grace also held a couple of trivia contests in the main Lounge. On one of the sea days, I participated in a Martini class that was conducted by the bar manager. During our stop in Utria National Park, Columbia Scenic had arranged for a group of about a dozen local performers to come on board to give a singing and dancing performance representative of their culture. It was highly entertaining, and you could tell the performers were excited and happy to be on board. FYI: I was impressed that Captain Erwan LeRouzic made sure all the performers were allowed to take a tour of our ship. I considered this to be a “cultural exchange.” It was the first time many of the performers had ever been in an elevator. They even had a group photo taken on the bow of the ship. Our Captain felt it was important for he and Scenic to also share a special experience with the performers. In the lounge, there was a duo of a piano player and singer that performed low key music early in the evenings and after dinner. THEATER: The theater is beautiful and seats about 240 people. As in any theater, some seats have better sightlines than others. The main three front-facing projectors were perfectly synched, and the sound system was great. There are even several “short throw” projectors on the sidewalls of the theater for displaying various background type images. It is apparent much time and thought went into the design of this theater. The majority of the seating is in large lounger chairs. A few of the chairs in the theater are power recliners and a few on the sides even swivel. There is also bar service. Therefore, you can relax and listen to the lectures while sipping on a martini or other libations. I definitely needed this during lectures during my college years. This could have changed my entire experience of attending class. SPA: With almost 6,000 square feet the Spa Sanctuary was a beautiful and relaxing area we visited several times during our cruise in order to utilize the steam room, sauna, Vitality Room as well as the outdoor lounge area and pool. In the vitality room with both cushioned and heated stone loungers, BOSE noise-canceling headphones are available. I even went online and figured how to download the BOSE Connect app to allow me to use the headphone to play music from my cell phone. While the men’s sauna has a traditional heating system, the women’s sauna utilizes some type of special infrared system which we were told in a tour was to accommodate women going through menopause. My wife said the infrared system barely provided any heat. She remarked she has much better heat from a small space heater in her office at work. Hopefully, Scenic will address this deficiency in the future. Frankly, I suspect women going through heat flashes related to menopause will seek out a sauna. NOTE: One major disappointment for my wife and me is that there are almost no coed facilities in the spa (the saunas, steam rooms, and even the vitality rooms are segregated. We enjoy spending time together and other ships provide the ability to do so in their areas the lounges. It is not like passengers would choose to use the sauna or loungers in the nude since both areas have windows to the outside deck where anyone walking by could look inside. In reality, it is a type of “unintended” reverse discrimination as several gay couples on board had the ability to share these spa experiences with their spouses/significant others while we were denied that opportunity. I am hopeful Scenic will consider implementing some coed days and/or times. I will admit one afternoon I joined my wife on an adjoining stone lounger on her side as there was absolutely no one in the vitality areas which for some reason was typically the case during our cruise. (Naturally, if another guest had shown-up I would have immediately returned to the men’s side.) OUTDOOR HOT TUBS: Naturally, we tried these out. Unfortunately, we only lasted a few minutes as the temperature was only luke-warm and far from hot. We tried the other hot tub and found it also did not have hot water. The tepid temperature ruined what might have been an enjoyable experience. It would have been ok if the ship were anchored but it was moving and since the hot tubs are forward the wind made it too cool to enjoy in tepid water. My suggestion would be to have at least one, if not both, of the tubs set to the appropriate temperatures. GYM: We utilized it several times and found it to be well-equipped with a nice view of the ocean while you are exercising. YOGA/PILATES STUDIO: Having never done Yoga I decided this was the perfect opportunity to give it try with the classes held every morning at 7 am. Unfortunately, I had to miss a few days as a couple of shore excursions were early and there would not be enough time to clean up after the yoga class and grab a quick breakfast. The instructor, Vlad, was very patient and helped me learn the appropriate poses. Although I work out regularly, I will say yoga is more physically demanding than I realized. It is even more difficult when the ship was rolling with the waves, but Vlad would adjust the pose to take that into account. SERVICE: In a word …. “EXCEPTIONAL!” As mentioned previously, due to my wife’s unique dietary needs we have typically spent the money to stay in mid-range suites on ships with a concierge and/or butler, therefore I feel we have a fairly good baseline as what to expect. There are many aspects to a cruise, including the design of the ship, the itinerary, the excursions and naturally the food; however, one of the biggest factors for me regarding overall satisfaction is controlled by the crew/staff/team members. I always make it a point to meet as many as possible in such a short time onboard. The staff on the Eclipse were all top-notch. Of course, the crew and ship operations are handled by the captain. In our case, it was Captain Erwan LeRouzic. He is friendly and could typically be found roaming the ship checking on things. In the evenings he made himself available for conversations as he walked through the lounge greeting and interacting with passengers. Over the course of the cruise, I cumulatively spent 4-5 hours talking with him. I had done some prior research and found out he was the first person to captain a completely solar-powered boat around the world. He is actually in the Guinness Book of World Records for this feat. Obviously, Captain Erwan set the standard you would expect on this type of adventure. As most of you know the person who is responsible for the highest number of staff on the ship is the Hotel Director. In this case, it is Rico Tubert. As I always say, leadership starts at the top and it is apparent Rico sets a high bar. Once again, I will point out you could find Rico constantly walking the ship checking on his mangers and staff as well as interacting with passengers. He was always friendly and accommodating. When I asked him one evening if the steam rooms had not yet been finished he pulled me aside to explain the steam rooms were finished but they were attempting to track down a water leak that occurs when they are running. Rico said If I, or any passengers, wanted to use them on a particular day to let him know and he would have them turned on. I mentioned it would be nice to have them for our upcoming sea days and as promised the steam rooms were on and provided a great experience. (As mentioned earlier I wish my wife and I could have had the opportunity to enjoy them together. Hopefully, some accommodations will be made for coed couples during our future cruises.) I did have to good-naturedly tell Rico not to let the audio-video sub-contractors off the ship until they eliminated the gremlins that caused the TV’s to come on in the middle of the night for no reason several. It was startling when it occurred at night. I certainly did not fault Scenic as their AV contractors let them down. Fortunately, Scenic had them on board fine-tuning the system. As mentioned previously, my wife has to eat Gluten Free so I always seek out the Restaurant Manager early in the cruise to ensure there will not be any issues Our Restaurant Manager was Robert who is top-notch. When I mentioned a concern on the first evening of the cruise Robert immediately called Executive Chef Bert to have him meet with us to ensure my wife’s dietary restrictions where appropriately handled. On the night we dined at the Chef’s Table, Executive Chef Bert even went to the extra time and effort to make sure specific Gluten Free substitutions were made so that my wife could enjoy this unique culinary experience. It is hard to express how much this meant to my wife. A special thanks to Robert and Executive Chef Bert and all their team members (including the pastry chef and baker among many others) for making this cruise special for my wife. Another time I mentioned to Robert that my wife would enjoy something different other than the fruit and gelato that were often the main desserts listed on the menus as being Gluten Free. From that night forward my wife was provided a different Gluten Free dessert every evening. No matter which of the many restaurants we dined in during the remainder of our cruise the staff would find the special Gluten Free dessert created by the Scenic pastry chef and bring it to our table. One night I recall we were full from the main course and did not have room for dessert. I asked our waiter (JB) if we could get a to-go box to take it back to our cabin. Instead, JB insisted we allow him to arrange for it to be delivered to our cabin while we were enjoying a show in the theater. It made a great late-night snack when we returned to our cabin. Speaking of JB, he was out primary waiter in Elements and did an outstanding job. He always had a smile on his face throughout the cruise as did the entire crew and staff. I specifically recall looking through the glass windows into the kitchen while dining at the Chef’s Table to see how the staff acted when they were “backstage.” They were always smiling and interacting with each other in a friendly manner although as you can imagine it is a frantic pace in such a small space. At another point in our Chef’s Table meal, several of us noticed a worker surrounded by a couple of other workers who were spraying him with whipped cream and water. Executive Chef Bert also noticed and explained this was an instance where a crew member was returning home after completing their contract and other staff members were helping him celebrate. Frankly, I am always interested in how the staff is treated-on ship by management and ownership. JB told me how on other high-end ships he would struggle to stay in touch with his family. In some ports, he and other crew members would scramble off the ship when in a port to find free internet or to buy a phone card so they could contact their families back home. In his case, it twelve-hour time difference to the Philippines. JB went on to tell me how on Scenic they provide FREE video messaging to the entire crew so they can remain in contact with their families. JB literally teared up as he told me that thanks to Karen and Glen Moroney he was able to watch his children grow up daily. JB video conferences with them every night around midnight (noon in the Philippines.) He said when Karen was on board he thanked her and actually wanted to hug her for providing this ability to communicate with his family on a daily basis. I also learned from the Captain that Scenic has a late movie night once a month for the crew in the main theater, so they get to enjoy those comfortable seats like the passengers. It is no wonder that Scenic staff members are happy. They have owners and management that care about their well-being. As the saying goes…. “Take care of your staff and they will take care of you and your customers.” We also interacted frequently with a waiter named Don as he seemed to be everywhere. Don waited on us