43 Oceania Marina Repositioning Cruise Reviews

We are in our mid 60's and have sailed 7 times in last 7 years. After 2 cruises on Celebrity Millenium ships we decided to go upscale and try Oceania Marina in 2011. One month prior to sailing, we were offered and accepted a bargain ... Read More
We are in our mid 60's and have sailed 7 times in last 7 years. After 2 cruises on Celebrity Millenium ships we decided to go upscale and try Oceania Marina in 2011. One month prior to sailing, we were offered and accepted a bargain upgrade from concierge to penthouse level. We were hooked and have booked penthouse ever since. First 3 cruises on Marina were excellent. Cruise on Riviera (Miami to Barcelona - April 2014) was great but food was down a notch (too salty) as was passenger respect for dress code. Latest cruise on Marina (Tahiti to Sydney - Feb 2016) was equal in food quality to Riviera, i.e. slightly less quality than 2008 - 2014, or perhaps we are getting more fussy. Respect for dress code has clearly deteriorated. I suspect that the recent competitive pricing has attracted those who normally cruise on Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, NCL and as such the guest mix has changed. Many passengers do not understand "country club casual" as they are likely not members of a country club. Lack of young families on Oceania is still a good draw for us. La Reserve and Privee as well as 4 specialty restaurants is a big plus. Excursions are over-priced and under- delivered but we realized that a few cruises ago, so we arrange our own. Lack of quality entertainment is a minus. String quartet was high quality, but pianist is still not up to par. Experience was such that we are now considering alternatives, from Celebrity Aqua Class to perhaps a 6-star experience (Regent, Crystal, etc) or perhaps Azamara that competes head to head at 5.5 stars. So in our opinion, Oceania is certainly good but no longer great. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Looking for a different place to visit on ship that I had been on before. Received an E-mail from Oceania Cruise Line on their cruise from Capetown to Rio 14 days. The cruise line included a three day land tour including hotel in South ... Read More
Looking for a different place to visit on ship that I had been on before. Received an E-mail from Oceania Cruise Line on their cruise from Capetown to Rio 14 days. The cruise line included a three day land tour including hotel in South Africa. The cabin was large the bathroom had a tub the counter top was small but there was additional room for personal items on the shelves on the sides of the mirror. The refrigerator was stocked with water, beer and soft drinks. The room was a good size for a ship with a sofa and desk with chair. The Internet service was poor. The TV had some of the major news and business channels. There are four specialty restaurants. The main dining room and the buffet dinning area. The food was always very good. The staff was outstanding. The Entertainment was very good. There were several activities during the day. The ship carries about eleven hundred passengers. There is no movie theatre aboard. There is a casino, library and several bar on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We just returned from our 16 day Crossing cruise. We have been on 2 other Oceania cruises which I thoroughly enjoyed. Those 2 cruises were on the smaller ships, Regatta and Nautica. On the smaller ships we had PH staterooms and they ... Read More
We just returned from our 16 day Crossing cruise. We have been on 2 other Oceania cruises which I thoroughly enjoyed. Those 2 cruises were on the smaller ships, Regatta and Nautica. On the smaller ships we had PH staterooms and they were wonderful. I really did not like the Veranda stateroom onthe Marina. I felt that the placement of the closet was awful. I lived out of my suitcase which I had placed on the sofa for the entire cruise. The room size was adequate but the design is awful. I would not go on the Marina again if I had to have a Veranda stateroom. Plus, we heard the slamming and bamming of the drawers and closet doors from our neighboring rooms that was also thoroughly annoying. I have never heard this noise on other cruises/ships. The bathroom is a lovely room which they ruined by trying to put too much into the space. A big tub and a small, small shower. As for the rest of the ship and cruise. The ship is beautiful. The atmosphere is sedate, low energy. The food is great. The specialty restaurants are wonderful, tho difficult to impossible to get in to, especially if you want to eat before 8 pm. The frequent cruisers know the tricks for getting their reservations early. The rest of the cruise is what is to be expected. Oceania is not about entertainment. It is about cruising and interesting ports. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Overall this was a most enjoyable cruise. Our(my wife and I) criteria for judging the cruise:- Embarcation. In this case it was a bit disjointed. So far our trips with other lines meant the suitcases were taken from the bus/coach and the ... Read More
Overall this was a most enjoyable cruise. Our(my wife and I) criteria for judging the cruise:- Embarcation. In this case it was a bit disjointed. So far our trips with other lines meant the suitcases were taken from the bus/coach and the next we saw of them was in the cabin. This time we had to collect the cases and take them to the shed which proved a little difficult because of the surface of the pavement. The registration was a bit chaotic, principally due to the Ebola scare in effect, and not very smooth. Disembarcation was very well handled, although the port in Rio was a disaster zone because of road works. Itinerary. We are more interested in sailing than visiting cruise ports, thus chose the transatlantic trip. However I was also looking forward to visiting Brazil. As it turned out Cadiz was the most interesting stop, and I saw nothing in the three Brazilian ports( Recife, Salvador, Rio) that would cause me to go back. Accommodations. First class. We had a Concierge class stateroom, and wanted for nothing. The Cabin Steward was Kosta. He was excellent. We did get flooded out and had to move. This was due to a burst toilet pipe. In general there were several problems with the toilet flushing mechanism, and many times the plumbers were on the decks dealing with this. Dining. It can only be described as the acme of culinary delights. We had many meals in the GDR with no fault in the quality, apart from one instance when one of our group ordered the shrimp risotto with squid ink. It came with three tiny shrimp and should never have left the kitchen.The fresh fruit at breakfast was frequently hard ( contrasting with the fruit in the hotel we stayed in post cruise which was heaven on earth). We had a really substandard burger in the Waves restaurant and never went back there. We had bookings in all Specialty restaurants. The outstanding favourite of our group of six people was Polo, followed by Red Ginger, then Jacques and Toscana a distant last. There was a bizarre occurence while in Salvador.During the evening meal a large group of people ( we were subsequently told they were local travel agents) were led in and occupied the centre of the Dining Room. Virtually all service stopped for about 45 minutes and our main course took about one hour to arrive. Service. Overall very good. We had a couple of spotty experiences in the GDR but put it down to staff just arrived on board. The wine waiters were almost without exception superb, especially Andrii. We did have an unfortunate episode where a wine waiter argued with one of our group that the coloured liquer he delivered was Cointreau. The Maitre d' came over to apologise. The drinks servers were excellent and hard working in particular Rosslyn. Beverages. An eclectic drinks and wine menu. We could not believe the range of spirits. I felt almost any of the wines by the glass choices were excellent-- apart from the La Terre choice. A nice touch was to give you the shaker, with remaining liquid, in the Martini's bar, but only in the Martini's bar. Entertainment. We do not go on sea voyages and expect high class acts, and therefore were not disappointed. This was our first Oceania cruise and the pricing was most favourable. As usual the whole was marred by the flight arrangements and I wouldn't go through that again Summary. I would wholeheartedly endorse Oceania if this cruise is typical Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Background: My husband and I are experienced cruisers, having sailed on many lines, including Cunard, Regent, Silversea, Celebrity and Holland America. We enjoy sailing primarily to relax, and look for comfortable, spacious staterooms or ... Read More
Background: My husband and I are experienced cruisers, having sailed on many lines, including Cunard, Regent, Silversea, Celebrity and Holland America. We enjoy sailing primarily to relax, and look for comfortable, spacious staterooms or suites, excellent food, excellent service and interesting itineraries. This was our first sailing with Oceania. Summary: Although we found the food outstanding, the service excellent and the Marina a spotless, pleasant ship, we did not particularly enjoy this cruise. Our small, cramped, concierge stateroom was not conducive to relaxation. It was difficult to store our clothing and retrieve it due to the small closet and lack of drawer space. The shower was also very small and difficult to use. The bed was quite comfortable, and the lighting excellent. Servicing of the stateroom was timely and excellent. Public rooms were attractive but not always available for use when we wished to relax and read. For example, the lovely, forward observation lounge was set aside for art auctions on sea days and for travel agent presentations on port days. The chairs at the side of the room were pushed up against the windows to make room for scores of "art" pieces. I have never before experienced a large forward lounge being used for art auctions on a ship. Although many comments we read prior to sailing indicated the ship spacious, we found it crowded. Perhaps not having the observation lounge available for significant amounts of time contributed to the issue. The elevators, which are very small, were also an issue at many times. Just not enough of them. We have never before had elevator issues on a ship. The Library was also small and cramped, with seats filled every time we visited. All and all, we have decided to skip Oceania in the future, although we did think the food was outstanding, and the crew most professional and helpful. Our opinion is certainly not shared by all as over 1,000 passengers on this sailing were repeats. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was our first Oceania cruise, although we have cruised many times before on various cruise lines and locations. We had a great time and met many, many nice people. We especially enjoyed the Trivia games, the Bridge lessons and the Mah ... Read More
This was our first Oceania cruise, although we have cruised many times before on various cruise lines and locations. We had a great time and met many, many nice people. We especially enjoyed the Trivia games, the Bridge lessons and the Mah Jongg sessions! We made friends at all of these activities, and if you are reading this, you know who you are! We also enjoyed visiting the various ports of call. although it was disappointing that we have to cancel two ports of call, due to the bad weather/ice. But better safe than sorry. -- and we did see icebergs not very far away! The food was very good to delicious, and there was good variety. We liked the fact that we could get smaller meals/sandwiches at lunch, rather than more big, dinner-style meals. Thanks to all who posted advice/notices etc. on CC prior to the Cruise, as this was very helpful to first-time Oceania cruisers. I will definitely check out CC every time we cruise from now on. Thanks also to Mura and Ron and any others who organized the M&G. We took most of the ship's excursions, which were all quite good, but seemed more expensive than on other lines we have experienced. They were no better or worse, no more or less crowded than on the other lines. We met quite a number of fellow travelers who either arranged for outside tours or did not take any excursions at all. I think Oceania should look into the price of their excursions, as it appears that many fell that they are too expensive. Several similar cruise lines are now including excursions as part of their price. As for the enrichment activities--the talks by the outside lecturers were great, especially the music professor. The cooking classes were interesting and the Chef was very fun, with delicious recipes. We also liked the Bridge lessons and thought the teacher, Barbara, was very generous with her handouts and very knowledgeable and interesting in her presentations. All in all, it was a great cruise! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My husband and I chose this cruise to meet two requirements– he wanted to go to Rio and I wanted to go on a cruise! Based on that requirement and the time we were able to go, only Oceania and Regent had itineraries that worked (and they ... Read More
