Hello to all who are interested,
a few weeks before this cruise, we read some reviews which were less then good. This did alarm us a bit and so we did contact some people from Oceania via our travel agent. They did assure us everything should be as good as ever before.
Since we experienced this now, I feel like I should write a review on this.
I will try to systematically broach different topics :
- stateroom : we booked stateroom 7123, my parents in law did book 7125. The stateroom was perfectly what we wished for, though maybe a bit smaller than expected. There's a lot of sources mentioning that the room is around 26m², in reality it was 19 m². We measured this using professional measuring equipment, since this is the profession of my father in law. Nevertheless, being smaller than for example a verandah stateroom on regent of the sevens seas ships, this stateroom was still everyting it needed to be. This means, an excellent bed, safe, filled minibar with softdrinks, flatscreen television (which we don't really use), a bathroom with a large bathtub with shower AND a separate shower which was in my opinion more than big enough (and I'm over 1.90mtrs). Moreso, we enjoyed the enlarged balcony which some of the cabins on deck 7 have. I would highly recommend this bigger balcony, with extra longchairs to enjoy. Small setback maybe was that we sometimes could hear the engines of the ship, especially when it was maneuvring on the spot to dock but this was as far as I am concerned a minor inconvenience. My father in law on the other hand would have liked to be able to follow the Tour The France, the worlds biggest cycle-sportsevent, but there was no channel on the ship broadcasting this (no ESPN 2, Eurosport etc...)
- dining : we are very much into good food, which is the main reason why we've chosen Oceania. We ate in all the four specialty restaurants and 4 times in de grand dining room. Breakfast we usually had in the terrace café on deck 12 and we took lunch there as well. The food was every single time more then excellent, with a lot of variety and fresh products all the time. But what I did love most was the daily tea time in the horizons bar, from 4 till 5 PM.
- embarkation: we arrived around noon, embarkation went really smooth, no problems there. I estimate it took around 15 minutes before we enjoyed our first glass of Montaudon Champagne at the pool bar, after which we had our first lunch on the terrace aft Deck 12
- entertainment : oceania is not a cruiseline you should use to party all the time. Nevertheless, there certainly is some entertainment, going form trivia quizzes, little golf and shuffleboard competitions to very decent evening shows and some people playing live music on different locations. Maybe we did miss some more atmosphere in the horizonsbar in the evening (that is after 10.30 PM) but overall certainly no complaints!
- fitness : there is a large fitnesscenter, you can walk your rounds on the deck and so on. More then enough to keep the weight into check :-)
- Public Rooms : all the public areas were decoarted beautifully and with taste, and everything was SUPERCLEAN. we certainly loved that.
- Service : the service was excellent and personal. Last year we did cruise with Insignia and our sommelier Ivo Ivanovic form Bulgaria was now on Riviera, and immediately recognised us. Believe me, this does give an excellent feeling. Other examples were the fact that de servers in the restaurant always knew perfectly who ordered which dish, something which you seldom experience in restaurants... The people at the bar, the people who cleaned our room, all up to very high standards and always happy, always friendly and always ready to do something extra with a smile! (besides a few exceptions but hey, everyone can have a bad day). Besides from Ivo Ivanovic I feel I must recommend Hayla Hendrickx from South - Africa, arranging excellent seats for us every single time in the grand dining room , Melissa and her colleague who cleaned our rooms, two Misses Sunshine as far as I was concerned (seeing them just made us happy), and off course Gregory (Jamaica) and Adiya (Thailand) from the Horizonsbar (every evening)
- shore excursions : since I feel that these excursions are too expensive, we arranged everything on our own. This is a phenomenon I seem to experience with most cruiselines... However, if possible Oceania provides a free shuttlebus to the nearest town to visit, which is very convenient.
- Value for money: off course there are always a few small points on which one can criticise, but those negative points were very rare and sometimes farfetched indeed. The price of this particular cruise was rather high, but you can often have much better deals with Oceania for which we will look out in the future. However, even though the price was rather high, we certainly did get value for money, and I do highly recommend Oceania, though we might prefer a penthouse suite in the smaller ships like Insignia our Regatta. I would rate the overall experience 9.5/10!
Rome, most historical of Europe's capitals, a must see, we stayed there 3 days, good enough to have a good impression (certainly because it was my 3rd time) but there is a lot more to see...
Second time in Sorrento, second time we visited CAPRI, what a beautifull island, a must see!
A nice town in Sicily, we took a taxi (25 euro) to the town and spend a few hours there. I also visited the amfitheater. Brilliant location!
Not too much to see in Zadar, and we did not feel there was enough time to visit some of the natural gems form Kroatia (like the Krka falls)
We arranged an excursion ourselves, making a bus trip to a beautifull and Unesco protected village called PIRAN, where we stayed for 2 hours. That was very nice. koper in itselve is nless interesting.
Venice is off course a must see. It was, as during the whole cruise, extremely hot there. In my opinion, one does not need an excursion there since you can walk freely through the streets, exploring the city at your own pace...
very very very nice old town, with an interesting fortress to climb to for an excellent view of the fjord, but a though climb it is, certainly when it's 37° degrees celcius. The do sell cool water on the way up there, much neeeded!
Arriving in Kotor takes two hours of cruising in a fjord-like environment, very nice!