at various times in Elements, the Yacht Club and was also walking on the deck taking drinks orders another time. Don also appreciates Scenic providing the ability to remain in touch regularly with his family. One evening he showed us a tattoo he had of his daughter on one of his arms. I took a picture of it as it is one of the most realistic portrait tattoos I have ever seen. Don always had a smile and a friendly greeting for us. As we are all aware there are no unimportant jobs on a ship from the engine room to the bridge. I am appreciative of each of the multitude of staff members on board who worked hard to ensure we had a memorable cruise. DISCOVERY TEAM This is certainly one of the main reasons for cruising on the Scenic Eclipse. Since this could be an incredibly lengthy section, I will try to hit a few highlights. During the course of the nine days, I met almost the entire staff and can say they are dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate about their fields of expertise. Many of them were as excited as some of the passengers to be working on a variety of excursions and activities. There were approximately twenty persons on the Discovery Team during our cruise on the Eclipse. The personnel changes depending on the area where the ship is cruising and how long they have been on board without a break. Scenic also allows passengers to express interest each evening if they would like to dine with a member of the Discovery Team. This is a terrific program and I recommend taking advantage of it. In addition to handling the actual excursions, many members of the Discovery Team also provide incredibly interesting lectures. Some are to prepare you for an area you are going to visit, and other lectures review an excursion you have experienced. One day we went snorkeling with the Discovery Team, did a helicopter flight with Josh as our pilot over the San Blas Archipelago and then snorkeled with Kevin and Sarah to one of the remote islands of San Blas. The next day we experienced the eleven-hour transit through the Panama Canal with great commentary. On day three Lou and Peter led our group to visit the Embera tribe members in the Darien National Park. The following day Jorge helped lead a small group of truly adventurous passengers on a strenuous hike through thick jungle vegetation and considerable time walking in streams in a rain forest at Utria National Park. It rained almost the entire hike. Obviously, this is why they call it a “RAIN” forest. However, the tree canopy actually mitigated some of the heavy rains. On our second sea day, the Scenic staff arranged for a fun ceremony commemorating our crossing of the Equator. In Salaverry, we chose the excursion to Chan Can and Huenchco with Peter and Susan. The following day we were on a Zodiac excursion with Kevin and Pepe. One of the highlights of the cruise was the Scenic Enrichment event with a private exhibition of Peruvian Paso Horses along with some local dancers. After the show, they allowed plenty of time for passengers to spend time with the horses, riders, and dancers. Having traveled on two Scenic river cruises we knew this would be a special event in which Scenic pulls out all the stops to provide a memorable interactive experience. It was held on the grounds on a five-star Wyndham hotel in Salaverry, Peru and the hotel staff was outstanding as were the performers. Once again Scenic exceeded our expectations. There were multiple rounds of drinks and hors d'oeuvres served by an attentive staff. Since my wife has a gluten allergy, she had to decline the hors d'oeuvres since it was obvious, they all contain wheat. This was certainly not an issue as it is what we would expect at an event arranged through a third party, so we know to bring Gluten Free snacks with us on our travels. Imagine my wife’s surprise when a waiter approached with a large plate filled with a variety of Gluten-Free hors d'oeuvres they had prepared especially for her. We have no idea who thought to make this arrangement but we both want to say a big a “THANK YOU.” ENRICHMENT LECTURES: The discovery team includes a historian, naturalist, geologist, ornithologist, etc. who made a wide variety of presentations in the theater. I will admit I was surprised there was not better attendance as all of the presentations were educational and interesting. FYI: I do want to point out you will more than likely only have one opportunity to view these presentations in the theater or live on your TV so plan accordingly. Due to copyright issues, Scenic is not allowed to record and play them back later on your in-room TV. HELICOPTER and SUBMERSIBLE: Much marketing by Scenic has gone into highlighting and heavily promoting the helicopter and submersible. Sadly, it was probably the source of the highest level of unhappiness from those passengers who never had the opportunity to partake in these experiences. First of all, it is apparent that the ability to get to experience one of these is based on a combination of “RHIP” and “luck.” RHIP - As my dad told me as a kid when I was unable to do something that other people were experiencing, he would remind me that “Rank Has Its Privileges.” The reality is that those passengers in the more expensive suites on Decks Eight and Nine on the Eclipse are given top priority as were those who have traveled extensively with Scenic in the past and are in the upper levels of the scenic loyalty program. My understanding is that “THE LIST” for the submersible comes from the home office in Australia. As much as I loved the Eclipse and the overall experience; not getting on “THE LIST” to experience the submersible (if it had operated) was a major disappointment. It is particularly disappointing as my wife and I have two more expensive cruises of 9-11 days booked to the Norwegian Fjords and Antarctica where we intentionally booked mid-ship on the lowest level (deck five) to help with seasickness in the Drake Strait. Therefore, I will probably never be allowed by ownership/management to get on the submersible since RHIP will come into play and I will be the proverbial low person on the totem pole. I probably would not have spent the considerable money on three cruises in eighteen months if I had realized I would probably never have an opportunity to go on the submersible. Obviously, there is a better opportunity to get on the helicopter as it has more capacity due to the faster turnaround. On our cruise, Scenic was only utilizing one of their two helicopters. This was partly due to demand and also they are still getting familiar with the process of bringing a helicopter out of the hanger, installing the blades, going through the pre-flight checklist, etc. Our pilot Josh mentioned it currently takes about one hour for this process. In the future, they plan to get this time down to about thirty minutes which will allow them to use both helicopters since there is only one landing area and they will have to precisely alternate their takeoffs and landings. NOTE: I do want to mention that there are also two factors out of the control of Scenic that further diminish your chances to have an opportunity to take part in the highly promoted helicopter and submersible experiences. Those two factors are WEATHER and PERMITTING. WEATHER - Naturally safety must come first, and the helicopters cannot fly in situations that could potentially endanger the safety of pilots and passengers. High winds and rough seas are two of the primary factors. In one case we were docked in Slaverry and high winds were coming from the wrong direction for the helicopters to take off into the wind to obtain proper lift. When the Eclipse is anchored the captain can often change the ship’s position to allow the helicopters to have proper wind direction. However, understand that can also impact the comfort of the passengers who are onboard the ship so it is a balancing act. Furthermore, in that in the case where the wind was a factor, the Eclipse was unfortunately docked next to a freighter that was actively loading coal with cranes that were constantly moving. Having a crane hit you helicopter while taking off or landing is naturally a “no go.” On another day the waves were moving up to four feet in a matter of seconds. This would definitely have had a negative impact on safe landings. PERMITTING - Receiving the appropriate written authorizations in various countries is definitely an issue when it comes to operating the submersible. Due to the Jones Act, the United States would not allow the Scenic submersible to be used in US waters. In other countries, Scenic has literally been working on authorizations for up to two and a half years. Sometimes these approvals are granted at the last moment. In other cases, highs seas can naturally cause cancellations. MY OPINION: Based on feedback from many passengers this cruise segment, Scenic needs to do a MUCH better job of explaining RHIP (aka “THE LIST”), weather, and permitting before they take non-refundable deposits from customers. This would not completely cut down on disappointment and outright unhappiness but it could help mitigate it. At his point, Scenic is promoting experiences (especially relating to the submersible) in its advertising, marketing, and new releases that it simply can’t live up to given the reasons I have enumerated. ACTIVITIES: I had several passengers tell me that they felt there were not enough activities: especially on seas days. This is one of the circumstances where your reality is based on your own personal expectations. Below is my personal schedule from our first full day on the cruise: 7 – 8 a.m. - Yoga 8 - 9 a.m. - Breakfast 9 – 10 a.m. - Snorkeling and kayak briefing 10:30 a.m. Zodiac to a small San Blas Islands at 10:30 am. 11 a.m. - Snorkeling 11:30 a.m. - Zodiac back to the ship 12:10 p.m. - Helicopter safety briefing in Discovery Room 12:30 p.m. - Helicopter excursion over the reefs of San Blas Isles 1 p.m. - Zodiacs to San Blas islands for a two-hour kayaking adventure 3 p.m. – Zodiac back to ship 3:15 p.m. - Briefing on Panama Canal history by Discovery Team 4:30 p.m. - The geological history of the Panama Canal at 4:30 pm. 5:30 p.m. - Recap of today’s events and a preview of tomorrow’s schedule 6:45 p.m. - Captain’s cocktail reception 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. - Dinner 9:30 – 10:30 p.m. - Halloween dance Yes, we missed lunch. Sacrifices had to be made as we felt there was too much to see and do. However, it is possible we slightly over-scheduled ourselves. (LOL) WE REALIZED WE MIGHT NEED A VACATION TO RECOVER FROM THIS ADVENTURE DISCOVERY CRUISE IF WE CONTINUED AT THIS PACE!!! We told ourselves we could rest during our two back to back sea days. _________________________________________________________________ MY ACTUAL PERSONAL SCHEDULE FOR MY FIRST SEA DAY: 45 minutes for Yoga 45 minutes on a treadmill 60 minutes enrichment lecture on volcanoes 45 minutes for a champagne brunch buffet 60 minutes enrichment lecture on sugarcane & slavery 30 minutes mixology class on World of Martinis (Yes there was sampling) 30 minutes for a trivia contest 45 minutes for indoor pool and lounger 60 minutes enrichment lecture on Marooned Mariners 20 minutes live music 45 minutes recap with the following: Biologist, geologist, naturalist, ornithologist, historian, etc. Plus, updates from our expedition team 60 minutes for dinner 10 minutes for after-dinner drinks 45 minutes to enjoy an evening of classical songs by Grace FINALLY BEDTIME! I included the two schedules to further reinforce that your experience on a cruise is often based on your own desire to participate. Conversely, some passengers understandably prefer to relax and maintain a slower more low key schedule. This is part of the beauty of cruising. A UNIQUE GIFT FROM SCENIC: On the last night of the cruise, Scenic held an event titled: Final Recap and your Voyage Video. During the entire cruise, Scenic had arranged for a videographer named Niko to capture the highlights of our cruise and various excursions. Niko is an amazing videographer and a talented editor. Niko was literally working on this video until minutes prior to the presentation in order to include scenes from the excursions earlier in the day. The best part was being told that every passenger would be sent a link in the coming weeks to view, share, and download this video. I want to thank Scenic for this unexpected gift. My wife and I rarely purchase souvenirs and as we have lost two houses and most of our possessions due to fire and tornado in the past. On this trip, we only bought a Panama hat for my wife to wear on a couple of shore excursions and a box of Gluten Free corn flakes that are not available in the United States. Therefore, we concentrate on collecting memories. We want to thank Scenic for this unexpected gift that will allow us to preserve memories of this amazing cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We arranged this cruise to South America whilst on our previous Oceania cruise which was on Marina. We were prepared for the smaller ship and looked forward to the experience. We were in stateroom 7076, a Concierge room. We had previously ... Read More