My husband and I chose this cruise to meet two requirements– he wanted to go to Rio and I wanted to go on a cruise! Based on that requirement and the time we were able to go, only Oceania and Regent had itineraries that worked (and they were identical). So based on our TA’s recommendation and our own preferences based on what we’d read on Cruise Critic about both lines, we chose the Marina for our cruise. Before boarding the ship, we spent a few days in Paris and a few days in Barcelona. In Paris we stayed at the Best Western Premier L’Horset Opera, conveniently located close to the Opera Garnier and the Louvre. Advice: go to the Louvre first thing in the morning, and use the entry that is in the shopping center below the museum. You get in quick, and if you are lucky, as we were, you can see the Venus de Milo in a completely empty room, and the Mona Lisa with only 50 other people rather than 1,000. In Barcelona, we stayed at the Renaissance Barcelona Hotel on Pau Claris, again, really nicely situated for many sights, and shopping. Also easy access to the Metro. A must see in Barcelona was La Sagrada Familia. We made prior reservations online for entry and for a tower climb, but the weather was bad and the towers weren’t open. But we didn’t have to stand in line in the rain to buy tickets. Highly recommend getting tickets in advance. Embarkation to the ship was a breeze – we got there at around 10.30am, and were in our suite by 11.15am, with our luggage by 11.30. Super easy. The ship is everything that has already been said about it – beautiful and classy. And the staff is amazing. We were onboard for 19 days, and I can’t think of one time when service was below excellent. We had some issues with technical equipment in our suite, which was resolved by the ship buying new equipment in Gibraltar, since it turned out the glitch was because we were trying to use new technology and the ship is two years old (and therefore out of date!). But the efforts of our butler (Lector), the GM (Dominique) and the Concierge (Javier) were outstanding. We never felt unheard. Some observations on the ship: Clientele – upscale, well travelled. We heard some comments from long time Oceania cruisers that this itinerary had attracted some “overly entitled” folks, and we did see a bit of that, especially when it came to seating and access on the tour buses. A large contingent of more senior folks that sometimes behaved like high school kids without a chaperone…pushing and shoving and cutting in line. But overall, a relaxed, country club atmosphere. There was also a large number of LGBT on this cruise, including us, and we never had any concerns. The clientele is sophisticated, smart and accepting…..and we felt totally at home. The spa is fantastic, but the steam room is very small. The gym is great, but got very crowded on sea days. As is normal on ships, massages and other treatments were very expensive, but we enjoyed them anyways. Entertainment – we didn’t ever go to the Marina Lounge except to disembark for excursions. The Casino is small, and the selection of games is a bit weak. But the staff is very friendly and Nico did a great job making me feel at home. Food – there is little to say here except I want the cookbook. Red Ginger is amazing, Toscana and Polo are wonderful, Jacques is enjoyable. However, the lack of rotation on the menus at the specialty restaurants meant the choices got a bit repetitive. The Grand Dining Room – we ate there twice. The second time was for Thanks Giving Dinner, and I have to say it was the worst meal on board. I don’t think the chefs “got the concept”. We never ate at Waves Grill, and we regret that. We were told on our last day that it’s one of the highlights. Who knew? The Terrace Buffet was adequate, apart from never being able to find a table and sometimes the service was slow to non-existent, especially if you were seated inside towards the entry doors to the Grill. Butler service – if you are blessed to have one, USE it. We did course by course in suite dining, we did last minute reservations at Red Ginger, we did a cocktail party with canapés….we got advice and information on ports of call, we got laundry expedited…..you name it. Let the butler do his/her job. At first, it was a bit weird to have a hovering attendant during meals, but by the mid-point of the trip, he was becoming a highlight! Lector made a huge difference in our enjoyment of the cruise. Suite – an amazing space. We were in 12009 Oceania Suite. Glorious indulgence. The media room separate from the bedroom meant my husband and I could indulge in our different rest/entertainment needs without any issues. The balcony and Jacuzzi were an indulgence that we used a lot. The only issues I’d have with the suite was the overly complicated lighting (we never did work out what switch did what, and in the middle of the night trying to turn on one bathroom light, we sometimes got a Vegas style light show instead), and the glass doors which negated the isolation of the bedroom from the rest of the suite (particularly during said Vegas light shows). Some observations on the itinerary: Cartagena – didn’t really do much here. Went ashore and walked around. Gibraltar – wonderful experience. Did the “Walking Tour of the Upper Rock” excursion, and the guide (Karen) couldn’t have been better. We got so much out of this tour, we forgot the outrageous cost for excursions that Oceania charge. Lanzarote – it was raining, and our submarine tour was cancelled due to lack of interest. Also, scheduling a port stop on a Sunday in a place that closes down on Sundays was never a good idea. The place was shut. Tenerife – amazing tour “Canadas del Tiede”. The bizarre Martian landscape of the volcano was worth every penny, and the House of Balconies in La Oratavia was wonderful. The lunch we could have skipped. Cape Verde – don’t get off the ship. Really. Recife – unless you go to Olinda, another “why?” port. Again, this port stop was scheduled for a Monday, a day that all the museums in the city are closed. Bad timing by Oceania since this information is publically available. Salvador de Bahia – we enjoyed this very much, and will return. We did the “Highlights of Salvador” tour, and it was worth it to get a sense of place and geography, so that on the second day, we wandered around on our own and got a more in depth look at some of the places on the tour. Buzios – we did the “Swim by Schooner” tour….but the water was too cold for real enjoyment. Afterwards, we took a cab to a different beach away from the town, and had a relaxing beach afternoon. Beautiful. Rio de Janeiro – we did the “Best of Rio” 8 hour tour. Again, the lunch could have been skipped. Sugarloaf and the Corcovado was basically the rest of the tour. We had two more days in Rio, and went back to Corcovado again, when it was sunny. It was a lot less expensive and pretty simple to do by ourselves, but probably again partly due to the fact that we had some familiarity from doing the tour. Disembarkation – we were off the ship by 9am, and we organized our car service through our hotel – a cost of about $100, compared to Oceania asking for $395. We stayed two days at the JW Marriott at Copacabana – which was great, but after being away for a month, we were both a bit “tired of touring” so we stayed inside and watched movies for the most part! Flights – all arranged with Delta, not using Oceania. We used points and flew Business Elite – and now we can never do coach again. Overall observations: Oceania is not for you if you want exciting entertainment and partying. It’s not for you if you have young kids. If you want an upscale resort experience, excellent service and food, to return home feeling relaxed and rejuvenated….and maybe a little wiser about the destinations you’ve been to….then Oceania is a good choice.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was our 20th cruise . We started in 2007, and have travelled with Celebrity, (Elite) HAL and Regent, amongst others. Embarkation was quite slow.We appreciated NOT having the often seen picture-taking employee. We noted that there was ... Read More
This was our 20th cruise . We started in 2007, and have travelled with Celebrity, (Elite) HAL and Regent, amongst others. Embarkation was quite slow.We appreciated NOT having the often seen picture-taking employee. We noted that there was no welcoming sparkling wine ( I dislike seeing people refer to champagne when it is not), possibly because Oceania frequent travellers get a bottle of sparkling wine in their cabin.We had booked a guaranteed balcony cabin,and our cabin was very well positioned, a few steps to the elevator,one floor up from the MDR, with no issue whatsoever with noise. We found the service excellent; neither familiar,nor pompous or obsequious. The food was delicious,well prepared and presented, and the portions were not obscene. The specialty restaurants were very good as well. Food preferences are objective; no need to comment. We found the cruise director,Roy Perez, somewhat lacking in easy- going and sunny personality. Mind you, the poor fellow had to defend against ethnocentric jabs from Americans who objected to his"accent". Entertainment was so so,but the classical quartet,a regular feature on the ship, which welcomes you upon arrival, was lovely. Two excursions were cancelled. Considering that they pride themselves on unique destinations, it makes me wonder about the reliability of the itinerary.. L'Anse aux Meadows was one, apparently because of potential icebergs. This was a disappointment, as it was one of the salient reasons for our choice. This is the area where you find the earliest Viking presence(11th century) in North America. The second cancellation still baffles us. This was Falmouth. There were numerous sail boats out. The ship log noted small waves of 4.9ft and wind speed of 18 knots. As a sailor,I scratched my head when hearing the captain say that it was not safe to tender.... Some of us found unusual that he had to back out of the Dublin port, seemingly having difficulty making a forward exit. I am not sure how to say this delicately, but our trip was marred by the rudeness of some passagers, all from the same area of the US. Other passengers had warned us, but we had to experience it to believe it. One of them, for instance, came to us as we were seating in a lounge, and asked us to move as it was "his" seat. I will not waste my time with other examples,too many for us.Despite the cancellation of the port prior to disembarkation which allowed the ship to sail early , and an announcement that we would be in Southampton at 4:30am, the ship only docked at 7am. There was some mechanical problem which delayed the luggage being put to shore. It did not bother us as we travel with our carry on only,having experienced too many luggage issues before such practice. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Embarkation and disembarcation. Due to the time I had to leave my hotel and other factors, I arrived at the pier in New York shortly after embarkation began. I waited in line 45 minutes to get to check-in. From there the process went ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarcation. Due to the time I had to leave my hotel and other factors, I arrived at the pier in New York shortly after embarkation began. I waited in line 45 minutes to get to check-in. From there the process went quickly. The receptionist took an impression of my credit card, my photograph, and some other details and in almost no time I had my Oceania card and was on the Marina. The line was considerably shorter as I walked on the ship than when I started, emphasizing that to avoid lines one is often best advised to be at the pier no earlier than a couple of hours after embarkation is scheduled to begin. One piece of luggage was waiting when I arrived at the cabin, and there was the usual mysterious pause until the balance arrived. Disembarkation was a breeze. My group was called on time. I walked off the ship, picked up my luggage, and was on my way to the airport in minutes. The Ship. This was my second sailing on the Marina. She is a beautiful ship and has been well maintained. Unfortunately art auctions were a feature of the cruise, and some of the art work being sold was exhibited in the corridors, especially on the fifth deck. It would be charitable to say these paintings do not complement the dEcor of the Marina. It would be more accurate to say they detract from and cheapen the experience of being on a lovely ship. I don't know how much money the auctions make as a result of displaying the artwork in passenger areas, but I doubt it is worth the esthetic price. On this cruise, and to me, it seemed as though the smoking regulations were adhered to strictly. I know other people have had other experiences on other cruises, but the only time I so much as sniffed a cigarette was once when I walked through the smoking area near the pool. Other times in and near smoking areas I smelled nothing, suggesting the cleaning personnel are doing a good job, which I appreciate. Cabin. I have no objection to the size of the veranda cabin, but I wish there was more drawer space. The shower stalls are still a little cramped, but past that the bathrooms are fine. Ports. I found some of the ports we visited in Canada to be uninteresting and wonder why they were on the itinerary. The best or worst example of this was Corner Brook where one participant in a ship's tour returned complaining about "a three-hour tour in a 15-minute town." I saw Corner Brook on my own and agree with that assessment. Halifax and Sydney were almost as unimpressive. In my view the cruise would have been better if an overnight or two in Quebec or Montreal had been substituted for the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland ports except for L'anse aux Meadows. Located at the tip of Newfoundland, L'anse aux Meadows was the site of a Viking settlement of about the year 1000 which has been recreated. Unfortunately, an iceberg at the port made it too risky to go there so I can say little about L'anse aux Meadows