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Riviera Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
691 Reviews

#1 Price Gouger on the Seas

Riviera Cruise Review by Jerry1944

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Aug 2014
  • Destination: the Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Concierge Level

To be fair, Oceania does some things very well. The ship was clean and well appointed. The crew was courteous and efficient. And the food was outstanding. But the thing that spoiled our cruise experience was their outrageous price gouging on shore excursions and airport transfers.

When you pay a premium price you expect to get a seamless travel experience without constantly being nickeled and dimed to death. Both our travel agent and we assumed their high rates included airport transfers to the port---especially since the air transportation was included in our package.. SADLY, THAT WAS NOT THE CASE. We arrived at the Venice airport and sought out the Oceania representative. She informed us we were not on her transfer list. I showed her our documents and she pointed out the fine print directing us to contact our travel agent or the cruise line to arrange for airport connections. Since they had a waiting coach, I asked how much they would charge my wife and myself to take us to the ship. We were informed it would be $300 total! We had been to Venice several times and knew it was not a long trip to the cruise port. So we went outside and hailed a taxi for 50 Euros----or about 22% of Oceania's demand! We were more prepared when we transited from the destination port to the Rome Airport. We had booked a Mercedes van online for a fraction of the price Oceania wanted for their bus.

Similarly, their shore excursions are not included and are outrageously priced. Some relatively simple city and countryside tours can cost several hundred dollars per person. We simply went ashore and found our own tours or boat rides for a fraction of what Oceania was charging. But unfortunately, when tendering the passengers to smaller ports, Oceania gives priority to their own tour groups---making passengers with private arrangements wait till later to board the tenders. Their shipboard exchange rates are also unfavorable and passengers will fare much better changing their dollars at local banks.

Of course, Oceania claims that they disclose in their brochures and documentation that the airport connections and shore excisions are priced separately. What they do not disclose is just how outrageously noncompetitive those services are. Inexperienced or naive passengers are often exploited by this price gouging.

I believe a reputable cruise line offering air/ship packages should at least get you from the airport to the ship. Likewise, any shore excursions not included in the package should be priced reasonably. They should not inconvenience their guests by forcing them to make their own arrangements to avoid being price gouged.

I informed Oceania by letter and in their passenger survey, that---until these outrageous pricing polices are corrected---I will avoid their cruise line and will advise my friends and relatives to do likewise. They were unrepentant and stated that they make all required disclosures and have never claimed to be a low cost provider of the services in question. Incidentally, Oceania is owned by the large hedge fund, Apollo. So perhaps that accounts for them being more profit driven than service driven.


Jerry1944's Full Rating Summary
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Value For Money
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Jerry1944
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