We arranged this cruise to South America whilst on our previous Oceania cruise which was on Marina. We were prepared for the smaller ship and looked forward to the experience. We were in stateroom 7076, a Concierge room. We had previously read how small the bathrooms are, believe it, they are tiny. The ship is about to be refurbished and shower curtains replaced with doors. I cant imagine how anyone on the slightly larger side will get in and shut the door. Most of the ports were interesting especially Paracas and Punta Arenas. We enjoyed seeing many different penguins, birds and sea lions. This is very much a nature, rather than a cultural cruise. Evening entertainment was variable, but on the whole good. There were many sea days with very little going on. There were 2 lecturers, one on wildlife and one on Ocean sustainability. Both were good, but that still left too much time with nothing going on. As a Bridge player I appreciated the supervised Bridge, my husband did a lot of reading. On sea day when the weather was inclement it was difficult to find somewhere to sit and the Terrace restaurant was mayhem. They should open the Main dining room for much longer. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because Oceania has smaller ships and their food is excellent. This was a South America cruise going from Lima Peru to Buenos Aires Argentina. Being the month of March in the Southern Hemisphere, we expected and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because Oceania has smaller ships and their food is excellent. This was a South America cruise going from Lima Peru to Buenos Aires Argentina. Being the month of March in the Southern Hemisphere, we expected and received September type temperatures like the Northern Hemisphere. Sirena is very well kept still clean and attractive though it will be renovated soon. I like all the colors and schemes she has now but that will disappear with the addition of gray interior decor. My only issue with the ship was the aggressiveness and interruptions of the wine stewards and waiters in the main dining room. Those personnel need to be trained to present themselves and be recognized. So many times they would interrupt the table guests which to me is rude. On the last bus tour in BA, there was a passenger that was coughing incessantly. I caught his cold and am still suffering from it. I wrote a separate letter to Oceania suggesting that their ship chaperon(s) on the tours provide disposable masks on those busses for the "coughers" and on the vessel too. There are sick people who come on the ship even though they are given a questionnaire prior to boarding. Passengers do not have to divulge that they have a cold. Anyhow, I would recommend the Sirena and Oceania. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Finishing the Trip – Lima to San Diego – February 15 to March 4 , 2019 Why this cruise? We had sailed from San Diego to Callao/Lima 5 years ago on the “old” Statendam and wanted to do the return trip. This time we would be on ... Read More
Finishing the Trip – Lima to San Diego – February 15 to March 4 , 2019 Why this cruise? We had sailed from San Diego to Callao/Lima 5 years ago on the “old” Statendam and wanted to do the return trip. This time we would be on Volendam, and there were fewer port stops and more sea days, but we were looking for a relaxing experience which we found. Holland America is not our most favorite cruise line; but deserves a 4 star rating for its efforts and wide ranging itinerary selections. Getting there. We flew American Airlines to LAX, and then boarded a LATAM Airlines plane. This company was formed by a merger of a Chilean airline and a Brazilian airline, and they bought some Boeing 987 Dreamliners, one of which we flew. It was a very nice plane with excellent service, although I can never sleep on planes, even when stretched out in Business class as on this flight. Lima. We arrived on Saturday, and stayed at a hotel in Lima that night since we could not board the ship until Sunday. We also contacted our tour guide from our prior trip – Monica of Monica Tours Peru, for tours on Saturday and Monday. We booked transportation from the airport to our hotel on line before we left and would highly recommend the company – taxidatum@gmail.com. The cost was $18.00 with a senior discount, although I paid the driver $20.00. We stayed at the BTH Hotel which we found on both Trip Advisor and Trivago. It was very reasonable, and a fairly nice place with an extremely helpful desk staff that spoke excellent English. The restaurant was quite nice, with a decent dinner and excellent breakfast. The breakfast was included in the $108.00 hotel price! Getting on board can be a problem in Lima/Callao. One must have a pass to get on the dock. The cruise lines pick up passengers who have purchased air through them at the airport and drive them to the ship. All others must go to a hotel site to catch a cruise bus. We were able to get hold of taxidatum and they picked us up at the BTH hotel on Sunday and drove us to the Marriot Hotel in Miraflores for $15.00where we caught the shuttle bus to the ship. Boarding was actually on board the ship since there were few of us, so we made it to our stateroom and unpacked quickly. We stayed on board the rest of the day, and met Monica for another tour of Lima on Monday before we did our own little muster drill and sailed away that afternoon The Volendam Our ship was constructed in 1999 and had been refurbished a few years ago. Its normal passenger complement is 1400 in a 60,000 gross tonnage craft which makes for a decent space ratio of 42.85 cubic feet per passenger. The public spaces have lots of seating and tend to have dark wood with old fashioned prints and decorative pieces. There are three elevator/stair banks which allow very decent passenger flow. It is easy to get around and the only crowds are in the theater for shows. There are two pools, one midships and the other aft – both on the Lido deck. The library is part of the computer room, but was never crowded. There is a separate Digital Workshop room. Our Stateroom We had a standard verandah cabin on Deck 6. Volendam shows its age in its offering of cabins. Only the upper two stateroom decks, 6 and 7 have verandahs. Decks 3, 4 and 5 staterooms have only windows. Our layout had a fair amount of room with a full length leather couch opposite a nice desk with 6 full drawers. The closets were opposite the bath which had a tub/ shower. The lighting was good, and we managed to get the temperature to a decent level. The verandah had a lounge chair as well as a side chair. We were only a few steps from the mid ships elevators, two decks below the Lido deck, and two above the main dining room and theater. Entertainment The production shows, with four singers and six dancers were not bad, although quite loud as is common. There was one other musician playing a variety of instruments, with a comic patter. There were three comedians, which we skipped. There was a trio of lady singers who were not bad. The classical music was provided by a violinist with a piano accompanist. They played 4 sets on most nights, but did not play at all on a few nights. We gave the whole entertainment panoply a 5 out of 10 rating. On Board Information Presentations. These were fairly extensive and well done. There was a Digital Workshop host – Frank – who did from one to four presentations every day and was quite knowledgeable. There were regular talks about the places we would visit. The ship has a large demonstration kitchen with a presentation cook doing at least one cooking show each morning and afternoon. In addition there were the usual bridge and mah jong games, along with arts and crafts, and the Wajang Theater showed movies three three times a day. All told, there was plenty to do on board. Food Holland America does a pretty good job with food, although it does not come close to Crystal or Oceania. The main dining room is on Decks 4 and 5, with 4 being for open seating and 5 for set seating. Service for dinner starts at 5:15 and is busy immediately sine the evening shows start at 8:00 and people start arriving at the theater at 7:00. In addition to the dining room, there is the Pinnacle Room with a charge of $50.00 per person. We ate there one night as the guest of our travel agent, and it was quite good. We also were guests at Canaletto, which is an Italian Restaurant set up each night at a section of the Lido buffet. For $15.00 extra per person it was quite good. The Lido buffet itself has good selections and keeps the food hot, but the service is somewhat short handed, both on the serving line and in the restaurant portion. Getting coffee in the morning was often a struggle. There was only one soup for lunch, but sushi was always available. The pastries were quite fine. My wife is a vegetarian and was almost always able to obtain a decent selection. I would rate the food experience at 8.5 out of 10, below the 9.4 and 9.5 of Oceania and Crystal; and in the same range as Princess and Celebrity. Fellow Passengers Holland America does not cater much to children, and there were only 3 on board. The overwhelming number of us were in the Medicare set, and mostly American and Canadian, with a few Germans. The clothing style was very casual, with only a slight improvement on the “formal” nights. This seems to be the way cruising is headed these days. Many had extensive cruising experience, and we had lots of pleasant conversations. The Crew As always, the crew was friendly and generally helpful. Most of the dining room and buffet staff, and all of the cabin workers were Indonesian, a practice this line has followed dating back to when Indonesia was the Dutch East Indies. They are uniformly friendly and smiling. The Captain, a German, was often seen about the ship. Holland America has a long sea faring history, and knows how to sail a ship quite well, thank you. Ports of Call. The first stop was 130 miles south of Callao at a place called General San Martin. It is only a pier and the town of Paracas is about 10 miles away. The area is the most barren desert we have ever seen. It probably could be called the Peruvian extension of Chile’s Atacama Desert, just about the driest place on earth. But, here was an excellent tour available to the off shore Ballestas Islands. I had found this tour on line and we paid $15.75 apiece. The ship’s tour cost $164.95 per person! That was a nice savings of $300.00 indeed. The tour was in an open boat holding about 40 people. There were several such boats and ours did not have any cruise passengers because we boarded through