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14 Lima to South Pacific Cruise Reviews

The South Pacific Islands and Easter Island had been on the bucket list for years, and we finally decided to take the plunge, sailing from Lima, Peru to Papeete, Tahiti on our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately it became apparent several ... Read More
The South Pacific Islands and Easter Island had been on the bucket list for years, and we finally decided to take the plunge, sailing from Lima, Peru to Papeete, Tahiti on our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately it became apparent several days into the cruise that some folks were suffering gastro illnesses, which turned into a full blown outbreak of Noro virus. The crew did their level best to staunch the spread, but, alas, we all know how insidious that illness can be. As I said, the crew did their best. And I'm happy to report that most of the passengers with whom I had contact made the best of a bad situation. Perhaps we were just lucky, but none of my new-found and old friends got sick. Guess we were careful about washing hands and using sanitizers provided everywhere on board. Just wish all had done so! As I just said, we made the best of the situation and were able to enjoy a fabulous cruise, and we were not disappointed. As I mentioned, Easter Island (Rapa Nui, its traditional name) was on our itinerary for a two day opportunity to visit the island. We were fortunate to have as an on-board lecturer James Grant-Peterkin, a long time resident of the island. He was great, and each of his lectures turned out to be standing room only! And a group of CC members (ourselves included) had pre-booked the two day tour on EI with the tour company he owned, Easter Island Spirit, which certainly did not disappoint us in any way! I'm sure many of you know just how 'iffy' it is to be able to go ashore on EI due to the sea swells usually encountered in this area of the Pacific, but I'm happy to report that the Marina was blessed to be able to accomplish this on not one, but both days. An experience not to be missed! Two days later we had the residents of Pitcairn Island board the ship with offerings made on the island. A great opportunity to meet these hardy folks. Our on-board experience on this cruise was exceptional, which we have come to expect on Oceania (discounting the MINOR inconveniences of not having use of the self-service laundry and coffee machines). The entire staff who worked like dogs to control the noro, from cabin attendents through upper staff members, retained their cheerful, friendly attitudes. I'm sure the additional sanitizing duties had them all worn out, but you would never see it either in their faces nor their attitudes. They all deserved our gratitude, not our criticism! The Marina was in her usual pristine condition - again discounting the noro, which was not the ship's fault, but rather the fault of those passengers who either picked up the bug on their flights or neglected rudimentary personal sanitation procedures. All dining venues continued to please our personal preferences, and service was exemplary. Kudos to all! Will we be back? OF COURSE! In closing, I just want to point out a few items that folks here seem to blame Oceania for both of which are, and will continue to be, out of their control: boarding in Callao (Lima's port city) is not an Oceania shortfall; rather the blame lies with the port authority which owns/manages the port. And secondly, the outbreak of noro which is solely attributable to the passengers failure to practice hand washing/sanitizing, and to report illness promptly! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
I have been very fortunate to have travelled extensively my whole life, and I have been on many cruises. I just finished the Oceania cruise - Eternal Enchantment (16 Jan - 3 Feb 2018) and the pre-cruise tour - Machu Picchu (13-16 Jan ... Read More
I have been very fortunate to have travelled extensively my whole life, and I have been on many cruises. I just finished the Oceania cruise - Eternal Enchantment (16 Jan - 3 Feb 2018) and the pre-cruise tour - Machu Picchu (13-16 Jan 2018). This was the most expensive cruise (about $28,000 CAD) we (myself and my spouse) have been on, and it was also the least enjoyable cruise we have been on. We (my husband and I) picked Oceania because we were told that we would not be nickel- and-dimed to death; (i.e. pay extra for soft drinks, and specialty coffees, popcorn etc.). Also, we wouldn’t be constantly interrupted by announcements. And, we picked this particular cruise (Eternal Enchantment Lima - Tahiti), and pre-cruise, because of the destinations. (Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines, and Easter Island). I should have recognized the Oceania web site as a red flag. The web site was disorganized, lacked meaningful communication, and was very difficult to use. The cruise - Eternal Enchantment (Lima - Tahiti), itself was ill conceived. Lima did not have the infrastructure (i.e. departure terminal) and Tahiti did not have a large enough airport. (i.e. for 1,000 people to have return flights within a reasonable time). Many of the ports were not designed for cruise ships. It tried to cover too much of the earth’s surface, and forgot that it was in the business of providing vacations. The cruise line did not seem to know its target market, or the passengers in front of them, and they had no skill in managing expectations. The flights that were arranged through Oceania were awful. It was like they were arranged by a psychopathic-sadist who’s goal was to make the journey as difficult and as uncomfortable as possible. Our travel agent phoned and asked if we could fly in a day or two early, or use a direct flight, or less flights. We were told that there was a $250 U.S. disruption fee per person, and the hotel would cost $1,200 US per person per night. That can’t be right. I thought that perhaps there was a communication problem with the representative on the phone. We were also told if we wanted to be picked up in Lima and brought to the hotel, we had to use their flights. Again the idea of a vacation is as less stress as possible. I did not want to be in an airport where I did not know the language, nor how to get to the hotel. So I thought that getting picked up at the airport was worth the over 24 straight hours, three flights, U.S Security and Customs, and four airports. We got picked up and brought to the hotel. Our rooms would not be ready until 3 pm (we knew this), but we were told that if we wanted a room immediately, we could “upgrade” and pay another $100.00 U.S. per person. We had already paid $2,947 CAD per person for this 3 day pre-cruise trip. We have been 27 hours without any sleep, and we just paid to upgrade. However, I think this was just slimy. The rest of the pre-trip was good, until our bus arrived at the ship. It was absolute chaos. The infrastructure was not there, but neither was common sense. Oceania knew when the flights were arriving, and when the pre-trip buses were arriving. How could there be no organization? There was about 800 elderly people in line in the very hot sun. I am guessing the average age was between 65 and 70. We were in line for 1 ½ hours, I understand others were in line for up to 2 ½ hours. No shade, no water, no bathrooms, I honestly thought that someone was going to have a stroke or heart attack or just collapse and die. After being permitted to go on ship, and go through security, there were some of the ship’s crew (3 in a row) in crisp clean uniforms pointing to way to the Marina lounge to register. Really? (No towels, no welcome drink.) Registration itself was quick, but our cabins were not ready. We then had to drag around our carry-on baggage and find somewhere to be until our rooms were ready. I always booked the on shore excurions with the cruise line, because 1) they know more about the available tours and the places than I did, and 2) they can get a bulk deal and, 3) the ship won’t leave without you, if you are on an excursion that they have arranged. Again the vacation is about less anxiety, not more. I booked what shore excursions I could, about 6 months before the trip. I was told that I could book any new shore excursions when they were available or when we got on the ship. When I tried to do this -- they were all full. There were some passengers that came on this trip just for Nazca Lines and/or Easter Island. The Nazca Lines fly over was quickly booked, and there were passengers at the dock with no way of seeing the Nazca Lines. Some of them were able to book the same trip as I had for ½ the price of the one I book through Oceania. Again, it just felt slimy. We