Just returned from my first cruise on Oceania. I am not a huge cruise fan. I've done a few short cruises in the past (Bahamas, Mexico, etc.) and have never really been impressed. In general, I prefer independent travel. That said, I really enjoyed this cruise--more than I thought I would.
Embarkation: Read about long lines but honestly, we arrived at noon and were on the ship and in our cabin in about 30 minutes. I couldn't believe how easy it was.
Food: Quite good in all venues with a few exceptions. I wish the menu in the Grand Dining room had more variety--it got boring. Really enjoyed both Polo and Toscana (though our second dinner in Toscana suffered from really poor service). I was eager to try one of those milkshakes that people on CC rave about. That was a huge let down. Probably the worst milkshake I've ever had. The smoothies were better. Desserts were the weak point in all venues. If you are calling something New York Cheesecake then it should be New York Cheesecake (believe me, it wasn't). At least four nights I took one bite of a dessert and pushed it away (on the plus side, I saved all those calories).
Service/Staff: Overall we were impressed with the staff and the service. And every staff person we encountered was extremely friendly and gracious. High marks here. Though I'm not sure that I felt like we received any special service due to our Concierge level cabin.
Pool: Way too small. More like a dunk tank. And of course, not enough chairs on the pool deck. We got lucky--got there early and stayed all day so didn't have to fight for chairs. But I did witness and nasty little argument between a chair saver and someone who got tired of seeing an empty chair sit idle for hours...
Spa: Passed on booking spa appointments because they were just too expensive. If I had more OBC to burn, I might have used them.
Ports of Call: We enjoyed them all except Limassol. It would have been better to have another sea day and miss this stop.
Entertainment: I was surprisingly impressed by the Insignia Singers--they were very good. Their costumes need a huge makeover but their talent was real. Found the CD to be a bit dated in his humor. And, his voice reminded me of Stanley Tucci in The Hunger Games movie. I just couldn't take him seriously.
Rechristening Celebrations: Nice but a little over the top corny. I mean, a portrait unveiling???? That said. the ship's Godmother and her husband were impressive in the way they seemed to go out of their way to NOT seek preferential treatment throughout the cruise. Classy folks.
Shore Excursions: We didn't use the ships tours. Found great independent guides and definitely preferred to tour that way.
Destination Experts: Weak marks here. They didn't strike me as "expert" at all.
Other Passengers: All in all we met some really wonderful people--some who cruise a lot. Made some friends along the way.
WiFi: In my opinion this was one of the weakest parts of the cruise--connectivity was next to impossible. The only saving grace was that we had free WiFi as part of a promotion. If I had been paying by the minute I would have raised Hell--five minutes to download ONE email (no attachments); web pages timing out repeatedly. If they can get wifi on a plane, there has to be a better way to get it on board a ship!
Overall, a very good experience. I think I would try one of the larger O ships next time (I hear the cabins are bigger). I did enjoy the relaxed nature of the cruise--no formal nights and the ability to dine on our own schedule. I probably won't do another cruise for a few years but when I do I will definitely consider Oceania.
Cabin: This is probably my biggest issue with cruising. The cabin was SMALL. We had an extended veranda which helped but at the end of the day, the room is tiny and there wasn't enough storage for clothes. I read on CC that people store their luggage under the bed--well, my friend's bag wouldn't fit and mine wouldn't unless it was open. I can't imagine cruising for more than 10 days in that cabin. It was alos really hot. We had an engineer look at the A/C on the first day but it didn't ever get really cool. One of the issues was the sun on the veranda door. The stewards should be trained to close the drapes when the sun is facing those glass doors. It was like an oven. The extended veranda would have been far better if it had lounge chairs. Can't understand why they aren't provided given the war for chairs at the pool. If there were loungers on my veranda I would have stayed there and freed up two pool chairs for someone else to use. I did like our cabin location on Deck 7.