Insignia Cruise Review by Joochiat
- Sail Date: November 2015
- Destination: Trans-Ocean
- Cabin Type: Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom
We had concierge level cabins with balcony. This was our 11th cruise across 6 lines and our first cruise on Oceania.
1. Bad - Cancellation of Ports. We booked this cruise for the interesting ports in West Africa that were very hard to visit otherwise. We had no interest in the conventional Caribbean ports at the end of the cruise we had been to multiple times before. Overall there were 12 ports that we wanted to visit and these ports were the reason for selecting this cruise. We only got to 10 of the 12. Isla Marguerita was a port we wanted to go to that was cancelled well before departure. It was replaced with yet another day at sea. Bom Bom Island in Principe was cancelled 2 days before we were due to arrive at that port. The explanation was little short of offensive – “operational reasons” - when there was no obvious reason - the seas were calm. This meant we missed what we had expected to be a highlight of the trip. Instead we had an extra and pointless day in São Tomé. We paid US$56,000 for this cruise to go to 12 ports - missing one sixth of them was a big disappointment as was the failure to replace them with other ports of equal interest, especially in the absence of any explanation.
2. Bad - the Deal. We booked very early and paid by the due date. Later many other guests got much cheaper deals and also got internet included in their package whereas we paid about $1000 extra for internet for only one person. The ship was full of people boasting of the deals they had obtained. Overall we paid about US$8000 more than if we had waited and booked late. I would never book early again with Oceania. Oceania needs to provide a price guarantee.
3. Excellent – Wait Staff and Cabin Attendants. The wait staff, cabin attendants and crew were the most delightful of any ship we have sailed on. Preferences were noted and anticipated. We rate this aspect of the cruise very highly.
4. Variable – Food. Overall the cuisine on board was very good, through perhaps not up to the hype, and the service was generally excellent. You could eat very well on the ship once you managed to align its strengths and weaknesses to your preferences. While for us this resulted in many disappointing meals we also had some excellent dishes. As a general rule beef, lamb and lobster dishes were excellent, Indian meals excellent, pasta, chicken and fish dishes disappointing and anything described as “a taste of red ginger” was just awful with no balance of flavour and often just meat doused in soy sauce. The specialty restaurants followed this pattern too – excellent beef and lobster dishes – but were far superior to that served in the Grand Dining room.
5. Good - Cabin Servicing. Cabin attendants were efficient and delightful. There were plenty of towels and the mini bar was kept supplied with the soft drinks we requested. The staff seemed to be responsible for a lot of cabins and to work long hours but still generally endeavoured to accommodate our preferred servicing times.
6. Good - Shuttle Buses. The shuttles into town for independent visitors in African ports generally worked very well with few delays (except in Dakar and Mindelo where the first shuttles were scheduled to leave about an hour after disembarkation commenced meaning we had to walk into town in both ports).
7. Bad - The Bed. Oceania advertises its beds as very comfortable. One half of our bed was. The other half sagged and was at a level lower than the good half. Attempts to fix it failed. This meant for 35 nights we slept at different levels and one person slept on a saggy bed. This bed should not have been in service. Attempts to fix our pillows were also unsuccessful. If doing the trip again we would have purchased our own pillows in Cape Town.
8. Good - The Fitness Track. Most cruise lines advertise walking tracks that do not work because they become blocked by patrons of bars or recliners used for sunbathing. Insignia's worked because it, whilst short, did not run through other public areas. It also had a surface that gave walkers excellent grip even when wet. The provision of iced water next to the walking track was also an excellent idea.
9. Bad - Airconditioning. A long trip through the tropics meant the AC needed to work. In one cabin it did. In one cabin even on full cooling function it could not get the cabin cool enough until we reached cooler weather.
9. Good - Cleanliness. The ship was always kept impeccably clean.
10. Bad - Construction Site. For one week during the cruise there were scheduled maintenance construction works on the top deck. This was not urgent work. If you liked time by the pool or on the walking track listening to the screech of a metal grinder this was the cruise for you. If you liked the smell of oxy welding permeating lifts and public areas this was the cruise for you.
11. Good - Visas. Oceania, for a fee, arranged all the visas need for the ports visited in Africa. This service worked very well.
12. Good - Tenders. Due to Bom Bom being cancelled tenders were only required in São Tomé. On most cruise lines tenders means huge delays but Insignia launched 3 lifeboats that provided a speedy service without delays.
13. Bad - Smoking. On a regular basis cigarette smoke came through the ventilation from somewhere into our cabin even though smoking is banned in cabins and on balconies. One or two times a day we had to air our cabin to remove the smell.
14. Bad – Muzak. The dreadful muzak blaring in public areas including the pool deck made reading and relaxing difficult. Take headphones.
We knew from other reviews the entertainment was not a reason to book. So it turned out but because our expectations were low some of the shows we went to were a bonus. The range of TV and movie channels to occupy time in days at sea is very limited. The library is well stocked and comfortable.
We did not go on any organised excursions due to their prohibitive pricing structure but greatly enjoyed our own excursions whether or foot, by hire car or by taxi.
Embarkation was quick and well handled. We had to queue for one hour in Miami to disembark inexplicably late.
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