arrived at Easter Island, and the ship’s crew seems very happy that we were able to tender to the Island. I am not so sure what the big deal was. But, apparently, about 20% of the time it is not safe to tender to Easter Island. And people that book the cruise mainly for that port, are extremely disappointed when they couldn’t get to the island. There are flights from the mainland (South America) daily. If this is your reason for considering this cruise --- forget it, and book a flight. The staff in the kitchens and cleaning the rooms worked like dogs. Every time I wanted something - coffee, etc., I felt guilty for asking (but there was no way of getting it on your own), because they looked so tired and overworked. Especially after the Novo Virus outbreak. I don’t know much about the Virus outbreak, because we were not told much. But, we were told that the passenger’s health and safety was the ship’s primary concern. Where was that concern when Oceania booked the flights, or when letting us languish in the hot sun for hours, or when the turnaround (passengers finishing their cruise and passengers starting their cruise) is on the same day. I am surprised that more passengers and crew were not sick. From other passengers, I learned that there were 42 passengers in quarantine. I don’t know how many crew were sick, but it was noticeable that crew were missing in the main buffet restaurant. The medical bills were astronomical. For a sinus infection and antibiotics it was $8,500 U.S. For bronchitis, it was $9,000 US. For the average quarantined individual is was about $10,000 U.S. I understand that there was one bill for $18,000 U.S. The cynical part of me, was wondering if the medical center on board was a profit center. Given the high cost of medical care, perhaps there were a lot more people that were sick, but didn’t report to the ships medical officer. The actions that were taken, I also did not understand. Because of the virus outbreak, the passengers no longer had access to the laundry facilities (about $2.00 U.S. a wash, and $1.00 U.S. to dry), but you could pay for your laundry to be done by the ship’s crew for a much greater fee. The library books could not be loaned out, nor could you play trivia pursuit because of the virus outbreak, but you could go to the spa and you could go to the casino. Does this make sense? Again money makers? An example of complete lack of awareness; there were many passengers from Germany. The Theatre movie shown was Dunkirk. Really? Again, Oceania is suppose to be in the business of vacations. Tahiti did not have an airport that could handle 1,000 passengers leaving at the same time. Which would probably be the reason that we had 16 hours between being forced out of our cabin and before our fight departure. And, there was also another cruise line also dropping off hundreds of passengers for return flights home. Just a few days before the end of the trip, we got a phone call stating that we did not have a transfer from the ship to the airport. Really? I stated that we agreed to take the awful flight schedule in order to have transfers to and from the airports. We were told no, if you want transfers to the airport in Tahiti you have to pay another $149 US per person. I thought that we had transfers, and that we were picked up in Lima and transfer to the hotel. And, I explained that $149 US per person seemed pretty expensive. The island of Tahiti is just not that big. It was explained to me, that we had to be out our rooms by 8:00 am (news to me) and flights were not leaving until 11:59 pm (that I knew). Again, we just paid. Again, I thought this was just slimy. Being nickel-and-dimed to death by other cruise lines was beginning to look good, after the large, and unexpected, money grabs from Oceania. With this transfer, we were put in a large reception hall with hundreds of other passengers to wait for our flight. We spent a day in Tahiti in a reception hall….Oceania could not organize a tour? When we were leaving the boat, again there was really nowhere to really be --- so standing in the crowded halls…and they were bringing new passengers aboard. And I am sure the health and safety of these new passengers was not Oceania primary concern. We talked to many other passengers, about their bucket lists, their favorite vacations, other cruise lines, their best cruises etc. Many of the people that were regular Oceania passengers have stated that this cruise was not at the level that previous Oceania cruises have been. Some stated that this would be their last. I have been on many cruises, and plan on being on many more, but this was my first and last Oceanic cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We have been cruising on Seabourn for years and love it. We decided to give Oceania a chance because we liked this itinerary. It was not a good experience. Starting with embarkation which was done at Callao Lima Peru. This port has ... Read More
We have been cruising on Seabourn for years and love it. We decided to give Oceania a chance because we liked this itinerary. It was not a good experience. Starting with embarkation which was done at Callao Lima Peru. This port has absolutely no cruise terminal facilities at all. Passengers lined up on the dock without anyone from Oceania to greet us, direct us or answer questions. Some people waited as long as 3 hours in the sun to board, absolutely unacceptable. The next disaster was trying to get off the boat at Easter island. We waited 4 hours in the lounge area to try to go ashore. The cruise director had warned us the day before that if we could not get back on the boat, it was our problem. We did not want to take a chance that the tenders would not be able to return to the ship and, based upon the cruise directors warning- that was a real possibility. My tour deposit was forfeited and I did not see Easter island. The big claim to fame is the cuisine on board Oceania. Perhaps if you are used to dining at lower end chain restaurants, like chevy's and outback steakhouse, the food would be considered a step up. As a food industry professional, I was not impressed at all. The food was mediocre at best and everything tasted as if it was made with very inexpensive ingredients. The only dining experience I thought was good were the 2 nights I dined at La Reserve. That I do recommend, but, it is expensive as were the wine tastings we attended. When you add our bill for wine and the service fees to the cost of the cruise, items included on Seabourn, the cost was comparable between the 2 cruise lines. The quality of the experince was vastly diffrerent. The penthouse suite we had was ok. The curtains in the room are decorative only and do not open the way they do in a seabourn suite so that you can separate the room into 2 areas. Bathroom was ok, nothing special. Closet was ok. Did not use their excursions, way over priced. Entertainment was very poor in all areas. A few of the public areas were lovely, the martinis bar and the grand lounge in particular. The main dining room was dreadful, it felt like a restaurant in an assisted living home. I did not dine there in the evening at all, too depressing. The buffet dining room was also terrible especially at night, the food was unimaginative and poor quality. I am pretty sure they are not using butter in their croissants and baked goods also. The flavor just was not there. The staff was almost very good especially the butler we had in our suite. The other guests were also great, many fun conversations with interesting people. The other thing that happened on this trip was some sort of a health crisis that slowly but surely shut down facilities one by one. We were given almost no information about what was going on or what to expect. By the final day our robes had even been removed and we had plastic drinking glasses in our room. The final day we were rushed out of the ship at 8am and, unlike seabourn where there is always a line of officers and the cruise director on hand to say goodbye, there was absolutely no one there. In fact, I do not think I ever saw the cruise director at any time during the 18 days on board. To sum it up, I did not feel as if I was a valued client on this ship. I felt as if my needs were unimportant and the quality of my vacation irrelevant to the management. Would I cruise with them again, probably not. