First time on Oceania, but will be the last because they did not live up to "consistently delivering excellent service and value", as they state. The Marina ship was very nice and the service on board was fine. We found the food was above average. However, we took an excursion "The Best of Santos & Guaruja" and absolutely horrible. In fact, Oceania's "Award-Winning Tour Program" was disappointing overall (we took 7 of their excursions), but the Santos excursion was a total disaster.
We have cruised for years and have never written a complaint or asked for money back on an excursion or anything else. After the Santos tour, we, however, along with a long line of others on the trip, went immediately to the Reception counter demanding complaint forms and refunds. The person behind the counter was trying to control the crowd, a site to behold. Here is a summary of the excursion:
- Travel time in the bus was very lengthy to the "largest aquarium in South America". A deceptive play on words since it was the smallest and most uninteresting aquarium we have ever seen. It took only a very few minutes and we were all done seeing what there was to see. There were NO "adventurous divers hand feeding creatures".
- The botanical gardens, the "highlight is the orchidarium", was closed. It was advertised to be "remarkable" with more than 100 exotic species of all shapes and colors". Our guide said there was nothing in it. We were supposed to see an array of macaws and toucans. There was 1 bird! The guide said there have not been any toucans there for at least 10 years.
- The Coffee Museum - most of it was on the second floor, which was closed. First floor had very little to see, just a shop to buy coffee.
- Brazilian BBQ lunch - bus driver dropped us off but guide took us on a 20 minute walk one-way to another restaurant only to find out it was the wrong place. Some of us had difficulty with such a long walk due to health/disability issues. This was supposed to be a low-activity tour. Another 20 minute walk to a not-so-nice restaurant that wasn't ready for us. Our guide went around asking for food to be made and brought out. We had to wait for sub-par food.
- The "high-end stores and unusual merchandise" LaPlage mall. What a joke. There was a McDonalds and Burger King and only a few junkie stores. None of us stayed in the mall or purchased anything, we all went outside to look at the beach while waiting for the bus.
The guide said he couldn't wait for this horrible day to be over. We all felt it was a waste of time, not worth the money, and was extremely disappointing. With all the complaints, Oceania gave us only 30% back of our $374 cost of the tour. We all felt they should have refunded it all, and even paid us for wasting our time and suffering with the entire fiasco.
I wrote a letter when my husband and I returned home, asking for a full refund. No reply but I followed up. We finally got a reply from Gair O'Neill, Sr. Director, Guest Relations and Risk Management. He offered an on-board credit on our next cruise if we booked it within a year. I responded back that we would not be able to take a cruise within that time frame and still felt a full refund was in order, which for both of us would be $260. No reply - I followed up and finally got a short letter stating "no additional compensation will be forth coming". Ouch.
I am stunned that Oceania would be so short-sighted to not refund a more than deserved measly $260 to us, as we cruise often. We will never go on another Oceania cruise, will tell anyone who wants to know how we were treated. Their customer service suffers from a lack of fair and reasonable understanding. For us it was the principle of the thing, but for them, I can only suspect it was to not let loose of a tiny bit of their profit to do the right thing.
Cabin was average, about the same as competitive ships. Decorations were a bit better.