the company (Paracas Explorer – bookings@findlocaltrips.com) that sold us the tickets. The Ballestas Islands contain a variety of birds such as boobies, cormorants, pelicans and penguins as well as seals and dolphins. The birds provide a huge amount of guano, which is carefully guarded until it is removed and sold at a high price. The birds are evidently undisturbed by the removal process. On the way out we saw a huge carving on the side of a hill in the style of the ancient Nazca tribe. The boat trip took about two + hours and was well worth it, especially at $30.00 for both of us. All the rest of our tour were HAL tours. A very nice guide book showing all the tours was provided, and there was a wide selection in most ports. After three sea, days we arrived at Punta Arenas, Costa Rica where we took a ships bus tour and enjoyed a local dance show and later a stop at a souvenir shop. Costa Rica is a very nice country with a stable democratic government, no army and one of the highest literacy rates in the world. We did not get off the ship in Nicaragua, the next stop. The following day we toured the city of Antigua in Guatemala. This city is a UNESCO World Heritage site which means a real effort has been made at preservation. The first stop was the Jade Museum, where the presenter was a lady from Yorkshire. The individuals who discovered the jade were from Texas and the wife was present in the museum and store. The collection was quite beautiful. We also drove around town with a guide who was quite frank about the poor state of affairs in her country due to corruption and a concentration of wealth in 20 families. The literacy rate here is one of the worst in the world. But the cost of living is quite low. After two sea days we arrived at Manzanillo, Mexico, which is a pleasant town, where we did a typical tour which was hardly memorable. The next day was spent in Puerto Vallarta, where we have spent some time in the past. The tour was fairly short and again, not exciting, but pleasant. After two sea days we arrived in San Diego. Disembarkation went smoothly. Overall Rating We took this cruise for two reasons. The first was to finish the Inca Empire cruise which we had started five years ago. The second attraction was the number of sea days, and the way they were spaced. We find these days most relaxing. I was able to enjoy exercising in the pools, do a lot of reading, staring at the ocean, and of course, eat. So, while this was not our most exciting trip, it provided just what we wanted, 15 days at ease. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I had told my husband that my bucket list was to see Machu Picchu and had been since high school. So we booked on the Pursuit. We had heard there were problems with food etc but to us it’s just something that will happen because it’s a ... Read More
I had told my husband that my bucket list was to see Machu Picchu and had been since high school. So we booked on the Pursuit. We had heard there were problems with food etc but to us it’s just something that will happen because it’s a new ship with new staff learning the ropes with seasoned staff from some of the other ships. We never went on this cruise with high expectations because of the nature of where we were, where we were heading and the type of conditions in weather etc we could face. We were very lucky with the weather overall being nice with the odd rain but expected in snow capped mountainous areas. Our adventure to Machu Picchu was fantastic, 5 star hotels all the way, absolutely 4 wonderful guides who met our every needs. All 21 of us got along famously and we all agreed it was the highlight of the whole trip. As one of them said, the guides did everything except put the toothpaste on our toothbrushes. I will put up photos once I get them organised. We enjoyed the cruise, seeing things and going places we would probably never gone to. There was a factor that prevented us from stopping in one port ,having to do with filters but we were not affected except for the missed port. Pursuit was supposed to go to the Falklands but being a place where weather ,wind especially , plays a huge part in deciding if a ship can make it or not, we did not make it there. 21 foot waves, a 3 mile tender, and a return trip would have been miserable for everyone. Sasha and his group scrambled to give us new shore excursions at a new port of call while the Captain and his crew scrambled to find a port we could go to. It all worked out so I commend the captain and all those involved for all the very hard work they did to keep us happy. Wine in the main dining room was fine though we thought that as far as the four choices each evening could have featured wines from the countries we visited. I still enjoyed the wine though and thought they were good. My husband decided to take the ultimate package as he drinks more wine than I do. Food was good ,hot in the dining room but I think there could have been more variations. Their lamb shanks were so good as was the fish. They also had choices for those who are vegan or vegetarian. The waiters were terrific and when they weren’t working on the dining room they went up to Windows Cafe. The room attendants were so accommodating and worked very hard to keep our rooms clean. Overall I think it was a great cruise , you just have go with the idea that anything can happen and don’t have high expectations. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
The ship is lovely except for the old windows which need painting. The dining room food and service was outstanding. Thank you Vishal ..the egg man, for looking after us. The Living Room was our favourite place...classy, quiet, and ... Read More
The ship is lovely except for the old windows which need painting. The dining room food and service was outstanding. Thank you Vishal ..the egg man, for looking after us. The Living Room was our favourite place...classy, quiet, and relaxing with the ever changing view. The buffet food was always only luke warm. Many passengers complained but this was never resolved. Shore excursions were well organised. Dr Ron Orenstein guest lecturer was fantastic. Bars and lounges were very nice with good service. Missed two ports because of bad weather and mechanical issues. Uninspired entertainment. Piped music was horrible and repetitive. The ships general areas not very clean with the same crumbs on the floor for days under tables. Beds and linens were wonderful but no clock in the cabin. Captain was very entertaining and did give plenty of updates.Feel there could have been more guest lecturers on board talking about night sky, glaciers, geology, weather, and marine history. All staff were wonderful...very attentive. The big thing was the buffet food. No excuse for it always being barely luke warm. Many really upset passengers over this. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Thought this would be a journey of a lifetime Positives Cabin Good cabin staff Harold & Joycelen excellent room sevice good Guest entertainers Good Guest Lecturer Dr. Ron Orenstein excellent The Patio service ... Read More
Thought this would be a journey of a lifetime Positives Cabin Good cabin staff Harold & Joycelen excellent room sevice good Guest entertainers Good Guest Lecturer Dr. Ron Orenstein excellent The Patio service excellent Waiter in cabaret lounge Armadeo excellent Negatives Check in not very good. Azamara badly damaged suitcase in transit Food and service in discoveries not very good most of menu same for 21 days you areassigned a different table each night. Problem with ships evaporators shortage of waterfor engines, reduced speed miss a port. Norovirus on ship a few days. Pianist left shipweek to replace. Karioke machine packed up. Top & swirl machine not working 10 days Destinations lecturer very poor in fact removed from ship next lectures not much better. Misinformation given several times by cruise director. White night outside cancelledbecause to cold. Cancelled Falklands said because of high seas & winds. White nightevent outside cancelled because to cold. Azamazing evening in Montevideo auditoriumunsuitable floor flat sitting on wooden folding chairs made it extremely difficult to seeentertainers the crew had the best view standing in the aisles and on raised area at back Azamara said they do not now give out customer feedback forms they will E.mail you Still waiting Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Some stops were boring, food has gone down, quarantined without much consulting with nurse or Doctor and whole ship under watch for illness. Quarantined for 48 hours while some for just 24--communication was very poor about this issue. ... Read More
Some stops were boring, food has gone down, quarantined without much consulting with nurse or Doctor and whole ship under watch for illness. Quarantined for 48 hours while some for just 24--communication was very poor about this issue. Many complained about service in some areas especially the dining room and I felt the rooms needed a major cleaning especially the carpets But we still had some great people--our butler and room attendants were great. Some of the mater-dies were also great. Had dinner with the General manager and that was a delightful night We have been on 5 Oceania cruises and this one was very disappointing Items in the boutiques we very high end and too pricey. I would like to see them have more local items as some of the other ships offer. More souvenir items The speakers put most listeners to sleep and there were not many interesting things to do on the at sea days Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We had a choice of Regent or their sister line, Oceania for the same itinerary. We decided to give Regent a try and we were very happy we did. We had sailed Oceania before and we found Regent ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We had a choice of Regent or their sister line, Oceania for the same itinerary. We decided to give Regent a try and we were very happy we did. We had sailed Oceania before and we found Regent and Oceania comparable in most ways. We also found the cost to be about the same when you add the things that are included on Regent to similar things at extra cost on Oceania. We also liked that business class air was available. The things that we found better on Regent than Oceania: Embarkation was smooth and simple. We disembarked independently and that went smoothly as well. Our Category G cabin was larger and the bathroom much nicer than the similar category on Oceania's small ships. The included excursions were not nearly as crowded as similar excursion either included or at cost on Oceania. Fewer people made for a more intimate and comfortable excursion experience. Also, the excursions seemed to be paced better for the audience. Food is comparable on both lines. Launderettes are free and busy but we never had a serious problem using them when they were open. The shore excursion organization on the Regent Mariner was much better organized and operated more smoothly than our last cruise on the Oceania Insignia last April/May. The one complaint many people had came during the time the ship was dealing with a gastroenteritis outbreak. The quarantine process was well run and the staff worked hard and contained the outbreak but the outbreak required the closing of the free launderettes for over a week. That made it difficult for those onboard that needed to wash clothes. A larger group of the passengers felt like the ship should have offered free laundry during that period of time. All in all, we really enjoyed the experience enough to book another cruise on Regent. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