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We chose this cruise for the itinerary, Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines and Easter Island, The pre-tour package for Machu Picchu was well worth it, the third party company chosen by Oceania was excellent. Boarding the tender at Easter ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary, Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines and Easter Island, The pre-tour package for Machu Picchu was well worth it, the third party company chosen by Oceania was excellent. Boarding the tender at Easter Island was exciting to say the least, the crew did a fantastic job. I really think that Oceania has to stick to their recommendations, when the brochure says a tour is not for people with limited mobility then they should not allow them to partake in that activity. This endangers others and takes away from the tour for others since extra care is needed for the people in wheel chairs and walkers. During the voyage there was an outbreak of sickness of some type and for the most part this was well handled, more official information would have helped, there were too many rumors. The crew did a great job and I know had to work extra hard since many of them got sick as well. The crew was excellent from the cleaning staff to the waiters, they were friendly, polite and eager to please. They made a real difference. The food was very good, not sure if it's really that much better than what we had on Princess and other cruise lines though (even though Princess has a cover charge for the specialty restaurants, the price difference more than offsets the cover-charge). Various people complained about the entertainment, I thought the piano player (piano bar) the orchestra and the various entertainment provided was what I expected and was adequate. My big complaint was the embarkation process it was a disaster, we arrived at the ship to see a long line up of people waiting in the sun, no tents, no water etc. Line up for us was about 2 hours for some as much as 3 hours, the average age of cruisers was over 60, that was a strain for a lot of people. A bit more thought is needed in how to do this in a port that does not have Cruise Line Access. My wife and I cruise for the locations not so much the ship or line. So far we've done Princess, Holland America, Norwegian and Viking. Oceania did not stand out as a must use cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Cruise Lima to Papette with Marina First checkin procedure in Callao We were dropped off by taxi and there was already a row of a few hundred people. It certainly took almost 2 hours before we were at a bus. We had to put our ... Read More
Cruise Lima to Papette with Marina First checkin procedure in Callao We were dropped off by taxi and there was already a row of a few hundred people. It certainly took almost 2 hours before we were at a bus. We had to put our suitcases ourselves in the storage space of the bus and board ourselves. No employee of Oceania is present. We had been standing in the hot sun for a long time and nothing was offered like a glass of water. After sitting in the bus for half an hour, we had to take the bags out of the bus and take a seat at the back of the line that was even bigger. Still no one from Oceania. Could hand-in the suitcases now. After standing for another 1.5 hours, water was offered and we were finally able to check in. This procedure went well. Easter Island and other tender ports Tendering appears to be difficult to organize for Oceania. They have so many tours themselves that they have to go off first, so that the independents have to wait a long, long time. They advised to pick up tickets one hour before the tender time. In practice, however, it appeared that there was a waiting time of sometimes 3 to 4 hours before we were allowed to go ashore. Because there were quite a few wheelchairs and people who had difficulty in walking, it took a long time before a tender was full. The unloading of a tender also caused many difficulties especially on Easter Island. Everyone wanted to get out first so that the last row was left and the balance of the boat was disturbed and the tender banging harder against the ship. On half of our cruise, it turned out that there was a notifiable intestinal infection (probably paratyphoid) on board. According to the manager of the restaurant, it was not the Noro virus. Library and other public places were closed. More than 54 guests and 10 employees had this infection. Reportedly, a visit to the doctor cost $ 490, - and if someone had to be admitted to the small hospital on the boat that was $ 4000 a night. A passenger had to stay 4 nights and pay $ 17,000. I wonder if any Dutch insurance would pay these costs. Pure scam. Also the announcement was made by the cruise director that guests who wanted to stay overnight on Easter Island did not get the assurance that they could be picked up the next day. Seems impossible to us as our passports were confiscated. Oceania says they have the best restaurants on board. Two years ago that was probably true, but this trip put a question mark on the taste (very flat) also at the special restaurants. We had a nice trip, but given our experiences with tenders and check-in, we would certainly not give Oceania a 5*****. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
It all starts from the very beginning embarkation in Lima; Since Oceania did not informed us that the embarkation in Lima would be very different than one would expect we did experienced a nightmare; Both our faces and décolleté ... Read More
It all starts from the very beginning embarkation in Lima; Since Oceania did not informed us that the embarkation in Lima would be very different than one would expect we did experienced a nightmare; Both our faces and décolleté where sunburned because ( just coming from the airport ) we have to stand in the burning sun for more then 2 hours in line before we could embark a touringcar which transported us to the ship. ( see enclosed photo of sunburn ) During staying in line, dockworkers where constantly trying to get a tip in touching our suitcases, if it was from the taxi in to the waiting line or from the line into the bus. ( very frustrating experience ) Arriving at the dock we had to wait another hour to get on the ship. At least ships staff did distributed small bottles with water. The first day at sea we made an official complaint about the above with the executive concierge Tom, this did result in a meeting with your general manager Mr. Claudio Melli. This meeting was very disappointing, Mr. Melli could only mentioning the fact that this was the fault of your Lima port agent and regretted the fact that we had this bad embarkation experience. Only a warm handshake and that was all, not offering any compensation or gestures like a bottle wine, nothing ! Being a cruise expert for more than 25 years ( mainly HAL and Cunard ) we never had such experience with a general manager ( Hotel Manager ) After approximately one week cruising we did notice that the menu’s in the restaurant where without hardcover, by coincidence some of the waiters told us that this was regarding health regulation since there was a virus onboard. After 2 days ! all guests where informed about a virus onboard and not days before as it should have been. During that time ( until the last days of the cruise ) the executive lounge was closed, library, guest laundry etc. But the casino did stayed open !!!! We all know nowadays that the norovirus is a tread of every cruise line, but was this a norovirus onboard the Marina ??? No information was given to all guests. Laundry services, not long ago your company provides a complementary laundry service to the guests in suites, however without pressing ( = only one time ). If you provide a complementary laundry service you should also includes pressing, either you offer the complete service or nothing. ( HAL offers the complete service to guests 4 star mariners and Neptune suite guests ) How to give guest the impression that the cruise is over one day earlier, well by taking the bathrobes, complementary toilet amenities, 50% of the towels, toothbrush drinkingcups etc. out of the bathroom. Taking the drinking glasses out of the cabin and replace them by plastic ones. ( see photo ) Never ever had seen this during cruises with other cruise companies. A shame ! Food: Ocean Cruises prides it selves on here excellent food, well the quality in the specialty restaurants are not bad but be aware we had also overcooked tuna in Jacques and an overcooked crispy chicken in Polo Grill. Would I recommend Oceania to friends, no I would not. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Chose this cruise for itinerary. That was the only good thing. Embarkation in Lima was disgraceful. We arrived at port in taxi dropped off outside the port to be faced with a very large queue no shelter from the blistering heat, no staff ... Read More