except the literature made it look promising. Passengers could not disembark at Falmouth due to rough seas. In both cases it was the captain who made the decisions, and as far as I was aware there was no grumbling from the passengers, although Lavenderrabbit1 who reviewed the Transatlantic on Cruise Critic said he did not think the seas were too rough to use the tenders in Falmouth. The captain may have been acting from an abundance of caution, but I think he did the right thing considering the criticism he and the line would have been subjected to had any passenger been injured by a misstep into a heaving tender. I signed up for the cruse knowing that we would arrive in Amsterdam at 2:00 pm and Copenhagen at noon. We were at both ports until late in the evening, but a number of museums and other places close at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and for me afternoon arrivals resulted in rushed days. This was particularly true in Amsterdam where there was a further delay to have passports stamped after leaving the ship. I think it would have been better to have overnighted in Amsterdam and Copenhagen and left late the next afternoon. This would have made for a longer cruise but a better use of time. Evenings in St. Petersburg were a delight, particularly because we were there during the white nights of mid-summer. I had a Russian visa and saw St. Petersburg largely on my own, which I highly recommend. In addition to giving one the freedom to make detours and follow interesting paths it affords some look at life in the city, everything from watching people sunning (and making out) to seeing what daily shopping is like. On several occasions I noticed Petersburger -often young people--who unasked helped the elderly in the metro with packages or luggage. The excursions offered by Oceania seemed to me to be even more overpriced than usual. Travel on one's own in St. Petersburg is much cheaper. The 158 bus runs from the cruise terminal past the Primorskaya metro station from which one can get to major attractions. Rubles in denominations the bus driver will accept are available at ATMs in the cruise passenger terminal. Passengers. My fellow passengers were high points of the cruise. They were uniformly friendly and interesting. A good conversation could be started with any of them and at any place. Some of the best talks I had were in the laundry room, where life, history, and politics were among the topics. Most passengers seemed to be in their 60s, with those on the transatlantic tending a little older, but we had about half-dozen or ten teenagers on each cruise. I normally suggest that parents not take their teens or younger children on Oceania where there are no regular programs for young people and the atmosphere is geared to adults. The teens I met or observed were polite and well-behaved. As far as I could see they made no trouble for the adults. There was no reason to object to their presence aboard ship or ashore. I could not vouch, however, for how good a time they had, although the ever-obliging cruise staff put together a few events for the youngsters on these cruises. Food. Meals on the Marina matched or bettered those of highly-rated restaurants ashore. Many items are made on the Marina, including bread and ice cream (you wondered where those great flavors came from?) My favorite restaurant is Red Ginger, and my long-time favorites have been the sea bass and seafood grill. Based on the recommendation of a fellow-passenger I tried the crusted lamb, and I now have three favorites. The best single dish I had on the cruise, though, may be the veal Oscar in the Main Dining Room, and the best soup is possibly the onion soup in Jacques. And in good weather, nothing beats breakfast on the aft deck at the Terrace Cafe. Each cruise had one lavish breakfast buffet. The food was good, but the displays were not as artistic as I recall from prior cruises that featured simulated waterfalls of food and flowers carved out of fruit. And what happened to the ice carving demonstrations when a member of the mess crew would show how blocks of ice become ice sculptures? Service. As usual, service was impeccable. It even extended to crew members volunteering a few minutes from their own shore plans in St. Petersburg to make sure I could get from the public bus to the metro station. I did not need their help, but I appreciated the genuine concern for others that prompted the action. Our concierge, who was from Germany, was expert in getting us reservations at specialty restaurants and providing his own tips on the ports we visited. Our cabin steward, Ebner, quickly caught on to our rhythms and, for example, had ice delivered at the same time every afternoon. Entertainment and Lectures. I am one of the many passengers who tour during the day and only want a good dinner and a good bed at night. On sea days, however, particularly on the transatlantic, I enjoyed afternoon Trivia with our cruise director, Roy Perez, whose light touch and clever commentary kept the action moving and funny. You had to be there to understand the humor in the entire audience claiming to be from Sri Lanka! An oceanographer, Dr. Nolan or Knowland, gave consistently informative lectures on the sea including a series on the construction and launching of the Titanic. He also delivered what amounted to a short course on Russian history. I look forward to hearing from him on future cruises.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Yes this ship has tons of art, but some things are goofy...Velourish beige wallpaper outside Jacques that everyone felt compelled to write their name in (also no handrail along that hall)...An artist loft advertised in the brochures ... Read More
Yes this ship has tons of art, but some things are goofy...Velourish beige wallpaper outside Jacques that everyone felt compelled to write their name in (also no handrail along that hall)...An artist loft advertised in the brochures implying real art and painting much to my husband's dismay when he found out is was a crabby poorly prepared woman teaching T-shirt painting and voodoo doll making....and everyone competing for coveted Big O points as usual, but no place to see what you might earn with the points which created confusion and a bit of a time consuming process at the end...all minor because overall it was outstanding as always...and as a huge trivia buff, I hated not having a room for trivia contests as we had on other ships...the theater just does not lend itself to team trivia, it has to happen late in the day to allow for folks to be back aboard which rules out Horizon, so I think it just has to be this way...which brings up the very odd tables hooked onto the chairs in the theater that seem purposefully designed to have drinks slide off onto the floor. One highlight was Red Ginger (Best menu afloat for sure). Huge stateroom (but how many people really want a bathtub??? We are not our parent's generation)and hurray a laundry on each floor. Better entertainment with the Oceania Singers and Dancers than we have seen aboard Oceania in the last 5 years. A bit slower service in the dining areas, but the same superb chocolate desserts and innovative cuisine and generally a staff that aims to please. Some menu innovations are odd (the goat cheese beet napolean in Polo sounds good, looks good, but tastes just like a wad of cheese) and the godawful dry ravioli in Jacques we noticed nobody ate at any other tables either after the first bite, but overall we will continue to only cruise Oceania because of the food and service and while we have loved the small ships, we will try to book on Marina or Riviera again because of Red Ginger and the upgraded entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
ARE OCEANIA MARINA & CRYSTAL SYMPHONY UNLIKELY COMPARISON? My husband and I love cruising. We have been fortunate to have cruised with Carnival, Princess, Celebrity, Azamara, Royal Caribbean, HAL, Paul Gauguin. And in 2012, we ... Read More
ARE OCEANIA MARINA & CRYSTAL SYMPHONY UNLIKELY COMPARISON? My husband and I love cruising. We have been fortunate to have cruised with Carnival, Princess, Celebrity, Azamara, Royal Caribbean, HAL, Paul Gauguin. And in 2012, we added Regent Seven Seas Voyageur in April, Crystal Symphony in October (with Hurricane Sandy), and Oceania Marina in November. Even though this review contains comparison of Oceania Marina to Crystal Symphony, the review emphasis will be more on Oceania Marina. (reviews on RSSC and Crystal Symphony have been posted.) Before embarking on these cruises, I read CC reviews. I wanted to get a sense of what each line meant to their fans, why they are fans of their cruise line. I am amazed fans for both lines are equally passionate, and extremely loyal. Maybe it is not 'proper' to compare these 2 cruise lines; they are not of the same class? Oceania is categorized as a premium line, edging up to luxury, where Crystal is a all-inclusive luxury line. Since we cruised these 2 lines almost back to back, and these 2 lines have been much anticipated, we felt we naturally compared the 2. To travelers like us, we view luxury and premium in terms of value for our dollar. It is in this line of thinking that we rule out Regent Seven Seas as a comparison, and focus on Crystal Symphony and Oceania Marina instead. For our money, we would choose between Oceania and Crystal. And the reasons are the following: FOOD We placed food first and foremost, ultra important part of cruising. And our expectations were high for both lines. For us, quality, taste, "local" ingredients, are valued more than the "ambience" of the dining environment. I confess we have choosy and demanding tastebuds, very spoiled in the food department. Both Crystal and Oceania rate high in our book. Due to the ship size, Marina offers 4 specialty restaurants, at no extra charges: Red Ginger, Polo Grill, Chez Jacques, and Toscana. Crystal Symphony has 2. We were pleasantly surprised Oceania Marina placed high importance on food, and it delivered: Oceania Marina's ingredients, taste, and presentation were topnotch. Crystal cruise has solid and consistent reputation for superb food quality. Red Ginger and Silk Road each has its own distinct character and signature dishes. We love both. That is why we dined in Red Ginger 4 times throughout our 18-day journey. And each time, we ended up ordering the same dishes, which is unusual for me. We often like variety. I think because the 4 visits were spread out during the 18 days, we were able to enjoy the signature "melt-in-your-mouth" miso seabass without getting bored. The other specialty restaurants were wonderful dining experiences. The entrees were rich, (as in calories). It is unfair for me to dislike any because each specialty dining is to be different. And the joy of cruising and be on Marina is enjoy each one for its distinctive difference. The Waves Grill and Terrace cafe are equally wonderful places, for lunch, or dinner a la carte. Variety to choose from. Marina's famous grilled lobster delight many guests. Now coming to dining room. Dining room is a beautiful grand place for elegant meals. We put on our best behaviour in this room! However, after 2 nights dinner in the dining room, my husband and I preferred Terrace Cafe. Terrace Cafe is a great meeting place and a great dining restaurant. Atmosphere is casual, and self-serve. Most of the time, food was plentiful, and prepared quickly. The grill lamb chop was one of my favorite: Perfect portion size, Delicious and grilled right and fast for me! Fresh crab legs, rolled-right-there sushi, hot entrees, theme foods spoiled us guests continuously. I broke many of my own rules about eating on this cruise. I was afraid I developed new 'just-one-more' eating habit. Our body and tastebuds were in withdrawal mode when we were back to our normal life and diet! The following is not to complain, but to explain what didn't work for us: The Main Dining Room. Dinner (any meal in the Main Dining Room) dragged on too long for our liking and digestive process. We like to have our dinner within 2 hours, preferably under 1.5 hour. Not an easy task on MDR; we tried 4 times and consistently slow. Each entree seemed an elaborate Broadway production, with long and uncomfortable pauses in between. The pauses and gaps between the entrees were consistent in dinner, lunch as well as breakfast. I can understand if the crew was co-ordinating among 8 guests on the table. But when there are just the 2 or 4 of us, this waiting became unbearably long. In addition, the food quality suffered. Maybe the entree had to sit and wait for the rest to catch up? The crew took a long time to get or change anything. Breakfast in the dining room is definitely not recommended if you have early disembarkation time! Dinner on Crystal Symphony's main dining room was quite different. It was fixed dining time, at the same table. We thoroughly enjoyed the same table mates, the same waiter, every night. The food, the pace, the tempo, the quality were fabulous. In this regard, I prefer fixed time dining, more consistent food and service. The draw back of fixed time dining is time and table mates. With this itinerary (more sea days), the time was not an issue. And our table mates turned out more times than not to be very pleasant and interesting company! Tea time is a wonderful experience. Both Oceania Marina, and Crystal Symphony orchestrated one spectacular afternoon TEA during our voyage. The elaborate tea event is very different from the normal. Both were Dramatic; Both were Feast for sight, taste, sounds, and touch. And judging from the crowds, and I mean crowds, both were very well-received. In my opinion, they are highly recommended. Both