I have just completed my eighth voyage with Oceania Cruises. The introduction at the beginning of the Cruise Document package wished me an “unforgettable cruise”. It was an “unforgettable cruise”, for all the wrong reasons. In fact for me it was a disappointment.
I opted for this cruise against a variety of others available because it was going to Easter Island. As you must be aware by now Marina did not land passengers there because of “inclement weather”, blue skies notwithstanding. I understand the logistics of the decision, but question it. We have been landed in other ports under worse conditions. Wind and seas at Sinop, August 31, 2010 being a prime example.
Had I known that not landing was a possibility, I would not have booked this cruise and instead I would have chosen to fly from a South American destination. Your company listed a weather advisory for Pitcairn Island. Why not Easter Island? I found out later that not landing at Easter Island is the rule rather than the exception. On two previous Oceania Cruises I was told that they made landfall on only two of the four days there. So including our cruise that is a 67% failure rate and that I believe should be noted in the itinerary as “Landing at Eastern Island, weather permitting”. The captain didn't bother to hang around for the second day claiming bad weather forecasts. Weather forecasts for most of the trip were unreliable as is the predicted weather pattern for that part of the Pacific.
I think the cruise could have profited from better scheduling. For example our plane got into Tahiti at 8 pm precluding us seeing that island. We could have landed in the morning and had the day on the island. To make matters worse my luggage was still in LA. Then to complete that part of the story, when I arrived home in Toronto, my luggage was still vacationing in Houston. Oceania arranged the flights.
Most of the staff was very good. Our cabin (7080) stewards Alexandra and Lam Kam (spelling?) were excellent. The entertainment staff - Annette, Bronte, Bethany, Kirsten, Lewis, and Samantha were very good on stage and their attitude and friendliness at the various activities they monitored despite crowds of upwards of 50 wild-eyed passengers vying for the honour of throwing bean bags or putting, was exemplary. Katie Mussler (Social Hostess) falls into the category of superb person and friend. I enjoyed high tea frequently with several of the above. General Manager Dominique also deserves kudos for his overall visibility and eagerness to help. He also merits much credit for arranging a Seder on Passover.
Two sour notes. I only ate in the Grand Dining Room seven times and on five of those occasions found the service quite slow (2 and a half hours?) and inefficient (wrong dishes served, or omitted). Whether this goes back to the kitchen preparations and then becomes magnified up the chain of service to the dining room, I don't know. The staff at Jacques seemed to be quite sullen compared to the great ambiance in the other three speciality restaurants. Then a request to have ANZAC Day Memorial Services listed in Currents met with a flat rejection. It was only on ANZAC Day that we were able to gather a group, but couldn't inform everyone and many members of the Commonwealth unfortunately missed the service.
The excursion system was a failure. We couldn't book from home as we were told all listed excursions were full. As late as two days before sailing the explanation of full excursions and being “put on a wait list” was given to me. Yet when we arrived on the ship, magically several more excursions had been arranged. Surely these weren't arranged at the last minute. Our anxiety about getting on excursions could have been alleviated had we been told by the Oceania staff when we called that more excursions were being scheduled. The glass bottom boat excursion in Rangiora was a rip off and we should have had a partial refund on that one at least. An hour tour became 40 minutes including time to get to the site and then the gentlemen guiding us had a great deal of trouble with English and spent a lot of time chatting with other boat operators in the vicinity. Other tours were well overpriced as we found tours when we got off the boat for about a quarter the price for the same tour.
One last occurrence which left a bad taste in the mouths of many. Big “O” points. Seems inflation hit the redemption scene big time. Some examples of previous cruise points for a 10 day cruise against this 16 day cruise, – umbrella 30 points, this cruise 150; tote bag 35, this cruise 150; T-shirt 35, this cruise 80; baseball cap 25, this cruise 75. And there are other examples of this inflation of points. I can understand a nominal increase in points required, but 5-fold – ridiculous. Lots of excuses and reasons for this, none satisfactory.
Despite the great service, excellent food, friendly staff (entertainment and social hostess in particular,),and because of the disappointment at Easter Island, Tahiti, and others noted above, the Cruise rating for this particular cruise hovers around 0/10.
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