This was our fifth Oceania cruise, third on Regatta. The average age of the passengers on this cruise appeared to be a little older than the Oceania norm; this might have been because it was a fairly long one. Things ... Read More
This was our fifth Oceania cruise, third on Regatta. The average age of the passengers on this cruise appeared to be a little older than the Oceania norm; this might have been because it was a fairly long one. Things started out rather badly, one of our suitcases was damaged between the dock and it's arrival at our cabin, it also ended badly, at the end of the cruise another of our cases was damaged between the time it left our cabin and its arrival at the dockside, a very poor performance. In the past we have had cases damaged by airlines, but never before between the dockside and cabin.
This was the first cruise on any line we have been on where the cabin Steward/Stewardess had not popped into the cabin to say hello before we set sail.
We both prefer Hypo-allergenic pillows rather than feather, so after about 3 hours in our cabin we telephoned housekeeping to ask for them to be changed, we got the usual message 'we are paging your correspondent, you may hang up'. After 30 minutes, as no one had got back to us we telephoned again, got the same message 'we are paging your correspondent etc.’ Another 20 minutes went by, still no one had got back to us, so we telephoned the reception, reception said they would chase housekeeping. Still no one turned up, after another 15 minutes reception telephoned us to ask if housekeeping had been in touch? As no one from housekeeping had contacted us reception said they would chase housekeeping. About 20 minutes later a stewardess arrived, we explained that we would like the pillows to be changed. A few minutes later the stewardess returned with Hypo-allergenic pillows, we immediately observed that they were rather dirty and stained, the stewardess stated that was how the Laundry had given them to her, she immediately went off and returned with two clean pillows.
We were supposed to receive a complimentary tote bag in our cabin but we didn't, so had to ask for one.
When our first preliminary onboard invoice arrived it had another cabin's invoice stapled inside it.
The daily information sheet 'Currents' often had minor mistakes in it, perhaps nobody was proofreading it?.
The cabin balcony window was leaking, it appeared to have been leaking for a long time as the carpet was starting to rot and was causing the cabin to smell, housekeeping shampooed the carpet twice but that did not get rid of the smell, and the smell was actually made worse when the crew tried to dry the carpet with a very noisy industrial blower unit. After 4 days we went to reception to complain, within 2 hours the maintenance team arrived and sealed the leak from the outside, perhaps this should have been done a mmend this cabin for cruises in very warm climates, as the balcony does not have any overhang over it and could long time before and certainly done before this cruise commenced.
Cabin 7000 is located at the front of the ship and is in a prime position for a good view when sailing on the Amazon, however we would only recobe very exposed in bad weather. The cabin had been partly refurbished; the bathroom is very small, in fact smaller than those found on most river cruise ships. However the bathroom was very well designed for it's size and the only thing we did not like was the shower which had a curtain rather than a glass screen/door. There was a slight problem with the shower; the curtain did not reach all the way down to the tray, so when the ship rolled the rest of the bathroom got wet.
In this cabin you do hear a fair amount of noise when the ship is anchoring, but it does not last very long and did not bother us.
The Grand Dining Room
We like the Grand Dining Room and ate there on 22 nights out of the 24 nights of this cruise. Owing to the popularity of the Grand Dining Room, on most nights we had to wait for a table, this was rather frustrating because often when we entered the dining room there were a fair number of vacant tables. On some nights we thought the waiters were under great pressure and it was possible that they were struggling to find time to reset the tables, sometimes you had to ask for salt and pepper pots. Some of the staff did appear to have much more experience than others who may have been fairly new at their jobs, but overall we thought the waiters were very good and were always warm and friendly.
Sometimes in the Grand Dining Room when you were being seated the waiters place a napkin across your lap, one waitress whist doing this said to me "I will cover your belly", my wife and I had a laugh about this, of course English was not the waitress's first language.
We thought the wine sommeliers were excellent, however one of the wine sommeliers may have been new, she informed me that Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc was a Chardonnay.