worthy of your time. Do get there early for a spot, for there will be literally not even a standing room. SERVICE As I am writing this review, I am surprised how SERVICE has become no. 2 on my list! I sincerely hope it is not because of age per se! Let's just say, as we "mature", we understand ourselves more. I like to think that service is what helps us get comfortable being us. Yet, service, similar to food, is a matter of opinion, and is largely based on one's past experience and raised expectation level. Coming off Crystal, one cannot help but expect excellent service! As explained in our Crystal review, the encounter with Hurricane heightened our awareness of Crystal's service. We were very impressed how they all worked together to make us guests as comfortable and safe as possible. Even though the voyage on Oceania Marina was less dramatic than hurricane Sandy provided, the service was no less impressive. Generally, we found throughout the voyage, Oceania staff go out of his or her way to accommodate the guest's request. An example: Our luggage was delivered to us, with a broken handle. Our room steward simply took the luggage, no discussion or debate whether the handle was broken to begin with (it wasn't.) or who was to blame (the local luggage handlers? Or Oceania Marina crew?) He took the luggage and returned to us a few days later, with a new handle. It is the personalized touches that stay with us. Michael, a server at Red Ginger, became a familiar face to us. His smiles and positive attitude stay with us, as with other staff onboard. He made us comfortable when we ordered Lobster Pai Thai without the lobster! The servers behind the counters in Terrace Cafe delight us by their enthusiasm, regardless what they were serving. And those serving deserts ever so gently suggest we try just a small piece of everything. On Marina, after 18 days, I do feel like it is one big family! From guests to servers, to concierge to officers, to the captain, we feel like a family on this special journey together. It may be because out of 1200 guests onboard, just over 800 are from North America. One area I did not enjoy was making dining reservations in the specialty restaurants on Marina. I have heard many disgruntle regarding this process. The online reservation, prior to sailing did not work as well as it was intended. By the time we were allowed to make reservations online, not many time slots were available. And because we upgraded to Concierge Class just a week before sailing, we were not able to take advantage of the advance reservations. On the first day onboard, many passengers like us, lined up to make reservations. We all tried to get in those specialty restaurants earlier in the journey rather than the last 4 days to disembarkation. After lining up all the way to the front, I was told I was in the wrong line up. The lineups, to my surprised were separated, according to cabin class, into 4 lines, at different locations. After that first day, after the rush, the reservation process was much more pleasant. They did try to accommodate our additional requests. It is understandable they want to make sure every guest has an opportunity to reserve at least once in each restaurant. I think that is fair. (of course passengers in the special grand suites have their own process, privileges, also understandably.) As we journey on, we find the crew became more relaxed, and we were able to enjoy more of their personality and appreciate their dedication and service. Service is a personal experience and appreciation. My husband thought the service on Marina is comparable to Symphony. I prefer Crystal Symphony. Crystal service was a notch more customized to me. ITINERARY & SHIP ACTIVITIES This was our first transatlantic cruising. We always view this type of itinerary too laid back for us. We like to see as many interesting and new places as possible. And this itinerary included ports we have never been: (Cartegena, Gibraltar, Lanzarote, Canary Island, Santa Cruz of Tenerife, Cape Verde, Salvador, Buzios, and Rio), plus 9 sea days. Yeah, 9 sea days! What do you do on a stretch of sea days? Surprisingly we loved it. I myself was surprised how the sea days were not idle, in fact they were activities-packed! Interesting educational lectures (really enjoyed Kathleen Wulf's presentations on sea explorers), packed photography classes by David Smith of Vancouver, BC (I learned EV and functions I never knew my camera has!); craft classes by Anna Smith; bridge classes; etc. filled most of my days. And these are FREE, no charge. There were other "enrichment" lectures, promoting services on board, one can attend with no obligation to purchase. And of course there were those fee-based activities such as wine tasting, casino, BINGO, etc... There were also special events such as the Ceremony of crossing the Equator, and the huge Country Fair. The participating guests were laughing, along with the crew, engaging in fun activities, celebration, and good time. Marina Oceania's creativity and organizational acumen deserve our applause. My husband and I completely changed our view on transatlantic cruising. Keeping physically active and fit is always a challenge with bounty of gourmet foods. My husband and I and many others find plenty of tracks on upper decks to power walk, to run, or practice yoga. The swimming pool was open and ready for the guests to take advantage of. The indoor yoga classes every morning was always full or over capacity. With limited mats and floor space available, over capacity was not comfortable. Some guests did not know they had to sign up before the class. I was told the process was to sign up every day for the next class. I found out that not everyone has to go through that process. I am not sure why some of us need to do that, and some don't. My recommendation is, ask and sign up on the day of embarkation, if you are interested. Were the classes worth it? The quality was superior than those on bigger ships but do not expect the instructor as a yoga or Pilate expert. I think the classes were worth the time, during those sea days when we are likely to be most temptated. SHIP AMENITIES AND STATEROOMS CONCIERGE CLASS--IS IT WORTH IT TO US? We took the upsell and upgraded to Concierge A3. Our cabin was 9059. We wanted to find out if Concierge class was worth the extra cost. For this itinerary, and for my husband and I, it was not. Let me share why: Even though our suite location was very convenient, right off the stairs and elevators, and in between Deck 5 hub and deck 12+, our cabin size is the same as any balcony staterooms. On Starboard side, this suite did not get much sun, on this itinerary. We did not use the balcony as much as we normally do. I suggest Port side cabins for similar itinerary, if you like sun and heat. The chilled bottle of champagne upon arrival was nice. We don't drink champagne. You can give it away, which we did. The Concierge lounge is a cozy room, staffed to serve non-alcoholic drinks and snacks. We can read many different daily newspapers and current, trendy lifestyle magazines. The oversized sofas and chairs are plush and irresistibly comfy. That may explain why they are often occupied. When there are more than 4 people in the room, it feels crowded to me. With the big screen TV in the center of the room always on, guests discussing politics, (US presidential election looming) and the Concierge assisting guests at the corner, in this tight quarter spending time in this lounge seemed to lose its appeal for us. One main benefit of Concierge class is a Concierge, dedicated to assist with guest requests. I guess we could have used her service more often. Of the 18 days, we used her service once. One of the services she could have helped was making reservations for us in the specialty restaurants. We managed to do that without the Concierge. Concierge class did not help me secure a spot in the popular yoga classes without signing up, before 8am the day before the class. The staff at the Spa reception seemed very reluctant in signing me up for yoga classes. I stopped going after 3 classes. I practiced on my own, on the upper deck. To us, we found we don't use the extra services enough to justify the cost. I am not enthralled with class differentiation outside our staterooms. Should there be segregation in the common areas of the ship? This brings me to a debate I read on CC. One CC (who cruise in penthouse suites only) opposes the "segregation" of classes in common areas on the ship. The viewpoint was that: once we are outside our staterooms, be it penthouse, or inside cabin, we can enjoying the same facilities the ship offers. There are special privileges for those penthouse guests, such as anytime reservations in those specialty restaurants, but once outside their suites, we commoners enjoy the same space as the penthouse guests. That makes sense to me. The opposite view point is that if guests on Penthouse suite pays more, it is reasonable to receive more privileges and space. This may work on those mass market cruiseline, and on those gigantic ships. Cruiselines such as Crystal, Oceania, Paul Gauguin, Silversea, have their own distinctive travelers. They are different. With the limited space these ships offer, it is difficult to allocate more space out of the common areas to a further segregated group. Also, one of priceless joy of our travelling is meeting and appreciating people of different cultures, backgrounds, different beliefs, and yes, different economic classes. To further segregate fellow passengers to different physical locations due to their cabin class tarnish that joy and diminish the harmony we try to emulate. We enjoyed the company of passengers who had inside cabins, as well as those who had grand penthouse suites. I understand the cruise line's effort to increase "value" for guests and thus revenue for the cruiseline. It is a huge and competitive business. Oceania has created a unique fan base, and if the people we encountered on this cruise are representative, I am not sure class segregation is the way to go. Hey, what do I know? I just love cruising, places and people. Interestingly enough, we had an Ocean-view cabin on Crystal. We enjoyed our journey as much as the Concierge balcony in Marina. SPA and FITNESS One of the area exclusive to the Concierge class and above is the spa deck. I admit the comfortable lounge chairs, towels, cold beverages delivered to the chairs were nice touches. However, any space, exclusive or not, it is the people in the space determine the atmosphere and the enjoyment of the space. 2 ladies decided to use the hot tub, chatted away in high-pitched voices, though not deliberately, shattered the serenity of the space. Both my husband and I left after 10 minutes. We went to the pool deck instead. The spa enrichment presentations were a soft sell. (Thank goodness they did not present "How to Lose Weight by EATING!") They intertwined helpful information with self-promotions. And I think they worked. Many guests signed up for spa services after the presentation. What I like both Crystal and Oceania is that the "selling" was subtle. The fashion show, illustrating the wear as well as the jewelry, was entertaining as well as a subtle promotion. I think we will see more of that on cruise ships. WHICH ONE? Crystal or Oceania? Both have fantastic food quality, taste, and presentation. Ship activities, enrichment lecturers, educational classes were stimulating on both. Service standard is high. If I have to choose, I prefer Crystal service, whereas my husband thought Oceania was excellent. If you like to socialize, Oceania is it. We find it extremely easy striking up conversations with fellow guests. We had the largest CC get together I have ever been to. This leads to sharing tours, meals, and making long time friends... If you refer more quiet times, occasional conversation with others, Crystal will be perfect. Mind you, we encountered lovely travelers on both. We enjoy meeting people. Oceania cruise fares are attractive. The included airfares appeal to us Canadians. And when you can get gratuities included, the final total is very attractive. Watch out for the alcohol add ons...(easy to get carried away if used to Crystal's all inclusive.) Crystal, if you take their air offer, there is really nothing else you need to do. Crystal takes care of everything: from airport pick up to the port, and port transportation, etc... or in my case, change of arrangements due to Hurricane Sandy. We need not worry. Crystal took care of everything. Even though I am not a drinker, the All-Inclusive has its appeal. If it was your first time with Oceania, I would try the bigger and newer Riviera or Marina. They offer more amenities than Regatta and Nautica. Oceania has many interesting itinerary to choose from, and many without sea days. If you like active itinerary, Oceania is preferable. Crystal has more sea days because their guests enjoy services onboard. I agree. If I want to be pampered and not worry a thing after I get onboard, I would choose Crystal. In summary, I think it comes down to this: if you have the time and means, try both. And I recommend try at least 10-day voyages. Anything less I feel will not be sufficient time to experience what both cruise ships have to offer. I wish you pleasant voyage which ever cruise line you try. Try Both! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
IF you are looking for a cruise line with lots of parties, big time entertainment, lots of bars to "booze cruise", lots and lots of "stuff yourself mediocre buffet food and extreme high energy...".well this isn't ... Read More