Chose this cruise for itinerary. That was the only good thing. Embarkation in Lima was disgraceful. We arrived at port in taxi dropped off outside the port to be faced with a very large queue no shelter from the blistering heat, no staff present. We were then transferred to the ship by bus to be met with an even longer queue, waiting to embark,we even had to unload our own cases from the bus, no porters, no Oceania representatives,no organisation. From time we arrived at port to getting on board took us 3 hours no kidding. General manager eventually appeared claiming to lay blame on port of Lima for not having terminal building. Tendering service was another major issue .Easter island took us 4.30 hrs to get off ship, never experienced a tender service so slow,if you are not doing an excursion with the company you are treat like a second class citizen. After visiting the island and returned to the tender point we were faced with another long queue to get back on board 2.30 hours we waited to get on board. Once again general manager blamed conditions of sea and the clientele , not many spring chickens and various disabilities. Staff behind buffet counters in terrace cafe were very unenthusiastic ,didn't seem to be able to use initiative. Many times in waves grill we appeared invisible, took so long to have table set. Presentation of the food wasn't like it used to be. After rainfall, promenade decks were deadly, deckhands didn't seem to be programmed to clear the large pools of water they preferred to place a sign up warning you the decks were slippery when wet. Outbreak of gastroenteritis did not help matters either. Many of the facilities were closed, staff were also affected, restaurants appeared like staff canteens , paper table cloths, menus etc. TV and Movie channels were poor throughout the cruise. Speciality restaurants were excellent waiting staff there couldn't do enough for you. To sum up ,having cruised with Oceania a few year ago, the quality of the service has gone a long way down hill,does not warrant the premium price of the cruise. Will be very surprised if I am the only one with negative reviews. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
The itinerary was outstanding: Lima -> Pisco->Easter Island->Pitcairn -> South Pacific Islands but the cruise started out poorly. Oceania scheduled our air trip using LAN. LAN lost our luggage and because of the itinerary it ... Read More
The itinerary was outstanding: Lima -> Pisco->Easter Island->Pitcairn -> South Pacific Islands but the cruise started out poorly. Oceania scheduled our air trip using LAN. LAN lost our luggage and because of the itinerary it was day 7 before clothes arrived! Embarkation was from a shipping port not a people port and cruisers were left standing in the sun for over an hour without word from Oceania staff of the reasons for the delay. Once aboard, we found our room to be clean, comfortable and well attended by our housekeeper. Dining was something of a challenge for vegetarian eating. Not many choices and although we were asked to pre-order food, our choices were not always delivered. Entertainment was top notch. The dancers, singers and musicians were fantastic professionals. Unfortunately only 3 shows were performed on an 15 day cruise. Many of the public areas of the ship and the activities were shut down due to norovirus. Enrichment lectures provided by James Grant Peterkin,an expert and resident of Easter Island was the best experience. He lectured daily and was a wealth of knowledge. The ship also did a day around Pitcairn since there is no port there. Pitcairn residents came aboard and told us of life on the island and sold their fabulous art and crafts. South Pacific Islands were beautiful water spots with great snorkeling and beaches. Excursions were good, tender service to and from the ship was insufficient. The itinerary was a once in a lifetime trip but unfortunately Oceania did not live up to it's expressed guarantee of cruises that exceed one's expectation. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Beautiful ship decor to match any 6 star hotel. How ever...... When faced with a gastric bug hitting crew and staff leaving Lima and continuing for the full length of our trip never being under control, we both suffered the day ... Read More
Beautiful ship decor to match any 6 star hotel. How ever...... When faced with a gastric bug hitting crew and staff leaving Lima and continuing for the full length of our trip never being under control, we both suffered the day after leaving the ship. The jacuzzis were never closed or the pool. Activities were curtailed so the saving to Ociana must have been huge. Trivia was cancelled because they had not enough pens? No sail away party’s, no end of Cruise party. Executive suit closed no tea or coffee for cabins only room service which was slow due to the large amount of people just tying to get a cup of coffee. All self service tea and coffee machines closed. We have never had to drink so much coke or lemonade as it was easter to get hold of. Laundry was closed so no access even to the iron. Offered half price laundry but when the finale end of cruse itemised invoice arrived no reduction, question this and was told we had used the wrong form? The suites were slowly stripped over a period of a week of any luxury items, the day before we disembarked we were down to cheap plastic cups instead of glasses in our room. We had a penthouse suite that we paid a lot of money for started out a very lovely room ended up looking like a basic room no frills in a cheap hotel. I complained my holiday ended in 5 days time not today and was told they need time to sanitize all items in the rooms. Ociana this is not my problem, Ociana that’s your problem. Dinning areas was impacted on in the main dining room lunch was cancelled, leaving the Waves grill and the buffet only for lunch, not what signed up for beef burger and chips or salads. Entertainment on leaving Lima poor string quartet were depressing and gloomy. Excellent enrichment leactures James Peterkin. Excellent ports and tender crews were extremely helpful. Excellent ventriloquist we needed a lift the day he arrived and he gave us one very funny. Onboard show team were very good. People who are Embassidors for Ociana were disgusted with the way the problem on board was delt with never had they experianced anything like this Cruise. Both end of Cruise box’s were full to over flowing never on any cruse have I seen this I can garentee 100% were complaints. People went down and cancelled the gratuities, they were so disgusted with the treatment of customers. We could not as ours were prepaid but would have. Dear old Captain gave out no information at all, made no broadcast ref the problem, and we were at no time offered an explanation about what was going on. Lima be warned in Jan 2018 there is no priority boarding and no shade, you are boraded from the docside, many guest suffered sunburn on day one. 2-3 hours people were stood in the bright sunshine.( no seats) So you pay your money to get what standard you want and get Bradley let down by management on Ocieana. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
You only have to screw up one cruise experience to lose a devoted customer and despite 9 great experiences, the 10th one was bad enough for us to cancel a cruise scheduled for Jan '19 and put Oceania at the bottom of our cruise ... Read More
You only have to screw up one cruise experience to lose a devoted customer and despite 9 great experiences, the 10th one was bad enough for us to cancel a cruise scheduled for Jan '19 and put Oceania at the bottom of our cruise operator list. We chose this cruise exclusively to see Easter Island, and took Marina because Oceania had always done a great job (9 previous cruises). Not this time! #10 was a disaster from end to end. The ship is grand, well-appointed and the Penthouse 3 suite we booked was spacious and well-appointed. The start in Peru. The ship is joined in two stages: first a port shuttle and then on the dock itself. On the day, we lined up for the shuttle bus for well over an hour in the blazing sun - no shelter, not water - and those who were in the queue saw others pay an attendant and skip the line. No amount of protest was to any avail, and had it been a younger crowd, there could well have been violence. When we did get to the ship, it was to join another long line - still in the sun and without water or shelter. Little did we know that this attitude to passenger health and comfort was to persist throughout the voyage. There was no acknowledgement of the dibacle from the officers. People returning from a pre-cruise Machu Picchu excursion came back with all sorts of infections, but no one went to the medical group (owing to rumours about high costs of treatment) and so illness was transmitted. My