The reasons we booked this cruise was because it was Oceania, the itinerary (going above the Artic Circle), no photographers, few children and no up-selling. We have cruised with Oceania quite a few times and enjoy the size of the ships, ... Read More
The reasons we booked this cruise was because it was Oceania, the itinerary (going above the Artic Circle), no photographers, few children and no up-selling. We have cruised with Oceania quite a few times and enjoy the size of the ships, the atmosphere and the service.
We did arrive in Copenhagen a day early which gave us time to help some with the jet lag and to explore the city some. We selected the airport transfer to the hotel and hotel to ship. Both of which worked well. This embarkation went quickly but with the area for the health questionnaire, before boarding the ship on the dock with limited cover and a bit of rain, wasn't a great way to start. However, as soon as we were on board the rest of the embarkation process went very smoothly. When we booked the cruise, we requested a penthouse cabin, but ended up deep on the wait list, finally made it to number three but ended up in a concierge veranda cabin. We had been in that cabin level before and understood the few limitations of the cabin, i.e. the small bathroom, etc. We were able to get in to the cabin about 20 minutes before the advertised time. Our luggage was at our cabin when we arrived. Our cabin steward came and introduced himself and asked if we needed anything and the two things we requested were taken care of quickly. We had excellent cabin service throughout the cruise. The cabin was always neat and clean but, after a few days in the cabin we did notice that the was some general wear and tear that we hadn't noticed on other Oceania ships.
The service we received in all the dining venues was fantastic. It seemed more personalized than on other cruises but this might be since it was a 20 day cruise. The food was very good and comparable to all the Oceania cruises we have taken. The specialty restaurants excelled as they have in the past.
The cruise did experience two problems, neither could be blamed on Oceania, the ship or the crew. One was bad weather that caused the Captain to slow the ship and as a result missed our first port. The second was that the Russian Navy held the ship out of Murmansk for about 12 hours while they conducted a 'naval exercise'. One highlight of the cruise was that Captain Maksym Melnikov was excellent. He always kept us updated of our status with the two minor problems we encountered. Additionally, on sea days with his noon time report of weather and position, he would also add a brief talk on subjects including, the ships' stabilizers, the northern lights, water purification on the ship, along with other interesting subjects. He was the most informative Captain we've had on any cruise.
We do not participate in most of the entertainment in the lounge in the evening or the daytime activities throughout the ship. We spend port days on tours and in the towns/cities we are visiting and on sea days in the library or Horizon Lounge reading and relaxing. We didn't participate in any of the activities to get 'Big O' points.
We thought the itinerary/port selection was very good. We were able to visit larger cities along with some very remote ports. The tours were a bit pricey, but we had selected one tour in each of the ports we visited except for Bergen. Most of the tours were very good, with a couple that were a pleasant surprise and one that was a bit disappointing. The ones that were very interesting included the tour in Murmansk that went through the first nuclear ice breaker. The ship has been restored to the level of a museum. There is still more restoration underway, but visitors get to visit all areas of the ship from the reactor to the bridge. The other tour of note was in Arkangelsk, Russia, entitled "A Tour in the Wood". Visitors are taken to an outdoor museum of an old village/town which included many buildings that visitors could enter. The village guide took us through, explaining history, life at the time and even showed and described construction of the buildings. The one disappointing tour was one that had a relatively young, inexperienced guide that I felt could have spent time on culture and history of the area. The other Excursions in Norway, Russia, The Netherlands were all very good. In Belgium we selected the 'Bruges on your own' since we have been there multiple times.
To sum this cruise up we had a great time and have also booked a back to back cruise next year. Read Less