IF you are looking for a cruise line with lots of parties, big time entertainment, lots of bars to "booze cruise", lots and lots of "stuff yourself mediocre buffet food and extreme high energy...".well this isn't your cruise line, so read no further. IF you enjoy peace and quiet, top quality food and service, good lecturers, fabulous High Tea and wonderful ports, this IS your cruise line and read on. We have enjoyed transatlantic cruising as we enjoy being with each other and can always find things to do. This cruise was excellent (with only a slight glitch that I will mention later). We really loved the size and wonderful style of this ship. Marina is beautiful in all aspects, from the lobby to the restaurants to the little nooks and crannies that make her what she is. We found that even at 60, we were still some of the youngest people on this cruise. Perhaps the 14 day excursion, perhaps the price or just perhaps this is the age group that is well travelled and sophisticated enough to enjoy this lifestyle. Many walkers and wheelchairs, that's for sure. The persons who we did come in contact with were delightful and shared many of the interests that we do. We enjoyed the cabin we had selected, which was a lower veranda concierge cabin, amidships (9086, deck 9). Although we used the concierge room once or twice (and it was excellent), I don't know that I would book again as the amenities everywhere on the ship were just as good. We have read complaints about the size of the drawers and the shower, but found everything ok with us. Yes, the shower is a bit tight (certainly the Solstice ships have this beat), but having a tub with bath salts beat it out! The shower pressure was great and we thought the bathroom very good for our needs. We always take a few light weight hangers with us, so we had no problems whatsoever with space for our three bags of clothes. The lap top computer was nice, but again, as a concierge amenity, could be done without. We thoroughly enjoyed the free bottled water each day as we consume quite a lot. Our room attendant was always there, making sure all our needs were attended to. We liked the Internet area and the Espresso bar (free!) and thought the Library area one of the best at sea! We did use the pool hot tubs and enjoyed it as well (the pool is also heated; nice touch). There are very few bars and lounges on this ship, but we did think they were great. The entertainment at each was well thought out and very pleasant. Now, let's get down to the food! We are avid foodies (I have been in charge of 30 restaurants and 40 bars in my profession). I KNOW how hard it is to have top quality food and service, especially onboard a vessel. We have tried all kinds of cruise ships (27th cruise) and truly think this is some of the best food at sea! Crystal, Holland America and Celebrity are the other ships we truly like, but this was very good to outstanding. Main Dining Room: The food and service in this room runs the gamut from okay to superior. As on any big cruiser, the service dominates how your food is going to come from the kitchen. We found the food product itself to be well seasoned and of superior quality than most ships. The food was not hot sometimes, but really depended on our server and the time we ate. IF we ate early (6:30-7:00 p.m.), our service was extremely good with all of the superior service you would expect (frenching the bread, attentive service, excellent attention to detail. IF you ate later and the servers had too many tables, most of this fell apart. Food missed, soups cold as they are brought out with your appetizer and left on the side stand). All in all though, we really enjoyed eating in the MDR as 90% of the time, they did a great job. The restaurants, all except La Reserve, are included in your fare, were truly outstanding. We ate each night at 7:00 in these outlets and found our food and service to be of superior quality. I have nothing bad to say about JACQUES, RED GINGER, TOSCANA or POLO GRILL. IF I had to put them in order of MY preference, it would be Toscana, Red Ginger, Jacques and Polo Grill. This is just my taste and in NO way lessens the quality of the meals we had. IF you ate in these outlets each night, you would have a meal as good, if not better, than most great NYC restaurants. We ate at LA RESERVE twice! This is a cost plus dining experience (about $120 per person by the time you are finished). They change this wine dinner each week, so we went to both. This DR only seats 24 persons and was never filled to capacity on our voyage (Too bad for those who missed it!). The seven course meal was outstanding, along with the wine pairings with them. The staff was superb in their service and deserves great kudos for the job they do! The buffet serves very good food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We never did get around to having dinner there, but enjoyed our other meals there. The selections, again, were of top quality. I especially enjoyed the cheese cart, with all of the wonderful French cheeses each day. Desserts and breads on most cruise lines are usually the worst part of the culinary experience. The Pastry chef on this line makes some of the best desserts on the sea. His breads, especially the croissants that are baked each day, were as good as if eating in a cafe on Paris! Finally, the pool grill, which I didn't think we would eat at much, was great. Imagine a Kobe Cheeseburger or a Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail Burger! Yes, they are there, along with handmade milkshakes (all at no extra cost!). Bravo to all of the chefs and service personnel on board! We will book again because of YOU! IF you want to have a really fun time and love to cook, want to learn, or just go and watch, please try out the Culinary Arts classes. Both Chefs, Noelle Barille and Annie Copps, put on a great 2 hour class that we really enjoyed. We went to three different classes and had a ball. I have a lot of respect for these two ladies, as this kitchen lets people put knives in their hands (Yikes). IF you want to enjoy yourself, while having top notch professionals teach and entertain you, this is well worth the price. Excursions: I will make this fast as there weren't too many. Bermuda: Not so sure what the hype is about Bermuda. We took and island tour and it was okay. Yes, the beaches are beautiful, but I, myself, would prefer the Caribbean. Funchal: Again, did an excursion through the ship and had a nice time here. Tangiers: Another excursion thru the ship and was truly surprised that I liked Morocco so much, It's a destination that I would like to go back to and explore more of the country. We stayed two extra days in Barcelona (which I find close to Paris as one of the best European food experiences). Stayed at the Hotel MAJESTIC, which was as good as any Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons in the world. Debarkation was a snap and our trip home through Delta airlines (booked by Oceania) was great. So my final IF....IF you want a great trip in the air, DO NOT USE AMERICAN AIRLINES!! ) Anytime we have used American, bad things happen, or the service and food is ghastly! Oceania needs to work with some other airline. Yes we booked through Oceania as they include the airfare in the price of the cruise. I would NOT do that again! We ALWAYS book our own air, and anytime we go on any cruise experience, we stay one day early in the port of departure, Didn't do it this time and it almost ruined our cruise. Won't get into lengthy detail, but just to say that American plane malfunctions forced us to be 3 hours late to Miami and we were told that we would have to find our own way to Bermuda to board the ship. As it happened, the ship left two hours late and we were able to board. It was the most stress we have ever incurred on a cruise, and I learned a lesson. THIS was the only thing that we thought was poor on the part of Oceania. Not the malfunction, but the way we were treated by their representatives at the Miami airport. Clearly NOT the service standard that we had hoped for. Thank goodness that the ships' crew shined on and our experience was saved. IF you worry about what this cruise line costs then you probably shouldn't be on their ships. I can only state that we felt every dime we paid out was well worth it and the Price/Value was extremely good for what you receive. Although our next voyage is back on Celebrity, we have booked for next year on Marina again. We look forward to the exceptional services that we enjoyed this time and hope that it will be as good the next. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Crossing the Atlantic on Oceania's Marina Looking for a real vacation with minimal running around and maximum of peace, quiet, water and sky, my husband and I decided to book a trans-Atlantic cruise. We were familiar with ... Read More
Crossing the Atlantic on Oceania's Marina Looking for a real vacation with minimal running around and maximum of peace, quiet, water and sky, my husband and I decided to book a trans-Atlantic cruise. We were familiar with Oceania's cruises from a previous Mediterranean cruise, and also we were very tempted by the much reduced price of trans-Atlantic cruises, when ships were repositioning from the Caribbean to Europe, or vice versa. Our choice fell on Marina, the newest ship of the company, a mid-size (about 1200 passengers) new vessel leaving from Miami and arriving to Barcelona 14 days later, after stops in Bermuda, Madeira and Tangiers. I am not sure what to praise first. Let's start with the ship. Very nice cabins -- we chose a regular veranda cabin with no butlers and other fancy appendages. The bathroom was incredible, I wish I had such a bathroom at home. All marble, separate tub and shower, many little drawers and shelves for all necessities. Plenty of storage in the cabin as well, a perfectly comfortable bed, a sofa, desk, TV, and wide doors opening on a veranda with direct access to the skies, the clouds, the sun, the moon and the ocean. Just plain luxury! The staff was multinational, and we ended up befriending the chambermaid, the waiters, the bartenders, the deck people, whose languages we knew or we tried to learn. The food was delicious, many choices of restaurants with no extra charge. My favourite place was the terrace opening from the buffet-style restaurant. Sipping my espresso there was the sublime restful moment of the day. Of course, plenty of chaise-longues everywhere to read or snooze, or chat with friends. Daily lectures on everything connected to our journey, entertainment, quizzes, music, I can't list all the amenities, there were so many. However, if you wanted quiet and relaxation, there were many little hidden places to enjoy your own choice of time. We loved coming to the highest deck with the whole wide night sky all around us. Every night we had a celestial show, with the moon, Jupiter and Venus changing places on the navy blue sky, among the ocean of stars reflecting in the ocean of water below. The three stops on the itinerary gave us insight on places we had not visited before. In Bermuda, we took the local bus and explored by ourselves the whole island, stopping for coffee or lunch, or just for an opportunity to do some walking, and then continuing on another bus. I am not going to describe Bermuda, probably most of our Trip-Advised have been there before. If not, please go. The colours of the houses and the flowers in the brilliant light are just amazing. Also there is a lot of history to investigate as well. People are friendly and helpful. Madeira, a Portuguese island, earns its name of Island of Flowers. Climbing on the side of a mountain, the capital city of Funchal houses one of the most colourful Botanical Gardens, as well as a captivating industry of home made embroideries. The views are superb, especially form the top part of the town with a wide view of the houses clinging to the sides of the mountain, the rich vegetation and the expanse of the ocean below with ships, sailboats and yachts adding their colours to the turquoise blue of the water. Our last stop was Tangiers, one of the main cities of Morocco. It was our first time on the African continent and we chose to take one of the ship's guided tours. A different world opened up, with crowded suks (markets), narrow alleys with people trying to sell you anything at any price you chose. Bargaining became a sport and, as expected, I ended up with some gorgeous local jewellery and long Moroccan gowns at seriously bargained prices. A young enterprising boy followed our group throughout the walking part trying to sell some copper bracelets. He was very cute and pushy in a polite way, and we all ended buying some from him, nice filigreed delicate bracelets. The journey ended in Barcelona. Many travellers probably chose to spend some time there, we had to return home, and so from the ship we were taken straight to the airport. Thinking back on this first crossing of the ocean, I am trying to think of my favourite parts. Of course, the ship, as comfortable and beautiful as can be. Of course the stops in places which left us with such memories of natural beauty and of exciting history. For my travel photographer husband, an immense richness of photography opportunities, of ever changing colours, shapes, shades, reflections... The best for me? The ocean, the sky, the clouds, the stars, being part of this immensity with no traffic, no noises, no overcrowding, no phones ringing. Just the ocean, the sky, the clouds and the stars. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We've traveled on Oceania before and are always pleased with the quality of fellow passengers. On any transatlantic, the average age is 75+. We were in a concierge veranda room, which gave us access to daily newspapers and last minute ... Read More