This was our fourth cruise with RSS but our first on Mariner. We got a chance to explore Lima before we embarked, which went very smoothly, once we had lobbied the local DMC company to stick to the stated embarkation times guaranteed by ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise with RSS but our first on Mariner. We got a chance to explore Lima before we embarked, which went very smoothly, once we had lobbied the local DMC company to stick to the stated embarkation times guaranteed by RSS, according to suite status! Disembarking in Buenos Aires was less smooth as a shuttle bus had to be used to transport guests to the terminal from the ship. This city needs a dedicated cruise terminal badly, given the number of ships coming here. Mariner's refit has been put back from early 2017, and it showed. Things generally look tired, carpets, curtains, public areas etc. Dining is something championed by RSS but the menus remain the same in Prime 7, year on year. Signatures only had four main courses, which is a bit limiting over a longer cruise. Guests can dine in both restaurants a limited number of times, according to suite status, but even so, if fortunate to have more opportunities, selection of dishes is poor. Compass Rose is a star performer, lots of choice, very good quality and excellent service. Good atmosphere. Settle Mare also suffers from a 'samey' menu. Starter buffet much the same every night we went there. Main courses don't automatically come with vegetables, so ask! Wines very good. We don't use the entertainment offers but friends spoke highly of it. The Star Duo in the Horizon Lounge were our favourites! Very talented indeed. Lectures by Terry Breen were much appreciated. Lounges and bars cater very well for guests with great staff who remember your cocktail favourites! Excursions were diverse and informative. Local guides and drivers, without exception, were first class. A longer journey to an activity soon passed in professional hands. Very well chosen and executed excursions. Some of the ports were more interesting than others but the sights and wildlife viewing opportunities were faultless. Our only grave disappointment being the captain's decision not to dock in the Falkland Islands due to inclement weather. Whilst this decision was respected, and alternative port and excursions efficiently organised, we feel that RSS should state very clearly indeed in their given itinerary that the chances of visiting this port are far less than 50%. This destination was the sole reason we chose this cruise. So for this reason alone would not repeat cruise, especially at six star prices! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We chose this cruise for two reasons. One- the itinerary, we always wanted to cruise the Chilean fiords and Cape Horn, and two we were willing to pay the premium for Business Class air and fee free excursions and amenities etc. We expected ... Read More
We chose this cruise for two reasons. One- the itinerary, we always wanted to cruise the Chilean fiords and Cape Horn, and two we were willing to pay the premium for Business Class air and fee free excursions and amenities etc. We expected exceptional service and support. The service by staff was very good and many of the excursions were outstanding. But the ship was tired. We had elevator breakdowns for extented periods, laundry was shut down for hygiene problems, our tender lacked maintenance (forward hatch malfunctioned and drenched some passengers in a rough sea while returning to the ship). The baggage management from airport to the ship was a mess. Our return trip was exhausting. We had to vacate our suite at 8am, muster for a bus trip to a hotel where we sat around for 6 hours in an area with nothing to do but visit a shopping mall. We were routed from Buenas Aires to Lima and then to Miami on Latam Airlines. The second leg left after midnight local time. Although we thought we were staying on the same plane such was not the case. We had to go through security again and rush to another gate....It appeared to us that since a large percentage of their passengers are repeat clients, that Regent treated new clients significantly differently. We know some travelers had direct flights to Miami. We doubt we will choose Regrnt for any future cruising plans. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We had a previous experience on SilverSea which was delightful and we wanted to try them again. SS did not disappoint us as the dining, entertainment, staff were all first rate. The shipboard services are excellent from butler to laundry ... Read More
We had a previous experience on SilverSea which was delightful and we wanted to try them again. SS did not disappoint us as the dining, entertainment, staff were all first rate. The shipboard services are excellent from butler to laundry availability. The shore excursions on this trip were somewhat limited by the ports of call (only 2 ports). The ones we were chose were very good except the Andes Highlights - very interesting scenery up to a mountain village for a brief tour and lunch. The guide was excellent with much historical and geological information that made the long drive interesting. The village itself was not very attractive but surrounded by magnificent mountains. A total of 9 hours was a bit long but not sure how it could have been changed. The other excursion was from Paracas and toured the Ballesta Isles which was very interesting. The guide was well versed in the local history and the animals that we saw. The entertainment was varied and for the most part very good. All skilled performers from musical to dance to guitar. We particularly enjoy the diverse group of passengers on SS cruises. The people come from many countries including the UK, Australia, Europe(Germany, France, & Italy), Asia and the USA. Very interesting and personal group of mostly well traveled people. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We choose this cruise because of the itinerary and we wanted to experience a smaller ship. We are glad we did the cruise, however, smaller ships are “not our cup of tea.” We did not think there was much to do and will stick to ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of the itinerary and we wanted to experience a smaller ship. We are glad we did the cruise, however, smaller ships are “not our cup of tea.” We did not think there was much to do and will stick to Oceania and Regent’s larger ships. Here are out thoughts and opinions: Air Arrangements – GRADE F. We have never had such poor air arrangements. Oceania did not even book partner airlines for domestic and international travel. This meant 1) we could only check one bag each (we planned on checking our carry on too), 2) could only get boarding passes for domestic portion of air arrangements, 3) we had to take a bus from one part of terminal to another, 4) leave security and take a train from one terminal to another, 5) get new boarding passes for international flight and check two more bags, 6) our seats were next to bathrooms so paid extra to move forward away from bathrooms. On the way home, Oceania booked us a 10:30 p.m. flight even though we had to leave the ship at 9:00 a.m. They offered no tours with drop off at airport as most cruise lines we have taken do. On board ship they offered no help for the return flight home and suggested we book a hotel room for the day! Cabin – grade A. We were in a penthouse and the room was well appointed and quiet. However, the bathroom might be the smallest we have ever had. Food – GRADE B+ to A-. Steaks, fish and sometimes lobster tended to be under-cooked for our taste. Buffet food was not as good as the Mariner or Riviera, but better than other cruise lines. Offering lobster and steaks each evening in the buffet was very enjoyable. The main dining room offered good food, good service and for the most part a notch above other cruise lines. There are two specialty restaurants and both were excellent with friendly and helpful hosts. Staff- GRADE A. All staff and crew members were very friendly. This is a definite plus for the ship and Oceania. Oceania Shore Excursions – GRADE B. While the guides for the most part were good, there tended to be an over emphasis on taking people to shop for jewelry, glass, and other types of shops. While we did appreciate stops at local markets, many places had booths/stalls each selling basically the same thing. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
This was our first cruise with Oceania, and will almost certainly be our last. We were unfortunate enough to board at a time when gastrointestinal disease had taken hold on the ship. This can happen on any ship, but the way that Oceania ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Oceania, and will almost certainly be our last. We were unfortunate enough to board at a time when gastrointestinal disease had taken hold on the ship. This can happen on any ship, but the way that Oceania handled, or rather mishandled, this and the level of outright dishonesty was shocking. We were boarding in Lima, Peru and received an email even before we left home several days before the ship was due to sail, saying that our embarkation would be put back an hour as the ship was to be deep-cleaned. This is the extract from the email I received from Oceania: " Recently, in the vicinity of Callao/Lima, there have been several outbreaks of influenza and gastroenteritis. To ensure that you and your fellow guests are able to enjoy your cruise and minimize the possibility of any health issues being brought on board, we will be delaying the start of embarkation until at least 1 PM local time. This delay will allow the ship’s staff ample time to implement a full “sanitation barrier” between the embarkation area and the Regatta, to ensure healthy guests and a healthy ship." It turned out it wasn't a healthy ship with restrictions imposed for more than half the cruise and on the previous leg from Buenos Aires.. Lima had suffered some pretty severe flooding so this seemed reasonable but it turned out that the sanitising process was actually trying to clear up an GI outbreak that had started long before the ship ever arrived in Lima. We discovered this in talking to other passengers who had been on the previous leg of the journey and who been told told to leave the ship so it could be deep-cleaned. We had this conversation during the melée of embarkation when ship's pens were being shared by passengers completing health questionnaires on the dock - you really couldn't make this up! Later in the cruise we were told that the problem was passengers who had embarked in Lima after the ship's own pre-trip to Machu Picchu - but this was just another lie as the deep-cleaning had preceded the arrival of these passengers. Embarkation was a shambles. First of all, passengers get dropped just outside the port and are transported to the ship by shuttle buses. As soon as taxis carrying passengers arrived they were literally swarmed over by a bunch of freelance baggage handlers who tried to grab luggage to put on the shuttle. Our taxi was parked about 5m from the bus but as soon as the car boot was opened the bags were seized upon without asking. We had several bags and we and our driver were trying to monitor where they were going but we didn't need help to move them. We refused to give in to intimidation to pay these unwanted helpers. Other taxi drivers were also defending their passengers and one even went to the aid of an unaccompanied elderly couple, remonstrating with the swarm and gathering the passengers up to wait with the people he was dropping off. Meanwhile, a young man wearing an Oceania badge stood looking on but doing nothing - he was absolutely useless and might as well have not been there. Oceania really need to look at the passenger experience in this area and make sure they have enough people at the shuttle point to contend with this behaviour. There were huge queues to get on board and very poor organisation once there. Normally embarkation would be staggered with suites and PH cabins