We chose this cruise for its itinerary to sail around the coast of Spain. We wanted to try a smaller ship, as we had sailed on all big ships in the past (1900+, and mostly 3000+). I guess you would consider Oceania a hybrid luxury line, with many amenities of a luxury line, but not all inclusive. The small ship experience is a mixed bag. Obviously it is easier to get around, has a more intimate feel, and one rarely waits in line (with a few exceptions). There are fewer things going on, and the atmosphere is calm and relaxing if you like that. (The first day at sea we strolled around getting familiar with the ship and saw more people in the library than we have ever seen in a cruise ship library.) There was a lot of sitting around going on. On the up side, not once were we approached by a photographer, which was lovely. They do have a studio onboard if I remember correctly in case you would like a photo. Oceania is known for its cuisine, which I can assure you, is excellent. Salads especially were very fresh and crisp. And fresh fruit and berries. Choices are interesting and beautifully presented. Escargots offered 3 different ways that I can remember. We prefer to eat in the dining room whenever possible, but don't miss the carving station in the Terrace Café for an occasional lunch. You will see roast suckling pig, prime rib, roast turkey, even salmon Wellington. You may have to wait at the egg station at breakfast, but getting a great lunch at the Terrace Café was usually quick and easy. Waves has great sandwiches, like Q-ban, Surf & Turf, and Reubens. Transfers were perfectly well organized, on time, and used comfortable coaches. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. Service for our room, the dining rooms, and the front desk were all fine. Where I think there is room for improvement is the entertainment onboard and the shore excursions. The orchestra was certainly good, and the Nautica singers and dancers (only 4) were quite talented. You really can't have a big production show on a small ship, so they did a pretty good job for a small venue. The other shows were OK but nothing great, except the unique Duo Yorba show, 2 musicians playing a slew of different homemade instruments. They were very entertaining, playing music from around the world, and worked very hard to put on a good show. The performances of the string quartet and pianist who played in a couple of areas around the ship at various times were enjoyable. The shore excursions were nothing special, most times having 36+ people. We had to wait in line on some occasions, once for 45 minutes to get into the Alcazar. Some of the radio/headphones didn't work on some of the tours. So the tours were large groups (like the big cruise ships have) unless you pay more to go in a smaller group. These smaller-group tours are available in some ports. Overall the shore excursions were pricey and pretty average. We will probably sail with Oceania again only on one of their larger ships. The atmosphere was a little too quiet and sedentary on this cruise, although we did enjoy our cabin and the dining.

Lovely Cuisine, Lovely Cabin, Limited Activities

Nautica Cruise Review by Starbirdie

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2016
  • Destination: Europe
  • Cabin Type: Penthouse Suite
We chose this cruise for its itinerary to sail around the coast of Spain. We wanted to try a smaller ship, as we had sailed on all big ships in the past (1900+, and mostly 3000+). I guess you would consider Oceania a hybrid luxury line, with many amenities of a luxury line, but not all inclusive. The small ship experience is a mixed bag. Obviously it is easier to get around, has a more intimate feel, and one rarely waits in line (with a few exceptions). There are fewer things going on, and the atmosphere is calm and relaxing if you like that. (The first day at sea we strolled around getting familiar with the ship and saw more people in the library than we have ever seen in a cruise ship library.) There was a lot of sitting around going on. On the up side, not once were we approached by a photographer, which was lovely. They do have a studio onboard if I remember correctly in case you would like a photo.

Oceania is known for its cuisine, which I can assure you, is excellent. Salads especially were very fresh and crisp. And fresh fruit and berries. Choices are interesting and beautifully presented. Escargots offered 3 different ways that I can remember. We prefer to eat in the dining room whenever possible, but don't miss the carving station in the Terrace Café for an occasional lunch. You will see roast suckling pig, prime rib, roast turkey, even salmon Wellington. You may have to wait at the egg station at breakfast, but getting a great lunch at the Terrace Café was usually quick and easy. Waves has great sandwiches, like Q-ban, Surf & Turf, and Reubens.

Transfers were perfectly well organized, on time, and used comfortable coaches. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. Service for our room, the dining rooms, and the front desk were all fine.