We've traveled on Oceania before and are always pleased with the quality of fellow passengers. On any transatlantic, the average age is 75+. We were in a concierge veranda room, which gave us access to daily newspapers and last minute reservations at specialty restaurants. We received one evening each per our contract but could book any morning through the concierge. Our favority was Toscana, Red Ginger, Polo and Jacques in that order, but all the food was excellent. The room was large and it was great having access to a computer, although the shower was tiny. Europeans often prefer bathing and this ship was designed in Italy, but the passengers were overwhelmingly American. We visited Key West before the trip, Bermuda, Madeira, Tangier, and landed in Barcelona. On Bermuda we purchased daily transportation passes near the terminal. The highlight was St. Georges, as it was too cold for snorkeling. On Madeira I booked excursions for 6-8 people (recruited people onboard) with Happy Tours and on Tangier with Tifo. Both were much better and cheaper than cruise excursions. Trip ended in Barcelona, so there were many sea days. The lecturers were horrendous and I gave up after the first day to play bridgeeven though this was my first time to ever play duplicate. The food was so good that I had to concentrate on not gaining weight and worked out in the futness room every sea day. The room for group exercises is so small that it reminded me of my shower. I didn't realize until halfway through the cruise that you can purchase fitness room tickets for all group exercises and get reservations before other PAX. The nightly shows were generally good expecially the song and dance events. The violin concerto was excellent except it coincided with happy hour and drinking passengers were loud with no interest in classical music. Overall a very good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
This is a late posting however, it somehow fell between the cracks in my schedule. We are long time Crystal Cruisers and we enjoy the uncrowded Crystal ships with their very personalized service and attention to detail. We decided on ... Read More
This is a late posting however, it somehow fell between the cracks in my schedule. We are long time Crystal Cruisers and we enjoy the uncrowded Crystal ships with their very personalized service and attention to detail. We decided on this cruise to both try Oceania and the timing was right for our schedule. We did the transatlantic crossing on 11/24/2011 from Rome to Miami, a 16 day voyage. I see Oceania as a Crystal quality wannabe but they have a long way to go. Although the ship has wonderful appointments and outstanding specialty restaurants, most of this is only of value to the passengers when the service matches the environment. Their specialty restaurants were all very good, main dining room was huge and we felt lie we were sitting down in a hole. Open seating was excellent and we met lots of nice folks. The staff had to constantly hustle due to the passenger: crew ratio and it showed in their response to passenger needs. Squeezing 1100 some people on the Marina is not exactly luxury. The Terrace restaurant allows for about 20% of the seating outside so on poor weather days, everyone is holding a tray looking for a table. Tables we seldom cleaned during breakfast quickly and it was obvious they were understaffed. The staff in the Terrace worked hard but there was no way they could handle the number of people on a rainy day. Too many times we saw nice window tales vacant with dishes and napkins piled on them forcing us to choose an inside table with no view. This brought back memories of army basic training but the food was much better. The rooms offered large couches and a few more square feet then Crystal but noticeably less storage space and only one sink in the bathroom. Each room came with a laptop computer so I decided to leave my laptop home and I brought my work on a memory stick. Surprise, there is no software on the Oceania provided laptop; no MS Word, excel, not even a text editor to type a brief message we could put in an email. Add $500+ for your internet bill on a 16 day cruise. We could use the laptop only to access the internet via their wireless network which only worked in the main computer room and a few select locations throughout the ship. Publishing this laptop in their brochures is purely a marketing ploy and has no functional value to the passengers. When using the internet, we needed to be logged on to simply type a text message or reply to an email. It became very expensive to communicate with the outside world while traveling on the Marina. This is not a cruise I would recommend for a business person who needs to get some work done while cruising. Better for a senior citizen who doesn't know how to use email yet. The tour advisors were clueless about many of the tours, had no idea what you would see other than the info published in the brochure. As a Rotarian, I called the front desk to ask about a service meeting on board. She had never heard about service meetings. I went to the front desk, asked again and found front desk personnel struggling to answer basic questions as they were in training. I finally found the service meeting as it appeared in a daily bulletin. . Lounge chairs around the pool were usually fully occupied during sunny days. Our first day at the pool, we waited for one hour before a waiter offered us a drink. After the first 30 min, my wife finally went and got her own hot chocolate. The lanes of chairs we lined up with little space between the lanes requiring passengers to walk carefully when moving around the lounge chairs. One day a women, I'm guessing in her 50's, tripped on the rear legs of the lounge chair and broke her foot or ankle. The medical team was quick to respond and she was taken to the medical room. We had lunch at the Grille; again we had to find a waiter to clean the table. Hamburgers were delivered lukewarm with no chocolate chip cookies to be found. The gelato was excellent. The cruise director was very annoying announcing every little thing, shades of our one and only Carnival cruise. We arrived at the Captain Welcome party 20 minutes late. There were no seats available and they ran out of wine glasses, hence no wine and we stood up along with about 50 other passengers. 11/26 Barcelona and the cattle call began as we stood waiting 30 minutes for the 2nd buss. Very poor planning. 1100 passengers and not enough buses. 11/27 -- Breakfast in the Terrace, better food than Carnival and the army but everything else was the same. Lunch in the Terrace was mobbed. We could not find two seats as we carried our trays of food. I finally asked the manager to help us. He walked the entire restaurant and finally found 2 seats at a table for four and asked the other passengers if we could join them. We asked 3 waiters for water before one of them finally got 2 glasses of water for us. 12/4 -- we had to call for soap. Our cabin steward forgot to leave soap for us. 12/5 -- Our room did not get cleaned until after 11AM. At 5PM today, as we were getting ready for dinner, our AC vent in the ceiling fell down from the ceiling missing me by one foot. It is a shame to see the staff try so hard, were well intentioned but just poorly trained. My advice to Oceania would be to start at the top and hire some top notch service executives and they could then deliver the service they profess in their brochures. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
MS Marina Cruise Review Transatlantic - November 24 - December 10, 2011 I am Phil Haggerty and my wife is Edith Goble. I am a retired city attorney and Edith is an un-retired homemaker who previously worked in health services. This ... Read More
MS Marina Cruise Review Transatlantic - November 24 - December 10, 2011 I am Phil Haggerty and my wife is Edith Goble. I am a retired city attorney and Edith is an un-retired homemaker who previously worked in health services. This was our 29th cruise since 1999, including one river cruise. Without providing a boring laundry list of destinations, we have sailed in Tahiti and the Galapagos, around and in South America; to Alaska; made the usual Caribbean, Baltic, Mediterranean cruises and several Transatlantic crossings. Why This Cruise? It is reaching the point in our cruising life that we are having a little difficulty finding new areas to explore. We will probably never do a Caribbean or solely Mediterranean cruise again, although we have one more Transatlantic crossing set which starts in the Med. We have not done any cruises in Asia, mainly because we do not enjoy super long air transits. But this one appealed because of the cruise line and ship. We had greatly enjoyed Oceania cruises on Insignia (twice) and Nautica (once). The almost brand new aspect of Marina called to us, and our travel agent had enjoyed its maiden voyage earlier this year. We like ocean crossings for the sea days; and the stops at Barcelona, Tangier, Madeira and Bermuda presented a pleasant prospect. We had read excellent reviews of this ship with its emphasis on fine dining, offering four specialty restaurants which, as in all other Oceania ships, carried no extra charge. And to put it succinctly, all our expectations were met. Getting There and Boarding British Airways has a non-stop from our home (Phoenix) to Heathrow. We had used this for our Eurodam Transatlantic cruise in August, and did so this time, opting again to purchase the "Premium Economy" class for the nine hour flight. We had a four hour layover in London before getting our British Air flight to Rome; arriving there at 10:00 P.M. We had booked the same hotel in Civitavecchia that we had used two years earlier when we did another crossing on Celebrity's Equinox, although the hotel had changed its name to Hotel Borgo del Mare. They provided, for €110.00, transportation in a van with a cheerful driver who had been forced to wait over 45 minutes for the very slow luggage delivery. The trip is about 40 miles and takes almost an hour, so we were happy to fall into bed at midnight. Our room was on the ground floor, so we had no hauling luggage upstairs. The next day we had breakfast, provided by the hotel, walked into a shopping area about a half mile away, bought euros at $1.33, and two bottles of wine for Edith. We also chatted with a couple sailing with us who recognized us from our Eurodam trip. The hotel provided transportation to the ship and we arrived at about 11:30. We checked in after a short wait. We were told that our cabins would not be ready until 1:00. We went to the library, and I left Edith there to see if I could get into our stateroom. It was open and obviously ready for occupancy, but we went to lunch first. Altogether our travel and boarding experience went well except for the airport delays. Marina This is a truly beautiful ship, showing care, attention to detail and an artist's sense of design in every aspect. For example, the elevator and stair lobbies are done in a striking 1920s Art Deco style. The Main Dining Room is a symphony in white and cream In almost an 18th century décor. The corridors on the stateroom decks are a soft cream with brown doorways, and twin lamp fixtures with soft lights. The artwork features abstract paintings, marvelous glass fixtures and free form lovely sculptures. The furniture is varied throughout the ship, and shows care in its selection, color and fabrics. The public areas are a delight, and contribute to a sense of relaxation, luxury and quiet. Our Penthouse stateroom was the best we have ever had in all our 29 cruises. There was more drawer space than we ever could use. The true walk-in closet had ample room and hangers. There was a long dresser area opposite the bed with a lift up vanity drawer as well as a small refrigerator, and a real, non-digital, clock. The "living area" had an ample desk with drawers, and a laptop. There was a small couch, coffee table and extra side chair. At the foot of the bed there were two chairs with a small round glass table in between, designed for in-room dining. We do not do room service, but the table was handy and; so were the chairs for TV viewing, and there was a vase with fresh flowers on this table for a nice touch. There also was a very complete TV guide for every day viewing furnished, a benefit we had missed on other cruise lines. The verandah had two comfortable, cushioned wicker arm chairs and a small table. The railing is open with little view obstruction. The bed had two individual gooseneck halogen reading lamps in addition to normal lamps. There was a full length mirror next to the bathroom, and a large mirror over the vanity. The walls were cream and brown, had pleasing crown molding and there was quite adequate lighting. The art work was quite nice. The bathroom was large, with beautiful black granite flat surfaces, and nice grey tile walls and floors. We had a shower (a tad small) and a spacious bath tub. There is only one sink. A bathroom night light was supplied. The stateroom was ample enough so that we could move around in it without bumping into each other. (Of course, we are both pretty slender people). These living quarters were so attractive and comfortable that on the third day we e-mailed our travel agent to upgrade our verandah cabin on this ship, booked for Papeete in January 1213, to this level; and she was able to get us the same cabin! Dining Oceania spends a great deal of its advertising concerning Marina in touting its dining aspects. Fortunately, a lot of money was spent on the venues, the cooking and the overall food service, and the money was well