Chose this cruise simply because of the itinerary.
The idea of 18% added on to all purchases is anathema to us but we decided we would not purchase anything that involved this charge.
Embarkation was quick with baggage being taken from you as you entered into the jetty marque. Usual pettiness regarding security, I believe this is now a self perpetuating industry as you come across it everywhere.
Ship décor has a dark Victorian theme which we think appeals to the American market, (country club), but we found it rather foreboding. (British). Having said that, it was all very clean and Horizons was a pleasant place to be for views, comfort and high tea. There is some good artwork in corridors, stairways and public areas.
Food was very good in all restaurants if you could get into them. Waiters very good but maître-d's could be a bit touchy and abrupt especially if requiring a table for two.
Special restaurants Toscana and Polo are difficult to get into as higher grade cabins have three sittings allocated to them and I do believe there is some greasing of palms goes on to get a place, again, tables for two are discouraged. Toscana we found to be pretentious and pompous with the food quality and service not as good as the rest of the ship.
Polo was excellent all round, beef fillet was to die for and service impeccable.
Entertainment we didn't take part in, we are not bingo, trivia or casino fans. Theatre shows were good except for the American acts, but I suppose we would say that.
There is definitely a culture and taste divide between those either side of the "pond" where entertainment is concerned.
In some instances the American passengers could be loud, demanding and annoying.
The cruise director, Mr Carr, was one of these, I got to dread the sound "bing bong bing bong" on the PA system. He could be very repetitive and patronising, loud and loved the sound of his own voice which grated on my ears.
After leaving the Kiel Canal we encountered some fairly lumpy waters, nothing much to worry about, however, at 0200 in the morning we were struck by a rogue wave on the port quarter which stove in some dining room windows and flooded the dining room as well as throwing everything on the set tables onto the deck. The crew cleared lower deck and cleared up during the rest of the night, commendable but no need for Mr Carr to keep going on about it. The crew would not have had a choice to turn out or not, nevertheless, they worked hard to clear the areas involved.
Excursions were extortionately priced and we did not go on any of them. From what we overheard they were not very good value for money either.
We arranged our St Petersburg tours on the internet, very easy, and other ports of call we used tourist offices or hop on hop off.
Dis-embarkation in Southampton was well organised and went well. The local cab drivers are rogues, wanting a £10 minimum fare plus the metre for a 11/2 mile journey to station.
Looking for long distance to Gatwick and Heathrow.
Having said that, a darn sight cheaper than if booking on board.
We would be hard pressed to go with Oceania again only because it didn't suit our tastes. We are sure it will suit a lot of cruisers out there.
Cabin smaller than expected, (4 deck ocean view), shower minuscule and wardrobes were not deep enough to take the length of a clothes hanger.
Very clean and two attendants friendly helpful and hard working.
Bed and sheets comfortable and luxurious.
Plenty of towels and toiletries.
Complimentary soft drinks and water.