Spain and Transatlantic on Oceania Marina
We are a couple in our mid 50s and mid 60s, who were looking forward to trying something new after many years of cruising with Celebrity. We were looking for higher quality food and service than ... Read More
Spain and Transatlantic on Oceania Marina
We are a couple in our mid 50s and mid 60s, who were looking forward to trying something new after many years of cruising with Celebrity. We were looking for higher quality food and service than Celebrity now offers, but also good entertainment, and some “new to us” ports, and this cruise with its Spain and Canary Island itinerary, plus a relaxing few days crossing the Atlantic sounded perfect to us.
We spent four days pre-cruise in Barcelona at the Hotel 1898 which was excellent. Barcelona was uncrowded as we were out of season, so it was perfect for sightseeing. The Gaudi houses are a must-see and so is Sagrada Familia, which is a little closer to being finished than last time we saw it. We also took a private Montserrat and Cava tour with Barcelona Day Tours. There wasn’t a lot to see at Montserrat as the funicular was closed for renovation, and as it was bitterly cold we didn’t fancy any of the hikes. We did get to enjoy listening to the boys choir in the church there, and we did buy some excellent local cheese! Cava tasting at Art Cava was fun.
On then to the cruise portion of our trip. We were in Concierge Class Verandah 10067, and had the O Life features of unlimited wifi, wine with lunch and dinner, and gratuities included.
We are new to Oceania and had a wonderful first impression of the cruise line and the ship Marina. Check in was very quick and easy and we notice that no one was trying to sell us packages for drinks or specialty restaurants or even stopping us to take our photo. We were directed up to the buffet, which from past experience on other cruise lines has been a nightmare. Marina was much more civilised with staff serving the food for you and waiters carrying your food to the table for you. We actually enjoyed embarkation lunch this time!
Marina is a smaller ship that we have been sailing on recently, but she is beautifully decorated and furnished, and spotlessly clean. We had a concierge level cabin and were very impressed with the layout, especially the marble bathroom, which had a proper bathtub with shower, as well as a separate shower cubicle. We liked the selection of Bulgari toiletries and the bath salts, and loved the abundance of soft towels that were provided. I had requested hypoallergenic bedding through my travel agent as I am allergic to feathers. Unfortunately there were feather pillows and bedding in the room, so the request had not reached Oceania. Our cabin attendant was very apologetic and said that she would make sure everything was changed during evening turndown service, and she did.
We had very positive experiences with the food on Marina. I am not a person who likes to eat with strangers, so it was nice to have no problem getting a table for two. We typically ate breakfast at the buffet on sea days, and ordered room service on port days. Every time our room service order was exactly right, nothing was ever missing, which makes a pleasant change from other cruiselines we have sailed on! We ate lunch and dinner in the main dining room most days and the food was consistently good and the service was excellent. We had wines with meals included in our fare and found there was a good selection to choose from, although by about day five they were out of the french rose. Specialty restaurants on Oceania are included, and I easily made my reservations online before we sailed. In the end we ate twice at Red Ginger, once at Jacques and once at Polo Grill. The food was outstanding in all three. We had to cancel our Toscana reservation and never got round to rebooking as we enjoyed the main dining room so much. Afternoon tea was a wonderful experience, and the scones were delicious!
We bought a package of assorted spa treatments, and had two couples massages, and two solo massages. They were pricy but enjoyable.
The pool area was uncrowded and we had no trouble getting a sunbed, or ten! It really was deserted.
Entertainment is where I felt things went a little awry. The singers and dancers were very talented, as were the live musicians, but, and it’s a big BUT, the music was not geared to my age group at all, it was aimed at much older demographic who like music from the 40’s, 50s and 60s and want to ballroom dance. Whether it was the production show “Songs of Peggy Lee” or “Music From The Brill Building” it was music from the same era. Only the “Dancing Fool” show gave a brief nod to the 1970’s. The Orchestra, The Party Band and Claude at the Piano all seemed to have the same repertoire. How many times can you hear Moon River, Route 66, Hit The Road Jack and Fever before you want to curl up and die? The string quartet were excellent and they, fortunately were allowed to play classical music, which made a welcome change. After a few nights we gave up trying to stay up for the late night happy hour at 10:30pm so maybe we missed out on more up to date music then, I don’t know.
Daytime entertainment was very low key, with trivia, needlepoint and coffee, spa lectures and a guest speaker. We have done Transatlantic crossings before so were prepared and amused ourselves with books and puzzles we had brought with us. I also spent many an hour soaking in the bathtub, reading!
I have to say I was a bit dubious about how good the wi-fi would be, especially if a large number of passengers had unlimited wifi included with O Life, and also because we were crossing the Atlantic. It was in fact really good. I was even able to download ebooks from my local library in the USA when we were half way across the Atlantic!
Our itinerary had three ports in mainland Spain and two in the Canary Islands. We looked at ship tours but they didn’t really have anything that looked interesting to us and very few tours under $300 per person, so we booked small group semi-private tours through Spain Day Tours instead, for around $100 per person. From Alicante we visited Guadalest, from Malaga the Alhambra in Granada, and from Cadiz the Alcazar in Seville. We travelled on comfortable new coaches and had really good english speaking guides. In Tenerife we took a tour up to the top of the volcano and it was really interesting seeing the difference between the beach level, the forest area and the lava fields. Again this was organised through Spain Day Tours, and again the guide was good but this bus wasn’t as nice as the others. Our final tour was a ship tour on the island of La Palma. It was a bit disappointing. We did a short hike around the caldera, then visited an old house with wine and tapas to taste and then a church. It was low key and a bit boring compared to our other tours.
At the end of the cruise it was refreshing to not experience waiters and cabin attendants grovelling and guilting you into ranking them a 10 whether or not you felt their service deserved it. Perhaps the Marina staff knew they would be getting 10s anyway because they really had provided exceptional service. Disembarkation was really easy. We were among the last groups called and were off the ship very quickly.
In conclusion, the cruise was very nice, but we were really looking forward to getting off in Miami. Marina is a lovely ship, the food is outstanding, and the crew really go out of their way to please you, but I don’t think I have found my new cruise home yet. It’s a trade off and at this point I don’t think I am ready to give up livelier entertainment and more modern music in favour of a quiet more sedate experience with better food. Perhaps in 20 years time when people my age might be their target market, I’ll try Oceania again. Read Less