spent. On a scale of 1-100, I would put the effort at 99 and the success at 95, just about equal to the full size ship standard set by Crystal. To begin, the variety of offerings is truly outstanding for a passenger complement of 1180. There is the main dining room; the Terrace Cafe buffet; Jacques, a French restaurant named after Oceania's culinary director, Jacques Pepin; the Polo Grill for steaks, beef and lobster; Toscana's for Italian food (both of these found on the smaller ships of this line) and Red Ginger for the Oriental motif. There are no extra charges for these specialty restaurants. Reservations are required, but we never heard of anyone being turned away. There are two other facilities available by special reservation only. Privée holds only eight diners, is located between, and has the menus of, the Polo Grill and Toscana's at the aft part of Deck 14; and costs $250.00 to serve the 8 participants. La Reserve, near the Terrace Cafe on Deck 12, is used for special wine tasting events, and can be reserved for private seven course dinners with wine pairings for $75.00 per person. We did not become aware of anyone using these facilities for dining, but that is not to say it did not occur, especially since one can only reach Privée through the Polo Grill or Toscana's, and so is not very visible. Perhaps the most telling hallmark of Marina's food quality was the fact that twice we chose to have dinner at the Terrace Cafe because at this; the most modest of all the food venues; the table set up, service, atmosphere and food were so good we did not feel that we were making a lesser choice, just a different choice. A decision with which we were completely comfortable. This is not to say that we were not largely delighted with the other venues. We dined one time each at Jacques, Toscana's and the Polo Grill, and three times at Red Ginger, which had an especially high appeal for Edith, who is vegetarian. Dining was always a leisurely affair, but since we made our reservations for 6:30 at the specialty sites, and arrived at the Terrace Cafe and the Main Dining Room before 7:00, we had no problem with the pace. There were a few people who felt that they had to rush a bit to make the 8:30 Trivia session, however. Since the entertainment in the Main Lounge did not start until 9:45, most had no problem with the relaxed dinner pace. A couple of notes. When I requested dark meat turkey for our boarding day Thanksgiving dinner, the waitress told me that they served both white and dark meat. However she showed up with a plate of dark meat only, a personal touch which raised my appreciation of their service. Also, there was a featured "Canyon Ranch" low calorie, low fat selection every day. When Edith checked the menu at Toscana's, she liked the vegetables which accompanied the filet mignon, so she ordered that dish, without the filet! No one hesitated at that. I did conclude that the "chocolate mousse" served at Jacques' was not truly a mousse, merely a very rich dark chocolate pudding. But it tasted quite good, and was not sent back. We also noted that all of the tableware was first class, from Rosenthal Hotel Porcelain in Toscano's to very modern, striking and colorful ware in Red Ginger. Service Service on Oceania has always been quite good, and Marina, with a high passenger to staff ratio of 1.48/1 continues that standard. We noticed, for example, the Hotel Manager all over the ship, all the time, making sure people were satisfied, even assisting with plates at the buffet, and generally making sure things were running smoothly. We did not use our butler much, but he was very helpful in getting specialty restaurants beyond the three we had ordered prior to embarkation. Room service was prompt and very fastidious. As noted in the Dining section above, service at all restaurants was excellent, and we particularly appreciated the service in the Terrace Cafe. Buffet service on cruise lines, other than Crystal, is not as prompt and complete. We really enjoyed having our breakfast cappuccino (no extra charge for this) delivered with juice as requested to start off each day. There were a couple of scheduling mix-ups at the Canyon Ranch Spa and one of the boutique shops, but the staffs there are not Oceania employees. Penthouse Suite passengers have access to an Executive Lounge on Deck 11, which we used a great deal. A very pleasant young Concierge from Halifax, Canada was there most of the day to assist with any problems, and generally make us feel welcome. Two laptops are available as a sort of private supplement to the many machines available at the Oceania at Sea Computer facility on Deck 14. In addition there was a wine and cheese gathering every day in the Lounge at 6:00, although we were told this is only offered on Transatlantic cruises. It was well attended and a pleasant way to form and renew casual acquaintanceships. The room also has a coffee/espresso/cappuccino machine operating all day, as well as available soft drinks, cookies and sandwiches, in addition to a light breakfast set-up with bagels, toast and juice. Entertainment This, as usual, was a mixed experience. One somewhat unique offering were the Culinary Classes. Marina has, on Deck 12, the Culinary Center, a room outfitted with a main cooking area, plus 12 cooking stations with full induction cooking tops and room to work. Here 24 people can, for a fee of $69.00 each, participate in a hands on cooking class of 2 hours, covering 11 different subjects. These included Traditional French, Modern Greek, Chicken Two Ways, Perfect Paella, etc. and were usually held twice a day on sea days. One day had to be cancelled due to heavy seas posing a danger with large pots full of hot water. Most of the classes were conducted by Chief Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly, (who also holds a medical degree). In addition to the 24 participants, the Center had seats along the side for spectators. My wife purchased one session, and sat through several others, pleased that is was possible to take notes as a spectator, when one could not as a participant. Chef Kelly runs a tight kitchen, telling the spectators, including her mother who was attending one session, that they must keep quiet! She also helped with the frequent Cooking Demonstrations in the Main Lounge, which come under the heading of entertainment rather than serious cooking lessons. We believe she is the first American chef we have seen on board a cruise ship, not to mention her status as a female Executive Chef. There were two "enrichment lecturers" presenting talks on sea days. One was Jerry Kindall, a former major league baseball player and coach speaking on various baseball topics, a series marked by his great personal knowledge of the game and many of its players. The other was Dr. Stewart Nelson, who had even more talks on destinations and other cruise related subjects plus a detailed two part lecture on the German Zeppelin Airships. The musical offerings were normal, including a pretty good string quartet, the Tatra Quartet, a pianist at the Martini Bar, the ship's dance orchestra and the orchestra backing the musical shows in the main lounge. These shows were okay, with the featured singers being rather loud, the revue shows rather routine and the magician accompanied by a contortionist reasonably entertaining. The Cruise Director sang for us once, and he has a pretty good voice. One very popular daytime activity was "De Barcelona a Miami en 15 Dias" a class in Spanish, that is, entirely in Spanish, conducted by Assistant Cruise Director :Professor" Roy Perez, who hilariously acted out all the Spanish words he was teaching. It first was held in the Martini Bar, but proved so popular it was moved to the Marina Lounge. The same shift in location was required for the digital photography classes, which moved from the Artists Loft to the Lounge due to attendance. There were the usual rounds of Trivia, Bingo and craft classes, some of which Edith enjoyed. The ship has a well laid out putting green and a golf net set-up with a full set of decent clubs for practice hitting. There is also a croquet field. All in all a pretty fair job was done with the entertainment especially considering the number of sea days - 10 in all. What was also notable and nice was the absence of any art auctions or ship's photographers. Ports of Call The four stops were Barcelona, Tangier, Funchal, Madeira and Bermuda. We do not do ships' tours, although a pretty large number were offered, and fairly well spoken for judging by the buses waiting at the piers. We have been tp Barcelona several times and love doing our own thing in this most attractive city. We were there on a sunny Saturday, the whole town was out and about and we had a great day. We went to the Joan Miro Museum, walked back downtown, strolled back up La Rambla and took a subway to Parc Guell, one of Gaudi's masterworks, which we had previously enjoyed. The all day transportation pass costs €12.00 pp and got a lot of use. It was a grand day. The next stop was Tangier; new to us. We had been contacted on Cruise Critic by a fellow passenger who had arranged a private tour. The owner and our guide is Aziz Ben Ami, and his website is www.tangierprivateguide.com. The cost was € 35.00 per person for a tour lasting from about 9:00 A. M. until 2:30 P.M. Lunch for an additional €15.00 was an option, which nobody was interested in, except perhaps me since we had greatly enjoyed Moroccan food on our Oceania Insignia cruise to Agadir and Taurodant in 2008. We traveled in a van holding 10 people, and the company also had another van for fellow passengers with the same number. The tour first went around town, including some very posh areas, then traveled out to the Atlantic Coast and down into a cave opening into the ocean, with a view of Spain, and then back into the town, where we walked through parts of the old city area, into a museum/mosque of great beauty, to a spice shop where Edith bought some spices and argan oil, and to a rug shop where we almost bought a rug after the price came down from $260.00 to $100.00 US. Just walking through the streets and seeing all the shops and people was vastly entertaining. Our guide, Aziz, was a young man, dressed in a western style business suit, who spoke English very well and did a great job. He had an cheerful assistant we called the shepherd since he followed our group and kept us from straying off. This is a necessity in Tangier streets. We enjoyed Tangier, and thought it essentially a pleasant and non-threatening city. The next stop was Funchal. Madeira, about 540 miles southwest of the southernmost tip of Portugal, and at 32 degrees North Latitude is called the Springtime Island for its mild climate. We had been there in 2004 and remembered it as an place of great beauty. I had contacted a company called Madeira Seekers, which offers a variety of excursions. We opted for a taxi for four people, and recruited another couple on Cruise Critic. We had a little confusion in locating the taxi on shore, but then took off for a trip to the eastern part of this lovely island. Our driver, Manuel, had grown up in South Africa, although his parents were from Madeira. They returned home when he was 17 due to the crime in South Africa, and this meant he spoke English well. He provided several interesting places to stop and see the small towns as well as some spectacular views, sharing as we went, a thorough commentary on Madeira life. After returning to Funchal our companions opted to shop, while we had Manuel drive us up through town to the Botanical Garden and Bird zoo. This was a marvelous place, with striking views, a wonderful cactus exhibition, and a great assortment of birds, mostly of the parrot species. We could easily have spent more than an hour there, but we had arranged to get back together with Manuel for the return to the ship. Madeira lived up to its expectations earned on our previous trip, and we could understand that a week or two there would be a great trip. After five sea days we were pleased to arrive in Bermuda. The Oceania brochure and website information had us docking in Hamilton, the largest city, and indeed Marina had used this pier on its inaugural crossing last January. But we kept getting information that we would use the Naval Dockyard at the extreme western tip, and this was confirmed by the Bermuda Port Authority website. We thought that this location might be inconvenient since we would arrive at 2:00 P.M. Tuesday and depart at 3:30 Wednesday. However Oceania provided everyone with a two day pass good on the ferry from the Dockyard to Hamilton and on all island buses. Since the normal cost was $12.00 for a one day pass per person, this was a $48.00 value. The Bermuda dollar is tied to the US dollar, and we were able to get change in US dollars wherever we spent anything. The first day we ferried into Hamilton, about a 30 minute trip, and walked around for a while. It is a pleasant enough small town. We then caught the No. 7 bus back to the Dockyard, a route which went along the eastern, Atlantic Coast for some distance and provided a very scenic trip., with a view of a number of quite expensive ocean view homes. Bermuda has a high standard of living, but allows no rental cars and only one auto per family. The next day we again took the ferry into Hamilton and took a local bus to the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo, about a 20 minute trip. There, for an admission of $5.00 apiece Senior rate, we enjoyed a very well done aquarium and a small zoo. After returning to Hamilton we went back to the ship by ferry. Bermuda is a rather low key destination, with a laid back attitude and mostly British