wife came down with a bacterial infection on Day 3, there were multiple visits to the medical department and one relapse, and she was mobile though weak on the third last day. Throughout the doctor and nurses were terrific - though we hope the insurance come through. I attribute this entire health problem to the protracted stress of waiting at the two port locations and the failure of the ship to check out health of passengers returning from an area where infections were predicable. We never got to go ashore until Bora Bora! Then, there is the tendering, and most of the landings on this cruise were by tender: if you do not sign up for the exorbitantly priced Oceania excursions, you not get to go off the ship until all the Oceania tours passengers have been tendered and in the case of Day 1 at Easter Island that meant that you did not get off until 13:00, whereas tendering (which was uniformly a shambles) was due to start at 08:00. The tendering itself was so awkward that even the scheduled tours were hopelessly late. And, the officer class as a group were remote and seemed pretty arrogant. Information was not communicated for many days after the GI virus (not the one we had) hit both crew and passengers. As with the boarding process, the problem went unacknowledged until it could no longer be denied and a CDC protocol was invoked that treated passengers as problems rather than victims. An example would be that items like glassware, towels, ice buckets all were gone more than 2 days before we reached Tahiti. We had thought that we were disgruntled because illness had kept us from participating in the activities offered by the ship, but, owing to the 15-hour wait to get to our transport off Tahiti, we talked to a number of fellow passengers who were even more disgruntled and critical than we. Very disappointed! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
I have to agree all that has been said regards the lack of communication on this ship during the gastric virus outbreak, Marina is a beautiful ship.The food very good and the staff we saw,work very hard and are a benefit to the ... Read More
I have to agree all that has been said regards the lack of communication on this ship during the gastric virus outbreak, Marina is a beautiful ship.The food very good and the staff we saw,work very hard and are a benefit to the company. But,we could not understand how the captain allowed some aspects of the ship open.Why could we not put dollars in the laundry machines,yet we could put dollars in the slot machines for the full length of the cruise.We could play tennis,golf and ping pong using all the sport equipment with no cleaning in between use,yet we couldn’t play trivia.We could play black jack but not get fresh coffee.We could all use umbrellas daily,with no cleaning between use,yet have paper menus.The gym ,which is well known as a source of cross infection,remained open as did jacuzzis.We had ice removed yet daily fruit delivered. Our Oceania suite started to be stripped 5 days before disembarkation.When you save for two years for a suite to celebrate two special occasions,you expect on your final day to have what you had on your first day.To get back to your suite and find all the gorgeous books tied in white trash bags and dumped on a table with the extra roll of trash bags,you realise your dream has ended.Silver trays removed,glasses removed,champagne bucket removed,bathroom baskets removed,menus removed,etc,etc.Our cabin was not vacuumed in any way for four days. If we could have been told what and why, maybe we would have understood.But it seemed very sneaky that every time we left the cabin someone sneaked in and removed something.It was uncomfortable. We foresaw the gastric outbreak, with passengers not using any sanitation when entering or leaving restaurants as soon as we embarked. The officers were nowhere to be seen and all Reserve bookings and meals with staff were cancelled. Sadly,despite all the positives of the ship and crew,we will remember our holiday of a lifetime with great sadness. Oceania had the same problem in 2015 and in passengers eyes they haven’t learnt a thing.Extremly poor communication. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
This was our third cruise with Oceania (all on the Marina) and around 18th overall, and the first where I've felt the need to write a review on this site. Embarkation: Not a great start. In Lima we waited an hour in line in the ... Read More
This was our third cruise with Oceania (all on the Marina) and around 18th overall, and the first where I've felt the need to write a review on this site. Embarkation: Not a great start. In Lima we waited an hour in line in the afternoon sun and heat at the entrance to the port to get on a bus to the ship. The only Oceania presence was a small canopy with the logo on it where you finally got on the bus. At no time did anyone from the cruise show up with water, shade, or an explanation. Passengers were basically left on their own. Once on the bus we were driven to the ship only to find another lineup on the dock. Again it took an hour to get on the ship. Eventually they handed out water and then opened the a second gangway for passengers (it was being used solely for luggage at first). Over the 18 day cruise not once did anyone on the cruise staff make any public reference to the boarding (apparently it was the port's fault). It was as if it had never happened, or they thought passengers would forgive and forget once the cruise got going because we'd be having such a good time. Well that plan didn't work. (Also, unlike every other cruise we've been on, we were never given a health form to fill out when boarding asking whether we were sick). Easter Island: For most people this was the main reason for going on this cruise, and we were very aware that there was a chance we wouldn't get on the island. The morning we arrived we had to wait three hours in the theatre for the tender (got off at 1030 and we weren't on a tour, which seems to be a short wait compared to others). We were happy just to know that we would be going ashore, but I think Oceania should explain to people what's happening with the tenders. Once we got to the tenders we knew why it was taking so long. The swells were so strong that the loading was going very slowly. Every passenger had to wait for the crew on the tender to say 'Go' and then they would pull you onto the tender (or else you could fall between the tender and the ship). The crew basically did this all day (for two days), so everyone agreed they deserved a medal (and for Oceania for making sure we got onto the island both days). In reference to an earlier review, the cruise director did not say if you got on shore it wasn't guaranteed you'd get back on board. What he said was that this only applied to passengers who chose to stay the night on Easter Island, since it wasn't guaranteed the tenders would run on the second day. There was never any question we wouldn't get back to the ship on the first day. The guest lecturer (the British Consul General on Easter Island) was excellent. Virus: On the Wednesday night we noticed that the restaurant we were in was using paper menus. Thursday evening people started saying something was going around. Friday afternoon was the first time there was any announcement that there was a virus. This should have been announced sooner as that might have helped to lessen the impact. Basically everyone, as alway, was asked to wash their hands a lot, and stay in cabins if sick. They also cancelled trivia. Since we love doing trivia, this didn't go over well. We complained, but they said it was because the pens and paper were shared. They could have just asked people to bring their own paper and pen. What was more upsetting was that other activities continued (bingo, bridge, etc, and the clubs and mallets for shuffleboard, minigolf and croquet were never locked up, so could be used by anyone). They also closed the public laundry rooms on each deck because of all the buttons on the machines, and the library, but kept the casino open (presumably since it makes money for them). Basically everyone felt that this outbreak was not handled well at all. They obviously couldn't help the virus being on board, but they seemed to pick and choose which services were shut down and which weren't, there was hardly any information on the status of the outbreak,, etc. This lasted for the last week of the cruise, and it felt like everyone just wanted the cruise to end. Re some earlier reviews, -the only lounge closed was the Concierge lounge for certain cabins. All the other lounges were open. -the main diningroom was closed the last four or five days because the ship was in port every