A senior staff member did try to keep dress standards up, once whilst waiting for a table we observed that he very politely asked people in plastic flip flops not to enter the dining room.
Overall we thought the food was excellent; there was a very wide choice to suit all tastes. However one thing we would disagree with is the claim made by an Oceania crew member during a future cruise presentation that 'Oceania spends three times more on food than any other cruise line'.
We thought the food was not as good as it had been on previous cruises. Sometimes I like a cheese salad for lunch, so I went to the cheese station of the buffet to ask for some Gouda, the young lady gave me a slice weighing about 1 oz., so I asked for some more, to which she replied 'you want a second slice?' I felt a bit like Oliver Twist. Sometimes it not what you say but the way you say it.
We pre-booked and paid for all our shore excursions before boarding Regatta, however we did encounter a few minor problems:-
First problem, Oceania state that their shore excursions operate 'rain or shine', however this was not the case in St Lucia, our excursion was cancelled because of rain.
Second problem, in Santarem another of our excursions was also cancelled, this time because of 'lack of participants'.
Third problem, in Manaus we wanted to visit the Opera House so we had booked an excursion which included a visit to it, purely by chance the evening before we were due to go on the excursion we found out that the excursion we were on was not actually going to the Opera House. When we spoke to the shore excursion staff about this, one staff member said there had been a printing error, another staff member said that the tour had been changed, luckily however we were able to change to another tour which did visit the Opera House.
Fourth problem, we had been to Barbados before and the only thing we had not seen before was Orchid World, so we had booked an excursion which visited it. We received the correct tour tickets, but unfortunately when we exchanged our tour tickets for bus tickets in the Regatta lounge the staff gave us bus tickets for the wrong number bus, so we ended up going on an entirely different trip. When we returned to the ship we complained about this and received a full refund and an apology from a staff member, but unfortunately of course we missed out on Orchid World.
We used the laundry service 4 times, on 3 occasions the laundry arrived back a day later than Oceania's stated service times, this was the first time laundry had arrived back late on any cruise we had been on, however the laundry do a good job with dress shirts.
Immigration information for arrival in San Juan USA
We received I-94W Non Immigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Cards and a letter with instructions how to fill them in. They letter requested us to fill in and return the completed cards to the Reception Desk and stated that to enter the U.S. you must have ESTA authorisation before our arrival in San Juan April 16th, this was the wrong date, it should have been November 25th. There were other errors in the letter, what to complete in case/part 8 should have been case/part 11, what to complete in case/part 10 should have been case/part 13. The actual Cards had been partly completed by Oceania, we noticed both our date of births were incorrectly filed in, so we went to Reception to bring this to Oceania's attention, we were informed that was alright because they (Oceania) were going todo a ship's manifest, all this looked a bit slaphappy to us. When we actually arrived in San Juan the information given out over the tannoy conflicted with that given by staff present in the Regatta lounge, we have been on ships with four times the number of passengers than Regatta where immigration procedures ran smother.
Traveller's Tip, Brazilian Tax at 25 percent
Whilst in Brazilian territorial waters there is an extra 25 percent tax added to on-board sales including the bars and restaurants, therefore we prepaid for a good quantity of wine before entering Brazilian waters, thus avoiding this extra tax. However we ended up paying the extra tax on a bottle of wine on one night because after actually going to reception and asking them the dates when the tax would apply they gave us the wrong dates!
Although the crew were very pleasant and friendly, there appeared to be a huge disparity in the level of training, experience, finesse and commitment, many appeared to be fairly new at their jobs.
We hope the minor hiccups of this cruise were only one-offs and have nothing to do with Oceania's takeover by NCL and any future Oceania cruises we take will be back to their previous high standards and excellence. We will be travelling with Oceania again, but if it becomes apparent that NCL are cost cutting and standards are going downhill we will stick with P & O, Princess and Holland America.