naval history sites. There is a glass factory near the Dockyard which has some reasonably priced decorative items. Demographics of this Cruise We were an experienced group of cruisers. Out of 1180 passengers, over 700 had sailed Oceania before, and there were many with more than 25 prior cruises. There also were over 320 Canadians on board, a very high percentage. There were few Europeans however, and not many from Asia proper, although there were several of Asian ancestry from Canada. Almost all of us were drawing Social Security from our home countries, with several in their 90s. Most got off the ship for shore excursions, and several even took the basket sleds down the hillside in Funchal. We always opted for a "shared" table in the main dining room as well as at the specialty restaurants, and enjoyed meeting new people despite my lack of skill at remembering names. Overall Impressions This was a very comfortable and relaxed cruise on one of the nicest ships we have ever enjoyed. We don't like to think we cruise to eat; but dining was certainly a highlight thanks to the effort put forth by Oceania. Edith appreciated the fact that there was no charge for fitness classes on board, although the somewhat smaller space for yoga made scheduling an occasional problem. We liked the free water replenished daily in our stateroom, and understand that the soft drinks were complimentary also. We think that the shows were a little late at 9:45, and think that the set-up in the Marina Lounge for the Quartet could have been improved. The library had a good selection, but the seating was not as well laid out as on the smaller ships. There was a deck area in front of the spa with very comfortable lounge chairs and two Jacuzzis which I used on one occasion; since no one objected, and it was easy to walk through the Canyon Ranch corridor to reach. Even though it was November and December, the main pool area was well used on many sea days when the sun was out. This trip did not have a strong itinerary as cruises go, but the ship itself, the food, the on board activities and the overall attitude of all the staff made this one of our favorites. We look forward to sailing once more on Marina in French Polynesia in January 2013 Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
First of all, this cruise was a wonderful trip and I had hoped that previous comments given to us by others on the Marina were not so or at least the time had past for Oceania to rectify and change some situations. All the ports of calls ... Read More
First of all, this cruise was a wonderful trip and I had hoped that previous comments given to us by others on the Marina were not so or at least the time had past for Oceania to rectify and change some situations. All the ports of calls were wonderfully selected and we had no trouble in each port to disembark and embark. The port of Cyprus was not too interesting and would have liked another day in Istanbul or Israel. The staff was always polite and obliging. The entertainment was fair to good. The cruise director Nolan Dean was funny, light and entertaining. The concierge service on the 9th left little to be desired. He never had an answer and when he did, it was incorrect. So we learned not to rely on his judgement. All services for our cabin was excellent and always met with a smile. We filled out our comment cards and hope that they will be read well and change the following: The food was not what we expected at all. The majority of cruisers were 50 plus and healthy dishes should have been available. The Terrace Cafe staff often did not know what they were serving.(ingredients). They should have been informed to properly inform the cruisers when asked. Too many pork dishes and not enough variations of soup (always creamed or consomme). On one lunch I witnessed the staff put in at least a half cup of butter in the risotto. Needless to say, we did not touch this dish. The signature dishes of Jacques Pepin in the Grand dining (salmon) was so bland and without spices that it looked liked it had been washed and dried out. Red Ginger was absolutely the best. Toscana's Italian dishes were also without spice and flavour. The chefs needed to make a few variations and make tasty food and healthy without the butter and salt. This is very possible.All in all it was a great 24 days and lots of friends made. We do have other cruises with Marina and I hope they can improve on the food. I shall look for comments from others before returning to Marina. One more comment is not to wear white and sit on the deck chairs. There is a lot of soot to be found on the deck floor and on the chairs. Attendants were often brushing off the chairs. Not sure if this can be changed or ajusted for their new ship Riviera. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
It's been a while since I have taken a cruise and so decided to do it in style on a new ship for a well respected cruise line notable for their level of fine dining and overall service. The cruise we (my wife and I) booked and ... Read More
It's been a while since I have taken a cruise and so decided to do it in style on a new ship for a well respected cruise line notable for their level of fine dining and overall service. The cruise we (my wife and I) booked and took was the Oceania Marina inaugural voyage from Jan 22 to Feb. 4 from Barcelona to Miami. The embarkation went incredibly smoothly with minimal congestion and dining available the minute we stepped on the ship. We boarded at about 1:30 PM and immediately had lunch at Tapas on the Terrace. Rooms were available earlier than expected so as soon as we finished our lunch. We had very high expectations for the food on an Oceania cruise and so were a little disappointed at the quality of some of the items at this first buffet luncheon. The mahi-mahi was dry and some other selections were good but nothing special. On the other hand the food was immediately available with a nice variety, and so very appropriate for making a transition from either staying in Barcelona or transferring from an airport. Walking to our cabin, we were impressed by the beauty and elegance of this ship. When we got into our room, we found a complimentary bottle of Brut champagne and found the cabin (Veranda) to be well laid out, accessible, functional and aesthetically pleasing. The only oddity was the bathroom, which has a very large bathtub but a very small shower. Talking later to other guests, it seems many of us passengers would have sacrificed the bathtub for a bigger shower. One guest noted that if they dropped the soap the shower was too small for them to bend down to pick it up. Perhaps, if the architect had simply made the bathtub space into a combination bathtub shower, the bathroom would not only have been perfect for us but would have worked from the vast majority of guests. I left the room to get a glass of water at the bar, and found out that for this trip that all but the more expensive wine and drinks were complimentary. Neither my wife nor I are big drinkers (generally only having wine on family get-togethers or special occasions) but because of this unexpected bonus we ended up having quite a bit of alcohol: a glass or two of wine for lunch and dinner each and every day and a few beers or cocktails here and there over the course of the two weeks. That first day at about 6:30, we went to dinner. It was quite good but not at the level we had mentally prepared ourselves. Fortunately, after the first couple of days, the dining room quality improved considerably so that every single lunch and dinner was a special dining experience. Of special note were the fish entrees, which were cooked to perfection: moist, tender, fresh, succulent and full of flavor. One could always order asparagus and mushrooms on the side as well as mashed potatoes which were cooked perfectly with nutmeg and liberal amounts of cream and butter. Tapas at the Terrace was also much better after the first day and the dinner buffets at Tapas at the Terrace were generally quite good. We didn't visit Tapas for breakfast until later in the cruise, and found the Norwegian gravlax (Gravad laks - similar to lox) to be exceptional and loved the abundance of tropical fruits (papaya, mango) and berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries.) The sushi and sashimi at night was quite good. Often there was a correspondence between some of the items offered in the main dining room and at Tapas, and on those occasions when we visited Tapas before or after a visit to the main dining room, we found the quality of the main dining room considerably better for those items we sampled that we available at both. A visit to Tapas could be a short or as long as you wished - one could get in and out of Tapas in 15 minutes. The dining room was generally at 1 ½ to 2 hour experience. Service was amazingly prompt, with just the right amount of time between courses and a staff to guest ratio that left the illusion that one had their own private service. It seemed that either the waiter or their assistant was always there exactly at the right time. During the entire 2 weeks, there was only one instance of a delay during our set of visits to the main dining room. The delay was very minor, and one which was the waiter apologized profusely for even though it was very inconsequential to us. The specialty restaurants were superb. We started with Jacques on the third night of the cruise and were very pleased. I ordered the roasted chicken, which was for me tasty but a bit dried out. Fortunately, everything else was excellent. The escargot was a special treat. Our second specialty restaurant was Polo Grill. My wife had the grilled lamb and I had the Prime Rib. Both were top quality. The appetizers and dessert were also especially good. We both loved the crabmeat cake. Toscana was great and we were wowed by the choice of one of several olive oils (with balsamic vinegar) for our bread. The bread was delicious and it was easy to fill up on just bread. For appetizers, all we tried were good and the fried calamari was particularly good. Both our entrees were great. My sea bass was fresh and cooked perfectly. Red Ginger was also a real treat. I generally prefer real Asian cooking over fusion Asian cooking, but was very happy with the choices and quality offered even though it was more European and less Asian then what aligns with my personal preferences. The specialty restaurants are at no additional charge and one is able to visit each one at least once and possibly more if you wish to try to follow-up with the reservation desk for any openings that occur on a given night. These restaurants were all at a couple of levels above the regular dining room and along with the exceptional service of the staff onboard the Marina, were a highlight of the trip. Wherever one went, the chocolate mousse was irresistible. I have not been a fan of mousse in the past, but that changed completely with Marina's offerings. The bread offered in the main dining room was quite good, but the only non-white bread was a somewhat boring whole wheat roll. I suggested they add multi-grain or rye and a few days later I was exclusively offered a really good dark bread roll - very fresh and still warm. This was the best bread on the ship and it was a shame that it was not available to all the other guests. Tea was a special treat with the Marina String Quartet (very high level of musicianship.) It was too challenging for us to have that much rich, sweet food every day, so we skipped several tea times, making those we attended even more special. Important to emphasize that the service was excellent all around the ship: dining, housekeeping, tea, cocktails, etc. The staff come from all over the globe, with pretty good representation from Ukraine, Russia, Indonesia, Philippines, South Africa, Honduras and Portugal. We particularly were impressed with Diana and Alex in dining and the many sommeliers particularly Florentina. To our delight, a large portion of the staff treated you as if they were your friends, being attentive to service requirements, of course, but avoiding the extremes of being either subservient or aloof. Our gratuities were pre-paid, but we felt only fair to add to the normal amount. This was easy to do: we just transferred money from our room account to gratuities at the end of the trip. We were scheduled to stop in 3 ports, but couldn't make one of them (Malaga) because of weather. We went on our own to Loro Parc (Parrot Park with other animals) in Tenerife and explored Casablanca on our own. In both cases there was a free shuttle to take out of the port area. For Loro Parc we took a convenient local bus, which was fun. The Park had well over a hundred different varieties of parrots and was very much worth the visit for that alone. Because of all the great dining I spent my share of time in their Fitness area. They had top quality treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, etc and I was able to pretty painlessly justify adding at least 1200 extra calories per day to what I ate. Overall, this was a great experience, with food matching our high expectations. Dining was a little off at first, but soon came up to a level matching our expectation. It's appropriate to call this a "shake-out" cruise, but management was particularly quick to fix problems. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Marina Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.5
Dining 4.5 4.5
Entertainment 3.0 3.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 1.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.1
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.9

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