getting earlier access. It seemed that only the 11am and 12am embarkations had been delayed so everyone turned up at the same time and the staff simply could not cope. What turned out to be the executive concierge was attempting to control the queues but this was a task that was beyond his powers. Someone should tell them that breezy upbeat staff pretending that nothing is amiss just raises hackles on the part of the paying passengers. We had booked a PH3 stateroom - we thought the basic staterooms were just too small. The cabin was nice - about 1.5 times the width of a standard balcony cabin so we had a nice outdoor area. The width of the cabin made it feel a lot more spacious than a larger cabin we had on Regent's Voyager. The bathroom though was a lot smaller even though it was about twice the size of the lower level staterooms on Regatta. We did see one of these and it really was tiny. Even though there isn't a walk-in wardrobe in the PH, there was ample storage, in fact I suspect more than the walk-in would have offered. There was a lot more room to walk around the bed and the sofa and two chairs and table were far enough apart to make eating in the cabin a practical proposition. The restrictions on board owing to the GI seemed to only apply to those elements that would cause maximum inconvenience to passengers but not to those aspects that might affect Oceania's profits. For example, the library was closed, the laundry was closed, there were no cruet sets or milk jugs or sugar containers available on tables, menus were in paper format rather than bound books. Yet the casino, with its banks of slots machines, and the boutiques were open with special events where crowds of people would turn up to paw handbags, clothing and jewellery, whilst in the dining room I was handed a bound wine list which we didn't even ask for. There were no hand sanitisers in the casino or at the entrances to the shops but entering the restaurants there were multiple units and members of staff monitoring diners as they arrived. I was actually very rudely shouted at by one person and loudly called back to sanitise the hands that I had sanitised just ten seconds earlier (I assume she didn't see): this woman's customer service skills were better suited to a prison than a so-called luxury cruise. I mentioned the incident in the mid-cruise review and one of the maitre d's did apologise profusely. At least it was an apology - given the absence of any apology for the inconvenience to passengers and the inability of senior staff to tell passengers the truth in relation to the GI outbreak, I suppose I should be grateful that the word 'sorry' passed anyone's lips. By the time any real attempt was made to assuage passenger feelings it was too late. There were a few simple things which could have been done which might have taken some of the rancour - for example, an early and straightforward apology for the inconveniences. I heard a lot of people who were enraged that whilst the laundrette was closed, Oceania was capitalising on this by charging for laundry services. A simple gesture of allowing passengers a limited number of items of clothing to be laundered free of charge would have gone some way to reducing anger. Lots of people saw the hypocrisy of allowing the boutiques & casino to open whilst the laundry & library were off limits. It was day 10 or 11 (out of 16) before all the restrictions were removed which made life a lot better for everyone. Service in the dining room had been slowed down by people constantly having to ask for salt, pepper, milk, bread, butter etc because none of his was left on the table initially. We also missed a port. I was sort of forewarned about this by the independent tour operator with whom we had made a booking when he told me about 36 hours before embarkation that the cruise ship had cancelled all its tours, and asked if we had been told that we were missing the first port. After having learned this I also thought we wouldn't port (why pay port fees if you aren't going to let people off the boat?) but Oceania did not even attempt to tell passengers in advance. This was only confirmed to me when I specifically asked on embarkation and the member of staff who told me said that everyone had been informed before embarkation (either this was just another lie or he didn't know and made this part up). Several people I spoke to were unaware of this even late on in the day. Oceania prides itself on serving the best food at sea. I simply didn't see this. Our previous cruising experience was with Regent and the food there is better in my view. Regent also will prepare something off menu as long as they have the ingredients but this is not possible on Oceania. Provision for vegetarians was pretty poor although another passenger told me that it was vastly improved from her cruise a year before when she had had to complain about the lack of vegetarian options. I noticed that some of the veggie menu items were ones I remembered from Regent. This issue is particularly noticeable in Polo - yes it is a steak & seafood restaurant but my husband is a confirmed carnivore. The restaurant staff seemed to think it was odd that I would want to eat there, but why should a vegetarian's partner have to lose out on a speciality restaurant? They did arrange for a veggie meal to be supplied from the main dining room but I was left with the feeling that I was an inconvenience (yes - it was inconvenient for them, but a passenger should not be made to feel, particularly when the ship had imposed serious restrictions on paying passengers). It would have been much easier if they had simply let me choose from the menu of the other speciality restaurant, Toscana, which is adjacent to Polo. There just seemed to be a rigidity of mindset and it contrasted unfavourably with my experience with Regent. We didn't have great expectations of the entertainment on board, and to be honest it was never going to be a highlight for us, but it was far worse than we anticipated. The house team of singers and dancers were amateurish, with the singing being particularly poor. This was highlighted on the last night when one of the pastry cooks, Cordelia, was brought onto the stage as part of the farewell to staff. We had only come into the show for the farewell and probably endured only ten or fifteen minutes of the house team (we had learned from experience). Cordelia came in, in her chef's whites, sang one song and showed the rest of them up for the poor performers they were. There was a good string quartet although they seemed to be placed out of the way and I think more could have been done with them. The showband weren't bad but probably need time to gel. In Martinis bar in the evening an Italian singer/pianist played - the best of the entertainment in our view, and again, much under-used. It was rather unfortunate that Martinis is open to the casino and its myriad of slots machines so the pianist was fighting against ringing bells and flashing lights plus shouts when people won something. From what I had read before we took the cruise, Martinis sounded like a sophisticated cocktail bar but, at least on Regatta, its proximity to the casino completely ruined the atmosphere. Had I been the pianist I would have been livid! In addition to the cruise line's own entertainers, performers were brought on board. These were universally dire - a Chilean former wedding singer who bounded onto the stage looking like Ricky Gervais parodying a leather-clad aging rockstar; an 'Irish' 'comedian' (living in America for 45 years with an accent that sounded more forced 'oirish' than real County Clare) whose 'good, clean' comedy included 'jokes' that were old thirty years ago. It was so predictable that not more than two minutes after my husband said the guy would be telling the 'letter from Ireland' joke next, this did indeed happen. There was also a man billed as the world's only legal pickpocket presenting the sort of show I have seen delivered better by others, and a Russian pianist who might have been better had she concentrated on playing rather than gurning and flouncing. I am probably expecting too much of cruise ship entertainers but this lot were cringe-making whereas the performers on Regent were competent at worst and excellent in some cases. There weren't many lectures - mostly presentations related to the onboard jewellery boutique or the hugely expensive Canyon Ranch spa. The pickpocket man presented lectures on protecting your retirement account (irrelevant to non-American passengers) and something entitled 'In pursuit of ISIS Terrorist, Mohamed Belkaid' (one of the Brussels terrorists who was killed in a police raid) but also taking in phishing attacks, skimming techniques, tracking credit card thieves, etc.. We didn't attend that one because the title & content didn't seem to match and it wasn't clear to us that the guy had any real knowledge or qualification to speak about terrorism. We would have appreciated lectures which actually related in some way to the area we were cruising, maybe something on Mayan culture & history, or natural history, flora & fauna, wildlife. Other activities on offer included bingo (yes- really), karaoke, casino tournaments and line dancing (yes - really). We took only one ship's excursion at NCL's (Oceania's parent company) private island, Harvest Caye, where there is no way to tour independently or even reach the mainland unless you are taking a cruise ship tour. Harvest Caye itself is an abomination - it is described as "an authentic, immersive and enriching Belizean experience". The person who wrote this obviously has no understanding of the word 'authentic' and has probably never visited the real Belize either. It is just a theme park you can't escape from with row upon row of loungers around the pool and stretching along the beach as far as the eye can see, the beach a man-made one of gritty, horrible sand. There is an extremely sad excuse of a nature experience, and a few over-priced shops. The manatee experience struck us as hilarious given how many manatees were killed inadvertently during the construction process. We didn't even see a single fish in the water - on the coast of Belize this is nothing short of astonishing. You have to pay for all food and drinks (no use of onboard drinks packages even though you can use your ship's card to pay for everything) - why bother when you can just go back to the ship. Ironically we didn't see many people using the Harvest Caye facilities but the ship's pool and sun deck were heaving when we re-boarded. The beach area seemed to be occupied by a few of the ship's off-duty staff. I am aware that this is a very negative review and I am sure some people will have enjoyed elements that I found wanting. We booked the cruise on the basis of the itinerary and had expected Oceania to be similar to Regent. We found the experience was distinctly downmarket with some activities being the sort of thing you would expect on large, cheap ships. We were also very disappointed by the mishandling of passenger communications during the outbreak of illness. Whilst the room attendants, waiting & bar staff were excellent, the ship's management left a lot to be desired. Reception and Destination Services staff were surly and uninterested in helping. Early on in the cruise I wanted to discuss something with the hotel director or equivalent. I was told no-one was available at that time (fair enough) but they would ask him to call me. No call came. Two days later a card was left in the room asking me to make an appointment with the executive concierge. By that stage we'd seen enough to know such a meeting would be a complete waste of time. We are very unlikely to travel with Oceania again. You get one chance to make a good impression and Oceania failed dismally. Ultimately it is a matter of trusting people to give you the holiday you have paid for and after the lies, half truths and evasions there is no trust left. We set the bar high on our first cruise with Oceania's sister company, Regent. We thought there wouldn't be a lot of difference between the two lines but even leaving aside the GI outbreak, the two lines were in so many respects like chalk & cheese. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
