We have sailed with Oceania before, but this was our first time on their Regatta ship. We chose this cruise because of its itinerary which included ports of call in New Zealand, the west coast of Australia, Komodo Island, and ended in ... Read More
We have sailed with Oceania before, but this was our first time on their Regatta ship. We chose this cruise because of its itinerary which included ports of call in New Zealand, the west coast of Australia, Komodo Island, and ended in Bali. Most of the other cruise lines visit just the ports in New Zealand and Sydney resulting in a shorter cruise. Oceania's 24 day cruise was worth our while to endure the long flights to and from our home in Vancouver, BC. Other incentives to buy this cruise included: free air, free unlimited internet usage, plus another discount of our choice from excursions/beverage package/onboard ocean credit. Other credits from Oceania and our travel agent covered the tips and a couple of bottles of wine resulting in few additional charges at the end of the trip.
Oceania booked their customers into Auckland's luxurious Sofitel Hotel located just a few blocks from the port where Regatta would be docked. We arrived at the hotel at 7:30am and had to wait for a room - not the best thing to hear after a red-eye flight! Other than that inconvenience, I would highly recommend this luxurious modern hotel. Our room was not the ordinary hotel room due to the finishes, the coffee/tea bar, the large bathroom with separate deep tub and roomy shower, the floor to ceiling windows along one wall, the fluffy bathrobe and slippers, and crisp bedding on a very comfortable bed that even had a number of decorator pillows on it. The difference between this lovely hotel room/hotel and our veranda stateroom on Regatta was noticeable on the first day aboard the ship, but we quickly adjusted to the confined space. Our room, the bathroom, public areas of the ship and dining areas were what we expected from our previous cruises on Oceania.
Embarkation in Auckland was not a quick process. We had to stand in line in the cruise terminal for over an hour as the limited crew slowly processed the crowd of people who had turned up from several bus transfers all at the same time. Other than that day, Oceania handled our entrances and exits very well.
The Destination staff were well organized in getting the various groups on excursions to their appointed buses. However, the destination staff both on the ship and in the Miami office gave incorrect information about docking locations for Sydney (not Circular Quay but White Bay) and for Brisbane (not Portside but Port of Brisbane) which matters when private tours have been arranged. In addition, the Destination Staff on board gave incorrect information in the ship's daily Currents about the starting times for the complimentary bus service between the port and downtown. These buses provided service right from the time of docking, not after all of Oceania's excursions had left the ship. On other occasions like in Wellington, the Destination staff abroad the ship were unaware of the drop off/pickup location of these complimentary buses in the city. Often these locations are the Visitor's Center but not so in Wellington which uses the bus stop at the corner of Brandon and Featherstone St - a 10 minute walk from the Visitor's Center. We appreciated these complimentary bus rides from port to CBD with their frequent departure times. The ship's arrival and departure times at the various ports were on time and as published.
We are familiar with the high cost of Oceania's excursions and thus made our own arrangements to see the sights in most of the ports of call. When there was a great distance to travel between the port and the attraction we were interested in (to Christchurch, to Hunter Valley, to the temples in Bali) we bought an excursion. Unfortunately, for Komodo Island we had to buy the expensive ship excursion in order to get off the ship to see the Komodo Dragons. This excursion turned out to be a 2 hour guided walk on a pathway in the rainforest with a quick view of a group of Komodo Dragons - not good value IMO.
The food on board the ship was always excellent with much choice at each meal and venue. We used all venues - the Grand Dining room, the Terrace Cafe, Waves, Polo, and Toscana. The service was excellent wherever we ate from friendly wait staff (Asian and Eastern European) who couldn't do enough to make your meal the best. The menus are on a 2 week rotation, so on a long voyage the repetition is welcomed as one gets to try items overlooked before or to indulge in those enjoyed before. When the Terrace Cafe closes at 2:30, the Waves poolside cafe provides grilled meat sandwiches and a salad bar. Every afternoon tea was served in Horizons from 4-5 which included delicious crab finger sandwiches and baked sweets. Cookies were available all day at the baristas. Coffee machine was open 24/7 in the Terrace Cafe. There were several extravagances - the grand afternoon high tea, the Sunday brunch, the captain's free cocktail meet and greet. Each was looked forward to and met our expectations. All were never charged extra.
The usual on board entertainment was available for those wishing to participate. We usually got up early and, with the heat, we found ourselves ready for bed soon after dinner. However, we did listen to a few string quartet recitals, the pianist in the cocktail bar, the British lecturer on Asian countries, 2 Australian comedians, one cooking demo, and a couple of newly released movies from the movie channel in our room. I dipped into the small pool a couple of times, but usually spent time reading on our shady veranda instead of on the loungers around the pool. The ship provided many other activities and services I have not commented on like the spa, the exercise room, the walking area, room service, polynesian crafts, bridge, trivia, bingo, etc.
The public areas of the ship were well air conditioned as were our rooms - so needed in tropic weather. The ship provided 2 computers in the library which I preferred to use as they were closer to my stateroom than those in the computer room at the other end of the ship. Getting an internet account was easy and the attendant answered questions quickly. The internet connection was relatively fast. Those times when loading was slow, I was glad I wasn't paying by the minute for internet use. Also, the library with its leather chairs and upholstered sofas provided a quiet, bright place to relax while reading. The book shelves were filled with a variety of reading materials - fiction, nonfiction, reference books - but some did look uninviting due to age. Don't expect to find many newly released bestsellers on these shelves.
We enjoyed our 24 day cruise on Regatta and look forward to another cruise with Oceania booked while aboard to gain some additional discounts. There were no problems with this cruise - everything went as laid out in the brochure. The captain informed us daily at noon about the weather, the course, and sailing times. Communication about the ports and daily activities arrived in our cabins the night before. The room, the public areas, the food, the service was all as expected. Read Less