day. The diningroom never opens for lunch when in port, but it was open other days -never had a problem getting coffee, though a crew member was at the self serve machines to do it for you. The Barista coffee area was open the whole time, and in fact had the best cappuccinos I've ever had on a cruise. -we found the food to be the very good quality we've come to expect, though it's understandable it things weren't always up to par since quite a few crew were sick as well. Overall, apart from the great effort to get us onto Easter Island (and get the people from Pitcairn Island on board) the cruise was a disappointment. I've found on previous Marina cruises that there are not very many activies compared to other cruiselines, so cancelling/closing things because of the virus made things worse. The 'work' crew (room attendants, restaurant staff, deck attendants, etc) work very hard and were great, but they were let down by the senior staff and the almost complete lack of communication or acknowledgement of any issues (and yes, the senior officers, ie general manager, seemed arrogant and never admitted any fault). I had to be persuaded to take this cruise, and doubt that anything will persuade me to take another Oceania cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Started in Lima den 16.01.2018 We booked the trip mostly because of the destinationstrip sounded good and free internet, :-( - The ship said it's on their website that the internet is bad??? That almost never worked, and ... Read More
Started in Lima den 16.01.2018 We booked the trip mostly because of the destinationstrip sounded good and free internet, :-( - The ship said it's on their website that the internet is bad??? That almost never worked, and it took so long to come across that I most often gave up The telephone connection was also a very very big problem..... Date 16.03.2018 in Lima It was not fun to stand in the strong sun and wait for access to the ship, which turned out to be a bus that carried us on to the ship, where we also had to stand and wait in the sun, no water etc. -........................ NOT WORTH a 5 * SHIP In our suite the waiter was okay, -but service at the buffet and at the bars could be better. Our suite lounge closed when the ship thought there were bacteria on board, I think it was closed 8 days In the buffet we had to beg for salt and pepper (often more than once) :-( There was just "closed down" for many things in a large part of the trip. Because the ship tried to "freeze me" by entry and exit of the ship + in the dining room, theater, waiting for tickets etc. (due to bacteria) I got sick (not bacteria) and got in treatment (like many others I could look at elastic bands as many used to the drops to needles in the arm) the medications were good and nice. BUT: My Insurance company wanted to pay to the ship or to the head office, but was not allowed for the ship to pay $: 9657- as it cost, for my visit 7 times at the medical department on the ship - The ship closed for my 2 payment cards because they could not withdraw the money, they said... I think it was UNFORGIVABLE of them. but anyway I said that was fine, because then I could not pay! :-) ......Unfortunately, ;-/ they opened my cards again within 2 days, without excuse, - and of course they've also pulled the money from my account So they could take the money anyway ... We arrived at Tahiti on Feb. 3 -2018 Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
The Crystal Serenity (1,000 passengers) is a good fit for the independent traveler who hates herding. My wife and I use it often as our platform to (1) meet interesting people, (2) hear virtuoso musicians, (3) find new places worth a ... Read More
The Crystal Serenity (1,000 passengers) is a good fit for the independent traveler who hates herding. My wife and I use it often as our platform to (1) meet interesting people, (2) hear virtuoso musicians, (3) find new places worth a return, and (4) access isolated places we’d otherwise never see. There’s a lot to like about the Serenity, and we got our money’s worth on cruise V5303 (Lima to Auckland in Feb. 2015). Crystal’s performance was acceptable in most respects, and I’d hold up a paddle with an “8” (out of 10) for this cruise. Like much in life, we savor what’s there and overlook what’s not. Crystal definitely markets a club that people want to join. Bloggers cite long wait lists to see who eventually makes the cut to cruise with Crystal. Online chat threads sometimes voice an “expectation gap” between what was experienced and what was promised by Crystal’s well placed ads and promoters. But the myth of pampered perfection (that lore of five or “six” stars) is simply not a realistic expectation for this gracefully-aging little ship. We think of Serenity as a well-kept boutique hotel where everyone knows your name, rather than a floating palace of perfection. In fact, Crystal’s advertising seems to be realistically retooling Crystal’s reputation from a clubhouse for the elite to an ocean of opportunities for writing your own story. And we keep coming back for the latter because we find Crystal a comfortable choice for our type of travel. Realities of the Route We did this cruise because we wanted lots of sea days -- and we got ‘em. Billed as “Mysteries of the South Pacific,” it was that legendary tropical route of explorers, authors, artists, and Hollywood. We crossed the Pacific with those unhurried sea days, and the possibility of pit stops at some storied islands (Easter, Pitcairn, Tahiti, Rarotonga). Though the crossing itself is pretty routine, finding these remote specks of land is only the beginning. Survival in tendering is still where the crew earns their “green jackets” among the masters. For two centuries, nature has commonly frustrated shore visits at the islands along this route. If you’re going for the port stops rather than the journey, other travel alternatives (discussed below) are a better bet. Reliable access to the Internet disappeared between Easter Island and Tahiti. Studious passengers no doubt thought of those ancient Polynesians who were the space travelers of their day. Theirs was a one-way resettlement in the far unknown with, unlike E.T., no hope to ever phone home. A Super Bowl Send-Off For holidays like Christmas and Super Bowl Sunday, it’s always a disputable call as to whether to spend them on a cruise ship or somewhere else (the “no place like home” dilemma). And we live in Phoenix, where the big game was actually played this year. This cruise embarked out of Lima just before Super Bowl Sunday. But Crystal made it all better with live big-screen coverage, an authentic tailgating buffet, and great sports bar decorating. For the price of two Super Bowl tickets, we got a cruise across the Pacific. Plus a better view, more comfortable seats, and better food than we would have had in the Phoenix stadium. Dining: Secrets of the Missing Menus We took this cruise for the sea days, and Crystal’s venues for leisurely (unherded) meals were part of that choice. And it’s not just about the food: meals are where we meet lots of interesting people and trade travel tips. Online chat threads sometimes express disappointment with Crystal’s dining. Perhaps this flows from the natural tension between one’s personal taste and a passive expectation of pampered perfection. But a more realistic approach would be to view the small ship as several blocks of “neighborhood” dining possibilities. The ship is big enough to support a variety, and small enough to routinely adapt to diner requests. Without investing in a penthouse suite (we don’t), you can come close to having a personal chef if you know the “missing menu” for each venue. The formal dining room (Deck 5) will go beyond the published dinner menu if you alert your head waiter the night before. In this Crystal cruise, as before, we’ve enjoyed custom (off-menu) orders for lobsters, steaks, group salads, family-style meat dishes, and special desserts. Like many Americans, we prefer dinner at 6 pm rather than 8:30 pm. This lets us see the first performance of the evening’s entertainment, rather than the later one for the night owls. But this has the side effect of a further choice concerning the shows. The musician’s first performance feels like the traditional full-house auditorium concert. But the second show often ends up as a smaller audience with a less formal “jazz club” atmosphere, with more up close and personal interaction with the virtuoso. As in the past, our choice for a great-tasting breakfast continues to be the less attended one in the formal dining room. Right from the menu, you can build your own eclectic smorgasbord of personal favorites -- from Japanese cod, to corned beef hash, to