This was our first cruise with Oceania. We chose this cruise because of the wonderful itinerary. We arrived a week early to tour Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and, of course, Machu Picchu. all of this part of the trip was wonderful. ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Oceania. We chose this cruise because of the wonderful itinerary. We arrived a week early to tour Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and, of course, Machu Picchu. all of this part of the trip was wonderful. Embarkation: Not at all optimal. The process of getting on the ship was quick and easy. From there the experience went downhill. Upon getting on the ship we were told that the ship was in a CODE RED LEVEL II condition with both "A" type flu and Norovirus onboard. As a result, we were held in Terrace Cafe for 3+ hours while the crew "cleaned" the ship. Moreover, our luggage was never delivered to our cabin! It was instead delivered to one end of the corridor and we had to "hunt" for it among the piles of bags. Ship: the Regatta, is in serious need of a Dry Dock experience. I understand that she is scheduled for a "refit" later this year. Until that time cruisers will see a fair amount of rust, as well as fatigued furnishings. Cabin : see review below. The cabin and bath areas are small, but you expect that while sailing in the "small ship" category. Our Cabin Steward, Odelia and her assistant worked very well to keep our stateroom clean and well serviced. We had a verandah, which we highly recommend as it gives you "additional" space, and besides, it is a lot of fun along the way. The verandah gives you an opportunity to observe sunsets, ports, sail - aways, and wild life all from the comfort of your stateroom. Dining: Good, bad, and just plain ugly. Dining in the specialty restaurants, Polo Grill and Toscana, as well as the Grand Dining Room was excellent. Food was excellent as was the service. Dining in Terrace Café and Waves Grill was "challenging". The food was good, the service was non-existent. The servers in the space were lackadaisical, and clearly uncaring, servers behind the counters were unwelcoming, and occasionally rude. Entertainment and activities: the entertainment was spotty. The String Quartet was outstanding. The Pianist and the Soprano were also outstanding. In fact, we'd been entertained by the pianist on another cruise with a different provider. The Regatta Show Band had only recently began to play together and were still "finding their way" musically. The Cast Show was painfully amateurish. Ports: Guayaquil, Ecuador: wonderful, with beautiful parks Manta, Ecuador a lively place during Presidential elections! Panama Canal: and exciting experience All in all the ports and excursions met and exceeded our expectations. Disembarkation: another disaster! We were not allowed to leave the ship until over an hour later than published. Passengers with flights were frantic. All passengers were allowed to leave at once which led to an interesting retrieval scene. As I said, this was our first cruise with Oceania. It will be our last. There are other, far better, small ship cruise ships out there. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We've cruised many different lines and this was the absolute worse experience. Staff were unfriendly and had difficulty understanding English. The food was good but not the culinary experience we were expecting. We were under a ... Read More
We've cruised many different lines and this was the absolute worse experience. Staff were unfriendly and had difficulty understanding English. The food was good but not the culinary experience we were expecting. We were under a "code red" during our first week and we couldn't do anything for ourselves including using salt and pepper on the table. Wine stewards and servers took forever to come to the table. Perhaps it was the code red, but we didn't notice any uptick in their friendliness until the 16 cruise was near the end. That's also when they started acknowledging us by our names. The lack of communication regarding our first few days was unacceptable. Their Executive Concierge merely wrote down our complaints and never once apologized or thanked us for our feedback. Just updated his log. The highlight of the trip was our room butler who went out of his way to provide the best service. But he too was spread thin and his pager was constantly going off. Finally, the embarkation process from arrival into the port -- where NO ONE from Oceania was there to explain that we needed to get on a bus and shuttled to the boat -- to getting our room was a disaster. People were visibly upset and the process took five hours from the time were told to be on the boat to the time our room was ready. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. But it turned out to be disaster. Ship came back from Ushuaia and Machu Pichu infected with GI problems and influenza. Passengers were quarantined in their cabins and ship was supposingly being fully ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. But it turned out to be disaster. Ship came back from Ushuaia and Machu Pichu infected with GI problems and influenza. Passengers were quarantined in their cabins and ship was supposingly being fully disinfected. Embarkation was delayed due to disinfecting procedures. All crew was working 2 extra hours a day to clean the ship. Unfortunately the cleaning they were doing was rather superficial. What is the point of cleaning top of the tables when bottom is not touched or hairs are not cleaned etc. What about life jackets we wore first day during our safety drill? And so on. During our cruise 16 days they tried to clean and disinfect, but to us it was not proper cleaning. People were still falling sick and imprisoned in their cabins after paying hefty price for their cruise. Staff was constantly making jokes how they have to sterilize everything even microphones for the show. After few days I got cough and fever had to take antibiotics. My husband was coughing terribly and also developed fever. I started getting better but he got worse. Had to visit ship doctor who after multiple tests chest X-ray and influenza nasal swab told us that he has influenza A and needs to start antibiotics and tamiflu antiviral tablets. This visit cost us 1800 US dollars !! Unbelievable, hopefully insurance will reimburse us. It was not our fault that we got sick. We got infected on the ship that was not properly sterilized! We should never have been allowed on this ship in the first place. After doctors visit we were asked to return our room keys and do not leave our cabin for 48 hours. We were stuck in our cabin without being able to get out in ports. It was ok for My husband but I was feeling well already and was really disappointed not being able to see Belize and Coco Maya. I felt like I was in prison! We are seasoned cruisers and have been on Oceania few times before but this time never again.! I. Also blame CDC for allowing passengers to board this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We picked Oceania because friends had commented that its food was among the best of all cruise lines. That wasn't our experience, especially compared with Silver Seas. When the ship set sail from Lima, it was already loaded with ... Read More
We picked Oceania because friends had commented that its food was among the best of all cruise lines. That wasn't our experience, especially compared with Silver Seas. When the ship set sail from Lima, it was already loaded with sick crew and a few sick passengers. Code Red, Level 2 CDC precautions were in place. Some public areas were closed but others weren't and that made no sense. Why weren't books available from the library, when common slot machines touched by countless were? My husband was one who came down with Influenza A symptoms soon after boarding. I was healthy but we were both understandably quarantined - first, for 48 hrs. and then ultimately for 72 hours. No sympathy from room service, who refused us ice until I complained to the nurse and she finally called room service and authorized our getting ice. No books or magazines, until I finally insisted that the front desk "ask via e-mail to other passengers if some would be willing to part with read books or magazines that they wouldn't need to have returned." With my threatening to leave the room if the front desk didn't at least try to get me some reading material, I got four magazines. And later I was told that the front desk person who did that for me was chastised for doing so. The nurse asked how I, the healthy one, was feeling each day she checked via phone, on my husband. I remained healthy, only to come down with his symptoms at the very end of the cruise. Upon returning to our home in the states, my own physician said they should have started me on prophylactic meds when they treated my husband. I might possibly have not gotten sick. There was no sympathy, no concern for our well-being, just lots of emphasis to not leave our room under any circumstances. And, after asking three times, my husband still couldn't get the lab work from the doctor that was performed when they examined him before our quarantine. They said it was expensive. I call that pretty stinking service. Really, the cost of photocopying existing reports?!?!?!? The best service was from the bar staff/bartenders and the cabin cleaners. They were always pleasant and helpful. The cruise director was upbeat and fun, too. But scratch the rest of the crew. And why no onboard talks to tell us of our upcoming destinations, something of the local culture, flora, fauna, history, archaeology? Nada, except for a great onboard guide through the Panama Canal, the only real plus on the whole 16 day journey. On one excursion the rainforest guide couldn't point out one medicinal plant or tree; he didn't bother to look for animals, either, we just walked to the pools and I might have well stayed at home and watched a Nature program, for what I got from this tour. Harvest Caye is still under development, that is, commercial development. No real fish nor birds to see; most of the manatees, if there were any there at one time, were probably relocated or injured in the building of the man made island. It has the "Disney" feel, which is good I guess, if you want to zip line, but not for much else. Why pay extra for a private cabana with a butler in this area??? I did enjoy the placid waters and beach for bathing in the sun and swimming a bit. But there was no decent snorkeling there, a shame. Our room never got really cool; we should have complained, but since we were "trained to not expect much" after the initial quarantined time in our cabin, we didn't say anything. Back to food: who seriously puts corn flakes in a smoothie? And when I told the chef in the Italian restaurant that the veal piccata was a bit tough and not lemony enough, he blamed the cooking on "corporate's mandated direction." Wow, do they not have their act together. He made me feel bad for giving feedback. I did really like the fitness center and the spa, and when the library was open, it as well. The library was charming, cool and not crowded. The ship size was good, neither so big that I felt like a sardine stuffed in a can, nor so small that amenities weren't available. But I do wish service had been emphasized, and more care had been taken in the excursion choices and in our having an onboard lecturer to tell us what was in store. Seeing just the excursions on a poor-reception TV wasn't the way to go. And the weather forecast and the ship's location on the cabin TVs were always wrong - outdated or nonexistent. I won't/we won't travel Oceania Cruises again. Ever. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
