My recent cruising of the Insignia, a vessel belonging to Oceania Cruises, was quite disappointing after having enjoyed several cruising trips on various vessels belonging to their sister company, Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
The Insignia is quite an old vessel completely refurbished with some sort of lavish splendor in their many sprawling, but almost always empty common areas. This is sadly and ironically paired with what was found in the living quarters, which gave the impression of being a more suitable size for the crew. I had in fact opted for a special cabin on the 8th floor, which Oceania labels a luxury suite, but this was a blatant case of misrepresentation, as for example the shower was so small that it was not even possible for me to stand completely upright.
After spending over $35,000 for this cruise, from Barcelona to Dubai, I could not believe that Oceania would charge you for each time you would need to use the washer & dryer machines. The so-called suites, were also provided with in-room “free” Wi-Fi internet service. But it was so intermittent and erratic, that during the entire cruise a vast crowd of passengers would line-up daily at the ship’s communication center asking for assistance. In order to have a second internet line in our suite, the charge was $26 dollars/day. I would in no way call that a “deal.” Furthermore, Blackberry and cell phone service was disabled by the cruise scrambler and you had no choice but to use Insignia’s over-priced telephone service of at least $5/minute.
Additionally, the over-priced costs continued with a simple visit to the on-board doctor for over $700. Also, after being used to free, decent wine and drinks on Regent, I was quite shocked to find out that the wine offered aboard Insignia, which would warrant a retail price of $10/bottle in U.S. or Europe, was sold aboard for over $40/bottle.
During the weeks spent on-board, the Captain and other officers never arranged to join the passengers during meals, as is customary on the other cruise chips including Regent. In fact, while the general service aboard the Insignia was commendable, the management personnel in charge of the ship was not easily accessible, aloof, detached and impersonal. It was required to to make a special appointment, in order to speak with anyone of higher management or distinction on the ship.
Lastly, compared with Regent Cruises, the lectures and entertainment offered on Insignia was at best modest to borderline mediocre. This was quite obvious by how many passengers would leave in the middle of the lectures. In many instances, I found out that the lecturer was highlighting the destinations where the excursions where offered, but without the lecturer having ever been there!
After this very odd overall experience, where I felt that every minute I was taken for a very unpleasant ride, I doubt very much that I will ever return to the Insignia or any other vessel belonging to Oceania Cruises.