OVERVIEW: We (my wife and I) selected this cruise based on previous experience sailing with Oceania, and also the itinerary of this specific cruise. The Norwegian Fjords were on our "bucket list" and this cruise also included three ports in Russia: Murmansk, Solovetsky Islands, and Archangel. The cruise was wonderful, we would highly recommend it. Anyone considering this itinerary, regardless of cruise line, should realize that the weather is unpredictable. We had wonderful weather, out of 20 days we had 18 days without rain and warmer than expected; but weather is always a roll of the dice and especially for this part of the world. However the cruise director confided that the same cruise in 2015 experienced fog most every day. All that said we would still highly recommend this cruise, the landscapes of Norway change as you travel north above the arctic circle and there is no place quite like. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. The only negative points involved embarkation and disembarkation which is covered below.
SHIP: Oceania Nautica is a smaller ship, about 680 passengers. We enjoy this because it allows meeting many the other passengers, and the open seating in the dining room facilitates getting acquainted with fellow travelers. The staff was excellent, always helpful and attentive.
DINING: Oceania takes pride in the ships cuisine, and we were not disappointed. The menu in the Grand Dining Room was varied every day and the number of selections rather amazing. Although some selections were better than others, we were never disappointed. There are also two specialty restaurants which require reservations, Polo Grill offers primarily steaks, and Toscana is Italian cuisine.
SERVICE: The service was excellent, from the front desk to the cabin steward everyone was personable and did everything they could to be helpful and attentive.
ENTERTAINMENT: There were shows in the lounge every evening after dinner, the entertainment was always good. There were also special entertainers such as a magician, and dance duo, during portions of the cruise.
PORTS and EXCURSIONS: We are independent travelers so the only excursions we purchased were the ports in Russia. The reason was that you need to obtain a Russian Visa to explore on your own in Russia, this is not necessary if you stay with the tours offered by Oceania. We find the price of Oceania's excursions to be quite high, so we set off on our own in the Norwegian ports. Also, we found the tour buses in this remote part of Russia are not typical. The buses are smaller, do not have air conditioning, and the sound system used by the guide is sometimes very poor.
EMBARKATION and DISEMBARKATION: This is the primary reason that we did not rate the cruise as "Excellent". We flew to Copenhagen to board and purchased the Oceania airport transfer to the ship. On our previous cruise with Oceania we were met at baggage claim and had assistance with our luggage from the baggage claim area to the bus. This time we had to roll our luggage from the airport to the bus which was parked about a five minute walk away. We could have taken a taxi to the ship and paid a fraction of what the bus transfer cost. We disembarked the ship at Southhampton and our flight home was from London Heathrow, so again we purchased the airport transfer. Leaving the ship was chaos, our bus was to be the first leave but apparently had to wait for people who were tardy. The entire process could have been much better organized. When we finally got underway it was a 2 hour drive to Heathrow which only allowed about 1 hour to get our bags checked and get through security. Our flight was boarding by the time we arrived at the gate. This was much too close for comfort, and we paid a premium for the stress of the situation. Again, we will investigate alternatives in the future.
Excellent but compact, the most comfortable beds anywhere.