Ovaltine, to cooked-to-order waffles, to fresh berries, to muffins as good as the donut shop treats back home. It’s the kind of long, leisurely breakfast that’s perfect for a sea day, or when the masses are off to their shore excursions. But don’t underestimate the informal dining that’s available for lunch and dinner up on Deck 12. Tastes Cafe has the best service that we’ve experienced at any restaurant on land or sea, thanks to the combined efforts up there of Clark, Rosanno, Bryan, Lloyd, and Luigi. Just like the old Cheers show, where anyone knows your name, drink, and chair of choice. In fact, the attentive service of these particular employees is a main reason that we continue to cruise on Crystal. And we found the most flavorful beef and lamb on the ship up at Tastes. But don’t order yet; there’s more distinctive dining amidst the nooks and crannies of Deck 12. Scoops ice cream bar has quite the fan base, with that old-fashioned, made-to-order, soda fountain nostalgia. In fact, the line at Scoops is an event in itself as Lucky deftly chats with all -- and you watch what he’s crafting for everybody else (sort of an ice cream piano bar where I’ll often have what she’s having). Over at the Trident Grill, Andy is the master of multi-tasking and makes our favorite hamburger (yes, anywhere). Like the ice cream bar, this is a bit of American nostalgia. Andy is curator of the comfort food that was cooked to order in small town cafes before the fast food chains took over. On the other hand, my wife would argue that Jordan at the Bistro (Deck 6) must, from my perspective, be second to the captain as the most essential crew member. Every day, Jordan uses his off-menu skills to simulate the Starbucks drink that starts my day at home. Star Parties with an Astronaut Lots of sea days mean an onboard focus, rather than just a ride to the next shore excursion. Serenity’s small size gives it the flexibility to offer spontaneous extras. The ancients’ celestial navigation surfaced during the “star parties” that a visiting astronaut and Serenity’s resident astronomer periodically convened on darkened Deck 13. The cruise director even brought out his laptop with an app that graphically explained the sky at the ship’s position in real time (sort of a floating planetarium). With only about a dozen passengers present, the session that I attended was a much more personal star party than those ubiquitous land-based ones (where a long line jockeys for a glancing look through a telescope). For the daily schedule of visible satellites, see www.heavens-above.com, www.calsky.com, and www.aerospace.org. And though the Pacific no longer defines our universe, one of the astronaut’s lectures cautioned that the most critical navigation puzzle of all still remains on the plotting board. Unless we can learn to intercept asteroids (specks in space), close calls will eventually escalate to a collision that presses the reset button for life on earth. Until I heard his lecture of hopeful solutions, I had just assumed that humans were long-term sitting ducks without recourse (facing the solar system’s version of a rogue wave). While contemplating the constellations, falling stars, orbiting satellites, and menacing asteroids, I somehow forgot that Crystal is no longer putting chocolates on the pillows. Crystal often stops at locations with an observatory, and they may wish to try distinctive shore excursions to those facilities. Even during the day, the view, grounds, or historical building can be memorable. Port Stop: Easter Island (Feb. 2015) Easter Island is a draw for cruisers because (1) it has hundreds of those UNESCO stone heads (moai) and (2) getting to it is a travel milestone in itself (like the Poles, Everest, and the Northwest Passage). Your t-shirt with a head tells the world that you did it, but may signal that you wanted to log the event more than the experience. It’s also one of the world’s very studied places. Rabid studiers can read about its lesser known history of high drama that has occurred before and after the heads. Slavery, revolt, escapes, marooning, flying, and a secret US base are all part of the legacy if you know where to look. On the other hand, Chilean concert pianist Mahani Teave started on Easter Island, which is pretty inspirational given the scarcity of pianos and music teachers in her childhood (see www.mahaniteave.com). And now she’s opened the island’s music school that she never had. Perhaps Crystal could schedule her for some onboard concerts during a future world cruise. Frankly, the rocky, treeless terrain looks more like the barren Aleutians than tropical Polynesia. While Easter Island still has the heat and humidity of Polynesia, a flight to good old Kauai would be a better bet unless you’re into the heads or the history. There are thousands of archeological sites on Easter Island. If you’re really here for the heads, the best bet is take the LAN flight (not a cruise) and schedule a guide per the intensity of your interest. For instance, the island’s only foreign diplomat (the British consul) moonlights as a travel book writer and guide service. He has offerings that range from hours to days, depending upon just how much you want to know about this nuance of archeology (see www.easterislandspirit.com). But we just weren’t into the heads and instead walked into town in search of the novelty stamping of our passports that was reportedly available at the post office. Because it was closed at that hour, we substituted the coveted keepsake of a refrigerator magnet from the island’s three markets (Mercado, Feria, Caleta). It’s a long sweaty walk from the tender, and we’d invest in a cab if we did it again. Easter Island has been a tough tender for famous seamen over two centuries. For cruise ships on tight schedules, it’s a really iffy stop with one navigation reference cautioning: “The weather is never good for more than a few days at a time at Isla de Pascua [Easter Island]. Ships anchoring off the island should be ready to sail on short notice. . .” (NGA Pub. 125) Whatsinport.com advises that “[r]ough seas often prevent tender boat service and shore visits.” And Grant McCall’s book notes “the often elderly passengers on cruise ships who are unable to negotiate the tricky dinghy trip to shore” (ouch!). Like the ascents of notorious peaks, sometimes you get that weather window -- and often you don’t. Nature is indifferent to the prestige of a ship or an explorer. But Serenity was able to tender everyone over and back on this visit, with no injuries worse than a sunburn. It was an E-ride for those that took it, with a dance of deckhands carefully inching each passenger into the bouncing tenders. I’ve never felt so closely protected in my life, and I appreciated those deckhands even more when I read of the recent tendering death on the Queen Elizabeth. For those who want to seriously study up, see the website for the Easter Island Foundation (islandheritage.org), the Rapa Nui Journal, and the ITM 1:30,000 map of the island available from Amazon. Port Stop: Pitcairn Island (Feb. 2015) Fabled Pitcairn Island (pop. about 50) traffics in its lore of Mutiny-on-the-Bounty. Crystal is among the dozen or so cruise lines that occasionally include a “cruise-by” on their itineraries. A few (but not Crystal) actually tender passengers ashore. However, two recent developments could dramatically change the lack of shore visits. The European Union has invested in a new dock at Pitcairn, with construction in progress visible during our cruise-by. And amidst much National Geographic publicity, the UK has just designated the ocean around Pitcairn as the world’s largest marine sanctuary (sort of a national park under water). The UK’s need to aggressively service (guard) this new preserve could justify the big shifts in accessibility seen in other remote places -- solutions like fast ferries, amphibious seaplanes, or an off-island airstrip. While this is just speculation on my part, there was indeed Cold War planning for an airfield on a neighboring island that Pitcairners have often visited with their small boats. Though a postage stamp back in 2000 remembered that project, construction never occurred and Pitcairn lacks an airstrip to this day. So, if you’re confident that you still have decades of travel ahead, one option is to postpone your cruise by Pitcairn for a few years while the invisible hand of the market sorts all this out. But there was no expectation of a shore excursion for Serenity at this point, with only its captain, cruise director, and doctor actually setting foot on the island. Instead, Pitcairn continued its long trading tradition of bringing a “longboat” of residents out to any passing ship. The Pitcairners set up their