Where I think there is room for improvement is the entertainment onboard and the shore excursions. The orchestra was certainly good, and the Nautica singers and dancers (only 4) were quite talented. You really can't have a big production show on a small ship, so they did a pretty good job for a small venue. The other shows were OK but nothing great, except the unique Duo Yorba show, 2 musicians playing a slew of different homemade instruments. They were very entertaining, playing music from around the world, and worked very hard to put on a good show. The performances of the string quartet and pianist who played in a couple of areas around the ship at various times were enjoyable.

The shore excursions were nothing special, most times having 36+ people. We had to wait in line on some occasions, once for 45 minutes to get into the Alcazar. Some of the radio/headphones didn't work on some of the tours. So the tours were large groups (like the big cruise ships have) unless you pay more to go in a smaller group. These smaller-group tours are available in some ports. Overall the shore excursions were pricey and pretty average.

We will probably sail with Oceania again only on one of their larger ships. The atmosphere was a little too quiet and sedentary on this cruise, although we did enjoy our cabin and the dining.
Starbirdie’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
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Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Penthouse Suite
Cabin PH3
Our cabin in the PH3, Penthouse 3 category, was lovely. It was spacious, had plenty of storage, space to spread out and move around, was nicely appointed, and well maintained. The bathroom was fine, although there was no electrical plug. Balcony was covered, of reasonable size, with oval teak table and two chairs with two footrests. Occasionally you could hear things being moved around upstairs, as this cabin is under the Terrace Café/Waves area, so if that bothers you, opt for a higher category. This was not overly disturbing for us.
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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    The tour to Sagrada Familia included Guadi's sites. Walked Park Guell, appreciating beautiful mosaics and unusual architecture.
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  • La Sagrada Familia
    Saw the exterior facades and much of the interior including the amazing windows.
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  • Bilbao Old Quarter
    Enjoyed a walk around the Old Quarter. The highlight of the downtown was walking through the huge downtown market. Every kind of seafood you can imagine is displayed. Fishmongers clean the fish right there and serve the customers, then walk further and see the poultry shop, then beef, and on and on. Too little time exploring the heart of downtown, and we had to be shagged out of the market. This tour included authentic tapas at a little restaurant. There was a little time for shopping. Also we were introduced to the Guggenheim Museum, grounds only, not inside.
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  • Wine Tasting
    Our tour traveled by coach through the Bordeaux region, a pretty countryside, on the way to an old Chateau where we tasted wine. We visited the Medieval town of St. Emilion, with its tiny shops and narrow cobblestone streets, built on a hill above and adjacent to an underground church, which we learned was used by the French Resistance as a hiding place in World War II.
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  • La Coruna
    We did not take a short excursion but walked into town and strolled into a few shops, one being a grocery store. Also visited a church. There was a marina right next to the cruise dock.
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  • Alfama Quarter
    Our shore excursion included a city bus tour and a walking tour at the site of Belem Tower. We visited Jeronimous Monastery, and also the Alfama. The historic Alfama was the highlight, as we enjoyed walking the narrow streets and learning about its past as well as interesting info about the present.
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  • Belem Tower
    Belem Tower is on the ocean, where the explorers returned to after their voyages. You can pay extra to go inside.
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  • City Tour
    This is a bus tour through the old and new parts of the city.
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  • Jeronimos Monastery
    Interesting to visit. You can observe the unique Manuelian architecture, that which displays seafaring appointments. Explorer Vasco de Gama is laid to rest in the Church of Santa Maria which is in the monastery.
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  • Malaga
    Strolled into town and visited the street vendors. Lovely flowers, horses with carriages.
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  • Paris
    We went through the port town of Honfleur then on to Deauville & Pays D'Auge. It gave us another look at the French countryside and then the playground of the rich. Lots of expensive shops and a casino.
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  • City Tour
    A typical bus tour to familiarize oneself with the city. Many picturesque sights. This tour included the port wine tasting and some brief shopping.
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  • Port Wine Tasting
    Visited a port wine lodge, learned about the making and aging of port, and sampled their port.
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  • Alcazar
    About a 2-hour bus ride from the port of Cadiz. Waited 45 minutes to get into the Alcazar, which was not pleasant; some of the radio earphones didn't work, but enjoyed seeing the gardens and the architecture. Appreciated the guided walk in Seville and tapas in a little café on our own. Browsed a few shops. This tour ran short of time on your own.
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