The itinerary was boring. There was one lecturer;she was excellent, but she was solo. he food was ok,butt the big problem was that many passengers became ill, including my husband, who happens to be a physician. A trip to the ship's ... Read More
The itinerary was boring. There was one lecturer;she was excellent, but she was solo. he food was ok,butt the big problem was that many passengers became ill, including my husband, who happens to be a physician. A trip to the ship's doctor cost $750 for the doctor's services and another $700 for medication which cost 3 times less in the states. My husband contracted the flu although both of us were vaccinated prior to boarding. The doctor prescribed Tamaflu for each of us; preventively for me and as a treatment for my husband. At $300 per packet, it was almost 3 times the cost in the U.S. as a local pharmacy. I can't imagine a fine cruise line which charges for an upscale experience needing to overcharge their passengers who have no choice but to use their service. Be sure to take every conceivable medication with you on your next cruise...you may need it!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
I choose this ' Last on the Bucket List ' cruise partly to visit the Chilean Fiords, The Falkland Islands (to show the wife where I was in 1982), and also Macchu Picchu a pre cruise option. Due to the weather, we did not see ... Read More
I choose this ' Last on the Bucket List ' cruise partly to visit the Chilean Fiords, The Falkland Islands (to show the wife where I was in 1982), and also Macchu Picchu a pre cruise option. Due to the weather, we did not see much of the Fiords or visit The Falklands. To be honest we would not have taken this cruise after our 1st experienced of Regent on the South African cruise in November 2016 but rather than lose the 20% deposit and also we could not find another suitable we decided to give them another chance. This time service was better, bar one waiter in the Compass Rose restaurant. Our cabin was well maintained but needed new balcony furniture. This time the shore excursions were reasonable. However, the one to Santiago and the one in Buenos Aires, too long was spent on the coach. We like german sweet wines and were surprised a Spatlese (sorry no umlaut over the 'a') had been replaced with a kabinet for the same price $60. The cruise was slightly affected by a gastro enteritis bug on the ship but the crew prevented it spreading by ensuring guests sanitized hands regularly and those affected were confined to their cabins. The one main gripe about this cruise was the Matarani port of call, for excursion around Arequipa, was cancelled due to 'infrastructure' problems. The ship would have been at anchor here so I was surprised and did some research and discovered Phoenix Reisen, Silverseas and Hapag Lloyd would visiting later. However, I was unable to find out what the problems were from Guest Relations. No other port of call was included to replace this one and no reimbursement given, so anchorage fees, the 'free' shore excursions and less fuel used obviously contributed to the cruise profits. Also a couple of days prior to our call at Punta Arenas they changed from docking to at anchor, no reason given for this. Docking/at anchor is arranged well in advanced for ships! A Crystal ship was docked when we arrived. We were still a little disappointed with the overall standard of the cruise and on speaking to several repeat Regent customers they informed us standards had deteriorated over the last year or so. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We wrote to Oceania with a complaint over two weeks ago. Haven't had even the courtesy of an acknowledgement. Sums them up! Here's what we had to say: Oceania failed to meet our expectations. Put simply, the product quality ... Read More
We wrote to Oceania with a complaint over two weeks ago. Haven't had even the courtesy of an acknowledgement. Sums them up! Here's what we had to say: Oceania failed to meet our expectations. Put simply, the product quality isn’t adequate for the price paid. Although this was our first time sailing with Oceania, we’re experienced cruisers on Azamara, Silversea and Windstar. Our observations are as follows: Joining The Ship. A complete shambles. We pitched up at the port entrance at 1230 with a local chauffeur driver from Lima Cabs. We were redirected to an unmarked drop off point some 300 metres away, to be met by two unwashed tramps wearing last year’s dirty orange overalls – they turned out to be the “baggage handlers”. No Oceania signage, no ship rep, nor a port agent. Our driver wasn’t happy and refused to leave us – which says a lot for the situation. After ten minutes another two passengers arrived, and ten minutes later an unmarked bus turned up with what we assume was someone from the port agent’s office. Our bags were dumped in the bus baggage hold and hands held out for a tip – even more blatant than Miami! We waited a further twenty minutes before the bus took us back through the port entrance and on to the ship. A complete 0/10 initial impression…. Cabin. Our first time on Deck 7 on an R Class – we’ve always booked Deck 8 on Azamara. Small but acceptable – like Azamara but prior to refurb. Carpets not that clean with old stains very evident. Cabin not that clean – acceptable, but hidden dust and hairs if you go looking. Comfortable bed. Nice bedding. Ancient phone system that doesn’t work that well. Very small TV. Poor choice of channels. In suite wifi pathetic – in fact the on-board wifi is slow throughout, massively overpriced, and in serious need of an upgrade. Cheap and nasty toiletries. Nice Champagne on arrival – better brand than the usual. Overall only 6/10 though. Housekeeping. We had an irritating Chinese lady housekeeper whose main interest in life seemed to be to get guests out of their cabins asap so that she could get on with her day. The “Privacy Please” sign was observed, but she’d happily bang our cabin door with her vacuum cleaner at 0730 in the morning. She’d shout to colleagues, etc., and make as much noise as possible when cleaning adjacent cabins. Her job could be done quietly, but it wasn’t. It also wasn’t done very well – marks on mirrors stayed there for days, etc. Perhaps the crew are just under massive time pressure? Worst aspect was balcony cleaning. We sleep with the balcony door open, and were disturbed one morning at 0800, curtains open and whilst still in bed, by a housekeeping oik unlocking all the connecting balcony doors. When I complained to the housekeeper, her response was “there is a cleaning schedule – we left a notice on your bed”. No apology. The note didn’t say that someone would be on your balcony at eight in the morning. The balcony cleaning didn’t even get done – we still had bird poo from the Patagonian fiords on the balcony on arrival in Buenos Aires. Overall just 4/10 Room Service. Hard to get hold of, but service very good once an order was placed. 8/10 Food The biggest let down of all. Food quality was erratic and certainly didn’t merit the “finest at sea” tag. The flowery and highly descriptive menus do NOT meet the reality of what turns up on your plate. We gave up eating in the main dining room because of the uncertainty as to whether you were both going to get acceptable edible food. We ended up eating many meals in the buffet, simply because if something was duff it was easily changed. Food Highs Fresh pasta (Toscana) Consistent high quality breads Superb cheese. Wide choice (10/10) Very good cold meats (buffet) Chef pasta station (buffet) Food Lows Undercooked grilled salmon still freezing cold in the middle (Polo) Overcooked steak (Polo) Risotto made from pre-cooked rice (Toscana) Soupe de poisson thickened with cream. Yuk! Unrisen choc soufflé (even Viagra wouldn’t help!) (main DR) Undercooked veggies – daily problem throughout Unripe fruit throughout (1/10) Overcooked lamb (main DR) Undercooked stews (buffet) Poor speciality foods – a very limp representation of the country they purport to represent. Often bland and tasteless Toscana couldn’t make Saltimbocca on less than 24 hours prior notice – unbelievable! From the above list you might take us as “picky”, but we’re not! A simple premise is to only offer what you can do well, and to not offer those dishes which you cannot consistently produce to high standards. With respect, we don’t think that either Polo or Toscana would survive more than six months on the High St in any major city – they just aren’t good enough. Company hype about the food builds up an expectation which you fail to deliver. We spoke with chef Farid Oudir about the erratic quality of the food and felt that he wasn’t at all interested in our fair criticism. He listened politely, but then was more interested in quoting statistics about his staff’s massive output. Institutionally complacent perhaps? We thought so. Overall, just 5/10 Wait Staff. Friendly and tried their best. Not one cause for complaint. Star employees were bar tender Wawan in the Main Dining Room bar (our only source of a decent espresso after dinner), and Main Dining Room receptionist Mercy, who amazingly seemed to pick up almost every guest’s name within two days! 10/10 Destination Services. Massively overpriced and of only average quality. We don’t mind an old bus, but there’s no reason why the windows should be dirty. Maybe the staff were too busy talking to check the cleanliness? Tour guides often very poor, with very poor English. Only the guides in Puerto Montt and Port Stanley were any good. The others just didn’t know their stuff, and their unrehearsed presentations in poor English were embarrassing to have to sit through. Just 5/10. Disembarkation. We were the last group of about 40 independent travellers off the ship at 0900. Not a single one of the officers or crew were at the bottom of the gangplank to say goodbye. Kind of sums the company up….. We booked Oceania as it was an R Class ship doing an itinerary that we wanted to do. That itinerary was great, but the ship failed to live up to expectations. Oceania could do much much better. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I wanted just to get away and see something that I hadn't seen before. We did a pre-cruise to Machu Picchu and it was awesome! On board the ship was small and intimate. There was a variety of dining areas that were included in the ... Read More
I wanted just to get away and see something that I hadn't seen before. We did a pre-cruise to Machu Picchu and it was awesome! On board the ship was small and intimate. There was a variety of dining areas that were included in the price, Italian, Chinese etc. The Red Ginger (Chinese ) was the best. Had a lovely coffee bar. We had been up graded to a penthouse suite which was great except came with a butler, therefore extra gratuities. On the whole it was nice and roomy, good size closet and cupboards, nice sized balcony. We travelled through the Panama Canal, great. Stopped At Honduras, Cape Canveral, Miami then NYC---which was an over night, so we went and saw Matilda on Broadway, lovely. The service on the ship was fantastic. All polite and helpful. The entertainment was OK. Lecturers were great---lot of info for next port of call. Good excursions. Great cruise! I travelled with my sister for the first time. She is a bit younger and was therefore more energetic than me ( I have back issues). I would definitely travel with Oceania again---I like the size of their ships. You get to know more people and can arrange dinners or outings with them. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016

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