souvenir booths for five hours onboard, gave two slide shows, and sent us on our way with a concert of island songs. My wife and I did our best to support Pitcairn’s economy through our purchase of books, stamps, carvings, DVDs, and a map. Each onboard trader told us a story about life on Pitcairn that we’ll remember long after our trinkets. We always savor a chat with our travel purchases, and we had more of this interaction at the onboard booths than we often get on the bussed tours at other port stops. The onboard market was dominated by the island’s miro wood carvings, the ever-popular t-shirts, and the many series of postage stamps that are actually the main export. Before stamp collectors hit the booths, they can review the online catalog at www.stamps.gov.pn. But don’t overlook this brief access to several hard-to-get publications if you’re scouting a more rigorous return to Pitcairn down the road. The government’s latest Guide to Pitcairn (2013) is a nicely-done book of history, geography, and the current state of modern infrastructure (US $10). David Evans’ self-published “Pitkern Ilan” (rest assured it’s in English) is the detailed guidebook of what to see and do (US $5). And the most detailed map (2013) is expectedly that published by an islander (US $10). The government’s Guide to Pitcairn reminds us that “the custom of exchanging goods of approximately equal value still continues.” Future cruisers to Pitcairn might barter well with old National Geographics about the island. American thrift stores and used book shops sell them for a dollar or two, while Pitcairners price them for visitors at US $40. You could conceivably trade up to a unique carving for a stack of those old yellow-bordered magazines if your luggage allows. Hundreds of Serenity passengers lined the rail to wave goodbye to the dwarfed longboat (a bit reminiscent of little Havre-Saint-Pierre, Quebec, where the cars all honked their farewell to Serenity last fall). The ship then circled Pitcairn’s six-mile perimeter for our final photo op. The lack of a shore visit meant that we missed Bounty artifacts displayed in the museum and scattered around the island. We also missed the botany trail and the elderly community pet, a giant tortoise (“Miss T”) that a sailing ship dropped off 60 years ago. Miss T the tortoise has free-range run of her own forest, and the honor of a postcard, stamp series, YouTube video, and (of course) dot-pn website. She also has her own Pitcairn law that carries jail time if you’re mean to her, and it requires a report to authorities if she looks sick. All of this effectively makes her a protected species of one, or at least a beloved “emotional support animal.” More than a brief cruise-by may be in your future if Pitcairn’s everyday life is your version of “priceless,” experiences like fishing, diving, hiking, birding, socializing, and visiting Miss T. This is a “Northern Exposure” sort of place, and the same travel niche that seeks out lighthouse retreats and Alaskan bush hamlets will probably enjoy a stay at Pitcairn. If you really want to spend such quality time on Pitcairn, its tourism agency can connect you with the two-day boat ride (from Mangareva) and lodging for a stay that lasts from a few days to a few months (see www.visitpitcairn.pn). And that lodging traditionally includes all meals and your host’s guiding as an island insider. On the other hand, if you’re more into the history than the place itself, the Pitcairners and their “Bounty saga” are more easily accessed at Australia’s Norfolk Island. Most Pitcairners resettled there over a century ago and, unlike Pitcairn Island itself, there is air service for tourists. Crystal is scheduled to visit Norfolk Island in 2018. And the first colony of the mutineers was actually on Tubuai over in Tahiti (also accessible by air). There they started Fort George (with even a moat and drawbridge), but the locals drove them out after two battles (hence the name Bloody Bay). Though a very nasty chapter in the Bounty saga (around 70 islanders killed), it didn’t make the movies. Crystal may wish to add historian Mark Eddowes to its cadre of lecturers to provide the Tahitians’ rest of the story on all of this Bounty business. In fact, a passenger on our cruise had published a travel guide to 101 places around the world that have Bounty/Pitcairn sites or artifacts (see eptours.com/CD.htm or the e-book at Amazon). And his wife had moderated a conference at the Pitcairn Islands Study Center (California), which may have the largest library on the topic if you really want to study up without leaving the US. (See 2012bpc.com for free download of the lectures.) Like the Galapagos and Easter Island, Pitcairn is one of those remote spots that’s been studied to death. Its worldwide notoriety began with the Bounty and continues to this day as the Crown and its last Pacific colony grapple over who gets to write the rules. American media from Vanity Fair to the Wall Street Journal have reported upon Pitcairn since the prosecutions of the past decade. (In UK euphemisms, Northern Ireland had “the troubles” and Pitcairn had “the trials.”) Just last November, the UK issued its latest court decision affirming its international rights to police the Pitcairners (see all 165 pages at www.pitcairn.pn/Laws). An onsite contingent of UK reps continues to watch over a handful of aging couples, one child, and one tortoise. As an epilogue to this memorable “non-shore excursion,” I tried to visit the island’s distant administrative headquarters when we reached Auckland. On the 17th floor of a downtown skyscraper (151 Queen St.), I found a plain door labeled as the “Pitcairn Island Office.” A note asked that the British consulate be entrusted with any deliveries. Perhaps the face behind that door was at lunch, or perhaps the island simply doesn’t need daily supervision at this level of the Crown’s bureaucracy. Port Stop: Papeete, Tahiti (Feb. 2015) Crystal rounds up the usual contractors for the shore excursions at its port stops. But we seldom book them unless we want the security of the herd for a particular location. Instead we directly seek out our own “certified local character,” our label of honor for a guide that’s both quite the entertainer and an expert in a distinctive subject matter. Finding the “character” is dependent upon how much advance research you (or your travel agent) are willing to do. Examples of leads would be historical societies, authors, ghost walks, and foodie tours. It may or may not be a private tour. Our man in Tahiti was William Leeteg (tahiti-adventure-eagle-tour.com). Email him well in advance and he will circle the whole island (70 miles) with as much of the backstory as you’d like to hear. He does all tours himself in his own air-conditioned van and quotes his price when emailed (he charged us a very reasonable US $50 a person). He’s fluent in English, not surprising since he was schooled in California and Hawaii (and can even connect you with an Elvis imitator in Papeete). Yup, William is the son of that controversial painter Edgar Leeteg (sometimes promoted as “the American Gauguin”). Edgar’s masterpieces include Christ, Navajo Indians, and Polynesian women (often topless). When James Michener wrote “Rascals in Paradise,” the last chapter was indeed entitled “Leeteg, the Legend.” William’s regular group tour (4 hours) includes stops at Maraa Grotto (Gauguin swam here), Vaipahi Garden (waterfall), Venus Point (Matavai Bay and lighthouse), the Blow Hole, and Taharaa Lookout (panoramic photo op). However, if you want him to concentrate on his father the artist, or Paul Gauguin, you should book a private tour with him that includes sites related to their lives. William, like his late father, is his own man and his own boss. As he shows you the landmarks, he offers his personal insights rather than a scripted tourist-tale for mass consumption. And that’s just what we’re looking for in a certified local character. The US Center for Disease Control cautions travelers to Tahiti about mosquito-borne chikungunya. “There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus infection.” We used ordinary insect repellent, didn’t get bitten, and developed no symptoms. Port Stop: Rarotonga, Cook Islands (Feb. 2015) The stop at Rarotonga didn’t happen for us, consistent with Cruise Critic’s observation that “ships often miss calls here due to rough water conditions.” Serenity spared our stomachs from an extreme tender ride and proceeded on to New Zealand. For those insistent upon visiting Rarotonga, air travel would seem the best bet given the chronic uncertainty of tendering. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015

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